Melbourne – from the 12 pubs to the 12 apostles
15.12.2011 - 29.12.2011
Back in Melbourne on the 15th where I could finally leave my backpack down for longer than 2 days! Was great to see all the gang again and it wasn’t long before we got the christmas partying underway, donning our Santa hats (and beards in some cases!) and embarking on the 12 Pubs of Christmas on Saturday night, although being honest we joined at pub 6 or 7! Pubs 1-5 we spent lazily on the beach! I have Catriona Ryan to thank for my hangover the next day!
As all the Melbournians were still working, I spent time wandering though this lovely city I m’aonar during the week which was nice. Visited the National Gallery, Library of Victoria’s exhibits, the ACMI, Fed Square to name a few. When I had my personal tour guide we visited the Botanical Gardens, Shrine of Remembrance and St Kilda’s pier where at sunset you can see little penguins return to the shore for nesting. Bring a fleece! That’s the great thing about this city, there’s plenty to see and do! Victoria market was definitely worth a look and as it was the last one before Christmas it was particularly busy on Wednesday night with hundreds and hundreds of people out in the sunshine enjoying the live music and a few drinks. A great place to meet friends and that’s exactly what we did!
Christmas on the Road
Day 1: On Thursday Paudie and I took a trip down the Great Ocean Road, our first stop being Torquay, Australia’s surf capital and home of Rip Curl Pro World Tour event. There’s good beaches here, Bells beach probably the best known just outside the town. Was strange but beautiful to have such a popular tourist spot almost deserted to wander along. From here we made our way to Aireys Inlet and to Split Point Lighthouse which was used as a location in the childrens tv show Round the Twist (I can hear you sing it!) and then onwards to Lorne where we set up camp for 2 nights (Paudie did most of the setting up it has to be said – much appreciated Paudie!). Lorne is a pretty little coastal town where you can whip up a bbq overlooking the sea or eat in one of its little restaurants; I’d recommend the former especially on a nice evening. We chilled out on the beach on day 2 making the most of the good weather after visiting Erskine falls located just outside the town in the morning.
On day 3 (Christmas Eve) we hit the road again in the direction of Apollo Bay where we would be joined my Mary and Aoibheann for the weekend. We stopped along all the popular spots on this windy stretch of road, the Arch, London Bridge with the most impressive being the 12 Apostles. They were as fantastic as I expected, an icon of the Great Ocean Road and we couldn’t have asked for nicer weather to capture them in after a dreary start to the morning. From here we headed back to Apollo Bay and checked into the YHA. This is a really great hostel for anyone heading in that direction. Its purpose built and eco friendly but attracts all ages. It’s a really nice place to spend Christmas as it feels very homely. There was quite a few irish about for the weekend each having a collection of irish goodies obviously sent over from home. In my time in Melbourne the postman delivered a serious amount of chocolate and some tayto that I think will last the guys until Easter! We did put a serious dent in it over Christmas though so thanks Mum!
Day 4: Christmas morning made phonecalls home, everyone expecting us to be on the beach and not sheltering from the rain! We headed for the local church for christmas morning mass. I didn’t realise how much I would miss Tom’s rendition of Oh Holy Nigh but the choir did do a nice job and tried to get the congregation to join - Mary and I did but all the nudging the world wouldn’t get a note from Paudie, Oh well God loves a trier!). Afterwards we enjoyed Christmas drinks and scrabble as the other irish slaved away in the kitchen. The weather kinda scuppered our plans for a beach bbq so we had it on the balcony of the hostel. Our 30 minute prep really showed up the almost day prep of the others! I applaude their efforts in reproducing mammys christmas dinner but it was so much more relaxing to have a bbq and a change from the norm which was nice! The late afternoon was spent walking on the beach and the evening playing cards (anyone heard of 50m of slurry?) and enjoying a few beers. A really relaxing day.
Day 5: Stephens Day we started with an almost irish brekkie – spanish style chorizo sausages just arent dennys gold medal are they! They were the only pork sausages in the supermarket, they have every kind here from chicken to beef to kangaroo and scarily ones just labelled ‘meat’. We set off back towards melbourne stopping at the beautiful Sheoak Falls, Cape Patton (where we take a very scenic and steep route to an unspoilt beach), Whitehaven beach to see the famous sign, chill out on fairhaven beach for the afternoon before meeting Ann in Torquay for dinner. We leave the girls here and head back to Melbourne that evening, the great ocean road adventure over. It was fantastic and a lovely place to spend christmas away from home. One to remember!
Back in Melbourne and luckily for me Paudie is still on holiidays so he takes me to see the Old Melbourne Gaol where the infamous outlaw Ned Kelly was hanged. They reinact the trial using the public which is quite funny and worth a look. Get to catch up with Frank and Bec who are over for the holidays. It was great to see them after not seeing family for so long. I leave for Sydney on the 29th. I hated saying goodbye to such a wonderful place but I guess I’ll be back at some stage for a visit.