a dud day

8 January

Today happened to be one of those days we should have stayed in bed. We started off perky having seen huge sales advertise in the closed shop windows last night. Heading out we thought this could be a good opportunity for buying some supplies for our next upcoming Swiss leg. Firstly, as we stepped out the door, Melbourne’s proximity to Antarctica was evident. Maybe a cool spring day??? I was in my only summer dress. Doug in a tee. It was freezing! Coffee solved that problem for about five minutes. Determined not to be distracted we headed down Flinders Lane – renowned for its shops.

melbourne-flinders-lane

We found nothing. Flimsy summer dresses that you could maybe wear on a thirty plus day. We’ve only had about four of those during our entire trip. No winter stuff. Having walked around the whole morning we were tired and irritated. To top things we chose a dodgy Indian restaurant as our lunch fair – Doug having tried the first taster decided we may end up with Delhi belly so we quickly took the gap and left our food standing. Hunger drove us across the road to the biggest dumplings in the entire Australia. I could manage three. This wasn’t good.

We made it back to the hotel at about four this afternoon. Tired. Bad food. Tonight we’ve planned more carefully and will be giving Melbourne cuisine its last chance. Doug has booked us into a really nice restaurant in St. Kilda. Can’t wait.

(view from our hotel room below)

view-from-our-hotelroom-melbourne

Last stretch

7 January

We woke up in a cool rainy Lorne this morning. After breakfast we were on the road again, this time to Melbourne itself, our last stop on the Australian leg. Our route this time was far more interesting as we headed towards Queenscliff to take the ferry across the strait to Sorrento.

doug-on-the-ferry

From here we made a few turns around the Mornington Peninsula  – famous for its wineries, cliffs and beaches. Having tried two wineries for lunch – both too full, we lost interest. Lunch ended up being a Shell One Stop wrap. We made a straight beeline for Melbourne.

We spend the rest of the afternoon doing the administrative thing like checking into our hotel and feeling our way around. Around seven we decided to go watch a movie (The curious life of Benjamin Button) – our verdict: pickled tongues from very salty popcorn and a fairly mediocre movie.

tree huggers

6 January

Our alarm buzzed early this morning for our run. The sun was still mellow and had barely reared its head when we jogged down the steep hill from our guesthouse. Turning our first corner we spotted a sleepy koala making his way across the road rather clumsily. He saw us come towards him and shuffled to the nearest bush! We ran all along the edge of the beach which was exceptional with fresh sea air.

beach-lorne

Refreshed from a run we decided to go explore the nearby town of Apollo Bay – supposedly even nicer than Lorne with quite a touristy lighthouse. Along the drive we came across a clump of eucalyptus trees and spotted about four koalas sleeping in the trees close to the road. I managed to get a close-up – they are too cute for words and can only be described as cuddly teddy bears when they sleep.

koala-sleeping1

Later this afternoon back in our guesthouse a swarm of landing helicopters peaked our curiosity  – as we switched on the news, the report came through – an elderly man couldn’t get his turn crashed into about seven people, mainly children. This had happened less than a kilometre from our guest house and was on the main Australian news.  So much for a sleepy holiday spot!

heading down the Great Ocean Road

5 January

We left the Yarra valley this morning. Took a drive through the town of Healesville which came to life again after the weekend. From here our GPS took us around Melbourne – pretty boring landscape until we eventually hit the Great Ocean Road. A long windy coastal road similiar to Chapman’s Peak, just a whole lot longer. The sea on this side is stunningly blue with huge cliffs that nudge the road.

We arrived in the small seaside town of Lorne early afternoon. For the first time during our trip we had booked into a bed & breakfast. Luckily the guesthouse was spotless and very cute – French in style run by two women.

la-perouse1

Great quality linen and little French touches like good coffee (Doug approved) and the symbolic croissant. If it wasn’t for the “see ya!” we could have imagined us in the heart of France. We had dinner at the Ba Be Lu restaurant – a Spanish style cafe that spilled out onto the pavement. Had some yummy tapas and sampled more Oz wine before heading back to the guesthouse.

Outlook Hill

4 January

We slept in again today after yesterday’s early rise. Woke up with a picture straight out of Van Gogh –  fields of rolling farm in front of us. Lazy breakfast and on the two couches with our books. Had another visit from the doggies, scavenging for scraps again after last night’s feast.

Decided to visit a wine farm for lunch to sample the Yarra valley. We ended up at Yering Station. An organised farm that overlooks the farm we tested their Sauvignon Blanc (found it pretty bland) – food was good though. We tucked into the rib-eye fillet – actually saw those beasts munching in the distance.

yering-station-yarra-valley

After lunch we drove back to our cottage and returned to our original positions on the couch overlooking the vineyards and farm. Watching cricket and reading. Just before sunset we decided to go for a run.  We could only jog laps up and down the farm road as Dashie bounced across the road at any chance he got. All we needed was a dead dog on our hands so we just made the best of it. Back at our cottage our little friend below was stretched out on our couch before we turned our backs – off course we both felt too bad to wake the poor critter as he had turned out to be our Lead Runner this evening.

dash-outlook-hill

Flying to Victoria

3 January

The alarm went off 4am this morning. Our flight was at 6:15 –  bleary eyed, we scrambled to get going. Perth airport was surprising busy so early. The heat was pressing and the sun wasn’t even up yet.

Trying to come to terms with switching our clocks forward again, we landed late morning after a three hour flight.  Our rental was a sporty red two-door Yaris. We felt right at home. In no time we left the city and followed our Tom Tom towards the country. Whereas Western Australia was dry bush and sand, Victoria seemed more gentle. Similiar to the Highveld, veld bleached white and clumps of eucalyptus, beech and ash trees.

outlook-hill-wine-farm-yarra-valley-melbourne

We pulled into Outlook Hill just before lunchtime, exhausted from lack of sleep and starving (having avoided the Virgin Blue sarmie). Outlook Hill Restaurant offered a welcome retreat.  A cool high beamed ceiling with white starched table cloths overlooking the farm from a huge verandah. We collapsed into their chairs and started our day with a chilled glass of wine and beautiful home baked bread. (It was twelve thirty after all)

With full tums we pulled into our “Lime” cottage.  Build on wooden stilts it overlooks the Yarra valley, vineyards on the left and farmland ahead. We made two new friends today. Dash, a small Jackie, and Chewy, a black curlie mongrel came to welcome us officially this evening. Doug fed Chewy all our leftovers. So in no time we had a guard dog outside our cottage.

chewy-lime-cottage-outlook-hill

Checking out Perth

2 January

Today was a scorcher. It was close to forty degrees. One of those days where the tar melts and the frozen butter they bring you for breakfast is mush before you get your toast.

I had a girl’s breakfast this morning with Karen, while Jurgen and Doug hit the gym putting  time into their muscles.

Late morning Jurgen, Doug and myself caught the ferry to Fremantle.  We got our second view of Perth from the water, sans the strobe lights this time. Some huge mansions line the shoreline and small bays  similiar to Sydney create small hamlets.

doug-jurgen-and-helene

Fremantle was interesting but hot. We made for the shade wherever we could. Our trip took longer than expected and we finally sat down for lunch at four at Joe’s Fish Shack. To back track home, we took the train and then caught a city bus (free in this town).

Our last night with Jurgen we celebrated with a Barbie (Australian for BBQ). We also killed a rather huge redback spider (one of the most poisenous spiders in Oz). All in a night’s entertainment.