Lewis' Exploring Oz

On and off the beaten track…………………….

Trams, Forts, Sand castles and Penguins.

Posted by lewisfamilyexploringoz on May 17, 2011

Hi Everyone,

Flinders St Station

On the tram

I don’t seem to be able to keep my New Year’s promise to myself regarding updating this blog regularly but we are going to do longer stays at places so I should be able to get more done and get up-to-date.  We flew back to Perth for 5 days and managed to get Wade’s tongue guard removed (yeah) although we now start saving for the braces he knows he has to have eventually:).  The accountant managed to get me a refund but Joel is paying tax this year – like he said if you’re paying tax then we’ve made some money, apparently. It was so good to see all the family again and spend some quality time with them.  The boys have grown so much and I’m sure by Christmas Daniel will be giving Joel a good run for his money as he is almost as tall as me and only 12! I’m starting to carry his birth certificate with us to prove that he is only 12 and not 14-15 like he looks!

We spent the first night back in Melb at a Motel, Quality Hotel Melbourne Airport, as we arrived

Fountain at Exhibition Bld

Melb Museum

Coat of Arms

in the evening and didn’t feel like setting up the van in the dark.  The kids thought it was great to have single beds – not bunks and they got to have Maccas and KFC and watch a movie while Joel and I dinned ALONE:) downstairs in the restaurant.  We haven’t had many moments alone so we savoured it and our meals were very delicious too!

Okay, we spent a few days in Melbourne and this time stayed at the Big 4 in Coburg.  It is the most expensive park we have stayed in but the ammenties were spotless, the park was beautiful and it was relaxing too, oh except for the day the boys got gastro and spewed (both ends) non-stop for 24 hours and then just as they recovered, poor Joel copped it as well.  It was days like this that I wished to not be in a caravan! We were wiped for a few days and ended up staying two days longer than we had planned but didn’t do any sight-seeing just slept!

We did manage to take a tram and a train into the city and explore it a bit on foot.  The Flinders Street Station is just as beautiful as I remember it but a lot

Drinks b4 dinner

Va Bene family dinner

bigger now. We took the free tram to tour around the city and jumped on and off at different places.  The weather is mostly overcast, rainy and cold so we visited the Melbourne Museum.  It was quite fascinating and has changed a lot but good old Phar Lap was still there! He is still quite an imposing and beautiful creature.  There was also a taxidermied coat of arms there too! No visit to Melbourne is complete without going to the Queen Victoria Markets and the kids wanted to go and have a look.

We traipsed around the city for a while and then met my sister and my mum for dinner.  We went to Va Bene, a fantastic restaurant owned and run by my cousin Marisa Travain, in the Docklands, near Etihad Stadium.  I haven’t seen Marisa for a couple of years and it was so good to catch up, have a few drinks and some absolutely delicious meals (the BEST gnocchi I have ever had too! Yummo).  We took lots of photos and us ‘girls’ sat around catching up for a few hours.  There’s some weird steel structures that I suppose are supposed to be art but we all laughed when Wade said they looked like a cyclone had twisted

Cow in a tree

Shane's b'day dinner

Mornington Peninsula

them out of shape. Such an apt description! There was also a huge cow-in-a-tree! No other way to explain it people! We bid farewell to Dianna and Mum and then managed to catch the second-last tram of the night back to the van in Coburg.  You do see some amazing sites on a saturday night on a tram from the city but thankfully it was fairly uneventful.

The next afternoon, we met up with Joel’s cousin Shane and his partner Ania and they invited us to dinner with some of their friends to celebrate Shane’s birthday. It was a big, friendly group of people and we had a great time catching up as Danny and Gaye were there too (Joel’s cousin from Geelong and Shane’s brother).

Kids on Rye Jetty

We left Melbourne and headed down towards the Mornington Peninsula.  We stayed at Dromana, at the Kangerong Holiday Park, another Big4 park.  It was right across the road from the beach and we were lucky to

Penguin pal

Dromana Jetty

have some lovely, sunny weather for a few days here. We even managed to get the bikes off and ride along the beach tracks.  This park is more of a cabin park and the sites are a little bit squishy but we managed to fit on okay and our neighbours are another older couple from WA too.

We find if we stay for at least 3 days we manage to get schoolwork done in the mornings and then touristy stuff in the arvo and not feel like we are rushing to see everything.  The weather is so glorious and sunny which is making our beach stay quite glorious. We took a drive down the coast towards Rye and stopped off at the jetty where the kids spotted a huge sting ray and also followed a Little Penguin up and down the jetty. He was quite amazing and even though the water looked

Cheviot Beach Lookout

Gunnery outpost

very inviting we didn’t swim as it was still very cold.

We headed out the next day to Port Nepean National Park and did a loop walk out to Fort Nepean,  Fort Pearse and Cheviot Hill, which is where Prime Minister Harold Holt disappeared. There is a memorial dedicated to him at the lookout and some magnificent views of the Bay.  There is no public access to Cheviot Beachand when you watch the waters churning from atop the lookout you sort of wonder what would possess a person th swim there anyway. There is an area between Point Nepean and Point Lonsdale called “The Rip” which is known as one of the most dangerous water passages in Australia. There is an underwater reef system there and on tidal changes there can be up to a metre’s difference in the water between the bay and Bass Strait.  You can see the huge rips in the water from the top of the Point as well – pretty explosive waters and I’m glad I’m not in a boat trying to navigate it. There is so much history at each of the

Pearse Barracks

The Rip

Enchanted Maze

forts, lots of guns and cannons still in-situ so the boys had a ball.  The walk was very pretty with views of the sea for most of the walk.  There are some interactive rooms in Fort Nepean with a wealth of information about WW2 and it’s role in our country’s defence.

We had a glorious, but late, picnic lunch and then headed off to the “Enchanted MazeGardens”.  The hedge at the entrance is a beautifully sculptured conifer hedge and looked amazing.  There is a traditional maze, a children’s maze, a 3D indoor

Enough said

Tyre Maze

Rope Maze

maze (with some fantastic artwork), some outdoor mazes and puzzles, a tube slide, a lot of brilliant wood carvings of people and animals strewn about through the grounds and all set in a bush setting.  The mazes were great fun and the outdoor mazes and puzzles had us all going and there was even a snakes and ladders game in the middle of the kids maze. The rope maze required the kids to attached a rope and clip belt onto a particular coloured rope and to follow that rope through all the criss-cross ropes. They had to

Tube Slide

Snakes and Ladders

Sunset at Dromana

unclip at each post and re-clip back on. It was fun to watch them trying to beat each other out. We headed back to camp and decided on fish and chips down on the beach (as you do) and watched a beautiful sunset.

We headed up towards Frankston to see some Sand Sculpting.  These were absolutely bloody amazing.  Even while you are walking around them you can’t believe that it is sand.  They were incredible. They were built by australian and overseas artists and this year’s theme was Creepy

Frogs sand sculpture

Flea Circus Sculpture

Alice in Wonderland

Boys hard at work

Crawlies.  The kids even got to have a go at some sculpting as well.

We headed off to Phillip Island and stayed at the Beach Park Tourist Caravan Park. It’s a small park but we managed to be there when there was an ‘A-van’ convention on in the actual park. I didn’t know the little A-van series came in so many different configurations! First stop was to get tickets for the penguin parade, that happens down at Nobbies Point at night.  You are not allowed to take photos of the penguins as they try to keep it as natural as possible for them.  We have checked the weather and today looks like it will be the end of our good-weather run.  The penguins were so gorgeous and by the end of the evening there had been about 700 walk up the beach to their

Sundown prior to Penguin Parade

More clowning around

Clowning around

burrows in the sand dunes.  We all sat on the steps, cordoned off from the beach so you cannot touch or interfere with them but you can see them quite clearly.  When I was here as a kid they were called Fairy Penguins but with political correctness gone absolutely crazy and to not offend the gay community, their name was changed to Little Penguins. Give me a break!  It was freezing cold and once again we donned the beanies, scarves and jackets! For something we weren’t sure of to pack we have certainly used them a lot.

After a day of torrential rain the weather has cleared to overcast! The kids wanted to go to “Amaze ‘N Things“.  We thought, OMG not another maze but this one was like a fortress and made totally from wood.  It had four towers

Fort Maze

Pelican Feeding

with different flags that you had to find.  It was a lot harder than it looked.  You could go up some stairs to see where you were

Wade's friend

and perhaps how to get to where you wanted to go but it wasn’t an easy challenge, which made it a bit more fun.  We all split up to do the first 3 then found the last one altogether.  The place has an inside area, not unlike a smaller version of the puzzles area at Scitech and Questacon. We made it back to the van and went for a swim in the “heated” outdoor pool.  It wasn’t exactly heated but it was certainly warmer than the ocean and Wade spotted a couple of brush-tailed possums up in the rafters, near the toilets. They seemed a bit tame, not tame enough to feed but

Pyramid Rock

Coast at Nobbies

Sea Lion Rock

not too skittish when we sat down to watch them for awhile.

Next day we headed down to San Remo and watched them feed the pelicans.  It is a daily event, down by the bridge and pier.  There

Wade at Nobbies

were a few sting rays around as well, two of them were pretty huge too.  We took a scenic drive around the island to visit Surf Beach, Pyramid Rock and The Nobbies.  At The Nobbies there is a walk along the coastline and you can see a few penguins under the boardwalk and there is a sea-lion colony on the rocks, just off the coast.  They do sea-lion tours but it had been cancelled today, mmmmm can’t imagine why! By the time we got here though the weather was very windy and overcast and it started to rain while we were at the farthest end of the walk – of course! Wade had forgotten his jumper so he was like a popsicle when we got back to the car. Even though the weather was crap, it was still very pretty.  We stopped at Rhyll on the way back and the weather had cleared a little.  Wade managed to get the most monstrous splinter in his hand (Daniel assures me he had nothing to do with it – Yeah right!). After a bit of improvised surgery to extract the pylon from his hand, it was a beauty too, we headed back to camp to bandage him up.

Till next time,

Ciao`

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