A Travellerspoint blog

This blog is published chronologically. Go straight to the most recent post.

Mornington Peninchula

The beach house

Teresa was there to supervise the Vegemite production this morning. She regretted she didn't give us the heads up about Vegemite/toast application- she even thought about calling us from work! Feeling guilty our maiden tasting didn't go so well, she made sure this time it was done right. L's technique of piling it on like peanut butter was a disgusting thought even to Vegemite lovers. The key is margarine first, then a thin, thin spread of Vegemite. It was better the second try. Still salty. Still yeasty. It's an acquired taste. I want to like it so badly! All those vitamin Bs. But I just don't.

The drive down to the beach house was green and freckled with reindeer, alpacas, and lambs. It is on the Mornington "peninchula", similar to our Cape Cod, where each town's year-round population explodes in the summer months. Thankfully, it is winter and calm. But cold and windy.
Travel time has been halved with the recent building of a toll road. In our travels we have noticed that people in other countries follow the rules: there is no jaywalking, pedestrians cross the street in the crosswalks and actually wait for the walk sign, even if no car is in sight! On the German Autobahn it is illegal to pass on the right, and no one does! I noticed there wasn't much speeding on Australian highways. Flavio explained why: There are cameras tucked under overpasses along the way. It takes a photo of every car that passes. It calculates your speed. Guaranteed booking in mail with 3 km/hr leniency, 100 limit. Cruise control is Flavio's friend.

Celsius to Fahrenheit conversion made easy:
Double it
add 32
then minus a coupla degrees to make up for the doubling, not 9/5.

While Flavio stayed back for a conference call, Teresa took us for a drive along the beach. With just my fingertips I touched the frigid Southern Ocean (just like my mother has to do, but with her toes). We admired the colorful beach huts. Teresa explained they go for about $200k and have no electricity, which ensures no one sleeps there. Then we tracked sand back in the car and went in search of a drink with a view. We didn't have to look far to get a glass of John Luke Pinot Grigio.

Portsea Pub for seaside lunch for four. We split a bottle of Darling Park sav blanc, I ate wagyu beef and Guinness pie with chips and salad. we drove to the tip of the peninsula. It is now a National park, recently opened to the public. It used to be a military base. The canal between the peninsulas is strategic, but with treacherous waters. We parked and walked through recently burnt forest, through eerie cemetery to beach.

We braved the hairpin-turn drive up to vantage point. The view was worth the white-knuckling drive up. We capped the night with Thai food, wine and a televised AFL game.

Posted by LaurendeMatt 16:00 Archived in Australia Tagged melbourne Comments (0)

No MSG... More chillies!

4M- Saturday

Flav-eresa took us to two must-see institutions that are the backbone of Melbourne living: mcg and the casino.

Melbourne Cricket Ground (mcg, or as Lauren typically misnames, msg)

Teresa scored seats in the Members Only section for the Aussie Rules Football match. Teresa proved a good sport as she rooted for Richmond, because it is Flavio's team, and because Richmond was not playing. 5134BA60FACD564142C17F0676AA7A5A.jpg

Curiously there were quite a few lions fans. Come to find out, Brisbane was formerly a south Melbourne team. Victoria has the best, most fanatic sports fans, but they were behaved in the members only section. There were only occasional green mongrels (refs) shout outs. We did the most heckling, laughing at the "Wild and crazy guys" goal referee... Think Isaac from the love boat.

In the end, we left with a semi- understanding of ARF, a buzz, a wonky "glad-I-only-ate-half-the-meatpie" stomach,
and 2 Tiger scarves. We wore them proudly as the Richmond tigers d Brisbane lions 79 to 54.

Crown Casino

Next must-see were the torches along the river esplanade. Come nighttime, at the top of the hour, they erupt. According to Flavio, the best vantage point was from the casino bar. We ordered a pichure of Spicy sangria and watched the flames. With some liquid confidence, we parted ways to battle the pokies.

Matthew splurged and bought dinner for all of us. It cost him $5. (the $5 that turned into $300. Matthew found his luck when he found More Chili again. Thanks Carlos!) We ate at Sho Noodles. M had the noodles. Maybe he regretted it for a minute or so as he became quiet and glassy and flush. But alas, he conquered the Dan Dan in the end. And to think it had but two chili peppers on the menu, and not the max of three. We shared Dim sum to start. L rocked the local rockling filet with xo sauce.
More More Chili and a lil roulette for a nightcap.

At last! A kangaroo sighting! In a country with an estimated, like, 34 million Kangaroos and a reserve just across the street from Fla-veresa's where kangies are spotted daily, it took L several days in Australia to see a single kangaroo. Teresa took a short detour through their neighborhood and when she turned a corner, there one was. Like a deer-caught-in-headlights, L finally saw one in the wild. Flavio encouraged L to get out to pet it. As it hopped away, L wondered if they have coils on the bottom of two feet. Amazing.

Posted by LaurendeMatt 16:00 Archived in Australia Tagged melbourne Comments (0)

The puzzle box incident

At last the kanggies! I knew it was going to be a great day when at last the kanggies came. Just as Teresa promised they would, most likely at dawn or at dusk, a kangaroo family grazed in the reserve across from the Fattore house. Teresa got the binoculars. Teresa is making sure I accomplish the whole of my:

Australia Hope-to-do/see/eat List

see a kangaroo in the wild
eat kangaroo
see a koala in the wild
visit a winery
eat Vegemite
watch a Aussie Rules footy match
(snorkel the reef in Queensland and
watch an opera in Sydney)

SuperHosts Flavio and Teresa (who shall be named Flav-eresa from here-on-out) were kind enough to take us today to a winery, a chocolaterie and a wildlife sanctuary, a place they hadn't been since they chaperoned Daniel's primary school field trip. It was purely for me and my List, so I could see a koala. The fuzzies live where we are traveling, but we have not seen any in the wild, so they took us to a sure thing. The skies opened the moment we arrived at the Healesville Wildlife Sanctuary car park.

First stop: koalas.
They are high in the trees - in more than one way. Teetering in the nook of a branch, their large talons digging into the eucalyptus, they sleep 20 hrs a day and have an extra padded and fuzzy bum. They don't move much, sleeping off their high from the tree leaves. It was a whole lot of fuzzy motionlessness. One koala moved slightly, shifting the baby tucked away on its belly (reminding me they are marsupials) and another koala cruised down the tree to pee, which doesn't happen often. They never need to drink water because the eucalypt leaves are high in moisture. Interesting tidbit: koala is an Aboriginal word meaning "no drink".

Good thing Eco-tourist Man Matthew was there to Eco-protect and Eco-serve.

Saw dingos out for walk (on leashes?) then to the platypus to the dingos to the wallabies to the Tasmanian devils (that are so not cute and if the cool guys of the 80s knew how not cute they are they wouldn't have tattooed it on their biceps)

To the pelicans back to the koalas to stare some more.

We drove through the Yarra Valley with its rolling shades of green spotted with off-white, fuzzy dots that " baaaah", some with black ends. This region is known for its wineries. 52136C3491B154E567B2080FF72B81E8.jpg

We met Frank and Val, longtime friends of Flav-eresa at the Rochford vineyard for lunch: a two-course meal and two bottles of Pinot noir. L had potato leek soup and barramundi fish in clam chowder. M was carnivorous with wagyu beef tartar with quail egg on toast and pork cheek with ham hocks and fried cheesy potato balls.

What I learned about koalas, I learned from the box of koala-shaped-chocolate Flav-eresa bought us at The Yarra Valley Chocolaterie. They also bought us a curious thing called a freckle and we bought the birthday boy, Daniel, a one-meter milk chocolate bar.

Speaking of, we rushed home via the cheesecake store to pick up a Boston mudcake (how ironic). Daniel was just wiping the sleepiness from his eyes as we returned home at 5. In the afternoon that is. We had pizza. His big 21st soirée is next week. In America the 21rst birthday is cause for a big celebration because you are legal to drink, finally! In Australia I am not sure why 21 is a milestone. you can do everything by 18 here - drive, vote, drink, - just another reason to party, I guess.

Tonight was his family party. 52162002FFFF2DFFAB883B24F576143F.jpg
Val and frank came over. T's sister Gail and husband Peter.
Dominica and I took a selfie. 180_5237765A06101F145D898EF2CE62729E.jpg
Peter warned us of crocs. He'll see us our next visit "if we survive" our reef trip. Dun-dun-dun.

L tried to help tidy up, but had difficulty figuring out how to fit the cake back into the box. Was the Australian technique of folding a box different? The lid just would not close! Finally she asked, "What is this? A puzzle box?". Teresa solved the puzzle, between giggle gasps, by taking off the candles so the lid could close. The night ended with yet another glass of wine and giggles over The Puzzle Box Incident..

Posted by LaurendeMatt 16:00 Archived in Australia Tagged melbourne Comments (0)

Melbourne Monday

Today we were on our own. We decided to get our packing in order: repack with newly laundered clothes and send newly acquired things home. We packed up a box, cabbed it to post, walked to South Morang station, the end of line, and rode the train to the other end of the line, Flinders, in downtown Melbourne. It took one-hour. We used our prepaid, easy-to-use myki cards, just tap pre- and post-ride. We returned to the Alley for lunch, this time at Sea Salt for sushi. We ordered 4 large rolls, including a Spicy Tuna, which is our staple. This was basically Starkist.

We were relieved to score seats on the free, very crowded City tram. It circles the city, giving a nice overview, so it is packed with mostly tourists and strollers. We lasted only half, admiring large public art, including a cow in a tree, and wishing Boston had more of this large-scale public art. We walked Lymon Street and stopped for Shanghai dumplings and noodles.

We caught the 5:30 train back. Flavio picked us up at 6:30. They hosted a BBQ. Chris happily tended to grill, cooking a grill-full o meat: pork sausage and steak, with a plate o veggies and rosemary potatoes on the side.

"New Zealand or Australia, lauren?"
"Australia of course!"
Teresa opened the Stoneleigh Sav Blanc from New Zealand, promising it delicious. We liked. A lot. We had 3 bottles. Reinactment of The Puzzle Box Incident.
Watched Tony bourdain in Melbourne and shared our wedding photos. Wide screen widens everything, including hips. The night ended much the same as last night with Giggles and wine, this time it was port.

Posted by LaurendeMatt 16:00 Archived in Australia Tagged melbourne Comments (0)

Thanks for the hangover

Melbourne to Queensland

We packed the boot and were off at 7, hangover intact, unable and unwilling to drink coffee. Teresa, what a trooper, made us toast, sans Vegemite. We were still giggling about the puzzle box. Flavio dropped us at Tullamarine at 7:30 for our 8:50 flight. The plane was delayed until 9:10, due to high north winds, but lauren wouldn't know, she was asleep once her ass hit the seat.

From car to plane to ferry to feet, we arrived at Airlie Beach Waterfront b&b at two.

Chem greeted us. That's right, her name is Chem. It was nice to meet her after over a year of emailing. We got the 411 on the egg maker and booked our sea outing. Matthew and I debated ferry versus sailboat, big tour (treated like cattle) versus little (there is no escaping if anyone in the group is annoying), Great Barrier Reef versus white sand beach. hmmmmm... once we thought for a half-second, we realized, how could we travel halfway around the world to Queensland and NOT see The Reef? It is after all the world's largest and one of the Earth's seven natural wonders. We'd be fools! we can go to the Caribbean for nice beaches, or Revere Beach even, so we opted for the motor boat cattle-mover to the Reef. Our only option to see the reef. The bus picks us up at 7:30, give or take ten minutes.

Our Spa Suite is a "studio-style" room with gorgeous ocean views. When it comes to living space arrangements, we are big fans of the open floor plan. This has a new twist. Everything is open. Everything. Even the bathroom.

Where we spent breakfasts, before-dinner and after-dinner drinks was the deck. It was cozy, just enough room for a bistro table and two chairs and a chaise, overlooking pioneer bay and an inlet beach...
A majestic view, cool ocean breezes and the ideal sanctuary from spousal pooping.

Went for a wander. Scoped out the places to eat and the places to avoid. Airlie is known as a backpacker destination. We switched our initial plan of snack now then a later dinner, to dinner now! It was only four in the afternoon, but with our stomachs growling and the menu at la tavolla reading homemade pasta, we had an early bird dinner. On the way home we pit-stopped at Thirsty Camel where we bought two crappy Aussie Sav Blancs to drink on our deck. Sorry, but NZ has our vote for the best sav blanc. Inspired by Tony, we ate doner kebab for our late snack on our deck.

Posted by LaurendeMatt 16:00 Archived in Australia Tagged queensland Comments (0)

(Entries 11 - 15 of 22) « Page 1 2 [3] 4 5 »