SO THIS IS CHRISTMAS // Melbourne, Australia

Well, technically this isn’t Christmas yet, but festivities are certainly gearing up around the city. In previous years I was heading towards the path of Christmas Grinch-ness, becoming disillusioned with the festive season and the consumerism that goes with it. However spending Christmas in Europe last year reinvigorated my childhood nostalgia! I have been trying to channel some of this ‘Christmas spirit’ again this year, so Chris and I decided to walk into the city a couple of nights ago to investigate Melbourne’s Christmas scene. SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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The main attraction is Christmas Square, where one can admire Christmas trees and get photos with Santa and all the usual fanfare. I was more interested in the appropriately festive yarn-bombed trees nearby. From Christmas Square we wandered on down Swanston Street, shaking our heads in disbelief at the insanely long lines to see the Christmas windows at Myer and the Gingerbread Village at the town hall. I was admittedly crushed we missed out on the Gingerbread Village, as we had previously seen it in 2012 and 2013, and I secretly loved it.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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Another key destination this year is a tree built entirely from Lego at Federation Square. Chris and I admitted this was pretty cool, whilst I was particularly intrigued that the tree was built by a real life certified ‘Master Builder’ of Lego. I thought that was just a thing from the Lego Movie (so good). Perhaps a back up plan if I flunk out of university? Oh, and I asked Chris to take a ridiculous photo of me in me ridiculous Christmas cardigan.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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On our way back home we stopped of again at the town hall to watch a Christmas light show on the building. Admittedly, pretty underwhelming. SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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On a completely different tangent from Christmas, yesterday Chris and I got our ‘art people’ pants on and went to the Ian Potter Gallery, Hosier Lane, a pop up gallery at the Degraves Street Subway and NGV. So much art, such little knowledge. The highlight was of course Hosier Lane, which appropriately featured Star Wars artwork. We were off to see the movie in the afternoon (it was so good and I am not afraid to admit it).SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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The exhibition under Degraves Street is part of an underground arcade leading to Flinders Street station. The gallery space (old glass windows) changes a few times a year, and is currently showing varying artists interpretation of Christmas.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThe arcade itself is an interesting space, a bit old and shabby but bustling as people run off to catch their trains.

I am definitely feeling nostalgic for European Christmas at the moment, however I am thankful to be able to spend this holiday season with my family in Australia.

– Reanna

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INSERT MORE ROCK PUNS HERE // Grampians National Park, Australia

And with that, I have uploaded the last of my Grampians photos! This final set are from our last morning in the area. Considering we were going to be the in the car for a few hours we decided to take on one last hike, and I am so glad we did as it was actually quite fun. Starting from Halls Gap football oval, our first stop was Clematis Falls, which unfortunately had zero water running through it. According to google it looks beautiful. We shrugged and kept going towards Chatauqua Peak. There were some pretty good views along the way! SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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The turn off towards Chatauqua Peak quickly changed from a dirt track to the above photo: rocks. We followed yellow arrows and looked for well trodden areas to guide us. We had a great time jumping from rock to rock, clambering up steep rock faces, and thankfully managed to avoid hurting ourselves. It was a little nerve wracking at times when you were walking along an uneven strip of rock and to your left is a steep drop into the valleys below.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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It was a great view at the end. You could see the valley all the way down to the lake we saw that day before, as well as being able to see the road out to Wonderland car park and beyond to the right (the below photo). SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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That is where we walked folks. What path?!SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESWe took a different route back into Halls Gap, which was an easy going meander through some forest.

All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable short getaway. I would definitely recommend a visit, and it is the perfect distance for a short trip from Melbourne. We only saw a fraction of the park, so I would probably like to go back and see some of the places we missed out on. In particular I would loved to have gone to see some of the Aboriginal rock paintings. Another day, perhaps!

– Reanna

MORE RIDICULOUS VIEWS // Grampians National Park, Australia

Believe it or not there is still more photos to come from our recent trip to the Grampians! I honestly took over 150 photos over the course of two days/nights, but managed to delete over half of them. I see why Chris rolls his eyes when I start taking so many! Or, alternatively, pulls stupid photos when he catches me discretely taking a snap behind him. SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThese first photos are from the second half of our hike up the Pinnacle. Instead of going straight back to the car park we walked a few more kilometres along the peaks to Lakeview Lookout. Rain kept threatening to set in and the wind was freezing, but it was still an enjoyable walk. And those views!

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We returned via slightly different tracks, which meant we didn’t have to climb back through the Grand Canyon and we got to see some slightly different areas. It was around midday by the time we finally made it back to the carpark, so we drove into town for lunch. There is actually quite a number of nice cafes in the village, so we checked out the recently opened Harvest cafe, which I stumbled upon when I picked up a flyer for it in the information centre. SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

In the early afternoon we drove to the other side of town to visit Brambuk, the National Park and Cultural Centre. For a gold coin donation you can take a walk through the Centre and learn about the local Aboriginal history, as well as view indigenous artwork. It was both interesting and moving, and well worth the visit.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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Some relaxation and napping reading was in order for the afternoon back at our cabin. We hit the road again in the later afternoon to check out some more for the area. Our first stop was Reid’s Lookout. The carpark itself had spectacular views, plus you could walk a kilometre along an easy track to the Balconies. The track also included an open area which was populated by random stacks of rocks?!SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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The views at the end were also amazing, as I guess you can probably assume is the general theme of this Grampians trip.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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Our next stop was the famed McKenzie Falls. It was nice to see this part of the park was wheelchair accessible, providing a sealed path to the main viewing point. Chris and I talk another walk past the Broken Falls (the photo above) before heading down the base of McKenzie Falls. We also bumped into this little guy on the way.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

I am pretty sure he was thinking “get me the hell away from these people”, as he proceeded to curl himself up into a ball for defense. SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThe falls were spectacular. Once we got down the bottom we noticed the path actually continued on for a few kilometres to a nearby town, but our legs had definitely had enough for the day. The walk back up to the carpark was pretty killer, or STRENUOUS as the sign had warned. Quite steep, but not quite as bad as Mt Wuyishan in China.

It is safe to say we slept well that night!

– Reanna

A ROCKY ROAD // Grampians National Park, Australia

I know, even I am shaking my head at my dismal choice of a title. Creativity has never been a strong forte of mine. But bad puns aside, today I am here to share some of the numerous photos I took during a quick two night getaway Chris and I took to the Grampians National Park.

Chris randomly ended up with a few days off work, so we decided to capitalise on this freedom and get out of the city. I had been suggesting we head to the Grampians for some time, and given our limit to three days it seemed like the perfect idea. It took us slightly over three hours to get from Melbourne to Halls Gap, the village nestles amid the Grampians. Like, literally right in the middle. The photo below is the view from the carpark!

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We arrived around midday on Tuesday, and had planned to spend the afternoon relaxing. Spending all morning in the car changed our minds slightly, so we hiked a kilometre out to Venus Baths.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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The pools would be great for paddling around in on a hot day. I had a bit of a splash, before we walked back into town. We spent the afternoon hanging out on the veranda of our cabin, then walked down the road to have dinner at the Halls Gap Hotel. Being yuppie Melbournian food snobs we were slightly apprehensive about a pub meal, but we thoroughly enjoyed our evening. Plus, we had views like this:SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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Halls Gap is also awash with kangaroos, which provided a great deal of entertainment to us on the walk back home. SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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The next morning we were up early to conquer the main hike of the Grampians: the Pinnacle. I should mention, all the walks we took we found via a fantastic little map we picked up from the counter at our caravan parks reception. I am fairly sure this website might have it for download.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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We parked our car the Wonderland Carpark and followed the signs to the Pinnacle through the Grand Canyon. Probably not as grand as its namesake, but still pretty awesome. The walk up was ‘hard’ according to the map, to which I would partially agree. My legs were burning and my heart rate was up, but it certainly wouldn’t call it unachievable. There was also a fair bit of rock scrambling, which can rule out the walk to some people.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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Despite the gloomy weather, horrendous wind and the rain attempting to set in, the views at the top were spectacular. The cleared area in the above photo is the village of Halls Gap.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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Behind us, the gloomy weather threatening to set it. We had to sit under a rock to get out of the wind whilst we regained our breath.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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The landscape was incredibly, quite lush in places, and fantastic rock structures of differing shapes and sizes throughout the landscape.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESLame tourist shot because I am trying to capture more photos with either Chris or myself (or on a rare occasion, both of us).

I took a ridiculous amount of photos so I will be back with the second half of our day shortly! Even so, I hope I have sold the Grampians to any Melbournians seeking a holiday as these views are absolutely spectacular. Plus it is so refreshing to get outside.

– Reanna

THE START OF SUMMER // Lakes Entrance, Australia

While it may not feel like Summer yet, it has officially begun! After spending last Summer freezing to death in Europe, the prospect of spending time in legitimate comfort and warmth is quite exciting. I say that now, but once we hit anything much higher than 30 degrees celcius my optimism will crumble. SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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To make my Summer plans even more typically Australian, my dad has just moved to the seaside town of Lakes Entrance in Eastern Gippsland. It is a bit of a trek from Melbourne (four or so hours), but totally worth it.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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The town is quite small itself, however the population allegedly triples over the Summer months as tourists flock into town. Every second property is literally a caravan park/hotel/motel/BNB/accommodation of some sort. You can see why the town is popular though, as the main street overlooks one of the many lakes perfect for boating, and a pristine beach is just over the dunes.

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Dad’s house was a short walk away from the beach and Lake Bunga, so we took a walk along the coast and back through town. The middle of the township is also quite flat, which makes for a perfect cruisy bike ride along the lakes. SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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The weather looked a bit dismal on my second day in town. The below photo is from Lake Tyers, another nearby township (aka houses and a pub). I am sure I will be back down over Summer for more exploring, and maybe swimming?SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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The local golf course was also right next to where I was staying. I am definitely not someone who is a fan of golf (I was even terrible at golf on the Nintendo Wii), but it was a lovely place to wander around in the evenings. The beach was just over the dunes, so you could hear the waves crashing as you walked around.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThis Summer promises to be a good one. I may not have extravagant overseas travel plans, but I am all the more inspired to explore Melbourne and wider Victoria. Chris and I are off to the Grampians for a few days next week, so any recommendations for the region would be excellent!

– Reanna