Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Crossing the Ditch

G'day mates! In typical fashion, I've taken a few weeks' reprieve before reminiscing on our latest adventure. Good Friday, Easter Monday, and Anzac Day all fell within a week of each other in April this year and we took advantage of the opportunity to take 3 days' annual leave and have 10 days off in a row. Kevin and I took the plunge and crossed the ditch over to Melbourne, Australia to visit some Canadian friends and have a wee vacation.

We left on Good Friday, nice and early, flying non-stop to Melbourne. A warning to those who want to travel to Melbourne: It. Is. Big. It took us almost as long to get out of the airport as it did to fly from Wellington to Melbourne. Our lovely friend Naomi from Whitehorse has been living Brighton, a charming little suburb, with her Aussie partner Paul for a few months and were kind enough to offer their flat as accommodation for our stay, even though they weren't even home for the first few days. 

After finding our way around Melbourne's public transportation (which was surprisingly easy) and having a quick nana-nap, we went into the city to meet up with a dear friend of mine, Dustin, and his stunning wife Ella, for dinner at Chin Chin, a notoriously busy and delicious restaurant downtown Melbourne, followed by a show at the Melbourne Comedy Festival. The food and the company were fantastic! It was so nice to see the familiar face of an old friend--it made me realise how comforting it is to spend time with people with whom you have memories (I'm not homesick, I swear!).

Southern Cross train station

The following day, Kevin and I picked up our caravan and spent the morning puttering around town, perusing the infamous and ridiculously busy Queen Victoria Market. We made our way back to Brighton to borrow Naomi and Paul's bicycles for a 15km bike ride along the coast of Melbourne's beaches.

Queen Victoria Market

That evening, we went to the airport to pick up yet another friendly and familiar face, Bowser, who had flown in from Margaret River, where he has been living for the past few months. The next morning we packed up the van and drove down the southwest coast on Great Ocean Road through Torquay and into Lorne. The boys took to the water like fish and I enjoyed a lovely stroll along the beach. 

The next morning we woke up and decided to head further down Great Ocean Road to the Twelve Apostles, a collection of limestone stacks off the shore of Port Campbell National Park. Now, the Twelve Apostles are more accurately Eight and a Half (maybe Nine) Apostles due to erosion; however, still monumental. The weather was pretty yuck but luckily overcast makes for good photos.

Some apostles

More apostles

The best apostles

On our way back to Melbourne, we took a mandatory surf break and stopped at Bells Beach to see if we could take a sneak peek at the ASP World Tour surfing competition in Torquay. Unfortunately, they were having a bye day but we were able to watch some of the locals on the water.

We got back to Naomi's house and her and Paul had arrived back home. Kevin, Bowser, Naomi, and Casey (Bowser's Australian friend) piled into our caravans (Naomi's caravan takes the cake) and drove southeast to Wilson's Promontory National Park for another few days of outdoor activities. 

Our homes for the next few nights

Once again, the boys got in the water and the girls took a short 7km tramp to a stunning cliff overlooking the bay for sunset.

The next morning was chilly and windy. We didn't want to waste the day so we took on Mt Oberon Summit, a 7km hike. Up hill. The view was phenomenal and so was the wind. We had to hold on at times to make sure we didn't blow over.

The gang

Tired legs

After a quick lunch, we kept walking. Another 8km loop through the Lilly Pilly Gully rainforest (no, the name is not made up). By the end of it, our feet were tired and our blood sugar was low. We made dinner (grilled kangaroo), huddled in Naomi's van for warmth, and prayed for better weather the next day.

Tidal River

Kevin the lumberjack

And our prayers were answered! The sun came out and the wind died down overnight and we were blessed with a stunning day. We took to the water, surfing and body boarding all morning, and then packed up and drove back to the city.

Back in Melbourne, we went to St Kilda to celebrate Kevin and Bowser's birthdays. We had a super-delicious dinner followed by an intriguing lesson in the art of tequila tasting at Blue Corn. We continued down the road to the Espy and Abbey Road to finish off the night with a beer tunnel and live band.

Learning how to drink tequila

St Kilda is famous for its cakes

Beer tunnel at Abbey Road

The following day we dropped Bowser off at the airport with a "see you soon" rather than a "goodbye." Naomi, Kevin, and I spent the afternoon watching Paul play footie/AFL/Aussie rules. Considering I had never seen or heard of this sport before, I was impressed with my ability to follow the plays and have a semi-understanding of the rules. My favourite part is how the fans get to go in for the intermission huddles (or as I like to call them, cuddles) with the team.

The next day, we took on an invigorating yoga class and returned to Wellington, going straight back to work the following day. It was an amazing holiday and it was so wonderful to see old friends in new places. The trip also made Kevin and I realise how much we love the size, charm, and quaintness of Wellington. 

And for those who haven't heard, Kevin and I have applied for permanent residency in New Zealand. It has only taken three months to complete the application and four months to be assigned a case manager. From here, we wait for up to another nine months to be given residency. From there, we have to be here for another two years to get permanent residency. And then from there, who knows.