Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Melbourne trip: Philip Island

We were in a hurry that evening because we have to check in at our campsite before 6pm. There was the Grand Prix in Philip Island that week so most of the accommodation were full but we manage to book a campsite in Anchor Belle Holiday Park. We brought 2 tents with us; one was mine and the other was MR's. We were also rushing to catch the Penguin parade which starts at sunset so we decided to set our tents first and then drive to the Penguin parade.

This is my tent... (^^)


The campsite

The welcome signage to the Penguin Parade at the entrance

We bought the 3 parks pass so we paid $37.50; that's for entry to the Penguin Parade, Koala Conservation Centre and Churchill Island. Or was it cheaper.. Hurm.. I can't quite remember.. Anyway..

Unfortunately, photo taking was not allowed during the penguin parade. And no touching the penguins too. So I just describe to you how things were.. The entrance was opened at around 6.50 pm so we walked our way to the seating area that faces the ocean. It's quite huge and we don't know where the  penguin will be parading so to be safe we sat at the middle.. But actually they'll walk towards their nest at both ends of the seat. They come in groups. So some of them will be walking on your right side and some on the left side. But it was too dark when they came back from the sea and there were few spotlights so we can't see them clearly. Plus there were extremely small!! CUTE!!!!!!!

The species found in this island is the smallest of the penguins. They're called the Little Penguins or Blue Penguins or also Fairy Penguins. They spent the whole day swimming in the sea and only return to their nest at dusk. Macam mana mau describe the size..? O maybe about the size of 2/3 of the A4 paper! Very small! And they look exactly like the plush toy SJ is holding in the pic.

Actually we didn't see much when they were walking on the beach. But we got to see them close enough at the walking area but we were bordered by the fence, of course. As close as, if it is allowed, you could actually reach to touch or grab them with you hands. They're very tame. They don't seem to be intimidated by the presence of visitors at all.

I say, this is actually a must go place. You only get to see penguins in the southern hemisphere so going to this Penguin Parade is an opportunity to watch them at their natural habitat. Although, the building and the parking lot are there, still it is their natural habitat kan.. heee You don't have to go if you're planning to go to antartica, galapagos island (dream destination!) or if you don't like penguins :p

After the Parade, we went straight to our campsite to have dinner at the camp kitchen. It has a microwave, an electric kettle, a grilling stove and some power points that we used to charge our cameras. Sadly, we have to eat quickly too because the kitchen is closed at 9pm. Semua pon rushing that day..

It was super windy and freezing that night! My sleeping bag is meant for 7C but still the cold penetrate through it.. Deym! So the next morning we head to the Nobbies Centre

The Nobbies Centre is located at the tip of the island. There's a boardwalk where you can stroll on to enjoy the spectacular view of the coast. The Seal Rocks can be viewed from here but I didn't see it.  

The network of the boardwalk might look like it's a long way to the end (well, it is quite a long way but definitely less than 1 km) but to me walking to the end is worth it because a reward awaits you there.

Wahaaaa!! Jaw dropped!!  My  camera is just an ordinary digicam thus this is all I can show to you. But seriously, all of us just stood there in awe. 

That's the famous blow hole. It gave out this distinctive blowing sound when a wave came crashing in that hole. 

Next was the Koala Conservation Centre

The building has this informative display inside which I think were actually neatly arranged. Meaning, it start off with what people usually thought about Koala; the misconception that they are bears and then followed by the basics like as you can see what's in a name there, then the life cycle, then the diet, then the habits, then the mating etc. Very helpful for someone who is Koala naive like me (^^)v I don't even know that they have pouch like Kangaroos (-_-") Do you know..?? Please don't make me feel stewpeed (oz accent d ctu)

Anyway, the grounds of the conservation centre is actually at the back of this building. We exited a door and there were walkways there and actually there were other animals too. But since we were there for the koalas, so we just focus on them.

There were wise-looking koalas snoozing on the trees but our closest encounter were these two adorable ibu dan anak! There was a mesh wire fence that prevented us from getting any closer but they were very close. Like if you stand right in front of the fence, they were like about a meter from you. O tengok la buah yang terlekat di atas mata joey itu!! COMEYL!!

Our next destination Churchill Island Heritage Farm!

It's actually a very small Island but I consider it as a big piece of land for a farm. When you first enter the entrance, you'll be driving on a narrow road sandwiched between tall bushes that you can't see what else is there behind the bushes. Then as we exited that road, we found ourselves driving on a gravel road on the sea and straight ahead was a narrow bridge that connects Phillip Island with Churchill Island. We were stunned by the beauty and were greeted by these Cattle

RA: Wah! Ni kalau bawak balik raya haji memang sebenar2 korban nih!

In this farm they let all the animals loose so they were wandering about and coincidentally, this beautiful  peacock was opening its feathers! So I stood close to it and "SJ cepat snap!" 

There were farm activities too. When we were there, it was time for sheep shearing. The guy demonstrated how it's done and after that we could touch the sheared coat but there were no session for visitors to try it :(. Sheep tu nampak pasrah jak bha masa tu.. It'll be living without it's fleece for a year because that's how long it'll take to make the fleece to grow again. Kesiannya sejuk la dia malam tu... haha And after that was the whip cracking and boomerang throwing activity. We'd wanted to try both but we only tried the whip cracking. O aku telah meng'whip' diriku sendiri on few attempts (-_-")

So the above is our group picture at one part of the farm. It was so cloudy so we can't get a nice pic. I'm not good with camera setting and I think the others' cameras battery were depleted because I can't find many pictures in their albums too. (-_-") Anyway serious bha cantik Churchill Island and we enjoyed out time there (^^) Should go!!!!!!!


And finally, we shared this tasty hot mocha before heading to Sorrento; the place where I will settle down if I'm given the chance to choose.. (ya la tu.. Aritu ko bilang mo settle down di Jeju!)

So lesson from this part of our trip..

Yeah~ So next will be the place where I will settle down.. Sorrento.. And will combine it with Queenscliff if it's not too long hehe

Friday, November 23, 2012

Melbourne Trip: A lil' bit of the city

We were back in our hostel at 11.00 am and it was already time for check out. AM and SN did all the packing for us because we thought we'll make it in time but then we were back late huhu Thank you AM and Sn *HUGS!* After that we went out and separate in 2 groups. MR and I went to find rental car and the rest went to get food.

This is the free City Circle tram. It only goes around the Central Business District (CBD) but it is nonetheless very convenient because all the stops are close to all the city attractions and halal eateries. And only by hopping onto this tram, you get to see every nook and cranny of the city. And as we go by one by one of the streets, there was a man's voice on the speaker telling us what are the attractions found in a particular street and some quick facts and histories of the place of interest.

The rest alighted at La Trobe. MR and I chose to hop off at Flinders because there's one big tourist info centre there

This  is where you can get lots of useful brochures that have discount coupons in them. You can also make tour and flight bookings here. You just tell them where you want to go or what you want to do then they'll make an itinerary for you and contact the necessary people and voilla the next thing you know, you're in a tour bus (^^)/ ok.. but we were there to get a car.. but then, we actually have to deal directly with the car rental company.. Yeah.. Tidak booking awal adalah suatu yang dinamakan STUPIDITY.. (-_-")/

Though we were slightly off schedule with no car guaranteed for our trip to Philip Island, MR and I just can't resist to snap some pictures. The weather was so fine and the view around us was so beautiful.. So.. Why not..

Yah! Berusaha mo blend in~

A very ancient-looking church in front of Federation Square. Not that ancient la.. Just I think from the architectural features (macam la aku tau sangat), it could be one built in early 1900 hehe 

Modern architecture.. I think it's unique.. Not ugly hehe

Excited shadows (^^)v

Federation wharf just behind Federation Square.. Thank you burung2 yang bertebangan.. 

Melbourne City.. I mish uuuuu~

Lepas tu, kami makan Lord of the Fries!!! With Italian sauce (^^)/
Xpa la add $ 2 for the tasty Italian sauce pon..

O ya, Actually I ordered the small size.. But then they sort of  skipped my order by mistake and I've to wait a little longer than I should.. And they upgraded my fries to LARGE!!! \(^^) yeehaw! Ini bukan konspirasi menggemokan aku.. Bukan...

Office workers having lunch.. Kalo di Malaysia, basah lencun dengan peloh suda kalo lunch outdoor begini

Jogging di tengah kota at 12 noon... Apakah?? Gaya hidup sehat yang sebenar..

So then, we actually went to Swanston street where all the car rental companies are located lalu kami panick sebab every company was fully booked for the week and we need the car for 3 days! (-_-") Dada penuh dengan penyesalan masa tu.. MR and I were chanting.. 

"Back up plan.. Back up plan.. Back up plan.." we roam the street with despair. We don't have any back up plans! Aaaargh and then from a T-juction I was slightly elated to see the indoor climbing gym and then we saw Avis, Europecar and Budget; the three remaining companies that we haven't check. We chose to try Budget first because Europecar and Avis are known as being a little bit pricey..

"Kalau Budget takde, Avis takde, kite amek je la Europecar walaupon mahal.."

And Alhamdulillah \\(",) tadah tangan tinggi2.. There is one 8-seaters still free for that evening \(^^)/

MR maintained her composure as she usually does. Aku suda sedikit terlompat di depan kaunter.. Dan kami mengesyaki orang di kaunter itu Malaysian sebenarnya though he continued to converse in English...

Soooo.... Bermulalah journey kami ke pulau yang indah itu...

Philip Island map.. Not that big.. But bigger than Labuan hehe

Our 8-seater.. I never drive a vehicle this big so I wasn't that confident at first. But I enjoy driving there. The drivers were ethical and I can just relax and not be surprised by the sudden appearance of a zooming car like reckless drivers in you-know-where does

A meadow overlooking the sea as we enter Philip Island.. Yah.. driver yang baru menelan Dhamotil beberapa jam sebelom perjalanan. Luckily I didn't get drowsiness (^^)

Dan ini plate yang membuat an mpv full of singles menjerit "OMG!!!!!!!!!!!"

Macam menyindir kan.. hahaha ok next post will be Philip Island.. (^^)/ Yosh!

So pengajarannya: BOOK KERETA SEWA AWAL2 YAW!!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Melbourne Trip: Hot Air Balloon Ride in Yarra Valley

On the way to Melbourne from Grampians, we stopped at this vineyard for wine tasting. Of course, we didn't taste the wine, it was part of the tour. This place is said to be the oldest winery in Melbourne. We went into the cottage to have a look on the storage. Menarik!

We were brought to the basement where oak barrels were kept. These barrels are used as the vessels to contain the wine; for fermentation or as storage since the longer it is stored the tastier the wine will be. The oak barrels adds up additional qualities to the wine. One that I could recall is it gives distinct flavour to the wine; the flavouring agent will be smeared on the inner surface of the oak barrel.

These are the new empty barrels. The old ones which contain wine in them have labels on them. I remember I saw one labeled 1996! That was like 16 years ago!!!

Hehe saya rasa ini comeyl (^^)

Chris dropped us off right in front of our hostel. We were starving but it was raining.. The temperature was almost freezing, and our coats and sweaters were very thin

RA: Mat Salleh punye jaket lagi tebal. Bajet btol ar kte nih

We ventured out to find food anyway.. So hunger-driven..

It was our first time in the city so it took us some time to understand the streets and how the city tram works. But it was already late. The free city circle tram was no longer in service at that hour. So we just walk to the famous Flinders Street and was surprised to find how close it was. There, we got ourselves 3 large size Lord of the Fries with Italian and African Sauce, 3 Chicken Briyani and Kebab. Kuat makan!!

O ya, about the Balloon Ride. I made the booking about 2 weeks before our departure to Australia. The price quoted to us was $315 per pax but  MR found out how to get 15% discount. That's by mentioning Melbourne Official Visitor Guide during booking. The thing about this 15% discount, you won't get a full refund if the flight is cancelled. Alhamdulillah ours went well as planned.

So, the day before the flight, we have to check in with the pilot by calling a number and listen to the weather report and confirm the meeting time. The phone call happened to be answered by a recorded message which I failed to understand because the guy has this very pronounced Australian accent. I have to ask the receptionist at our hostel to help me out with the check in because I can't fully understand the instructions.. Every 'i' was pronounced 'oi' . Like for example 'fine' in Malaysia, we pronounce  in 'fain' there it's 'foin' Adeh.. Bila perkataan yang panjang dan laju, they sound so alien to me...

So we were instructed to wait for the pick up transfer at 3.45 am. We didn't sleep early despite knowing that we have to wake up so early the next morning. We were revising our itinerary that night because we were planning to go straight to Philip Island after the Balloon ride.

Kenapa lelaki itu seperti bersedia untuk diambil gambarnya..?? Hurm.. haha
SN and AM didn't join us. A van waited for us outside the mansion at about 3.50 am. It took about 50 minutes to get to Yarra Valley so all of us just doze off since it was pitch dark and nothing to see outside.

We were brought to this very nice restaurant set inside a vineyard. There we were served with coffee and tea. The place look very luxurious; with the glossy laminated wooden floor, the bar, the tables and chairs, the porcelain tea cups and the shiny cutleries.. Terasa kaya sekejap :p `

We were then introduced to our pilot, Dean, who then gave a safety briefing. The group were then brought to a grass field from where the balloon ride would start.

The take off point is chosen based on the direction of the wind. The point where we started was a slightly slanted grass field. There were kangaroos hopping about when we arrived. Quite a number of them. The basket for passengers was not that big but it could accommodate about 18 passengers at a time including the  pilot. But the balloon was massive! It took some time to inflate it.

And once the balloon was inflated and ready for flight, we have to jump into the basket as quick as possible. So those who are fit and could climb the basket faster are to hop on first.

Honestly, I was quite nervous as the balloon leave the ground. All of us were standing and we cheered during take off. I looked down; because I was never afraid of heights as a climber. But then suddenly there were butterflies in my stomach. I felt some kind of odd movement in my bowel. Like something was churning inside.. Suddenly everything below shrunk.. And I inhaled a deep breath and tried to calm down. I think I was nervous because there were no seat belts haha and there was a time when we almost hit the trees but our pilot wass an expert. he manage to elevate the balloon before we hit the trees. Ngeh!

Sunrise over the horizon

That's the camera we use to take the group photo inside the basket hehe

The best part was when we worked together to deflate the balloon and put it inside its bag! \(^^)/

Pakcik comel itu sungguh pandai bagi arahan (^^)
"Boys at the end! And girls line up!"

Dean: Looks like this lady is struggling over here. Let me give you a hand! 

Okay, tangan tidak cukop besar untuk merangkul belon (^^)v

Hoyeah \(^^)/

After that we head back to the restaurant to have breakfast :)

Thank God it was spring (^^)

My certificate with my misspelled name hehe it's ok! Yang penting the experience!

Dan ini short video during the flight.. O patot besolek dulu.. haha