Our retirement adventures

Our Australian adventure 2015 style – Melbourne and Phillip Island

Friday 6 February

Early start in Sydney with taxi to Airport and flight to Melbourne after leaving one suitcase each at the Holiday Inn containing items for our cruise later in the adventure.

Quest Gordon Place Melbourne

Quest Gordon Place Melbourne

It is very hot here in Melbourne, 34 degrees and after we pick up the car we manage to negotiate non toll roads into the city and check in at the Quest Gordon Place apartment.

Apartment large, dark with the 2nd room probably too small for a large double bed but we manage.

Internet access not explained properly so we have to have several attempts at getting logged on.

Washing done but tumble drier fails to operate so have to hang clothes all over the place.

Reception not particularly helpful over the issues and apartment has no “instructions” to follow.

It seemed to be due to the weight in the machine we later discovered!

Melbourne tram

Melbourne tram

Out for a walk in the heat and once bearings obtained, catch 35 Tram around top and west of city before getting off at Flinders for a coffee in Federation Square and a tram back to hotel.

Sine our visit last year, the Central trams in the CDB are all now free, not just the 35 route.

Saturday 7 February

Only two towels provided – it takes three attempts to get extra towels which delays our departure (walk and tram) to go to Queen Victoria Market.

Melbourne market

Melbourne market

This must be the biggest market in existence, with aisle upon aisle of fruit, veg, meat and fish.

The stall holders seem to go to different locations depending upon the day and on Sunday no food at all, so stalls set aside for tourist gifts with coach loads of tourists bussed in.

Today though, not only food, but also clothes are sold here with some very tacky items and some wonderful items such as leather goods and photographs.

Get taxi to hotel, attempt car park exit, machine faulty but manage to get discount parking for A$20 instead of A$25.

Negotiate roads out of city towards Penguin Parade at Phillip Island managing to avoid the tolls.

Wildlife at Australian  Garden

Wildlife at Australian Garden

Wildlife at Phillip Island

Wildlife at Phillip Island

Stop for a coffee at the Australian Garden, get stuck in a long delay near the bridge to Phillip Island and arrive well in time for the Penguin Parade which tonight is expected at 9:05 pm.

Manage to see a few wallabies and other wildlife before a meal, purchases at the gift shop, photo taken and then down to foreshore to wait for the little guys to arrive.

With the little penguins

With the little penguins

Considerably warmer than last year and no coats jumpers needed this time.

We have upgraded to the Penguin+ so are well placed to see the Penguins waddle up from the sea, stop in front of us for preening and then proceed up the hillside to their various burrows.

It is quite remarkable how this happens and as magical as last year.

Some Orientals ignore the ranger’s instructions and continue to try and take photos but fortunately without flash.

A young Australian father summed up the experience by saying to his kids (aged about 6) that they have to remember that it is not “our” home, it is the Penguins home.

After a coffee, a drive back to the apartment in Melbourne arriving just before 1am, exhausted, especially after finding all apartment lights fused – fortunately we found the trip switch which rectified the problem.

Sunday 8 February

We are off to see George & Barbara today whilst John & Deirdre spend time in the City with a visit to the Botanical gardens.

Purchase Myki cards and we are off, arriving at Seaford just after midday, being met by George and Barbara in their new car, a Mitsubishi AX, and taken to a restaurant in Frankston for lunch. Four substantial meals, three deserts for under $52 and we are full.

Frankston beach

Frankston beach

Stroll around the seafront, Barbara waiting for a 2nd hip op (wait list of 3 years) so walking not fast but she does well.

Then onto Mornington which is, according to George, surprisingly crowded.

Park up and have the first of many (on this holiday) iced coffees before heading back to George & Barbara’s and then back to the train for an hour’s journey back to the City.

We now have Myki cards valid for 4 years if anyone wants to use them they can – they have no money on them though!

IMG_5745Sal goes for a swim with Deirdre, we have a shared take away Pizza for dinner and try to get car parking sorted out.

Similar problems as yesterday so give up, will sort it out tomorrow.

Start packing, our new case has a hole in it, only bought at the end of November.😣

Monday 9 February

Breakfast in adjacent cafe up hill, much better than adjacent one down hill. Difficulty with car park exit again. Car park say hotel using old stock of tickets, hotel say they are using up to date ones but upshot is we get out for A$40 instead of A$50 so over the three days we have saved $15.

We are off to Cape Otway.

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Our Australian adventure, 2015 style – Sydney in February

Tuesday 3 February

It’s a late flight this evening to Sydney from Hong Kong and it is full in Premium Economy, leaves 30 minutes late and it is gone 11pm HK time when dinner is served. Another hour passes before tables cleared away and desert served but despite this, do get a few hours sleep.

Wednesday 4 February

Iconic Sydney

Arrival in Sydney co-incides with a few other flights so lines for immigration relatively long. However, some helpful staff member points us in the right direction of a few “ATM style” automatic machines and we manage to by pass the queues and are out, with luggage within about 15 mins.

Take train to Circular Quay and walk to hotel. One room not quite ready but we leave Luggage in the one that is ready and go out for a bit of lunch. John & I then head off for THE Bridge climb at 4:15 with Deirdre and Sally off to get wet on the jet boat in the harbour.

The girls get absolutely soaked on their tour which turns out to be a double turn as it had to return because someone was sick.

Harbour Bridge climb

Harbour Bridge climb

John and I get to the reception area for the bridge walk and get kitted out in these very fetching (not) jump suits, harnesses and have everything clipped on to avoid them flying away. Even our hats are clipped on.

The first part is a walk along the base level of the bridge, above sea and shore road level to the first bridge support which we then walk through and up stairs to the main part. We clamber through a part between two lanes of fast moving traffic, squeeze through some of the supports and out onto the bridge.

Surprisingly, we are now over the worst of the climb as the part going up the curve of the bridge is relatively straightforward.

Our party is slowed down by a few less able people so we actually get more time on the bridge than others usually have. At least two parties catch us up although there is no pressure to speed up, no passing places and stops are frequently made for photos.

On top of Sydney Harbour Bridge

On top of Sydney Harbour Bridge

A by-plane passes over us and we just cross over to the other span to start our descent and the cruise ship that was in harbour starts it’s slow reversal to leave the harbour area.

The descent is quicker although one ladder is virtually vertical which does slow up our ageing party.

Off the bridge and disrobe, we are back in the hotel by about 7 and head out to Appetito for dinner. A good meal later and we flake out for a well earned rest.

What an experience, it actually isn’t as hard as it seems and the instructors make it so easy for everyone – an experience to be savoured.

Thursday 5 February

An early start after bought croissants for breakfast, saves the $25 cost per person in the hotel, and we are met on time by Steve for our tour of Sydney.

The tour was organised through Real Sydney Tours and was designed to let us see some of the parts we wouldn’t normally see as tourists.

Steve is a part time actor as well as tour guide and has appeared in Rake – the one with a nappy and a prostitute – so will need to look out for it when we get home.

Mrs Macquarie's chair

Mrs Macquarie’s chair

We are first taken to Mrs Macquarie’s Chair in the Botanical gardens, where we hadn’t gone last time. Then out to the suburbs, hugging the coastline towards the end of the harbour, past many a fabulous house. Seafront houses of course command a premium and some of these will cost about A$10m.

Parsley Bay rock structure

Parsley Bay rock structure

Stop for a drink and biscuits at Parsley Bay, a virtually deserted lovely little cove with some interesting sandstone rock formations.

Get bitten by a few sand flies so anyone reading this, beware. On to other bays including a stop at Bondi Beach, crowded, lots of surf but a bit shabby, and to Watson’s Bay, where sadly CCTV is in evidence to try and prevent suicide jumps as it appears to be the area where most people try suicide.

Some exercises being conducted by rescue services, particularly abseiling. See some black swans in Centennial Park.

Hobby shop in QVB

Hobby shop in QVB

Lunch back in Sydney at a pub near Darling Harbour – large portions – and a drop off back at the hotel in time for a train ride to the Town Hall and a walk around the QVB with particular attention to the hobby shop.

Dinner not really required but room for a chocolate fix in the hotel’s nearby Gruyeren chocolate shop.

Hand over Claire’s computer to Simone and pack ready for tomorrow’s flight to Melbourne.

Watch this space for the next part of our adventure.

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