Overnight stays: Gridley Guesthouse, Cheltenham; Welsh Wesidence, Altona North; Clohesy Castle, Ormond; Capel Sound Foreshore Reserve, Rosebud West
Our original intent was to arrive in Melbourne in early November, hit a few horse races for the Spring Carnival, and then explore Victoria for a month or so before finishing in NSW.
As has been the story of our year, our plans changed a thousand times daily, and after already seeing a good chunk of our most southern mainland state, we finally pulled into Melbourne for the most social leg of the Wombatical in late November.
We have been to Melbourne more times than the Australian Open, so our time here was always going to be less touristy and more social.
First stop was my sister, Kirra’s house in Cheltenham, where we squeezed the WomBatmobile into a driveway tighter than the current cricket series against India, and spoilt ourselves silly with gelato, Melbourne coffee, the best fish tacos on the planet, and quality time with the little legend, our nephew, Matty.
We were lucky enough to spend a good amount of time with Kiz, Marcus and Matty a week or so prior in Tamworth, and had very little time left on the trip, so only stayed the one night.
We hadn’t really driven in traffic since leaving Sydney almost a year ago, so crossing the city and infamous West Gate Bridge gave us a reminder of city driving, horrendous.
Our friends Shahn and Phil have recently knocked down and rebuilt a beautiful home over the other side of the city, in Altona North. With plenty of street parking, a big new house, and more toys than a Nauti & Nice Christmas party, we had a wonderful night catching up over a delectable roast dinner. It also gave us a chance to get to know their little dude, Harvey.
Back across the West Gate the following day, we pulled into a side street in Ormond, around the corner from our good friends, The Clohesy’s Castle. It was a weekday so, just like the ordinary people we will become again in January, they were at work and school for the day, so we jumped on the train into the city.
Melbourne CBD always has a magical vibe, and this cracker of a day didn’t provide an exceptions. Just wandering around got us excited for our return to Sydney, with a plethora of people, cafes, pubs, and restaurants bringing the streets to life with people.
A staple on any Melbourne visit is Huxtaburger, whom happened to be offering $1 milkshakes on this day for a lunchtime win.
For the remainder of the arvo we just wandered through the vibrant laneways only Melbourne seems to nail, drank coffee baristad by a smelly hippie wearing overalls (standard) and hit the library.
As was becoming the norm, another over-the-top dinner was being laboured by Dan, as Leona and Delilah showed around their McMassive palace. Primrose and Ali joined us soon enough, and we dined like royalty.
After dinner the kids (and Dan) put on a concert for us before hitting the hay, allowing us to crack a few Margaret River beauties, talk travel and watch Extra Brut win The Derby, over and over again.
We had arranged to reconnect with Loz’s parents, Deb and Stu, the following day, after a couple of weeks apart, to finish Victoria together. Knowing they had met before, had very similar interests, and love caravanning and cruising, we arranged to meet at my brother-in-law, Marcus’ parents, Brian and Kath’s house for lunch before heading onto the Peninsula for the night.
They built a gorgeous house in Mount Eliza a few years ago and love hosting, so they put on a wonderful spread, washed down with another ripping Margaret River red. It was quite remarkable watching Grey Nomads interact, almost in their own language, talking specific cruise ships, ports, caravan brands and setups, towing, and stromatolites. Fascinating.
We also joked about Brian and Kath’s recent Queensland trip, where they broke down and were forced to spend 10 days in Hell, otherwise known as Blackhall. We reckon it’s the worst town in Australia, full of flies, mud, and egg-water, but Stroms seem to love the artesian baths and wool scour, so they were happy enough to spend the most part of two weeks there. We reckon the only thing worse than spending 10 days in Blackhall would be 11 days in Blackhall!
Following the gorgeous coastal road down towards Rosebud, we immediately recognised Arthur’s Seat up to the left, and made our roundabout way to the top for a nice view on a banging day over the bright blue Port Phillip Bay.
Brian informed us that only a few years ago, the cracking campsite along the water outside Rosebud changed its name to Capel Sound, because it sounds a hell of a lot more appealing than Rosebud West. I have to agree: Rosebud itself is pretty ordinary, but with West on the backend of it, it sounds a bit like one of Kimye’s children.
The campsite was a ripper, right on the water, and it goes forever along the coast. Sadly we were on a pretty tight schedule at this point, so didn’t get much time to appreciate it properly, but this had become the nature of our trip, with such little time remaining and so many places to visit.
Peninsula Hot Springs
Some years ago, a family on a farm in the Mornington Peninsula realised they were sitting on a gold mine. Not such the actual mineral of gold, but plenty of mineral water, heated naturally by the earth, enough to punch some holes in the ground and charge a few bucks for people to bathe in.
The Peninsula Hot Springs are now a major tourist attraction for the area, and an absolute must-do. It’s certainly the most tarted up and expensive hot springs we’ve visited (even more than Iceland’s Blue Lagoon by memory), but super impressive. They offer dozens of pools at varying temperatures, a steam room, sauna, plunge pool, and beautiful views across the Peninsula.
It was busier than a real estate agent who actually has to work for their money now (as opposed to the past five years), but equally relaxing, with plenty of pools and room for everyone. So relaxing that we forgot to take any photos at all to remember our visit by.
Given our friend, family and work links to Melbourne, we were never going to play tourist for too long there, but instead use it as an opportunity to catchup with many of the legends who call it home. After a few years off, it was nice to get back to the Pensinsula, especially to see the hot springs.
Until we meet again Melbourne, in March 2019.