Posts Tagged ‘Victoria’

Cracking Up On the Coast from Victoria to NSW

Friday, March 5th, 2010

We’ve seen way too many pirate-themed mini golf courses around the southeast coast of Australia.

We’ve seen way too many pirate-themed mini golf courses around the southeast coast of Australia.

“Oh no,” Morgan said in a voice suppressing deep, demented giggles. We had just checked into a “deluxe cabin” at the Anchor Belle Caravan Park on Phillip Island and were thumbing through visitors’ brochures. “It says here that Phillip Island has so much to offer, it’s worth a whole day!” He unleashed his manic laughter. “Good thing we’re spending FIVE days here!”

We’re getting punchy on this swing through Australia. Perhaps we’ve spent too much time at mini golf courses and RV parks. Perhaps we’ve had too many budget meals at surf shacks with names like Doctor Food (where Morgan ate a half-cooked burger, dramatically clutched his stomach and said, “Call the doctor — I just ate at Doctor Food!”). Perhaps it’s because all the gum trees and little coastal towns inhabited by white retirees look so similar that we feel we’re driving in circles rather than northward.

The other day we were driving from a town called Lakes Entrance to our current spot, Batemans Bay, in torrential rain. A gummy gray gum tree forest dominated the so-called scenic coastal route. We pulled over to a picnic spot in the squall, where one sad, wet table stood surrounded by endless eucalyptus, and I announced, “Lunchtime!” Then I pulled out our picnic of P&Js and hard-boiled eggs. We all knew without saying that it was too wet to get outside, so we unwrapped our sandwiches and carefully peeled our eggs in baggies while sitting strapped in the car seats.

The four of us sat quietly chewing until Morgan, in the driver’s seat, choked down a bite and broke the silence to declare, “Well, this is fun.” My shoulders started to shake as I looked over and saw that he was overcome by another fit of laughter as well. The kids, observing from the backseat, concluded that their parents were lost in more ways than one. (more…)

The Phillip Island Penguin Charade

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010

A couple of penguins on parade at Phillip Island (photo courtesy of wikimedia).

A couple of penguins on parade at Phillip Island (photo courtesy of wikimedia).

I told my family we should drive to the bottom of Australia and spend several days on Phillip Island mainly because of its star attraction: the Penguin Parade. I had this idea that we would stroll along a beach at sunset and watch waves of hundreds of penguins waddle up to burrow with their babies in the sand in quite possibly the most adorable display of loyalty and domesticity.

Predictably, Colly and Kyle said, “That’s sooooooooo cute!”

So we drove 90 minutes south of Melbourne, crossed a causeway and discovered an island about 16 miles long and 6 miles wide. It’s covered with grassy pastures, gum tree stands, a lot of roads used for racing, and a couple of villages with shops and restaurants overlooking the beach. The island has been a tourist getaway for over a century, and for at least half that time it’s been famous for grand prix car and motorcycle races. (Since we arrived only days before the Superbike World Championship, we saw and heard many men wearing padded leather pants who gunned their bullet bikes after every intersection.)

We got our first lesson on the penguins as soon as we checked into a cabin near the town of Cowes. (more…)

Finding the Best and Worst in Daylesford

Friday, February 26th, 2010

Daylesford is a charming little community about an hour and a half north of Melbourne. Set around a lake and ringed by forests, it’s an oasis in the countryside where miles of grassland and gum trees all start to look the same and the country roads seem to go on forever. The town sprung up in the 1860s after gold and timber prospectors flocked to the area, and then it had a second act as a “spa town” when visitors discovered the many mineral springs around it and the neighboring community of Hepburn Springs. Ornately detailed 19th-century storefronts house stylish cafes and day spas. Think of a cross between a Colorado mining town and Calistoga, and you get Daylesford.

Now Daylesford is making a concerted effort to broaden its economic base by marketing itself as “an outdoor adventure destination” for mountain bikers, campers and trekkers — which is what lured our family to spend four nights there.  We took part in a trail run/mountain bike/triathlon “dirt fest” in Wombat State Forest, on the edge of town, and you can read the details and see pics from it on my running blog. (more…)