Melbourne Weekend

Saturday, 6 January 2018

After cruising down to Melbourne in the afternoon we unwound in the air conditioned comfort of Jo’s cool apartment in Carlton. After a quick walk around her local area to confirm that I was in the un-coolest person in Melbourne (or at least in funky Carlton & Fitzroy) we then got takeaway thai and settled down to watch some netflix before sleeping on actual beds which was a nice treat! 

In the morning (today) Jon and I both got out early for some exercise - Jon pounded the yarra trail for 2 and a half hours while I took Jo’s bike for a spin into the city and back, which by the time I had made it home was a 36k and 2 hour return trip.  With Melbourne cooking in 40 degree heat we weren’t keen to tear ourselves away from Jo and her air-conditioning and we probably wouldn't have except that we had a 2pm Escape Room booking in St Kilda. 

The room went really well and we busted out with out any clues which was great.  Then had to think about what to do for 3 hours before boarding our ferry. It was so hot that anything outdoors was out of the question. In the end we decided to visit the National Gallery of Victoria which turned out to be great.  

Us and the thousands of other sudden-art-lovers were kicked firmly out at 5pm which meant there was almost the perfect amount of time left to get our traditional fish and chops from the pier before boarding the Spirit of Tasmania which is where I am now.


Farewell mainland and Christmas Holiday 2017. You've been fun. 

Grampians Hike - Day 3

Saturday, 6 January 2018

Days 1 and 2 are described in the brochure as follows: 

Revel in the adventure and natural beauty of the ancient rock features of the Grand Canyon, views from the Pinnacle Lookout and the spectacular outlook of rugged mountain peaks from the top of Mt Rosea.

Day 3 doesn’t get quite such a write-up:
Day Three provides the opportunity to return to Halls Gap.

Which basically meant that it is just a 14k fire-trail slog back to Halls Gap until such time as the rest of the peaks trail is completed.  In the afternoon of day 2 we spent some time discussing whether we wanted to do this section, given the forecast was for 35 degrees and there wasn’t anything scenic to see. Jon had been running every morning as part of his overland track training so our obvious way out was to have him run and get the car and bring it back to us.  
After a bit of to-ing and fro-ing we were down to two options - get up at 6am and leave by 7 to avoid the heat, or,  bail out.  With the kids unwilling and probably unable to be ready to go early we decided to bail out - which freed up Jon to run all the way back to the car, then up to the Pinnacle again before returning to the car to pick us up. A 3 hour run for him - a lazy morning for us!

Although it was not completely lazy for me as while he ran I walked the first section of the route - and in fact the first 2ks were delightful (paticularly without a pack!)..


but once you got to the big lake the track turned into a sandy fire trail. Jon’s run confirmed that we didn’t miss out on anything much except for some steep pinches which would certainly have hurt after a hew hours of hot walking.


The temperature didn’t get up to the forecast high but it felt pretty darn hot as we ate our ice creams in Halls Gap and I’m happy we made the right decision for the conditions. 

Grampians Hike - Day 2

Saturday, 6 January 2018

We set off the next day at 8.30 as it was going to be a pretty hot day and we had another long climb ahead of us.  It was about 5k from the campsite to the top of Mt Rosea. Once again the trail wound its way around giant rock features and through sandy stretches of lovely forest to the top. This stretch was my favourite bit of walking.


Unlike the Pinnacle, it was only us and another pair of hikers at the top, so we spent a bit longer admiring the views and ourselves.




From there we had 8km of descending off the mountain and right back down to the next campground. Thankfully once we were clear of the ridge it was a pretty gentle and smooth track the rest of the way down.


although by the time we made it we were all pretty hot and tired, so the river next to the campground was a welcome surprise.

although by the time we made it we were all pretty hot and tired, so the creek next to the campground was a welcome surprise.

We spent the rest of the afternoon lazing on the grass reading and snoozing. It was very pleasant if a bit hot. This campground was right next to the main road through the Grampians so not at all  'exclusive' like the other campsite. There were quite a few car campers and families around - in fact that was one thing about the hike that was noticable was it's proximity to roads and carparks at all times. Not like a Tasmanian hike!

In the evening it cooled down enough for us to enjoy our 2 minute noodles and hot chocolates before going to bed.  


Grampians Hike - Day 1

Saturday, 6 January 2018

I’ve been planning this hike since it turned out that taking the boat to the mainland and driving to Adelaide was going to be significantly cheaper than flying.  The Grampians National Park is not far off the highway, and the Parks department people have just finished the first 2 days of a proposed 11 day hike of the entire length of the national park.   Unlike the Three Capes track which costs a bomb, it only cost a grand total of $90 to book campsites on this walk. Of course we needed to carry everything ourselves this time as there are no fancy cabins of comfy mattresses.

We met Jo in Halls Gap and set off at about 11:45. It’s been a long time since I’ve visited the Grampians and I’d forgotten how busy it could get in summer! The town was positively heaving and so was the track up to the Pinnacle, which was our first goal. This meant we had haul ourselves and our giant packs past hundreds of thong wearing tourists who had in many cases parked in the car park quite close to the top, while we had slogged all the way up from the town.


 It took us about 2 hours of steady climbing but we eventually made it and joined the hoards of drone-flying smokers admiring the views over Halls Gap and a large part of Victoria. 

Thankfully the next section of the track took us away from the masses and along the ridgeline through delightfully sandy and rocky trails which wound their way through interesting rock features. It was really lovely terrain. 


We  made it to our first campsite by about 4pm. This campsite had been exclusively built for the Peaks Trail hikers so it was pretty darn nice & the kids were happy to have a platform all to themselves.  



I forced Jo and Jon to attempt to re-create the promotional picture on the brochure (see below).


Hmm.. upon refelction ours was a bit different but almost as good.  At least it looks like Jon and Jo are still friends!

Of course all the real detritus of hiking (stinky socks, food bags, plastic plates etc) was hidden behind the tent!


I also made Jo recreate a photo from the early 90s as she sat in her 27 year old tent in her 27 year old thermals..


The rest of our evening was spent relaxing, reading, eating and admiring the views - all in all it had been a pretty fantastic day. 

Little Desert National Park

Friday, 5 January 2018

Last night (Monday night) we camped at Little Desert National Park. It’s just 10 minutes off the Melbourne - Adelaide highway and despite my first impressions of it being a bit dusty and neglected, it turned out to be really nice - we all swam in the river and launched ourselves off the ropeswimg.



Later in the evening we drank hot chocolates overlooking the river and watched the birds swooping around looking for bugs, and a kookaburra chasing dragonflies. 


More Adelaide

Friday, 5 January 2018

The last few days in Adelaide have been quite a blur of activity. We went to the Cricket on NYE and Ikea for breakfast on Zali’s birthday. 

We caught up with the Kennedy side of the family which was really lovely in both cases.  It’s such a small world that my cousin Linda’s daughter will be in Jon’s sister’s home group at her school next year.  We also squeezed in a quick visit to friends down in West Beach. 

Jon and I have been running in the local national park most mornings which has been delightful and the kids have spent a lot of time in the pool.  



We’re now heading towards the Grampians for a 3 day hike starting tomorrow (Tuesday):



Kangaroo Island - Day 5

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

We were booked to leave K.I. on the 11:30am ferry which meant there was time for a nice run/walk in the morning up the hill behind the house.  I came across this section of path where the trees make an archway above the track - it was really pretty.


I also came across a bit of a car graveyard.. 


I had actually planned to just walk but found I was running short of time so I had to run all the way home.  

After some final packing we headed off to the local craft shop - Granny Stirlings - which is staffed by volunteers including Jon’s mum.   Aside from selling arts and crafts from local K.I. artists, they also serve a mean devonshire tea 

Much to my delight we found a collection of photo cards labelled ‘Cards for Men and Boat Lovers’.   - which seemed to mostly contain pictures of tractors in different situations - on beaches, in paddocks, parked in sheds…  

With Jon’s birthday approaching I made sure to get him his own piece of tractor porn so he has something to look forward to.

Purchases complete we headed to the boat and said goodbye to Shirley and head back to the mainland. We had had a really great time - we are lucky to get to go there so often.

Kangaroo Island - Day 4

Friday, 29 December 2017

Today we had to steel ourselves for more driving as we needed to visit the bits we missed the day before, plus some beaches and run an errand, starting with a drop-off at the Kingscote Tip!

We pushed on from there to Stokes Bay - it starts out at a nondescript rocky bay. Then you spy a crack in the rocks where you walk through nooks and crannies to get to a lovely hidden beach with a big rock pool..




There were no milkshakes to be had at the café (booo) so we headed south, all the way from the north coast to the south, then stopped at Vivonne Bay for lunch. There were lovely limestone rock features and delicious sandwiches. 



After lunch we finally got to Little Sahara dunes which we missed yesterday.  Like so many other facilities, it's been upgraded a lot since we were last there - instead of  nothing but a car park and a board hire place operating out of a couple of shipping containers, there was a whole building with toilets and waiver forms to sign when you hired your sandboard.   
It's funny how it seemed like like the island didn't change at all in the previous ten years, with the exception of the Penneshaw shops which have changed owners and menus every time we visit. 
Then in the last two years so much has happened. We noticed that the Honey Farm and the Island Dairy had also fancied themselves up with new cafes and nicer surroundings since we last visited. 

The sandboarding was fun, and delivered the usual sand-shower as you zipped down the giant dunes.


It was hard to get good photos as there was so much sand blowing around but I got a couple.

Then it was time to head home - the weather wasn't quite hot enough to entice us to stop at a beach on the way to wash off all the sand so the shower at home had to suffer all the sand!

Tomorrow we're heading back to the mainland but not before devonshire tea at the local Art Craft and Produce shop - Granny Stirlings.  

And one last note - we're driving Jon's mum's Magna sedan around the island (which we are grateful to be able to use), but it is amazing how much petrol it is churning through! We are used to our new Peugeot which got us all the way from Hobart to Adelaide with 150kms worth of diesel left in the tank. In contrast, we've filled up the Magna twice in two days from just driving around the island!   Of course this magna is even more efficient than our old magna, it's just that we're used to our new economic vehicle!

Kangaroo Island - Day 3

Friday, 29 December 2017

We always do a least one long day out when we are here, and today the day wasn't actually long enough to fit in everything we wanted to.

Firstly, we headed down to Flinders Chase National Park -about an hour's drive away.  It's been a while since we visited and the visitor centre and everything else around it has been upgraded.

We did a 5k walk to some platypus waterholes but we didn't see any (platypuses, we saw lots of waterholes), possibly due to the fact that Zali had a bad case of the sneeze-burp-hiccups which  were so loud, any platypus within a 10k radius would have packed up their things and taken the next ferry back to the mainland for some peace and quiet.


Along the way there were heaps of signboards with information about the regenration of the bush that has happened since the big bushfire in 2007.  Perhaps there was too much information as by the time Jon had read them all and we'd completed the hike, it was lunchtime.


After a picnic lunch we headed down to Admirals Arch - I hadn't been there since I was pregnant with Zali, and once again the facilities had been upgraded.  The arch was ok - but the big attraction was the hundreds of seals sitting just below the pathway We watched them for ages - big ones and little ones lazing around, arguing, playing in the surf - it was really cool.


 Then we headed off to Remarkable Rocks. I must admit that although I saw them back in 2003 I've been poo-pooing them as I didn't think they could really compare to anything the East Coaast of Tassie had to offer, but in fact I must have just forgotten as they were quite remarkable - and the kids were pretty impressed too.



 With the rocks done, we had planned to do the Hanson Bay hike together but we didn't have time so Jon dropped me off at the start  and I ran the 9k to the end. We walked it last time we were here and I'd been looking forward to doing it again since then.

The start of the Hanson Bay Hike at Kelly Hill Caves has actually become the official end of the new Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail - a 5 day hike that starts at the Flinders Chase visitor's centre.


I love all the xanthorrheas and the way the trail starts in scrubby bush and passes through a whole range of vegetation and terrain before ending up at the beach.




which is where I found these layabouts..


By the time I'd had a swim and we'd packed up it was 5.30 so we had to skip everything else on our to-do list and head home for well deserved fish and chips.


Wednesday, 27 December 2017

On Christmas Eve we went to see the latest Star Wars movie. I wasn't planning to go but I couldn't find an alternative movie that was on at a similar time so in the end I decided to just suffer it rather than stay at home.

We took the precaution of booking in advance as we thought it was likely to be sold  out (it was Star Wars afterall) - but it turns out we must be the last people in Adelaide to see this movie..


Not only was the theatre amazingly empty, but the tickets were only $12  - go figure!

And in a final feat of amazement, it turned out that I really enjoyed the movie - yay!

Kangaroo Island - Day 1

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

We arrived around lunchtime so there was plenty of time in the afternoon to visit one of the wild beaches on the south side - Pennington Bay...


Then we went to have a swim on the calmer north side on our way home.  A lovely start to our 4 nights on K.I.

Kangaroo Island - Day 2

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

After a few days in Adelaide for the Christmas feast we're now down on Kangaroo Island relaxing and enjoying the sights. This afternoon I went out for a stroll around the local township - I always enjoy this - I have a regular route which takes in the tiny shopping area - each time we visit nearly all the shops have changed owners or products, there's also the beachfront area to explore,  and of course the penguin rookeries.

The weather looks very cold and overcast but it was actually about 29 degrees as I wandered around!  One of the beachfront shack owners has this super-fun looking inflatable floating trampoline which I'd never seen the likes of before but it turns out you can get your hands on one for a cool $1000 or so..


It reminds me of the time that someone put a regular backyard trampoline on one of the council pontoons at Sandy Bay Beach.  


When I first started coming to the island over15 years ago,  Penneshaw had a huge colony of Little penguins which tourists would come from everywhere to see.  You could do penguin tours but they could also be spotted almost everywhere and Jon's mum even had a pair setting up home in her front garden one year.  Now, largely due to the NZ fur seals, the colony has been decimated and is down to just 6 breeding pairs. I wandered through the old rookery area today and it was a bit like an abandonned country town - with lots of overgrown penguin houses and all the little trails up from the water had been covered in new foliage. The viewing platforms and signage was also in rusted and in a state of disrepair - rather like Jurassic Park would be now..




It was a bit sad but I'm sure there's still hope for the colony.

Earlier in the day (after some bush mechanics involving a damaged muffler and some empty tins of tomatos) we went to get some amazing honey icecream from the honey farm then visited D'Estrees Bay on a southern part of the island we've never been to before.   Once again it looks cold but it was really hot!  


Jon claims he trained for the swedish orienteering terrain in 1990 by running over seaweed piles like this - so the kids got a head start on their training

As always, it's nice to be back on K.I.



School Lunches

Friday, 22 December 2017

Jon and I have been making lunches for the kids since we moved down here in 2006.   But now that Jett is finished at Primary School, Jon and I are retiring from lunch box duty, leaving them to make their own (much to their horror).

So to mark the final week of lunch-box making I had fun recreating some of the highs and lows of the last 11 years, as well as providing a few surprises for them.  Our lunchbox routine has always been that Jon makes all the sandwiches and freezes them (on Sunday night usually), and then I assemble the lunch boxes with the extra snacks for recess on the day.  This means that I accidentally mix up the rolls at least once a fortnight, so of course this week I had to do the same at least once.  Here’s Jett’s lunchbox on Wednesday.  It was actually his own roll that I gave him but he was smart enough to check the contents (jam) - unfortunately Zali took me on my word and tossed her fetta and cheddar straight in the bin!

I really wanted to re-create that time cousin Toby got a raw mince patty by mistake but we didn’t have any, so they avoided that gag.
However I did get to recreate the week from about 4 years ago, where each day I gave the kids something unusual (i.e. not a spoon) to eat their yoghurt with - I provided forks, chop-sticks, and even a pastry brush (which turned out to be a utensil too far as it turned out).  This week I simply provided a spoon which was too big to fit into the yoghurt tub. heh heh.


I also grossed them out with severed fingers and eyeballs,   On the last day I put in all the remaining the body parts as well as  lots of other good stuff and big bag of popcorn to share with their friends.


and so the semester has ended and yet another era has concluded. As the Waimea motto says.. Ever Onwards.


Lovely Jett

Friday, 22 December 2017

 This was Jett and his cousins on his first day at Sandy Bay infant school - when every grade (from Kinder to Grade 2) featured a Fleming/McComb.  Look how cute they all were..


And this was Jett yesterday, his last day at Waimea Heights. He’s heading off to Taroona High next year to complete the McComb/Fleming saturation of the grades.


It's also worth mentioning that Jett was so shy he almost didn't say a word in class for the first few years.  Nowadays he's outgoing and confident and loves performing on stage.  This was his get-up at the end of year class performance - he seems strangely suited to that wig!  Denny and I were there to watch him and all the other classes do their Christmas things  - making it 3 assemblies in 10 days for me by the time we got to the end of the Leavers Assembly yesterday. Phew.



Sunday, 10 December 2017

While the kids were hiking, Jon and I checked out the upgrades to the trail to Cape Raoul. It's going to be part of the 3 Capes Walk so it is being re-routed and upgraded.  


It was really nice. Instead of going straight up and down the lower part of Mt Raoul, there were gentle switchbacks and there were also lots of boarded sections which I always enjoy.  The work is obvously still in progress..


but it's looking good. My favourite improvement is the new lookout just near the very end, which allows you to look back at the dolomite columns poking straight out of the water and rising 200metres.  Very cool.



On the way back Jon left me to walk up the big hill while he ran ahead to do an extra loop taking in Shipstern Bluff..

and Tunnel Bay..



Then he followed an unmarked track (on the map at least) which wound around some private property and led back to the carpark where I'd been having a nice time waiting on the grass in the sun for an hour or so.  

It was a great trip out. My out-and-back was about 15k and Jon's longer circuit was around 23k.

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