A Travellerspoint blog

June 2013

A trip to Dandenong

Having spent the weekdays scouring the job websites we were easily persuaded to join Ria and some of her friends out to the Dandenong Ranges at the weekend. The Dandenongs are low mountains which are east of Melbourne and we had often looked at them in the distance from our apartment window. The opportunity to get out of the city and soak up some country air was enough and so we planned to meet Ria at Flinders Street station with the intention of getting the train out to Belgrave. The added bonus to this trip was that we were going to have a Bar-b out in the ranges, apparently there are these purpose built areas within the woodland with gas cookers where you can set up kitchen and have a good meal! Brilliant idea! So Sarah and I stocked up on sausages, rolls, salad and crisps ready for the adventure. Oh and we found a few Bintangs too! We also picked up the MyKi card which is the equivalent to London's Oyster card.


When we got to the station at 11am it wasn't long before Ria, Noreen, Chauny and Carianna showed up and we chatted away catching up on what we were all doing in Melbourne before Ria revealed that the trip actually takes about 1 hour and half just to get to Belgrave. None of us were aware of this but it didn't matter as it would give us a chance to get to know the others and see the scenery change as we travelled out of the city. It wasn't till we made it to the end of the line that Ria revealed we needed to also take a bus out to Gemsbrook so it was going to be a little longer before we were at our destination (another 40mins). It was quite funny because Ria said that if she had revealed before we left how long it was going to take then it was possible no one would want to go, but we didn't mind and had a laugh taking over the back seats on the bus.

When we got to what we thought was the right stop we hopped off and already the countryside was around us, it was really refreshing. We passed the old steam train called Puffing Billy which you can actually take instead of the bus, however its a little over priced for the novelty (around 50 bucks return!)

Puffing Billy looked pretty cool though.


The area we had found ourselves in was called Gemsbrook and we asked around at the shops to find out where to go for a walk and find the Bar-B!


The area is prone to bush fires so these warnings are put in place to warn locals..Crazy!


We walked down Gembrook Avenue of Honour which is lined with trees in memory of Word War I servicemen who died.


On the way we asked a loony lady in a craft shop directions and found ourselves on a path leading into the forest.

We passed big trees that could you could fit a family inside!


And had to make a decision at one point which route we would take, deciding to go towards Fern Gully, mainly because Sarah loved the cartoon as a kid.


The forest was nice and colourful and on the path there was the enormous tree that had fallen which I thought was pretty insane.


It was a really different forest full of eucalyptus trees and glades of ferns, at points looking more like something you would find in Jurassic Park. We didn't see any dinosaurs though, or koalas despite as trying to keep an eye out in the eucalyptus trees.


The path was quite short in the end and we ended up on a country road walking towards the hills, it was a beautiful scenery and reminded us of being in the countryside at home. After walking further down the road we got the sense that we weren't going in the right direction. We decided to turn back and head back to the puffing billy train as one of the girls had seen a Bar-B set up in the gardens nearby. Despite the mis-direction it was still a pleasant place to walkabout.


As we walked down the countrylane Sarah had an odd feeling that we were being watched...


Walking back didn't take long as we knew where we were going. But we had worked up an appetite and were pleased to find that the outside Bar-B was ready to Burn!


Sarah continued her animal photography pursuits. These are Rosellas, a type of parrot native to Australia.


And, naturally we had to go in the playground.


A big thanks to Ria for arranging it and thanks to all the girls for making a fun day.

Stay tuned for more tales


Posted by doyledan 04:35 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Run Doyley! Run!

The Tan Track is a famous running track in Melbourne that circles the Botanical Gardens for 3.8kms. It used to be an equestrian track for people to exercise their horses but now it is used by runners, joggers and walkers alike to exercise themselves and their dogs too.


The story goes that it is known as the Tan due to the colour of the track but some people will strongly debate that it is called 'Tan' because it circles the boTANical gardens, so who knows? (just an FYI the info signs at the track go with the colour idea but I'm not gonna take sides).


Now those who know me will confirm that the words "runner" and "natural athlete" are not normally used to describe me... unless you have witnessed me leaping away from a spider, chasing after a cat for a kitten cuddle or using my fencing skills to get the last spoonful of Ben & Jerrys.

So you may be surprised that when Dan suggested we tackle The Tan that I said "YES!"

If I'm honest my initial response wasn't quite as enthusiastic as that, its was more of a "meh" and so it took a lot of encouragement and coaxing from Dan. Basically I'm a bit of a self conscious runner, probably because I regularly trip myself up just walking, but when Dan said that he'd seen "plenty of people who looked like they couldn't run giving it ago" then I thought I'd better join them.

Soon enough trainers were on and we were out in the crisp autumn air. After being so active during our travels in Asia I really dont want to turn back into a couch potato and lucky for us the Botanical Gardens are only a few minutes walk from the flat, so there are no excuses really.


And guess what I surprised myself and actually made it all the way round without dying (although I did walk up the hill section) and I enjoyed it! Dan was right there are all sorts of people on the track of varying abilities, sizes and ages. I swear one woman must have been in her 70s, she may have lapped me actually. I hear on the grapevine that a lot of Aussie celebs and sports stars run on the track too, not that I would recognise any of them yet.

We did spot a onesie photoshoot though!


I have tackled the Tan a couple of times now and hope to keep it up. I ve decided a way to keep me motivated is to update this entry with my times. If you can be bothered to check this and see that I haven't updated it then feel free to send me a kick up the backside to get moving!

So here it is, not that impressive given that the fastest lap is around 10 mins but do remember Im not a runner and have short legs!

10/06/2013 - 29 mins

15/06/2013 - 27 mins (getting better already)

17/06/2013 - 26 mins :)

21/06/2013 - 26 mins

23/06/2013 - 24.10 !!!!! Quicker going the other way

28/06/2013 - 23 mins 50 seconds!!

Unfortunately have been too enthusiastic with the running and hurt by foot so won't be running for next month. Thank god we have the pool!

Who knows one day my name might be on here...



Posted by doyledan 01:53 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Lets go outside!

After a week of trawling the job sites we both needed to make the most of the weekend and get out of the apartment and lucky for us it was a gloriously sunny Saturday so we decided to head to Kings Domain and the Botanical Gardens that are practically on our doorstep!


This is the Walker Fountain which was donated to the city in 1981 by former Mayor of Melbourne Ron Walker. It looks really cool at night lit up by coloured lights, although when ran past it yesterday someone had put washing up liquid or something like that in it and it was a huge mass of bubbles!


The King George V Memorial is an imposing site at the end of one of the paths leading into the park and on the other side is the image of Britannia with symbols of love and peace.



The Sidney Myer Music Bowel looks like an awesome venue so hopefully we ll get to see some gigs here in the summer.


and its named after this gent...


We re still trying to get our heads around it being winter in June but loved seeing the change of the seasons as we walked through the gardens.



I spotted a heron taking a nap in a tree.


And a bunch of bees


It was a gorgeous way to spend the morning


An added bonus of tea and scones by the lake made it even better!!


We decided to head from the park and catch the free city circle tram that circles the CBD. Its a great way to get familiar with the city and the quirky conductor points out landmarks along the way and stories about the cities history. The one we had seemed to focus on pointing out pubs to drink in, and loves to tell the joke to EVERY new person that "the seats are free of everyone as long as you leave them on the tram when you leave", it got a vague smile to begin with but after hearing it about 20 times got a bit grating.


We stopped off near the Victoria Gardens and walked towards Brunswick Street. This is another great thing about Melbourne is that it is small enough to get around easily and be somewhere completely different just outside the CBD in minutes.


Full of quirky shops, cafes and bars this definitely is a great place to wonder around window shopping and people watching. Imagine a mix of North Lanes in Brighton and Northcote in Clapham with buildings reminiscent of a western and you start to get the picture. We definitely would be back to explore more.

As the sun began to set we decided just to sit on the circle tram back to Flinders Street watching the city go by...

If you keep an eye out you might spot a cow up a tree!



Posted by doyledan 04:48 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

This is Melbourne...

...and its so random! I love it!

There's something different around every corner and the architecture is a mishmash of old and new...


Trams are still a novelty...


And I have no idea what this is meant to be...


Most of our time is spent indoors staring at job websites so we ve barely scratched the surface.

Broomy's apartment is located in Southbank which means we can be in the heart of the CBD in a matter of minutes by crossing one of the numerous bridges over the Yarra river. One of these is Sandrige Bridge, otherwise known as Travellers Bridge. This was the first steel bridge built across the Yarra river and brought trains from the Port Melbourne into the city. Immigrants coming off the ships were transported to this very spot and in memory of this a series of sculptures have been built on the bridge to represent the different groups of immigrants that made the journey to find a new home.


As you walk across the bridge you can keep an eye out for the country you are from and find out some facts about the immigrants from your country that came here.


Apparently in 2001 there were over 6 million Australians who had English ancestry.

This is the impressive Flinders Street Station which was the first station in Melbourne.


Next door to this is another iconic landmark, Federation Square.


We had arrived during the Jazz Festival and every lunchtime during that week there was a free jazz concert in the square, just pull up a deck chair and enjoy


Or keep walking if the improvisational jazz sounds more like someone trying to make music out of the contents of the kitchen sink, whilst another person wails like a cat thats just had its tail trodden on... well its not for everyone!

There are lots of theatres and galleries in the city and the Arts Centre is just one of them. With its huge spire its hard to miss, particularly when lit up with multicoloured lights at night.


And of course all the sport venues... some of which we can see from the flat but we ll let ya know more on these when we go to our first Aussie Football game!


So that's just a snap shot of this new city we are now calling home, what more will we discover...


Posted by doyledan 06:36 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Talent spotting

Australia's Got Talent, Melbourne auditions.

sunny 12 °C


We had heard amazing things from Broomy about a cafe called Proud Mary's and he generously took us there for breakfast on Sunday.


This place is so popular that people are willing to stand outside and wait for over an hour to get their mits on some yummy grub. Our visit was no exception so we ordered some teas and coffees and stood in the Autumn sunshine as we waited for a table.


Finally our name was called...and we were in!


It was pretty much lunchtime when we got inside and so totally acceptable to order the pork belly sandwich! I was too hungry to stop and take a photo of it but here's some tea instead. Love the cute milk bottle.


We didn't mind waiting as it was definitely worth it, and we had the bonus of getting to know a couple of Broomy's mates Tanya and Wally who had joined us.

Tanya is the founder of a charity called Hearts4heart. Through her own experiences with heart disease she found that support for young adults was lacking in Australia and so she has tried to change that by setting up the charity to help young adults with heart disease and to raise awareness of this condition. Its an inspiring story.

"Heart disease is cross cultural, multi-racial, non- denominational and has no preferences. Heart disease knows no age. It is my hope that Hearts4heart will raise awareness of heart disease, provide direct support for all of those who are impacted by cardiac illness, whilst encouraging members to live a positive and fulfilled life. I hope to connect cardiac patients to each other, as well as link families, friends, carers and supporters, to give you a safe place to learn, to share your stories, and to share and support each other through the highs and the lows with people who understand." Tanya Hall, Hearts4Heart.

You can find out more, donate or get involved by visiting their website here

Broomy had somehow managed to get us tickets to Australia's Got Talent Auditions that evening and after hearing about Tanya's charity we were more than happy to wear some Hearts4hearts t-shirts to help raise awareness if we got on the telly!

And we had the added bonus of meeting Charlie when we picked them up. What a sweetie!


Later on we headed out for some cheap dumplings in China Town before heading to Her Majesty's Theatre about 15 minutes before the doors opened. Not really knowing much about how it was going to work and that the tickets weren't seated we had a bit of a surprise when we came round the corner and saw 100s of people queuing outside. Were these people waiting to audition? Were they people without tickets hoping to get lucky? No it was just the queue for everyone.


Somehow Broomy managed to work some magic with a security guy and we soon found ourselves waiting at the front entrance. A bit unsure whether this guy would come through for us and also getting a few evil looks from some teenage girls that probably had been queuing since 2pm we were relieved when we were ushered in when the doors opened. We were some of the first people in and found ourselves about 5 rows from the front almost inline with the judges seats!! Result!!


This had been such a last minute thing we didn't even have a clue who the judges would be and as we sat taking in the bright lights of the set, I noticed that one of the names was Dawn.... Could it be Dawn French?? Another was Geri, were we going to be in the presence of a Spice Girl? The anticipation was building and we were all giggling with excitement about how random it was we were here.


Before the show got started they had to get all the crowd shots. We prepared and got our best acting faces on as the host shouted out "Pllllaaacccceeess" in his most theatrical voice. As cameras swooped over the crowd we had to clap, cheer, boo, look shocked, do OMG faces, seated ovations and standing ovations.

Then it was time for the judges to strut their stuff to their seats. As the music started everyone was on their feet, clapping in time and having a bit of a boogie when the first judge was announced.....DAWN FRENCH! The crowd went wild and, we love Dawn! The Vicar of Dibley, what a legend! Then it was a guy called Timomatic and none of us had a clue who he was and looked blankly at each other but all the teenage girls were going crazy for him. We had to google him afterwards and turns out he had been on talent shows and is a singer/dancer, we re so out of touch with the kids! Then Ginger Spice, Geri Halliwell came tottering down the aisle. She is tiny and no one can deny looking hot at 40 in a sparkly skin tight mini dress. As she sat on her chair and swivelled round to wave at her fans, she was blissfully unaware that we all had a clear view of her pants! Its not everyday you get flashed by a Spice Girl! The last judge was an Australian DJ called Kyle Sandiland, again Dan and I were a bit stumped having only been in the country for a week, with no idea who he was.


It was time for the show to begin!

Now I don't want to ruin the show for anyone as it doesn't get aired until Aug/Sept time but I ll just say we saw quite a variety of 'talent' from dance acts and performing dogs to opera singers and magicians. One girl stunned us all not only with her incredible voice but by the fact she was only 12! We all thought she was at least 18!

Also a warning to all Brits you will be embarrassed by some of the things that are said by Geri, seriously at some moments it was painful. Thanks for Dawn for pulling it back together!

It was interesting to see how a show like this is put together. There is a lot of time in between acts for the stage to be reset and for Geri to have her hair and make up done. Literally a whole can of hairspray was used in between each act just for her. It was also during these gaps that the teenage girls sitting in front of us (the same ones that gave us evils outside) would try to get the attention of Timomatic, screaming out and blowing kisses, one managed to pass him a note. A bit embarrassing to watch! At one point Geri was dancing around on the platform when Dawn spotted that her dress was riding up and tried to pull it back down, only to have shouts from the crowd "don't worry Dawn we've already seen her pants!"

It was a long process and we were there for about 4 hours. Towards the end most of the people in the top of the theatre had left to go home, and people were moved around to fill empty seats. We held out to the end though.


After the show the guys managed to get a photo with Ruben, who is one to watch I think, a singer/songwriter who will melt some hearts. Mums will love him!


Given the luck we had had so far we decided why not see if we could meet anyone at the stage door.

Don't think they are that bothered about health and safety here!


This is Julia Morris the presenter of the show


We also got to see all the judges as they were whisked out by security into their cars.

It was such a funny and random night :)


Just a note so we don't forget...Potato Girl!

Posted by doyledan 18:41 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

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