Day Walks at the Wilsons Promontory National Park, Victoria

Wilsons Prom

Recently I went with my sister and brother-in-law for an out of town weekend trip to Wilsons Promontory National Park in Victoria, or as it is more commonly called Wilsons Prom. We drove 230 kilometers from Melbourne (around 3 and a half hours) to the southernmost tip of Australia’s main island.

Our first stop was at the Whisky Bay, where we walked up a trail of about 500 meters to get to the viewing deck. It was windy and cold at the time, but I was just astounded by the beautiful view of the beach and the gigantic waves. There was only a handful of people in the area which allowed me to contemplate more during that walk.

Whisky Bay
Whisky Bay at Wilson’s Prom

Next we went to the Visitor Centre to get a map of the different trails. I read through a lot of information about Wilsons Prom in the Visitor Centre. There is also a souvenir shop and a convenience store next to it. The highlight of that short stopover at the Visitor Centre was the flock of colorful birds lounging around, like the Crimson Rosellas and Laughing Kookaburras. There was this especially playful juvenile Crimson Rosella that instantly felt close to me – that he literally perched on my shoulder and my head! It was so funny, and at the moment I missed my doggies at home. Animals are so awesome (and charmingly cheeky at times)!

On our drive to the next trail, we had to slow down because of some animals crossing. In this photo there was a couple of emus crossing the road as we were about to park for our next trail: the Wildlife Walk.

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Emu crossing

The Wildlife Walk was a trail that took about 45 minutes to an hour to complete. Here, we saw several kangaroos eating their afternoon snack. We were really hoping to get a glimpse of wombats, but since they are nocturnal and shy animals, we didn’t see any (even when my sister and brother-in-law went back to the trail the next day). The closest that we could see to a wombat was the entrance to their burrows and their poop.

Although overnight camping can be done at Wilsons Prom (so as long as a permit is secured at the Visitor Centre), we opted to drive to the nearby town of Foster and stayed at the Prom Country Lodge. The owners of the lodge also run a cafe called Cafe Max, named after their lovable labrador retriever named Max. Being the good host that he was, Max the labrador greeted me when I asked the cafe owners what time dinner was to be served.

The next morning, we drove to our next trail: Miller’s Landing. Kangaroos were having breakfast as we parked the car. Miller’s Landing trail was an easy 2 kilometers walk where we passed through lush greens and trees to get to the Corner Inlet Conservation Reserve. We ended at the beach to watch birds and look at the mangroves. It was a lovely morning walk for our healthy dose of sunshine. Again, no walk was complete without us attempting to see a wombat – which as usual ended with us only seeing the entrance to their burrows.

Going back to the city we had lunch at one of the towns at a quaint restaurant called The Rusty Windmill. I enjoyed a latte, scones, and my mixed vegetable curry with apple chutney and yogurt.

Some things that we kept in mind during our visit to Wilsons Prom: to do an overnight hiking a permit needed to be secured; no dogs, cats and other animals allowed; no feeding or interfering with the wild; respecting the surroundings and the creatures at all times. Wilsons Prom is also surrounded by marine protected areas.

Five Faves in South Melbourne Market

Padre Coffee

When I was in Melbourne, Saturday mornings are usually spent on grocery shopping at the South Melbourne Market. This place is quite accessible both by car and by tram. I like the market’s vibe, and there are many shops to choose from. On my last visit, I was quite pleased to find that most of us shoppers have our own eco-bags in tow.

Here are my top five favorite shops at the South Melbourne Market:

Padre Coffee

I mentioned in a previous blog that Melbourne is famous for its fantastic coffee. If you ask me what the best cafe is, I’d probably have to think twice – there are too many good ones! Padre Coffee is one of the most popular ones. For the longest time, my brother-in-law likes Padre Coffee and he was the one that introduced this to me. The place is usually very busy on weekend mornings and getting seats can be quite a challenge. Their latte is quite good.

One thing I like about most Melbourne cafes is that they support and encourage people bringing in their own cups. I used a KeepCup on my last visit to Padre Coffee.

 

Agathe Patisserie

Now what’s a good coffee without a matching yummy pastry? I was told the bread here was really good so I lined up one weekend morning to get a croissant and a chocolate muffin. Boy, was it so good I lined up yet again to buy more croissants to go. I didn’t mind the long (but fast moving) queue because I was distracted by the sight of the tempting pastries and the smell of freshly-baked bread.

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Pastries heaven at Agathe Patisserie

 

Koenji Vintage

Koenji Vintage is a thrift shop that sells cool, quirky contemporary Japanese apparel and accessories. My sister is a regular here, and she bought several dresses at affordable prices. Koenji Vintage’s friendly owners, Wil and Jane, opened their shop mid 2016. To date, this continues to be a go-to by sustainable shoppers and fashionistas alike.

For more details about Koenji Vintage, check out their website here.

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Koenji Vintage thrift shop

Happy Place By Lola Berry

This is my sister’s personal favorite. If they feel like getting a healthy breakfast, Happy Place by Lola Berry is the place to go. They have a wide array of options to choose from. My sister likes trying out the different slushies with her usual smashed avocado.

Azalea

A Saturday trip to the market won’t be complete without getting a bunch of fresh flowers for the house. Azalea provides beautiful local blooms that we just couldn’t get enough of. A visit to this shop always brightens the day and lifts up the mood.

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Local fresh blooms from Azalea

So there you have it, my five favorite shops in South Melbourne Market. There are other shops for me to discover and explore, but I’d definitely go back all the time to these favorite shops whenever I visit the market.

For more information, check out South Melbourne Market’s website here.

 

Exploring Melbourne’s Art Scene

There are lots of reasons I enjoy visiting Melbourne: very good coffee that I find in every corner of the city; fusion of food (and readily available healthy options) that fill my different cravings; beautiful gardens and (and sometimes hidden) lane ways; and the thriving art scene.

The coffee, food, lane ways and gardens deserve blogs of their own – which I intend to write soon. For now, I will focus on the different art venues that I was able to explore during my last trip to Melbourne. I always started at the Federation Square – a central location for Melbourne’s arts and events. It is near the Flinders Street Station and a tourist information centre.

Street Art

This was the first on my list, as I have read a lot of reviews about the lanes in Melbourne that are famous for the street art. From the Federation Square, I crossed Flinders Street to the cobblestoned Hosier Lane which was filled with colorful street art. A few blocks away is the AC/DC Lane (you won’t miss it with the paintings on musicians), and the Duckboard Place where I saw murals.

 

Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI)

Right next to the Federation Square is the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI). They have different exhibitions but I was only able to go to the permanent exhibit called Screen Worlds. Entrance here was free. The exhibit was very educational and interactive. I saw the evolution of the moving image like TV, film, video games, and digital art. My favorite in this exhibit is the Time Slice which created a 360 degree animation of a pose that I made. The technology is similar to the one used in The Matrix where Keanu was dodging a bullet and he seemed frozen in the shot.

National Gallery of Victoria

Locals call this the NGV. There are two sites of the NGV – the first one is called the Ian Potter Centre near the Federation Square, and the second one was a few hundred meters away from the Flinders Street Station, across the Yarra River. I went to the latter, and explored the permanent exhibits. NGV houses many art collections from Asia, Australia and Europe.

There are many other places in Melbourne where one can find art. I was also able to watch a couple of stage plays, the last one being The Rocky Horror Show at Her Majesty’s Theatre.

I remember seeing a couple of quirky and unique sculptures along Docklands when I was aboard the free city circle tram. It’s a shame I cannot find the photo of this one sculpture that caught my eye – it’s a cow up a tree. I’ll look for it again and take a photo when I go back to Melbourne.

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wind vane art at the Docklands

Five Faves in Hahndorf, South Australia

Hahndorf

In my last blog I wrote about my favorite places from a weekend in Adelaide. Within those 2 days, me and my sister’s family were able to include a visit to the lovely town of Hahndorf.img_1112

Hahndorf is a German town in Adelaide Hills, South Australia. It is 30 kilometers away from Adelaide, and it took us about 30 minutes’ drive. I didn’t know what to expect – all I know is that my parents raved about it, and when I told friends in Melbourne that I was going to Adelaide for the weekend, all of them recommended having a visit to Hahndorf.

Boy, were they right! The main street was lined with quaint little shops and the pubs reminded me of an unforgettable Oktorberfest trip to Munich years ago.

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Our first stop was at Beerenberg, a family-owned farm and shop. They make their products from home-grown crops, and they offer strawberry-picking from November to April.  I was able to sample their different jams, and we got a few jars of slow cooker sauces. Beerenberg

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We also got some handcrafted popsicles – my sister got the dairy-free Raspberry Basil and I got the Choc Banana.

I was also able to buy some postcards which they mail for free.

Seasonal Garden Café

We had brunch here, which I believe is a family favorite of my sister and brother-in-law. Their menu says that they serve “simple, peasant food that is guided by what is available from [their] garden and from the gardens of local growers.”

On that sunny morning we asked for outside seating – this was in their garden at the back of the restaurant. They are vegetarian and vegan friendly, and their pastry display looked tempting.  Our brunch was yummy and filling, giving us the energy boost we needed for that day as we headed off to walk through Hanhdorf’s streets.img_1096

Rummaging Through an Op Shop

I’m supportive of op shops because they promote the reuse of items, which is my way of helping save the environment. I was glad I found the Christian Care & Share shop. My sister was able to get some clothes, and I had a good deal getting my duvet cover from this store for just $12!

Hahndorf Op Shop

Grass Roots

This shop sells vintage items, from garden tools to furniture. Though I did not buy anything, it was quite fun walking around and seeing these items being reused and recycled. I imagine if I lived nearby I would definitely get some of their items for my yard.

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Vintage finds at Grass Roots

Hahn and Hamlin

Now, Hanhdorf is lined up with several cafes. What made Hahn and Hamlin stand out for me was its red door and its interior’s cozy ambience (the fireplace was awesome!). They sell organic coffee and local cakes, and they have gluten-free and dairy-free pastries. After a couple of hours of walking, we wrapped it up with vegan pastries, and a hot cup of chai and soy latte for me and my sister.

I am glad I was able to see Hahndorf up close. I think in my next visit I should spend at least a full weekend there so I can check out more shops. I saw a couple of cafes claiming they had the best coffee – they’re the first in the list so I could see for myself. Then there’s the gelato place, soap shop, and then the vintage book shop….so many places I have yet to check out!