White Night Melbourne 2014

In 2013, Melbourne is the first city in Australia to join the ranks of global cities producing all-night arts events. Melbourne is known as Australia’s international city of artistic innovation. It embraces the opportunity to showcase its commitment to art, music and diverse culture.

When my family moved in to Melbourne in 2013, we were still staying at the service apartment along Elizabeth St in the city. It was the time White Night Melbourne premiered in Australia. I can still remember looking at tweets of people all over the city exploring the different activities simultaneously happening that night.

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This year, I decided to join the fun and see by myself what was out there. I only had a few hours to spend since I needed to catch the late train going home on a Saturday night, so I wasn’t able to explore every activity that was happening.

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First stop, I watched the Moonlight Synchronised Swimming at the Melbourne City Baths. A lot of people were already queueing all around the block just to get in. I was able to see the show Almost an hour later and the queue was even longer than before! *Yikes*

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On my way to our next stop, we passed by this food kiosk catering Filipino food just for the event! Proud to be Pinoy! I wanted to try it out but the queue was so long. 😦

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Then I went straight to the State Library of Victoria where various light works were being lit up on the facade of the library.

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Just across the road is the Melbourne Central. We had a quick peek on what’s going on inside and found out that the iconic tower was also participating. Amazing!

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The event was city-wide extending up to the other side of Yarra River. Several artworks and light performances can be seen along every stop.

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There were also live bands performing in some corners in the city.

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One of the big universities in the city, RMIT, hosted the galleries for the exhibitions. We managed to get into one and snapped a few artworks inside. There were also short films being played over and over again for everyone to see.

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Sooner than we thought, the night was over. I needed to get leave to catch our train. The entire Swanston Street was literally filled with people. It’s like flooded with people all over the place. Took me at least 40 minutes to walk down from the library to Flinders Station, which is like only 6-8 blocks away!

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Good thing a stampede didn’t happen during the event. I pity those kids forced to be there at that kind of situation. D:

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Even the iconic Flinders Street Station was part of the event. Several light performances were being lit on different parts of its facade! Incredible works!

But the night wasn’t getting any younger for me so I headed straight back home. Too bad I wasn’t able to visit the activities past the Yarra River. Maybe next year then!

The Great Ocean Road Trip 2014

After moving to Melbourne for almost two years now, my family and I were able to go down further south west and drive the Great Ocean Road!

Generally, we love to visit tourist attractions to witness and admire the magnificence of natural wonders over spending hours sunbathing under the heat of the summer sun while sipping Piña Colada. We like to move around and hop from one destination to the other.

Through the service of Melbourne Costal Tours, we were able to drive all the way from Melbourne CBD and finish the 243km drive of the Great Ocean Road (GOR) Tour just in one day. How awesome is that?!

First stop, we headed to the Fairhaven Beach at Anglesea to see a glimpse of the stretch of GOR. We can’t swim though since sharks are having a feast, swimming around this area.

A few minutes later, we reached the Great Ocean Road Archway. Where the journey begins! We quickly stopped for a while to have a couple of mandatory shots with the archway. It’s a long day ahead of us.

After some mandatory travel photos, w were back on the road. Our tour guide and the entire tour itself was very flexible. We get to have a lot of quick stopovers to have quick glances and photo opportunities along the way. Perks of going in a small group tours rather than joining big companies in huge buses.

Along the Great Ocean Road, there were several lookouts on the way where you can have quick stops to have some photo opportunities with nature. The tour guide have chosen Teddy’s Lookout. From the lookout, you can see the view of the beautiful town of Lorne and the Bass Straight, the body of ocean between mainland Australia and the state of Tasmania.

Next stop, we pulled off at the carpark of Kennett River to find Wild Koalas resting on Eucalyptus Trees. We found three of them hugging thin branches on separate trees. They aren’t sociable herbivorous marsupials and sleep at least 20 hours a day. The Australian Government protects their species and touching them would cost you at least AU $10,000.00. Yikes! So better not get too close to them. A picture of them sleeping and their face tucked away from the camera is the most we could do.

Good thing, a group of wild birds were in the area and our tour guide gave us some bird seeds! These attracted the birds to come closer and be all friendly with our group.

Back on the road, we stopped by Cape Patton to look at the view. Everywhere you go at the Great Ocean Road, you will see the majestic sea and the powdery sands of the coasts! It’s so consistent.

While on our way to our next destination, our tour guide gave us the menu for lunch! Finally. Time to eat soon! We quickly chose what we want for lunch which is conveniently covered by the tour.

Then we headed to Apollo Bay Hotel at the town of Apollo Bay to have our lunch. All the meals were pre-ordered and were ready as soon as we got there. Cool isn’t it?! I never exerpienced having pre-ordered meals before. Not even in other tours around Asia! The Melbourne Costal Tours did a pretty good job on that one! How convenient! I ordered roast beef with roasted vegetables over Nasi Goreng and Fish & Chips to feel the ultimate Australian experience for the trip and it did not disappoint.

At this town, McDonald’s and other modern fast food chains weren’t allowed to operate including the big supermarkets in Australia – Coles and Woolworth’s – in order to support the local businesses of the town.

We had a few minutes left to move around and got ourselves local ice cream treats! Our tour guide recommended this little ice cream shop just near the hotel where we tried the famous Vegemite Ice Cream – a definitely must try!. Vegemite is an Australian product, food paste, a part of the Australian culture. It’s like butter or peanut butter used to be spread on bread or biscuits.

After lunch, we went to Mait’s Rest Rainforest Walk. As part of the tour, a temperate rainforest walk is necessary after all the heavy lunch we dug in.

Australia used to be part of the the supercontinent Gondwana before all the seven continents drifted apart. This rainforest still has plant species that are common in other parts of Asia. But in recent decades, Eucalyptus trees are taking over these plant species making the rainforest dry and prone to bush fire during summer.

The walking was just beginning. Our next destination is The Great Ocean Walk. We parked beside the road and started walking on the pathway all the way up to the cliffs in order to see the first few of 12 Apostles.

Our tour guide asked us if we want to do the 10-minute helicopter tour hovering the Great Ocean. A lot of tourists are doing it at that time. We can see several helicopters flying by the area.

For some time, we felt like Bilbo Baggins exploring the lands in The Hobbit with all the hills and grassy fields that surround me. It’s like standing on a cliff in the middle of nowhere! Amazing experience!

Not all tours pass by this area though so we felt extremely lucky to have the best tour guide in the area! Our itinerary was carefully and creatively planned.

Finally, we reached one end of the walk – The Gibsons Beach.

After reaching the edge of the cliff, we climbed down the 100-metre staircase to reach the powdery beach. Here we got a lot of photo opportunities with the few Apostles. *Hooray!*

The rest of 12 Apostles can be seen once you continue the Great Ocean Walk.

A few more sets of walks and we reached the Salt and Pepper Shakers. The two stacks in the middle were naturally formed by erosion over hundreds of years. Isn’t it amazing?!

Other natural formations include The Razorback – the big stack of land out in the sea.

The trip wouldn’t be complete without seeing Loch and Gorge. This area is known as the shipwreck area with hundreds of ships failed to set on land in 19th Century.

A family nearby is known to have acquired all the treasures from the ships carrying them from the coast up to the cliffs. Imagine how they managed to climbed the cliffs in 19th Century!

There used to be a heroic shipwreck in 1878 where an English man and an Irish woman survived.

Today there is a manmade staircase that allows tourists to go down to the sea almost enclosed by 60m high limestone walls. It is a natural pool tourists enjoy especially during the summer

Last stop was the famous London Bridge. It acquired its name after its similarity with the real London Bridge without knowing it will fall down too! In 1990, a couple was trapped in that stack in the sea after crossing the 15-metre wide bridge that used to connect the mainland to that stack.

It wasn’t 000 (Au emergency hotline) that came to the rescue. It was actually the Channel 7 (media) that went here to cover the collapse of the bridge and made a huge dramatic story out of it.

Though the couple refused to be interviewed for personal reasons. Some say the guy actually called in sick for work that day and went on to the GOR with the lover. It’s such an embarrassment to be interviewed on national TV knowing his boss would see his face after calling in sick. *Yikes*

And some say he was actually having an affair on that day and the woman with him was his mistress. *Insert ooooh expression here*

After spending our entire day out on the road, we had to leave and go back to the city. It was a wonderful experience getting in tough with nature again. ^^ Especially when our cardio were tested with all the walking uphill and downhill that we did.

And of course, the trip wouldn’t be this amazing without the awesome planning of Melbourne Costal Tours. I’ve always liked those companies that offer quality service rather than big companies that can’t consistently provide the service they promise to do.

Thanks Melbourne Costal Tours for the fun day! The tour guide, Campbell, was very informative and entertaining all throughout the day.  Non-stop chatting and telling us stories about absolutely everything we passed by while on the road. And most importantly, we managed to see a lot of places just in one day! ^^