Tuesday, April 25, 2017

VIC: Grampians National Park

The rock where many want to have a photo standing on it despite a railing to prevent people to get there... 
The Grampians National Park or Gariwerd (in local Jardwadjali language), or more commonly referred to as The Grampians is a national park located in the Grampians region of Victoria.

Getting to the Grampians, it took about 3 hours driving time and passing Halls Gap, the gateway to the Grampians. Our first stop in the Grampians was Silverband Falls.

Silverband Falls

The description on the Go West website described it as "On arrival we immerse ourselves in the Australian bush with a gentle stroll to the delightful Silverband Falls." To be honest, I was disappointed. The name Silverband sounds awesome, and the reason for the name simply because it was thought to resemble one but I was disappointed. After a 3 hours ride on a van, seeing and hearing magnificent things about the Grampians, I expected just a little more.

Lunch was on the cards after this, we were driven back to Halls Gap town to have our lunch which was included in the fees.

A bit like school lunch eh? During the collection of food was where I suspect the driver / tour guide can't recognise Asians or thought we all looked the same. I stood behind an Asian woman who was collecting for 4 person (her husband and 2 daughters). There were 3 different options of fruits (apple, pear or banana) and 2 different types of bread (normal buns or the ones with grains). As he was trying to fish out packing with pear or bananas, another person came up behind me. All this time I waited for him to finish getting things for the woman in front of me but he then asked the lady (Caucasian) behind me what she wants. So both ladies (front and back) took all the bananas and pears, I was left with apple. Meh. Haha.. I do eat apples but usually not when I have a choice :P

Anyway, Halls Gap is just a small town, here are some photos.

The park is full of dog poops though, be careful where you place your foot. 

Next up was Grand Canyon.

Grand Canyon

It's not as grand as the other Grand Canyon but this is more like the Grampians I went to see.

We were told upfront that one should not sneaked off to the Pinnacles, as it takes at least another 2.5 hours or so going up and more dangerous.

Reeds Lookout

Next to Reeds Lookout was the walkway towards The Balconies, it wasn't part of our itinerary either :(
However the tour guide said the the view from Reeds Lookout is somewhat like The Balconies, well I won't know...

Mackenzies Falls

I guess this is the kind of waterfall I expect. Grin. Anyway, there is an option of either getting to the waterfall itself or going to the lookout point and see the waterfall from there. I chose the former, almost wanted to go the lookout point too but I spent too much long looking at emus. Lol. The walk to the waterfall involves going down some steps and if there is going there, there is coming up. The one to the lookout was said to be a more flat route but I didn't go to ones, so can't really tell.

And here's the said emus.

Despite the barrier between the emus and I, but in actual fact they are pretty much free to roam. There is no barriers on the opposite side at all.

Boroka Lookout

Boroka Lookout was said to provide one of the best panoramic views of the surrounding regios overlooking Halls Gap town, Lake Bellfield and beyond.

Last but not least some kangaroos at the Grampians Petanque Club.

Side note: Anzac Day 2017

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Ballarat: Eureka Stockade Memorial

Eureka Stockade Memorial
In the midst of my trying to stay focus in my annual study period (Please let me pass my paper!), I decided that I need to, um, reward myself. So I signed myself up for a day trip to the Grampians. I turned to my best friend Google on which tour operators offer day trip to Grampians and there are not too many. In fact, I came down to just 2 tour operators but decided to go with Go West after checking the places on offer and Tripadvisor. Unfortunately what both tour operators offer are slightly different or it would have made the decision a little easier.

Public transport isn't easy to get to Grampians, I am not keen on the idea of renting a car to drive there by myself, so I decided to go with the easiest but least desirable option - day tour (I am not exactly excited on joining tours).

I'll break the posts into 2, to start with Ballarat as we stopped here for morning tea and on the times I didn't zone out, I did learn some interesting tidbits.

Ballarat is a city located west-north-west of Melbourne. It is arguably the most significant Victoria era gold rush boomtom in Victoria.

A rebellion that happened In 1854, instigated by gold miners in Ballarat due to miners objecting to the expense of a miner's license, taxation via the license, etc. This rebellion is known as the Eureka Stockade, named after the 'Eureka lead', a deep lead of gold being mined by the diggers. As for stockade, it was a makeshift wooden barricade enclosing about an acre of the goldfields.

The stockade is considered the only example in Australia where armed rebellion led to reform of unfair laws. It is said to be the crucial stepping stone towards democracy for the country.

Due to the significance of this event, formerly known as Spencer Street Station was renamed as Southern Cross Station to mark the 150th anniversary of the stockade.

Source: Photo courtesy from visitmelbourne.com
I also find it interesting that the Eureka Tower in Melbourne CBD was designed with the thought of the Eureka Rebellion. The use of blue glass and white stripes symbolises both the Eureka flag and a surveyor's measuring staff. The red stripe represents the blood spilled on the goldfields.

Otherwise, we only did a short stop there for morning tea. We were provided with 3 different types of cakes - blueberry, a banana bread looking one and one that looks like butter cake but doesn't taste like one. Drinks on offered were some varieties of teabags, instant coffee powder and hot chocolate powder with milk and hot water, of course.

There's a pond with some ducks in the area as well.

Side note: Random things I learnt today - Crying like a cupcake (Llorar como una magdalena)
Magdalena referring to Mary Magdalena or Mary Madgalene from the Bible, who is known for crying and magdalena is also name for small cakes. Hence the joke/reference. 

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Sydney: Blitzing through food and work

The last work trip to Sydney was so full of meeting, I almost had to miss both lunches but all ended well. I barely managed to squeeze an hour of lunch on the day we landed (yes, I was travelling with the same colleague and didn't ask her for dinner. Yes, I am horrible that way.

I caught up with one of my ex-colleague over lunch on the day we landed, the 45 minutes in between meetings. She totally made an effort to catch me on my brief work trips to Sydney, and I am grateful. It needs to be a fast affair, so we just grab lunch at an Asian shop in MLC centre. Cheap, fast and happy.

Dinner was with E and S as usual but at a different Japanese eatery serving rice burger - Gojima. There is no Mos burger in Australia. E had the Kingfish Sweet Mustard while S had the classic burger. I am at my cheese phase so I opted for a cheeseburger, looks smallish but it was quite filling, though I could still fit in a matcha thick shake, a piece of fried chicken, some cakes and ice-cream... haha.

Gojima cheeseburger
I poached this photo from E
No photo of my matcha thick shake and since this is a post on Sydney, it feels not right to post the photos of the cakes as I brought them from Burch & Purchese in Melbourne for the girls. Haha.

Gojima is in The Star and round the corner from Messina, so off we had a scoop each. We asked to try the specials but just didn't like it, so we ended up with classic flavours. Haha... I got my usual pistachio. Grin.

From top left, clock wise: Lemon sorbet, passion fruit sorbet, pistachio ice-cream
The only saving grace was that we had our long dinner in The Star, so at least it was a good walk back across the bridge.

Breakfast on day 2 was a random cafe, Kafeine near work as I didn't have much time. It was ok but it was a very warm shop and everybody was happily sitting around without switching on the fan or air con. Ahem. I can't remember the exact name to the food I ordered but it was mushroom with hommus on toast. Food was decent.

I was pretty disappointed when my manager asked for a team lunch as my brilliant idea was to head to Ippudo for my ramen dose. Seriously Ippudo, when are you coming to Melbourne? I was super excited when my manager decided to call off the lunch last minute. Hahaha. :P

I am happy! *insert super excited LINE sticker*
I was back in Grace Hotel this round, my usual choice of Swissotel was fully booked. I was almost tempted to bring along my swimsuit but the rational mind won. There was no way I could fit in time to swim with my eating schedule. Lol. Anyway, here are some obligatory photos. :P

Side note: Ok, really got to make more effort to write other things.. lol

Monday, February 6, 2017

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Fiji: A quick round in Nadi

I have half a day in Nadi before heading to the airport. After breakfast, I took a taxi (fixed rate from hotel) to downtown Nadi. Sri Siva Subramaniya temple is a Hindu temple in Nadi. This temple was moved from a flood prone Nadi River to current location in 1994. The Hindu complex was created over a ten year period by craftsmen brought in from India.

The dress code for this templee was really strict but they offer complimentary cloth for cover up. I was wear long pants but I was told only dress for females. Entrance fee of FJD $5. I only did a quick round, so FJD $5 really seem a little too steep.

Thereafter I dropped by Nadi Handicraft Market, bought some postcards from the shops, stamps from the post office and check out the Municipal Market.

Yes - I'm craving for crabs!

I decided to have Fijian-Indian food for lunch, it was good.

I fly out of Fiji in the evening, with a transit in Gold Coast. I spent new year's on flight, there was a count down according to Melbourne's time.

Day 6 cost breakdown:

  • Oasis Palm dorm bed: NZD $33 per night
  • Taxi to city (fixed price): FJD $10
  • Sri Siva Subramaniya Temple entrance: FJD $5
  • Fijian-Indian lunch: FJD $20 (I thought according to the menu it was cheaper...)
  • Taxi back to Oasis Palm: FJD $8.30 (metered taxi)

Side note: Sigh...