~Melbourne Escapade~ Fun with the Ks

19 years ago when I visited Melbourne with my family, we barely scrapped the surface of this lovely place. Been told by many since then that I must go back to visit. And these 8 days were indeed well spent and I certainly saw more than long ago. More importantly, the girls had fun, so much fun that they are asking, ‘are we going to Australia today?’ Every other day. Here’s the top fun things we did with the girls and I would rate them as the must-dos in Melbourne:

1. Puffing Billy Steam train

Was told by a fellow mummy that the kids would enjoy it and we made it a point to include it in our road trip. And gosh, I think I enjoyed it more than the girls. We took the ‘Australia favourite Steam Train’ from the Belgrave station to the Lakeside Station. What made it even more pleasant was the presence of a very lovely conductor who gave us good seats and took good care of us. He even advised us what to look out for and at which point of the train ride. Along the way, one can choose to have their legs dangling at the railings or simple sit back and enjoy the picturesque scenery. It was also an interesting experience to be waving at strangers who stopped by along the track just to wave hello and bye to the passengers.  The girls, of course, went wild especially after we passed by Emerald station where the ‘real’ Thomas the Engine was stationed for special events. Just feel a little gutted that I did not research enough. We could have gone on a real Thomas the Engine train. I would put this on top of the must-visit for families with kids. Afterall, the experience is really different from taking the MRT. Just the smell, the beauty of the train and the lovely sights are enough to make one remember the experience, for life.

 

They overcame their fear and couldn't stop dangling their legs

They overcame their fear and couldn’t stop dangling their legs

Must-try...sitting on the railing

Must-try…sitting on the railing

Girls having a wild time

Girls having a wild time

The famous bend

The famous bend

Puffing Billy with the nice conductor

With the friendly puffing billy conductor

2. The Philip Island Penguin Parade

When I knew we were going to Melbourne, this was top on bucket list. I knew the girls would love this and I was proven right. Every time someone asks them about the trip, this would be the first to be mentioned by them. Interestingly, this was what I remembered most from my trip donkey years back. The little fellas marching past you, all wobbly and so cute. This time round, I took advice form dear Kat and went ahead with premium viewing. It did not disappoint. Although we did not get the really good seats, we managed to stand along the boardwalk and see flock after flock (is this even the right description?) of penguins marching by almost too near to our feet. The girls fell asleep before the parade started but thank goodness, we managed to wake them up in time to see this spectacular event. Too bad I was too respectful and did not take any video and pictures. The conversations that the little K attempted to make with the penguins were so adorable that even the people standing around us were giggling. She would ask, ‘hey penguins, where are you going?’ or ‘the penguins so fat and so cute’ or when she saw a penguin clumsily fall over , she would giggle and ask ‘oh are you ok?’. It  was actually drizzling at that time but the whole feeling of seeing the girls having fun was simply all warm and fuzzy. The poor little one even cried when I told her it was time to say good-bye to the penguins.

The girls went on a high after the parade and of course, a shopping spree

The girls went on a high after the parade and of course, a shopping spree

Since we couldn't take picture with the real penguins, we took with the mural.

Since we couldn’t take picture with the real penguins, we took with the mural.

3. Panny’s Chocolate Factory

When I first knew that we were going to a chocolate factory as part of the private tour, the first thing that popped into my head was ‘oh man…another one of those shops to pay commission to guide’. I was so wrong. After a not-so-fun day at Great Ocean Road the previous day, this was actually fun. Panny’s Chocolate Factory was started by a Malaysian, apparently and it has very interesting chocolate exhibits that extends from the chocolate making process to artwork to chocolate moulding activities to chocolate giving penguin robots to carnival games that gives you little balls to exchange for free chocolates. My parents, yes, my parents, had so much fun playing the games that we managed to get 3 packets of 6 chocolate balls. I have to put this in the must-visit since it’s near the Penguin Parade and really, it’s hard not to have fun in the factory with all the free chocolate.

 

Chocolate moulding machine that also gives free chocolate

Chocolate moulding machine that also gives free chocolate

The robotic penguin that gives free chocolate

The robotic penguin that gives free chocolate

The chocolate mosaic

The chocolate mosaic

Chocolate Mosaic of Edna

Chocolate Mosaic of Edna

Panny's Penguin display

Penguin parade made of chocolate

 

4. Queen Victoria Market (QVM)

THIS, should be in the entry on shopping but this place is simply AMAZING. After our road trip, our city stay was basically planned around QVM’s operating hours. We spent a good half of Tuesday there from breakfast to lunch, then on wednesday night, we went to  the once-a-year night market and the last morning was also spent there. Well, there’s just so much to see and BUY! And in general, the touristy stuffs are much more affordable in QVM. The fruits and vegetables look so big, fresh and pretty that we really wanted to pack cartons of them back. And since we were there, we had to try doing marketing there. We spent about AUD 200 buying ingredients for one of our dinners — the very reason why we wanted to stay in an apartment, for the kitchen. We are talking about lobsters at AUD 96 for 3 fat ones, rump steak at AUD 10 for 4 huge slices and 3 whole fishes for AUD 13. My mum just went mad. She could not stop adding on to the dinner menu. I guess being the spoilt one, marketing in QVM was that fun because things like the crowd and smell are already discounted. And the girls, there were pretty amazed too especially seeing their favourite fruits all so big and beautiful. Believe it or not, we are planning another visit because of QVM.

Big and juicy tomatoes

Big and juicy tomatoes

More fruits and vege

More fruits and vege

Paella at the night market

Paella at the night market

Our feasts cooked from ingredients from QVM

Our feasts cooked from ingredients from QVM

the AUD 96 lobsters

the AUD 96 lobsters

The girl and her lobster

The girl and her lobster

I LOVE THE MUSHROOMS. So perfectly pretty.

I LOVE THE MUSHROOMS. So perfectly pretty.

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Chicken pie oozing gravy and lotsa goodness

5. Strawberry Picking at Bluehills

This was requested by my mum to be included in the itinerary. I really had doubts if the girls would enjoy it. The weather was bad. Passing showers and drizzles. It was drizzling when we reached Bluehills and we were a little taken aback by the price at AUD 13 per punnet (although it’s big punnet). But since we were there, we decided to just go ahead. Surprise, surprise. The girls went straight to work, even the lazier big K who was partnered with me. I explained to her what to look out for before plucking the strawberries and she simply went ahead. Along the way, she did consult me whenever she had doubts on whether the strawberries she picked were good, but soon, she got it and was determined to fill up her half punnet. Then the drizzle became showers and we thought that would be the end of the fun but no, the girls wanted to continue. So we all filled up our punnets by the time it poured. The small, young and old enjoyed themselves and we just gorged ourselves silly over the next few days on our fruits of labour.

Miss Kay showing off her berries

Miss Kay showing off her berries

Little K with daddy

Little K with daddy

Taking her job really seriously

Taking her job really seriously

Some one happy with her harvest

Some one happy with her harvest

Our harvest... well most of it

Our harvest… well most of it

So, here it is. The top hits for us for this trip. And gosh, blogging this entry is making me miss the holiday even more. When oh when will I go visit Melbourne again? Another 19 years?

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