ESCAPISM // Woodend, Australia

Life has been a strange mixture of highs and lows lately. Some days are wonderful, and I feel so appreciative for so many things, whereas other days were horrible, highlighting the fragility of life. The bad days were beginning to wear me down, so after a spontaneous dinner date last week Chris and I booked an even more spontaneous weekend getaway.

Overall, we only spent around 24 hours away from the city, but it was enough to recharge and relax. We booked an accommodation package at Holgate Brewhouse in Woodend, which included dinner and breakfast. Woodend is only an hour from Melbourne, so it was a perfect distance for our short trip.

The weather on Saturday afternoon was fantastic, so on a whim (again!) we packed up our bikes and took them with us to Woodend in order to cycle out to some nearby wineries. This seemed like a good idea in theory, as the distances didn’t seem far on paper, but half of the roads were unsealed! Nevertheless, we were able to make it easily enough to our first stop, Mount Macedon Winery. This was recommended to me by a work colleague, and it did not disappoint. We just had to hide our crappy bikes from all the bunch of professional weekend cyclists who were also there!

Our next destination was Hanging Rock Winery, which due to my poor planning, ended up being another awful dirt road! We were exhausted by the time we arrived at the cellar door, which was surprisingly busy. After consulting with the owner (and trying some wine) we coordinated booking a taxi to pick us up from the winery, leaving our bikes tied to the gate for the night. This worked out well, as it meant we could buy some bottles of wine!

The winery had some great views of Hanging Rock, which you can see closer up in the photo below (which is taken the following morning when we were collecting our bikes – the weather was far bleaker!).

After a cosy evening at the Brewhouse bar, and a delicious breakfast (eggs, falafel, and beer bread – who would have thought of such a delicious combination?!), we headed up to the famed Hanging Rock.

Hanging Rock is a popular attraction for Melbournians, being only an hour from the city. The walk to the top of rocky mountain/formation/mameleon is only around 2kms returned, and well sealed, so it is super accessible.

We detoured from the path along the way to seek out views and clamber through the rocks.

Hanging Rock is most well known for the novel, and movie, Picnic at Hanging Rock. Shamefully, as is the case with most classic movies or novels, I have never seen or read it, but am aware of the mystery it puts around the place!

Looking over these photos now, it seems I may have gone slightly overboard! I guess I am still a bit click happy whilst trying to learn a bit more about my camera.

I thought the above tree branch looked like a piece of art, or like ripples in water.

The ‘Hanging Rock’ itself can be seen in the above photo – possibly the most underwhelming part of the mountain!

On our way down we were treated to some fluffy, native friends.

After another quick walk around the base of the mountain, we were back in our car and off home to Melbourne. Despite being a short trip, it didn’t feel rushed. Rather, it was a perfect amount of time to disconnect and have a little adventure, but without sucking up our whole weekend and leaving us stressed on Sunday night before the work week ahead.

I am excited for the warmer weather, even though it is probably months away, so we can make more weekend getaways for camping again. Winter will end eventually, right?

– Reanna

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RESTLESS // Organ Pipes National Park, Australia

Tonight is one of those wonderful those wonderful nights when you knock off work knowing you have an exciting few days ahead – and even more so tonight as I am heading on my first holiday since starting full time work! Although we are only venturing overseas for ten days, the novelty of getting paid whilst I relax on a beach somewhere has not worn off on me yet.

Working full time these past six months has also motivated me to indulge in far more ‘treat yourself moments’, and last week such a mindset blew out into my spontaneous purchasing of a DSLR camera. Sure, I had been dreaming about the prospect of owning a half decent camera one day. But for some reason two weeks before going on holidays seemed like the perfect time to blow my savings.

However, I have approximately zero idea how to operate such a camera, so in an effort to learn I announced a spontaneous trip on the weekend to Organ Pipes National Park on the weekend. We had been here a few years ago, and I remembered it as being a beautiful piece of nature a stones throw from the city – it was about a half an hour drive from our place in South Melbourne.

The park itself is a small valley nestled beside a busy freeway and underneath one of the flight paths for Melbourne airport. However silence ensues once you descend into the small valley of the park. A small 1km track runs around the valley floor, taking you past three main features, all of which arose from volcanic activity in the area many a millennia ago.

The main feature, surprising enough, are the ‘organ pipes’. The pipes are hexagonal basalt columns, that have formed over thousands and thousands of year as the creek at the base has slowly worn away at the basalt lava.

The ‘Rosette Rock’ is a spectacular formation, with a similar history. I won’t attempt to pretend I know anything about volcanic rock formations here, because I really have no clue!

The final stop was the ‘Tessellated Pavement’, again of similar origins. Chris is obviously in deep thought about the construction of volcanic baltic rock formations. Or merely enjoying the serenity…

Climbing out of the valley after our small circuit of the park had me feeling like I had merely walked around the block. But on the other hand, the simple act of being outside and stretching my legs in the outdoors provided as much to me as going for a 10km hike. Sometimes, being outside is all you need.

And with that, I am signing off the technological world (well, not really, I love instagram too much) for our ten day holiday!

– Reanna

A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE // Melbourne, Australia

Despite living in Melbourne for well over four years now, I still find myself playing tourist on a regular basis. Sure, Chris might roll his eyes when I stop to take photos of something novel in the city, but it is refreshing to see the place where you live through a new light.

Last weekend we ventured down to the strange, yet beautiful, Docklands precinct, to indulge in a dinner cruise. We received a voucher for Christmas, and we were 99% sure we were the only Melbourne locals on the boat.

The dinner and drinks on the cruise were as expected, but the highlight was definitely seeing Melbourne from the water – something we had never done before. The boat left Docklands and went under both the Bolte and West Gate Bridge, before emerging into Port Phillip Bay and heading towards St Kilda.

The views from the Bay were absolutely stunning, even the clouds that were hanging overhead didn’t impact the beauty of it.

Not featured – the dance floor directly behind our table.

Turns out my phone takes a pretty average night time photo – you will just have to imagine how wonderful the city looked at night.

One of the unexpectedly interesting parts of the cruise was going through the sea ports. There were a few container ships pulled up, and they are just as big in person as you would imagine.

Melbourne, I love you.

– Reanna

PINK LAKE // Melbourne, Australia

Finally, a post not heavy with photos! These are just some quick snaps I wanted to share of a little Melbournian adventure Chris and I took a couple of weekends ago. Since moving to the southside of the city, we have been trying to get out on our bikes more, so after seeing yet another photo of Melbourne’s Pink Lake I decided this was the perfect afternoon mission.

Our bike ride took us along the Bay Trail towards Williamstown, but we stopped at Sandridge Beach in order to detour to a look out I chanced upon on Google maps. Turns out it was a good find, providing perfect views looking back over the CBD.

The bay was also full of sail boats, so it was great to sit down for a pit stop and take in the surrounds.

The famed ‘Pink Lake’ is located at Westgate Park, a strange little nature reserve under the Westgate Bridge that I am fairly sure had only gained fame due to this lake. One of the lakes in the park turns bright pink during the summer, one of the few lakes in the world to do so. The exact cause of this colouration remains unknown, but it is thought to be a result of sunlight and algae. Either way, it looks pretty spectacular and certainly draws a crowd of people desperate to take a selfie with it.

 

The lake was slightly less pink than I anticipated, but I guess that is to be expected when we were visiting at the end of summer! It was still pretty amazing, and it certainly made me appreciate how strange and beautiful nature can be sometimes.

– Reanna

WEST SIDE // Melbourne, Australia

Despite officially being Spring in these parts, the sunny days remain few and far between. Every time we encounter blue skies and temperatures high enough to not justify a coat, Chris and I head out the door. Last weekend was such a day, and without much of a plan we spent our afternoon wandering over towards Footscray and Melbourne’s west.

Walking to Footscray from our home in North Melbourne involves winding through Kensington, one of our dream suburbs. I mean, city views, warehouses, cute cafes and terraces. What isn’t to love? The price tag perhaps.

After crossing the Maribrynong River we stumbled across the Heavenly Queen Temple. I had only previously seen it from a distance, so it was interesting to get a close look. Plus, it just made me all the more excited for my upcoming return to China!

The Maribrynong River is not the prettiest! Given the sunshine we weren’t too fussed though.

Footscray is an eclectic melting pot of Melbourne’s multicultural heritage, as well as being relatively up and coming in terms of development and cafes. We admired some local street art and wandered through the Footscray Market, which was as insane as you would imagine for a Saturday afternoon!

Our final destination was a brewery we had come across online earlier in the day, whilst searching for another brewery. Hop Nation is relatively new on the brewing scene, and has recently opened up a bar in the warehouse converted brewery! Located down the above street, it honestly could not have been more hipster Melbourne. But then a food truck pulled up out the front and it out-Melbourned itself.

Despite the over top Melbourne vibes, the place was fantastic and the beer delicious. It is days like this that make me truly appreciate living in this city. There is always something new to discover/eat/drink!

– Reanna

BAY TRAIL // Melbourne, Australia

Things have been rather uneventful around here lately, as life continues to rush by in a blur of work, class, assignments. Rinse and repeat. It is officially less than two months until I submit my last assignment, which is an incredibly exciting prospect. Fours years of university done, for now anyway.

I found myself in desperate need of some time outdoors today, something more than just a quick walk around the block or a ride into the city. After some vague online research, I decided to put aside study for the sake of some self care and rode down to St Kilda, where I jumped onto the Bay Trail.

The Bay Trail looked so familiar that it felt like I had ridden along parts of it recently, but the only time I can recall riding along it was when I was far younger.

The trail itself follows along Beach Road, which is incredibly popular among cyclists (i.e. my father and brother). I stuck to the shared bike path, as my cheap little bike wasn’t going to get me places quickly. The path meandered a bit closer to the coastline, offering great views and the opportunity for me to pull over frequently for photo stops.

I did have my camera, but I decided to try out my iPhone (yes, I finally return to the modern era). The photos came out alright, but I think I prefer the quality of my usual camera – some photos have come up quite dark! Despite how gloomy these photos look it was actually quite a pleasant mid-afternoon ride.

The trail was busy the entire way, with other cyclists, runners, walkers, and (much to my joy) numerous dogs. My latest obsession is deciding every second dog I see whilst out with Chris is the one we should adopt. Perhaps one day, when we don’t live an apartment…

I wasn’t quite sure how far I would end up riding, but the track was relatively flat and made for an easy journey. In the end I made it as as Mordialloc Beach, where I was able to jump on a train back to the CBD. Some other cyclists I had seen along my way made a similar move!

In the above photo you can see the far end of the Mornington Peninsula, where Rye and Sorrento are.

All up I clocked around 33kms, or so google tells me (sorry Dad, no Strava). To me, that seems like a very long ride, but to the true cyclists out there it is probably a walk in the park. Admittedly, by the end of the afternoon I was pondering buying a proper road bike. Who knows, maybe I will be back soon to take on Beach Road like everyone else!

– Reanna

WINTER WEEKEND // Dandenong Ranges, Australia

It seems be getting increasingly harder to find day trips from Melbourne, as Chris and I are slowly working our way through all the closest locations. I think this day trip ended up being a very last minute decision, and I can’t believe we hadn’t been here earlier! The Dandenong Ranges are only an hour away from the city, and have so much to offer! I honestly thought there was nothing but houses and the 1000 Steps there, but we were so wrong.

Despite the sunny 15 degrees we were treated to whilst walking to our local coffee shop (or selection of, I should say, we are blessed in North Melbourne) in the city, we were treated to a much crisper 10 degrees in the ranges. Our first stop was the Kalorama Lookout, which boasted views of the reservoir below and the surrounding hills.

A few minutes further down the road was Olinda Falls. We had come ill prepared for not only the freezing cold weather, but the amount of mud on the walking tracks! You can be I was gripping the rails on the way down to the lower falls.

After checking out the upper falls, we followed a side track for a couple of kilometres before popping back out onto the main road. As we were already covered in mud (not to mention walking through mud makes for a very slow pace) we wondered back along the road to our car.

Our lack of research led to me deciding we should pull over at every place of interest we passed. William Ricketts Sanctuary was one such place. It turned out to be a bit of a gem!

The Sanctuary was essentially the outdoor gallery of the late William Ricketts. A well known sculptor, he had purchased the block of forest and set about incorporating sculptures into the natural environment. His artwork largely drew from local indigenous culture, as well as some references to religion. It was fascinating walking along the paths and noticing little paths off to the side covered with his work, rocks with sculptures attached to the side, and little statues hidden away in the undergrowth.

Our last stop, due to beginning to question if we would survive the cold, was the National Rhododendron Gardens. Neither Chris or I had ever heard of the place, but we arrived to find it bustling with other sightseers. This magnificent garden was far bigger than I anticipated. I can only imagine what it must look like in spring: we are already planning a picnic lunch for when that time comes around!

There were still many more locations we could have explored in the areas. The small townships were also packed with tourists and families for the weekend, so we will definitely be back in the warmer months.

Any suggestions for day trips (preferably under 2 hours drive) from Melbourne CBD? Our list is running thin!

– Reanna