A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: doyledan

The lock of love...

Our 7 year anniversary was coming up and we thought it would be fun to join the other Melbourne romantics and add our own love lock to one of the bridges over the Yarra, to symbolise our relationship and also to leave part of us behind in this great city we have come to love and call home.


When we arrived in Melbourne and there were only a couple of padlocks happily swaying in the breeze, now there are hundreds of them! I believe that the love lock craze started in Europe, and now it seems to have gone global. The couple write their names or initials on the lock, attach it to the bridge and seal their love forever by throwing the key into the water. I decided to keep the keys with us, having one each as a memory.


I walk over this bridge everyday on the way home from work and each time there seems to be more and more locks on the bridge. First you see just one... then maybe a group of 3...then 15... before you get to the fast filling middle sections of the bridge. There is always someone taking photos off them and it makes me smile to wonder if anyone has taken pictures of ours.


What's great is knowing that behind each lock there is a couple with their own amazing story, if only locks could speak... I'm sure there would be plenty of material for a movie or two.

I wonder if our lock will still be here in another 7 years time...


Posted by doyledan 14:01 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Mooncake Festival

Glancing through the paper I spotted that there was going to be a firework display over the Yarra River outside the Crown Casino as the highlight of their week long Mooncake Festival celebrations.

The Mooncake Festival, also known as the Mid-Autumn festival, happens on 15th day of 8th month according to the Chinese lunar calendar (mid autumn) when the moon is at its roundest and brightest, hence the names. It comes from the tradition of the Chinese Emperor who used to make sacrifices to the moon in autumn as they recognised that the change of the moon had affect on the change of the seasons and a good harvest. It is also said that the Mooncake Festival relates to the Ming Revolution where revolutionaries managed to smuggle notes hidden in Mooncakes to organise an uprising which took place on 15th day of the 8th month to overthrow the Mongolian rulers during the Yuan dynasty.

Not only were there going to be fireworks but as with tradition there would be Chinese Lion dancers too. Feeling nostalgic about our trip to China we rallied a group together to take in the festivities and there was of course only one place in Southbank to meet up before we found our spot...


....by the bagpipe playing Cookie Monster!

You gotta love this guy. The dressed up musicians are an iconic part of Melbourne and as you walk around the city you can spot the likes of Mario and Elmo playing music to passersby. The bass playing bunny is probably the most famous now after his recent appearance on Australia's Got Talent!

We joined the crowds overlooking the river and waited under strings of Chinese Lanterns for the fireworks to begin...




It was a spectacular display, much more than we had anticipated and the reflections off the water and the city skyline added to the mesmerising effect.


It was hard to fight back the urge to shout out Happy New Year once it was finished...actually I don't think we did!

Once the fireworks were over we eagerly looked out for the lion dancers which were going to come down the river walk. Unfortunately we weren't quick enough and we found ourselves at the back of the crowd who were all jostling for space behind the lion dancers who led them like a procession down the river. Try as we might we couldn't even see the dancers so we gave up and headed inside Crown to see what else was going on.

This was the best choice as we managed to catch a drumming display and we see lion dancing too!


So what is a mooncake?


They are a type of pastry cake which is considered a delicacy in China, with a dense filling inside which can come in a variety of flavours. They have chinese symbols on top which normally represent harmony and longevity. It is custom to present moon cakes to relatives and friends to wish them a long and happy life.

Going back to the Ming revolution theory it is also thought that secret messages could have been coded into the top of the Mooncakes that when cut in the right way and placed together with other Mooncakes reveals a message. Then instead of the message needing to self destruct you just eat it! Genius.

Despite feeling like we should try one they were quite expensive so we didn't. I imagine they are probably like some of the other filled buns we have had during our travels.


Another lovely eve in Melbourne


Posted by doyledan 05:09 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Archers at the ready!!

With most of our plans for doing stuff in the future, I was a little bit sick of not having much on over the weekend so I started to look on Group On to see if I could find some deals, and low and behold I spotted one. I had never dabbled with Archery before and the offer was so good only $19 bucks for a 2 hour lesson for both of us it seemed too good to miss.

On the morning of our booking we headed down Moorrabin Archery centre to find out if all those hours watching Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings would pay off. It was only 45 mins out of town and we had a fantastic day with the sun beaming.


As we looked around the club we got to see the equipment we would be using and also the targets we would be shooting at. We had to wait for the other people to turn up and so we basked in the sunshine.


Before we started our lesson we got a chance to see some of the regulars square up and take aim. It was quite nice to see a mixture of people and ages and even some youngsters.


Check out this accuracy from some of the pros


This little girl was pretty good too.


It became obvious that a lot of people had taken advantage of the cheap cost to the lesson as there was about 40 people in the group when we stood for our first lesson about all the different types of bows that have been used in the past and that are used today for practice and in the Olympics.


The type of bow that is used by archers today for competition is Recurve bow which is also the exclusive bow of the Olympics. The name derives from the side profile of the bow. With these bows you would use aluminium made arrows rather than wooden.


There is also a longbow which is rarely used today accept by well trained archers who compete in specific events or chose to hunt. Its archery in it's simplest and most original form. A wooden, one-piece bow, a string, wooden arrows with feather fletchings.


There is also the Compound bow which is not too different to the recurve, except for pulleys that aid in efficiency and adjustable limbs. It is a modern bow that was developed in the USA in the late 60's, primarily as a hunting bow. The adjustable pulleys allow for far greater accuracy. We saw some of these with spirit levels and telescopic lenses on them, some high tec kit.


We would be using a type of compound bow called a Genesis bow which is good for beginners. After the history lesson we got kitted up with wrist guards, selected our bow and arrows and made our way to the practice area where we all lined up.


As there were many of us it was quite cramp but we managed to find a spot at the end together and fortunately we ended up being next to the assistant who was a bubbly old chap called Frank and was good at explaining how to position yourself.


A lot of the technique is built around the way you hold your stance and the slight angling of your arm or hand can change the direction that you shoot quite considerably.


When the whistle was blown to signal everyone was allowed to draw, safety is paramount on the field, we let loose!
It didn't take long after some tutoring from the old chap that both Sarah and I were getting pretty close to the centre target.


The moment Sarah hit Gold!!


There was a lot of talking in between the 5 arrows we were allowed to draw per tern which was a bit of a drag. However the instructor did explain important aspects of the etiquette around archery. It was also during this time we were given extra tips from Frank about relaxing our shoulders and like a Jedi trusting in the force!

On our next few goes we started to feel like Olympic pro's....well almost.


It was a nice way to spend the morning and I wouldn't mind given archery another go in the future. It is quite therapeutic in a way as you feel quite satisfied with getting the draw right and hitting the target it is also quite physically challenging as well.

Afterwards we headed off to St Kilda for brunch and tucked into what can only be described as bliss!

Smoked salmon and eggs in burger form!


Stay tuned for more tales.


Posted by doyledan 01:44 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

P... P... P...Pick up a Penguin!......Don't worry we didn't.

Visiting Phillip Island to see the Penguin Parade!

It was time to go and check out the Fairy penguins at Phillip Island!

Knowing it was a good 2 hour drive away we got ourselves up relatively early so that we could make a day of it. We hit the road and en route chatted about campfire songs to learn for our future camp trips. It wasn't long before signs for Phillip Island appeared on the Highway but we had a little longer to go and so Broomy took the time to catch up on some much needed shut-eye after a boozy day and night the day before.


To our disappointment as we got closer and closer to the Island it started to rain and the weather got worse...


and worse...


so much so that when we stopped for petrol I was beginning to think we should have come more prepared for the poor weather....but no ....we're British and we must soldier on, come rain or shine!

When we crossed the bridge on to the island we realised we didn't really have a map to follow or know where the penguin parade was situated on the island.


It would probably be a good idea to stop for some info but as Broomy said 'there's the tourist information', we had already passed it, and Broomy said 'There it goes" to which we burst out laughing...oh well we would have use our instincts. It wasn't hard as it turns out there is only one road that circles the island.

After familiarising ourselves with where things were and locating where we would need to go for the penguin parade, we made our way to Nobbies centre. The Nobbies Centre is an ecotourism destination located at Point Grant, on the western tip of Phillip Island. The centre features boardwalks outside overlooking Seal Rock, The Nobbies (a collection of rock islands), and includes The Blowhole which is a cave in the rock that has been eroded by the bashing of the sea.


It was pretty grim when we got to The Nobbies Centre and I think Broomy was in need of a pick me up so we sat in the cafe with a coffee and had a look around at the educational displays. You were able to pay to look at the Seal Cam which overlooked Seal Rock but it was a bit over priced and we managed to zoom in with our camera to take a look. Seal Rock holds Australia’s largest colony of fur seals with an estimated 16,000 inhabiting the area.


Some interesting facts came out from the displays such as Australian Fur Seals having a very effective insulation system which keeps them warm when they dive down to depths of 200m. It also revealed some stark facts regarding Seal Hunting that occurred across the Bass Strait which decimated the seal population. Over 240,000 Fur Seal skins had been exported between the period of 1798 to 1830 and Sealers continued to operate in the Bass Strait through to the 1920's until Australian legislation in the 1970's helped save these beautiful mammals.


I mean how could you skin one of these!


Given that we had come to the island to be outdoors we were getting a bit despondent, when miraculously the weather started to clear. YAY!!


With coffee in the system we ventured out onto the boardwalks and take a look at these little hutches made up over the hill side which Broomy explained were made to help the penguins who reside on the coastline survive.


We were even able to spot a few inside......you can just about see the little fella.


The coastline is amazing too, although a bit cold in the wind!



This is Nobbies Blowhole...


This is a cave that has been carved into the coastline by the action of the waves. When a wave smashes into it, it compresses all the air inside. this combined with the force as the wave rebounds off the back wall creates a jet of spray bursting out from the tunnel entrance.

After we left Nobbies the weather really picked up and we saw out in one of the bays some surfers taking advantage of some fantastic breaks for beginners. It made me wish we had a wetsuit and board so we could give it a go.


We drove on to the main town called Cowes, where most of the amenities are on the island. We were buzzing for some Fish and Chips to help soothe hangovers and hunger and found our way to one on the main strip. Although when we went in to order we were met by an old dear who was adamant that we had to get our order in quick so she could go back and have a rest before her next shift started. It doesn't matter if you're in a small town in UK or Oz the folk are always are happy to let you know how they feel. :-)


With the sun out we took our lunch to some benches that looked out over the Bay and were quickly surrounded by a group of seagulls eager to grab a cheap eat from one of us.


Although happy as larry with our lunch.....


We had to keep an eye on it.


After we had our fill we toyed with the seagulls as they flew around us trying to grab whatever they could.


It was such a good day by this point what a difference a few hours can make!


Broomy and me preparing for retirement...


The day had gone pretty quickly and we soon had to make our way to the Penguin Parade as the sun began to set. The reason that you aim to be at the parade come dusk is that the penguins only head back inland at night to avoid any predators taking advantage of their vulnerable position on the beach.

We tried to imagine how long it would take them to get up the beach by giving it a go at the entrance.


We knew before we came to the Parade that there is a no photos policy when watching the penguins, which although isn't ideal because you want the memories, however I preferred it because the penguins wouldn't be there if flashes were going off and to be frank its likely no-one would be able to get a good shot in the low light.


But before the parade we could still take photos around the visitors center and during the lead up to the first penguin sighting.

The visitors center was set up well and had displays explaining the different kinds of Penguins. Sarah was glad that the Prehistoric Eocene Penguin was no longer around otherwise she would have met her match.


The center has also set up hutches for the penguins that you can look into without them knowing and so you got a close up of the little fellas chilling in their home.


Some of the facts about the penguins was pretty impressive as they are able to dive to depths of 72 meters and the longest dive recorded was 1:56 minutes.

Out of all the penguin species I think the RockHopper takes the lead with its cool name and hairdo.


I knew these weren't real! Honest!


As we congregated by the entrance to the beach the signs told us how many penguins had been sighted and what was going on in their world as the start of spring was the beginning of breeding season. Monogamy is not a rule these little guys adhere too with an annual divorce rate of 18%-50%, you see I did take in the displays.


It was soon time for the doors to open for us to make our way to the stands... penguins this way!!


The boardwalks out to the beach made the walk very easy and we found a spot near the front. It was going to be a bit of a wait and in hindsight we hadnt come fully prepared in terms of clothing....But cups of tea and coffee in hand we were as positive as ever.


As we waited we managed to spot our first wallaby in the distance and a seagull with no feet whilst playing the universal game of eye spy with my little eye.


A few announcements were made before the sun left with the main message being you were not allowed to use cameras or phones as it would scare the Penguins...and the guy on the PA meant it!


So we don't have any pictures after this as we weren't allowed but I can tell you it was fun watching the little penguins make the charge out of the surf to make a dash for it before suddenly bottling it and running back to the safety of the water. When they did eventually make it passed the beach they were hopping all around the boardwalks and you could get real close and watch. The noises they made were not what you'd expect either, kind of like a donkey with a cold!

It was a fun day out and great to have some time out of the city, Sarah got a new hoodie to replace the one she left on a plane almost a year ago and Broomy was able to shrug off the appalling hangover.....well not really, but he gave it a good shot the little trooper. Cheers for joining us mate.

Stay tuned for more tales


Posted by doyledan 07:08 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Vic Night Market

Every Wednesday eve in August the Luna 1878 Winter Night Market was held at Queen Victoria Market, and somehow we almost missed it! We were totally unaware it had been going on until I got a text from Ria if anyone wanted to check out the last one after work! Weirdly at the same time Dan got invited by his work mates to go too. Everyone clearly wanted to make the most it before it disappears until the summer.


As you approach the market you can smell all the amazing food that is being cooked at the various hawker stalls. We definitely were going to be in for a treat.


We started the almost impossible task of trying to decide which stall to get food from. With dishes from all over the world from Poland to the Phillipines we took our time walking up and down to check out what was on offer.


This is what us girls went for and I think Dan and his work mates ending up going for Philly cheese hot dogs!


It seemed we had managed to time it just right as soon we enough there were large queues everywhere for most of the food stalls. One of the most popular was a stall that was selling soup in bowls made of bread with a bread lid! Would have liked to have tried it but literally the queue went from one side of the market to the other and given that this is apparently the largest open air market in the Southern Hemisphere you can imagine that's a looooooonnnnng line!

We wondered around the market checking out the different wares on offer from jewellery with real plants growing inside them to these amazing puppets.


We also got swept up in the crowd following a drum procession. Such a feel good place.


As the queues for drinks in the market were so long and we wouldn't have space in our backpacks for a puppet anyway we decided to move away from temptation to a local bar for a catch up over some drinks and a Kinetic reunion before a walk home through the city :)


Looking forward to Summer night markets, but still can't get my head around the fact that summer here is November! Weird!


Posted by doyledan 02:27 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

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