Six Weeks Down Under

Feb 9th, 2017, 09:40 PM
  #21  
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Tp - one couple with a small child and us were it at the sanctuary. In General it's been pretty empty everywhere we've been. The exception is restaurants which are completely full. Also all I see are No Vacancy signs, but don't know where everyone is!

Patty, Cradle Mt Highlander's was perfect for us and loved the location. Nice staff too.


Northie - I took the advice of many and we put Tasmania first to avoid the heat on the mainland. We'll it worked...it hasn't gotten out of the 60's and some days barely made it into the 60's. Finally this afternoon, it felt warm enough to actually change into summerish gear. We raced to our apt and changed to tee shirts and sandals. Now it's real windy and probably in the 50's so I'll be back in layers when we go to dinner. We figure soon enough we will look back wistfully on this very cool weather.
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Feb 10th, 2017, 08:26 PM
  #22  
 
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Sounds delightful
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Feb 12th, 2017, 02:41 AM
  #23  
 
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Loved our cozy cabin at CM Highlanders also. Weather was off and on in October (2015)
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Feb 15th, 2017, 12:24 AM
  #24  
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Eventually we loaded the car between brief pauses in the rain and off we went. As we drove from Cradle Mt winding our way east the heavy rain began to lighten and later in the day stopped. Our route took us to Sheffield reknown for it murals throughout the small town. Very different from street art today, these murals told the story of the town and the settlement of the Tasmanian interior. After stops at a creamery and then a raspberry farm we eventually made it to the east coast and Coles Bay right outside Freycinet National Park. We stayed in an studio apt about a ten minute drive to the park which worked out nicely for us.

We spent the next 2 days exploring the park and surrounding area. It's a beautiful area and the park is lovely although a touch crowded esp. on Saturday. We did the splendid Cape Tourville walk which afforded wonderful views of the rugged coast. Stopped at Sleepy bay which had 3 people sitting on it on Friday. We also did the hike to wineglass bay, which was less a hike than a continuing ascension of a series of uneven stone stairs. The view at the top and overbooking the bay was beautiful, but my knees were crying out in pain.

My fondest memory was of the gorgeous sunset our last night at the beach down the block from our apt.

Not to be missed is the fresh seafood at Freycinet Marine Farm. We also had a nice sunset and good meal at the lodge in the park.

Sunday morning we were up bright and early looking forward to Melbourne. We leisurely drove down the coast enjoying the splendid scenery which at times reminded us of N.Ca. We had a very good breakfast in Swansea at the Artifakt Gallery. It's worth a stop for both the food and the art.

We got to the Hobart Airport with plenty of time to spare. I made a shocking discovery- on Australian domestic flights you can carry liquids! Good to know as we have several flights ahead of us.

Overall we thought Tasmania beautiful and quite rugged in some parts. I would have liked a few more days to see the NW and have time to explore the towns on the East Coast. We thought the food was ok with the seafood being excellent. Other than some Rieslings we never took to the wines.

Next up a week in wonderful Melbourne including a GTG with a Fodorite.
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Feb 15th, 2017, 03:14 AM
  #25  
 
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How did Freycinet compare to Cradle Mountain for you? Sounds like we had a bit better luck with food than you though.
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Feb 15th, 2017, 01:29 PM
  #26  
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The Freycinet was coastal with cliffs as opposed to the forest in CM. So very different landscape and vegetation. Hikes were better in CM and I think they had more. Freycinet had more water options for activities. Freycinet was more crowded, but it was a weekend. It's only 2-3 hours from Hobart airport so easier access. Freycinet was not nearly as isolated so you could visit other towns.

Food is very subjective and definitely can be hit or miss. Different dishes at the same restaurant can be of totally different quality. Some might consider us food snobs. �� Both had limited options of places from which to choose to eat. I wish in CM we had been more prepared to eat in. More places in Freycinet to buy food and eat in.

They are very different, but nice in their own right. We liked them both.
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Feb 15th, 2017, 02:54 PM
  #27  
 
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Thank you for the comparison. We did not make it to Freycinet on this trip. As for the food I would agree with you on options at Cradle; we thought what we had in Hobart was quite good although the Taste was going on when we were there, which resulted in more sampling.
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Feb 21st, 2017, 09:56 AM
  #28  
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Marvelous Melbourne
After an easy car drop off at the small Hobart Airport and a short flight on Virgin Airlines we arrived qinto the Melbourne airport. We took a taxi ($45) to the CBD where we picked up the keys to our apt on Degraves St. For those of you that recommended this location, it could not have been better sited.

It was love at first sight with Melbourne. We loved the look of the city, its inhabitants and the vibe. We had a bite to eat practically out our front door and then explored the immediate neighborhood.

Highlights of our week included 2 tours, one with Melbourne Greeters and the other a food tour with Queenie's, Tram to Market. Our greeter was a loooong time resident and imparted first hand a wealth of Melbourne history dating back over half a century. The tour was 2.5 hours and is free. Our tour concentrated in the CBD.

We can't be as positive about the food tour which cost $95 each. We started with an "imitation" version of a bagel with good coffee. That was followed by a walk ending at a chocolate shop for 3 small pieces of candy. Then we hopped on the free tram and went to the Queen Victoria Market. There we had small samples from 3 different stands. This was the first time I ended a food tour hungry having skipped breakfast. All in all we didn't think this a good value.

Our independent culinary exploration fared much better. Every meal was superb. We highly recommend ChinChin, SuperNormal, Mo Vida, Flower Drum, coffee at Dukes, desserts at Brunetti's, breakfast at Cumulus and even Korean fried chicken at Sam Sam.

Melbourne has a vibrant arts scene reflected in both street art and museums. We saw a lot of street art in the lanes of the CBD as well as the Fitzroy neighborhood. Hosier Lane in the CBD is particularly noteworthy. We went to the National Gallery of Victoria International and the Ian Potter branch. The NGV International had a large David Hockney Exhibit and a fascinating Viktor&Rolf fashion exhibit. The Potter branch specializes in Australian artists and is free. We particularly enjoyed the 19th & 20th century artists on the 2nd floor. We also visited the excellent Immigration museum and got a better understanding of the history of Australia. Free to those over 60 (concession).

We spent much of our time wandering the CBD. A great activity was hopping on a free tram and seeing where it took you. The #35 Circle tram circumnavigated the CBD and even has a narrative. One ride took us to the Docklands with tricking modern architecture. The information center in Federation Square is chock full of information and has very helpful staff.

We also visited the spectacular St. Paul's Cathedral. Be aware while it's free to visit they do charge for photography of their stunning interior. On the one warm afternoon we did a river cruise up river. Perhaps we should have gone down river.. One area we explored was the South Bank which had some towering skyscrapers. We had drinks at one if the many restaurants along the river and did one of our favorite activities, people watch. It mostly appeared to be office workers heading out. We both agreed we found people watching a bit more interesting in other areas of Melbourne.

Saturday afternoon we walked to the Fitzroy neighborhood for the Rose Street Market. The journey through the quirky Fitzroy district was as good as the market itself.

Last but not least was our GTG with Northie and her husband in the Carleton neighborhood. We had a nice lunch and good conversation hearing about Northie's relatives who lived in Carleton before it became a mecca for Italian restaurants.

We thought a weeks visit was the perfect amount of time for this vibrant city. I had a list of day trips that I never even glanced at. Admittedly we are city lovers and Melbourne joined our top 10 list.
yestravel is offline  
Feb 21st, 2017, 11:51 AM
  #29  
 
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Great to hear you enjoyed Melbourne, the most livable city in the world according to some.

I'm not sure which way you plan to return to Melbourne, but, if you head inland, the Ballarat Fine Art Gallery is worth a short visit. It's housed in a beautiful Victorian era building (there are many fine examples of this period in Ballarat), is free and has a decent lunch venue.

You could also head to Daylesford (about 30 minutes drive from Ballarat) for more art and history. There's a fantastic restaurant too, The Lake House.
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Feb 21st, 2017, 12:21 PM
  #30  
 
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Yestravel, I'm so happy to hear that you had such a fine time in Melbourne. You seemed to have hit several of the museums and neighborhoods that we could not reasonably include during our short time in the city. Thanks for giving me great ideas for my next visit to Melbourne. Hoping you experience nice weather along the Great Ocean Road.
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Feb 21st, 2017, 02:14 PM
  #31  
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Sartorial, too late. We could have hit it on the drive out to the GOR. Our next couple days will be in Port Fairy and then we go to the Grampian near Halls Gap. From there on Sunday we make a beeline for the Melbourne airport to fly to GC. So any suggestions you or others have for those areas would be appreciated.

TP- hope we provide you with some thoughts for future travels. I see SA is up next for you. Today is the first warm even hot day this entire trip. It's been unusual weather or so we have been told.
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Feb 21st, 2017, 02:25 PM
  #32  
 
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By hot, I hope you don't mean DC in August hot! Our next major trip will have us in SA - and Antarctica! We were in Peru and Brazil in 2014 but did not make it to Argentina.
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Feb 21st, 2017, 03:15 PM
  #33  
 
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Hi Yes. Have been looking forward to your next installment. Melbourne sounds great. Now sorry we'll have only 3 days there. Sounds like you've lucked out with weather. 70 herein D.C. On Sunday. Probably this weekend too.

Enjoy the next legs of trip. Looking forward to hearing more....
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Feb 21st, 2017, 05:37 PM
  #34  
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Tp - I love Arg. It's such a huge country with so much to see. Trekking on the PM is something I will always remember.

Glover - Three days could be a good intro to Melbourne. I think you will see a lot. We don't rush around very much when we travel these days, but one could see a lot in 3 days-it's a relatively small city in terms of major sites. I'd suggest trying to do the free Greeters tour your first morning and that will give you a good overview.

Weather has been much cooler than we expected and is usual. Some days it's warmer in DC. Also heard from friends currently in NZ and it's the coolest summer in over 30 years. It's not D.C. Hot and humid today. In the low 30's. Weather is crazy.
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Feb 22nd, 2017, 12:20 AM
  #35  
 
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Wow, yestravel! Seems like great weather fluctuation more than anything, unlike what we have been experiencing in DC the past several days. It was nearly 100 in Sydney - and close to it even in Tasmania one day - when we were there just weeks ago.

Glover, I agree with yestravel that you would be able to get a good intro and see the highlights with 3 days in Melbourne. It's what we had too, minus the day trips.
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Feb 22nd, 2017, 11:12 PM
  #36  
 
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How disappointing yestravel re food tour . You certainly did lots . You went to some great restaurants . Glad you loved my city
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Feb 23rd, 2017, 01:23 AM
  #37  
 
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Gottravel here. Writing this section of our trip.

We returned by Uber to the Melbourne Airport to pick up our rental car. After a week of walking and taking trams, we welcomed the freedom of driving and effortlessly made our way to the coastal town of Torquay and the start of the Great Ocean Road. Both Yestravel and I love driving scenic rocky heights above oceans - the California and Oregon Coasts, the Amalfi Coast in Italy and Arcadia National Park are among our favorite destinations. Torquay was a pleasant seafront town with a nice beach where we stopped for a bite. Starting at the surfer haven of Bell's Beach, the GOR achieved heights of greatness - a curvy road carved out of sheer rock that veered from superb elevations to beach level and then back. The entire drive between Bell's Beach and our lodging of Room with a View in Wongarra was world class. Bell's Beach itself had a large number of wetsuit-clad surfers braving the incredibly high waves. I even managed to capture a shot of a guy riding a thirty foot monster. After busy Lorne, the GOR became less traveled and the beaches were rockier and nearly empty. We stopped at the frequent overlooks to get stunning views of the rocky coast and white beaches. Many of the overlooks had explanatory markers, largely focusing on 19th Century shipwrecks. We passed the Kafe Koala, a colorful landmark which we were to later visit.

Room With a View was our favorite lodging of the trip to date. The two room establishment was ten minutes outside of Apollo Bay in Wongarra up precipitous Sunnyside Road and had fabulous views of the wild Southern Ocean. The grounds were lovely, sloping down a hillside with a koala in a birch tree, a horse in the paddock and friendly dog on premises. Our room was a two story delight, well-lit with floor to ceiling windows, a kitchenette and a comfortable king-size bed in the loft. The price was reasonable and the owner, Angelika, was friendly and helpful. The breakfasts were additional and very good. I would highly recommend Room With a View to any one wanting to spend a few days on this part of GOR. Note: wifi availability is limited.

After checking in, we ate in on food we'd bought in Melbourne and spent much of the afternoon staring out at the magnificent ocean. It had rained intermittently on our drive out and continued to rain intermittently through the next day. After our breakfast, we left for a drive. What better place to visit on a rainy day than a temperate rain forest? We drove up(and up and up) Sunnyside Road - the name now ironic - and eventually picked up route C159 through the Great Otway National Park. The curvy road took us through magnificent old growth forests. We skipped hiking to Beauchamp and Triplet Falls due to concern about the rain and muddy trails. We rejoined the GOR at Lavers Hill, drove to the superb Glenaire overlook, then on to the Cape Otway lighthouse grounds. We started to walk to the lighthouse but then ducked into the cafe to wait out a passing squall. When the rain thinned, I went on to the 1848 lighthouse solo, down a long boardwalk and up three stories of narrow stairs to the top. The views were great in a damp and gray kind of way. I then rejoined Yestravel and we drove on to the pleasant seaside town of Apollo Bay. After strolling Apollo Bay, we returned to our room. We returned to Apollo Bay that evening for a good Italian dinner at Casalingo. We returned to our room in time for a spectacular sunset.

By the next day - our third on the coast - the weather had cleared. We had another delicious breakfast, eaten outside to a raucous chorus of magpies, and began our day's adventures. We backtracked and drove east on the GOR, stopping at the Kafe Koala at Kennett River for an additional infusion of caffeine. I single-handily invented a new Aussie drink by conflating Aussie coffee terms and ordering a "flat black." I was rewarded with a high-five by the laughing waitress for my twisted linguistic efforts. After finishing our coffee, we watched some backpackers feed some nearly tame Australian king parrots. The large iridescent green and red birds would perch on their heads and arms. We drove on past Wye River, visiting overlooks we'd passed on the way out. Then we drove west back towards Apollo Bay, turning right as we entered town to go up to the Mariners' Overlook carpark. From the end of the carpark, it was a ten minute walk to the view of a lifetime; high above Apollo Bay, the Mariners' Outlook view encompasses everything from Cape Patton to Blanket Bay, a stunning 180 degrees of sand and sea. We then returned to Glenaire for a brief stroll on the Long Ocean Walk (which parallels the seashore) before abandoning the effort due to a deficit of ocean views and a surplus of walk. We then returned to Apollo Bay for a late lunch, returned to our room, skipped dinner and watched a pastel Turner-hued sunset.

The next day, we drove the final stretch of the GOR. After Apollo Bay, the road strays from the coast, going through forests and low rolling hills making only one return (at Glenaire) before reaching the Twelve Apostles area. However, we got one last look at the rugged section of the coast. We took an off-road detour on an often-rutted gravel road to a parking lot in order to do a short hike to the view at the romantically-named Moonlight Head. The walk wad overhauls a kilometer round trip. The view was gorgeous. The land thereafter became flatter and drier and we soon arrived at the Twelve Apostles carpark, crowded with cars, tour buses and "caravans" (RVs). The stretch beginning at Twelve Apostles seems to be the most popular section of the GOR. It was the first place on the GOR that we encountered multiple tour buses and crowds. Beginning here, the flat limestone headlands are eroded by the mighty Southern Ocean into various offshore water-sculpted forms. The Twelve Apostles is the first of a series that run from east to west. All are spectacular. All are accessible by short walks from car parks. And all are very popular. After the Twelve Apostles, we visited in sequence the Loch Ard gorge, the Arch and the half-collapsed London Bridge, pausing only for a grilled calamari and rocket salad lunch in Port Campbell. Shortly thereafter, the road again veered inland and we were on our way to our lodgings in wonderful Port Fairy.

All in all, we had a fabulous, if gray and damp, three days on the GOR. We could have stayed longer.
gottravel is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2017, 03:03 AM
  #38  
 
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Thank you both for your terrific Trip Reports. I'm thoroughly enjoying your wandering, too & look forward to meeting you both in Sydney on 14th for our lunch GTG. We'll sort out a venue & let everyone know in the next few days.

Glad to see you're putting your own spin on our coffee, GoTravel! I'm a "skinny flat white" girl - even if the only "skinny" is in the coffee!

I'm glad you're enjoying Port Fairy - I've had a love affair with that charming little town since I first saw it in the '70's.

Thinking about your Gold Coast leg, there are some beautiful hinterland spots on both sides of the border. And I'm sure you will enjoy the beaches on the GC.
Sartoric will have some good suggestions if you need some tips, I'm sure.
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Feb 23rd, 2017, 03:11 AM
  #39  
 
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Happy to hear that the two of you were able to experience the Great Ocean Road in a way that the majority of visitors don't - staying for a bit. Agree with you about the king parrots. Did you see koalas?
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Feb 23rd, 2017, 10:50 AM
  #40  
 
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Great to hear you're making the best of it despite gloomy weather, that's the Aussie way !

Tip, when you get to Gold Coast Airport, use über- they have a dedicated pick up zone, and it will be much cheaper than a taxi.
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