It’s my home, it’s my city & I love it!!

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Tulip Coffee – Degraves Street

I’m currently sitting in a beautiful coffee shop in the lanes of Melbourne, sipping a Long Black and wondering what I used to do on Friday afternoons before we ended up here.. Melbourne is the most magical city. Just meandering through the laneways is enough to make me grateful for being alive. It’s that kind of place! It really does make my heart skip a beat! People everywhere; sightseers, office workers, artists, musicians, shop owners, even bloggers like me, immersed in their surroundings and getting all sorts of inspiration from the bustle around them. It’s hard not to be inspired here. There is just so much to love about this city; my city!

We’re fast approaching the end of another year ‘Down Under’ and there don’t seem to be any signs that we may be adventuring off to pastures new just yet.. Thank goodness. I am amazed at all the things we’ve squeezed in to our first year in Melbourne, and there’s still so much to explore.  I’m so full of love for how this city has become home to us so quickly!  I never would have imagined a few years ago that we would be here, doing this, and absolutely loving every minute!!

It seems like a lifetime ago we hopped off that plane in Sydney, to see what Australia had to offer. To dip our toes in the clear blue waters of the world famous Bondi Beach. The memories feel like a scene from a black and white movie.. Mr W, whisking us off to explore a warm and distant land. If it had been on the silver screen,  I’d have been played by Olivia De Havilland (Obvs), and Mr.W played by Humphrey Bogart! We’d arrive in the Southern Hemisphere, embrace each other at the bottom of the plane steps, and get chauffeured off to our glamorous new abode in Sydney Harbour.

In reality it was nothing like that!

Monty had spent the first 12 hours of the journey vomiting into supermarket carrier bags that I had cleverly stashed in my hand-luggage. Poppy spent 24 hours watching re runs of Peppa Pig, and I sobbed most of the way! By the time we landed in Sydney, we looked more like the Aadams Family than glamorous 1940’s movie stars. Hello Australia, we’ve arrived, and NO we’re not staying for long, I left my besties crying at Heathrow!!!

Now almost three years on from the landing, and…. wait for it… (*Mum grab a hankie)… I’m not sure I could….. go back……

I know, I know, it sounds a little ‘out there’! *All my friends are currently deleting my blog from their newsfeed, muttering “I told her she’d not be back”… Mum is sobbing into her cup of tea, and for some reason, I don’t feel too terrible… In fact, I feel relieved to have finally put it out there.

That’s not to say I don’t yearn for my girl crew, and I don’t miss lots of things about the UK; it’s just that Australia, well Melbourne.. oh gosh I’m so sorry…is home now….

It had to happen eventually. There had to come a time when we all started to think of Australia as “home”.  Expat’s all over the world; since being an expat was even a thing, have always struggled with knowing where home really is. I’m sure people stop themselves calling their host country ‘home’, so as not to upset Aunty Brenda, or to keep hold of friends who have promised to disown them if they don’t return!!! The pressure to have just one home, and not love anywhere else as much.. or dare I say it.. MORE, is too much to handle. It’s a strange feeling, as if I’m letting the whole of the UK down, by saying “thanks anyway, but I think we’ll stay put”. I’m sure that’s what makes my stomach churn and mimic homesickness. It’s possibly not that I’m missing the chips and gravy with mushy peas, or the local pub with the log fire, it’s the terror that I’ll be cast aside and never welcomed home with open arms again! I’m a traitor, fair and square!!

We never came here with the intention of staying forever, but you can’t help but build a life for yourselves, and your children. You can’t help but make friends; close friends. You can’t help but join clubs, get jobs, volunteer, join the school committee, find a local pub, join sports teams, become part of a community… You can’t help but make a new life, and somehow that’s what we’ve done. (And no, I still don’t resemble Olivia de Havilland)

We came here for four years, and now with only 14 months left on our visa, I am truly panicking about what will become of us all if we do have to leave our…. ‘home’??

The UK isn’t our home any more. Is it?? We left a life behind, and have created something different, something new, something exciting, something we’re certainly not ready to let go of.

I think what I’m trying to say is, no matter what we do, or where we go, we will always be in a position where we’re living without something or someone. And without doubt, in this crazy ‘expat’ life, we just have to go with the flow; think about what we really, really want, and as selfish as it sounds not give anyone else a second thought! We have one life, one chance at getting it right and only we know ‘where‘ we’re happy! For The Wilson’s, now… dare I say it….? I think we’re home.

“The most beautiful things in life are not things. They’re people, and places, and memories, and pictures. They’re feelings and moments and smiles and laughter” – Unknown

Olivia xx

 

 

Lantern Ghost Tours – Melbourne

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The chance of getting Mr W to join me on a ghost tour was pretty remote. Not only is he a huge sceptic but he tends to poo poo all things ‘spooktastic’. I left it to the last minute and then told him where we were going!! I got him to Federation Square for 8:30 and it turns out he really enjoyed our night… and he felt a few chills too…Shhhhh!

We met our guide Chloe at the ‘Information Point’ opposite the iconic Flinders Street Station, there was a huge group of us but we were on our way, dead on time.. (no pun intended!)

The tour was a 2km walking tour of the city of Melbourne, the weather was perfect and the trams and party goers were out in force! They absolutely did not distract us from Chloe’s magical way of story telling, we were all hanging on her every word.

Melbourne’s history is fascinating, the Gold Rush brought so much good, and with it, so much evil to Melbourne.  The Lantern Ghost Tour was as much a history lesson as it was an insight into the gruesome goings on in times gone by. We learnt of people like Baron Swanson also known as Frederik Deeming (possibly Jack the Ripper) , Frederick Federici and the Prima Donna Nellie Melba. We heard the tragic tale of a little Alma, who was found murdered in the old “Gun Alley”, and her suspected murderer Colin Campbell Ross who after 86 years has been pardoned thanks to modern DNA investigations.

‘Journey back to old Melbourne, a time when the spices of China Town masked the smoke of  the opium dens, poor houses supplied bodies in the name of advancing medical science and famous opera singer Federici gave his most dramatic performance, plummeting to death in front of his audience.’

Chloe let us know when we were heading for a particular place that has attracted lots of ‘spiritual energy’ on previous tours.  People have been known to faint, feel pain in their heads and the incredibly bright lights in Gun Alley (now known as Pink Alley) have flickered with little Alma’s ghostly presence. We all watched on as Chloe used divining rods to try and contact Alma, and ask her a few questions. Sadly the group didn’t seem too keen on coming forward and having a go themselves; maybe we were all a little too worried, as there was definitely a strange atmosphere at that point in the tour.

We wound our way through the many streets, listening to tales in mysterious alley ways, and alongside the famous Melbourne Club, the Hotel Windsor, Princess Theatre and Parliament House. It seemed like we had left no spooky stone unturned.

Chloe ended our tour in Cohen Place in the centre of China Town where we all stood as a group under the circle of lights to purify ourselves and rid ourselves of any spirits who may have latched on to us whilst we were treading their paths.

The stories were enthralling, the city was magnificent and the goosebumps were real.

A Lantern Ghost Tour is a great way to learn about a city, to see parts of it you would not ordinarily see and to get a real feel for a time long gone.

I must say, I was glad to be hopping on a tram, with the bright city lights guiding our way, knowing we weren’t going to be crossing paths with any grave robbing, body snatchers.

Gosh, thank goodness for our relatively safe and somewhat boring existence in 2017!


All the info 

Whatever you’re looking for, even if you haven’t decided the list of incredible tours is here!!  Choose a stroll around the city, or for the ‘super brave’ a night in one of Australia’s most haunted prisons!

Cost – Prices start at $29 and go up to $184 for overnight paranormal investigations.

Age – 12+

Location – Sites are located across Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia and Queensland! 

ContactTelephone – 1300 390 119 Message Lantern Ghost ToursHere

You can find Lantern Ghost Tours on FacebookInstagram – YouTubePinterest – and Twitter Hurry along and Check them out!

 

 

12 Things You Might Not Know About Japan – By Erica Louise

I’ll be honest, I felt a little nervous about going to Japan as a family. Our kids are quite young; 3 years and the other turned 9 years whilst we were away.  We’ve travelled overseas with them before, but Japan is just so different from anywhere else in the world. How would we all cope?

I worried about what they’d eat, both being incredibly fussy eaters; they don’t eat sushi and aren’t particularly fond of plain rice or noodles. I worried about the 10-hour day time flight and what I would do to entertain them for that long. How would the kids deal with culture shock?  Particularly Mr.3, who on our last trip to Bali, asked to go home constantly for three days straight!! I questioned how we’d get by with literally no Japanese. What would happen if the kids needed the toilet and we didn’t know how to ask for the nearest loo?

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I needn’t have worried at all. We did just fine. The kids ate and were far more experimental with their choices. Thanks to the in-flight entertainment the 10-hour flight didn’t seem quite so bad. Thankfully our 3yo only asked to go home twice; and then said he didn’t want to go home when it was time to. Oh, and public toilets are all over the place and easy to get to; we had no near-accidents whatsoever.

I must say, organising a walking day tour of Tokyo on the first day turned out to be a huge saving. This helped us get our bearings of the vastness of Tokyo and showed us how to conquer the (incredibly efficient) public transport service.

In the following couple of weeks of our adventure, I took note of the surprises our trip to Japan unveiled. Almost every day I took note of something new. I imagine staying longer would unveil even more.

Here’s my list of unexpected discoveries during our family trip to Japan:

 

  • You’ll be hard pushed to find a rubbish bin. In Melbourne, we’re so used to throwing our litter away in public bins. In Japan, there are no bins. Well that’s not entirely true, you might be lucky enough to find one in a convenience store (7 Eleven or equivalent) and occasionally on the platform of a main railway station, but not often. There are no bins on the subway, no bins in parks, no bins in public spaces. None. You take your rubbish home with you. This proved to be fun when Mr.3 didn’t want to finish his banana. Smelly times after walking the streets of Tokyo for hours on end. Despite this, you won’t find any stray litter in the streets. Japans streets are clean beyond belief.  

 

  • Mount Fuji is not always capped with snow.  Call me naive but I thought Mt. Fuji would be snow-capped year-round. Wrong. We got to see Mt. Fuji from the bullet train window when travelling from Tokyo to Kyoto. (Top tip: get a window seat on the right side of the train when travelling to Tokyo. You’ll spot Mt. Fuji after about an hour out of Tokyo, but only for 10 minutes before it’s out of sight again). When travelling in September (Autumn), Mt. Fuji was not snow-capped, but still an incredible sight to see regardless.

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  • There are queues for everything. Japanese are incredibly polite, they also love a queue. Dare I say more than us Brits and that’s saying something. It is not uncommon to see queues out of the door of a cafe, restaurant, vending machine, ticket booth or public toilet. We once queued for 45 minutes just to get a frappe from Starbucks. I kid you not. On the subway, passengers wait patiently in file. There are wait lists at popular venues, you must put your name down on the list, if you don’t, you miss out. We learnt the hard way when the kids missed out on the fabulous play area in the National Museum of Nature and Science in Tokyo because we didn’t put our names down when we first arrived.

 

  • Despite being so busy, Tokyo is quiet. I don’t usually consider my kids to be super loud, but in Japan they seemed like the loudest children in the universe. Japan, Tokyo especially, is densely populated. You’d expect it to be horrendously busy and loud. Busy it is, but loud? Not really. Japanese people are quiet. You’ll notice when walking around the city that many locals are heads down, faces buried in their mobile phones. Families, friends and couples talk quietly to each other. I don’t recall hearing anyone shout during our two week stay. I felt quite embarrassed by the volume of my kid’s voices at times.

 

  • Yes, it is expensive in Japan but the food is reasonable. Unlike many other Asian countries, Japan is not a cheap destination by any means. That said, it’s the accommodation, travel and main tourist attractions that eat up most of your money. Food is reasonable. If you choose to eat in one of the many eateries off the main streets, you can eat a good meal for a fraction of what you’d otherwise pay. Convenience stores are also excellent for snacks, sandwiches, hot food, sushi and pre-packaged foods. We often bought lunch from a convenience store (they are everywhere) back at our hotel and would eat well for around $20.

 

 

  • Occasional English word. I found it funny to hear random English words thrown into conversations or to see an English word in text somewhere. Not a major thing, but funny nonetheless. It also surprised me how many people spoke broken English, even a homeless man (a rare sight) who once asked us for food by saying “hungry’. It’s easy to get by with zero Japanese knowledge, although it’s always worth a try if you do know the odd word or two.

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  • There aren’t many birds around in the city. I’m so used to seeing little birds around Melbourne. Pigeons at the train stations, sparrows, Indian Minor birds and seagulls. So much so, I barely notice them. That said, in Japan I couldn’t help but notice the lack of feathered friends. No little sparrows and rarely any pigeons. Pigeons seem so rare in fact, that my eldest son even took photo evidence when he did see one. A Japanese parent pointed to a sole pigeon at the train station, gaining the attention of her smiling son. I can only assume the lack of birds is due to the lack of litter around, as per point no.1.

 

 

  • Japanese convenience food is packaged to the max. Japanese convenience food and products are seriously over packaged. Bananas individually wrapped in plastic, little face washers in restaurants given out with chopsticks or cutlery, all individually wrapped in plastic. Biscuits in convenience stores, individually wrapped, sometimes inside another wrapper, and then boxed. Considering litter is at an absolute minimum on the streets and there are hardly any rubbish bins anywhere (as per point no.1) I found this quite contradictory!

 

 

  • Japanese TV is absolutely nuts. This isn’t really a huge surprise I know, but when your hotel’s TV is filled with Japanese shows you get to see how cray-cray it really is. My 9yo couldn’t stop laughing at a kid’s morning programme with a TV presenter dressed in a pink cow costume, sitting in a bath with no water. His co-presenter? A talking blue chair. This is just the start, TV shows for adults are just as hilarious. Hours of entertainment right there.  

 

  • There’s a button on the Japanese toilets to give you privacy when you poo.  Japanese toilets are so far advanced that I’m surprised the rest of the world hasn’t caught on. With buttons to wash your bum and bits, heat your seat and warm the water, these loos are super tech. The one function that made me giggle the most?  The music note button. I thought this might play a tune while you pee. Not so, it’s a button to mimic the flushing of the toilet, without the flush happening. I therefore assume this drowns out the noise if one needs to do a number two without fellow toilet goers noticing.  Funny eh?

 

  • There’s a huge American influence in Japan’s main cities. In Tokyo and Kyoto there are Starbucks and McDonalds all over the place. They are super busy too. What is the most popular spectator sport in Japan?  Sumo wrestling you might think.  Nope, it’s baseball; a sport most commonly thought of as an American pastime. When strolling around the cities I couldn’t help but notice American clothing shops and stores dedicated to Hawaiian themed goods, too. In travel agent shop windows, I noticed holidays to Hawaii heavily advertised. American influences are alive and well in Japan.

 

 

  • Smoking is permitted in restaurants. With the ban of smoking in public spaces in the UK and Australia, I found it quite confronting dealing with smoking in restaurants in Japan. It can be quite uncomfortable eating food with my family whilst a neighbouring table would spark up a ciggie or two. Not a big deal to a local, but to a non-smoker, this can be challenging. What I would say though, is this didn’t happen all the time, only once or twice during our stay.

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Despite the secondary smoke with our dinner, we absolutely loved our time in Japan. It’s a new favourite destination and I hope you consider the ‘Land of the Rising Sun’ for your next family holiday.

Have you travelled to Japan before?  If so, what surprised you the most? 

Erica x


 

Erica is a British Expat living in Melbourne, Australia with her two sons, husband and little black rescue cat. She left Hertfordshire for brighter skies and Bayside living, and spends most of her time writing and exploring all the cool things to do with kids in Melbourne and beyond.  Follow her Melbourne adventures on her website KidTown Melbourne and catch all the latest Melbourne fun on Facebook and Instagram too!!!

Our Whistle-Stop Review of Hong Kong Disneyland!!

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Hong Kong Disneyland sometimes gets a bit of a hard time from your avid Disney fans. If you have been to the States and visited Disneyland or Walt Disney World, then yes, you will be shocked to discover this somewhat small, quaint Disney Park. In my opinion this park is ideal for smaller kids, for first timers, and for those who aren’t too fussed about the epic thrill rides.

 

The Hong Kong Disney experience is just as magical; the kids adored seeing their favourite characters in the streets, and the shows, they loved the Iron-Man shaped waffles, and adored the rides. They had a true ‘Disney Experience’, and left the park after 7 hours with a whole heap of sweat dripping down their backs and oodles of Mickey Magic in their hearts.

The day we visited it was nearly 38 degrees and very humid, so I had made sure our bag was full of water, umbrellas and suncream. There is very little shade in the park, and I would highly recommend a fan of some description to keep you cool whilst queuing. Yes, the dreaded queues are the same as any other park. You can opt to get a fast pass at a few of the rides, which would save you a good deal of time in line. We did this at the Iron Man Experience and went straight in. It was fab! We were very sweaty by the time we got to ride 3 and the air con was a treat!

Hong Kong Disneyland is so much busier than it was when we last visited 7 years ago. Although it was a regular Monday in Hong Kong, the queues were longer, the crowds were bigger, and it took far longer to get lunch. This may have been as it was a public holiday in mainland China, or because the park is much more popular.

The set up in the park is just like the other Disney parks. The castle overlooks Main Street which is full of shops and restaurants. This is the perfect place for grabbing some food, and for purchasing all your Mickey Mouse souvenirs on the way out.

Hong Kong Disneyland is laid out in 6 different ‘Lands’.  Tomorrowland, Fantasyland, Adventureland, Grizzly Gulch, Mystic Point and Toy Story Land. Each one very different, with lots of fun attractions for everyone and it’s well worth trying to get through all of them. Monty (5) didn’t miss out on anything he wanted to do, and was thrilled that he was the right height for everything! There are so many great rides, our favourites included “It’s a Small World” the ‘Jungle River Cruise’, the Buzz Lightyear ride, and the Iron Man Experience!

The Wilson’s top ride!

The Iron Man Experience is a fairly new ride at the park. It’s a thrill ride, that takes you flying above and through the streets of Hong Kong, trying to save the city from attack. It’s incredible. One of the greatest rides we have been on. We would highly recommend it for all super hero fans.

Don’t miss out on a show!

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We stopped at the Storybook Theatre to see Mickey and the Wondrous Book, which was a mind blowing 28 minute stage show bringing the Disney classics to life. Although the characters were speaking Chinese, the children didn’t mind at all. I whispered the subtitles, and we all sang along to the famous songs. Disney really know’s how to put on a show.

Grab your spot for the parade!

The Parades are always a must see. We made sure we had a good spot for the 4pm parade, within reach of the shops aircon, right on the pavement, in the thick of it. The parade throws the park into a magical frenzy as everyone is waving and hollering at their favourite characters. The children’s faces were a picture. It is real life Magic!

The Wilson’s Top Tips for Hong Kong Disney

  • Get there early!! Before it even opens!
  • The train on the Disneyland Resort line from Sunny Bay Station is Disney Themed and worth a ride.
  • Plan your day, your breaks, and use the loo when you see it!!
  • Find out when and where you can see your favourite characters! It’s such a shame to miss them!
  • Download the app to check on wait times, browse maps and see schedules.
  • Leave your selfie stick at home. They aren’t allowed to be used in the park.
  • Check out the fast passes, and make use of them to avoid wait times. (Hyper Space Mountain, Iron Man Experience, and Winnie the Pooh!)
  • Get a good spot outside a shop door for the parade. You will feel the breeze of the air con every now and again.
  • Eat lunch early to avoid the rush at lunchtime. Have a big brekkie, as the food is super pricey!
  • You have the option to purchase a second day ticket when you book. If you have the time & energy, this would be good with kids, as it takes the pressure off.
  • Take lots of drinks, fans, suncream and cash.
  • Wave with all your might at the parade and you may get picked to join in!!
  • Hire a stroller, even if your little one loves walking. It can be tiring especially in the heat.
  • ‘It’s a Small World’ is by far the best ride for cooling down!!
  • Pick up a guide map, they are super handy, and the kids can show you where to go.
  • The park gets busiest after 3pm, so try and hit the rides you want before then.

All the details

Book tickets here!

 Standard Park Tickets- Choose from 1-day or 2-day tickets.

Starting from: HK$589 (Don’t forget you get in Faster with your eTicket)

Special Tour booking is here!

You can check out all the rides here.

If you need more information to help you plan your journey to Hong Kong Disneyland click here!

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Not sure they were ready to go home!! 

 

 

The “Bloomin Great” Ocean Road!!!!

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We finally made a trip along the Great Ocean Road a few weekends ago. We packed everyone into the car, and as per usual we prayed to every possible god that the kids would be good!

From Melbourne to Torquay, where we were basing ourselves, is about 145km so not too far on a cold Friday night. We were staying in a property in the centre of Torquay, close to shops and restaurants, which was great. It meant we had everything on hand, should we need it. The house had all sorts of wonderful things to keep us all occupied; from ping pong, to basketball, board games, skateboards and a playstation! I was especially happy as there were plenty of lovely magazines, a beautiful deep bath, and a Nespresso machine.. Me time!! Bliss! Our first night was super comfy, warm and cosy!

We woke on Saturday to glorious sunshine, we headed out, grabbed coffee and milkshakes and hit the road! Driving out of Torquay and toward the Twelve Apostles, we passed all the iconic surf beaches that surround Torquay, and promised ourselves that we weren’t going home without dipping our toes in the water at Bells Beach!

The drive was spectacular. Travelling along the Great Ocean Road is such a magical experience. That iconic Aussie road trip; the ocean almost lapping at the road side as you twist and turn your way toward to the Twelve Apostles. Even with the bickering in the back it was bliss. We broke the 150km drive with a few stops in lovely little beachside towns. We saw Koalas in the wild, peeking at us through the tourist information window (Lorne), the children played on the beaches, and we had the best pork sandwich you could EVER IMAGINE (Apollo Bay)!!!! Pretty much could have stopped right there, the trip was already a cracker!

We made it to the Twelve Apostles at about 2pm, it was incredibly busy! Obviously! You can’t come to Victoria and miss this!

We joined the other gazillion visitors and walked the path (well, Monty hopped and Poppy tripped most of the way) across the road and down toward the ocean. The wind was howling, but thankfully it wasn’t cold. When we turned the corner and caught sight of the enormous sea stack sculptures, rising majestically out of the Southern Ocean, it truly took our breath away. The pictures do not do it justice! It is jaw droppingly beautiful. The hours of endless eye spy, and arguing, was definitely worth it.

Australia has some incredible landscapes, and it’s coastline is second to none. I now completely understand why this road is called the Great Ocean Road. It just has to be on the list for one of the greatest coastal drives of all time.


Highlights of the trip

 The Australian National Surfing Museum– Torquay

You can read about our trip to the museum here

Cost: Adult $12  Student/Pensioner Concession $8  Child (aged 16 and under) $8  Family $25

Location: 77 Beach Road Torquay Victoria 3228
Tel: 03 5261 4606 |
Email: ansm@surfcoast.vic.gov.au
Opening hours: 9am – 5pm 7 days a week 364 days a year

Bells Beach

Bells Beach is the beach you think of when someone mentions the movie Point Break… Although, it turns out, the movie wasn’t actually filmed there. Why? I have no idea, as this is possibly the greatest surf beach we have visited on our travels so far. I am not a surfer by any stretch of the imagination but this beach was amazing, and judging by the number of people slipping in and out of wetsuits in the car park, this is the place to surf! We could see the ocean was flecked with surfers waiting for a wave, the waves catching them, dropping them off,  and then hurtling up onto the beach. We made our way down the wooden staircase on to the sand. The waves were crashing up right in front of us, almost wiping us out a few times. To think we were treading the sand that so many world famous surfers have walked on, is pretty special, and I just kept telling myself that Patrick Swayze probably stood here with Keanu Reeves at some point too… Well, I can dream, can’t I? Bells beach has a wonderful feel to it, and we’re definitely going to get back there some time. Probably not for a surfing lesson, I think I need somewhere a little more placid!


Top Eats:

As we were self catering and the house was so beautiful, we didn’t eat out too much; however when we did, it was ace, so here are the details…. Our top eats were:

Apollo Bay Bakery

 Apollo Bay Bakery was where we had a delicious, quick lunch, whilst being serenaded by a travelling ukulele band! How awesome does that sound? Well wait until you’ve tried the roast pork roll with crispy crackling, gravy, stuffing… Oh god I have to stop typing… I mean… The love we have for that pork roll….. Get in the car and go now!

Location: 125 Great Ocean Road, Apollo Bay VIC 3233, Australia Phone: 5237 6440

Open 7 days a week

Bomboras

Before hitting the road back to Melbourne we had a feast at Bomboras  in Torquay. Local beer and plates of yumminess! Can’t go wrong with that! I had Brisket on Rye Bruschetta with Coleslaw, Mustard & Pickles.. Need I say more.. Tim had the mussels and said they were great! Check the menu and see for yourself..

Address: 37 The Esplanade, Torquay VIC 3228 Phone: (03) 5264 7881

Opening Hours

M: 5pm-Late T: Closed W:11am-Late T:11am-Late F:11am-Late S&S: 8am-Late

 

‘Embrace the detours, enjoy the journey, explore the open road’- unknown

Olivia xx

Hobart to the Central Plateau with a detour for cheese!

 

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After an epic first day in Tassie, and still with full tummies, we decided to head into Hobart for a small brekkie, and a last minute look around before heading to the Central Plateau.  Breakfast was a “cruffin” (croissant pastry made into a muffin! I KNOWWW) and a coffee at the very cool Brooke Street Pier. We’re ready for day 2!

First stop – Mawsons Huts Replica Museum

The Mawson’s Huts Replica Museum is situated in central Hobart, also known as the “The  Gateway to Antarctica,” just 50 metres from Constitution Dock. A couple of photo’s and a little kick of the penguin (don’t ask me why he does things like that, I have no idea) and we headed indoors.

The museum was opened on the 102nd anniversary of the departure from Hobart of the Australasian Antarctic expedition 1911-14 led by Douglas Mawson. The huts here are replicas of the ones still in Cape Denison – Antarctica – constructed in 1911 by the men of the Australian Antarctic Expedition. Hurrah, Poppy has been learning about Mawson at school as part of their “explorers” topic, so this visit was epic parenting!!!

We were greeted at the entrance by Warwick, who talked us through a photo slide show and explained in great detail the trials and tribulations of the Australian Antarctic Expedition and about the conservation work still going on at the huts. I had goose bumps just thinking about what a struggle it must have been for those brave young men back in 1911. Warwick made the visit come alive; he filled us all with eagerness to get into the huts and see for ourselves the living conditions the men were subjected to out there on the ice and learn about the work they were doing.

Once inside, you can see just what life was like for the explorers, it all becomes real. Pictures of thick ice under the beds gave us chills. Poppy was fascinated by the typewriter and sat like Angela Lansbury from Murder She Wrote, whilst the rest of us explored. Jeannie another member of staff told us about her own visits to the huts as part of the conservation team. She was truly incredible. It’s not very often you meet someone who has been to the Antarctic, let alone taken part in an incredible expedition to almost follow in the footsteps of one of history’s greatest explorers. We read stories of each man on the 1911 expedition, saw their meal plans, felt the blankets, saw the sledges that were used. It was truly one of the most fascinating museums we have ever been in.  There was so much to learn about a rarely mentioned, incredibly heroic Australian explorer, and visiting was also a great way to help raise much needed funds for the conservation of the huts. A must see if you’re heading to Hobart!

 

The Drive

We apologised to the kicked penguin, bought a few postcards, and got in the car, to begin the next leg of our journey! We were going South first via Kettering, Birchs Bay, Randalls Bay in the Huon Valley, past Eggs and Bacon bay, all the way round back to Hobart then off up to visit Richmond Gaol, and on to the  Central Plateau. Our journey took us via some great places. We found a beautiful little grocers heaving with local produce and beaches bursting with oyster shells, the views were breathtaking. “It’s like Scotland, it’s like Iceland, it’s like Wales…” No, it’s like Tasmania. It’s perfect! And we’re in love!

Our reason for driving South was to drive the coast a little, and to visit Grandvewe, Tasmania’s only sheep milk ‘cheesery’. It was where Tim and I could taste cheese and sip Gin whilst the kids feed the sheep! We have our priorities right!

Well worth the drive; the kids were grubby, chatting about sheep poo and happily chomping on blueberries; our purchases are making the car reek of cheese, but hey, we’re on our way!!

 

We were running a little late after all our stops, so I rang ahead to the Central Highlands lodge, to check we’d be in time for dinner! We were told in no uncertain terms “the kitchen closes at 7!”

We couldn’t have driven any faster as the road had run out of tarmac and we were bumbling along the dirt, frantically trying to avoid all sorts of mysterious wildlife. Every now and again Monty would shout “RAAAAAT”, Tim would swerve and the little possum would watch us fly past like lunatics! The children found this hysterical, I was a wreck.

We’re here!

It was pitch black and thick with fog when we arrived at the lodge. There to greet us was yet another enormous furry Possum hanging from the bar window, and a crowd of locals, peering through the glass at us as if they’d never seen anyone round here before. We walked into the reception/bar.. silence… Um… I looked at Tim, Tim looked at Poppy, Monty burped.. The landlord mumbled something from behind the bar, then proceeded to ignore us for ten minutes as we desperately tried to order dinner before the kitchen closed. We felt awkward to say the least. It didn’t help that we all proceeded to get the nervous giggles. My shoulders were shaking, and tears were rolling down my face, I just wanted to get the room key and go hide..

We had a family cabin waiting for us, so we ate quickly in almost silence, with the other guests who were uncomfortably keeping themselves to themselves. We backed out of the bar, smiling and waving, to blank stares.. We escaped to the cabin! Ahhhh it was cosy beyond cosy!!! There were heated blankets, thick duvets, and a basket with our breakfast in it ready for the morning.

 

As bizarre and frankly standoffish as our greeting was; even though everyone managed to make us feel like we’d waltzed into their living room unannounced; we had the best night’s sleep, in the most comfy beds.  We woke up refreshed, with incredible views across the Great Lake, kangaroos bouncing outside our window and were ready for more Wilson antics on Day 3!

We’re heading to Deloraine and the Mole Creek Caves before another night in the cabin! Look out!!


 

Mawsons Huts Replica Museum: Cnr Argyle and Morrison St, Hobart, TAS, 7000  Tel: 1300 551 422 or (03) 6231 1518 Email: info@mawsons-huts-replica.org.au       Ticket Prices: Adult:$12 Concession:$10 Child (up to 16):$4 Family :$28

Grandvewe Cheesery59 Devlyns Rd, Birchs Bay, TAS, Australia Tel: (03) 62674099  Email: info@grandvewe.com

     Richmond Gaol: 37 Bathurst Street, Richmond TAS 7025 Tel: (03) 6260 2127                                                            Email:                                                              Tickets: Adults: $9 Children: $4 Family: $22 (2 adults and children under 17)


Central Highlands Lodge7795 Lakes Highway, Miena TAS 7030 Tel: (03) 6259 8179 Email: highlandslodge@bigpond.com.au