A Short Trip to Melbourne

At the beginning of November, my family and I went down to Melbourne for the wedding of my first cousin, Carlos – my Dad’s brother’s oldest son.  It was a great opportunity for many things: for my husband to meet my incredibly large extended family, some who could not come to our wedding; for my family to go away for a holiday together for the first time in something like 20-something years and the final reason, it’s possibly the last time for a long time Hubby and I will be able to go on a holiday for a while as we’re in the process of buying some land and signing up a builder for our first home 😀

What Sydney looks like from above. Top: Port Botany. Bottom: Clovelly.

The night before the wedding we went to a pre Wedding BBQ, it was a good opportunity for Hubby to learn a little of the cultural traditions that happen in Timorese (and Chinese Timorese) weddings.  When we got married, we didn’t partake in any of the Timorese cultural traditions, so Hubby was relieved to find out he didn’t have to procure a ‘dowry’ for me.  My Uncles (well, not actual uncles ie my parents brothers, but in our culture, male relatives around the same age as my parents and the same generation) duly informed Hubby he ‘missed out’ on having to find a goat, suckling pig and cow at the right size and weight to give to my parents to ‘buy’ me.  I will now never let him forget how easy he’s got it 😀


Offerings to the deceased

As my Dad’s side of the family is Chinese Timorese, they still practice a lot of the cultural traditions which include participating in honouring our dead relatives with offerings of sumptuous food such as a whole roasted suckling pig and duck, wine and tea, ‘spirit money’ and the burning of joss sticks.

Offerings to the deceased

After this ceremony, it was onto the Tea Ceremony.  In this ceremony, tea is served by the Bride and Groom to their elders.

Bride and Groom serving tea

Their elders – grand parents, parents, aunties and uncles, older siblings are seated as the Bride and Groom offer them tea, they take a sip, return the cup to the tray and give the Bride and Groom a gift (money or jewellery) in the traditional red envelope.  If the gift is jewellery, it’s put on the Bride straightaway.

Parents of the Groom putting on their jewellery gift on the Bride

Once the tea ceremony finished we all moved onto the church for a traditional Catholic wedding followed by the wedding reception at a function centre.

While at the reception, I saw some gorgeous light fittings that I wanted to try my Bokeh technique on.

Bokeh Monsters!

The wedding featured a HUGE 7-tier wedding cake, biggest cake I’ve seen in a while!


It was made by one of my Uncles and I found out later that only the bottom tier was cake, the rest was fondant covered foam as no fresh cake would last the amount of time it took him to do the decorations plus it would be very costly to transport from Sydney to Melbourne.

Sugar flowers

Love that pipe work!


Once the wedding festivities was over, the rest of my family members had to return to Sydney for work, but Hubby and I decided to make the most of being in Melbourne so we hired a car and planned a road trip – first down to the Mornington Peninsula then onto Phillip Island.

But before we got out of Melbourne we decided to check out Melbourne Museum.  The museum is fascinating, there was so much to see and unfortunately we didn’t get to see it all.  We were there for most of the day but only saw 3 exhibitions – the Forest Secrets; Mind: Enter the Labyrinth and Wild: Amazing animals in a changing world.  But here’s a few photos of what we did see.

Stick Insect in the Forest Secrets exhibition

One of the best exhibitions I’ve seen in a long time was the Wild exhibition.  There are more than 750 taxidermied animals on display and the museum has set up these giant swivelling monitors (think huge iPads) with cameras, so you can point the camera at any of the animals, then tap on the image  of which ever animal is showing on the monitor and it’s information will load up on the screen.  It’s amazing!  Here are some of the animals on display:

I could’ve spent a whole day in the Wild exhibition alone.  We were so caught up in the exhibition that it was 3pm by the time we realised what the time was.  So we had to quickly get back to the car and join the peak hour traffic for part 1 of our road trip to the Mornington Peninsula.

First pitt stop was Frankston.  It would’ve been lovely if it had been a nice day.  But it was quite chilly and windy and not a nice day for strolling the pier.

Frankston Pier

When Hubby and I go on road trips, our plan is to find the cheapest accommodation for a bed and own shower.  Be it above a pub, in a motel, it doesn’t matter, as long as it doesn’t cost too much over $100 per night.  And we don’t book until we drive into the town and have a look-see to see what’s around.  On this night, we were nearly got caught out because we didn’t realise it was the beginning of Victoria’s Schoolie’s week and all the kiddies were heading down to the beach-side towns for their holidays.  It was getting towards 6pm and all the rooms available were ‘spa suites’ costing anywhere between $140 upwards a night.  But luckily, thank God for iPhones & Google, we were able to find a motel for $100 a night.  FTW!

The next day we jumped in the car and headed further south to Sorrento and Portsea.

The Sorrento – Queenscliff Ferry

When we got to Portsea, we weren’t too sure what to do, so we just went for a little drive around and we came across the national park – Point Nepean National Park.  This park contains an old quarantine station and a fort containing gun pits  that housed 2 retreating guns.  They’ve done a really good job at preserving and restoring the forts and the quarantine station.  Here are a few pics:

This little lookout is positioned on the point so that it looks out to the Bass Strait from one side and out to Port Phillip Bay on the other.   That’s Point Lonsdale and Barwon Heads in the background.

Another lookout, right on the waters edge.  I’d hate to imagine what it’s like being down there on look-out duties during the winter time with the full force of the Bass Strait coming straight at you. Love the all the different blues and greens in that photo.

Another thing I’d hate to image, having to climb those stairs.  Thankfully, there was another way to get to where the top of those stairs are, it was much more scenic (read: took longer), but at least it wasn’t so steep.

This photo is taken from inside one of the many tunnels that connect some of the lookouts together.  There are plenty of little rooms coming off these tunnels, once probably store rooms or control rooms and the National Park as gone to some trouble to install display boxes with information about the history of the tunnels and the fort itself.

One other area of the National Park that has been preserved pretty well is the Quarantine station (yes, I know, work nerd).  They still have the hospital buildings, the accommodation buildings and the sanitation vaults.

These are the sanitation chambers that were used to steam and disinfect all the luggage personal effect of people entering the state (as it was created before Federation and so each state had their own quarantine regime).  The station was put to the test when in 1852 a ship called the Ticonderoga arrived from England at Point Nepean after 90 days of voyage with 795 passengers on board.  During the trip, the ship was rife with disease resulting in 100 deaths and 300+ sick passengers on arrival.  Overall, 170 people died and their names feature on a memorial granite stone on the site.

Once we finished up looking around the National Park, we had to do the same mad Google search for accommodation as it was nearing 5pm.  Again we found another motel for $100.  Win!
Another win – while we were looking through the tourist brochures, Hubby saw an ad for a hot springs bathhouse located in Rye, which wasn’t too far from where we were anyway.  Peninsula Hot Springs has about 20 thermal mineral baths ranging from about 36 deg Celsius to a hot 43 deg C.  They also have a dayspa centre, but as we were only in the area for a day we opted for the public baths.  We paid $15 each for a twilight bath session which was from 7pm till close at 10pm.  Even though it was a chilly night, sitting in the hot baths meant we didn’t feel the chill.  We even needed a quick dip in the cold plunge pool every now and then.  The soak was definitely what we needed after a long day in the National Park.  Needless to say, we slept well that night 😀

The next day we began our long drive/day from the Mornington Peninsula over to Phillip Island then onto Melbourne airport for our flight home in the evening.  We thought it would take a lot longer as we were leaving our accommodation during peak hour, but surprisingly it only took about 2 hours.

I wonder how many motorcyclist have been booked for speeding on this road?

When we got onto Phillip Island, we had a quick morning tea at a local bakery then continued further on towards Seal Rocks.

Apparently you should be able to see the seals frolicking on the rocks – but we didn’t have any $2 coins on us that was needed to use the telescopes.

The area is quite breathtaking.  I could’ve stayed down here for the whole day.

But we couldn’t as we had to move onto the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit.

Hubby is a keen motorcyclist and we couldn’t come all the way to this neck of the woods and not visit the Grand Prix track.

Being the big kid that he is, we booked in to do 2 laps of the go-kart track which is an exact 1:5 replica of the actual track.  I felt like a little ol’ nanna driving around the track with Hubby and a bunch of 16-year-old teenage boys whizzing by and lapping me.  Actually, ‘little’ is quite apt, as I just (read: wouldn’t have been allowed if I stood against the height requirement line) made the height requirement to drive the go-karts.  When I actually sat in the karts, I had to sit on and against piles of thick foam so I could reach the pedals properly.  Lulz.  But the nice attendant guy just kept shoving foam behind me so I could drive.  After our go-kart drive, we went on a tour of the actual Grand Prix track having a look at all the control rooms, the pitt lane and the view from the corporate boxes.

By the time we finished the tour it was 3:30 and we had 2.5 hours to drive to Melbourne airport in time to return the hire car and check-in for our flight home.

Scenery on the way to the airport

The drive back into the city was quite smooth, only slowing down once we got right in the city and had to go from the Monash Freeway onto the Citylink Tollway.  We got to the airport with just enough time to have an early dinner and a drink in the Irish bar before boarding our flight home.

Depending on how our fortunes go, if it was our last holiday for a while, it was a really good holiday to end it on 🙂


Some graffiti in Union Lane


Point Nepean National Park

Union Lane, Melbourne


%d bloggers like this: