We set off for Phillip Island and Wilson’s Promontory on Mum’s Birthday – Wednesday 8th October. But first, the story so far … I had arrived three days earlier on the morning of Sunday 5th October, having left Cardiff on Friday 3rd late afternoon. Jenny had been with Pete & Shells since leaving Cardiff on September 9th after David & Penny’s wedding. My trip from Cardiff had been generally uneventful. A quiet bus ride to Heathrow with no one sitting beside me – so plenty of space; a painless check-in as I’d already checked-in with Singapore Airlines a couple of days earlier (and my seat had been booked/chosen even earlier). This meant that I just walked straight to the desk left my hold luggage and walked away – no queues, amazing! Going through security was not quite so smooth, it took quite a while and they were checking all shoes now, a new development. Into the Departure area of T3 and a desperate attempt to find something to eat; massive queues in the pub (O’Neil’s I think) meant I went to a French brasserie type place and had a “sort of burger” – posh-burger you’d call it I suppose, and then a trip to Dixon’s to pick up the iPod Touch for Jenny I’d pre-ordered a couple of days earlier. Pleasantly surprised at cost made me think – is it the right one! Of course it wsn’t – they’d tried to palm me off with the previous version. I then had to persistently argue to get the one I wanted – they claimed that they didn’t have one reserved for me – and eventually with the assistance of one of the sales staff who remembered speaking to me, I persuaded them to release one that was “reserved” for someone else on the 12th October. That’s a problem they’ll have to solve, I didn’t want their problem – I’m assuming that a member of staff had taken it for themselves, or another shady deal had taken place with mine – they’re in short supply at the moment. The flight to Singapore was long, again uneventful and I managed to doze quite a bit. Pleasant Danish student sitting next to me – we chatted occasionally – mainly about Business Schools in the UK, he was hoping to come and study in the UK next year and was on his way to Singapore for a short internship sponsored by Drechsler Merchant Bank. I didn’t watch any films, listened to a bit of music but did get up and walked around the new Airbus A380, which is a massive plane and very comfortable. Into Changi and a four hour stopover before the flight on to Melbourne. Walked up and down the shopping mall at least four times. Saw the world’s largest HD Plasma Screen (103″). The airport is massive, beautifully organised and a pleasure to be in, and the wireless networking was free! Had a meal in the Hard Rock Cafe and then boarded the flight to be kept awake for another meal – I didn’t want it; I wanted to get to sleep. Woken too early for another meal, but at least I was able to see parts of South Australia as we flew towards Melbourne. Pete was at the airport with Jenny to meet me, and I was spirited off to Highett and then later on we had Sunday lunch at Hobson’s Cafe. The next few days are a bit of a blur as I got to grips with my jet lag etc. I do remember going with Jenny to buy her a watch for her birthday at Southlands; I do remember seeing Kevin & Patsy; and I do most definitely remember going to Tesselaar to see the tulips.
|Tulip Fields in Dandenongs
I also seem to recall going to get a very nice Indian meal from a local Indian Restaurant which we ate back in the house and sampled some excellent South Australian wine – all the time Pete suggesting that we REALLY did need to go to the Barossa Vally, and his favourite winery was Two Hands (do you think it was a hint? Anyway October 8th dawned and cards and presents were given. Beautiful flowers had been delivered the day before for Jenny from you all, and some more arrived via Flying Flowers from Audrey that morning.
|Jenny on her 60th Birthday
We started off for Phillip Island a little later than planned. I’d picked-up the car from Budget (very strange experience, I was continually being told by an Indian guy “not to worry”, he would see us OK. He did after all accept a scanned copy of my Driving Licence that Ruth had sent over the day before) and Jenny did the driving and I did the navigating from the very clear directions that Shells had provided us with and then used the maps that I’d earlier purchased from Southlands. As always we had enough paper (books, guides, maps) in the car to keep us busy for a month – let alone three days! First stop was Caldermeade Farm for late lunch. We had the most amazing steak and mushroom pies you can imagine. So much so that we decided to buy some for Pete & Shells on our way back, as we knew we had to drive back on the same road. The farm also had a viewing gallery for the miking parlour and as luck had it we were able to see the 400 cows being milked on a very interesting revolving milking machine. The cows know how to get on and off, and the dairymen care for all the cows needs (including feeding them grain, checking them over etc) as the stage revolves. Took a few pictures that you might be interested in seeing.
Next stop was Cowes on Phillip Island where we booked into a very nice B&B for the evening. Chatted to a pleasant retired couple from Sheffield, both teachers, who were just coming to the end of a 5 week trip and they gave us advice on a company to book through for Australian trips ( … ) and that they had got Penguin Plus tickets for the evening show. This was indeed good information and we were lucky enough to get the last Penguin Plus tickets. This meant that we were a)nearer to both the sea and the burrows, b)nearer to the point at where about 75% of the Little Penguins (300+ on a good evening) came ashore. You couldn’t take pictures, but we had our binoculars and an excellent view from being there early and so had a memorable (but cold) experience! I coined the word “valiant” to describe them as they came out of the sea, always in groups, or if alone – waiting for others to join them – and then scurrying across the sand to the shelter of the burrow trails (penguin motorways) that led them to their spot in the 30,000plus strong colony. They only come ashore when they’ve fed, so they can be away for one day, or a week, depending upon the availability of food. All the while they are food targets for large fish, large gulls, or any other predator – they are after all, only 30cm in height! A visit to the souvenir shop was of course in order, had to remember the evening if I couldn’t take photos; drove back to Cowes to get food … and there was very little choice. Indeed I don’t think there was any choice! Cowes had closed down after the excitement of the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix which had taken place on the Island the weekend before. So, we had a burger and chips, which was nice, but far more than we had planned to eat. Oh! well. Next morning, breakfast over, we drove off towards Wilson’s Prom., stopping (almost) at Venus Bay on the way. Arrived at our tent just after 2:00pm and marvelled at it’s luxury before setting off for a familiarisation trip. We went down to Squeaky Beach first, then on to Whiskey Bay, up to the Mt Oberon car park and finally back to the tent and a walk down to Norman Beach. We had a stir-fry as I recall for Supper (Shells’ special recipe) and then went to sleep in a really comfortable bed with the sound of the wildlife and the sea in our ears. There’s a load of photos here for you to see, eventually I may get round to describing them (on Picasa) and what they show/are.
The next day was our full-day at “the Prom” and we decided (or rather I decided) we would walk up Lilly Pilly Gulley and Mt Bishop. The pictures of this walk are in the batch above. Took us through mainy different types of vegetation – really very enjoyable and just about right (in terms of energy expended) for two oldies like us! We then went to explore a little further, saw a Wombat at Darby River Bridge and took some good shots of a sunset at Norman Lookout. Another good night’s sleep and we were away as early as we could make it for the trip back to Melbourne for the Joint Celebration – Ewan’s “head-wetting” and our 60th Birthday Lunch. But that’s another story.