NOT WORK // Coongulla, Australia

I was meant to be in Alice Springs this weekend, cheering along my brother and father at a mountain bike race. But, a few things didn’t go to plan, so the trip unfortunately had to be cancelled this year. That didn’t stop my family from signing up for another local bike race, and I decided to tag along anyway. Anything for a long weekend away from the office, right?

My dad booked an Airbnb for the weekend in Coongulla, a eerily empty little settlement on the banks of Lake Glenmaggie in Gippsland. I say empty, as the area was filled with ramshackle holiday and weekend houses that were largely unoccupied while we were there! Lake Glanmaggie is a popular location for the summer months, but given it was pouring rain on the Friday we were there, it was no one in sight!

I ventured down to the lake on Friday when it stopped raining for five minutes to take a few snaps. Thankfully, the Airbnb we had booked had a fire place, so we spend most of the day curled up on the couch reading and chatting.

Saturday morning turned out to be perfect weather, for both the bike race and for some further lake explorations on my behalf.

The lake is a water catchment for the surrounding area, having been dammed many years ago in the 1920s. However, the water seemed like it has been much higher in decades past.

The embankment was quite rocky, and beautiful. It is pretty amazing what nature can create.

As you can probably tell, I still have no idea what I am doing with my new DSLR camera.

The bike race was a few kilometres away from the lake at Blores Hill. I spent most of the day by the race track, but was able to grab a lift in a ‘spectator shuttle’ (AKA a 4WD troop carrier driven by a volunteer) up to the highest point of the race. It made for some great views, as well as being able to watch some of the more difficult parts of the bike race.

Even just looking at the bike trails made me feel like such an incompetent cyclist!

My weekends for the coming months appear to have suddenly filled up with quite a few weekends away, so I am excited for more adventures away from the city! Not all of them are long weekends, but it is still always great to get away from the grind of Melbourne and get outdoors (or try to, when it isn’t raining!).

Next weekend is another long weekend – Chris and I are off to Byron Bay! I have only briefly stopped there once when I was much younger, so I am keen to explore the area and enjoy some (hopefully) warmer weather.

– Reanna

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WINE & WHIMSY // Yanakie & Fish Creek, Australia

Summer is technically over in Australia, but the days are still long and the weather is still warm. But sometimes Mother Nature likes to keep us guessing, so when we woke up on the second day of our long weekend in Yanakie we found that the skies had opened and torrential storms had set in! Not to be perturbed, we all ventured out the Foster Market, but once the thunder and rain began rolling over we quickly packed up and headed to an early lunch at Fish Creek Pub. By the time we had finished with our meal, the skies were like this!

With the sun set to stay, we made our own small wine tour for the afternoon. Despite growing up in South Gippsland, I haven’t been to many wineries in the region! I suppose my appreciation for wine didn’t really set in until I moved to Melbourne.

Our first stop was Waratah Hills, a quite modern looking establishment that was packed with visitors for the long weekend. We skipped the indoor area and settled down outside with a few local wines to try.

Half our group headed back to Yanakie after the first winery, while the rest of us persevered on to our second stop, Basia Mille. It involved driving along an unassuming dirt road for several kilometres, but it was totally worth it. The views over the nearby Shallow Inlet were stunning, and the vibe was a lot more chilled out.

The following morning we were set to head back to Melbourne, but Chris and I squeezed in one last walk along the beach. The tide was out, so the beach wasn’t as beautiful as the previous evening due to a plethora of sea grass, but it was still worth a few snaps.

We stupidly wore bare feet, and attempted to cut across the sea grass on our way back. However, we ended up knee deep in sludge and sand, and I was quick to request we head back to higher ground!

South Gippsland is such a wonderful part of the world, and I am glad I still get the opportunity to return there to visit family. Sure, I don’t think I could ever return to living in the area, but it is nice to visit as an adult and appreciate a different side of the beautiful landscape.

– Reanna

IS IT THE WEEKEND? // Wilsons Promontory & Yanakie, Australia

Routine still feels elusive to me some days, but I feel like I am finally falling into the swing of things during the week. I feel pretty lucky that I get to work nine to five, Monday and Friday, as I can finally enjoy the luxury of weekends, and when they arise, long weekends.

This past weekend coincided with a Victorian public holiday on a Monday, so we were treated to what feels like yet another long weekend this year, not that I am complaining! The weekend further coincided with a family event, so Chris and I found ourselves in the countryside with his family for a perfectly chilled out weekend down near Wilsons Promontory.

Well, perhaps the ‘chilled out’ part started after a stunning hike up Mount Bishop. The views were absolutely 10 out of 10.

The hike itself was easier than Mount Oberon, the main mountain hike in Wilsons Promontory. We did the whole walk in less than two hours return, despite the information booklet advising a two and a half hour return trip. I guess it depends how long you stop at the summit to take in the views!

I spent a bit of time at Wilsons Promontory as a child, however it is still probably one of my favourite national parks. The scenery gets me every time, and there are so many hikes that I haven’t even done yet. I really want to get back for some overnight hiking one day, as I haven’t done one since I was in high school!

After our hike we headed back to our accommodation at Yanakie Caravan Park. Admittedly I had never stayed in Yanakie before, but it turned out to be a beautiful caravan park only a five minute drive from the gate to Wilsons Promontory. The park was booked out for the long weekend, and the beaches were full of holiday makers taking in the early Autumn sun. It was like Summer never left!

The beach extended around the corner from the main beach, so we clambered over some rocks and enjoyed a private little cove for a few hours. I was taking these photos from the shade of the overhanging trees, yet I still managed to score myself some painful sunburn!

We could even admire the distant mountains of Wilsons Promontory from the beach, providing a perfect backdrop to the already amazing beaches. I can’t believe places like this were so close to home for me when growing up, and I am only truly beginning to appreciate them all now as an adult!

– Reanna

HAPPY NEW YEAR (INTERLUDE) // Kernot, Australia

And another year is over. I feel as if I should have something philosophical to write to mark this occasion, but that doesn’t seem to be my style! 2016 was a pretty crazy and exciting year, with a lot of excitement at the end with holidays, graduating university and starting full time work. Chris and I celebrated the end of the year by attending a weekend long music festival, NYE on the Hill, which was conveniently located on a farm in Kernot, half an hour from out home town. I’ll be back with the rest of my overseas photos shortly – it is taking a lot longer than expected due to working, Christmas, and terrible internet!

We arrived at the farm on Friday afternoon, and enjoyed a solid trek from our car, up ‘the Hill’ and over the other side to the camping area. It would have been lovely if we weren’t attempting to carry all of our camping stuff in one hit!

We quickly settled in and explored the area. The views were A+, and we had a pretty great vantage point form where we had pitched our tent.

At the top of ‘the Hill’ was the main stage, several bars (made out of shipping containers and wooden pallets), food stalls, and a petting zoo! The festival was limited to 2,500 attendees, making the vibe not feel overwhelming.

Bands played pretty regularly throughout the afternoon, and having one stage meant we didn’t have to worry about missing out on performances.

The sunset was also pretty spectacular, and certainly drew a crowd!

In the morning Chris and I drove into the nearby town (village might actually be a more accurate description!) of Loch for a walk and some much needed coffee. We had a quick explore of the area, including the old railway station you can see in the photo below.

Once we returned to camp we realised that driving to coffee had indeed been a good decision, as we over heard some people discussing the 25+ minutes they had spent waiting in line to buy coffee at the festival!

After lunch and seeing a few performances, we hiked up the main road for a few hundred metres to reach a lookout. We were provided with some amazing views of the camp, the surrounding area, and even as far as French Island.

In terms of the performances, the highlights included Camp Cope, Mosquito Coast, the Preachers, and the Bennies. The Theme Team also deserve a mention for their performances of theme songs from 90s TV shows (think Pokemon, Round the Twist, Sailor Moon, Daria…), but Tash Sultana was definitely the best set of the festival.

Staying up to midnight was admittedly a bit of a struggle for us two go-getters, but we pulled through and shared to countdown with everyone else on the hill. All in all, it was an exhausting but amazing weekend! One last hurrah for the festival season, before knuckling down for work.

I wish you all the best for the new year, in whatever endeavours you follow!

– Reanna

ONE DAY MY TIME WILL COME // Lakes Entrance, Australia

Looking back through these photos from Lakes Entrance has me dreaming of Summer days that are comfortably warm enough to laze around in the sun, but not so hot that you can’t stand being outside. This is inspired by the he weather in Melbourne these past few days being particularly insane. Yesterday it was 40+ degrees and one literally could not breath outside from the air being so hot and heavy. Today the forecasted top is 19 degrees. Where is the consistency?!SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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At least it isn’t raining! These last photos from Lakes Entrance are from the day Chris and I left to head back to Melbourne. The sun was out in the morning so we decided to make the most of it and check out the Entrance Walk. As the name suggests, it is a walk going to the entrance. The walk was about 4kms return, so it was good stretch of our legs before the long car ride home.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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I was glad I chose to wear sandals as the majority of the walk was a sandy path. We saw a number of blue tongue lizards off in the bushes, and Chris saw a snake in the long grass as well. That’s Australian Summer for you!SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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The entrance itself was quite beautiful, though presumably dangerous according to all the ‘do not swim’ signs dotted around.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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After the not so inviting weather earlier in the week, it was just our luck that it seemed like the perfect day to spend at the beach as we were leaving. We stopped at a lookout on our drive out of town and you could already see people lounging on various strips on sand, or boating around the lakes. Soon…SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESI shall get my beach day at Lakes Entrance one day soon! For now, it is back to trying to cope with this horribly sporadic weather in Melbourne.

– Reanna

COUNTING DAYS // Mirboo North, Australia

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Exchange is no longer that experience that is eventually going to happen in the distant future, but rather a reality that is slowly taking shape in my life. The weeks have turned to days, and I am finding myself a bit overwhelmed at the prospect of leaving my life behind for six months. Have I packed everything? Have I organised everything?

But for now, I am soaking up these last few days with family, including numerous lunch dates with Mum (“We have to make up for all the lunch dates we won’t have when you are overseas!”).
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Some last minute presents and cooking also helps to pass the time.

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It’s odd to think that this is the last time I will be looking at the unique Australian landscape until next year! I have always been one to take it for granted, but in these last moments I can’t help but see it through a different lens.

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– Reanna.

 

STILL LEARNING // Coal Creek, Australia

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES Cabin fever set in the other day. Unfortunately, winter weather and being in regional Victoria on a budget leaves one with little to do when they want to leave the house. On a whim – or was it sheer desperation? – Chris and I ventured over to a neighbouring town to wander around Coal Creek. Essentially the historical remnants of a mining town, the village is free entry and provides some interesting history of the area.

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I was also eager to test out my camera again. I am still getting used to it all, so unfortunately none of these photos turned out as well as I had hoped! All well, I still have two more weeks to practice before Europe.

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The village was incredibly quiet. I think we saw two other visitors and the maintenance man. Nonetheless, we trudged around in the mud to peek into old shops, churches and houses. It is a bit of a shame that the village has become so quiet. I remember coming here through primary school and having a fantastic time! But then again, the perspective of my seven-year-old self would have been very different!

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Are these things even politically correct?

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESDespite the apparent decline of this little touristy location, it was great to simply get outdoors and even learn a little bit about local history. I also like to think of it as practice for the copious amount of sightseeing that will be sure to occupy much of my time in Europe. No one wants a blurry photo of a majestic castle!

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES– Reanna.