New Year’s Eve, Phillip Island…

After a sorcher of a Christmas Day in Melbourne (36c!) we took off in search of sea-breeze for a mini-break on Phillip Island. Here are our top 5 discoveries… (without even a mention of its famous tourist hotspot; the Penguin Parade)

1) Orange, almond & ricotta gelato from Pino’s Trattoria, Cowes
2) Old fashioned milkshakes in the retro Silverleaves General Store & Cafe
3) Cape Woolamai Pinnacles walk
4) Tasty Greek food at The Goat in the Boat 
5) Discovering how relaxing life is when you holiday with extended family. Namely having grandma, aunties, uncles & cousins on tap to entertain your toddler! It was one of our tamer New Year’s Eves (in bed by the stroke of midnight) but just as well with baby #2 due any day now…

 

Tolmie and Mansfield, Victorian High Country

For xmas 2015 the husband rather mysteriously presented me with a USB drive featuring the film;’The Man From Snowy River.’ For the unacquainted, it’s an Australian 1982 classic set in the Victorian High Country around Mansfield (3 hours drive from Melbourne.) Flash-forward to the Easter long weekend and we booked a quiet AirBnB hidden way off the grid, 15 mins down a dirt road, near to the tiny town of Tolmie. Think birdsong, log fires & scrabble. Bliss.

For those fitter than I (or for those without a cheeky 11 month baby glued to their hip) you can do 7 day rides deep into the bush, taking in Craig’s Hut & many of the film’s locations. I was happy with an energetic 2 hour trail ride run by the fantastic company Hidden Trails. For those really keen, there’s an 1988 sequel; The Man From Snowy River 2. Yes, we watched both.

Caye Caulker, Belize

Our 7 days in Caye Caulker (“Key corker.” It sounds way better in a Caribbean accent) was the honeymoon before the wedding. I just love it where, within 10 seconds of arriving somewhere you just think; this is definitely our vibe.

The island reminds us of Rashdoo in the Maldives (but thankfully with alcohol) in that it’s a 3 street town where the only traffic is a golf cart for hire, or a propeller plane from Belize City buzzing down on the jungle fringed landing strip. After the Everest Lukla plane experience however, I’ll forever opt for arrival by speedboat.

Luckily, it’s a lot less Americanized than we expected. The houses are pained in typical Caribbean postcard pink and pastel blue, and a lot of the cheaper local restaurants are in people’s front yards where they sell homemade banana bread & quesadillas.  For the ‘upmarket’ the much-famed local lobster really is as good as the guidebooks say. We ate a $200 grilled mango lobster dinner with a couple of rums each for $35 USD – total for 3 people!

The nightlife is low-key, with most of the backpackers sticking largely to ‘The Split;’ a swim up bar near a shallow channel of sea. We snuck there during daylight hours with our 8 month old, just to prove we still could. :) For us oldies in our 30’s though a couple of the ocean front bars further south were much nicer, with hammocks and swing chairs to sip cocktails from.

The rest of our days were spent relaxing by Wheezie’s Cottages pool and private pier, all very idyllic, except for Caye Caulker’s dreaded downfall… an abundance of sandflies, even inland. Grr.

Getting there: Melbourne to LA with Qantas then an direct American Airlines flight to Belize City (Only available once a week. The alternative is an epic detour via El Salvaor or Dallas/Miami.) Then a 45 min speedboat from Belize City to Caye Caulker.  Boat schedule here.

Where we stayed: Wheezies Purple Bungalow

 

 

 

 

Healesville, Yarra Valley, Victoria

A great escape from Melbourne during Grand Final weekend & the September heatwave. We checked out Healesville Community Market, TarraWarra Winery and a view of the vineyard from our balcony at Outlook Hill Cottages. It had all the makings of a perfectly relaxing break, except for our companions; a 6 month old baby & my first encounter with an Australian huntsman spider!

 

The Great Ocean Road & 12 Apostles

How do you top last year’s birthday at Marina Bay Sands? You can’t really! So this year the theme was nature, and the mission; to see a wild koala. So we set out for 48 hours along Australia’s Great Ocean Road. Here are 8 gems we found along the way…

1) Queenscliff – A nice beach-side picnic spot if like me, you can’t wait to tuck into the picnic just 2 hours out of Melbourne.  Great views of Sorrento across the bay.

2) Torquay – The real ‘surfers paradise’ with tons of surf brand outlet stores. You can pick up Quicksilver bikini’s for $10. Perhaps not the ideal purchase when 6 months pregnant, but such a bargain I couldn’t resist. The Imperial Rhino cafe’s menu tells you everything you need to know about this town; ‘Berocca over ice’ for weekend hangovers.

3) Apollo Bay – Packed with tourists year-round, so lots of cute coffee shops & a small Sunday farmers market. If you want to stay off the beaten track however check out….

4) … Yuulong – One of the best Air B & B’s we’ve ever stayed in. Michelle’s rustic countryside home could be straight out of Grand Designs. It took 20 years to build (the wooden beams were shipped in from the old Sydney pier!) The breakfast & views are out of this world.

5) 12 Apostles – There are only 8 left but they still attract 2 million visitors per year! Loch Ard Gorge is the best spot for walking trails. A winter version of Maya Bay.

6) L’Artisan Cheese Cafe – A beautiful stop if you travel inland along the Timboon Road. They do tastings & lunch platters in the garden from $15pp. http://www.lartisancheese.com.au/

7) Timboon Railway Shed Distillery – Whilst you’re in ‘tasting mode’ stop for free samples of fruit vodka & the creamiest chocolate liqueur. We bought a bottle an anticipation for baby’s arrival 3 months from now.

8) Great Otway National Park – Last but not least, this place is koala spotting  heaven. Mission accomplished for another year.

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Previous Older Entries

An.an.tas.in : The Anantasin is the name of a shipwreck just of the coast of the Sensi Parasise, Mae Haad Bay, Koh Tao, Thailand. It’s one of my many favorite places.

Lit.tle: Just because it’s cute.

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