Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Kangaroos Are The Best

Because we had such a good time on our mini vacation to Phillip Island last month, we took a quick day trip today to show Sam some of the highlights. The weather has been crazy lately; it was 65 and extremely windy today, but the forecast predicts a high of 104 and sunshine by Friday. There is a legitimate possibility that I will melt. Notwithstanding today's chilly temperatures (I recognize by characterizing 65 degrees as "chilly", I am angering approximately 90% of my readership currently freezing to death in Minnesota...sorry guys) we had a great time feeding kangaroos at the wildlife park and observing the Nobbies. I don't know what the name "Nobbies" actually means, but it's basically a collection of large rocks. More glamorous than it sounds, I promise.

Here are just a few photos (I forgot the GoPro this time which was a bummer). I won't go overboard since my earlier Phillip Island post features these two activities as well, so refer to it for more kangaroo picture than you ever wanted to see. 
Roo with a joey! I will never not love feeding kangaroos. It's funny how some are really gentle while taking the food out of your hand, and then others are extremely aggressive and hop in your face until you feed them. Obviously, I prefer the latter. 
Sam feeding his first kangaroo! 
Wallaby feeding selfie. The wind got the better of my hair. 

My kangaroo pictures are nothing compared to what Sam was able to capture on his camera. This is perhaps the greatest photo ever taken of a kangaroo:
Another great photo. So regal.
And me doing what I do best.
Sam and Peter observing the Nobbies. 
Because of the high winds, the waves were extra powerful. If the ocean doesn't already terrify you, visit this place and it will. 
In a testament to the ever-changing Melbourne weather, in the 15 or so minutes between when the first picture and this last one were taken, the sky cleared and the sun came out. 

On a random food-related note, we had brunch at Top Paddock yesterday and I had the best pancakes in the entire world. 

On Friday we will rent a car and drive down to Torquay since there's not much else to do when it's 10 billion degrees outside. Then we will rent a car again on Sunday and head down the Great Ocean Road, which I've been dying to do for months, before we all go back to the States next week. 
Saturday, December 27, 2014

Half Moon Bay

We are continuing to show Sam around Melbourne this weekend, and the weather has been nearly perfect! On Friday, we walked through Fitzroy Gardens (to the east of the CBD) and then stopped by St. Patrick's Cathedral.
Without question one of the most beautiful buildings in Melbourne. 

We decided to head north of the CBD to Lygon Street for dinner. The area is known for its Italian restaurants, and while many were closed due to Boxing Day, we found a great restaurant called Carmine's Bistro. 
Sam and Peter waiting for their food. 
Chicken pesto pizza and some sort of sausage pizza- both delicious. 
Spaghetti Bolognese- also delicious.

After dinner, we had what has to be the best gelato in the entire world. I suppose it's possible better gelato exists somewhere in the world, but I highly doubt it. My phone had died by this point so I didn't get a picture, but a photo probably wouldn't do it justice anyway. If you are anywhere near Lygon Street, or in Melbourne in general, you MUST go to Pidapipo. We will most definitely be going back, probably weekly/daily. 

On Saturday, we ventured down the coast to Half Moon Bay in Sandringham. It's only about 30 minutes out of the city, and the beach is much nicer than St. Kilda or Brighton. The only drawback was the somewhat long walk from the train station to Half Moon Bay. It was definitely worth it though. The water is crystal clear and it wasn't nearly as crowded as the beaches closer to the city. 
There's a shipwreck off of the beach that you can just barely make out in this picture. 
After a long day at the beach, we went for dessert at Brunetti. Their flourless chocolate cake is amazing. 

Although today is supposed to be really hot and sunny, we will probably skip the beach. Sam and Peter are both sporting pretty intense sunburns that would probably not be helped by another day in the sun. And they laughed at me for applying SPF 45 every hour...
Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas Day BBQ

We had a fun and pretty relaxed Christmas Day. In fact, I don't think we even left our apartment building! First things first: I got to FaceTime with my mom, sister and dog Leo yesterday as they were celebrating Christmas Eve. Leo is the cutest dog in the world:
We then went downstairs to Matt and Lauren's apartment and had an epic BBQ dinner. I'm literally still full. 
They have an amazing view of the Yarra River and CBD!
First on the grill-corn. 
Next were the sausages, which I think is primarily an English thing as we would generally do hotdogs or brats, but these were SO good! Also, Lauren is a grill master. 
Throwing shrimp on the barbie. Literally. The most Australian moment of my life. 
They turned out perfectly. I used to be allergic to shrimp as a kid, but I had a few last night and am still standing so I think it's safe to say I've grown out of that! 
The feast. 
My plate: a burger, corn, prawns, sausage, potato salad, and coleslaw. Somehow I ate all of it. 
The table setting complete with Bon Bons/Christmas Crackers (not sure which is the official title). I think this tradition is primarily English/Australian as well. You grab one end of the cracker and the person next to you grabs the other so you're linked in a circle around the table. Then you pull and whoever gets the larger part of the cracker when it brakes keeps the gift inside. I got a tape measure (actually something we needed) and each of them contained one of these stylish hats, which we kept on all night, obviously:
Lauren made a delicious marshmallow, cookie, and chocolate dessert to top it all off. I'm sure I gained in the neighborhood of 15 pounds yesterday but YOLO. 

Finally, we moved down to the theatre in our building and watched The Interview. I can't say it was a work of artistic genius, but it was semi-entertaining. Overall, we had a great Christmas and are left with some delicious leftovers to eat today. 

The day after Christmas is Boxing Day in Australia, which is also a holiday. All my life I thought it had something to do with boxing the sport, but actually it used to be the day when servants and tradespeople would receive gifts from their employers. These days, it seems people primarily lie around and watch cricket. We probably won't be doing a lot of that (cricket matches are very slow paced and can go on for hours/days) but hope to get outside and enjoy the nice weather. 

Merry Christmas to all, and to our friends and family back home- we can't wait to see you in January! 
Wednesday, December 24, 2014

'Twas the Night Before Christmas

We celebrated Christmas Eve with a delicious roast dinner. Peter did the meat, I mashed the potatoes and Sam made the gravy. It all turned out great! 
It still doesn't feel like tomorrow is Christmas, partly because we spent the evening at St. Kilda Beach watching the sunset and looking for penguins in the rocks (not exactly our usual Christmas Eve activities). Here are some pictures from the night:
The boats at St. Kilda Pier with the city in the background. 
We happened to catch one of the best sunsets I've ever seen. 
Is this real life...
Cute little penguin!

Right after dark, the penguins started swimming in and making their way onto the rocks. Apparently they go out for a day or two at a time to collect food and bring it back to their nests. One of the volunteers said there were over 1,200 penguins in this little stretch of rocks at the end of the pier, which I thought was a pretty impressive colony. 
It's hard to see this little guy, but the volunteers shined red lights on the penguins in order to spot them more easily. You aren't allowed to take flash photos/use flashlights as the penguins can become disoriented from the white light.
Another pretty grainy picture, but you get the idea. 
Merry Christmas Eve from Melbourne! 
Sunday, December 21, 2014

Healesville Sanctuary and Wine Country

On Saturday we took a trip to the Healesville Sanctuary with our friends Matt and Lauren. We have been wanting to visit since we moved to Melbourne and thought it would be good to go when Sam arrived so he could see some Australian animals. The sanctuary is somewhat like a zoo, but it's more open to allow for some interaction with the animals. One of the successes of our trip was the Selfie Stick, which Lauren purchased a few days before. For those of you who don't know, a Selfie Stick allows you to attach your phone, extend the stick, and take a much better selfie than with just your own arm. While we got plenty of odd looks, it was so worth it. I'll be purchasing my own shortly. 
Matt testing the capabilities of the selfie stick. 
You could get pretty close to the kangaroos, although they were quite lazy while we were there. 
Sam got a new camera before he came to visit and took this picture with it. You can tell it's much higher quality than the photos I took on my iPhone! 
Lauren and I used the selfie stick to get a picture with the wallabies. We may or may not have illegally bribed them with pieces of my apple to get them to come closer. 
Lots of pretty scenery. The sanctuary was meant to feel like you were walking through the bush. 
There was a hospital on site where they care for injured animals that are brought to the sanctuary. We watched one of the employees hand feed a baby koala while sporting the most Australian boots ever. 
This was the most active koala I've ever seen. It paced around and jumped in and out of trees anticipating feeding time. Usually, they just sleep high up in a tree so it was fun to see one so active.

Healesville is located in the Yarra Valley Wine Region, which was a happy coincidence. I've visited the Yarra Valley before, but hadn't been to the winery we went to on Saturday. 
Entrance to the Chandon Winery
We did a $5 wine tasting, which was definitely worth it as we got relatively large samples of six wines. 
Selfie stick at work again. 
The winery was incredibly beautiful. It looked like something out of the movies. We sat in the grass for awhile admiring the scenery. 
Another photo from Sam's fancy camera! 
The whole group!

While it took Peter and me a good week to adjust to the time change when we first arrived, Sam hasn't missed a beat. It's quite impressive. Today we plan to explore some of the laneways in the city. In the next few weeks, we will be taking trips to Phillip Island and the Great Ocean Road, so check back for pictures! 


Welcome! I started Laura and Peter Down Under in July 2014 when my husband and I moved from the States to Melbourne, Australia for his job. I blog about expat life, our travels, food, and whatever else comes to mind. Follow along on our adventures Down Under!



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