Archive for September, 2015

Back in the real world

September 29, 2015

Back to the van on Saturday after Jacky & Chris arrived home on Friday.  Just as pleased as they were to be back to their home, we were just as pleased to return to ours.  And not only that, the weather has decided to come right with the blue skies and warm sunshine arriving although I do have to admit that the evenings and mornings are still a little chilly.  It seems that not only did we put the clocks forward, we somehow flicked the switch for nice weather.  This was the view at Whakapirau when we left, warm and sunny and showing off its glorious best.

imageLooking across to Pahi

We returned to the van which had been in storage at Uretiti, and we moved into a camping place by the beach access where we will remain for the rest of this week whilst we get everything back into order as well as put away that suitcase full of purchases I made from IKEA in Melbourne.  Oh, have I not mentioned my three forays into IKEA?  Perhaps I will come clean about those purchases at a later date!

imageParked at Uretiti

Now we wait for the wind to swing to a favourable quarter so we can get a bit of fishing in, let’s just hope that the weather continues to be as glorious as it has been the past few days.

Melbourne – architecture

September 25, 2015


Their is a planning rule in Melbourne that states that no new build (Office or apartment) in the greater Melbourne area can be built the same colour, shape or clad in the same material as any other.  This makes for very interesting and varied architecture with old mixing in with new seamlessly.


The above building is an optical illusion giving the impression that all the floors are on different angles, which is very effective.

28Colourful building in the Docklands. 

29Flinders Station building with the Eureka building in the background

604D632D-8F0A-4424-9266-BA971C7CC2C1This what you do with an old shot tower, enclose it under a dome and build a shopping mall around the base.

73676A89-013A-4B9C-BE36-29CA6A986A8DNational Art Gallery which had an exhibition of the Masterpieces from the Hermitage.  As we had previously had a fabulous tour of the Hermitage (see here), we spent time at the other excellent exhibitions.

169048F5-12E0-4E67-A18C-F890B4C5C065Parliament buildings

539068E9-4726-4694-AA0F-E43D8B460F88Performance centre next to the Art Gallery, this is supposed to represent a ballerina’s tutu?!

633683A8-C72A-401A-9A02-45585027F035Etihad Stadium and buildings in the Docklands area

3040188E-5C2B-4162-85C1-CA9666263390This black and white building looks like it has a face when seen from afar

C63A0750-CCEF-478C-959F-D8B182160519the famous Melbourne Cricket Ground or MCG or “the G” as locals call it.  Used not only for cricket but also AFL (Australian Rules Football), with seating for around 100,000 people.

EA2709C0-ACC0-4625-A4BC-51F9082A91EFEureka Tower

Eureka Tower is named after the Eureka stockade, a rebellion during the Victorian gold rush in 1854. This has been incorporated into the design, with the building’s gold crown representing the gold rush and a red stripe representing the blood spilt during the revolt. The blue glass cladding that covers most of the building represents the blue background of the stockade’s flag and the white lines also represent the Eureka Stockade flag. The white horizontal stripes also represent markings on a surveyors pole. 

When measured either by the height of its roof, or by the height of its highest habitable floor, Eureka Tower was the tallest residential building in the world when completed in 2006. It is also currently the building with the most floors available for residential occupancy in the world. The building stands 297 metres in height, with 91 storeys above ground plus one basement level. 

There is an observation deck on the 88th floor with a glass cube called The Edge a glass cube which projects 3m out from the building with visitors inside, suspended almost 300m above the ground. When one enters, the glass is opaque as the cube moves out over the edge of the building. Once fully extended over the edge, the glass becomes clear …and no, we did not go up, all of us have a certain nervousness associated  with heights, some are more extreme than others!

IMG_0909Another colourful building seen from the train. 



IMG_0921 The impressive Dome reading room in the National Library, with galleries all the way around the octagonal room some displaying exhibitions, with the glassed dome at the top.

There are of course many many more interesting buildings in and around Melbourne, these are just a selected few.

Melbourne – oddities

September 24, 2015

One of the most unusual sights in Melbourne on the streets in the city, it is the unusual traffic rule of having to pull over to the left before turning right!  They call this a hook turn, it feels very strange but I have to admit that it works and it keeps traffic flowing.  Signs indicate where this rule is in place, note: “normal” rules are in effect at all other intersections i.e. To turn right, indicate and wait in right hand lane until safe to turn.

image image

Another day and the handrails at the Swanston Street tram stop had been ‘yarn bombed’.  The colourful yarn covering around 200metres of handrails – very impressive!


Christmas arrives early in Melbourne, with this store near the Queen Victoria Markets decked out in its Xmas finery in September.  Nothing like getting in early!

image   image

Melbourne – foodie heaven

September 23, 2015

Melbourne is renown for its food scene, they say that if you cannot find a particular world cuisine in Melbourne then you haven’t looked hard enough.  The advantage of having an apartment for our 17 day stay was that we did not have to eat out all the time and we could pick up ingredients to cook at home which we did regularly.  We have done the fine dining thing before in Melbourne – Grossi Florentino, Ezards, Circa and the like, so this time was more of the everyday foodie heaven.  I had a list of famous chefs favourite eats in Melbourne and we did get to try a number of them as well as a few old favourites.

We ended up at the Queen Victoria Markets every other day, either trying out foods like the amazing spicy lamb borek or their equally fabulous spicy potato borek or picking up ingredients for dinner.  Everything from the amazing selection of veggies and fruits, to the meat and fish choices, all fantastic quality and prices were amazingly reasonableness well.

.  imageMarket delights

We love the churros with chocolate dipping sauce and this time we also discovered fabulous American doughnuts, filled with jam, they were light fluffy baubles of deliciousness.  If you go to the markets, these are well worth searching out.

Our other regular visit was to Lygon Strreet, the Italian quarter of Melbourne.  We just love the variety of good Italian food along this stretch of street.  One of our regular haunts is to Brunetti’s – cake shop extraordinaire


And as the following sign attests, speaking Italian is not a prerequisite


There is a good variety of other ethnic foods to try, and we had good experiences with Japanese Vietnamese, Chinese, Greek, and many others…..but we did not venture into this restaurant in Ballarat

image(Con)fusion food at its best!

Another find was just off Chinatown, where we found a stall making and selling Royal Custard Buns.  Every time we wandered along to try out these delights, there was at least a 30minute wait time.  It was fascinating watching them being made – completely untouched by human hand, as it was a completely automated system.  The mix was automatically piped into small cast iron molds before moving along the conveyor where the custard middle was piped in as well as more batter piped into the other half of the mold.   The top mold was then flipped onto the base, and moved along the conveyor being cooked as it moved along before reaching the halfway point and the mold then flipped to cook the other side.  imageCustard bun machine

All in all, a fantastic culinary experience and we look forward to our next visit.

Melbourne – Great Ocean Road

September 22, 2015

Normal transmission has been resumed, with a backlog of blog entries about to be uploaded over the next few days. 

We got over the flu/broncho-pneumonia fairly quickly, Roy was well on the way to recovery by the time we got back to NZ  and I recovered after about a week of doing very little apart from sleep, sleep and sleep…as well as discovering a new diet which I am calling the Tomato Soup diet.  When I am not well, all I want to eat is Tomato Soup and it has to be a particular well known NZ brand, and I can now attest to the fact that after eating nothing else for a week, the pounds fall away.  Hopefully they will stay away!  Unfortunately Karel came off the worst out of the three of us, which required many many visits to Dr’s, even getting to the stage of having her bag packed and ready for an emergency admission to hospital, however she is now on the mend and should be back to her usual self soon.

Now back to a recap of our Melbourne sojourn.  First will be a summary of the day trip Karel and I took to the Great Ocean Road, a 243km stretch of road along the south-eastern coast of Australia between the towns of Torquay and Allansford.   Although Roy and I had driven the road a few years previously, albeit at a more leisurely pace, I was looking forward to revisiting the area.  The day started early with our pick up from our apartment at 7.15am.  This was a small tour with just 8 of us on the tour.  Our first stop was at Bell’s Beach 100kms south east of Melbourne, famous as the home of the world’s longest-running surfing competition, first held in 1961 but surfing has been an activity here since the 1930’s.

6Bell’s Beach Entrance

1Surfers braving the freezing cold water

It was here that we stopped for morning tea, a traditional Aussie morning tea with Billy tea, lamingtons, Tim Tams and crackers with vegemite!

5  4

Morning tea                                              Brian swinging the Billy

From there it was onto the start of the Great Ocean Road itself.  We stopped at the Memorial Arch for the next photo opportunity (see below).   

8  9

Karel and I at the Arch                       Info board

The road was built by 3000 returned soldiers between 1919 and 1932 and dedicated to soldiers killed during World War 1, the road is the world’s largest war memorial. It winds through varying terrain along the coast and provides access to several prominent landmarks with the most famous being the Twelve Apostles.

17View from Cape Patton

Among many stops for photo opportunities we also stopped in Torquay for lunch, note that it is nothing like the English Torquay!  We also had other stops for wildlife viewing along the way but  these will be included in a later blog entry.  We stopped in the Otway National Park for a 45 minute walk through the diverse landscape and vegetation which was expertly narrated by our guide.  On our last visit to the Otways a few years ago, Roy and I did the treetop walk, this time we were at ground level. 

18  Karel taking shelter in a  tree

The next scheduled stop should have been at the Gibson Steps, but unfortunately these were closed to the public due to high seas.

The next stop was at the Twelve Apostles, a collection of naturally occurring limestone stacks off the shore.


Currently there are eight apostles left, the ninth one of the stacks collapsed dramatically in July 2005.  We just happened to see the ninth stack just prior to its collapse and have evidence of this somewhere in our myriad of photos!

 22  21

Looking east                                     Westerly view

24Karel and I bundled up against the freezing cold with London Arch in the background….this was as close to the edge that Karel could comfortably manage.

25London Arch.

The span closer to the shoreline collapsed unexpectedly on 15 January 1990 leaving two tourists stranded on the outer span before being rescued by helicopter.  Prior to the collapse, the arch was known as London Bridge.

Further along for the Apostles is Loch Ard. The gorge is named after the ship the Loch Ard which ran aground on nearby Muttonbird Island on 1 June 1878 approaching the end of a three-month journey from England to Melbourne. Of the fifty-four passengers and crew, only two survived: Tom Pearce, at 15 years of age, a ship’s apprentice, and Eva Carmichael, an Irishwoman emigrating with her family, at 17 years of age. According to memorials at the site, Pearce was washed ashore, and rescued Carmichael from the water after hearing her cries for help. Pearce then proceeded to climb out of the gorge to raise the alarm to local farmers who immediately set into plan a rescue attempt. 

23Loch Ard

It was here that just after we arrived that the heavens opened which meant we did not take the climb down to the beach and cave.

Onto Port Campbell for dinner and then the long drive back to Melbourne along the inland route where we arrived back at the apartment around 10pm.

Honey, we’re home!

September 10, 2015

We landed safe and unwell, late on Monday evening then drove straight up to Whakapirau to resume our hosuesitting duties.  Now I say that we arrived unwell as we both returned from Melbourne with the flu and it’s rather a nasty wee bug that materialises into bronchitis and pneumonia hence I am not feeling particularly flash at the moment.  Therefore any promise of blog entries of our Melbourne sojourn have been well and truly put on the back burner until I regain some energy ……and the ability to breathe effortlessly would also help!