Monday, June 30, 2008

My last minute Melbourne trip (Last Episode)

Yes, finally, the last installment to this report!

On my last day, Auds was feeling generous. She actually treated all of us to yumcha before we took the black windy route...

... up to Mount Dandenong. We were blessed with a colourful display of flora, mainly of the autumn hues of amber, orange, yellow, red, brown, bronze and gold:

We were not lucky enough to get a clear day view from the peak of Dandenong. We resorted to goofing around in the gardens.

And when you make a trip up Dandenong, you cannot miss the opportunity to tuck into a warm serving of tea and scones. After comparing Dandenong to Blue Mountains, Auds concluded that the scones at Dandenong were better while the strawberry jam at Blue Mountains stood out.

We window-shopped, admiring the handicraft and antiques sold in the various shops there. We spent a long time in one shop managed by a lovely lady who was familiar with Malaysian tourists. She's a retired high school teacher who is now doing something she enjoys - selling organic soap, aromatherapy, lotions, candles and what-nots. She was so lovely that I requested for a photo to be taken with her!

Auds bought herself a new tube of lavendar hand cream. Her grandma bought quite a few things ranging from candles to soap. I bought myself an amethyst windchime. It's so pretty!! I am planning to hang it at Honey Bee and will take a picture of it when I find it a good spot.

With more things to pack into my luggage, I returned to Sydney to a warm hug.

Oh, and for all the girls out there who have a guy living with them, here's a little something that may come in handy:

Sunday, June 29, 2008

My last minute Melbourne trip (Episode 5)

As Auds did not get sufficient sleep (due to feeling hyper), I was the designated driver for the day. Our destination for the day was Bendigo, town of gold. It did not occur to me that Bendigo Bank originated from this place until after this vacation.

While driving on the highway, we noticed signboards with the name 'Hanging Rock'. I quickly pointed out that this tourist spot is famous and would like to drop by. We made a detour and veered off in the direction of this rock. It may not be as big as Ayers Rock but hey, it's still spectacular in it's own right. Made famous by a novel called Picnic at Hanging Rock written many years ago that was turned into a movie, Hanging Rock is girdled by greenery. It's rugged environment is balanced by the rolling green scenery that goes on as far as the eye can see:

Wah, and look at this layer of cottonwool!:

Of course, the place wouldn't be called Hanging Rock if not for hanging rocks, right?

And oh, they sure know how to make it an attraction by naming natural phenomenons such as this waterfall mark:

Aunty treated me to an ice-cream after the climb. I still cannot believe that Auds has better stamina than I do... Okay la, I'm super unfit la. Admit la.

Lunch was pies from what seemed like a well-established pastry shop in Bendigo. Uncle paid for me, to reward me for driving all day. After lunch, we took a walk around town and following recommendations from the Information Centre, we visited the Arts Museum. Impressive collection they have there but unfortunately, time did not permit us to appreciate all the exhibits they house. We managed to capture this though:

We also climbed up the hill in the park behind the museum to ascend an actual 'tower' or 'rig' or whatever you call those things that they used to help with the gold mining that happened here decades ago. Up here, we had a bird's eye view of the town:

I think the Almighty up there also appreciated my chauffeur services that day as he provided us with these on the drive home (a little blurred because they were taken while the car was moving):

I finally got to meet up with Mahen after 5 years! He's now permanently back in Australia and it was so good to catch up with him. It was nice to spend my last night in Melbourne with someone from the past, gossiping about how 'great' students we were back in CPU and talking about our future.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

My last minute Melbourne trip (Episode 4)

Auds woke up really early today. I guess she was too excited to sleep anymore. I had the car all to myself for the first half of the day so after dropping her at the station (she had a job interview in the city), I headed towards Brighton. Why? I was heading there in search of a long row of colourful boathouses, not like the few I saw a few days ago.

However, after driving up and down the road, I couldn't see where they were and it started to rain. I gave up after filling the car up with more petrol. I then thought of my cousin, Meng Cheng, and gave her a ring. Coincidentally, her workplace isn't far off from where I was at the time. I drove to Mentone to have lunch with her, to catch up and to stare at what she calls a tiny piece of near nothing karat diamond that was sitting on her engagement finger. It may be 'tiny' and 'near to nothing karat' but it still SHIMMERED and SHINED okay? Can't wait till your wedding day couz!

When Auds called, I quickly headed to Clayton to get her home, changed and dropped her in uni. Then, I had to rush over to her parents' to give them a ride to uni. I discreetly brought her mum to a florist to buy a bouquet of flowers along the way. The pinkish/purplish bouquet was the one I got for her while the red was what Aunty bought:

She was so surprised when we showed up with a bouquet each in our arms. Of course, she could not resist the temptation to have her photograph taken before the ceremony:

Although Monash is only 4 years older than Macquarie, their graduation ceremony was much more impressive. I was green with envy sitting on the upper level of the auditorium watching the proceedings. It was so grand!!!

To celebrate, we went to Hog's Breath for dinner. Man, you have no idea how much meat I've gobbled down since setting foot here. Terrible. And not to mention that it doesn't help with maintaining my weight at all...

After dinner, I brought Auds to have a look at bro's place and he introduced his 'missing' housemates to me. One of them was this person:

Yes, I was surprised too when I found out! Super small world eh? Jeremy aka Jem lived with my bro for the entire year and I didn't know. Haha.. Oh, and if you guys still don't know what my bro looks like, here:

When we arrived home, the house was dark and we suspected a power failure. There were tealight candles lit on the stairs and when Auds walked up, she was overcome with emotions. Her housemates set up a surprise for her, to congratulate her on her graduation. Aw, so sweet... I decided to take a picture with them (from left; yours truly, Chiang Wey, Titus & Yvette):

A sweet ending to a memorable day eh, Auds?

Friday, June 27, 2008

My last minute Melbourne trip (Episode 3)

Yet another gloomy morning in Melbourne. This time, we were northward bound. Instead of going towards the coast, we headed inland. Our destination was a very famous valley - the Yarra.

In all my years here (and not to mention the countless trips I've made to the state of Victoria), I've not seen Yarra Valley for myself. I've been to the Barossa Valley in South Australia and the Hunter Valley up here in New South Wales but Yarra? Nope. So finally, I get to see Yarra and in full autumn splendour as well!

First stop: De Bortoli.

We entered this building...

... for some wine-tasting. Uncle bought some cheese and I bought a bottle of erm... I don't even remember what it's called now. Well, it was their in-house Moscato which isn't called Moscato. Yes, I'm a Moscato lover.

We then decided to head on to our second destination for lunch, hoping that it would be slightly less pricey (which I highly doubted but anyways...). The second wine cellar we visited is the oldest there is in Victoria - Yering Station. They have such pretty autumn colours here! Why don't we get this in Sydney?!?!?!

Accommodation is also provided on the premises. Chateau Yering holds historic value and gives you a very English feel when you walk in. Not only did they preserve the original design of the building, they also use furniture and accesssories that were used in that era.

Oh, and you'd definitely smell the 'Englishness' as well, as they'd have the firewood burning.

As our tummies were rumbling, we walked over to the building that fed most of Yering's guests. I took a picture of Auds outside this building, which also features an amphitheatre:

I thought the design of the building was clever. They used recyclables such as planks off the wine drums:

The glass walls made use of the more-than-ample light they'd be getting off Mother Nature:

The high ceiling would help with keeping the building cool in summer and warm in winter:

All these were complimented with scrumptious food. I ordered a dish of duck:

Auds had salmon:

Her grandma had another dish of fish with pumpkin:

Uncle had er, I can't recall what it was but it had lots of aubergine:

Aunty had a platter of seafood of sorts I think. I can't really recall either:

There was a dairy nearby so we decided to stop there to get more cheese but ended up buying ice-cream instead. But it was good. Along the way, we passed a strawberry farm with rows and rows of the red fruits. We did not stop there. Instead, we stopped next door where there was a rose farm. Oh, and how can you not take pictures of beauties such as these:

We went home early because the next day was a big day for Auds. What day was that? Well, you'd just have to wait and see won't ya?

Thursday, June 26, 2008

My last minute Melbourne trip (Episode 2)

I met Audrey's parents and grandmother for the first time today. We had breakfast at their place - nice townhouse Auds rented for them - before we headed down south. South-east to be more exact. We decided to take the coastal road while we it was bright and only take the freeway at the end of the day. Hence, we made a random brief stop to take in the freezing sea breeze. I took the opportunity to snap pictures of the infamous colourful Melbourne boathouses:

And look at this! This car was in front of us more than half the journey! I quickly took a picture of it as there are very few of these around. Notice how far apart the driver and the passenger are sitting. Oh, and it's left-hand drive...

Our first stop was Sorrento, town of Vanilla Slice. Honestly, it was nothing spectacular but worth a try. It's erm, a slice of pastry in vanilla-flavoured cream/fluff. Haha.. I'm bad at describing the things I eat. Sorrento is a quiet coastal town with a port that caters to ferries departing to and arriving from Philip Island and apparently Tasmania. It enjoys fresh air and picturesque scenery. There are also many B&B outlets, which suggests tourism demands.

Unfortunately for me and fortunately for my bank account, the glass art gallery down by the beach was not open. Otherwise, I think I'd have bought myself a pretty ball of paperweight.

On the way to the car to drive to the back beach, we saw this cute thing!!!:

Having explored the 'front' of Sorrento, we headed to Back Beach. It's still Sorrento but at the back where the waves are higher, stronger and wilder. The wind is much chillier and the seagulls seem to take longer to fly from one end of the photograph to the other. And, it did seem like the sky was threatening to pour...

Despite the gloomy weather, we were determined to see the places we planned to. Thereon, we drove inland to Arthur's Seat Maze. I'll leave it to the photographs to showcase the brilliant autumn colours and well-manicured gardens. Too bad we didn't have the sun or else we could have captured near perfect pictures!

Oh, and we took silly pictures as well. This place had all sorts of mazes and one of them was made out of gigantic tyres:

Oh, and let's have a task for you - spot Audrey!

Aud's dad walked on this maze that was supposedly 1.5km long...

After practicing our mazing skills, we finally attempted the main maze.

Auds and I followed her grandma and we were the first ones out! It was pretty scary as the hedges were really tall!

We'd definitely have sweet memories of this place.

Maybe our next visit should be when the maize maze is open!

We were left with this image to ponder on for the journey back to Clayton. Aud's mum thought it was a rock. I thought it was a cargo ship. What do you think that was in the horizon?