Blissful Second (Post#3) : Killara Estate (Yarra Valley) – Feast Time
We went to Killara Estate in Yarra Valley as part of wine itinerary tour. Aside from tasting wine we had our lunch here. The photo above was some people enjoying the lunch at the time we were in the restaurant. Photo captured last February 2013.
Blissful Second (Post#2) : Puffing Billy Steam Train Ride Moment
The photo above shows the moment of steam train ride adventure which I captured while we were on our way to Gembrook. It was a joy ride as we took Puffing Billy which is classic and a century old steam train railway located in Dandenong Ranges which not far from Melbourne. It is said that Puffing Billy is the finest reserved in the world and it is Australia’s Premier Reserved Steam Railway. Photo captured last June 2013.
It was almost a month after I returned to Melbourne last October 2014, it was my first day to really go out again to explore some places that I haven’t seen yet. The place we were targeting was somewhere near the city which was Dandenong Ranges National Park. On this trip, I discovered and learned that this National Park has a lot to offer to anyone.
As my friends got a map of the national park, when they were discussing places visit near the city, they selected a garden. At first I really don’t understand the name of the garden because I was somewhat unfamiliar with the term. The name of the garden became clear to me when we arrived at the place. The day we went out was still Spring season and since we were technically inside the mountain, it was really cold and it felt like it was winter.
The name of the garden we visited is National Rhododendron Garden. I honestly not familiar with that flower family. I felt that I never heard it before or I forgot it from my secondary school years.
We had lunch first at the parking area as the garden does not have a facility such as picnic area where we can eat. After lunch, we went inside the National Rhododendron Garden through the store beside the closed main gate and stopped for a while to look around inside the store. In the store I found out what Rhododendron flower family look like. After spending sometime at the store I left my friends and took my chances to walk inside the garden. I remembered one funny thing happened to me inside the garden. At the time I was there and following the path walk, I was a fool looking around and taking photos using my DSLR and yet I never immediately noticed that I am taking photos without knowing that my camera does not have memory card. Yes, I was crazy taking photos without checking the screen of my camera after takings shots where some messages that my memory card slot was empty, because of the situation I never able to save all my shots. Since I already spent time walking in the garden, I was quite sensitive with the time and I knew that my friends were waiting at the store. I tried to return to the garden using my iPhone and all I was able to do was to have a couple of shots as my souvenir to the garden. Most of the memories of Rhododendron garden were all in my memory.
–Some photos that I quickly captured with my iPhone before leaving the garden
I returned to the store and in few minutes we left the garden. When we were back on the road, my friends checked again the map of Dandenong Ranges and then they agreed to visit a picnic ground which became our next stop that day. We went at Grant Picnic Ground. I honestly had no idea what to expect in the place until we saw a lot of visitors looking around at the bird feeding area. Since we had limited time in the place as it will close at 5PM, my friends bought seeds so they can enter in the fenced feeding area and to have a moment with the birds such as Rosella, native and wild birds.
I let my friends feed the bird while I take in charge of photo shoot. There still birds in the feeding area but when my friends entered in the fenced area, birds started to flock together and slowly approached my friends as they saw the food/seeds. We started to laugh as we heard screaming. It was fun-filled sight as my mates felt a little bit nervous when birds were so close to them physically, some birds flew to their heads, some stepped on their arms or feet, birds comes wherever the food was. My friends were screaming as they felt the bird’s claws and its pointed toes. All of us were enjoying what we were seeing inside the feeding area.
–King Parrot (the one that I tried to chase with my camera as its colour is really striking)
Last thing I did was I went inside the souvenir shop just to look around and just check if I can find post cards that will leave memories of Grant Picnic Ground. Then after few more minutes had been passed, we decided to leave the place as it closed the feeding area and the shop since the business day is over for the day. This how we ended our adventure.
Since I was back in Melbourne last October 2014, I got another chance to see more of Victoria in Australia. It was Melbourne Cup that day again, and the people who close to me or let say my friends in Melbourne planned to go somewhere so we can spent the holiday in a worthwhile trip. The plan was fishing. I never joined nor engaged fishing activities before. Though even I was hesitant to confirm that I will be going, I decided to go.
While we were on our way to the trout farm, I checked my phone’s GPS, I was curious which road we took and where we were heading. The trout farm is located in Dandenong Ranges specifically in Macclesfield. I was picked up at my place along St Kilda Road around 8AM. Then we picked up another friend in Malvern. After that we hit the road again and from the city we took Monash Freeway. Then we turned left and took Wellington Rd, we followed the road as is, when we reached Clematis we turned right and took Belgrave-Gembrook Rd. We turned left again when we reached Macclesfield Rd and in few minutes we turned left and took a little rough road of Paton Rd until we reach the destination. Well every time I traveled I like looking at the GPS apps when data is available because at least I was able to recognize the place that I passed and the place where I had been. Seeing the places and knowing its names made a sense to me.
When we reached the trout farm almost 10am, we were the first group visitors arrived in the place and first batch in our group. I helped out in taking stuff from the car of my friend and we went to the kiosk inside the farm to pay our entrance. Then we went to the selected tables we chose as our group were quite big. I helped out to stuff the table and took some time in frying sausages. These kind of activities in the farm were really nice for group of people or families because these were really nice way to have friends bonding or family bonding.
Then, one by one each batch in our group were coming and since it’s holiday in Victoria, a lot of people took the opportunity to go to the same farm we were to have some break. I thought at first that I was not going to enjoy the activity but I made mistake. I was really happy when we were there because the whole group were there, chatting, laughing and eating.
Since most in the group brought foods, there were many menus, deserts and finger foods. My eyes were popping out and my mind confused as I really don’t know what to choose, all menus in the tables were all Filipino foods which I really love.
After lunch, we went to the fishing area where we spent most of our time in the afternoon. Most of us took the fishing rods and tried to catch a fish. The activity was so enjoyable because most of us were surprised once someone from us were able to catch a fish. I did not tried to catch a fish, I just posed so that I will look like I was catching a fish. Everybody were laughing when someone scream because of surprised reaction as their fishing rod caught a fish.
One of the great feature of the farm was it has fish pond where you can do a guaranteed fishing and it is guaranteed that you will be able to catch one. And most of us tried to control catching a fish because every fish that will be caught must be paid and the payment is based on the weight. We were smiling and joking that this was the kind of fishing activity that you did not worry if there will be fish to catch, you will worried for how much you were going to pay after you finished catching fish.
After fishing time, we spent talking and eating again, until I left the group for sometime and walk around the farm so I can find some scenic spot for photo shots as my souvenir in the place.
–Photo shots inside the farm
I returned to my group and helped out for packing all the stuff we used. After half-an hour we left the trout farm and we hit the road to the city, same route we took when we were on our way to the farm. I was dropped off first at my place.
I had a great time again with friends in Melbourne. I’m thankful again for a wonderful place, lots of memories and I will surely treasure all of them. Until next adventure.
Name Of The Place (Post#15) : Puffing Billy Railway
This photo is part of my Puffing Billy collection when I visited together with the family of my friends in Melbourne. The historical and century old steam railway which still running in our time is now called as Australia’s Premier Preserved Steam Railway. Photo captured last June 2013.
Precious Moment In The Mountain (Post#15) : Dandenong Ranges
I had some visits in Australia where it involves families of my friends that I met while staying in Melbourne for more than one and a half-year. And when it involves families sometimes you will feel like you are young or a kid wherein one of the important thing in their life as of the moment is playtime. Well at that time we visited Puffing Billy Steam Train located in Dandenong Ranges. And we actually experience to ride the steam train. And one of the great benefit of that was having a chance to glimpse some views while inside Dandenong Ranges. The photo above was overlooking at Belgrave South while at the steam train captured last June 2013 after leaving Belgrave Station of Puffing Billy Railway.
On my 6th day in Melbourne Australia, I tried my best to plan to see some of Victorian atmosphere. Victoria is just one of the state of Australia where Melbourne can be found. It was Saturday and I am still on doubt what to do in my weekends. I haven’t search on anything yet. But when I’m checking some brochures from the hotel where I am staying, it gives me some idea about a day tour. Since I am in Australia for work and not really for leisure stuff, I have to maximize my weekend. But I was quite busy the whole day of Thursday and Friday. Went home late at Friday and slept late after talking to my family back home.
Enough of my sentiments and justifications. Using the brochures in my hand, I search related and similar offerings. Since I am a budget traveler, I looked for most affordable and yet seemed funny and comedy tour for the day. I found one, I joined the “The Wines Guys Winery Tour”, at first I thought it read as wise guys and then its wines guys. Based on their website, the tourist guides are mixed of wise guys, wine experts and comedian. Because of that description I got curious on the tour aside from the adventure it includes.I booked the tour and joined the next day schedule, meaning I booked Saturday and joined Sunday Tour (yeah that how I planned it).
It was Sunday, I am a bit earlier when I arrived at the meeting place at Federation Square (Flinder St and Russel St) specifically at the front of Ian Potter entrance. Since I arrived early I thought no one aside from me will go to the tour until I was surprised that other people around will go as well. And take note, all the tourist who signed up the tour at that time was all females, no guys except for our guide named Nick.
Let’s talk about Nick, he looks good. He’s nice and funny. He took cares of us during our trip from the city to Yarra Valley while inside the mini van. He made the atmosphere amiable and happy. All of us while traveling seems having a great time.
While on board I tried my best to find out where we are while on our way to our destination. I used my iPhone 3GS to see the current location we are passing by. One thing I remembered that we took Maroondah Highway to go to Yarra Valley.
First stop, Coombe Farm.
Coombe Farm is the first winery I ever visited in my entire life, since I never been really to Winery tour before. Here I experienced to taste Australian made wines fresh from their wineries. Here we tasted 8 kinds of Wines in a row. And even its my first time to drink wine (since I don’t drink), all the wines poured in my cup, I sipped them all. And this one considered another experience on my part. Here are listed that I tasted in Coombe Farm. Sparkling Wines, White Wines (2011 Pinot Gris, 2010 Arneis, 2011 Chardonnay) Rose Wines (2010 Rose), Red Wines (2011 Pinot Noir, 2010 Merlot, 2010 POLO Cabernet Merlot). My personal favorite is White Wine 2011 Pinot Gris which is a good combination for hot and spicy foods). After tasting, we bought our souvenirs then we took pictures.
Wines from Coombe Farm
My Tourist Group
Around Coombe Farm
The Tour Guide
Second Stop, St. Hubert
Coombe Farm and St. Huberts distance is insignificant, they are actually neighborhood. Like what we have experience in Coombe Farm there is facilitator from St. Huberts (I forgot her name) who also tackles some basic information of their wines. We tasted like 7 wines in St. Huberts. Here are the list of wines that I got, 2006 Pinot Nor Chardonnay (Sparkling), 2012 Rousanne, 2012 Chardonnay, 2011 The Stag Pinot Noir, 2011 Pinot Noir, 2010 Cabernet Merlot and 2012 Late Harvest Viognier. And my favorite is the last one, 2012 Late Harvest Viognier.
Outside St. Huberts winery
My Tourist Group at St. Huberts
Some wines at St. Huberts
Thirst Stop, Kilara Estates
This winery is far from the two wineries that I mentioned above. We had our group lunch in this winery as well. It was a great one, it has great views of the whole farm and the nearby ranges. Before lunch, we tasted 3 wines but I can’t recall the two. My most favorite of all three wines is the Kilara Sparkling, it’s a sweet wine.
Designated person explains their wines (forgot his name)
Some cars found outside Kilara Estates (not sure what brand these cars is)
Lunch at Kilara Estates
Wine Glass (I fell in love with the glass, I think most of them are all nice and beautiful)
Around Kilara Estates
Fourth and last Stop, Seville Hill.
Here at the winery, I also found their wine barrels. Like what I had seen in the movies. We tasted a lot of wines in Seville Hill. Here are the list: 2008 Sparkling Chardonnay Pinot Noir, 2012 Rose, 2012 Sauvignon Blanc, 2008 Reserve Chardonnay, 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon, 2009 Pinot Noir, 2008 Reserve Shiraz, 2005 Vintage Port and 2010 Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc. And the winner for my taste, is the last one as well. The location of Seville Hill is really great. And here we passed a lot of wineries. There is a picnic place beside the wineries, and during our visit, there was a wedding happened a day before.
Some wines from Seville Hill
While on our way to the City, our guide named Nick (I found out that his profession aside from tour guiding, he was doing acting as well). He prepared a test for all of us (is it not nice taking quizzes after a the tour?) Well that was fact, we took short test about the wines, and I answered them all as guesses. Well we had a great time in this tour, I found some beauty in Yarra Valley, I like farms and they call it wineries. I learned stuff from the tour like, every wine has a complementary food along with it. You will not just buy for the sake of buying it, but choose well according to the food you are preparing or you are eating.
Well this was just the beginning of my Down Under Adventure. Until then.