Thursday, January 9, 2014

Dubbo to Toowoomba - Day9

Our last day of travel, and welcomed by all, as they say, " no place like home!".

Our day started at 7:30am local time, driving north into mixed rain and wind. Certainly cooled the countryside and made the trip cooler. The weather changed as we drove further north over the course of the day. 

We saw a greater quantity of trucks heading north today, some in convoys of 4-6 trucks which made passing them a thing of patience. Overall our progress across nort west New South Wales went quickly and safely. 

As usual we where disgusted at usual standard of Queenland roads compared to their southern counterparts. In some cases the road shoulder was only 20-30 centimetres wide before plunging into scrub or rough terrain. Closer to home, roadworks on sections of road sometimes for a second and third time continue because the contracted road- gangs and company have never build a road before, this delayed us 30 minutes just an hour from home. Other sections of the same road just built several months before are rapidly falling apart. Due to delays we finally made home at 4:25pm AEST. Welcome back to Queensland.

All up we travelled 3679km (approx. 44 hours) across three States over 9 days from Jan 1st 2014 to Jan 9th 2014.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Travelling home - Day 8

Well finally we have reached the end of our Melbourne stay and it's time to head home. As usual we have enjoyed the sheer scope and variety of retail and cultural activities that Melbourne has to offer. Certainly we have enjoyed street cafe scene with the melting pot of people and languages freely mingling together. Our apartment has been great too, located above one of the many lane ways populated with side walk cafés. Our building should even better next year with renovations set to begin any day now. ( Certainly lifts need replacing that seem to have a life of their own most days.)

We left Melbourne later than normal (at 11:30pm local) after big breakfast in the Lane way cafés. We also delayed to allow the bulk of the work traffic to settled down. The delay allow us a hour or so in CBD, which we enjoyed.

Our return trip to took us to Sheppardton and from there we retraced our trip from 8 days ago to Dubbo.
We arrived in Dubbo at 9pm local time and found the a well priced and comfortable room at Countryman Motel. Very friendly people run the Motel, and we would recommend it to any traveller.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Last full day in Melbourne - day 7

Today started slowly with most of the family rising late due to exhaustion from the day before. A quick coffee from lane way cafés below, and we were off on the tram to the Melbourne Museum.
On the way we passed the Melbourne Exhibition hall (built 1879 for a world trade exhibition) and surrounding parkland. 

The museum was huge, like most things in Melbourne built in a grand scale. The museum was holding a James Bond display in its paid galleries, but we passed on it due to time constraints.
As it was, we saw only a fraction of museum. We did visit "inside" a display about children held in orphanages and homes secular and church in the 20th century. It was centred on the many artefacts and court evidence collected during various Royal and Senate commissions. The result was sobering, and soul effecting. 

We also saw a huge collection of insects, stuffed animals ( one display of 3 gorillas had been in display since 1864) and a rich display about Melbourne.
By mid afternoon, hunger and a need to finish off the finial items remaining on the shopping list drove us out. We walked a short way to Lygon Street eateries where we enjoyed some Turkish food ( at restaurant called I love Istanbul ). The food was absolutely amazing and we rolled out to find the free tram back to Swanton Street shops. 

Finially we made our way back to the apartment to begin the process of packing up for departure in the morning. Still full from our late lunch, we had a light meal in the lane way at 9pm (local time). A full day of culture that left us a little more aware of the world, and of course sore feet. 

Monday, January 6, 2014

Another Day in Melbourne - Day 6

Today started with Telstra texting us that we had used 1.3GBs of extra data. We had use Melissa's iPhone as a hotspot for the girls late last night but thankful turned it off before going to bed. After a check of the girls devices, it was discovered that someone had enjoyed our data for free. Obviously Telstra didn't care who used it, so they billed us $133 for the event. So we settled the bill, and changed the password again of course. The joys of living in a population dense part of the CBD I suppose. :( 

The girls spent first couple of hours getting a makeup lesson and make over at Myers. That was followed by cosmetic purchases to reproduce the effects of the make over. The cost of the make over could be used against purchases so it was very reasonable. 

We then ventured into the CBD proper for 4 hours of "retail therapy". Everyone scored a bargain of some sort. Much of the purchases was about buying much needed clothes and shoes until next visit a year away. Variety is great and cost is a fraction of Queensland stores, so we annually stock-up. Of course the fashion is ahead of Brisbane, so the girls are happy to be trend setters for a couple of weeks. 

The people here are of course generally helpful and friendly. I got stung by a " beggar" dressed as Buddhist monk, who gave us a badge for peace and then asked us to sign a appeal but forgot to mention a donation until the last minute. Clever. $10 later! Again more beggars out seeking aid from folks passing by. Certainly far more than previous visits, which is again sad and speaks volumes about Victoria's current fiscal direction. I did see however more luxury cars on the street than previous years, a contrast for thought. 

The girls also found a Teddy Bear shop where every bear on display had a name. Another shop specialised "magic tricks" which interested Jacqueline while another sold specialised leather bound journals which Charlotte liked. 

We found in the edge of Chinatown a Japanese department store where everything is just $2.80. The shop was huge and variety amazing and "interesting". A lot of products have instructions in Japanese which makes buying product like solving a puzzle. Double the fun! Obviously they make a loss of some products but a killing on others. Very busy at the checkouts, so they are doing something right.

For lunch we stopped by the Cajun Kitchen, very nice and compared well to Melissa's memories of New Orleans. 

Several hours later we returned to our apartment for break from shopping, much to Charlotte's disgust. A chance to stop walking was most welcome. 

After much need break, we returned to CBD for more shops. Night shopping is popular in Melbourne, and variety is plentiful. Shops close from 7pm, right through to 10pm, so the city heart is generally alive with people. 

Sunday, January 5, 2014

First full day in Melbourne - Day 5

A day of shopping in the CDB area and Harbour Town today. The Girls went out shopping in the CBD while Melissa did the washing at the unit.

Today was a cool day, somewhere in early 20s in Temperature, with light rain and wind for a hour in the late afternoon. Thankfully it didn't get in the way with the girls shopping today in the CBD or Harbour Town. 

First stop was a natural beauty and body shop called Lush. The girls scored gift cards from their Aunty Elessa and Uncle James that they wanted to use. This was followed by stationary and dress shops over the next hour. 

We met up with Melissa to take the tourist tram to Harbour Town, which went smoothly and quickly. Harbour Town as usual provide plentiful opportunity to score a bargin. 

Late afternoon evening, with sore feet, we return to CBD to visit MYERS to arrange a make over and lesson for the girls. Dinner was to be Cajun but they had closed, so we settled on Indian at Flora. The meal was good but not as plentiful as in previous years. 

In our travels around the CBD we noticed an influx of beggars and people asking for money, certainly more than in previous visits. A few beggars haven brought their dogs to sit with them on pavement. Not many folks take notice of their pleads (verbal and often written) as they pass by. (Sad really that in 2014 we still have homeless, but I expect the hard nosed policies will see more fall out of mainstream society. The general feeling (I suspect), seems to be, that they are not really homeless just trying their luck "conning a few dollars out" of their fellows citizens. Personally I don't know. ) 

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Geelong to almost Lorne and back to Melbourne - Day 4

 This morning we slept in to almost 8am local time. Local temperature was a brisk 16-17 degrees, with high wind and light rain. After a slow start, we decided to return to the Great Ocean Road.
First stop was Tourqay, the official start point of the road. A pleasant seaside village which does a roaring trade with the tourists passing through.
Next stop was Bell's beach made famous for its huge surf and surfers who visit annually. The waves, when running were huge, which excited the surfer mob watching. The temperature out of water was in the teens, so it must have been freezing out in the surf. We asked a surfer about the temperature who claimed it was warm. There was plenty of watchers and surfers due the "piping hot" surf carnival being held. 

Later we drove on to Anglesea (another seaside town), but the road was so clogged up with traffic heading along the great ocean road, that it took 30 minutes to cover 10kms, so we stopped for lunch.
The road cleared somewhat so we continued on till we almost got to Lorne. Very pretty road, well worth the pain of the slow traffic.
Each town we passed through was holding a carnival so it increased the busy nature of the road.

The trip back to Melbourne was uneventful and relatively quick on the M1 highway. We first visited St Kilda and Brighton Beach, fanous for its beach huts or bathing boxes.
The huts have been in use since the 1860s, so "Ladies" would have privacy when changing for the beach. The homes along the beachfront range from Victorian Era to the modern, but almost all are wealthy in construction and decoration. Clearly Melbourne's well to do have been living the area for some time. 

After some street gymnastics with the car we arrived in Flinders Lane, home of Punt Hill apartments. The parking under the apartments are very tight, but at least we don't have to cart our gear too far. 

The Apartments are ok, older in design but comfortable. Our suite is just above street level, so we can watch the night life below us. Cafés and restaurants line the lane way below, so we can have easy access to food and coffee most of the time. 

After unpacking we did a quick explore of the blocks around our apartment. Still full from lunch, we enjoyed a light meal from a restaurant specialising in Cajun foods. Very nice.

After a long day we return to our apartments, but not before buying coffee and desert from our lane way neighbours.