We took a little break over the holiday period and headed down to Dromana for a couple of nights by the beach. It was super busy and hot and while Emmy was heavily pregnant (not any more! :D) we did manage to do a few things. The day we arrived was stinking hot, high 30s and sunny, so when we checked into our airbnb accommodation we just hid in the air-conditioned room for a bit to relax.
Later in the afternoon I took Oscar to the beach, which was absolutely packed, I didn’t go looking for the the best stretch or anything, I just found a park on the main road not too far from our accommodation and went from there. We walked about 50m from where we parked to find a patch of space near the water, the sand wasn’t great and it may not have been the best time to go for building sand castles. Oscar got bored really fast (perhaps because I was reading a book instead of playing with him :() and decided that he wanted to go home, so that was that for our beach time.
I had planned on going to Cape Schanck at night time to do some night photography, but the skies greyed over and it was hot, and in the end it was just a few things conspiring against me (lazy) so I ended up not getting out to take any night photos, there definitely wasn’t a chance for starry night skies anyway.
The next day we went strawberry picking at Sunny Ridge Strawberry Farm, I can’t remember when I last went strawberry picking (if ever) but it was certainly a positive experience for Emmy who kept complaining about the last time she went and how there was nothing. We managed to fill two punnets with sweet (relatively speaking for strawberries), juicy strawberries, despite Oscar coring a bunch of them.
I was thinking that it was best to go early so that you wouldn’t miss out, but as I was picking them, it occurred to me that some of the strawberries that I didn’t pick due to not quite being ripe would probably ripen during the day, so even if you didn’t arrive at opening time, there’d probably still be plenty to pick from. We had some strawberry iced cream afterwards which seemed like it was made using actual strawberries so another thumbs up.
This one turned out to be a bit of a hit and miss, it was warm and stuffy so walking around a lot wasn’t exactly Emmy’s cup of tea. But we managed to get through two hedge mazes, a rose garden maze, and part of the lavender garden. The first hedge maze was a disappointment though as it was pretty much being regrown from scratch, at least half (probably more) of the trees were saplings or very young and so it didn’t take much effort to find our way through.
The second hedge maze was much more difficult, in fact, I’m not sure if anyone that went in actually found the exit correctly. We’d just keep seeing the same people over and over at the entrance, eventually we gave up and moved on, but I did quickly go in through the exit to see where it was, but I still couldn’t figure out how to get there even though it was right next to parts that we walked through several times.
The rose garden maze was less frustrating as we managed to find the finish point and return successfully, it was challenging but not too difficult, which made it fun for me and Oscar. The lavender gardens didn’t seem to be in full bloom as the purple was a bit dull.
We didn’t venture out of Dromana to eat even though it is so close to many restaurants and wineries. We had lunch at the Pier Street Kitchen on the first day, which used to be called Dee’s Kitchen, I think that they must have changed owner because they used to have a deli and assorted goods for sale, but seems like just dining nowadays. The food was okay, but nothing special, not to the level of regional gourmet delight level anyway.
We had fish and chips the first night at Dromana Fish Supplies (take away), as it was the highest rated on that we could find. It was a letdown, it took 45 minutes (they did warn us) to get our order done, and everything was super salty. My fish burger might have been under cooked, I’m not sure, the fish didn’t flake apart when eating, so not great.
We had lunch at Laneway Espresso, a cafe on the main road which was highly rated for its cooked food apparently, but ended up not ordering any of the main dishes, and instead just got a sausage roll and a pre-made sandwich. They were good, but Emmy scolded me for not ordering something cooked off the menu :D.
We were looking for some kind of take away for dinner and went with pizza from That Pizza Shop, it has an interesting menu made up of gourmet style pizzas. I chose the sunday roast which has lamb, pumpkin and potato on it, while Emmy chose the garlic prawn (small size). The small pizza was really small, so I wouldn’t recommend getting a small unless it’s for a child. The quality of the pizza was good, they were a little expensive but they were good for take away, so no qualms there.
I also can’t leave without mentioning the IGA in Dromana, which seems to be a very high quality supermarket, we only looked around half of the store for stuff that we needed specifically for breakfast and it was pretty impressive. Looked very much like Leos here in Melbourne, full of all sorts of things that you either don’t get in the regular supermarket or at least different brands or products from places around the world, high quality stuff.
Before leaving very early on our last morning for a doctor’s appointment, we stopped by the main pier so that I could take a few pictures (as seen above). I was thinking of doing that pier into the endless sea cliché shot, but there were people there so I decided to have a look underneath for that tunnel style that I’m renowned for :D.
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We went to the Dandenongs on the weekend – it’s a part of my new year’s resolution to go on more day trips, you might not have noticed yet, but it is slowly starting to happen – looking to visit an Autumn Garden show. But, apparently emmy got the dates wrong, even though I did mention to her that the Autumn show had a date set for 23rd/24th April and that it was not open on the weekend, she told me that she had some kind of pass, so I accepted that she would definitely not be out of her mind. Anyway, come Saturday and we drove up the mountain to Sassafras for this show, we stopped to have lunch beforehand at Ripe Cafe, which is in the same area as Cafe de Beaumarchais and Miss Marples Tea Room.
Looking at the ridiculous queue for Miss Marples, I definitely did not want to go there, and emmy didn’t want to visit Cafe de Beaumarchais again, so we went with Ripe Cafe. I ordered eggs benedict this time, while emmy went with chilli tomatoes on toast, I also had a hot chocolate. To be honest, the eggs benedict were a bit underwhelming, served with ham for starters (I much prefer salmon), and one of the poached eggs was overcooked (not runny at all!), the muffins underneath also seemed to be a little under toasted, lacking crunch. It’s quite a nice place, too bad that the kitchen didn’t hold up their end of the bargain.
After lunch, we had a quick look through a couple shops before heading on our way to the Autumn Garden show, which of course was closed, due to it being the 16th of April, and not the 23rd or 24th when the garden was meant to be open. So emmy, in all of her wisdom managed to persuade me to take us up to the Sky High Mount Dandenong Observatory to save a wasted day (it was just close enough that our low petrol tank would not drain away before we found a petrol station). Turned out that even despite cloud and mist blowing over the view, we did manage to have a good time up there (also the Secret Garden was closed as well) visiting the maze and the other small garden in the area.
The maze is quite nice for young families, as long as you’re not after a real challenge as it’s not very difficult and you can pretty much see over the top of the maze to find the stamp points that you’re looking for, and then there aren’t that many dead-ends to complete it. Some good fun had by all, and weather permitting, we’ll be back this weekend to visit the Autumn garden show, while it’s open.
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It’s a couple of weeks ago now, which is pretty slack of me, but over the Easter long weekend we took a short trip down to the north of Tasmania (around Cradle Mountain mostly) to wander around the nature areas around there.
Originally, I planned to summit Cradle Mountain but decided not to as I didn’t want to leave Em to wander around aimlessly by herself. So basically, the trip itinerary read:
Actually, I think we pretty much did do things according to plan, but unfortunately the weather didn’t co-operate with us, leaving us a bit damp and dreary. The weather for the most part was reasonable, sunny patches here and there, but the day we went to Cradle Mountain was pretty miserable. We did get to walk around Sheffield and see the murals around town, which are pretty nice, also did a short walk to the Alum Cliffs where there is a nice view, would have been better if there was anything other than cloud in the sky, also walked up to the top of Kimberley’s Lookout for a view of Mount Roland and Sheffield, fairly ok.
I didn’t think that there was going to be enough to do at Cradle Mountain for the whole day (the two projected walks are listed as 1-2 hour walks) so we went looking for a lookout over Lake Barrington in the morning, we didn’t find it and instead spent a couple of hours driving around in the wet before deciding to head to Cradle Mountain National Park. We got there a bit after noon, and decided to just do the Dove Lake circuit as the weather was not great and apparently the Crater Lake circuit is a bit hazardous in that situation (for average/lazy walkers). The Dove Lake circuit is a 6km walk (I think) around Dove Lake and pretty much going right underneath the summit of Cradle Mountain at the far end, half of it is board walked and the rest is gravel. It’s a pretty easy walk (but took us about two and a half hours, maybe I’m slow, probably with the photos) and includes some nice sections such as Glacier Rock, the boat shed, the Enchanted Ballroom, and some other nice lookout points. Despite the grey and wet weather we toughed it out and even caught a glimpse of the Cradle Mountain peak, it’s possible that the weather would have been clear in the morning but on the day that we went, I don’t think it was. My suggestion for Cradle Mountain National Park, go early, also, go in Summer. Despite that, we had a pretty good time getting all wet out there, and then settled in for a nice dinner at the Cradle Mountain Lodge, Highland Restaurant, it’s a pretty swanky restaurant, I ordered the salmon, while Em ordered the venison, a couple of starters, and a dessert (a very good cake with a mango blanket!). A very lovely dinner, most tasty, I would definitely recommend it, it’s probably better if you’re staying there as well, don’t have to worry about driving home in the dark. Hey, the Enchanted Walk around the Lodge is also a nice little stroll.
We went to Devonport looking for things to do but didn’t really find anything apart from the lighthouse at Mersey Bluff, which was quite nice, except for the fact that I probably got carried away taking jumping photos (it was a little chilly and windy). After that we were kind of desperately looking for something to do, and ended up going to an arboretum (tree zoo?) about 20 minutes south of Devonport. That was a bit boring as there seems to be a lot of work (or tree growing) still to do. We did spot a platypus in the lake diving around everywhere, didn’t get a good look of anything but its back though. Back toward Sheffield and on to Tasmazia, a big maze complex near Sheffield. This was actually quite fun, we had some issues navigating through a couple of the mazes but they’re not really that difficult to solve (given enough time :D). It’s also a very picturesque place, what with the big green hedges and imposing Mount Roland standing in the background. I would recommend against the restaurant/pancake parlour though, unless you’re really into sweet pancakes dishes.
Finally, my plan for Easter Monday was to head to Launceston and wander around, but we weren’t really able to find anything that seemed particularly interesting so we ended up stopping in Chudleigh, a very small town that has a honey farm. Went in and bought some honey along with a million tourists that just got off a bus before continuing on our way to Launceston. Quite desperately we decided to head to a “Swiss” village called Grindelwald north of Launceston (fortunately everything is really close in Tasmania), this was a bit of a dud, just a couple of cafes/bakeries, nothing to write home about that’s for sure. We then headed up to Brady’s Lookout (which would be good with some blue skies and perhaps a few of the tall trees out of the way) before heading to Cataract Gorge, which is only a couple of kilometres out of Launceston, with plenty of time on our hands we decided to do the Duck Reach walk to the power station. It’s about an hour each way (maybe less I can’t quite remember), there are some nice views along the way, but the water level seemed relatively low to me, I reckon it would be a lot more interesting if the water was really gushing, a pretty easy walk, although very undulating with some quite steep bits.
I’ve decided that I don’t want to go to Tasmania any more unless it’s Summer time, we’ve been at the start of Winter, and in the middle of Autumn now, and for me, it’s too cold, I definitely want to see more though, Freycinet NP and Wineglass Bay spring to mind and even another go at Cradle Mountain in good weather are still on my wish list. Some of the big lakes on the island could surely be nice, it can be a bit boring, but maybe we’re not looking in the right places.
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