Day 15: Melbourne
No driving!

As I mentioned in the first post on Summermas, Matt had a 2 week work shutdown but I ended up having 3! After very briefly considering going home and being a good wife and staying at home to make him lovely dinners and look after the flat for a week, I quickly decided to just have an extra weeks holiday!

I weighed up a few options including jetting off somewhere and in the end decided the best plan was to send Matt back to Sydney in the plane from Melbourne, while I stayed there and them road tripped my way back with Jeffrey (the car).

On the Saturday we met with friend L’chelle for a yummy brunch and then Matt headed off to the airport. L’chelle is a genuine Australian who we know from her time living in the UK and hanging out with the canoe club. Once Matt had gone we toured some shops and had some yummy afternoon tea and 4 cakes between us (they were small) at the Little Cupcakes bakery. I stayed over two more nights in St Kilda which has a few awesome cake shops and couldn’t help but sample the lemon tart and a Kalhua slice the next day, both very yummy!

Little Cupcakes (to share!)

Little Cupcakes (to share!)

Day 16: Melbourne – Art, Aquarium and gardens
No driving

In the Sunday in Melbourne I decided to soak up some culture and art. I started ambitiously with the ACCA – Australian Centre of Contemporary Art. I was geared up for some weird modern art but was a bit surprised when the whole exhibition was film art, about 10 films in all, each in its own room. Whilst some were strangely absorbing, I did mainly have a feeling of ‘not quite getting it’! Films included snow falling on a type writer, a man cycling round France, a stalagtite with a choir boy and a procession of different types of people walking in front of changing backgrounds set up to look like a theatre which I quite liked. The strangest was 4 films playing in parallel …… Luckily it was free and I was in and out within an hour.

After that I spent a couple of hours in the National Gallery of Victoria in Federation Square. They had a lot of good exhibits including some Aboriginal art, some quite political art too as well as Australian Art from the 1800s with lots of pioneer style landscapes. One I particularly liked was by a group of women who used to flat share in the 70s called the Hotham St Ladies. Their art was recreated scenes from their flat share, made with icing. It’s was weird and cool at the same time. They had icing wall paper, rugs, cushions and plates of food made of icing – both royal icing and piped varieties.

Cushion made of icing

Cushion made of icing

Aboriginal Art

Aboriginal Art

 

After some lunch on the South Bank of the Yarra in the sun I went along to Melbourne Aquarium. Entry was free with my annual Merlin pass instead of $38, so it seemed rude not to check it out! The main attractions were big rays, a giant crocodile, weedy sea dragons and of course penguins. I’m glad I didn’t pay as it was really busy inside which made it hard to see things. I suppose it’s to be expected in huge holidays, but combined with this it was quite a small place and I was round in an hour. Admittedly I rushed a bit to get away from huge crowds but most of the things were the same as in the Sydney version so I didn’t miss anything. Seeing penguins is always good though!

Weedy Sea Dragon

Weedy Sea Dragon

I was going to stop for a walk through the Botanic Gardens on my way back to the hotel but the wether suddenly changed to be very windy, wet and cold. I took this as an excuse to buy a cake and hide in my room eating it whilst drinking tea and watching Midsomer Murders on the telly – I am on holiday after all! I checked out the small St Kilda gardens on my way to dinner instead.

Day 17: Philip Island
Stats

I spent a while working out my road trip itinerary and picked out two key stops, which in the end the just two stops – Philip Island and then Kozsciousko National Park in the Snowy Mountains in SW NSW.

Philip Island has: wild penguins, a chocolate factory, a koala sanctuary, a maze and illusion attraction and a karting / MotoGP circuit, so it was bound to be a winner! It’s about 90 minutes east of Melbourne, although I stayed slightly off the island due to the ridiculous peak time camping prices – I refused to pay over $50 for some grass for just me and the tent!

I toured around Philip Island in the afternoon, mainly hiding in cafés and the chip shop from the rainy and windy weather and hoping it would cheer up for the parade. I popped into the chocolate factory and bought a peppermint cream bar to sample later as I’d heard the factory tour self wasn’t great via Trip Advisor. I also checked out Ventnor (nothing there), Cowes and Newhaven. I went to the far west of the Island for a walk around the numerous Nobbies rocks (no idea where the name came from). It was super windy there with some cool giant waves crashing about.

I weighted up whether I wanted to spend $23 seeing penguins given we saw them in the wild twice for free in Tasmania, but went for it in the end. We had only seen them in the proper dark with red head torches. The parade has special lighting and lots more penguins in one place, so I figured it was worth it. I’ll write a separate list about the penguins, as clearly I’m going to go on about it for ages! Suffice to say they were really very cute and according to the wardens 462 came up in 50 minutes!

Emperor Penguins (in the aquarium)

Emperor Penguins (in the aquarium)

Giant Penguin in Penguin

Giant Penguin in Penguin

Day 4: Devonport to Cradle Mountain
1,459km, 21 hours 4min

After getting woken up by the ferry staff at 5.10am for our 6am arrival, a quick quarantine check and recovering our camping gas from the firearms man, we headed for a swift bacon and egg roll (with cheese, it’s a thing here). Then, still a bit bleary eyed we headed for our first exciting stop – the town on Penguin on the north coast. Not only does it have a cool name, in Penguin is a giant 3m high penguin! And he was all dressed up for Christmas! There was also the Penguin Pharmacy and the slightly concerning Penguin butchers!

On the way to Cradle Mountain we stopped at the scenic Guide Falls for some long exposure photos. Being 8am there weren’t a lot of people about!

Guide Falls

Guide Falls

We got to the Cradle Mountain visitor centre, and after a quick cup of tea and map purchase went on some of the short walks we got the shuttle bus as entry to the park by car is restricted to avoid traffic jams on the narrow windy roads and small car parks. We did the Enchanted Walk, King Billy track (with tall King Billy pines), Rainforest walk and Pencil Pine falls. We managed to spot a pademelons which looks quite like a wallabee and is only found native in the wild in Tasmania.

Our first two nights in Tasmania (Summermas Eve and Summermas Day) we stayed in Cradle Mountain in the north west. In a rare moment, Matt agreed rather than camping we could get a cabin so we had an actual bed and roof for some comfort in case the weather as bad for the festive season. The cabin was wooden, cute and cozy. The campsite was really well equipped and having checked about the cooking facilities in advance we made ourselves some yummy festive pizzas in the pizza oven and enjoyed then with some nice Tassie Pinot Noir, topped off with a mince pie.

Day 5: Cradle Mountain – Summermas!
No driving.

Last year we had a 30 degree Christmas in Wanaka, New Zealand with the Millis’s with kayaking and a picnic by the lake and dinner in t-shirts in the garden in the evening. This year we were lucky enough to have sunny weather again and temperatures of about 22 degrees. Apparently it’s only sunny in Cradle Mountain about 1 in 5 days.

After some tea and presents we set off fairly early to walk up Cradle Mountain for Christmas Day. Entrance to the park by car is restricted so we made sure to get there early so we could drive to the top car park and not have to faff with the shuttle bus when we were knackered.

The car park is about 900m and Cradle Mountain is 1554m, so it’s over 650m ascent and takes 6 to 8 hours depending on your speed and some route options. It’s made of dolerite and sits in front of Dove Lake and some smaller lakes too. The route we took went around the lake to start, steeply up the side of a hill to Marion’s Lookout after about an hour, along a ridge to Kitchen Hut for another hour and then a final hour up the mountain itself. The views were awesome and we met lots of happy people who we exchanged Christmas wishes with.

Cradle Mountain and Dove Lake

Cradle Mountain and Dove Lake

The last 45 mins of the walk to the top is some full on hands required scrambling over giant boulders which was good fun although seemed to catch some people out. I much prefer this to just trudging up a hill. Near the top we even saw some unmelted remains of winter snow – only about 5 square meters so. Of a lot, but enough to get me and everyone else we mentioned it too excited. White Christmas in Australia!

We did the walk in 7 hours 10 mins with half an hours lunch at the top. When we got back we had some well deserved celebratory ice creams and a Summermas BBQ with wagyu beef burgers and kangaroo kebabs. It did feel mean eating the kanagroo after seeing so many wallabies but it was tasty!

After the BBQ we headed out for some night time wild life spotting. We saw a lotof pademelons and about 12 super cute wombats, some very close up! Here’s a joke (made up by me):

Q: Why did the wombat cross the road? (Answer at the bottom)

At the top of Cradle Mountain

At the top of Cradle Mountain

 

Wild Wombat

Wild Wombat

A: Because Elly was chasing it with a camera*!

*Proven on at least two wombats!

Lunch time

Lunch time

Featherdale Wildlife Park is about 45 mins from our place over in the West of Sydney. Its not as big as Taronga zoo, but I was at a loose end one day so thought it was worth a trip as I love animals.

The Wildlife Park was quite interactive. There were mainly Australian animals, plus a few birds from further afield. I spent about 3 hours there and got to pat and have my photo taken with a koala – awwwww!

Me and the koala

Me and the koala

I also got to pat a wallabee, a dingo and a lot of kangaroos. They had super cite koalas with little babies too. You stamp your animal passport as you go around with all the ones you have seen. I know I am over 30, but I did this anyway!

It is smaller than Taronga, but well worth a visit if you like animals like I do.

Better than one wombat? Two wombats!

Better than one wombat? Two wombats!

 

Snaaaaake

Snaaaaake

13. March 2013 · 1 comment · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags:

So far we’ve learnt a few handy lessons for migrating and just generally being in Sydney. Hopefully I can make them add up to a nice number, like ten six!

1. House hunting: I’m not the biggest fan of rental estate agents in the UK, but in comparison to here, renting in the UK seems like a total breeze! House hunting over here is a very weird, very pressurised process. The supply of places is low compared to the amount of people who want them. You go along to viewings with all the other people who might be interested in the place, generally in a 15 minute window, and most of them get taken before you have a chance to look! Get a good rapport going with an estate agent and play up all the things that make you a good tenant – I went with the Dr Short card!

2. The weather: British people love to talk about the weather. This time of year is a bit temperamental here. It can change suddenly  so, firstly, take an umbrella or raincoat everywhere. Secondly  wear sun cream! The sun here is strong and you can burn quickly  For people coming on holiday it is cheaper to buy it in England and bring it over. We thought it would be cheaper here on account of the general sunny weather, but we were wrong.

Weather Survival Kit

Weather Survival Kit

3. Manchester: This seems an odd thing to have a lesson about right? Well, it turns out Manchester is the name for bedding (including dooners which are duvets). Luckily for us we shipped a lot of ‘Manchester’ including our ‘dooner’, although its not here yet. Turns out its *really* expensive. In the sales, a double sheet and 2 pillow cases will still set you about about $60-70! Ikea and places like Big W and K Mart are a bit cheaper, but not that much. If you’re emigrating, bring your Manchester!

4. Public transport: Public transport is very cheap here compared to the UK. My Multi tickets let you travel on everything within a zone for a day, week, month, quarter or year and are good value as well as convenient. A my multi daily is $22 and a weekly is $44, so we’ll be recommending them to all our visitors as it will get you pretty much everywhere you want to go to.

My Multi Weekly

My Multi Weekly

5. Haggling: Do it (but know the limits)! I have been haggling money off things left right and centre. All you really need to do it ask and generally they furniture shops and electrical shops will give you some money off. Either if something is cheaper online, or just becasue you say, can you do a better price. This week we got knocked back on haggling though. It was for a sofa. We decided to go for a certain level of discount and if they said no, try walking out. Unfortunately they wouldn’t give a discount, so we left, and they didn’t chase us or anything! Seems like some bargains really are the best price.

6. Supermarkets: Supermarket bags here are rubbish, so you should definitely buy the ones they sell for 99c and take them with you to the shop. It helps save the planet too. I am finding exciting things each time I go to the supermarket. This week I got a bit overly excited about finding yellow, green and purple bin bags! My excitement only grew when it turned out these were also scented! We now have nice bright yellow bin bags in our bin, to make putting our the rubbish a bit less skanky and a bit more happy (yellow is cheerful!)

Lemony yellow bin bags

Lemony yellow bin bags

This weekend it was a bit damp and stormy so we decided to go and check out one of the local indoor walls, ClimbFit (http://www.climbfit.com.au/). This was our first experience of climbing indoors in Australia, and there were a few things that they do differently.

Indoor Climbing Wall

Indoor Climbing Wall

As we turned up with all the gear they didn’t check us on belaying or tell us how they wanted us to tie in, although of course we had to sign a disclaimer! Although they were pretty relaxed about checking people’s skills, the set ups had quite a bit more safety built in.

Firstly it appears that instead of tying in here you clip in with 2 screwgates to your belay loop. This is less faff which is good. Secondly, all top rope belays are attached to ground anchors which you attach to with a screwgate. Finally they are attached at the top with pullies which the rope is wound round 1.5 times to add some friction into the system, this makes it almost impossible to drop someone but it can be a bit of a pain! You hardly notice when someone takes a fall, and Elly didn’t get dragged off the floor at all.

A busy rainy day

A busy rainy day

The climbs at this wall were not individually graded but split between easy, moderate, intermediate, hard, very hard denoted by the colours of the holds. This worked pretty well and I has fairly happy to be able to climb a few hards especially as I haven’t climbed for a while. In addition to the usual walls there were some interesting features like a jamming crack, finger crack, chimney and also a range of fun ladders, cargo nets, ropes and even a jacobs ladder. There was also a bouldering wall, rotating wall, training wall and a gym. Elly really wanted a go on the rotating wall but there were always too many kids on it!

Rotating Wall!

Rotating Wall!

Overall it was pretty good especially as it is only 10 mins walk away from where we are hopefully going to live. It was a bit busy but I put that down to the rubbish weather outside.

ClimbFit

ClimbFit

Right now we are winging our way over to Australia, stuck on a plane somewhere, totally confused about what time and day it is! I didn’t want to leave you dedicated followers without an update for a while.I like baking (and importantly I also like eating cake). So here is one about my recent Australia themed cake and how to make it.

Things you will need:

  • Ingredients and equipment for making a round cake of our choice
  • A large swiss roll
  • Icing sugar
  • Butter
  • Milk
  • Black food colouring
  • 2 minstrels
  • White glitter sugar or dessicated coconut
  • Silver balls or a black icing pen
  • A big cake board or something similar

1. Bake a round cake of your choice. It can be one or two layers. I chose a chocolate cake. It was going to be two layers, but the new recipe didn’t make as much as I thought, and I had packed my small cake tins, so it ended up being a one layer.

 

My chocolate cake ingredients

My chocolate cake ingredients

2. Cool the cake.

3. Cut three slices of swiss roll. Two need to be the same height as your cake when put on their ends. The third can be a bit smaller. Lay them out on the cake roughly where you want them (see below). Then pop the middle one to one side.

*Rolf Harris voice* “Can you tell what it is yet?”

Cut and arrange the swiss roll

Cut and arrange the swiss roll

4. Use the icing sugar, butter and milk to make up a standard buttercream icing, depending on the size and number of layers in your cake – and of course how much you like icing! Add in some black food colouring, to make a light grey colour.

5. Set aside enough of the icing to cover the small bit of swiss roll.

6. Cover the cake and the two swiss roll bits in the grey icing, joining it all together. Finish it with a fork, to create a “furry” effect.

*Rolf Harris voice* “Can you tell what it is yet?”

 

Ice the cake with grey icing

Ice the cake with grey icing

 

7. Add more food colouring to the set aside icing, to make it black. Carefully cover the third piece of swiss roll in the black food colouring, making it nice and round. Pop it in the centre of the cake as shown. This is a nose!

Add the black nose

Add the black nose

*Rolf Harris voice* “Can you tell what it is yet?” It’s a koala!

8. Open the minstrels. Put two of them on the cake above the nose, to make the cute little koala eyes. I’m sure you can think of something to do with the rest of the packet!

Add the Minstrel eyes

Add the Minstrel eyes

9. Koalas are quite furry, so the next stage is adding them some fur. Sprinkle the white sugar glitter / desiccated coconut under the nose to make a beard and in the centre of the ears too.

Add the white and grey fur

Add the white and grey fur

10. Take some more glitter / coconut. Put it in a plastic bag and shake up with some black food colouring to make it grey. this is messy! Add this to the edges of the ears. Feel free to get creative and pop it other places on the head too.

11. Make a mouth – I used silver balls, but you could use a black icing pen too.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Completed cake! Awww!

12. Admire and then get someone brave to cut open its head!

I made this cake as my leaving cake for work and again for our leaving party, and got very good feedback! I have to say I took inspiration from the internet, here

So just a very quick update as we still have lots to do.

Its the final night. The car has just gone and so has all of the furniture. We did 4 trips to the tip! All bar 3 boxes have been re-homed with the new custodians (thank you everyone who is looking after them!) Its been good to have a really thorough sort out and disposal of a lot of our stuff – I’ll try and collect less things in future! I even fitted in a quick trip to the Doc to get some medicine as it turns out I have bronchitis! Our good friends (and new custodians of many boxes) the Paul’s down the road are having us over for dinner so we don’t need to sit on the floor.

I had a bit of a panic earlier when cancelling the car insurance. The very helpful refund-giving lady said by law we have to send them back our insurance certificate. It is in a box somewhere, in someone’s attic. Somewhere. She let me off!

In the morning we have some final cleaning to do, and then its off to Heathrow! I am still finding it all pretty surreal that we’re actually going to go and live somewhere different, for quite a long time. I’ve decided to start calling it “extended working holiday” so it seems less serious!

Here’s the view from our window this morning. I’ll do a new one when we get our new place for comparison.

Snowy garden!

Snowy garden!

Thank you all for your help so far, encouragement, support and all that jazz. See you when we’re down under! 

 

So, one week tomorrow we are off. I have named today, Epic Tuesday – there is a lot going on!

Yesterday Matt found out he has got a job in Sydney with his current company, which is excellent news! Other plans are coming along well too.

Later on the Shipping people are coming along to take away our pile of things for shipping. Its the pile below, plus the sound system, TV and our bed and mattress. It turned out the doubling in size of things for taking the bed and a few more bits didn’t make much difference to the price. The shipping takes 11-14 weeks. In 5.5 weeks time our temporary accommodation will end, so we’ll have a fair while without a bed. Luckily we are used to camping!

Shipping pile

Dividing our our belongings to work out what to take, what to store, what to try and give away or sell, what to give to the charity shop and what to chuck has been quite hard, not to mention time consuming! Here’s what made it into the container:

  • The TV and surround sound ;
  • Bed, duvet and mattress (expensive to buy in Oz and not that much more to ship);
  • A lot of clothes;
  • The computer and printer;
  • Camping equipment – tents, sleeping bags etc;
  • Climbing kit;
  • Bouldering mat;
  • Some kitchen things (incl the food processor I spent ages deciding on);
  • Jewellery box with jewellery and of course
  • A couple of (bean-free) cuddly toys

We made a last minute decision last night not to take Matt’s bike. They are very strict about mud and there want time to get it spotless enough. The cost of getting it sorted the other end if the quarantine people didn’t like it would have been too ridiculous. Cuddly toys with beans or wheat in are also not allowed (so no PG monkeys for me).

I’m currently waiting for the duvet covers to dry having washed them this morning so they can go as well.

Other things going on today:

  • Triple wardrobe we sold is being collected;
  • Gas man is coming to fit a new gasket;
  • I have a bajillion forms to fill in;
  • Contacting the chappy about our party details and
  • We are going to Smith and Westerns for dinner. Yummy.

Filling in forms when you have no phone number and no address is quite difficult! I feel like a total vagrant.

Stay tuned for more updates coming soon.

I keep getting the Final Countdown music in my head, so I thought it was a good name of this post. Matt has run off with the camera, so no pics today I’m afraid, but i’ll bring you plenty next time.

With a bit of artistic mathematic licence, its now ten days until we go! Eeek. 

According to the spreadsheet we’re now 71% done, although it doesn’t really feel like that. The main stuff left to do is mainly to do with packing, shipping  and sorting the house out ready for the tenants. They’re almost confirmed, but not totally signed yet – hopefully next week.

We now have flights and accommodation for the first month booked. Some of the big stuff has been sold, including both our cars and the giant wardrobe. My car is being collected the day before we leave, which is idea. A shipping quote is due on Monday, so then we can decide what method to use and how much to take. Tax forms are in. 

This morning I’ve painted our spare room, and next week when we’ve moved some more stuff out we’ll get the office done too.

The “free stuff” page has been a good success so far in re-homing things.  If you want anything please go and take a look!

 

We have a lot of stuff which needs a good (free) home. If you can come and get it, and shout first, it’s yours!

Check it out on the Free Stuff page.