Where do Penguins go to Dance? – The Snow Ball!

Friday morning it was time for another road trip, this one a lot shorter than the drive to the Great Ocean Road, only about an hour. Luckily when I woke up Friday it was sunny and warm again.

We headed out in the morning down to Phillip Island. Matt has spent a lot of time there as his family has a house there, so he knew all the fun things to do. On the way we stopped for brunch in a tiny little town called Tooradin at a restaurant called Sawtellis. It was such a small town that while I was looking up somewhere to get breakfast on Tripadvisor we actually missed the whole town and had to turn around. Breakfast was delicious, I’m a sucker for eggs Benedict and a good chai latte, so we left full and happy and ready for some sight-seeing.

It was only about another 45 minutes down to the island, which was a good length for the non-roadtrip lover in me. On the way into town we went to the Phillip Island Chocolate Factory. There had tours you could do but neither of us were really interested in that, so we just bought a bit (a lot) of chocolate and headed out. We stopped off quickly at Matt’s family’s house to drop off our bags and then headed out for some activities!

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First we went to a place Matt really likes called A Maze’n Things. It was basically like a little fun centre, with mini golf, a mirror maze, and then a big room full of puzzles and games. We wandered through there for about an hour, trying out all the different stuff. I hated the mirror maze…was way too creepy for me!!

Once we made it out of there we headed to the Koala Conservation Centre, which was definitely one of the best parts of my day. You walk through an information centre and then out to basically a 2km walk around a forested area. They had some lifted boardwalks that bring you up higher to the trees. I didn’t think I’d be able to get so close to the animals and it was amazing to be able to see them in their own habitat. We spent quite a bit of time walking around there, seeing both koalas and wallabies. Again I think that this was a really good place to see the animals and they had so much freedom, I didn’t feel at all like they were being taken advantage of or treated poorly.

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After seeing the koalas, we got hungry again so we made our way into Cowes to grab an early dinner. We each just got a quick burger and then it was time for the big draw of the day…The Penguin Parade!

Each night these little penguins come in from the ocean and climb up the hills back into their little homes in the hills. I wasn’t too sure what to expect when we went there but knew it was a pretty big tourist draw, of course when we got there there were quite a few tour buses already parked. Considering it’s low season for them right now I’m not sure I’d like to see it in the summer, it was busy enough for me! We got our tickets and a hot chocolate to keep us warm and headed down to the stands that they’ve built on the beach to wait for the penguins to make their appearance. Finally after the sun was fully down we started seeing groups of them come up. They were so much smaller than I even expected, they’re the smallest penguins in the world! They were super timid and so adorable. I’m not sure how I feel about turning this nightly thing into a tourist event but they did seem pretty proactive about caring for the penguins and their safety. They have everything roped off and no photos, even flash off, are allowed. Sadly for that reason I don’t have any pictures of them, but it was super cute. After they came in, you could walk up the boardwalk and watch them actually go into their houses. We stayed until we were both too cold to hang out anymore. Then it was time to head back to Frankston for the night. It was such a great day and I was so glad that the weather held out for us! It was an awesome beginning to the weekend.

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Beautiful view and full moon waiting for the penguins appearance.


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Someone was a little tired of taking pictures by this point in the day.

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12(ish) Apostles

Last Friday Matt and I made the journey from Frankston to the Great Ocean Road to see the 12 Apostles in Port Campbell National Park. This is was something I have been looking forward to since I first started thinking about coming to Australia. The weather finally turned nicer for the weekend and I couldn’t have asked for a nicer day to spend on the coast. Finally some sunshine! (I think it might have done this since I actually bought some warm clothes last week)

The drive up to the park took about 3 hours on the way there, we took the highway instead of going up the Great Ocean Road to save some time. I get pretty bored during car rides if I’m not driving so I was probably a little bit annoying haha. The scenery was a little bit different than I was expecting, went through lots of farms and some cute little towns. When we got closer to the park it was a lot more forested.

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Once we were finally at the park it was a quick walk down from the parking lot to the viewing areas. I knew it would be gorgeous but it really took my breath away how beautiful it was. It wasn’t too busy with people, but I would definitely say we were the only people speaking English. They have a couple of different lookout areas and you get such a great view from all of them. One mistake I made was wearing a dress…keep that in mind when you go down there. It was very windy and I think I may have given a few of those tourists a bit of a show…whoops!

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Once we got our fill of the view there we popped into the visitor centre to use the washroom and take a peek around, it was mostly just a little convenience store with snacks and coffees. From there we headed back down the road to Gibsons Steps, it was probably only like half a kilometre down the road. I’m so glad we went there because you can actually walk down to the beach and get a different view of the Apostles. It was a pretty easy walk down the stairs and so worth it.

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After that we headed down the Great Ocean Road. I didn’t realize how windy it was, wouldn’t want to take that trip if you get motion sickness! It was a great scenic drive to Apollo Bay, where we stopped for lunch at a little pizza place with a great patio. Then it was time to head home. The drive back took about 4 hours, there was lots of traffic going through Melbourne. I was really glad to get out of the car when we got back…little too much road trip for one day.

If you’re in Australia don’t skip the 12 Apostles, it was well worth the trip and I’m so happy I got to see it, especially on such a beautiful day.

 

 

Sea Life and High Times in Melbourne

Tuesday…finally made it into the city! The weather in the morning was not at all promising, pouring down rain the whole drive, but once in Melbourne the sun was out! It took about half an hour to get there.

Once in the city it was super easy to find the Melbourne Sea Life Aquarium. Parking was just across the street in a parkade that had super steep prices (hint, for 3 hours it would have been $62 but with a voucher we got when we got to the aquarium it ended up being only $11, so well worth it to ask when you get in there). I bought the tickets online before we went in, you save 10% doing it that way. Always after a deal… 😉

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I was super excited to go to the aquarium and it did not disappoint. Although we were stuck between two tours…school kids in front and a group of seniors behind us. That did have the benefit of being able to eavesdrop on the guides speeches but the downside of trying to avoid 20 screaming children and a group of slow moving seniors.

One of the highlights was the big aquarium that they had full of predatory fish, we watched a presentation about nurse sharks that was probably about 20 minutes long and super interesting. The tank had huuuuuge rays in it, I’ve never seen them that big. The presenter did keep saying “Don’t be afraid of sharks, they’re actually friendly.” Which I’m not gonna lie, I highly disagree with. If I’m swimming somewhere and I see sharks, you can bet I’m getting the hell out of there.

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This guy looked about 7 feet wide! Thank God for thick glass

There were quite a few cool exhibits, including a huge freshwater crocodile, turtles, seahorses and PENGUINS! I am always a little hesitant of visiting places that keep animals in captivity, but this aquarium did really seem to stress good treatment to the animals, breeding to help replenish ones that were endangered and they do have an organization in place for funding for protection of wildlife.

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Finally they had a 4-D show, it was based on the guy from Ice Age whose always loosing the nuts. It was a pretty entertaining little 10 minute video, and I do love a good 4-D experience.

After the aquarium we grabbed a quick lunch at a pub across the road then headed over to the Eureka Skydeck. It was only a couple minute drive and is the tallest building in Melbourne. According to the brochure it’s the highest public vantage point in the Southern Hemisphere and the glass on the outside of the top 10 floors are coated in 24 karat gold. It was $20 each to go up to the top and the views were unreal. You get a 360 degree view of the city which I think really helped me get my bearings of where things were.

They also have ‘The Edge‘ where you pay extra and get put in what looked like basically a glass box and hung out over the edge of the building. I did not do that. One of the things I really like was they had little like binocular things pointed at the main sites around the city. There’s also a little outdoor terrace you can walk onto, which surprisingly considering how windy it was down below wasn’t windy at all.

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In this one you can see the MCG on the right and then the Flinders Street Station in the bottom left corner. Fun fact I learned while up there, over 110,000 people go through that train station a day!

After seeing everything up there it was time to head back home. Just relaxed in the evening and did my first haircut in Australia on a friend!

Officially Down Under

Hi from Australia!

After about 24 hours of travelling I made it to Melbourne. The flights actually weren’t too bad, from Vancouver to Sydney the plane was only about half full…so pretty much everyone had a row to themselves. It was so nice to be able to stretch out. I didn’t sleep too much but was comfortable at least, and got to watch lots of movies.

The first couple of days of my trip have been pretty low key. On Saturday I went and watched my first Australian Football game. Although I didn’t really know what was going on it was pretty fun, and a really sunny day. Since then the weather has basically been crap, which hasn’t made it too easy to do much.

On Monday we were planning on heading into the city but there was so much rain some of the roads were flooding! After spending the afternoon watching a movie the sun came out so we headed for a drive to Arthurs Seat Lookout. It was a great view but super windy up there. We stopped at a few of the viewpoints and then took more of a scenic route back to Frankston for dinner. It was nice to finally see the ocean and stop at the beach…even if I was freeeeezing!

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Hard to get a good picture in gale force winds…

I’m definitely thinking I should have brought a bit more warm clothing. I don’t really want to buy any because my backpack is already so full, and after a couple of weeks down here in Melbourne I’ll be heading into warm weather. I’ll just have to suck it up and wear the same outfits quite a few times…2 longsleeves and a couple of sweaters is totally not enough.

Tuesday we did finally make it into the city and I’ve got lots to share about that!

 

Australia Packing!

 

I’ve been having a little bit of a hard time so far figuring out what I need to pack for Australia; my other trips so far have been more of a throw something on over a bathing suit type of packing, which I find a lot easier! Since I’m not sure how long I’m going to be gone and I’ll be in a few different temperatures this trip is proving to be a bit harder! I do want to be mindful of packing light (or at least as light as I can, I’m certainly not a pack everything for months into a carry on kind of person).

One thing I want to mention is packing cubes! These things are seriously a life changer, especially when travelling with a backpack. Being able to keep some bit of organization while travelling is such a help. I generally try and pack like things together, a cube of bathing suits and underwear, a cube of bottoms, etc.

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These packing cubes make a huge difference on organization and space saving!

I did get a new backpack for this trip, finally one of my own! I had borrowed a girl friend’s the last two trips but I invested in one from MEC this time. I’m super excited to use it, finally not having to pull everything out of the top of the drawstring bag is going to be awesome. I got this bag on a recommendation from Jacqui, who I’ve travelled with before. I was always envious of her bag and she had nothing but rave reviews for it!

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Very full backpack! 


Here’s what I’ll be bringing with me…

2 pairs of leggings (will wear 1 pair on the plane)
1 pair of jeans
Sandals
Runners (will wear these on the plane too)
Flip Flops

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I ended up not packing the wedge sandals, ran out of room in my bag!


1 pair of jean shorts
2 pairs of cotton material shorts (live in these!)
2 pairs of Lululemon workout type shorts

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8 dresses

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10-14 shirts
3 sweaters

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1 light windbreaker jacket
7 bathing suits
Underwear & bras & socks

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and finally all my toiletries, which take up so much room!

Now just to wait until it’s time to head to the airport and a few long flights and I will be in Melbourne!

 

 

Step 1 to Australia – Flight Booked!

Finally, after what feels like basically my adult life time of checking Skyscanner, Google Flights and every other flight booking website out there, I’ve booked my flight to Australia! I don’t know about anyone else but trying to find a decent price on flights makes me crazy. I end up looking at them everyday and the prices change each time you look, so frustrating!!

I’ve read lots of ‘travel hacking’ sort of tips but I think in Canada it’s hard to find really cheap deals. I did get a Capital One Aspire credit card about 2 months ago that I’ve been using, it’s points can be redeemed towards travel purchases. I will probably do a separate post on that at some point once I’ve used it a little bit more.

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Now that the flight is booked it’s becoming a bit more real that I’m going Australia…and in just 3 weeks! I don’t have a ton of stuff to get organized before I leave, mostly just trying to figure out what to pack. I think I’ll need a fairly decent variety of clothing since the weather seems to differ a lot between Melbourne, where I’ll be starting my trip, and Cairns, where I’ll be meeting up with a friend to travel down the coast.

Time to work on a packing list…