Dayna's Blog

Holidays, walks and who knows what


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‘Meet at Cow Up A Tree’ – Melbourne Brompton Club ride, 26 July 2015

If you’re not a Melburnian, or at least familiar with the place, receiving instructions to “meet up at Docklands – Cow Up A Tree” could lead to some understandable confusion. But it’s pretty straight forward. We were to meet where there’s a cow up a tree.

Cow Up A Tree

Ta-da! “Cow Up A Tree”

It was looking a bit touch and go in the lead-up to this ride. Not for the cow – it’s been stuck up there for years. Rather it was the weather forecast that was looking decidedly iffy, and it didn’t improve as the scheduled time drew closer. Given the bay-side location of our destination – Williamstown – concerns about storm surges were quite valid if the weather were to turn ugly.

Satelite photo forecasting bad weather for our ride, via Victorian Storm Chasers

Satelite photo forecasting bad weather for our ride, via Victorian Storm Chasers

Thankfully the weather dawned clear and not too cold, though it was a bit breezy in places. Nothing to stop the ride going ahead, so it was off to the rendezvous point.

The glow of a yellow high-vis top waiting up ahead made me think we weren’t the first ones there – and indeed, we were not, but as I pulled up I realised that although the cyclists were waiting for us, they weren’t on Bromptons themselves. What’s more, there turned out to be a whole group of riders waiting for the Melbourne Brompton Club to turn up!

Cyclists gathering at Cow Up A Tree

Cyclists gathering at Cow Up A Tree

As it turned, out riders with the Go Cycling Melbourne group had come to ride to Williamstown with us. Escorts or windbreaks? Take your pick! (as someone quipped). Either way, our group of five had just grown to 13! Six Bromptons, a mountain bike, an e-touring bike, and road bikes made up our motley crew for today’s ride. Fluro tops were trending, but on the whole our clothing was as assorted as our bikes. Once introductions had been made we were finally underway!

Once we left Docklands and crossed over Railway Canal, Stephen and I were breaking new ground on this ride. It was probably a familiar route for the others. We’ve certainly seen plenty of riders take this path before, and no wonder it’s popular. The design is very good; no tangling with traffic, no being left to wait for traffic lights without a button to press to ask them to change for you.

The wind was coming directly at us for most of it, but that couldn’t be helped. At least it wasn’t raining! Given the forecast, the weather was certainly cooperating very nicely! There are long stretches of flat straight road, and a few small rises, but on the whole it’s a pretty comfortably ride especially once you reach Stony Creek Reserve  – from there you follow the waterfront right around to the main street of Williamstown.

Williamstown didn’t seem quite as packed today as it has on previous occasions we’ve visited. (Maybe that’s because we weren’t looking for a carpark this time…) After another re-group we headed down to Gem Pier and the shelter of the HMAS Castlemaine. I have to say it made a pretty good wind-break – pity it isn’t particularly portable. I was already feeling the start of windburn on my face.

The Williamstown riders - photo by Cory (@baudman)

The Williamstown riders – photo by Cory (@baudman)

By now it was definitely time to choose a cafe that could accommodate our group and enjoy a nice warn beverage. I’m not much of a coffee drinker; a hot chocolate is my preferred brew in the cooler months! Despite the heart-sinkingly long queue inside we didn’t end up waiting too long for our orders – just long enough to chat to a passer-by who stopped to ask about our bikes. They are pretty striking, especially in a group.

Bromptons are just so neat! Cafe Cirino was a good place to stop for brunch - Melbourne Brompton Club & Go Cycling Melbourne

Bromptons are just so neat! Cafe Cirino was a good place to stop for brunch – Melbourne Brompton Club & Go Cycling Melbourne

With everyone fed and watered, we stood up to leave just in time to surrendered our places to a motorcycle group who had just parked their rides across the street. Another audience to impress with the convenience of the Brompton design, though I’m not sure we have any converts from their mob.

Departing Williamstown the wind was once again in our faces and riding along the foreshore was a slog. Conditions improved as we neared Newport Park and continued into Riverside Park where there are a few more trees beside the track.

Opposite the old Pumping Station behind Science Works is the Spotswood Jetty where the Westgate Punt collects passengers who wish to cross the Yarra River to Port Melbourne. Stanley, Elsie, Stephen and I bid farewell to the other riders here as we’d decided to take the shorter (and easier) route back to Docklands. Cory farewelled us from the jetty, but didn’t cross the river as it would have been the longer way home for him.

We passed the Pumping Station - it was a location for one of the Miss Fisher Murder Mysteries TV shows in the first series

We passed the Pumping Station – also a location for one of the Miss Fisher Murder Mysteries TV shows in the first series

There's plenty on room onboard for bikes and pedestrians

There’s plenty on room onboard for bikes and pedestrians

And then there was one - via Cory (@baudman)

And then there was one – via Cory (@baudman)

In a somewhat surprising move, the punt operator offered me the wheel. I thought it was for maybe a minute or two – time enough to get a photo – but he didn’t move me on so I got to steer the punt the whole way across (it’s not that far). Docking was a different story – quite understandably so, though I was happy to give it a shot!

Dayna piloting The Westgate Punt across the Yarra River (photo by Stanley Tan)

Dayna piloting The Westgate Punt across the Yarra River (photo by Stanley Tan)

Returning to Docklands once on the other side is as easy as turning left and following Lorimer Street all the way back to Webb Bridge, though we did take the water side path in front of South Wharf Drive. The gardens along here are really quite lovely. (Thanks to a shower of rain that came through then I don’t have any photos of this section though.) As we came off Webb Bridge and turned onto Harbour Esplanade, who should we see approaching but the Go Cycling Melbourne group who we left at Spotswood Jetty! We weren’t quite back at Cow Up A Tree, but this was where the riders truly spilt up, after a really enjoyable day’s ride – to try to beat the rain home!

For more photos from this ride please take a look at Stanley’s photos or  Cory’s photos (note: both are FaceBook links). You can also check out the Melbourne Brompton Club on Flickr, again courtesy of Cory.

: )

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A Winter Holiday in Hobart – June 2015

Many Melburnians escape winter by flying north, desiring sun and sandy beaches on their too-short escapes from our traditionally cold and wet weather at this time of year.

Suttons Beach, Redcliffe, South-East Queensland

Redcliffe, actually – just north of Brisbane. The best I could lay my hands on right now, but you get the point.

Eh.

We travelled south for a holiday of fire and ice.

Fire Organ en flambe at 'Dark Park' during Dark Mofo

Fire Organ en flambe at ‘Dark Park’ during Dark Mofo

An icy morning in South Hobart

An icy morning in South Hobart

And it was awesome!

To contrast our summer holiday in Hobart, we thought we’d return to experience winter. Happily, our holiday almost perfectly coincided with this year’s Dark Mofo celebrations (we arrived the day after they started), so we were once again out on the streets with many Hobartians enjoying the festival atmosphere – just somewhat more rugged up now compared to how we’d been dressed 5 months prior.

Dark Mofo is what you make of it. Feasting? There were five nights of gorging available this year. Entertainment? If you were too full to waddle or groan your way over to ‘Dark Park’ (aka Macquarie or “Mac” Point) or participate in the numerous other Dark Mofo events happening around the city, then there were entertainers circulating at the Winter Feast.

However, making that effort to wander over to Dark Park was definitely worth it, even if we didn’t get to see everything…

But aside from the Dark Mofo events, which were mostly run of an evening – what did we do in Hobart for 10 days?

We visited the Cascade Female Factory and learnt what life was like for many women who were sent to (or chose to) come to Hobart. The re-enactment tour called Her Story really brings this period to life, but both this and the pure historical tour are worth doing.

Cascade Female Factory is run by the same organisation who runs the Port Arthur Historic Sites. We have been meaning to visit Port Arthur for quite some time, and I can finally now say I’ve been – albeit possibly on the coldest and wettest day of our holiday!

I found the ballroom at Hobart City’s Town Hall which is gorgeous, then did a tour of Australia’s oldest theatre, the Theatre Royal on Campbell Street.

Having taken our Bromptons on holiday with us we were keen to explore Hobart’s bike paths – and found we were staying right next to the Hobart Rivulet track; a very convenient and safe way to either walk or ride into town from South Hobart – better than braving either Macquarie or Davey Streets as a cyclist!

Riding our Bromptons along the Hobart Rivulet Track into the city from South Hobart on an icy winter's morning

Riding our Bromptons along the Hobart Rivulet Track into the city from South Hobart on an icy winter’s morning

Although we had visited MONA on our summer holiday we wanted to visit again. Our first attempt ended with having lunch across the road and a ride home in the rain as we hadn’t checked ahead and only found out on arrival that MONA is closed of a Tuesday! Our second attempt was much more successful – and worth the re-visit for the new exhibits and permanent features we missed last time.

Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (TMAG) was also on the list of places to re-visit as we didn’t finish exploring it in summer. This time, the Central Gallery was lit with red lights in celebration of the winter festival, lending a slight macabre feeling to the space, but it definitely fit in with the tone the that surrounds Dark Mofo. We made sure to explore the Bond Store Galleries – another fantastic old building, brilliantly fitted, maintained and suited for the displays contained.

We rode along the Intercity Trail to the Tasmanian Transport Museum in Glenorchy; admired their collection, saw some volunteers hard at work, and discovered a rail line (still in use) in the north-west that we hitherto knew nothing about.

Exploring the Salamanca Market is always on the cards when we’re in Hobart of a Saturday morning. On this trip we both wanted to buy more Mongrel Socks, but we picked up a range of things from a number of stalls; from apple liqueur to fresh passion fruit, fudge, a hand-crafted silver thistle broach for my floppy breton (cap/hat), and Tasmanian-themed screen-printed calico shopping bags.

Even in winter Salamanca Market is bustling by mid-morning

Even in winter Salamanca Market is bustling by mid-morning

The Farm Gate Market on Bathurst Street in the CBD is open every Sunday morning. If you think that Salamanca is too touristy, then this is probably the market for you. It’s definitely the farmers market to go to for local, fresh produce direct from the grower/maker that you can walk to from your city-based accommodation.

We only had time for a day trip to Bruny Island this trip, so it was more in the nature of a scouting mission for next time. Crossing the d’Entrecastaux Channel from Kettering, my hopes of walking up South Bruny Island’s Mt Mangana were dashed when our fears were confirmed – the C Grade roads (maintained by Forestry Tasmania, not the local council) were far too potholed for our Mini to traverse. I don’t think even rental cars ventured much further than we did – and that’s saying something! So, like everyone else, we had to be continent with a walk up the big sand dune at the northern end of the isthmus which connects the two islands, as well as a couple of short walks on some gorgeous beaches around Adventure Bay.

The Huon Valley is renown for good food and bountiful harvests of apples! The Apple Shed at Grove is a scenic drive from Hobart. The museum cleverly tells the story of the family who now produce Willie Smiths Cider – indulging in a delicious treat at the cafe while you’re there is highly recommended.

The ‘new’ Lake Pedder was on my list of places that I wanted to see, and towards the end of our trip we thought we’d drive out there. Since Mt Field National Park is on the way, we thought we’d stop for lunch and stretch our legs on the short walk to Russell Falls. If you like fungi, this really is the place for you! Mt Field really is a mycological hotspot. (I’ll come back and name them properly.) Oh, and the falls were lovely, too.

Strathgordon is the township on the shores of Lake Pedder; it’s the last settlement on the road – 84 km of well-made, winding road along from the Mt Field NP visitor centre. Stephen had fun driving; I was amazed by the view out the window. The very end of the road is the Gordon Dam where you can park and climb down to walk along the top of the dam wall. When you’re done taking photos and playing with echos, it’s another 184km back to Hobart.

So that’s what we did. As for what we ate? Well!

Dark Mofo’s Winter Feast ran for five nights this year (we went along on three nights). Five nights of gorging on sensational dishes from the best local restaurants and businesses. There was plenty of red meat – Tasman Quartermasters‘ Wallaby Bites with Pepperberry Aioli were very moorish, and I’ve never had a better steamed beef dumpling than those by Written on Tea, but there were also stalls preparing seafood and vegetarian meals. Naturally there was local wine, beer, cider and spirits to go with the local food – and a better selection of warmed beverages I don’t think I’ve ever had the pleasure of trying. Gluhwein, mulled cider, a gingery hot toddy – what a way to celebrate mid winter! But that doesn’t mean you couldn’t also get ice-cream. The deserts were every bit as marvellous as the savoury dishes! Ashbolt Farm did a marvellous crumble (they also did the fantastic gluhwein), but special mention has to be given to Lady Hester’s sourdough doughnuts!  The three nights we attended just weren’t enough to taste it all; maybe if the feast was run over, say…10 days?, we just might be able to pace ourselves and have enough time to get to try all the stalls…

Ethos Eat Drink on Elizabeth Street is a perfect example of fine dining in Tasmania. With a set six course degustation menu that is completed in a more modest time frame than what you might expect when you hear ‘degustation’ and one that doesn’t leave you feeling like you’re too drunk to walk out, I highly recommend Ethos to get a taste of Tasmanian produce at any time of the year. (Reservations required.)

BarCelona was a stroke of good luck. We were hoping to eat at Smolt, but the wait staff seemed disinterested (on a Monday night we thought it’d be the opposite) so we tried the restaurant opposite to them in Salamanca Square. It’s a funky bar/restaurant with great lighting highlighting the sandstone walls of the old building. A warm fire (and adequate overhead heating) matched the warm welcome we received from the waitstaff. We weren’t overly hungry that night so we shared a tasting plate of (locally sourced produce) but succumbed to temptation and had a desert each. It was just perfect.

Le Provincal is a French restaurant one block away from where were staying on Macquarie Street in south Hobart. In summer we never saw it open (because they were on holidays) so we were intrigued. Turns out it’s a very well-known restaurant and it pays to make a reservation more than one day in advance! The dishes are expertly prepared and delicious which you expect from the reviews. It’s the murals on the walls that I was most entranced by! Extraordinarily well done, if we hadn’t been dining in winter and at night I would have believed that we were actually in a farm cottage in France in late summer! Beautiful ambiance and fantastically authentic food.

And sometimes you just feel like fish ‘n’ chips. Flathead Cafe was also just up the road from where we stayed. Since they’re a fish monger as well as a cafe, you can check for yourself just how fresh the fish is that you’re going to be eating. It looked pretty good to me (as you’d hope)! What’s more, it tasted great – not just the fish, which you’d expect, but the coleslaw too. A place that puts as much consideration into the preparation of the ‘side dish’ as they give to the main is a pretty good catch, I reckon. (Pun intended.)

Does finding a table for breakfast at 9:30am on a weekday morning in a South Hobart cafe sound tricky to you? We didn’t think so, but then we didn’t realise until we arrived at Ginger Brown that it is The place to go for brekkie in South Hobart. (Even so, you can still reserve a table! That’s unheard of in Melbourne!) So why is it so popular? Could it be because of the delightfully plump, giant marshmallow they serve with each hot chocolate? Surely it’s not for the jaffa accompanying your cappacino. No, my guess is that it’s the creative way they construct breakfasts. My house-baked crumpets were light and fluffy, Stephen’s crumble was equally delicious. We went twice (both times lucky just to get a seat in the window and not out on the cold footpath) and were impressed on both occasions.

Ginger Brown is a very popular cafe in South Hobart on Macquarie Street

Ginger Brown is a very popular cafe on Macquarie Street in South Hobart

Naturally we couldn’t pass up at least one brekkie at Jackman & McRoss at Battery Point. It was a cold morning when we rode in on our Bromptons, but there was enough room behind Stephen’s chair to put both and have them out of the way. The rooms aren’t crammed full of tables and chairs as you’d expect to find in a Melbourne cafe. On the other hand, you may need to wait to be seated. Since Jackman & McRoss are a proper bakery, their huge selection of baked goods to purchase and take away are all mouth-wateringly tempting – even after a filling breakfast!

Our accommodation this trip was once again Fireman’s Loft in South Hobart. The location is perfect, especially if – like us – you’re planning to use your accommodation as a ‘base camp’ and go exploring each day; the carpark isn’t a long walk from your room, you don’t have to tackle the city traffic and there are so many conveniences nearby like Hill Street Grocer, The Lost Sock (Laundrette), chemist, newsagent, postoffice, bakery, cycle shop – it’s a great little village along Macquarie Street. On this trip we also discovered the Hobart Rivulet Track into the city was just a stone’s throw away from the Loft. The Hobart Rivulet Track is a shared path that connects Collins Street in the city with the Cascade Brewery. It’s the easiest and most pleasant (and sometimes coldest) route into and out of the city, and the safest route for cyclists. Although it is a dirt path that can freeze in winter, I still feel it’s better than mixing it with the traffic on either Macquarie or Davey Streets – it’s a much easier gradient, too.

You can book to stay at Fireman’s Loft (upstairs) or Flourish (downstairs) through either Stayz or Airbnb, but why not contact Tracey directly via the Facebook links?

I aim to (eventually) write separate posts about each of the places we visited – as well as update my Tasmania pages – as we have plenty of photos and enjoy sharing our love of Tasmania. It’s a wonderful state to explore.

🙂


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Melbourne Brompton Club ride to the Melbourne Tram Museum – 27 June 2015

When you think of Melbourne icons, our trams must surely rank in the top 5.

A Melbourne B-Class Tram (Route 86) turning at top of Bourke Street onto Spring Street in front of Parliament House

A Melbourne B-Class Tram (Route 86) turning at top of Bourke Street onto Spring Street in front of Parliament House

The Melbourne Tram Museum at Hawthorn is just off the Main Yarra Trail (a shared path along the Yarra River); a worthy destination for this month’s group ride.

Meeting up at Federation Square we took a few snaps (because you can’t let the chance go by), before walking past the temporary ice skating rink (as instructed) then we were underway!

It’s a pretty cruisey ride along the river. We followed the Yarra Trail along the north bank of the river the whole way to where Wallan Road crosses the Yarra River. Some of it is a floating walkway, but mostly it’s firm river bank.

The Tram Museum is in a beautiful red and cream brick building on the corner of Wallan Road and Power Street, Hawthorn. Next year will be the celebration of its 100th birthday! The museum doesn’t occupy the whole of the premises any longer, and isn’t as large as the Hawthorn Depot was in its heyday. Despite now including residential units in the main building, and having a new apartment building at the back where the second shed used to be, the facade has remained as it’s protected by its listing on the Victoria Heritage Register (read more here).

The exterior of the Hawthorn Tram Depot, now containing residential apartments and the Melbourne Tram Museum

The exterior of the Hawthorn Tram Depot, now containing residential apartments and the Melbourne Tram Museum

Arriving at the Tram Museum - the entrance is off Wallan Road

Arriving at the Tram Museum – the entrance is off Wallan Road

Totally unfazed by the arrival of a group of ‘folders’, we set our bikes and bags down while one of the volunteers gave us a bit of history about the history of the depot and a couple of the trams they have. Then we were welcome to explore and take as many photos as we wanted.

One of the volunteers giving us some of the history about the Tram Museum and trams on display

One of the volunteers giving us some of the history about the Tram Museum and trams on display

A recent addition to their collection is the Z1 81 ‘Karachi W11’ (the link provides information on the history of the Z Class trams as well as how tram 81 came to be ‘Karachi W11’ as well. Definitely worth a read!)

This gorgeously extravagant tram is the work of 5 Pakastani artists and was run on Melbourne’s City Circle loop during the 2006 Commonwealth Games. A recent addition to the museum, I hope it becomes a permanent resident!

Although no questions were asked as we carried our bikes in, it’s not to say that they didn’t draw any comment at all…

“What make of bike is that?” was the first question (it’s usually a good starting point). Before long, the museum volunteer who asked had all – and more – of his questions answered by our enthusiastic group!

Discussing Brompton design with one of the tram museum volunteers

Discussing Brompton design with one of the tram museum volunteers

At present, the museum also has a Tramway ANZACs exhibition to honour the tramway employees who went off to fight in the Great War and the role of the tramways during that time. If you can’t visit the museum you can read more about the displays and personal stories here.

Unlike other Australian state capitals who ripped up their tram tracks years ago, Melbourne has grown its tram network over time, although we no longer run cable trams anymore. You can compare a map of the lines that were in service in 1916 here compared to today’s network managed by Yarra Trams here. The irony is that “light rail” is now being (very slowly) reintroduced to the Gold Coast and expanded in Sydney. I don’t know of any plans to expand Adelaide’s single line, but at least they kept that as a functional means of transport for commuters – if you happen to live close-by.

The afternoon was getting on; we’d explored the trams, seen the ANZAC exhibition and answered Brompton questions in return, so it was time to say goodbye and head back to the city the same way we’d come. Just before leaving Stephen kindly bought each of us a badge from the gift shop to remember the trip.

It was another enjoyable ride with the group.

Next ride planned for the weekend of 26-27 July. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Strava to keep up to date with rides.

: )

Thanks to Stanley for letting me use a couple of his photos in this post.