Last Tuesday was Melbourne Cup, which is Australia's biggest horse racing event, held on the first Tuesday in November every year. It is a public holiday in Victoria, and most schools in the Melbourne area have the Monday off as well. We decided to spend the four day weekend in Lakes Entrance with our friends Charlotte, Adam, Chris and Ness. Lakes Entrance is in Gippsland, about 320km east of Melbourne. The Gippsland Lakes are the largest inland network of waterways in Australia, and Lakes Entrance is located where these lakes meet the Southern Ocean.
|Sleeping baby in the car!|
We headed off on Saturday morning in two cars, girls (including Ella) in one and boys in the other. I have no idea what the boys talked about although I can guess it consisted mostly of football, the activities we would do that weekend, and moaning about their respective wives/girlfriends ;) All three couples are going through some big life changes at the moment: Obviously Andy and I just had a baby, Chris and Ness are expecting their first child in March, and Charlotte and Adam just moved in together. So lots of deep and meaningful conversations about life in the girls car. (No moaning about husbands and boyfriends in our car... nooooo, of course not!)
We drove for about the first 2.5 hours straight, our first stop dictated by when Ella woke from her nap in the car. We had lunch at a place called Wa-De-Lock Cellar Door in Stratford, fed Ella, and then headed back to the cars for the last hour and a half. Ella slept most of the way, which was very considerate of her!
|Lunch break with Uncle Adam!|
We stayed in a five bedroom holiday home with an amazing view over one of the lakes (located on the aptly named View Street!) Adam did the booking for us, and as usual came up aces. We had two big lounge rooms, three bathrooms, two deck areas, a pool and BBQ - more than enough room for six adults and a baby. Our only real complaint was that some of the decor was a bit tired, mainly the bathrooms, and also they could have done with a new BBQ (or so I'm told from the boys!)
|View of the lake from the lounge room|
We arrived in the late afternoon. Chris, Adam and Ness went to get groceries for the weekend while Charlotte stayed home to get some work finished off. Andy and I dealt with Ella - early evening is her notoriously fussy time, so we took her for a walk through the main street in town to get some fresh air after having been in the car most of the day. Andy also had to work out the nearest place for his daily morning coffee run!
That evening we had the first of three amazing BBQs. Chris and Adam did the majority of the cooking on the trip, and we enjoyed a variety of barbecued meat along with fresh local prawns, halloumi, corn and salad each evening. Because of this we didn't end up sample any of the local restaurants, however I think we probably ate much better this way, and of course saved money in the process.
On Sunday we rented a small boat to explore the lakes and waterways. The weather was calling for thunderstorms, but luckily these held off until the evening and we had beautiful blue skies up until then. I was a bit apprehensive about having Ella on the boat all day. I wore her in the Hug a Bub most of the time while on the boat (when I say boat... it was a pretty small motorboat that went a maximum of 5 knots) which worked well until the afternoon when it got pretty hot. We stopped off to check out the Ninety Mile Beach, which is the third longest uninterrupted beach in the world. We only stayed a short time there though, as the ocean was freezing and probably too rough to swim in. Or second stop was on a beach on a lake, where we had some shade to lay Ella in. She seemed to enjoy the beach, and the boys got in a game of skim ball so of course they were happy!
|We're on a boat!|
|Ninety Mile Beach|
|Skim ball in the lake|
We then set off to find a place for lunch, and ended up scoring an amazing table. As we moored our boat next to some tables on the dock, overlooking the lake, the family at the table next to our boat asked if we wanted their table as they were just about to leave. Awesome timing! Andy and I split the fish and chips which was delicious. It ended up getting pretty hot through the afternoon and having Ella in the Hug a Bub started to get pretty uncomfortable. Andy and I decided we would head back to our house after lunch, thinking the others would want to do a bit more exploring, but it turned out that everyone was happy to go back as well.
We spent a bit of time in the pool when we got home... well the other four did while Andy and I tried to settle Ella to sleep for a nap for about an hour! The thunder and lightening storms arrived in the early evening, which made for a pretty good show out the full-length windows overlooking the lake. Everyone was pretty tired after the full day in the sun so we all had pre-dinner naps, because, why not? That's what holiday weekends are for.
We had another amazing BBQ that evening along with games of Uno, Cards Against Humanity (Aussie version, not nearly as funny as the UK version), and "that game with the words" which has no name but those that know us will understand!
Monday was pretty cool and rainy all day. Andy and I were up early with Ella while everyone else had a lie-in... parenthood... sigh... But then we both went on a nice long run (alternating of course, sadly we can no longer go on runs together.) Adam, Charlotte, Andy and I are meant to be doing the City to Sea run on 15th November, which is a 15km run from the city centre down to St. Kilda. None of us have done a huge amount of training so it should be interesting to say the least. I have already conceded to doing this as a walk/run, and am definitely not worried about getting any sort of PB!
Tuesday we packed up the house and started our long drive back to Melbourne. We had two stops along the way. Well we tried to stop for brunch first only to realise that everything was closed because of Melbourne Cup. There was only one small bakery that was open and seemed overwhelmed by the amount of people there that day, as it was the only place to get a coffee and something to eat. So after that our first real stop was Raymond Island, located in Paynesville in Gippsland. To get to Raymond Island you catch a ferry which costs $11 for cars or is free for pedestrians and departs every 20 minutes. We took our cars across as we didn't know how far we would have to drive to get to the famous Koala walk... turns out it is basically on the other side of the river. Oops! So not recommended to bother paying to take your car!
|Chalotte and Adam with Ella - great friends and so helpful with the baby!|
The Koala walk is about 1km long and you are pretty much guaranteed to see a lot of koalas. We saw koalas sleeping (of course), eating, climbing a tree, and we even saw one sitting on the ground at the base of a tree. We also saw a few echidnas just walking around on people's front lawns. The only downside to this walk was there were quite a few mosquitoes and I ended up with about 10 bites on my legs and back, and also stressing that Ella would get bitten. I can only imagine how annoying a mosquito bite would be for a baby.
Our second stop was at a pub somewhere between Lakes Entrance and Melbourne to watch the Melbourne Cup. So much fuss for a three minute race - I will never understand it, but who I am to question a public holiday?! This year for the first time a woman jockey won which was pretty cool. Unfortunately none of us thought to bet on her, so no big winnings from our group.
The rest of the ride home was not that fun with Ella as she was pretty cranky and tired from being in the car a lot of the day. We ended up having to stop a few times to feed her or just cuddle her to calm her down. Poor Charlotte was in our car with us and had to put up with the crying and also Andy and I getting stressed about it! We did finally calm her down and she slept the last 45 minutes or so back to Melbourne, and then thankfully had a good nights sleep when we got in.
And that was our weekend. Whew, that was a long post. Thanks for reading to this point!