Dayna's Blog

Holidays, walks and who knows what


Rippon Lea House & Gardens – Oct 2013

Rippon Lea – another in the ‘Haven’t you been there yet?’ places now ticked off our to-do list!

Lawn side of the mansion

Lawn-side of Rippon Lea mansion

Frederick Sargood certainly left a fantastic mansion and beautifully designed grounds. The whole of the estate is currently managed by the National Trust.

The prompt for this visit was the current exhibition of some of the costumes used in Miss Fishers Murder Mysteries. The second of the TV series based on the books by Kerry Greenwood is currently being shown on ABC1 of a Friday night – the traditional who-dunnit time slot. Rippon Lea is used in a number of the television episodes as different locations, depending on which part view of the mansion is being filmed. Very clever. Also, I would say,  the reason, why the costumes are being exhibited there.

Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries

Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries on ABC TV – “Who says crime doesn’t play?”

We chose to visit on a Saturday, which meant we a) had a chance at parking within 1km of the entrance gate and b) were able to wander into the mansion to see the costumes when we arrived, instead of being allocated a set entry time. Had we gone the following day, when Kerry Greenwood was attending a high tea there, I can only imagine the nightmare that parking would have been and battling the crowds that came to flood the mansion and grounds to see her and the costumes – despite the prediction of showers through the day. I’m a fan of the books and TV series… but I’m quite averse to crowds.

Not unexpectedly, photography was not allowed inside the mansion, but believe me when I say the place is very grand. The photos on the website are better than mine would have been anyway. As for the costumes (mostly gowns and hats for the lead character, Miss Phryne Fisher), it was very interesting to see them up close. To really appreciate them as fashion though, watch the TV series!

Phryne Fisher

Essie Davis as Phryne Fisher

We re-emerged into a bright sunny (warm!) day to explore the grounds. I’d been told that Rippon Lea is a popular location for weddings and I have now seen exactly why.

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We wandered around, exploring the different areas of the grounds – the fernery, orchard, windmill, the ponds/lakes, and yet we didn’t see everything. I guess we’ll just have to go back again!

With a picnic next time!
: )



National Rhododendron Gardens – 21 Sep 2013

“Again?” I hear you ask. Yes, I’m afraid so. But stick with me; it’s a short post (which is how it’s jumped ahead of a couple of others) and it’ll be our last visit to the National Rhododendron Gardens for a while, I think. As beautiful and ever-changing as the gardens are, I think after this trip we can tick the box that says ‘Done’ for now.

We didn’t think we could tick that box off before for two reasons: 1) last trip we were too early for the cherry blossoms and 2) we also hadn’t seen the rhododendrons in flower!

Well, no more dear people! Feast you eyes upon these photos and sigh (possibly with relief) for there are cherry blossoms (though not nearly quite as many as we had imagined), rhododendrons (many more than we had imagined) and other flowers brightening the park with colour everywhere you care to look!

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Not previously being very familiar with rhododendrons, I was thinking to myself that a lot of them looked quite like azaleas. It turns out that azaleas are of the genus Rhododendron! That would explain it.

The promise of cherry blossoms and reasonable weather drew plenty of people to the park yesterday, and we (like many others) had to park down the side-road a way and walked back up to the entrance. (Note: if you go, wear sneakers at least. I saw more than one lady with shoes she probably didn’t plan to get mud over.) Today they’re expecting 4,000 visitors to the park! I wonder where they’re going to park their cars…

: )

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National Rhododendron Gardens – 1 September 2013

Melbourne has enjoyed a beautiful weekend! Winter was farewelled, and has been spring ushered in with sunny, warm days with temperatures in the low 20’s.

Royal Exhibition Building & Carlton Gardens

Royal Exhibition Building & Carlton Gardens

It won’t last, of course – it’s Melbourne! – so you’ve got to make the most of it while it does.

One of the things I love about Melbourne are the parks and the way people get out and use them.

People enjoying the Carlton Gardens on a beautiful afternoon

People enjoying the Carlton Gardens on a beautiful afternoon

Since spring has seemingly decided to arrive (or tease us) earlier than usual this year, we decided to go back up to the National Rhododendron Gardens, near Olinda on the Dandenong Ranges east of Melbourne. Having been earlier in the year to see the leaves change colour in autumn, we thought we’d go back to see the cherry blossoms in the Cherry Tree Grove.


Petals in the gutter outside our house & there are plenty more along the footpaths – surely we should go up to see the cherry tree blossoms before we miss out?

Unfortunately we were a little eager – the climate around the Dandenong Ranges is cooler than Melbourne, so even though the tree outside our house has almost lost its flowers and is looking like it’s got most of its leaves back again, the cherry trees up on the mountain are only just budding.

Although the cherry trees might be taking their time waking up from winter, other plants like magnolias, daffodils and azaleas have been busy putting forth their blooms.

There also seemed to be more native birds around than last time, too. It’s always a treat to spot and identify them, too, even if it’s ‘just’ a fairly common New Holland Honeyeater or Eastern Yellow Robin. All up, a lovely day out.

: )


Drive-by Photography (Inverloch) – May 2013

On Sunday we drove Stephen’s mum to Inverloch, a small beachside town about 2hrs south east from Melbourne, for a Devonshire afternoon tea at the RACV Inverloch Resort. It was her surprise mother’s day outing, postponed from last weekend.

Well, that was the plan. That changed when we were met with this:


When I called to make a reservation (thinking one would be needed) did anyone mention, ‘By the way, the view will be almost completely obstructed by a giant white tent right outside the window on that day’ – I think not.

Here’s the view from the driveway as we departed:


So we had a late lunch at the pub back in town instead. At least it was warm by the gas fire.

Although bereft of (the usual) walking photos or (the hoped for) magnificent vistas to share, don’t think my camera returned home unused.

The challenges of performing decent photography from a moving car are many – although, please let me stress, I’m never in the drivers’ seat when the camera’s in my hand.

The main challenges I find are:

– Glare from the dashboard or light, generally from your clothes, reflecting on the inside of the cars’ windows. Rental cars are terrible for dashboard glare.

Reflection from clothes Reflection from dash
– Bugs/dust/rain on the glass, not to mention getting your timing right with the windscreen wipers

Rain Bugs
– Trees, bushes, guard rails, sign posts, electricity/phone poles and overhead wires all hinder a good shot

– Bumps and dips in the road – and the more you zoom, the worse it gets.

I’ve had plenty of practice at drive-by photography – not that I’m claiming to be perfect at it! – there are still many missed shots. My camera beeps often, as I point and focus, but less often is the shutter sound heard. Stephen will often hear a quiet ‘meh’ of disgust or resignation as I fail to get the shot I was hoping for.

Our drive on Sunday brought an additional challenge… photography from the back seat of the MINI. (We couldn’t very well ask Stephen’s mum to clamber into the back, despite her offer to sit there!)

Usually, the majority of my drive-by photos are taken through the windscreen. That’s a lot trickier to do from the back seat. And the side windows are smaller and fixed, so if they get dirty you can’t wind them down to get a clear shot. On the up-side, I did have unimpeded access to the window on the other side of the car (quite an unusual occurrence, you’ll understand) and still had the roof window in the back for interesting clouds.

Here are some of my better shots of the day:

I’m sure Stephen will be disappointed if I don’t at least mention the Kilcunda Bridge (trestle bridge photo above) – but I’ll save a better description for when we do that walk. It’s a rail trail (an easy grade), but not a circuit (so not particularly convenient) which is the main reason why we haven’t walked it yet.

The pirate mini-golf photo isn’t particularly brilliant, but I wanted to include it as it’s something different to the usual windmills and things I usually associat with putt putt.

One very brief stop we made was at the carpark at Eagle’s Nest (aka Eagle’s Rest) – a prominent rocky outcrop on the way out of town – where I took a photo of the pirate caves. One day we might even make it down to that beach. There’s another access road to that beach. We won’t have to swim or climb around the cliffs.


So that was our day. Not particularly eventful, but a nice drive all the same.

: )


National Rhododendron Garden, Olinda – May 2013

Still in pursuit of trees with leaves changing colour to photograph, Stephen suggested that we visit the National Rhododendron Garden at Olinda in the Dandenong Ranges east of Melbourne. He was tipped-off by a post on Parks Victoria’s facebook page.

The Dandenongs are a popular place to visit of a weekend, and with the weather so fine and unseasonably warm on Saturday we weren’t the only ones up there. (I can only imagine it would have been much worse on Sunday, being Mother’s Day!)

The gardens are well sign posted, so easy to find. Fortunately we found a car park once we arrived. The mountain ash around the car park are stunning by themselves, even though (being eucalypts) they don’t change colour.

It’s easy to walk in the entrance (which, unusually for a Victorian Park, is through a gift shop) and get awed by the view and forget to keep walking. Luckily Stephen was there to prompt me to move on. There is a lot more to see.

Even though I’m categorising this (for now at least) as a weekend ‘walk’, I didn’t think of it as a walk, per se – more just a photo opportunity! We followed the main loop track and probably only walked about 2km – give or take. There’s a map on the Parks Victoria page (linked above).

We will have to go back in spring when the Rhododendrons are in flower – that looks beautiful, too.


Mt Macedon – May 2013

Mt Macedon is under an hours drive west of Melbourne. It’s stands quite high above the surrounding plains and the memorial at the top is guaranteed to be at least several degrees cooler than Melbourne or even the towns near the base of the range. Today for example the maximum temperature reached in Melbourne was 14.5oC. When we reached Macedon (the township at the base of the mountain) it was 9.5oC. At the top of the mountain, it was colder again. Nice in the sun, but even so, foggy breath no problems! Northface jackets and beanies required today!

Incidentally, this is a walk that we’ve done before. We chose this walk today because we were hoping to get some nice photos of autumn leaves.

We joined the track up the mountain on Bawden Road. The road has been widened there just enough to allow a couple of cars to park without causing a traffic hazard. It’s a pretty steep walk through Macedon Regional Park up to the summit where the memorial cross is. The track is not wide, and quite eroded in parts. Some parts get quite slippery in wet weather, too.

From the summit we walked along to Cameron’s picnic area for lunch before heading back. The a walking track extends another 10km or so along the range, but we’ll keep that for another day.

Here’s my map and stats – you’ll see that my start and finish points are different. This is because my watch couldn’t connect to enough satellites to fix my location until I was halfway up the mountain. It certainly wasn’t a fast-paced walk, but it was a cardio work-out on the way up, so hopefully it evens out.

O’Shannassy Aqueduct Trail – April 2013

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There was a 1 page write-up about the O’Shannassy Aqueduct Trail in the Yarra Valley Tourist News magazine we picked up at our (regular, but not exactly local) fruit barn. The whole trail is 30km long, but there are several joining points so you can do as much or as little as you like. Stephen suggested that ANZAC day would be a good opportunity to take a walk, so we headed off at about lunch time towards a small town called Warburton, about an hour east of Melbourne.

(Click on a photo to view as a gallery)

It’s a pretty cruisy walk because it’s so flat. We chose to walk the section between Dee Road and Youngs Road Carparks which is 14km return. It’s quite a popular section! We passed numerous other walkers (many with dogs, some with prams), cyclists and saw evidence that a horse had also been along here – a trail for everyone, you might say.

My only disappointment during the walk was that my camera battery went flat after the first couple of kilometres! Yes, I forgot to recharge the battery the previous night. Still, Stephen had his camera. I resorted to taking photos with my iphone – not as good, but better than nothing.

A pleasant way to spend an afternoon.

Here’s our map and stats – the timing graph clearly shows the reduction in the number of stops I made to take photos in the return trip back to the car. Consequently, it was a faster average pace, too.

: )

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