A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: doyledan

More Melbourne!

Melbourne's narrow lane ways are full of quirky cool places to have a bite or sip a coffee whilst watching the world go by. Famous Degraves street is normally one of the first places people go in Melbourne to take in this cafe culture. However some how in 3 months, we hadn't! This needed to be rectified ASAP so one Sunday (when fortunately it wasn't raining) we decided to check it out.


Luckily we managed to nab one of the few available tables outside a gourmet burger joint and tucked into some tasty times.


Degraves street was ticked off the list!

Needing to walk off some of that grub we decided to continue exploring the lane ways and then head up to the State Library.


Unknown to us that day a big protest was being held in the city about the refugee situation. The use of detention centres to hold refugees whilst they are being processed, which can take years, is a big issue in Australia and the new law introduced where so called 'boat people' are now being turned away and redirected to PNG has divided opinion.


The Victoria State library is an impressive building.


I think that if my library at uni had had anything like the La Trobe reading room then I definitely would have got a first. How could you not want to study here!


We were hungry again but this time were on the hunt for cake! We found ourselves in Hardware Lane and stumbled across a place called The Larder Section.

This is their Italian chocolate cake, and oh my god it is hands down the best chocolate cake EVER well worth the $9.50. The price tag also meant we shared one and didn't have enough for another. Saving our waistlines and our wallets. I definitely want to come back for another slice before we leave this city!




Posted by doyledan 02:00 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Oreo's and King's


We awoke to a ripper of a morning sun with spirits high knowing we had a fun filled day ahead full of fancy dress and merriment.


It was such good weather that the rooftop of a car park over the road was being used for photo-shoots.


This weekend we would be participating in a fancy dress charity fundraiser quiz for one of our friends Sheree. We would also be attending a Medieval themed party later in the evening in aid of winter ending which Ria and her housemates were setting up.

Broomy, Sarah and I were excited when the ‘Winter is coming’ words of House Stark from the Game of Thrones series appeared on the Facebook invite for the Medieval party and equally excited with the choice of theme as it gave us a chance to live out the TV series that has been occupying our evenings for the last few weeks!


The charity event also had a theme of anything beginning with F, O or K, as it was to help raise money for Friends of Korogwe Inc which is a charity founded by Sheree Lette and Kate Rengey in 2012, to provide monetary and social support to orphaned and disadvantaged children. You can find out more here http://goo.gl/5vHuqd

After much debate we decided on Oreo cookie’s.


Sarah, Mel and I took upon ourselves to get stuck in and help prepare costumes for the quiz team. Luckily we found some large pieces of cardboard in the recycling area of our building that would be perfect for Oreo shaped cut outs. All we would need is some paint, stencils, string and in no time we would have a perfect costume. So for all you fancy dress fans here’s a cheap and easy costume to make, all you need is a white top which acts as the soft middle bit of the cookie.

We popped round to Mel’s early in the week and managed to make enough cut outs for 7 people in a couple of hours. Boom!

Obviously there had to be some prior research performed....I dutifully took this role..


The quiz team would be congregating at our flat for some pre-drinks and to get kitted up in our costumes. Katherine (‘Toots’), Robyn, Mel, Andy , Broomy, Sarah and I were well oiled before getting our Taxi to the quiz which would start late afternoon.


The taxi ride over was a real hoot and we joked around as we made our way to the venue.


On arrival one guy thought he was hilarious to shout out from his car "Wheres the milk?" , which to be fair was a good one the first time you hear it but then he proceeded to say it to each of us when we walked past. You know he is in a pub somewhere saying to a mate "you'll never guess what I said to a bunch of people dressed up as Oreos?".

We were quite surprised to be the first team there and after finding our table we headed to... you’ve guessed it...The Bar!!!


The Oreo costumes were turning heads as the other teams arrived and we were also impressed by some of the other attempts. There was the French team, the cast of Friends and even our hosts were dressed as Forks!


Sheree’s fiancé Henry, stole the show though as a pink fairy.


After we chatted about costumes and nonsense it was game on! But we were even more oiled by this point.


The small town of Korogwe, in the Tanga region on the East coast of Tanzania was where Sheree and Kate initially focused there fundraising and therefore some of the questions we would be getting would have a Tanzania theme. Luckily for us, Sarah had studied the Facebook page and we assigned the answers and clues given to all contestants so that we had those questions covered. Did it help?

Well.........in a word no.... we got all the answers that Sarah prepared right but sadly not all of the rest. The good news though was that we didn’t come last either!!

We almost won the limbo round when Toots got to the last two but was beaten by an astounding flexible tall guy, dressed up as Joey from Friends.


Broomy had a chance to get some points back with the paper aeroplane round...


But even his cardboard flapping didn’t help the trajectory of his plane.


The judges were devastating with their scoring....Nil Pois!


However, we did receive best dressed team which let’s be honest has to be the most important award!



There was another best dressed individual award which went to a girl who did a very funny and convincing French accent whilst dressed as your stereotypical Frenchmen, beret and all, answering questions with a “Oui Oui” and a non fussed “ en baguette".


After the quiz the silent auction was announced and Broomy had cleaned up, taking a West Coast Eagles footy ball and a couple of vouchers for Bowling and a drive in cinema night. But he was beaten for generosity as one fella bid over $250 for a restaurant deal!


Once all the prizes had been handed out it was time for one last group shot, and it was only 9pm at this point!


Thanks to Sheree and Katy for putting on a great night and I hope all our merriment helped with your fundraising.

As we left the venue we were getting revved up for round 2 singing OREO! OREO! OREO! songs out in the streets, which must of been a funny sight for the passer by. We said goodbyes to the girls and Broomy, Andy, Sarah and I got ready for the Medievel party.

Credit to Sarah as without her skills as a costume designer we wouldn't have pics like these!


Safe to say it was a messy night for all involved and the Sunday was a write off! The hang over was worth it though :)

Stay tuned for more tales.


Posted by doyledan 01:18 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Having a whale of a time!


I have been temping at Save The Children for a few months now and when I heard they were struggling to find a volunteer to drive some stock from Melbourne to their op shop in Ararat (charity shops are known as op shops here), I put our hands up. It was a perfect opportunity as Dan had been saying how he wanted to do a road trip and to be able to explore more of Victoria for free was an added bonus. As a thank you for giving up our time on a Saturday we would also be able to use the van to detour south to Warrnambool on the coast to hopefully spot some whales! :)

Ararat is a 2 and half hour drive west out of the city and so it was a 6.30am wake up call for us in order to pick up the van and get there by 10am.


We were so lucky with the weather and got a gorgeous day for the trip, a far cry from the recent horizontal rain and gale force winds we'd been having!

ROADTRIP!!! Woop Woop!


It was great to head out of the city and go on an adventure!



Despite all the signs along the road and keeping an eye out for any hopping in the fields we didn't spot any kangaroos (well not a live one anyway :( )


What a view!


We pulled off the highway into Ararat and found the shop, bang on 10 o'clock!


The op shop in Ararat is run by a lovely couple in their 80s called Brian and Dot. They set up the shop 16 years ago and have a great passion for what they do and a great sense of humour with it too.


As Dot put the kettle on, we unloaded the van and helped Brian to find space for it all in stock room of the shop.


It was a lot quicker taking everything out of the van than it had been trying to pack it all in! Even with someone horsing around!


As we were unpacking a shout came down from Dot asking if there were any playpens as a customer had come in asking for one, not for their child but because it was lambing season and they needed as many pens as they could find for all the lambs. When we got back upstairs Dot was washing chickens eggs that had been freshly dropped off from a local farm. We were definitely out of the city and in the countryside!

After good chat over a cuppa tea and some chocolate biscuits it was time for us to wave goodbye to Dot and Brian and start heading towards the coast. Dot had heard on the radio that whales had been spotted that week and advised us that sightings were best before midday...it would take an hour to get there so we needed to get a move on!

We'd been given directions to just turn left at the junction and then keep going straight to get to the coast, boy the road was straight!


Within minutes we were surrounded by fields again with sheep and cattle everywhere (other than in this pic).


...and for a moment I thought we were in Hobbiton!


I didn't spot any of these either!


This is Shadwell Hill. Brian's mate had told us too keep an eye out for it and that local students get a kick out of changing the "d" to a "g" on the signs.


We were heading to Logan's Point in Warrnambool which is a bay that is famous as one of the few places were you can stand on the beach and spot Southern Right Whales. Each year between May-October whales come to the bay from Sub-Arctic waters to have their calves and nurse them in the warm shallow water. In 1806 whaling began in Southern Australia and as the whales came into the bays they were easy to hunt. Over the years 26,000 were killed and by the 1920s they were on the brink of extinction with only an estimated 300 left in Australian waters and only 60 of those were female. Despite being protected since 1935 the population numbers have increased slowly and there may only be a few thousand left world wide. It would be a privilege to see one and so we joined the other whale watchers on the raised platform above the beach, binoculars at the ready...


Everyone was on the lookout!


It wasn't long before we spotted a puff of spray come out of the water...




Southern Right Whales are smooth backed whales with no dorsal fins so we knew they were rolling around in the water when their other fins and tail tips come out of the water. Although we didn't see any jumping (breaching) it was still exciting and for Dan who had never seen a whale before it was a special moment "They are so big!!"


It was awesome to see them but even if you didnt get a sighting, Logan's Point itself is pretty spectacular.


It was time to hit the road again in hunt for a sausage roll and to start the mission back to Melbourne.

All the sea air must have got to me as I slept most of the way back. Sleepy eyed I gazed out the window and I was so amazed at what I saw that I sat bolt upright scrambling for the camera whilst excitedly exclaiming to Dan that there was a duck and some chickens waiting to cross the road!! How amazing is that!


It was only as he started laughing at me I realised that they were just garden ornaments! Clearly going a bit quakers!


When we pulled over at a service station for Dan to have a break I thought my eyes had gone funny again, as not 1...2... but 8 cats came out of the bushes. They were in the middle of nowhere at a service station...random! They were wary of people so assume they were strays who had formed a gang that were doing well off all the food from passing motorists.


Strays here look very different to those we had come across in Asia!


We approached the city as the sun started to go down and it was a welcome sight for Dan who had done all the driving!


What a day!! :)


Posted by doyledan 16:14 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Million Beats!!

In one of our first blogs in Australia we mentioned meeting Tanya and finding out about her charity Hearts4Heart, a not for profit organisation who support adolescents and adults living with heart disease. Knowing we would be in Melbourne for a while we had told her to let us know if she ever needed any volunteers to help out and this is how we became involved with the launch of their Million Beats campaign.

Big thanks to Marz (Marlene Habib) for letting us use her photos of the campaign in our blog!


The idea behind the Million Beats campaign is to get people to donate their heartbeats, by getting their hearts pumping through exercise and sponsoring each heartbeat. At 1 cent per beat the goal is for an individual or team to raise one million beats in a month, raising funds for Hearts4heart to continue helping young people with heart disease while promoting a healthy lifestyle.

It was an early start and we proudly donned out Hearts4heart t-shirts and headed out as the sun was rising over Melbourne to make our way to WaterMarc Leisure Centre which was about 40mins out of town. As the charity operates on a volunteer basis it was great to see that so many had come together to support Tanya and the campaign and we soon were set to task blowing up balloons, fixing the stage, putting up signs and making sure everything was in place. We already looked like a team with our matching t-shirts but something was missing

We needed some more pizzazz to help us stand out in the crowd....


... And you can't go wrong with a glittery hat!

We were briefed by Tanya about how the morning was going to run, with a variety of class demonstrations such as Zumba and Body Attack happening throughout the morning and performances from Emmy Bryce, a singer/songwriter from Melbourne.


Tanya also reminded us of some of the key facts that we would need to get across when encouraging people to support the charity and sign up to the campaign including...

  • Over the past 30 years heart disease has been the leading cause of death in Australia.
  • Heart disease does not just affect the elderly and is one of the leading causes of premature death.
  • It kills one Australian every 11 minutes and affects two in three families.
  • Hearts4heart supports, educate and empowers adults living with heart disease, prevent hospitalisations and save lives!
  • Hearts4heart provide services and direct support to cardiac patients, their families and friends via one on one support and online forums/virtual communities.

During the briefing we were introduced to the compare for the day Jeff Waters from the ABC who got involved with the charity following his own personal experience with heart disease.


Armed with our info, loads of enthusiasm and now wearing feather boas too we were tasked, along with Paul and Sarah, to head upstairs to the gym to see if we could encourage people to sign up.


Not wanting to harass people as they pounded the treadmill we decided on the tactic of talking to people in the locker area before and after their work outs letting them know about the event in reception and how they could get involved. We soon had our patter down and learnt to play to our strengths. Paul had a way with talking to the older ladies sitting them down on the sofa for a chat, Dan took on going into the exercise studios talking to a captive audience before their lesson began and I ended up having the hard task for chatting to muscly guys... It was a tough morning :)

We headed back downstairs to help out there and saw that the demonstrations classes were in full swing and the boys were doing a great job showing everyone how it was done.


With music pumping and everyone jumping around like loons a crowd soon formed with cute kids hardly being able to contain themselves bouncing along to the beats and trying to copy the classes. It was a great atmosphere and as people watched on we mingled with the crowd giving them info on why we were here and how they could get involved.

As Emmy Bryce took to the stage to perform some songs the boys took a much needed breather!


Somehow I ended up being pulled up into one of the demonstrations. My co ordination is seriously lacking but it was really fun and we soon had a group of kids come and join in.


It was a great morning and we're looking forward to finding out how all the participants get on with their month of fundraising.


To celebrate a morning well spent Dan took me out to Healesville for a well earned lunch and one of these!!



Posted by doyledan 02:38 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

Who wants to plant some trees?

National Tree Day

One morning a copy of the Yarra City Council newsletter landed on my desk and as I was glancing through it I spotted an article that mentioned that National Tree Day was coming up and volunteers were needed to help plant trees in Yarra Bend Park.

Always looking out for different things for us to get involved in I put a shout out to our friends about this conservation project and soon had a good group of mates who were happy to give up a Sunday morning to do their bit. It was great that so many wanted to be involved and I am sure that the prospect of a free BBQ afterwards was only a small contributing factor!

I hadn't actually looked up the logistics of how to get there and it was fortunate that we had cars to get there as public transport was not an option. Ria impressed us all by cycling there and after a few "I'm lost" phone calls managed to meet up with us.


The council had set up an information tent about the conservation in the local area and the plants we would be planting.


You could also find out about the creatures that live in the local creek and they were getting the kids excited about searching for critters.


They also had a petting area with farm animals.


We signed in and after a briefing on the idiots guide on how to take a plant out of its pot and put it in the ground we were ready to roll...and no Amy the diagram doesn't mean water the plants with your tears! :)


There were hundreds of plants that needed to be planted and we joined the other volunteers and got stuck in. I think someone mentioned that for every 100 planted only 30 would survive! The holes had already been dug and the plants laid out, all we needed to do was plant them. Although in some cases it was easier than others, I think I struggled for a good 5 mins trying to get one of the plants out without damaging it as it had got stuck.


First plant in :)



We made our way from one section of planting to the next and soon each had our own planting techniques mastered. Mary had bought along chocolate cake supplies for a mid morning break which was well received.



By midday all the plants were in and we were definitely appreciative of the BBQ!


I want one of these!


Thanks to Amy, Mary, Stefano, Ria, Noreen and Phil who missioned it out to Yarra Bend park to be part of the planting fun :)

We need to all reunite in 20 years and see how big our trees have got!


Posted by doyledan 05:17 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

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