Thursday, January 22, 2015

Marvelous Melbourne

On our first day back from our Great Ocean Road trip we went out for lunch at a great Chinese restaurant near Rith's house.  It was my first time trying roast duck, but it was excellent and Rith told me it's the best he's ever had outside China.  We'd made plans the night before to meet up with some old friends from Cairns to play beach volleyball that afternoon, so after lunch we made a quick stop in Brighton to see the Bathing Boxes.
They're basically really cute sheds (no running water or electricity), well, cute and expensive - selling prices last year were around A$260,000 (source)!  Some of them are absolutely adorable though, and most are passed down through the family for generations.  We soon ran out of time and headed to the volleyball courts for our reunion!  It was really nice to see Ben, Kayleigh, and Tom again, and to catch up on everyone's plans.  Luckily we were able to find a French guy who wanted to play, so we had a few games of 3-on-3.  It was really windy so the games had an added level of difficulty, but we still had lots of fun.  We did all agree though that it's nothing like playing in Cairns - it just doesn't have the atmosphere.  We all headed our separate ways after a few hours, with Rith & I heading to Williamstown to look around for a bit before heading back to his house for a late dinner.  As I've said before (maybe not on this blog, but I have said it), Rith is a really good cook and I've enjoyed all the Asian-style foods he cooked while I stayed with him.

The next day we decided to head to the Mornington Peninsula so I texted Rita (another friend from Cairns volleyball) to see if she wanted to come along with us.  She did so we picked her up and headed south.  More beaches and cute coastal towns, similar to the ones along the Great Ocean Road, but maybe classier.
 It was a beautiful day, but sadly we didn't bring swimsuits & towels or we could have had a lovely time in the water.  It was a fun day out despite the lack of swimming & sunbathing time (and we got to see more bathing boxes).  We did a hike at the end of the Peninsula to see some old forts and then headed back to Melbourne.

On my last day we headed to the Rippon Lea Estate, one of the last of Australia's grand suburban estates.
The house was designed in the Victorian Italianate style, which was a popular expression in Victoria's gold boom period. The 14 acre garden includes a large fernery, arboreum, grotto, waterfall, tower, ornamental lake with islands, and an orchard of heritage apple species.  It's a lovely place and I can understand why it's such a popular wedding venue.  After our visit to the gardens and a tour of the house we headed into downtown Melbourne to take a 3 hour walking tour of all the main highlights of the city.  Melbourne is known for its art scene, street graffiti, shopping arcades, and of course food.

Royal Exhibition Building
 After the tour we met up with two of our friends, Jenny & Rachel, from our Tassie tour and enjoyed dinner on the terrace, looking out onto Federation Square, with a view of the big screen showing the Australian Open.  Rachel and Jenny had actually gone to some of the matches the night before, but we it was fun to watch on the screen with everyone sitting in the square too.  Rita came down and joined us for a bit as well, so we had a nice group.  
We watched some of Nadal's game, but they were mostly showing the game between Tomic (one of their Australian players) and Kohlschrieber, a German.  Tomic won, as did Nadal, so it was a good evening of tennis and I enjoyed chatting with everyone and watching the tennis matches.  Despite staying out too late and missing the last buses and trains to the station where we left the car (we had to take a taxi back), it was a fun last night in Melbourne.  While I enjoyed my trip is was nice to come "home" to Cairns, if even for only 12 days.

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