Thought of the day

I thank whatever gods may be / For my unconquerable soul. / I am the master of my fate / I am the captain of my soul. ~William Ernest Henley, Invictus

Government's promises are like the Ringgit, they depreciate with time.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Australia - Land of Dream

20100528: Touch Down

We reached Melbourne at a quarter before twelve midnight. My mind was still not at peace as I wasn't sure if our visa will actually get us through. Applied the visa online back in April and it only took me 5 minutes and 40 Australian dollars to complete the application for both of us. This was way too easy. The flutter in my stomach only ceased when the immigration officer finally stamped our passports and let us through.

Too bad, they confiscated our "bak gua", gifts for our friends in Aussie. Luckily the shrimp roll and broiled cuttlefish were undetected.

We felt the chilliness of the early winter even before we stepped out of the airport. We wrapped ourselves up with layers of winter outfits, mittens, scarves and hats and pushed our carts like two walking rice dumpling and headed to Thrifty to collect our transport. They upgraded us from a Toyota Corolla Ascent Hatchback to a Hyundai i30. Cool, though I don't know the difference:p Anyway, the i30 is really a good ride.

It was time to put our newly purchase Garmin to the test. We missed quite a number of junctions being fairly new to the device, fortunately it proved its valour despite kept directing us to the toll way (which after, we learnt from EC that we could set the device to avoid it). We finally arrived at the hotel at the wee hours in the morning. After a relaxing spa bath, we tucked ourselves beneath the cosy quilt.

20100529: Rise and shine to Philip Island

Woke up at 8.30am, scheduled to meet EC for breakfast at 9am. Met EC on the way out to grab a tube of toothpaste from 7 Eleven. EC brought me two kathmadu fleeces and lent us one of his cellphone. After a brief breakfast with our dear friend, CM and I hopped into the car and head off Philip Island. We stopped along the way whenever we came across any nice sceneries, starting only two blocks away from where we stayed. Pls pardon us because to "suaku" like us, any scene is breathtaking and worth cam-whoring:p

Churchill Island Heritage farm is a nice place to hang out and to get hands on the several farm activities like milking the cow, sheep shearing...etc.

Penguin Parade - It's fascinating to watch the penguins emerge from the sea after dark, preen themselves on the beach and taking counts before parading off to their nests. Too bad, I am not allow to take any pictures.

20100530: Melbourne City Walk

After a pleasant breakfast beside the manor operated by a Korean couple, we drove to the city, which was not a sound idea as it was pretty challenging to drive with so many traffics in a foreign land with weird rules like the hook turn, and scarce parking spaces. We finally landed a parking lot after wrestling with the seasoned city dwellers and risked almost being run down by the tram. ~wipe sweat off forehead.

There are many magnificent buildings and structures which caught my attention like St. Paul's Cathedral and Flinders Station. Even went to the Old Melbourne Gaol to check out the Ned Kelly legend, he is probably the guy who invented the first kevlar vest.

Went to Mulgrave to meet EC for dinner. It is a nice suburb he is staying, but he is moving to a better place:) EC brought us to Kingsway which is saturated with Asian food and we had a bud-tantalizing bowl of pho (Vietnamese beef noodle)! After dinner, we dropped by at the Philips in Boxhill, another suburb known to be occupied by many Malaysians. The Philips are staying in a rented heritage house, the exterior looks old yet cosy and the interior is spacious and homey. Love the kitchen, living room, and the veranda!

20100531: Great Ocean Road

We woke up pretty early for this as the GOR stretches more than 200 km. Along the way, we stopped anywhere we wanted to as EC's saying goes, "This is the beauty of free and easy tour."

We stopped at Bells Beach for some photo and had brunch at a little town in Anglesea. Right at the roundabout before the town, a grey kangaroo hopped like nobody's business beside us, overtook us and bounced across the roundabout and vanished into the bush across the road. After the meal, CM bought her shades and we moved on to Split Point Lighthouse, Aireys Inlet.

Pam, the tour guide at the lighthouse is a jovial petite lady and made us felt at home immediately with her cheerful laughter. We toured the lighthouse with 3 Indian dudes and 3 local ranchers from Queensland.

We made another stop at Separation Creek near Wye River as I was attracted by the wooden bridge at the river mouth.

Stopped at Apollo Bay tourist centre at about 3pm, the staff told us that we will be able to reach the Twelve Apostles by 5.30pm to catch the last glimpse of light. And this is the part where I started to drive like a rally driver, with my co-driver dozing off:p The GOR does not stick along the coast all the way, it leads towards inland somewhere after Marengo as it slices across Otway National Park.

We reached the Twelve Apostle at 5.15pm, still sufficient light for me to shoot some nice pictures. We think that the greatness of nature can only be felt there and then, no postcard-like picture is able to convey the message across entirely. Discontented with the time we spent with the rocks, we decided to stay overnight at the nearby Port Campbell, which was not in our plan.

We had a sumptuous dinner at Waves before we went searching for a place to put up for the night. We checked out a few places before settling at Port Campbell Hostel for AUD25/night, which is the all time favorite for backpackers. Pretty decent stay for such a cheap price, clean bathrooms and toilets.

Woke up at 6.30am and headed for the apostles again where we practically own the entire lookout deck all to ourselves. More cam-whoring before we dropped by Loch Ard Gorge and marvelled at the work of nature, how the wind, waves and rain craft the natural sculpture skillfully with time. And the best part is, it ain't finish till the end of the world.

20100601: Ballarat

We checked out from the hostel and had our breakfast. The owner has a collection of artwork, mainly paintings on the rocks and the port, it is ther work of the owner's mom. Refilled our fuel tank, and off we go to Ballarat in search of gold!

We visited Sovereign Hill, a mocked up gold mining town recreating the gold rush yesteryear in the 1850s. I was awestricken at the mining technology these people invented back then, how strong is the will of man to achieve something they strongly desire. And also we observed the dire condition our fellow Chinese ancestors were put through back in those days when they were lured to this barren land to seek fortune. At least now their younger generations live in a place where they can freely call home. Sovereign Hill is highly recommended for family with kids because you can shop, dine, and have fun all day long.

Next, we moved over to the Gold Museum which is opposite Sovereign Hill. Our eyes glittered at the generous showcase of gold nuggets and gold dust. The good news is that you're still able to stumble upon this precious element if you look for it hard enough in Australia. Who knows, you might find a nugget while you're gardening in your own backyard.

We returned to Mel city in the evening to meet up with CM's secondary school classmates, JY and HL. Initially, JY intended to treat us to Gordon Ramsay's restaurant but once we reached the place we turned him down as it's too posh for us:p So we detoured to a Greek restaurant for kebab.

20100602: Dandenongs

Yay, it's zoo and wine day! Healesville Sanctuary is located 61km to the east of Melbourne. It was a relaxing day since we do not need to travel very far. And so in the morning, we reached the sanctuary at about 9.30am and stayed there till noon. Saw the emu, roos, koala, tasmanian devil, wombat, platipus and dingo, which are the only one we were interested. And then we moved on to Yarra Valley to visit the vineyard.

Was back in the hotel at 6.30pm, waited for EC to pick us up and go to Little Italy. Sort of like a farewell dinner before we depart for Sydney. And again, it's not about the food or wine that night that matters, it's the moment together that counts. How unpredictable life can be when 2 years back, we hung out in Penang in search for local delicacies and 2 years later, we were dining in Aussie. God knows where we will meet again years later.

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