Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Awesome Aussie Holiday

We have just returned from a helluva 2-weeks holiday in Australia. We flew into Melbourne on MAS and arrived in a crisp early spring morning. Our host Alan drove more than 100km from Geelong to pick us at the airport. We relaxed and rested our first day in Alan and Joyce's home.

That evening, Joyce and Alan prepared a sumptuous meal for us. We had Alan's roast prime ribs (wonderfully prepared), Joyce curry lamb (yum), steamed mussels (fresh from the Geelong water front), complete with veges and sambal. It was delicious meal.

Alan, Joyce and their charming family were impeccable hosts. They went out of their way to make us comfortable and at home.

After a good night's rest and a hearty home breakfast, Alan drove us to Dandenong in east Melbourne to the National Rhododendron Gardens. This park, as the name suggests, is dedicated to rhododendrons.

It was still early spring, and the flowers were not yet in full bloom. Still the garden was a pretty sight. They were enough flowers to satisfy our cameras.

The views in many parts of the park was magnificent.

Next day, we set off to do the Great Alpine Road, north east of Melbourne. From there, our target was Lakes Entrance in East Gippsland. It was to be a 2 days trip. The drive was long and hard on the first day. Alan did all the driving. We passed by several small towns...

Scenic look-outs and tough unpaved country roads...

Before finally arriving at our first night-stop in Myrtleford at about 8.00pm. The town was ghostly deserted.

We went looking for food. The only decent thing available was pizza and pastas. We shared 2 pizzas.

And ravioli and garlic bread. The meal was so-so.

The boss lady was not very friendly. Probably because we arrived near their closing time.

We spent the night in a motor inn. It was warm and comfortable.

Fully rested next morning, we hit the Great Alpine Road. The first town after Myrtleford was Bright. It was a quaint little town. Here we hired some chains for our tyres. The chains were for slippery winter roads. Since it was still late winter or early spring, we were bound by local laws, at risks of hefty fines, to carry them even though the road conditions did not require their use.

After Bright, we began to climb. The landscape changed dramatically with the altitude. The normal gums trees were quickly replaced by leafless twits.

Then we saw snow. Initially, at a distance.

Soon, we were near enough to walk on it. We got out of our car for some fatuous frolics.

As we drove on, more snowy activities became evident. Like ski lifts and snow mobiles.

Then we entered the ski resort of Hotham.

Hotham is apparently privately owned. They levy a fee for each car that stops by the resort. We were just passing through. We did not bother about the payment.

The place appeared beautiful. However, even though there was sufficient snow, we did not see many skiers.

We left Hotham and started to descend. We stopped at a small town named Omeo to return the tyre chains that we had hired at Bright. Like all small Australian towns, it was "Hello.. anybody around?".

A couple of hours more on the road, and we arrived in our final destination. Lakes Entrance is a popular beach resort about 300km east of Melbourne. It was almost dark and raining when we arrived. So we went into Coles and bought some food and checked into the apartment that Alan had earlier booked.

The apartment was beautiful - spacious and fully equipped. Here the ladies prepared dinner. Alan was the honorary chef. He made us a wonderful steak dinner.

The steak was delicious. It was good Australian meat. Alan seasoned it with simple salt and pepper and then pan fried it to perfection. He then prepared a sauce and the meat was eaten with plenty of fresh salads. Ole to the chef. I enjoyed it so much that I asked for more of his steaks in days to come.

Next morning, we set out to explore Lake Entrance. The place was very quiet. There was hardly any tourist. It was not the season yet. It was early spring and was still cold. The high season had yet to pick up.

Across a narrow channel facing the township was a long stretch of sand dune. A beautiful bridge connects the mainland to the sand dune. We walked across the bridge...

The narrow sand dune was beautiful, with some buildings and leisure areas.

On the other side of the dune was a pristine sandy beach.

About half an hour from Lake Entrance was another water front resort - Metung (pronounced Mee Tang). We saw a lot of holiday homes in this small township. The wharf was picture pretty. Ideal place to own a boat and retire.

Also a superb place for a hot cup of coffee. After that we headed backed to Geelong.

That evening, Alan and Joyce treated us to a sumptuous Aussie dinner. The place they picked was a pub known as The Commo in Geelong.

The large building had 2 sections - the normal drinking joint and an adjacent restaurant. It apparently is a very popular drinking and eating place in Geelong.

The prices seemed reasonable too.

A fire place at the centre was added charm to the ambiance.

The meal started with this goat cheese and tomato bruschetta. Nice crispy toasts with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Yum.

For entrees, the selection included this crumbed calamari (squid) with fries and fresh salads. I did not have a bite of the squid. The comments from those who did was that it was very good.

This was steak and kidney pie, served with mashed potato and blanched vegetables.

My wife had this chicken risotto in a zucchini and lemon sauce. The flavour was naturally kind of sourish. The risotto was served with 2 crispy something. We are not sure what it was. But it certainly was nice.

My selection was this roast lamb with mint jelly sauce. It was to be served with mash potato but I requested fries instead. Also on the plate was blanched vegetables and corn on the cob. The meat was tender. The flavour was delicious. A heavy meal indeed.

After dinner, we went straight home to an early bed. For the next morning we had to leave Geelong at 3.00am in the morning for a 100 over kilometre drive to the airport. There we would take a 6.30am flight on Jetstar. Our destination - Tasmania.

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