Archive for the ‘Victoria’ Category

Rolling Rust

Saturday, May 2nd, 2015

A rolling stone gathers no moss” said the Latin writer Publilus Syrus and this is true of rolling stock (railway carriages plying a nation’s rail system) too.
The very opposite of this ancient proverb lies before our eyes in the once mildly busy shunting yards at Healesville’s railway station. Old train carriages, once the pride of the Victorian Railway’s fleet, lie waiting their turn for restoration by Yarra Valley Tourist Railway volunteers. In the meantime, they march toward “unrepairable” – their patinas attract our attention.
The regular train service in Healesville stopped long ago – 1981 to be exact. How do I know? Because my father was the last serving Station Master at this station and I was present the day the last train rolled into the railway station – a sad day for the community and for rail enthusiasts in the state of Victoria.
For many years after the last train service the station and rail line were virtually abandoned, however, through the efforts of many enthusiastic volunteers, the rail line has been partially re-opened and tourists can now take a short journey from Healesville to the nearby Tarrawarra area. The memories of this beautiful trip are still vivid – out of the station, over the crossing, across the Watts River then up the incline all the way to the beautiful brick tunnel then down the other side toward the Yarra River flats and on to the Tarrawarra Monastery station.
A variety of rolling stock is now located at in the Healesville railway yard. Some of it is serviceable but most of it is in need of time, money and labour all of which is in limited supply.
The old carriages (and even older buildings) may not attract the attention of passersby however, if one stops long enough, the beauty of the blended mix of Mother Nature and Man Made is worth capturing on “film”.
Negotiating the worn rails and ballast we savour the contrast of faded paintwork and rust on the old carriages and delight in the angles created by nature and steel. Safe in the knowledge that nothing is going to move we get up close to wheels, springs and levers.
Like two excited children we delight in the opportunity to be “down in the pit” (off platform), surrounded by the smell of old grease and diesel – a “train spotter’s” Nirvana.
For those interested in anything to do with railways a visit to the Healesville railway station and the Yarra Valley Tourist Railway headquarters is a must. Don’t neglect the neglected and, if you would like to see the railway return to its former glory days become a volunteer or donate some monies to this worthwhile cause.

Click on the FS icon in the bottom right hand corner of the gallery for full screen view:

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Pounding the Pavement and Catching the Blue Train on South Bank.

Sunday, November 1st, 2009
We rose a little later this morning and opted to eat a light breakfast in the room because we were going to be meeting the family for brunch around 11.30am.  We ordered some toast and eased into the day – doing our daily coaching review and getting ready.

We were meeting the family at The Blue Train restaurant on South Bank  – a 20 minute walk from the hotel.  We opted to walk because we wanted to take some more pictures of some of the Melbourne landmarks on the way.

Indeed, The Princess snapped quite a few “frames” and the walk took us a little longer than planned.  However we enjoyed the beautiful spring day and the “peek” inside St Paul’s Cathedral.

Southbank was busy today (being a Sunday) – lots of markets and street performers bringing the place to life.  As we were walking around one of the markets we surprised my parents (they didn’t see us) in one of the markets. We continued to the restaurant but none of us knew where it was so we needed to be guided in by my sister via phone (thank God for mobiles!!).

Most of my extended family made the trip into the city for brunch (quite a drive for some of them) and we all enjoyed a wonderful time together eating a lovely brunch overlooking the Yarra River and the Melbourne CBD.

After a lovely family get together we said our goodbyes and The Princess and I went off in search of more adventures and photo opportunities.  We continued our walk along South Bank and took in the spring racing carnival festivities and the different views of the city.  Melbourne has changed so much over the past 10 years and it was great to be able to explore some of the new developments.

We walked to the very end of South Bank, past the new berth of The Polly Woodside tall ship and on into a recently opened shopping precinct. We took a walk around the shops and enjoyed switching our minds off.

We took a slight different route back to the hotel (through the city) and arrived back in the hotel around 6.00pm.  We relaxed for a while before deciding to go out in search of an Italian restaurant – The Princess was keen for some more pasta.  She would fit in well in Melbourne as it is a very big Italian influence.

The restaurant we chose for supper was just around the corner from the hotel.  The Spaghetti Tree restaurant caught our eye as we walked by and we are really glad we chose to eat there.  The food was sensational and the service was exceptional.  Our waitress (Kristi) was a Korean girl that was living in Melbourne while she completed her masters degree.  She had a beautiful demeanour and we really enjoyed talking our trip to Korea earlier this year.  She was so happy to talk to someone that had been to Korea.  We had a lovely evening and, after a short walk, arrive back in the hotel around 10.00pm.

Back to Hong Kong tomorrow so into bed for sweet dreams and some rest before departing tomorrow.

Have your own sweet dreams! And keep an eye out for our next adventure to some distant place on the globe.  Roey and The Princess

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Milliners and mad hatters. Tram up Elizabeth. A zoological experience.

Saturday, October 31st, 2009
I had been promising to take The Princess to the Melbourne Zoo for a couple of years and today I was determined to stick to my promise.  So, after rising around 7.00am and getting ourselves ready, we packed our camera gear and clothes and went off in search of a different breakfast venue.

We chose to eat at Essence Cafe in the Marriot Hotel this morning.  The buffet breakfast looked very inviting when we walked past so we ventured in and enjoyed some pleasant service and some very tasty food.

We also enjoyed “people watching” while we sat at the breakfast table.  One of the biggest events in Melbourne’s sporting annual calendar (if not Australia’s sporting calendar) is the Melbourne Cup - one of the richest horse races in the world.  The Cup is held on the second Tuesday of every November and leading up to the big day the Victorian Racing Club organises the Spring Carnival. Today was another one of the many big events on the carnival calendar and the ladies that attend the day go to town with their head dress.  The milliners in town must make a fortune!  We enjoyed seeing some of the stunning (and not so stunning) creations that adorned the heads of the women that were heading to Flemington.

We left the Marriot  around 10.30am and went in search of the tram that would take us in the direction of the zoo.  Not long after leaving the hotel we found a Starbucks.  The Princess didn’t take too long to decide that she “needed” a Chai Tea Latte so we took a seat outside on one of the roadside tables and continued to watch the world go by.

Being conscious of the time we continued our search for the tram stop we needed.  As we approached the right area we found some great photographic shops so we dropped in and took a look around.  It was worth the effort because we found an excellent camera backpack and purchased it.  We asked the staff if they could give us directions to the tram stop we needed and it turned out that the stop was right outside the door!

We didn’t have to wait too long for a tram to come by and before we knew it we were getting off near the zoo.  Indeed, after a short stroll we arrived at the ticket counter and purchased our passes.  I tried to convince them that we were eligible for a child pass but to no avail.

It was a very warm day (for spring in Melbourne) so we de-robed before setting out on our tour of the zoo. I can’t remember the last time I went to the Melbourne Zoo but I do know I enjoy it.  The zoo had changed quite a lot since my last visit and it was a real pleasure to be able to see the new exhibits – they have done a fabulous job.

We really enjoyed being able to get up close to wonderful collection of birds, insects, reptiles and the vast array of native and non-native animals.  We took a lot of photo’s but we also spent time just watching the antics of these beautiful creatures.

Fortunately I didn’t get mistaken for a monkey and we were able to get around the zoo without being approached by a keeper.

We ate a late lunch inside one of the air-conditioned lunch venues and continued our tour with renewed energy.  We finished our visit to the zoo just on closing time and as we were leaving we were treated to the incredible roars of the big cats, the screeching of the birds and the incessant chatter of monkeys.  A great way to finish the day.

For some unknown reason we (me) decided to walk back to the city.  It seemed like a good idea (and it was) at the time.

We took the opportunity to walk through the Melbourne University grounds.  We walked into the grounds of Trinity College, an incredibly beautiful place.  The buildings here are some of the original buildings on the university grounds and they are very easy to photograph.

After adding substantially to our digital media storage we went off in search of Lygon Street - Melbourne’s little Italy.  Fortunately for these two foot sore travellers, Lygon Street is located close to Melbourne University so it wasn’t long before we sat our rather worn bodies in a roadside table and kicked back with a glass of red.  Ahhhhh.

The crowd of punters, their hats and their winnings (or losses) filtered into Lygon Street as the sun dropped lower into the western sky and we enjoyed the eclectic mix of people that wandered past our vantage point during our two glass visit.  Punters, students, families and the disadvantaged graced us with their presence.

The temperature turned positively negative (??) in a less than 40 minutes after we started sipping our wine and The Princess chilled down rather quickly.  The southerly change came through quite quickly (Melbourne in renown for it weather changes) so we finished off our “grape juice” and headed off in direction of the hotel – not too far from Lygon Street.

We arrived back at the hotel around 7.30pm and it wasn’t too hard to convince The Princess to dine in again.  She was (as was I) absolutely spent.  I tempted her taste buds with an offer of take-away Indian and she melted into the comfortable lounge chair at the thought of it.  And so it was that I returned to the pavement and took a short walk to the nearest Indian take-away.

We enjoyed a very tasty Korma, some red wine and lots of stories about our day out over our in-room supper.  We spent the evening on the bed (get you minds out of the gutter!) watching Toy Story 2. A very funny and relaxing way to see out the day!

Our well exercised bodies were ready for rest around 10.30pm and they didn’t take too long to melt into the comfortable mattress and even more comfortable pillows.

Until tomorrow’s post we bid you and yours a wonderful goodnight.  Ciao.

Roey and The Princess

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Farewell tribute. Long lost cousins. Maze driving for lunch.

Friday, October 30th, 2009

We rose quite early this morning (Melbourne time zone that is) so that we could get ourselves ready for the funeral service.  My brother (Steven) was picking us up just after 8.00am and we wanted to make sure we ate and collected our thoughts before we set off for the service.

We walked the short distance to the pick up point and waited for a short while for Steven, Casey (his partner) and their friend Heather to arrive.  Heather had kindly offered to drive us all to the service.

Thankfully we were travelling against the morning peak hour traffic so it didn’t take us too long to get to the outer suburb of Ringwood and to the chapel where the service was being held.

We arrived with plenty of time to spare so we were able to spend some time catching up with family before we took the opportunity to say goodbye to Nan.

Nan looked very much at peace and she even seemed to have a little smile on her face!  It was wonderful to be able to say our last goodbye before the service started.

The service was very respectfully conducted and I was able to deliver my eulogy without any tears.  My sister (Julie) and one of my cousins (Jenny) also delivered tributes and my niece, Erin and young nephew (Jack) had some words to say too.  It was a lovely way to farewell a beautiful lady that lived a very long life.

After the service we caught up with my three cousins and their families.  I had not seen some of my cousins for over 20 years so it was nice to be able to spend some time with them.  The Princess enjoyed talking to my cousin Wendy and her husband Wayne.

We left the chapel around midday and caught a lift with my Dad and step-Mum to the venue they had chosen for lunch.  We were able to find the venue OK but being able to get into it by car proved to be a challenge.  The roads had all be re-routed over the past two years so we had to drive around a few times before we were able to find the entrance!  I am glad we weren’t driving.

We enjoyed a very pleasant lunch (some lovely risotto) at the Coach and Horses with some of the extended family.  We shared our memories of Nan and enjoyed some laughs whilst recalling some of the things she used to do and say.  It was a nice way to wind down after the service.

We rejoined Heather, Steve and Casey in Heather’s car for the trip back to the city and they dropped us off near the hotel around 3.00pm.

Our early start, yesterday’s walking tour and the trip down from Hong Kong had started to catch up with us so we returned to the hotel room and had a lie down for a couple of hours.  Our eyes didn’t need too much convincing to close.

We rose around 6.30pm and prepared ourselves for supper.  I told The Princess about this wonderful Mongolian restaurant called The Khan Mongolian BBQ.  I had eaten there about 30 years ago with my Mum and I remembered the wonderful food and atmosphere.  The bonus for us was that its proximity to the hotel (about 5 min utes walking).

We enjoyed a pre-dinner drink before taking the short stroll to the restaurant.  The decor is simple but the food is wonderful.  You select your ingredients and place them all in the one bowl then cover them with a selection of sauces and toppings.  After you bowl is full you pass them to the chef and he BBQ’s them on what looks like a huge inverted copper tub (the BBQ).  The whole process takes less than a minute and the huge contents of the bowl is reduced to a fraction of the original size.  The taste is something to experience.  Indeed, The Princess returned to the BBQ more than me – she was sold!!.

After supper we returned to the hotel and settled into bed around 10.30pm.

A sad but respectful day and a nice opportunity to meet up with family, friends and cousins.

Be at peace beautiful Nan – say hello to Mum and Pete for us.

Roey and The Princess

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Lest We Forget. Botanical wonderland. Walking the Yarra.

Thursday, October 29th, 2009

We woke quite early this morning and got ourselves ready for breakfast.  Given that we were working on a three hour time difference we were not too put out of shape getting up around 8.00am (11.00 am in Hong Kong!).

We dined in the hotel restaurant and enjoyed a light breakfast.  It never ceases to amaze us at how people consume plates of food when they are staying in hotels.  If they ate like that at home they wouldn’t make it out their doors!

After breakfast we returned to the room so that I could continue writing the eulogy for Nan.  The Princess also had her weekly Mastermind call today.  We have committed to a year long personal coaching course with Bob Proctor Coaching  and each week we have two calls we participate in and today was The Princess’ call.

After finishing the eulogy and the call we left the hotel for a walking tour of Melbourne city.

Melbourne has some beautiful buildings and the wide streets, trams and gardens (Victoria is called the Garden State) provide a wonderful backdrop for photographs.  At this time of the year it has a real European feel and we enjoyed exploring some of the backstreets and arcades on foot.

We stopped for lunch in Central Arcade  and enjoyed a beautiful chicken crepe and toasted panini.  Yum.

After lunch we set off in the direction of the Royal Botanical Gardens  and the Shrine of Rememberance .  One of the greatest attractions of Melbourne is the open space prevalent in the city environs.

The Princess had not had the pleasure of walking through the gardens before so it was a real pleasure to be able to watch her taking photos of the beautiful flowers and wonderful buildings.

We walked past the famous Melbourne train station called Flinder’s Street. The station has been modernised in recent times however the facade has been retained.  It is directly opposite the incredibly modern looking Federation Square.  Indeed, it is a real play on the senses when you stand on the street corner and turn your body through 360 degrees.  On one corner stands the incredible St Paul’s Cathedral.  On the other corner is famous Young and Jackson hotel.

On the two opposite corners are the station and Federation Square.  It is a beautiful place to stand – to watch the trams roll by and watch the vibrant hub of Melbourne.

After walking around Federation Square we walked across the St Kilda Road Bridge ,past the National Gallery of Victoria and into the Alexandra Gardens.

It was quite a hot spring day in Melbourne so we had to make sure we kept in the shade during the walk.  We didn’t bring any sunblock with us and I didn’t want my Canadian Princess getting burnt!

I showed The Princess the beautiful Myer Music Bowl and the external view of Victoria’s Government House.  A walking tour of this beautiful city is really worth the effort if you ever take the time to visit (or even if you live there!).

The Shrine of Remberance is a short walk from Government House so we took the time to look around and through this beautiful building.  The building sits atop a small rise in the landscape and proudly looks back toward the city – straight down St Kilda Road and on into Swanston Street.  The Shrine is a wonderful construction and we enjoyed taking time to take in the efforts of those that built it.

The Botanical Gardens are just across the road from The Shrine so we continued our day of walking and entered the gardens.  These beautiful gardens provided us with a chance to use up some more of our digital storage devices – you would think we would have had enough of taking photo’s of flowers.  Never.  How can one not appreciate the incredible beauty of nature.  For me it is mixed with the beauty of my Princess.  A incredible bonus!!

We stopped at the lakeside cafe in the gardens and enjoyed a very tasty afternoon tea (scones and jam!) before leaving the gardens around 5.00pm.

We walked across the Yarra River on the Anderson Street Bridge before walking along the banks of the river on our way back to the hotel.  It was getting late in the afternoon and this meant that the water was calm – perfect for rowers.  There were many boats on the river and many coaches giving directions through the megaphones as the rode along the river banks.  The rowers provided a great photo opportunity.

The walk back to the hotel took us past the Melbourne sport’s precinct (Olympic Park, Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre and The Rod Laver Arena).  Melbourne prides itself on being Australia’s sporting capital and there is no doubt that the state can hold its head high in this sense.

We returned to thehotel around 6.30pm and took a well deserved break.  We did a lot of walking today and we were in need of a rest.

We did have some plans for supper however, after returning to the room I offered The Princess the option of take-away Chinese and some red wine.  She took about 4 seconds to respond.  And so it was!

We collapsed onto the bed after supper and relaxed for the evening.

A wonderful day touring the Garden State’s capital on foot.  Beautiful weather, wonderful exercise and a Canadian Princess on my arm – perfect.

Good night to you wherever you happen to be in this wonderful world we live in.  See you tomorrow Nan!

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Return to the Great Southern Land to bid farewell to Nan.

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009
Earlier this week, on our way to Lamma Island, we received a call from my brother (Steven).  Steve was rather distraught and passed on the sad news that my Nan had passed away.  You may remember that we paid a visit to Australia in September to celebrate Nan’s 100th birthday.  Unfortunately she fell about two weeks ago and broke her pelvis and after the fall she became progressively weaker and until she opted to return to Pa and Mum (her daughter) on the 26th October 2009.  She passed peacefully in her sleep and she wasn’t in any pain.
Today we arrived back in Melbourne after an overnight trip from Hong Kong (again via Adelaide).

We opted not to hire a car this time around because we decided to stay in the city and make the most of being in the central business district of this beautiful city.

We caught the very efficient Skybus  from the airport to Spencer Street station. The station, now known as Southern Cross station, has been completely renovated and is a far different building than the one I remember from not too many years ago.  From the station we were transferred to our hotel by a smaller Skybus service.  All very efficient and highly recommended if you are going to visit Melbourne for a few days.

We opted to stay in the centre of the city at the Rydges Melbourne. This very centrally located hotel is in a perfect location and means that we can walk to all the locations we want to see during our stay here.

After checking in we had a short lie down before going to work.  Work?  Well, I have been asked to write and deliver Nan’s eulogy (a privilege) and I need to coordinate the inputs from my siblings so I needed to connect with them.  My eldest sister (Julie) also called and asked if I could attend one of the funeral planning meetings however she thought this through and decided that I did not need to be present.

After starting on the poem that I am going to write for the eulogy The Princess and I went out in search of a restaurant that my sister recommended.

The weather was pleasant, albeit a little cool, and we enjoyed walking around the local area and taking in some of the night sights and sounds.

In the end we didn’t find the restaurant that Julie had kindly recommended however we did find an outstanding place to dine called Rosati’s.  This cavernous establishment (an old factory of some sort) had a fabulous atmosphere and the service (by Galan) and food were both outstanding.  We shared a selection of food that came in small servings.  We ate some beautiful veal, feta cheese on eggplant and calamari.  We also enjoyed a “spalsh” of Australian red wine. The Princess really enjoyed taking photo’s of this beautifully decorated buidling. Again, we would highly recommend a visit to Rosati’s if you are in town.

After supper we took a different route back to our hotel and retired for the evening around 11.00pm.

A sad reason to be back in Australia however, we intend to celebrate the wonderful life of an inspirational lady and enjoy our own lives in the process.  Be in the NOW – it is all you have!!

Roey and The Princess

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