Monday, April 25, 2016

New Camera!

We've finally joined the rest of the world and purchased a "real" camera! After getting the chance to test out a couple DSLR cameras courtesy of our recent visitors, Peter and I finally caved and bought one for ourselves just in time for our trip to Japan. We have been interested in learning a bit more about photography for a couple of years, so we decided now was a good time to start! Although we probably won't be using it on an everyday basis (sorry, you haven't seen the last of my crappy iPhone photos on the blog!), we thought it would be nice to have along on vacations and to practice our (currently nonexistent) photography skills around Melbourne. Peter is much more into figuring out the various settings than I am (I mainly use the auto function) and he may end up taking most of the pictures on this camera. I will likely stick mostly with my phone, our old digital camera, or the GoPro on vacations. Basically, cameras to which I can attach a selfie stick. 

If you're curious, we bought the Canon Rebel 6 and I have absolutely no clue what that means, other than I should be able to figure out how to use it. I explicitly said to the salesperson at the camera store that I had no experience with photography, didn't know the difference between lenses or settings, and wasn't interested in something so complicated I would get frustrated trying to figure it out and quit immediately. He pointed us to the Canon Rebel 6, and so far it's been fairly easy to figure out. I still haven't mastered the portrait setting or any of the manual controls (vibrant, shade, etc.) but we decided to head over to the Shrine of Remembrance today to check out the ANZAC Day festivities and play around with the camera. 
I quickly discovered that my favorite pictures to take are super close-ups.
I realize posting a random selfie with not much in the background is super vain, but you can really see the difference in quality when you're on the portrait setting versus auto. Peter took this one, obviously.
Peter takes much more artistic shots than I do...such as this one of his shoes.
There's a really pretty wall lining one of the entrances to the Shrine where you can insert a poppy in remembrance or honor of someone who has served in the armed forces. These were some of my favorite pictures!
We leave for Japan on Thursday night, so get ready for photo overload!
Sunday, April 24, 2016

Family Visit Highlights Part 3

I'm back with the third installment of photos from my family's recent trip to Melbourne! If you missed my first two posts, you can see them here and here.

As you've probably gathered by now if you've read the blog for any extended period of time, the Great Ocean Road is a must-see on any trip to Melbourne. Although my dad did an awesome job driving on the left side of the road down to Phillip Island earlier in their trip, we decided it would be best to have a seasoned left-side-driver guide us down the Great Ocean Road. For one thing, the road itself is extremely narrow and winding, so when you add a bunch of tourists it can make for a stressful situation. It's also quite a long trek to make in one day, and the driver pretty much misses out on all the fantastic views. So, the best option for our group was to hire a driver/tour guide for the day, which turned out to be fun, stress-free, and highly entertaining. 

Here we are in the van, putting the selfie stick to good use! 
Our driver, Francois, was hilarious. He was originally from Paris but has lived in Australia for years. His nephew owns the tour company and he occasionally helps him out with tours when they're busy (we went on Good Friday, so it was definitely busy!). In his everyday life, he works as a producer and artist and told us some hilarious stories about interactions with various famous models during his career. He served as a great guide and showed us a few places even Peter and I had not yet discovered on our many previous trips. 
One of these new discoveries was the Anglesea Golf Course, where these all but domesticated kangaroos hung out. It was actually pretty funny how they just sat on the driving range, totally unconcerned with the golfers. 
We stopped at a few scenic overlooks, including this one, which I think I've probably photographed 100 times. It never gets old! 
One of the perks of hiring a driver: group photos not taken with a selfie stick! 
We stopped at this beach of man-made rock formations. I added a rock to one of the towers and then we took some beach pictures. 
A selfie featuring Kathryn, Hannah and me with my dad taking a picture of Peter taking a picture in the background. So many photos! 
Kathryn playing on the rocks. 
One of our stops was a rainforest walk on the inland stretch of the Great Ocean Road. Peter and I did one of these the first time we ever made the trip, but it was through a different forest. Kathryn immediately put her hood up, convinced a life-size spider was going to drop from the trees. Thankfully, we saw exactly zero wildlife during this portion of the trip!
I actually might submit this one to Awkward Family Photos. 
We got to The Twelve Apostles around mid-afternoon, along with approximately 72927161 other people. The viewing platform is always busy, but since it was Easter weekend, there were tons of people. 
There was a bench on the walkway that helped us get a couple of good pictures in front of the landforms. 
Francois, being an artist, had some quirky photo suggestions such as this one if Hannah and Kathryn. 
Then we headed to the Loch Ard Gorge, one of my favorite places along the Great Ocean Road. 
I forget the name of these rocks, but this was our last stop and another area Peter and I hadn't been in the past. The sun was starting to set and the rocks looked amazing in the light. 
We had a fabulous time on the Great Ocean Road, and I'm really glad my dad and Peter (the only other potential driver) were both able to enjoy the views instead of staring at the road for 10 hours! 

On my family's last night in Melbourne, we discovered Meatmaiden, an AMAZING restaurant in the city. I honestly can't believe I had never heard of this place until a few weeks ago! 
And to finish off a great last night in Melbourne, we ordered a huge tub of Gelato Messina to the Melbourne Club and ate the entire thing. No shame! 
Peter and I really enjoyed having my family in town and wish they could have stayed longer! We don't have any visitors scheduled to visit for the rest of the year, so we're going to start harassing friends and family to come back! ;) 
Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Family Visit Highlights Part 2

I'm back with more pictures from my family's recent trip to Melbourne! 

So, as usual, we took our visitors down to Phillip Island. This is a routine we've nearly perfected: drive down, stop at the Phillip Island Wildlife Park, eat at Mad Cowes Cafe, visit the Nobbies, and then slowly drive back to the city, hopefully spotting a few wallabies along the way. The trip went pretty much according to plan, except the hand-feeding-kangaroos portion of the day was a bit more exciting than usual. And by exciting, I mean they basically mobbed us and we almost died via kangaroo. I've been to the Phillip Island Wildlife Park more than a few times, and usually, you have to kind of bribe the kangaroos to take any interest in you by placing the food directly in front of their faces. They're particularly uninterested when it's hot or crowded. 

For whatever reason, on this day they were super hungry and the park was basically deserted, so when our group appeared with bags full of food, they eagerly hopped right over. We even got to witness a couple of mini boxing matches between hungry kangaroos. It was pretty entertaining until one of the big guys got a bit carried away and swiftly kicked my dad! Unfortunately, there is no video, but it was pretty crazy. How many people can say they went to Australia and actually got assaulted by a kangaroo?? 

Here's a cute picture of my sister Kathryn posing with the rare obedient roo. 
Kathryn and Hannah with their new friend! 
I brought the selfie stick, of course, but failed to get a group shot in which a kangaroo was actually facing the camera. In fact, I think they were a bit scared of the selfie stick, which worked to my advantage when they became aggressive. 
My dad feeding/fending off some of the bigger guys. I think the one eating out of his hand may be the kicker. They've made peace by this point, apparently! 
I love Kathryn's face in this picture, and how the kangaroo is jumping up for her food. 
So, it was an eventful day at the Wildlife Park! Kathryn and my dad even came away with some battle scars: 
Then it was off to the Nobbies, where we enjoyed relatively warm weather. Pretty much every time I've ever been to the Nobbies it's been extremely windy and pretty chilly, which makes for good waves, but isn't conducive to the leisurely stroll we were able to enjoy on this trip. We even spotted a cute little penguin waddling down to hill toward the water. 

Kathryn soaking up the sunshine! 
Potentially the most awkward photo ever. Not sure why we're single file. 
Dad, pondering. I love this picture! 
Hannah and Kathryn admiring the water. 
Note that Kathryn and I are wearing the same shoes in the picture below. I purchased them earlier this year for $15 from H and M and they're my absolute favorite. Kathryn picked up a pair as well while we were out and about shopping in Melbourne, and she's also a big fan. 
We had an awesome time in Phillip Island and I should note, for the record, that my dad drove on the left side extremely skillfully! 

Finally, just a few more pictures from around the city, starting with brunch at Kettle Black, which my parents really enjoyed. 
Shrine of Remembrance 
State Library of Victoria (notice me, Kathryn, and Hannah on the top floor). 
Kathryn and Hannah's first stop in Melbourne- Ponyfish Island! 
Checking out Level 9 of our building. 
Doing some shopping on Chapel Street. This book is so accurate: dads are the original hipsters! 
Lastly, we enjoyed a fun game of footy! 


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!



Search This Blog

Popular Posts



Powered by Blogger.



Email *

Message *