Monday, December 24, 2012

Last leg: Wagga Wagga, Lake Eildon, Upper Yarra Reserve & Melbourne

11-13 December 2012 ~ Wagga Wagga

We arrived in Wagga Wagga in heat (and nope I don't mean that kind of heat - I mean the weather type kind of heat), which I believe we were gradually gaining tolerance to. We stopped by at the RAAF base and had a look at the aircraft on display there before we headed to downtown Wagga. And if I didn't come out of the car, I wouldn't have learnt that one of these airplanes (A84-235 English Electric Canberra) was used for photographing cities during WWII and get this, the Canberra had been fitted in with the reconnaissance cameras I mentioned in my Canberra post. Eerie.

The English Electric Canberra - RAAF base Wagga Wagga

So what was in Wagga? Well the main reason for going on this road trip was to attend my graduation at Charles Sturt University. I'm proud to say that I have gained the qualification of Master of Information Studies.

Getting properly dressed for the ceremony - CSU Wagga Wagga

We camped at Wagga Wagga Beach Caravan Park. The camping site was quite ordinary (don't be fooled by its pretty website) as it was near a public car park bordered only by a high fence. They could have planted pittosporum all around it to give the camping ground some privacy and greenery. Also, the camp kitchen was very basic and could have been spruced up. Nevertheless, I got used to the whole place. Alas, I have no photos to show for its ordinariness.

13-14 December ~ Lake Eildon

Wind, storm and rain are what I remembered as we arrived at Lake Eildon National Park. There were two camping sites to choose from and the parks recommend that people book online to choose their sites. We were glad that we didn't because the place didn't look properly maintained - rubbish not collected and the toilets/showers were dirty.

So we headed down to the town of Eildon where we could find 'proper' accommodation. We found Blue Gums Holiday Park and despite the rain we camped there overnight. We could have stayed at one of the cabins but our budget only catered for the bunkhouse cabins and they were quite ordinary - just a room with a bunkbed. Our tent was much more cozier and nicer. The camp kitchen was beautiful and spacious!

We met a group of young Germans (all male) at the camp site. They were so cute and friendly, I swear they could have been members of One Direction. They were on a working holiday installing eco-friendly powerboards to houses. They gave us one for free.

Free gift - Eildon, Victoria

14-15 December ~ Upper Yarra Reserve

Have you ever met male idiots that think and act as if the places they go to are the extensions of the pubs and bars they frequent? Well we have at this campsite! The noise didn't stop until 2am and what was worse and sad about it was that their teenage children (all male) were following suit and doing exactly the same! There were other campers and I am sure that they did not sleep well either - except for Reuben of course. He slept like a log! Apart from that it was a pretty place and if it wasn't raining we could have explored it a bit more.

Our tent - Upper Yarra Reserve, Victoria

15 December ~ Melbourne

Last time to visit my sister and her family before we caught the ferry for the night sail. Reuben enjoyed playing with his cousins Ruby and JJ.

My sister & nieces - Melbourne, Victoria

Overall Impression

So that was the end of our road trip. I wasn't ready to come home yet, which meant that I was enjoying our time away.  The most enjoyable part was seeing my parents and sister again. I think Reuben enjoyed the variety of our daily activities. He didn't really care where we went and what we did each day. He only chucked a psycho when he got tired. And he was absolute gold when he was in the car. Tenting was never my cup of tea and I have made known to Marky Mark that a caravan is a must on our next road trip. *Fingers crossed*

I would rate this holiday 7.95 out of 10.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

More-photos-than-words post: Canberra

29 November - 11 December 2012

Well what can I say it was a relief to arrive in Canberra after two weeks of tenting. My parents live here and of course I still call their house home even though I've not lived here for years! Here are some of the things we did in pictures:

American Car Show & The Australian Museum ~ 2 December

Typically, I would never have attended this car show but I found some really interesting objects to photograph so surprisingly I enjoyed this visit.

GM Chevrolet - the winner in my opinion

My arty shot

The Cobra - my sexy car!

Ford GT - Jeremy's (Top Gear) car

We then went to the Australian Museum for lunch and had a quick look around as we only saw what Mr R was interested in. What we all liked was the interactive activity where we designed a futuristic house or rocket and watched what we created on a 3D movie. It was cool but not sure if it's still on.

In front of the first Holden in Oz - The Australian Museum

Excavator Bucket - Australian Museum

Mt Ainslie and breakfast at Tilleys ~ 4 December

Walking up Mt Ainslie and having breakfast at Tilleys afterwards are Canberra rituals that we do whenever we visit. This time we took Mr R along and with all the walking he had been doing lately surely he would have managed this walk well. Nevertheless, we took the pram but only used it a quarter of the way down. Tilleys is my favourite cafe/hangout and it seemed it has not changed its great atmosphere, friendly staff and dark decor since we were there last year.

Happy dance on top of Mt Ainslie

Cool camouflaged lizard - Mt Ainslie

Mr R's first breakfast at Tilleys

The War Memorial and The National Library of Australia ~ 6 December

War - what is it good for? Absolutely nothing. Sing it again ~ by Frankie goes to Hollywood
is my theme song but Mark likes the history part of war so I come along to the War Memorial every time and enjoy what it has to offer - mainly interesting objects to photograph.

Mr R & Smarty in front of a big gun - War Memorial

Reconnaisance camera - War Memorial

I would have loved to see the latest exhibition here at the National Library of Australia but with Mr R running around and doing his own thing, best just to run around with him as well.

Marky Mark & Mr R - National Library of Australia

Lighting the Christmas tree in the city - 7 December

We went to the city (or Civic as it is commonly known) to see the lighting of a 60 foot Christmas tree. But first we had to experience two Canberra iconic objects - a ride at the famous merry go round and a look at the triangle fountain.

Famous merry-go-round - Canberra

Iconic Fountain - Canberra

The Christmas tree being lit up - Canberra

The Australian National Botanical Gardens - 8 December

It was a hot day when we visited the gardens to meet up with my friend Katrina and her partner Greg. We weren't able to have a proper look around the garden as the chatting took over our visit. We saw plenty of Gippsland lizards though but alas no photos taken for show.

Australian Botanical Gardens - Canberra

Canberra International Golf Centre - 9 December

I scored 96, which by normal game standard was a great score but apparently awful if you're a golfer. Nevertheless, we enjoyed our golf day at the centre despite the heat, which surprisingly was really growing on us.

Eat your heart out Tiger Woods - Canberra

Saying goodbye - 11 December

Today we left Canberra for Wagga Wagga to attend my graduation. We've all enjoyed our stay with my parents and visiting all the places that Canberra had to offer. My parents especially my Mum would definitely miss Mr R as they tend to only see him once a year.

With my parents - Canberra
I would have loved to stay longer and see the National Gallery's Toulouse Lautrec exhibition but alas we (well more like me really) needed to go and attend my graduation, which was the main reason for going on this road trip.

Next few stops....Wagga Wagga, Lake Eildon and Upper Yarra Reserve.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Where's No. 16? - Horse Gully Hut Walk Namadgi NP

5 December 2012

This was our only real bushwalking activity together as my Mum was able to look after Mr R for the day. We actually wanted to do this walk in June last year but due to the short winter days we couldn't have completed it before dark. It's about a 14 km walk return (or 16 kms depending which sign/information you decide to believe) but I think it's about 14kms as it only took us 5 hours.

It's an interesting walk and the track is quite wide and well maintained. They also use this trail to manage the Naas Valley. The walk starts off at Mt Clear Campground/Car park (about 45 minutes drive from the Namadgi Visitors Centre) and ends at the Horse Gully Hut but people can go further as it is also part of the Bicentennial National Trail, a 5330 km long, marked route from Cooktown to Healesville, used by walkers, horseriders and mountain bike riders.

Cool and windy day on this day which was perfect for bushwalking and being summer the sun still had a strong kick to it. We stopped at Demandering Hut for lunch, which is well kept and can be used for shelter in bad weather.

Lunch spot at Demandering Hut
The walk up to the Demandering Hut has been fine except for three streams that we had to cross on the way there. By the way, the streams weren't bridged so we had to use our old grey cells to figure out how to cross them without getting our shoes wet. Yes we could have taken our shoes off but we were more clever than that. We went around one stream, hopped on rocks on another and used tree branches to cross the last stream. Eat your heart out Bear Grylls!

We saw plenty of kangaroos. Mark was particularly impressed with the mainland types (red kangaroos) as they are huge (the male being up to 7 foot tall) compared to the smaller wallaby varieties we see here in our own Tasmanian backyard. There was also a certain smell in the air - no not a dead animal; no not horse, sheep or cow poos; and no not even human feces (?) (hardly any human inhabitants around). It could have been a bog but didn't see any. The smell was like the water in a flower vase that hasn't been changed for days.

The walk was self-guided with marked posts explaining what a particularly spot had in its surroundings. Number 19 was about the Apple Box tree which was once in demand for butchers' chopping blocks as the wood is difficult to split. Unfortunately, I didn't take a photo of this tree as I've somehow missed it. I thought I've missed number 16 also, which was about a tree used by the native animals for shelter and food. We searched for it on the way back but still didn't see it. So where was number 16?

Number 13: Huge termite hill

The end of track - Horse Gully Hut

Next post: Canberra - my old stompin' ground....

Monday, December 10, 2012

Two stops later: Mallacoota

Tuesday 27 November - Thursday 29 November 2012

We finally made it to Mallacoota after our detour to Quarry Reserve and Buchan Caves. The drive to Mallacoota from Buchan Caves was lovely and windy (the road type and not the weather type). It did seem to take forever to get to the Inlet and once we got there it looked 'messy'(?) to me. I don't know at this point, I just felt I've had enough of tenting and wanted some creature comforts.

Pelicans at Mallacoota

We spent the first day just drying up the tent after the heavy rain at Buchan Caves. Luckily, it didn't rain when we arrived at Mallacoota even though the sky looked threatening. We camped at Mallacoota Foreshore Holiday Park, which has over 650 camping sites. Amazing! Apparently the whole 650 sites have all been booked for the Christmas break already! It seems wide-spread families meet up here for the festive season.

Drying up the tent

We only did a short walk when we were there and Mr R was quite happy as usual leading the way.

Posing for the walk
Our campsite from afar

I think we could have explored this place a bit more but at this stage we've decided that we would have a rest from camping and head straight to Canberra. We did plan to go to Sydney to show Reuben the Sydney Opera House and catch the ferry to Manly but I think Mr R was just happy wherever he was as long as he was with his mummy and daddy.

Next destination: Canberra....

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Before the deluge: Buchan Caves

Saturday 24 November to Tuesday 27 November 2012

What a magnificent parkland! I'm really impressed with what Victoria Parks have done to this place and for that matter to all the campgrounds and parks that we have visited that are managed by them.

The Buchan Caves campground is small but quite nice. We chose the unpowered site which cost about $20 a night. Powered sites were $10 extra from what I remember. It also has two cottages for hire at $60 a night. Very reasonable if you don't want to do the camping thing but still want to experience the beautiful surroundings. And at the higher end of the market there are these cool wilderness retreats, which remind me of those Club Med places in the tropics.

Mr R posing at the entrance of the Wilderness Retreats

It's probably best to book your campsite because the original site we were on was booked and had to move when we wanted to stay an extra night. No biggie. We just moved the tent next door.

Our campsite

Mini Bushwalker & Mosquito Fodder
Reuben has been excited so far on this holiday and luckily for us, he has enjoyed the walks we have done with him. He likes bridges, steps, going up hill (??) and playing Mr Leader. We did two walks while at the Reserve and they were both on hot days. I just made sure that he took it easy as he can get too excited and run instead of walk. Poor little thing was also the target of mosquito attacks. Mark and I were hardly bitten but those critters just loved his blood. His skin reacted with red swollen blotches. I just put some paw paw ointment on them and made sure that he didn't scratch them as much.

Still managed to pose after the walk

Before the walk-4km return (sign misleading)

The Caves
The Reserve has two cave tours running but we only did the Royal Cave tour. We all enjoyed it and Mr R was especially gold at following some of the house rules like not too touch the limestone formations. I really love caves but I thought I'd share something funny that one of the campers said to me about them. He was with his young family and his two girls were excited about the cave tour but I could tell that he wasn't that interested: "Well they're just holes in the ground aren't they? You've seen one, and you've seen them all!" ... Nice enough fellow from Mallacotta.

Mr R & I in the Royal Cave
The Deluge
The day (27 Nov) we were packing up our tent was the day the heavy storm came. Lesson learnt: wait till the rain stops then pack up tent. Simple!

Next stop, Mallacoota....

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Boo to Quarry Reserve: Briagolong Victoria

Friday 23 November 2012
So our plan to go to Mallacoota after Wilsons Prom has gone astray because as usual we have left it too late to leave for a five hour drive. So we decided we might head off to Buchan Caves on the way there. Well as it so happened were were too late for that too! So off we went camping overnight to this really dodgy place called Quarry Reserve in Briagolong (Victoria).

Honestly, I'd avoid this place altogether. The grasses have overgrown. Looks like no one has mowed it for months! Toilets are very basic and did not flush. There were no toilet paper or taps. And they're asking $10/day to camp here?! Forget it! There were other campers but the whole place looks like Mick from Wolf Creek is about to murder us. Anyway, we survived overnight but didn't bother to have breakfast in the morning. We just packed up and left!

Our campsite minus the tent
 The Buchan Caves Reserve is the next stop....

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Dancing with a Snake and Suicide Rock: Wilsons Prom

We stayed at Wilsons Promontory for three nights from Tuesday 20th to Thursday 22nd of November. This is an excellent campground, which caters for everyone. Apparently, it gets really busy during Christmas and summer times so I'm glad we came this time of the year.

There are plenty of great tracks around and we did plenty of walks while we were here. You can even take the pram in some of these tracks.

The weather has been on and off. This is a windy place so make sure that you set up your tent or caravan in a sheltered place. Unfortunately, we set up our tent in the windiest place on earth and had one sleepless night.

Wednesday 21st November
We seem to be always on a slow start so we didn't do our walk to the Pillar Point until about midday. This is a short walk (about 4 kms return) and what a trooper Mr R was. In fact, he's been excellent at all the walks we've been on. Great view at the top.

Pillar Point - Wilsons Prom

After a late lunch, we went for another walk. I think this one was called The Tidal Overlook (about 5 kms circuit walk). On this track, Reuben and I danced with a black snake - literally! Mr R was leading the way and I was behind him but didn't notice the snake on the rock. By the time I saw the snake Mr R nearly stepped on it but we dodged it. I think even the snake was scared! Luckily, we both wore our boots and long pants. No one was harmed during our dance. Also, had a photo session at Suicide Rock (aptly named by Mark when we were here last time (2008)) because this is where I pretend to jump off it! As if! I'm a chicken when it comes to those things!

On 'Suicide Rock' - Wilsons Prom

Ok during this afternoon walk, I noticed this awesome plant. This thing sticking out is actually the flower of the plant. Must find out the Latin name for it.

Black Boy

Thursday 22 November 2012
Went for another walk today to Picnic Bay - 4kms return. Mr R was a trooper once again. Got a little tired towards the end but got some chocolates so was happy.

Cubby house at Picnic Bay Beach - Wilsons Prom

Friday 23 November 2012
After we packed up our tent today we went for another walk - this time at South Norman Beach track. I think by this time Mr R has had enough of walking and chucked a psycho at the end. Mark and I took turns carrying him back to the car park. We had lunch and all was forgotten.

South Norman Beach walk - Wilsons Prom