A dreary morning that we spent in town looking at art galleries was followed by a short drive up to Glenorchy, which turned out to be one of the real highlights of our trip. So having read the forecast correctly this time, we decided to stay in Queenstown and visit some of the local galleries and check out the local artwork in the morning. There are a quite a number of galleries with varying types of works, we mostly looked at paintings and photos, but there were some sculptures mixed in too. We had fish and chips at the local Erik’s Fish and Chips before driving up to Glenorchy in the afternoon.
Stopping several times along the windy Glenorchy-Queenstown Road to take in the beautiful views before arriving in Glenorchy about an hour later, it’s definitely one of the best drives you’ll find. I’d rate it above the Great Ocean Road based on scenery for sure. We visited Mrs. Woollys General Store to see what they had in stock, and fortunately for us (Oscar having discovered the fun of jumping in puddles earlier that day) we managed to find a pair of gumboots just the right size for him.
After that little bit of shopping we went down to the pier and the lagoon to take some more photos of the beautiful scenery around. What a picturesque little town, and we didn’t even visit the Glenorchy Animal Experience (which is a place to visit farm animals for the kids), I think we’d definitely visit again next time. The clouds were a bit too thick while we were there so I couldn’t take the exact pictures I wanted, but got some good stuff nonetheless. Before heading back to Queenstown we visited Mrs. Woollys General Store again for some hot chocolate, the spicy hot choc is two thumbs up!
After getting back, Emmy was feeling like steak (unbelievable I know) so we went to a reasonably priced steak house, Flame Grill, found on tripadvisor. The ribs were recommended so I went with that since Emmy was feeling like steak, she had the rib-eye. Both good choices, the steak was cooked medium rare just right, and the ribs were flavourful without being salty. We got a serve of grilled cheesy portobello mushrooms for Oscar which was quite a big serve. Definitely a recommend.
Next up, Arrowtown.
Hello, I forgot to mention that I was taking the fam to New Zealand (Queenstown to be exact) last week, and that I’d be taking the newest addition to my family, my Pentax K-1 as well. I’ll probably post something on the K-1 after I’m done with the New Zealand stuff (as I’ll have had plenty more time to evaluate it (it’s been about a month so far). But anyway, we jumped on to a Jetstar sale and took a week off to try and catch some Autumn colours across the Tasman. Queenstown has to be one of my absolute favourite places to visit, there is just so much to do and see there, that my landscape eye never gets tired, except after driving for a few hours on not much sleep.
Our flight left Melbourne at 6.15am, which meant that we had to get out of the house at about 3am which wasn’t fun, and then to make matters a bit worse, the weather in Queenstown awaiting our arrival was unruly as well. Fierce winds meant that we had to circle the airport twice before the pilot decided it was safer to fly to Christchurch for the time being. After a short stopover it was decided that we’d have another go at flying to Queenstown, third time was a charm and despite some turbulence (it felt like) on the landing we landed okay about three hours late (3pm).
So with half the day gone and the timezone a couple hours faster, we ended up just skipping lunch and going straight to dinner. I took the kids to Winnies which is a pizza place, the highest rated in Queenstown, I went there ten years ago with Alf, and it is still good. We didn’t get garlic bread this time (:(), but a half and half (pescara/seafood and Luigi’s Italian), a kumara salad, and the soup of the day (mushroom and blue cheese).
The pizza was pretty good (both halves), the salad was hearty, and the soup (was for Oscar, but he decided that he was going to make sure he got the most out of his terrible two’s and not eat it) was creamy and rich. It was too much food, but I managed to finish off the pizza and salad at least.
The Monteith’s black that I tried wasn’t half bad either, in fact, it was very good. We decided to call it a day early so that we could rest up for the next day.
We decided to take a cruise on the TSS Earnslaw the next day, and with no plans for lunch we took the gourmet BBQ option, we managed to squeeze on to the 12pm option having only arrived at the booking office at 10am. The cruise is about fifty minutes one way, and about 3 and a half hours in total (including lunch) so you have about an hour for lunch, and then 30-40 minutes to wander around and also watch a sheep dog and sheep shearing demonstration. Lunch is a buffet and is of a very high quality, I tried all the meats, my favourite being the pulled pork, the lamb was second. The salads were good, and then for dessert, being full already I just had a serve of chocolate mousse and a serve of raspberry sorbet. There was also cake and chocolate brownies, etc, but unfortunately I ate too much before dessert. Had the Queenstown Brewers Wry Red which went very well with lunch.
The cruise itself was very smooth, the boat doesn’t rock at all, and you get some great views of the lake surrounds from the upper deck and can even see the crew hard at work in the (coal fired) engine room downstairs (nice and toasty down there).
With nice weather I decided that we should head up to Bob’s Peak to check out the view before dinner. Since it was a bit later than I first planned I decided that it was better just to take the gondola up and down rather than hiking up and gondoling down (especially with a toddler in tow). I wanted to ride the luge but nobody was with me, so I just went up to the viewing deck and staked out a few different angles (still ended up with the same picture I took ten years ago! not quite as wide though). There’s basically one really good spot up there where you won’t be blocked by any obstacles and you get the best angle, but two guys had already staked out that spot so I had to settle for roving around looking for some slightly different shots.
This very famous burger joint was our destination for dinner, and fortunately it was a Monday because the lines outside this place seem to get longer as the week gets goes, by Friday and Saturday, it’s just completely packed at night (even during the day too). There isn’t much seating space so we just got take away and ate back at the hotel. It’s a pretty good deal, we just got the basic burgers (Ferg) which are a decent size (and a kids burger for Oscar), it’s hard to find a similar value meal for the price in town (probably why it’s so popular).
With such clear weather I decided to try my hand at some night photography, specifically trying to catch the milky way. I’ve done long exposures to capture star trails before, but I wasn’t going to be taking enough time to get any interesting star trails, but with my new camera, getting the milky way would be something that I coiuld definitely attempt. My aim was to get the milky way hovering above the Remarkables or some kind of mountain for reference, I managed to capture something, and while it may not be great, I was certainly very pleased for a first try. I’ll be able to learn from this and hopefully produce something even better in future. Next day, Milford Sound, a lot of driving, how will we go?
A train and bus ride from Kyoto (via Mishima) with a bit of a rush at Mishima station to get the Fujikyu bus to Kawaguchi-ko, and even before stopping at Fuji-Q Highlands (second last stop) or Yamanaka-ko (last stop before Kawaguchi-ko), it appeared. Mount Fuji emerged from behind the clouds and presented itself in the most brilliant of bus ride views. We probably ended up with 36 views of Mount Fuji as we drove around the lakes toward Kawaguchi-ko.
Definitely some pretty clear views that afternoon and with some dramatic clouds as well, I only managed one shot at the bus stop before we headed to our accommodation, 15 minutes downhill walk, by the time we got there though Fuji-san was hiding again. Never mind, we’ll see you again later, and if not, we at least got some good views on the bus.
After settling in, and checking the forecast for the next few days, it was almost certainly going to be an overcast day with no views of Fuji-san the next day, but clear for the two days after.
With overcast skies and no real chance of the sun clearing the clouds out of the way we decided to wander over to Kawaguchi-ko and have a look around. Beautiful red leaves were abound by the lake, and Mount Kachi Kachi was starting to show some Autumn colour as well, although still mostly green. We didn’t get too far before it was time for lunch (hoto fudo, more on that later), and then after that the oldies went and took some pictures in a nice leafy Autumn spot (with coloured leaves fallen to the ground) while we went back to the hostel and a nap.
I managed to get back out to Ohashi bridge just before sunset to hopefully capture something of Mount Fuji, I caught a glimpse of the cone but by the time I snapped the shot it was clouded over again. So instead I shifted my attention to the road, traffic, and the colours of the hills behind. Got a pretty nice shot, would’ve been nicer if it was a bit darker but then I suppose I wouldn’t have captured any of the colours in the background.
We signed ourselves up for the hostel day tour around the five lakes area the next day, so that will be coming up in the next post. The picture to the right gives a glimpse of the weather to come, that was the next morning, so definitely cleared up for our day trip but that’s for the next post. Kawaguchi-ko is a great destination and I definitely love going there and I have no doubt that I’ll be there again, but you’ll see for yourself in the next couple of posts.
Hello all, and we’re back, back from the wonderful land of Japan, which means that I’ve got a lot more content for the next couple months taking us into the new year, most likely, YAY! I got lots of pictures to sort through, not sure if I got anything that I’m really proud of but we’ll see, and we also spent some time doing some interesting not sight-seeing things which I’ll try to go through in more detail than my usual overview stuff.
So following the route, we arrived at Narita and jumped straight on the train headed for Hiroshima, in hindsight, this was a bad plan (as we only spent one night there) as we weren’t there long enough for the amount of travel to be worth it. I think next time we may visit Kyushu and go to Hiroshima/Miyajima from there spending a bit more time at Miyajima. From there we moved on to Kyoto for a big chunk (five nights) looking for Koyo (Autumn colours), we tried to vary our itinerary in Kyoto to avoid just visiting shrines and temples which I think we did pretty well.
On to Kawaguchi-Ko and Mount Fuji from there where some very clear weather treated us to some great views of the great volcano for our last two days (we stayed three). I don’t think we got 36 views of Mount Fuji, but we certainly covered quite a few angles from around Kawaguchi-Ko. After that it was on to Tokyo for some “relaxing” time, we usually just end up in Tokyo shopping and eating, that’s mostly what we did, I did actually manage to visit Shinjuku Gyoen for some chill out time (although even that was not too relaxing as I arrived late and had to rush around a bit). I don’t have many photos from Tokyo mostly because eating (mostly relatively boring stuff) and shopping aren’t the most photogenic of things. But we’ll get to all of that in the coming weeks with enough pictures to keep things interesting.
Hey, finally, work has finished, and it’s the xmas holiday break, finally I can get on my arse and do this. If you did stick around because of my last post, well, you’ll be glad you did with this doozy coming your way. Without a single doubt, this was the absolute highlight of the trip, by the time we arrived in Mürren, the weather had finally turned for the better, and the sun was out and ready to keep us warm and happy. We only had two nights in Mürren arriving pretty early in the morning and leaving in the afternoon, so two and a half days (sort of). I wanted to do some hiking and take in some lakes and mountains from the best perspectives (that only hiking can get you, I suppose flying or rock climbing can give you some pretty spectacular views as well), but my pregnant girlfriend was apprehensive about it all.
So in our two days there we managed to:
So yeah, a really beautiful place with so many things to see, I don’t think I’d get tired of the mountains even if I could afford to spend a month there, it was a bit disappointing not to get a good shot of mountains with a lake so that’s something to aim for next time. Definitely worth the price of admission, it’s also very peaceful there, small population, Mürren is a car-free (only local traffic for delivieries and supplies I suppose) town and so the atmosphere is one of quiet serenity (for me any way) and a really nice place to go at the end of our trip, wish I could’ve spent more time there.
Accommodation, Food, and Transport
Well, as I mentioned in the previous Switzerland post, we were using the half-fare card so were paying relatively normal prices for train tickets around the place (it’s worth it just for the Top of Europe pass which costs about 200$ bux AUD).
We stayed at the Hotel Alpina in Mürren which is a ‘budget’ option (still not cheap at all) but does have all of the amenities you should need (including a great view of the Alps from your room balcony, should you pay for it). We were put in room number 1 (or 2) which was good in that we could access the wifi in the lobby from our room, but was bad because we had to walk past the toilet to get to our room, so it was a bit smelly (the walk, not the room). Breakfast buffet provided with a decent spread, I’d recommend it if it has a good buffer in prices from the other hotels in the area, nice, friendly staff too (although no kettle in the room).
Pretty much all the hotels have restaurants where you can get normal food although I didn’t get to try much of it due to my Em’s little worm! 😀 OK, one more stop in Europe (Paris) but I won’t bother with that one because we’ve already been there twice now, and we didn’t do anything on our last visit other than a bit of shopping, so last stop on our whirlwind, whistlestop tour, not in Europe, but Hong Kong, for one night, and one night only, what did we do? You’ll find out next time (if I can be bothered), so stay tuned!
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.