A Travellerspoint blog


Yarra Valley, Canberra and more Melbourne

Reporting from Jinqiao

24 °C
View Christmas Vacation on aboo10's travel map.

After Mike left, we were hardly sitting still for any time at all... so while waiting for Auntie Marnie and her fiancé James to arrive


  • played at Central Park


  • went to the children's garden at the Royal Botanic Gardens


  • visited the Collingwood Children's Farm


  • jumped on the neighbour's trampoline


Once they got here, we managed to spend a day out shopping to buy bridesmaid dresses, for me and 2 of her friends - amazingly all of us live in a different city and almost country... Shanghai, Darwin, Melbourne and of course Marnie in London... remarkably we were all in Melbourne this one single week!! And yes we found a dress - but it is not mine to display a photo just yet... wait until April!

And then we squeezed in a trip to the Yarra Valley to visit the Healesville Sanctuary and for me to attend an old school friend's wedding, all on the eve of a weekend in Canberra to celebrate my Grandma's 90th birthday.

We left Melbourne bright and early in the morning, aiming to be at the Innocent Bystander winery for breakfast.

And then we headed over to Healesville Sanctuary, which Jie Jie quite learnedly defines as somewhere they look after animals when they are hurt in the wild. We wanted to take the kids there to be sure that they saw a kangaroo and koala again while they were here. We weren't disappointed!

We were especially taken with the free flight bird show, although as luck would have it we were caught there in the rain.

But the highlight was after the bird show, when an Aboriginal man did a cultural presentation where he played the didgeridoo and then demonstrated throwing a boomerang. After his show he started talking about how he always gave away his boomerang, and aside from a few slightly tacky remarks like he usually looks for a "25 year old blonde"... he walked all the way around the arena, and continued his banter, of looking for the rightful recipient, and how he was looking for the most beautiful smile...

Anyway, I'm sure you know where this is going, but coming to the very end of the benches, he then climbed up the grandstand and there were three very excited children all sitting next to each other... he'd pretty much indicated that he was planning on giving his boomerang to a girl, so although he was eager, I was holding Didi back and we were sitting next to another family with a little girl, but there was not a waver of hesitation - the boomerang was for Jie Jie, and he said as he gave it to her "What a beautiful smile, Princess" - hook, line and sinker, Jie Jie was gobsmacked, and Didi was insanely jealous, so much so, that he tried to stop Jie Jie's photo being taken with her new boomerang!!

After that we checked into the Yarra Valley Grand Hotel on the main street in Yarra Glen, and I hurriedly tried to bath the kids, and get ready to go to the wedding. Lucky for me (or really lucky for my Dad) there was a bus which collected several guests from the hotel, took us to the wedding, AND dropped us back again... The wedding was in a gorgeous spot, at Stones Winery - gorgeous setting, and lovely intimate wedding.

Bright and early the next morning, like 5am, we loaded up the car and headed to Tullamarine Airport for an early flight to Canberra... for the next major event: a family reunion at no other than the Park Hyatt in Canberra to celebrate my Grandma's 90th Birthday. Super posh and super luxurious!! Marnie and James were en route from Melbourne, and more friends and family were coming from Singapore, Sydney and Canada. Party was lovely, long table inside, and spilling out into a courtyard where the children could play and the adults could catch up and enjoy the summer sunshine.

One more night in Canberra, and then back to Melbourne, where really our trip was over as we had 4 days to pack up, catch up with friends one last time and board that plane to Shanghai. 6 weeks in Australia - always goes too fast!!

Posted by aboo10 07:32 Archived in Australia Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

Christmas and New Year

Reporting from Jinqiao

26 °C
View Christmas Vacation on aboo10's travel map.

So, I'm now back in China, and updating my travel journal retrospectively, and it seems a long time since Christmas especially... but I think it is worth documenting.

Arriving back from Sydney, Mum and Dad had collected the Christmas tree, which was now waiting to be decorated. Mum had laid out the decorations and was waiting for us to first install the lights and tinsel before letting the children loose on the decorations for the branches. It was a perfect tree, well proportioned and with lots of little branches for ornaments. The smell of the pine needles permeated throughout the house in the heat of summer.

One of my true joys in any visit to Melbourne, is stocking up on fruit, meat, fish and other delicacies from the fine food emporium otherwise known as Prahran Market. My family has been going to the one fruiterer there for about, oh, 30 years, Pino Narduzzo & Sons, to give him a plug, and his fruit is the best I've ever experienced, in fact to such a degree that I don't really like eating fruit when I'm not in Melbourne! Once, only a few years ago, I saw him in Surfers Paradise and invited him and his wife up to our apartment to have a drink with my parents (who are his true customers), and ever since then he keeps reminding me of how I spotted him there! The deli section of this is to be drooled over too, with counters upon counters of glorious olives, cheeses, dips, sun dried tomatoes, artichokes, roasted peppers, breads, crackers, cured meats, nuts, mueslis, oils, vinegars, cakes, turkish delight and so much more. It is to me a true part of Christmas the stocking up of the pantry and fridge with nibbles and snacks to indulge in. Not to mention the oysters, smoked trout, sausages and beautiful steaks and chicken breasts in the Butchers arcade.

Didi got the idea of presents this year, and each time he saw a present he would say "A present for MEEEE??", and on Christmas morning when he woke early to find his stocking by his bed, he was excited to open the present... he opened his first one and was excited about the contents, and then wanted to go and give his other present in his stocking to his sister, and found it hard to understand that both, TWO, presents were for him!! When Jie Jie woke up a bit later, she was delighted to find that Santa had answered her wish and brought her one more toy dog!! And a load of dog accessories.

Our friends Gaby and Deano have a Christmas tradition of a champagne brunch on Christmas morning, and we were pleased to make it over there and enjoy in some champagne and a few delicious treats, while trying hard not to eat too much knowing that we had a full lunch being prepared back home!! And it was good - turkey roasted in the BBQ, ham, roast veggies, crunchy greens, gravy and cranberry sauce, followed by Christmas Pudding. We were lucky to share lots of presents with fun ones being mixed in with practical!!

The week between Christmas and New Year was quiet but busy. The kids spent a lot of time playing with their new toys, and we organised some outings as a small family, knowing that straight after New Year, Mike would be heading back to China. We went to the Melbourne Aquarium, St Kilda beach for lunch with some friends who were getting married in the new year and met their baby, swimming at the Harold Holt Memorial Pool and to the Arts Centre to see "Charlie and Lola" live in concert. All simple sounding activities, but all fabulous to do as a family.

New Years Eve was pretty quiet, and we were lucky on New Years Day to have some friends who live in New Zealand drop in for a quick visit. Fantastic to see them and see how their son has grown in a year, and lucky because they were returning to NZ and Mike back to China early on the 2nd January! Next leg of our trip over!!

Posted by aboo10 18:50 Archived in Australia Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

Is that really six weeks??

Reporting from Malvern East

sunny 24 °C
View Christmas Vacation on aboo10's travel map.

I don't know what it is when I hit Australian soil, but my ability to blog my visits becomes impossible... is it being home, relaxing in the house I grew up in that keeps me away from the computer? Is it that on any given day, what we do doesn't seem very tourist exciting? It's odd, because I can write reams about a weekend away in China, but struggle with finding the right words here. Anyway this is my report of our first week... I'll try and sneak in a couple more over the next few days... or finish up when I get home!!

Anyway, we have had a fabulous trip - we arrived in mid-December, all four of us, and settled in again, then repacked a small bag for a trip to Wagga Wagga supposedly on the XPT (the eXPress Train to Sydney), but alas, due to track work we were on a bus instead. We visited some old friends of ours and finally got to meet their delightful children, their first had just been born when we moved to China and we haven't connected on other visits home, so it was very special to finally meet them both!

From Wagga Wagga we were supposed to be completing the XPT trip to Sydney, but again, we were on a bus... not happy Jan!! But we got there safely and uneventfully. Arrived in Sydney at Central Station and walked over to a teeny tiny restaurant (yes with our double pram, backpack and rolling suitcase) that used to be one of our favourites, and it did not disappoint - it's a fish place, and it's really good (Mohr Fish, Devonshire Street, Surry Hills).

After that we walked down to our hotel in central Sydney - Swissotel - we got a bargain family room on Wotif a couple of months in advance. With the things we were planning to do in Sydney, it was great to stay centrally. We went out to check out our home, and see how the tenants are looking after it... caught up with the neighbours, and enjoyed revisiting our old stomping ground.

That afternoon we met up with some friends of Mike's from university in the UK for a play in the most amazing park in Darling Harbour, shame about the rain, and out for dinner.

On Tuesday we went to visit the minister who had married us at his church - the Wayside Chapel in Kings Cross. Since we've been away they've rebuilt and the new buildings are amazing. When I get my photos sorted out I might do a post all about it!! We had the breakfast special in the cafe there $2 bacon and egg roll - awesome value!!

Then Tuesday afternoon we got the ferry over to Manly. Jie Jie and I went for a wander around the boat, and would you believe it, but a kid said hi to Jie Jie, using her name. Anyway, turned out they are in the same year at school and were just holidaying in Sydney too! Our trip to Manly had a purpose, including another church - my Nan died earlier in 2011, and we went to see her nook in the churchyard there. We met up with my aunt there, and then went for lunch. It turned out to be a glorious day, and after lunch played for a while on the beautiful Manly Beach. Luckily Didi was wearing boardies, and Jie Jie was prepared to play in her undies and a t-shirt! I wished I had had my cozzie with me!! The kids were so brave running in and out of the waves! That night, I'd arranged for my friends to meet us at the Australian Hotel in the Rocks, where my cousin works... fantastic night, and so great to catch up with old friends.

Wednesday was our day, and we just hung out in Hyde Park, had some hot chocolate and then headed to the airport and back to Melbourne. We loved Sydney, it was so good to visit and see it all again!!

Posted by aboo10 04:04 Archived in Australia Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

Counting down again

Reporting from Jinqiao

It's under two weeks now, before, yet again all 4 of us board a jet plane ... we're not off on any intrepid adventures this time... just a Christmas trip home to Australia to soak up the summer sun, catch up with friends and family and celebrate my Grandma's 90th Birthday!!

Cities we're visiting this time are Melbourne, Wagga Wagga, Sydney and Canberra!! We'll, all four, be away for 3 and a bit weeks, and the kids and I for nearly six weeks!!

Posted by aboo10 02:42 Archived in Australia Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

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