Tag Archive: Australia



Why not?  Yeah, it’s cold but NOT “sufferingly cold”. And for Cebu Pacific’s basic return fare (Manila-Sydney-Manila) of only PhP13,000, how can you go wrong? Even inclusive of those add-ons (food, baggage allowance, seat assignment, etc), it’s still a steal at US$350 or so! Again, why not? 

 

Check out these links for the winter time I spent visiting family in Australia:


Of Roadtrips, Train Journeys & Flights

Back In The City (Sydney)

Househunting: Katoomba

A 3rd Visit to Watson’s Bay

Sydney’s Barracks Museum

Lake Conjola Weekend

Flaneur On The Loose

Bushwalking in Lake Parramatta

Mayfield Garden

Coastal Walk from Bondi to Coogee

Gold Coast 


Food Trips

The Grounds of Alexandria

Salt Meats Cheese

Dining: Cupitt’s Winery & Restaurant

Tandoori King

Donto Sapporo


Enjoy, mate!



This is a sequel to last year’s blog summary (IN AND OUT OF SYDNEY). Some favorite sites were revisited and explored further, and unlike the earlier blog, I’ve thrown in a list of food trips (including some from 2013 archives)  for you to consider. Have a good trip, mate!

 

 

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Bondi Beach

 

 

 

Day Trips From Sydney

 

A Weekend in Lake Conjola


PARAGON CAFE: Oldest Cafe in Australia


BERRY As Pitstop On Way to Jervis Bay

 

Blue Mountains’ Many Walks and Lookouts

 

Leura and Katoomba in the Blue Mountains

 

 

 

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Darling Harbour

 

 

In And Around The City

A Few Good Spots Around Sydney

 

Sydney Harbour Bridge 24/7

 

Bondi On The Pacific


Watsons Bay


Powerhouse Museum

 

 

The Friendly Inn at Kangaroo Valley

The Friendly Inn at Kangaroo Valley

 

Food Trips

 

Leura Gourmet Cafe

 

Heritage Bakery


NANDO’s Peri Peri Chicken

 

How About Some Burgers from Charlie?

 

WatervieW in Sydney’s Olympic Park

 

SUSHIRO In North Sydney

 

Two Skinny Cooks from Berrima (2013)

 

The Old Bakery Cottage In Berrima

 

Mira Japanese Resto In Manly Beach

 

Lindt’s At Cockle Bay Wharf

 

Nick’s At Darling Harbour

 

That Famous Robertson Pie

 

The Friendly Inn @Kangaroo Valley

 

 


 One thing I love about Australia is its many hamlets. Small, quaint, charming, enchanting villages either in the mountains or by the coast. I remember the first time I visited Katoomba. Took the train aiming to spend a whole morning viewing the magnificent gorges of the Blue Mountains and doing some bushwalking. I did. But I remember more that one afternoon I walked aimlessly along the streets of Katoomba. No Maccas (McDo) or KFC food chains here. Instead, I found tiny cafes, charming bookstores, arts and crafts stores, and food and delishops.

 

 

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Echo Point

 

My Katoomba Bookstore

My Katoomba Bookstore

 

 

Back in 1999, I stayed in an artist’s home. It’s quite a walk from the Katoomba Train Station, and it didn’t help that there was no heating around the house. Next day’s bushwalking was a struggle that I kept wishing I was on the cablecar with glass floor that kept passing us above the bush. When I had the afternoon to myself, I mechanically walked towards this bookstore that has seen better times. Old, unpretentious, but oozing with that old world charm. At the time, there was a baby grand piano in the center where someone (I assumed he was the owner) was playing some classical tunes. He offered me a cuppa and encouraged me to browse around lugging my cup of my favorite brew. What a relaxing afternoon.

 

 

Cablecar takes you right to Katoomba's iconic landmark -- The Three Sisters in Echo Point.

Cablecar takes you right to Katoomba’s iconic landmark — The Three Sisters in Echo Point.

Bookstore in Katoomba

Bookstore in Katoomba

 

 

Katoomba is truly an artist’s haven.  The oldest cafe in Australia is also to be found here, so lovingly restored and preserved. They even hold movie nights here! And in neighboring Leura, one is encouraged to simply walk around and appreciate the local architecture and gardens. There are bushwalking options leading all the way to Echo Point or to Leura Falls, if that suits your fancy. Or maybe you would like to just stay around Leura Mall and enjoy the flowering cherry trees. Amazing how they have preserved this historic street to include the Leura Post Office which now houses a news agency. Have a meal in one of the restos and coffee shops before checking out the many antique and gift boutiques.

 

 

We had a fantastic lunch here!

We had a fantastic lunch here!

 

 

 

 

Paragon Cafe is the oldest cafe in Australia.

Paragon Cafe is the oldest cafe in Australia.

You'd love dog-friendly Leura!

You’d love dog-friendly Leura!

 

 

And not to forget, take home some of those gourmet jams, dips, marmalades and tea concoctions. You don’t know how a simple jar can “extend one’s holiday”.

 

 

The old Post Office now houses a news agency.

The old Post Office now houses a news agency.

Grab a table at the Solitary Cafe. Just beware your coffee easily turns cold.] Grab a table at the Solitary Cafe. Just beware your coffee easily turns cold.


Power up at the Powerhouse Museum! Sydney, NSW.

Power up at the Powerhouse Museum! Sydney, NSW.

A Day In The City: Well spent in the Powerhouse Museum.  Just $35 for the 3 of us. 2 adults+1 kid.

A Day In The City: Well spent in the Powerhouse Museum. Just $35 for the 3 of us. 2 adults+1 kid.

Today, we let the teens rule. We’ve been doing the beach and mountain destinations lately and the teens so badly need a break. Maybe a technology break? Nothing some retail therapy and a day out in the city won’t fix. And this is what they chose as activity for the day in the city.

 

 

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Teens In The City. Powerhouse Museum. Sydney.

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Powerhouse Museum in Sydney, Australia.

 

 

Just next door to the Darling Harbour, it can be found along Harris Street in the Pyrmont area. Kids and teens would certainly love this arts and design museum. Fun, interactive and yes, a strong wifi too! We took the train to Town Hall and walked along George Street, turning right in Hay Street, and naturally not missing Paddy’s Market. 🙂

 

 

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A permanent exhibit of Sydney public transport is so well-curated.

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Oh yeah, that’s Martin’s Place! Powerhouse Museum. Sydney.

 

 

Known for its use of technology to educate the masses, the Powerhouse Museum displays a diverse collection of science and decorative arts. Truly a center for learning and innovation. There is an impressive exhibit of Sydney’s public transport, evolution of fashion, complete with observational and hands-on experimentation and play areas.  Wiggles, anyone?

 

 

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Powerhouse Museum. Sydney.

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Very well-organized and curated this Museum. After 3 hours, we grew tired and found the Museum well-appointed for weary visitors. We claimed a leather sofa by a corner to re-energize 😉 The strong wifi was a bonus. Then we moved to the interactive play area that even I couldn’t resist.

 

 

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Choo Choo at the Powerhouse Museum. Just a stonesthrow from Darling Harbour.

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Not the kind you’d use on Syney’s many bike lanes. Powerhouse Museum.

 

 

Blame it on The Wiggles. This Australian children’s music group formed in Sydney, New South Wales in 1991 is a byword among OZ kids. And today’s adults “grew up” with them. Think Hoop Dee Doo, Yummy Yummy, and more! There is a sizable area dedicated to sapping children’s energy. It sapped mine too 😉

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tired, after 3 hours. Who wouldn't be? Powerhouse Museum. Sydney.

Tired, after 3 hours. Who wouldn’t be? Powerhouse Museum. Sydney.

Never Too Old for The Wiggles! Powerhouse Museum.

Never Too Old for The Wiggles! Powerhouse Museum.


While there are ferries to take you from Circular Quay to this charming bay, we drove. I had a most authentic OZ experience here the last time I visited. Picnic mat, a bottle of shiraz, fresh seafood on the foreshore and a view to die for. This visit, we found ourselves back for some “unfinished business”.

 

 

 

 

 

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Watsons Bay

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Pelicans Off Watsons Bay

 

 

Sun’s shining and we just had a blast in nearby Bondi Beach. Skipped Coogee Beach and decided a better lunch could be had in this oldest fishing village of Australia. Of course it’s now far from being considered a fishing village. This area across Sydney Harbour Bridge is the perfect destination for a relaxing lunch with many activity options after.

 

 

 

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Doyles On The Beach. Watsons Bay.

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Doyles for fresh seafood!


But let’s deal with the first order of the day. LUNCH. A famous harbourside restaurant has been serving fresh seafood here for ages. DOYLES ON THE BEACH offers both fine dining and takeouts to lay on any of the beach tables or on a picnic mat. Calamari, fish and chips, oysters, salads. Doyles is an institution here and for good reasons. Spell that Y.U.M.

 

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Yummy Seafood lunch from Doyles!

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Thank you, Shelly, for the lunch and for bringing us here! Watsons Bay.

 

 

Watsons Bay is largely a residential area now but as earlier mentioned, a visit here offers many activities and pleasures. Speaking of pleasure, there is a legal nude beach located in nearby Lady Bay. 😉 But I digress. Or maybe not? Seriously though, any visitor can choose many walks including a coastal walk with ocean views of the Gap. The Gap is a well-developed and well-secured ocean cliff with superb views of Manly and the Pacific Ocean.

 

 

 

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Alice Doyles, you’re the best! Doyles on the beach.

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The Gap. Pacific Ocean. Watsons Bay.

 

 

And if you’re done with the harbour view, filled up on Doyles, and felt less guilty after a good walk, how about checking out some of the gelaterias around the corner? Take that cone (or cup) back to the wharf for one last look of this sheltered bay across the bridge. Lovely!

 

 

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An unobstructed view of the city skyline. Watsons Bay.


Don’t drag me to that debate on which is lovelier, more vibrant, more fun between Sydney and Melbourne. Our tour guide in Melbourne started that and don’t ask me why. What’s the fuzz? Both are in Australia, and they’re BOTH lovely. We had our own brand of adventure in both and this piece is a summary of the blogs I’ve posted on Melbourne. Feel free to click on the links (tap the coloured headings) for more details. Share, repost, if you like.

 

 

 

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The Great Ocean Road

 

 

1. THE GREAT OCEAN ROAD

 

 

We booked online via Wildlife Tours. A GroupOn voucher discounted an Au$130-150 tour to only Au$88 for a daytrip starting at 7:30 am, back same day at 9:30pm. Now, before you start saying it’s butt-numbing, do browse through these first 3 blogs. Much adventures in a single day. Def worth every cent and minute of your time! Never mind that it took all of 14 hours. The itinerary is so well-planned with lovely reststops and breaks. Trust me, you’d wish it was longer!

 

 

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2. LONDON BRIDGE NO MORE

 

 

Urban legend or not, I like the story. Or should I say gossip? Now, how many couples would go through an experience like that? Imagine being rescued and airlifted from one of those craggy stone formations because the connecting “bridge” collapsed? Go ahead, click on the link (tap the heading “London Bridge No More) for details.

 

 

Kookaburra

Kookaburra

 

 

3.  MAIT’s RAINFOREST WALK

 

 

Sandwiched among the many beach and oceanview pitstops is this rainforest walk and another site to “meet and greet” koalas and some kookaburra and other colorful birds. Perhaps even a kangaroo or two, if it’s your lucky day. Didn’t think much of this at the outset, but now I say it’s the finest way to stretch those atrophied muscles and breathe in some fresh air on a longgggg day.

 

 

 

Cheapest Hop O n, Hop Off Shuttle. Ever!

Cheapest Hop O n, Hop Off Shuttle. Ever!

 

 

4.   MELBOURNE ON A HOP ON, HOP OFF BUS

Can you beat Au$5 for a 90 minute tour on a shuttle bus around Melbourne’s city sights? There’s a long list that will keep you forever hopping off. You can buy your tickets from machines in designated bus stops or you can drop by the Melbourne Visitor Center for a brochure and that Au$5 ticket!

 

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5.  SHRINE OF REMEMBRANCE:  Lest  We Forget!

This is one of the hop-off sites of the red shuttle bus.  You can save it for last once you get on the bus in front of the Visitor Information Center and Saint Paul Cathedral.  A fitting memorial to the gallant men and women who sacrificed limbs and lives in the name of peace.  We visited just a day before ANZAC DAY so we witnessed a lot of preparations for next day’s dawn service.

ENJOY MELBOURNE!

 

 

 

 

Melbourne For Au$5?


We had a free morning in Melbourne. Done with the Great Ocean Road, we planned on visiting the Shrine of Remembrance a day before ANZAC Day. We weren’t in the mood for visiting vineyards today as we were simply exhausted after yesterday’s long drive. And the city tram is forever hanging with tourists and locals. So what’s best to do without tiring one’s self?

 

 

Flinders Train Station

Flinders Train Station

 

 

The iconic Flinders Station.

The iconic Flinders Station.

 

 

Found this hop on, hop off  shuttle bus going around major tourist sites within the city. Tempting to hop off the bus to do retail therapy at a major factory outlet or to browse around the many souvenir and food stalls in Queen Victoria Market. Cost: $5 all day, children under 10 are free. So why pay more? This is too good to be true.

 

 

Shrine of Remembrance. A Memorial to ANZAC heroes.

Shrine of Remembrance. A Memorial to ANZAC heroes.

 

 

Coffee and Doughnuts To Go!

Coffee and Doughnuts To Go!

 

 

The Au$5 tickets are available from Best of Souvenirs in the Melbourne Visitor Centre at Federation Square or from ticket machines located at each stop. The Visitor Center in Fed Square is just right across the St. Paul Cathedral where the red shuttle bus stops to pick up tourists.

 

 

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Melbourne Visitor Center in Federation Square.

 

 

Culled from their website is this itinerary which lists 13 stops over a 90 minute journey complete with onboard commentary.

 

Stop 1 Arts precinct

Step off here for plays, pictures and performances.

Arts Centre Melbourne
NGV International
Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA)
Malthouse Theatre
Melbourne Recital Centre
Southbank Theatre

 

Stop 2 Federation Square

Step off here for visitor services, culture and art.

Melbourne Visitor Centre
Federation Square
Ian Potter Centre, NGV Australia, Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI)
Birrarung Marr and William Barrack Bridge
Federation Bells
Flinders Street Station
St Paul’s Cathedral
Hosier Lane

 

Stop 3 Sports precinct

Step off here for stadiums, legends and gardens.

Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG)
National Sports Museum (in the MCG)
Melbourne, Olympic and AAMI parks
Fitzroy Gardens, Cooks’ Cottage, Fairies Tree, Model Tudor Village and historic Conservatory.
* Note that this stop is not in service on MCG event days.

 

Stop 4 Chinatown precinct

Step off here for shopping, theatre and a Chinese dragon.

Her Majesty’s, Princess, Regent, Athenaeum and Comedy theatres
Chinatown
Collins Street, Greek precinct
State Library of Victoria, Bourke Street Mall, Melbourne’s GPO, Melbourne Central, QV Melbourne

 

Stop 5 Melbourne Museum and Carlton Gardens

Step off here for culture, cinema and city gaol.

Melbourne Museum
IMAX Theatre
Royal Exhibition Building
Carlton Gardens
Old Melbourne Gaol and City Watch House

 

Stop 6 Lygon Street precinct

Step off here for La Dolce Vita and La Mama.

Lygon Street lifestyle
La Mama and Carlton Courthouse theatres
Piazza Italia
Museo Italiano Cultural Centre

 

Stop 7 University of Melbourne

Step off here for museums, music and modern art.

University of Melbourne
Ian Potter Museum of Art
Grainger Museum

 

Stop 8 Queen Victoria Market

Step off here for the market, museum and mint.

Queen Victoria Market
Melbourne Zoo
Flemington Racecourse
Arts House and Errol Street
Hellenic Museum

 

Stop 9 Harbour Town, Docklands

Step off here for shopping, skating and sailing.

Harbour Town
Medibank Icehouse
NewQuay
Tourism Lounge

 

Stop 10 Etihad Stadium and Victoria Harbour

Step off here for arts, parks and sporting events.

Victoria Harbour
Yarra’s Edge
Etihad Stadium
Docklands Park
Fox Classic Car Museum

 

Stop 11 William Street

Step off here for culture, courts and coastal wonders.

Immigration Museum
Koorie Heritage Trust Cultural Centre
Legal precinct
ANZ Banking Museum
Enterprise Wharf
Melbourne Aquarium

Stop 12 Southbank and Yarra River

Step off here for the skydeck, shops and ships.

Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre
South Wharf Promenade
Crown Entertainment Complex
Southgate
Eureka Skydeck 88
Polly Woodside

 

Stop 13 The Shrine and Royal Botanic Gardens

Step off here for music, a memorial and meandering gardens.

Shrine of Remembrance
Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne
Ian Potter Foundation Children’s Garden
Sidney Myer Music Bowl
Government House
La Trobe’s Cottage


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It’s Autumn in Berry, Shoalhaven.

We took off early for a family weekend in a holiday home by the lake. Not easy with 6 grandchildren of 2 teenagers and 4 under 10. Chaos cuts across almost everything that involved the 6. Who sits beside whom? Who shares a pie or a platter of scones with clotted cream and jam? Which gelato flavors to order?  Where to park? Where and what to eat? Who else hasn’t peed before the next long drive? 

 

 

 

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A very interesting one-story hotel in Berry.

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Where to have a brekkie in Berry? So many choices.

 

 

First Pitstop identified. The heritage town of Berry in the Shoalhaven region along the South Coast is just slightly over an hour’s drive south of the state capital of Sydney. It is a small town, but packed with many historic buildings as well as a number of curio shops with arts, antiques and crafts. Very charming.

 

 

 

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The main street in Berry is lined with historic buildings, interesting curio shops, many arts and crafts stalls.

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On this store is a big sign that says “POTTERING AROUND IS THE PERFECT PASTIME”. Only in Berry, Shoalhaven!

 

 

Population is only a couple of thousand. The few we met who manned the curio shops didn’t seem to mind our little ones sneaking in and out of stalls, pushing chairs here and there to get closer to a favorite cousin, or to slurp from someone elses’s milk shake. An elderly couple even approached us while enjoying our brekkie, just to say how delighted they were with our little one who took off his hat to fill it up with water from a drinking fountain! (That could only be Xion)

 

 

 

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Cousins!

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The kids loved the scones and devonshire tea from Gourmet on Broughton Cafe. Berry, NSW.

 

 

Earlier on, we debated on whether to try the famous doughnuts of Berry or stick to our fav scones and tea. The nearby gelato and available parking clinched the decision to go for scones. Not a bad thing at all. GOURMET ON BROUGHTON CAFE had enough tables to sit all of us, with the Berry Museum, Berry Memorial and a couple more historic buildings just a few meters away.

 

 

 

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Before long, the little ones easily found their way to the nearby gelato. We also just needed to cross the street to check out the arts and crafts stalls. Many interesting stores here. And the vibe is very “Berry” relaxed. It was so refreshing to be chatting with so many cheerful strangers!

 

 

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We were all packed inside our cars and well on our way when we passed the doughnut shop. Hmmmm. Maybe next time 🙂

 

 

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If you’re a chocolate lover, the name may sound familiar. And if you happen to be in the Blue Mountains area, you may want to consider dropping by this oldest known cafe in the whole of Australia.  An absolute must to complete your Blue Mountains experience.

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If we weren’t so keen on a fab lunch in neighboring Leura, we would have taken our lunch here. But it was quite early for lunch when we got here, so we instead settled for our cappuccinos, lattes and hot chocolate. The service staff were sooooo accommodating. Encouraged to visit their Blue Room and Banquet Hall, we were all fascinated by the art-deco and antique decor displayed here.

 

 

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Coming to this heritage-listed 1916 Paragon Cafe is a compulsory Blue Mountains experience. Katoomba holds a special place in my heart since my first visit, but this is undisputedly its art-deco masterpiece. Waffles, handmade chocolates, coffee are only a few samplings enjoyed here by celebrities like Bob Dylan before. But beyond those yummies, one can’t help encountering nostalgia especially after visiting the interior rooms.

 

 

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Thankfully, the cafe was preserved and lovingly restored and restyled since ownership was conveyed to the Simos Family in 1916. A young Greek immigrant by the name of Zacharias Simos owned what was originally known as Paragon Sundae and Candy Store and added what are now the Blue Room (1934) and Banquet Hall (1936). The decor speaks of the glamor then prevalent and for sure, the architect (Henry White, same fellow who designed the State and Capital Theatres of Sydney) did an excellent job.  The Simos family retained ownership until the early part of the 21st Century.

 

 

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No, this isn’t the London Bridge in England. This one’s Down Under southwest of Melbourne in Victoria, Australia. Wish I visited long ago before the bridge collapsed but this pre-1990 photo sourced from the Net set side by side with my recent pic should give you an idea.

 

 

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THEN AND NOW. PRE 1990-2014.

 

 

We joined a (long) daytrip to do the Great Ocean Road (GOR) and this — along with the Loch Ard and Twelve Apostles — were saved for last. The Twelve Apostles is the day’s highlight, of course, but this equally stunning view takes your breath away too! Plus it has a real good story to tell. Whether it’s an urban legend or a true story, it makes a truly fascinating tale.

 

 

 

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ALL IN A DAY via the GREAT OCEAN ROAD.

 

 

 

The story goes that there was a couple stranded on the rock when the bridge collapsed in 1990. Married, these 2, but NOT to each other. So Steve, our GOR guide, animatedly narrated the story of how the couple had to be rescued via helicopter and airlifted to safety. We tried, and failed, to squeeze more from that juicy story. Like…. Oh, you know what I mean. What a gossip! 😉

 

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With my competent niece-driver, Shelly.

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A day well-spent. 7:30 am to 9:30 pm.