Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Sydney - Home Day 23

Day's Pictures

We were glad the flight wasn’t until one. We had breakfast and I packed. We then walked back to Chinatown to go to the Chinese Friendship Garden, but it wasn’t open yet – we could see enough to know it was beautiful. The shuttle picked us up right on time. At the airport we waited in the Qantas Business class lounge and had breakfast.

The plane was late loading because the TV system wasn’t working! Phil and I sat across the aisle from each other and watched a Reese Witherspoon movie – How Do you Know.

Passport control was fairly efficient but Customs made up for it by being abominable but not as bad as security! There were absolutely no signs directing people as to how to get to their connecting flights and no one to ask. Bummer for most travelers. At least I opted for the full body and didn’t get humiliated.

We spent some time in the Admirals Club before the flight. Flight home uneventful except that Air Force One was on the tarmac because of Obama’s fund raiser in Austin.

Sandy and Marv met us and we went to the viewing area off 71 to get a better look at the plane. The house looked great and we were welcomed with a rain shower. Phil picked up pizza at Paisano’s

Monday, May 9, 2011

Sydney Day 22

Day's PiIctures
I woke up at 6:30 and made coffee and scouted out the lounge where I got cereal bowls to take to our room (out the fire door, down a floor and then reverse it to get back to the room).

Phil and I left the hotel to go touring. First we went to Chinatown and found a cache near the arch, but since it was so early we walked along George Street and across to Hyde Park where we looked at the Anzac Memorial, a statue of Capt Cook (who died in Ouwhyee), and across to the botanical gardens which were as lovely as I had hoped. I spotted some huge bats hanging in a tree and then more and more. We found a sign which told us they were called flying foxes and were killing the trees in the park. We talked to a groundsperson about it for a long time who told us that at high time there would be as many as 20,000 of them. We then walked to Mrs. Macquarie’s Point for a great view of the Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. There were tons of Chinese visitors taking pictures. Then we walked to the Opera House, looked in a few shops and ate sandwiches in Circle Quay. We got a $29 pass for ferries, trains and buses and hopped on the ferry to Manly. The wind was crazy strong but we walked down to the beach which was gorgeous. We also went in a few stores and I reaffirmed that I hate souvenir shopping.

The ride back to Sydney was rough – people got really splashed but I don’t think the waves were as high as when Dale and I went the time before.

We went to the Rocks and tried to go into the Susannah Place Museum but it was only by tour and we didn’t want to wait so we took another ferry back to Darling Harbour and walked back to the hotel, stopping for groceries at a three story Woolworths and then a bottle of wine. We ate dinner in the room. We went out to get money in the pouring rain and went to bed early.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Numurkah to Sydney Day 21

Day's Pictures

Phil and I were up at 6, showered, packed and breakfasted. I checked mail before we went for another walk along the lake.

When we got back we had champagne and cheese and crackers before leaving for the train station. When we got to Albury we checked it out and then the four of us went for coffee at a bustling café in the town center. The train station was lovely. They dropped us off and we got on the train. On board we ordered boxed hot lunches – I had lamb curry and Phil had roast chicken.

The second load of people got on to the train at Wanga Wanga – two sets made our trip nearly unbearable. The woman behind us had a baby that either cried, plied with an electronic toy or walked up and down the aisle. We’ll never forget little “Lillian” – the other set was a father, his two kids and an uncle. The dad talked I the loudest voice ever and irritated most everyone on the train.

We thought it would be better when we got on the bus we were shuttled to at Goulburn, and for a bit it was – no noisy people. But then the bus went through a weigh station and we flunked. The driver spent forty five minutes unloading and reloading luggage. Finally he asked for 10 volunteers to come from the back of the bus and squat down in the aisle when they re-weighed the bus! Phil and I were among the volunteers. The bus finally was allowed to continue and we were about an hour late getting into Sydney..

They let us off at the railroad station and while I was in the bathroom a woman came up to Phil and accused him of laughing at her the whole trip. Since he had never seen her before and we hadn’t laughed at anyone, he was stunned!

We walked to the hotel (Hotel Pensione) which was uphill from the station on George Street – the opposite direction and class of the Mercure where I had stayed before. Our room was the size of a postage stamp, but clean and modern. Or view was of a walled in mechanicals area and an overhead billboard. But the room was incredibly quiet.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Numurkah VIC Day 20

Days Pictures

Phil and I had breakfast and then Barrie and Joy got up. We left them with their breakfast and headed for a walk around the lake that was built by the resort builder. We saw lots of birds but didn’t have the binocs. However, the Victoria fauna app works great. We then went to Wunghnu (one ewe) to buy buffalo meat (what kind no one knows) and to look for a geocache under the bridge in the park across the street. Barrie actually spotted it.

We took the meat and milk back to the apartment and then headed off to time the route to the golf club where Barrie will be playing. It took about 45 minutes to get to Yarrawonga. The resort Joy thought she had booked was right across the street from the golf club. Oops.

Then we headed an hour east to Rutherglen, a large wine producing region where we stopped at the “i” for information about eating places. We had lunch at the Tuilieres Café which we thought was a complete lunch for $11.90 but turns out each course was $11.90! However, it was a beautiful spot outside in the sun and we enjoyed the “Turkish flatbread” pizza, my chicken fettuccini and Phil’s spaghetti carbonara. However, afterward I felt ill – way too rich. Joy and Barrie began wine tasting while we waited a long time for the bill – turns out we were to go inside to pay. While they finished tasting, we headed toward a path around a little lake but we couldn’t figure how to access it. We finally went through a bowls club where the old folks playing it stopped to ask us what we were doing. We asked if we could go through and got a good look at an Australian sport! The trail around the lake was nice with lots of wildlife, but we only went a bit before coming down and joining Joy and Barrie who picked us up.

Then we headed to another winery (Warrabilla --known for its Jurif wines which we later learned were petit sirahs. Phil tasted several but I only tried one.

We headed back to Numurkah and stopped for gas. I had volunteered to cook dinner and we had planned to go to the grocery. We got into the village at 5:10 and they had closed everything at 5! Joy bought a merlot and a sparkling chardonnay/pinot at a bottle shop and I got some potato chips and crackers and bacon.

I made a mix of boiled potato, onion, carrot, apple and bacon as veggie, caramelized onion gravy for the buffalo “fillets” and a salad. I made tzatziki to start. We drank a lot of wine and had little chocolates for dessert.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Clifton Springs to Numurkah VIC Day 19

Days Pictures

We had completed packing to begin our trek to Sydney with a two day stop over near the Murray River in far north Victoria just on the New South Wales border. Before we left, Barrie took Phil and me to find geocaches in the Drysdale – Clifton Springs area which we did successfully. Our search took us to the former Kilgour winery where Joy used to help Anne, the then owner. We also took a ride by the olive grove that is owned by another of Joy’s friends.

We had a really good ride heading north. The day was quite nice. We had take away pasties (mine was vegetable, Phil’s mango chicken) in Bacchus Marsh. We stopped twice in Bendigo, first to look at an impressive cathedral where kids from a local private school were practicing for their founder’s day celebration and then on to the Bendigo Art Gallery. I loved the gallery which was partly in a very old building and part new. The pictures were displayed beautifully and there was a lot of 19th c. Australian art as well as specimens of European masters including impressionists.

The next stop was in Echuca, an old inland port on the Murray river which had a recreated village and views of the paddle boats and the river hung with eucalyptus trees. We got meat at a butchers there.

We got to the holiday time share community in the middle of no where at just dark. We had steak and veggies from the beautiful Australian grown food box Joy had picked up the day before. It included bok choy and green beans which we ate as the vegetable. She made really creamy mashed sweet/white potatoes in her Thermomix machine she had carted along. Lots of cheese and wine for dessert. Yum.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Clifton Springs -- Trip Ocean Road Day 18

See the day's pictures.

We tried to get an early start but there were a few glitches. It was quite a grey day, so the sights weren’t as impressive as they could have been. The first stop was the golf course at Torquay for a quick look at the kangaroos who drive the golfers crazy. There weren’t as many as the previous time I was there, but still enough to impress Phil.

We had coffee at a nice beach café that wasn’t there when I was here before.

Our next detour was at Kennett River where a friend of Joy’s said that koala sighting was common. Indeed! We were really excited to see a lot of them nestles high in crooks of eucalyptus trees. One even woke from its 22 hours a day sleep to climb further up a tree and let me film him.

Our last destination was the Twelve Apostles of which there are only 8 left – large rock outcroppings that are impressive in and of themselves but made even more so by the wonderful vegetation along the cliff viewing paths. I claimed credit for a Geocaching earth cache there.

We got home past dark after a lovely ride through the inland countryside and Joy made a lovely risotto for our dinner.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Clifton Springs - Melbourne - Clifton Springs Day 17

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Phil and I had breakfast downstairs and went on a long neighborhood walk up the hill that overlooked the whole neighborhood and went past really elegant homes.

We left for Melbourne. Barrie left Joy and me out at Federation Square where we went to Chloe’s Restaurant noted for a classic nude painting that hangs on the bar wall. Annemieke Craig was there before us and we were joined by Catherine Lang and Judy Sheard. We enjoyed an excellent lunch from the complete lunch menu which had five items on it and each of ordered a different one! We had great conversations and ended up spending over two hours there. Joy and I rode the free tram which had a recorded spiel equal to the expensive tours most cities have.

Instead of going straight back we went to Port Lonsdale lighthouse and then into Queenscliff with gorgeous Victorian hotels and buildings.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Clifton Springs, VIC Day 16

Link to Day's Pictures

Barrie did a wash and Phil and I went for a short walk. Barrie took Phil and I to Serendip, a nature reserve where we saw kangaroos, wallabies and lots of wonderful birds. We were the only people in the reserve.

Back home we had a traditional barbeque in their barbeque pavilion behind the house. The meal included sausage, beef, lamb and big pieces of wonderful veggies. There was ice cream and a cake for dessert as well as a Kilgour Cabernet and a 2009 pinot noir.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Latrobe - Launceston-Melbourne Clifton Springs Day 15

Day's Pictures

Susannah’s first day at work at her new job.

I made an English breakfast for Phil and me – eggs, ham, tomato, cheese and toast. We then packed and went for a walk around the hotel grounds. We saw their cone of quiet (weird) and a lot of fairy wrens flitting among the eucalyptus trees.


Cone of Silence at the B&B

Sherwood B&B

Back at the hotel we joined Joy and Barrie and took off stopping first at a cheese factory.


Cow Art Statues at Ashgrove Cheese Plant

Then we stopped for tasting as at two wineries. At the first winery the guy was completely distracted and acted as though we weren’t there. I particularly liked a dessert wine and bought it. Tamar Ridge Botterytis Riesling At the next (the winery that made the 9 Island pinot I drank at the hotel in Hobart) we bought a pinot to save and an aged chardonnay.


From there we headed to the airport and got there plenty early. The plane to Melbourne was a prop jet but because it was Qantas they served a snack and free wine!


We were picked up by the parking people and headed back to Clifton Springs.