Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Mornington Peninsula - Friday 31st July till Friday 7th August 2009

This entry is guest written (or guest blogged?) by Yvette. Thanx sweetie.

Friday 31st July 2009 -
Melbournites make out that the Mornington Peninsula is a world away, where the rich relax in their beach houses and you need a weekend to find the vineyards, so we prepared for the worst and left Melbourne early on Friday 31st July. We were shocked to find that half an hour later we were there, admiring the Mornington Peninsula's green rolling winter hills and spectacular water views. TomTom even found the Nepean Country Club without resorting to dirt tracks and a couple of boom gates later all our belongings were strewn across the massive apartment we were to call home for a week thanks to the generosity of Gloria and Col Robinson. With plenty of time to spare we took a drive down quiet country roads to Flinders and wondered if the cows meandering in their cliff top paddocks appreciated the views as much as we did.

Saturday 1st August 2009 -
One Saturday a month Rye market transforms Rye's foreshore into a market lover's paradise. We arrived early to find market stalls stretched out along the beach front park, selling everything from fresh apple juice to jewelry and clothing. With no room left in the car for more books and knickknacks we settled for a bag of fresh licorice and enough veges for the week and headed across the road to the Op shop in search of swimmers for the indoor heated pool back "home". Only in Rye can you find designer and vintage swim wear for $3 a piece. Back home and we decided we were too lazy to go to the pool and opted for a spa instead. Not very water-wise, but much fun!

Sunday 2nd August 2009 -
Rye was so good that Sunday morning we had compiled a list of local markets to check out. First cab off the rank was Dromana Drive-in Movies Market (Yes the Drive-in still operates, but why on earth anyone would go there in winter is beyond me). It was miserable! Wind cutting our faces and rain trying so hard, but failing to wet it was embarrassing Thor. There was an odd variety of stalls and an even odder collection of stall holders. One woman had all the contents of here van laid out so far away from the other stalls that I couldn't help myself, I had to take a look. She was nuts and I don't mean in a good way. Once she started talking at me (there was no conversation to be had with this woman, it was just a continuous monologue) I realised that the other stall holders must have banished her from the market and she'd set up illegally on the outskirts. Luckily Barky turned up 10 minutes later to see what was so interesting so I deflected the attention onto him and quietly slipped away before she noticed. Sorry B. We did manage to find some great things amongst the old plumbing supplies, boxes of lace, and second-hand fare of the rest of the stalls and walked away proud new owners of the "Psycho Beach Party" DVD (not nearly as bad as it sounds), a couple of Uncanny XMen records (B's purchase not mine), and a Bon Iver single. Not bad for a handful of stalls in a drive-in. Inspired by our bargain shopping prowess we tried our luck at the fancier Rosebud market. It was big and happy, the sun was finally shinning and there were market stalls as far as the eye could see, yet all we could find worth buying was the Rotary Club's bacon and egg roll, which though very tasty was technically a sandwich. We retired to the spa and the DVD player.

Monday 3rd August 2009 -
Berkeley is your typical tourist. Lighthouses, lookouts, scenic drives and historic buildings inspire him to jump out of bed early on holidays and coax the lazy one to do the same with freshly brewed coffee. If you threw in a helicopter ride I don't think he'd know what to do with himself! Monday held the promise of a look out, with the hint of a cable car ride, and there was no way that the overcast sky was going to deter B from reaching Arthur's Seat where, on a clear day, you can see all the way to Melbourne. We wandered around on the hazy cloud covered mountaintop that is Arthur's Seat, discovered the cable car was closed for renovations, peered into the distance trying to find a cityscape, took some photos, read a bit about the traditional landowners who used the area as a meeting place and then discovered we had exhausted all that Arthur's Seat had to offer. We took one last look from the lookout and could just make out the coast below then jumped in the car in search of lunch. One scenic tourist drive later and we were perched with the magpies in the beer garden of the Flinders Hotel munching on a seafood platter. Flinders is a bit posh. Not as rich as other parts of the Peninsula, but wealthy just the same. So it should have been no surprise that we found a couple of Scanpans in the op shop after lunch, for $3 each.
Being a total tourist day a visit to the lighthouse was on the cards. Victorian Councils charge for everything they can put a meter on, so to park at the lighthouse you must pay and to visit the lighthouse you must pay again. However the scenic walk around the cliff where the view of the lighthouse is just as good is free. There were crazy people surfing in the rocky inlet below and the ocean was kicking up huge waves. Surprisingly quite a few people were wandering about on the walk and I wondered if anyone ever paid to get up close and personal with the lighthouse. Exhausted we went home and cooked our market bought veges in our new second-hand Scanpans and marveled at how great they are.

Tuesday 4th August 2009 -
Nepean Country Club is kind enough to provide all it's guests with a list of entertainment for the week when you arrive, so we booked in for the Poolside Cafe's $6 pancakes on Tuesday morning. Can you call pancakes entertainment? Kath and Kim were manning the counter when we arrived for our breakfast feast and the chance of getting soy milk was nonexistent. However the gym instructor "Tony" (if there is a stereotype for gym instructors Tony is it) cooked up a mean mountain of bright fluffy pancakes. The woman sitting across from us obviously had a bit of a crush on Tony, wearing her exercise lycra to breakfast, complete with pink headband, and trying hard to pretend the children at her table didn't really belong to her. I didn't have the heart to tell her that Tony's steroid use may have had a negative effect on his libido. We retired to a full day of eating, napping, reading and watching DVDs.

Wednesday 5th August 2009 -
Given the choice between a spa treatment and a horse ride on the beach I'll choose the horse ride every time. So on Wednesday I arrived at Gunnamatta Trail Rides in Rye and got aquatinted with a lovely chestnut called Kaytain. We set off along the trail that was to take us to the beach, up and down over soft sandy dunes and through lush green farmland. There was a lot of walking and under the close instruction of our guides a bit of trotting till the group got the hang of the rising trot. Kaytain with his long gait had to settle for something between a walk and a trot for most of the ride but once we hit the sand and waves we were flying on a smooth and easy canter that was so much fun I laughed out loud. We rounded back again to the waiting group that weren't allowed to canter their horses because they hadn't mastered the rising trot, and Kaytain took a quick dip in the icy waters to cool his legs. I imagine if it was summer I would have ended up in there too, saddle and all. Back again we rode, with Kaytain periodically turning his head for me to scratch his nose, crossing roads, following trails and on into the stables where I had to coax my poor stiff legs over the saddle and down off the very tall back of Kaytain. I hit the ground with a thump, my legs almost gave way and I suddenly thought the spa treatment might have been a better option after all! Even though I found it difficult to sit down without pain in the following days the ride was definitely worth it.
Content from my horse ride we drove to the Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery and arrived just in time for a guided tour of 9 Shades of Whiteley, the regional tour of the Brett Whiteley retrospective. I'm not an art critic or writer, so I'll transcribe part of the brochure on 9 Shades of Whiteley:
"This exhibition traces his life and career from his earliest work in 1955, with 'Self portrait at sixteen', to just a few months before his death in 1992, with 'Far North Queensland - Port Douglas'. Nine phases of Whiteley's art and life are presented: Early works, Abstraction, Christie & London Zoo series, Lavender Bay, Portraits, Birds & landscapes, Sculpture, Late works, and the Brett Whiteley Studio."
It was a small but wonderful exhibition, enhanced by our guide's obvious love of Whiteley's work.
With daylight on our side we thought we'd have a quick squiz at how the other half live and drove down to the wealthiest suburbs of the Mornington Peninsula, Portsea and Sorrento, where the houses are big and the hedges surrounding them are even bigger. We saw grand old homes large enough to be hotels and bold new architectural monstrosities that only the designer could love. Satisfied by a full day of tourism we sank into the bubbles of our spa and sipped on cold beer.

Thursday 6th August 2009 -
Thursday was our last full day on the Peninsula, so we did what any self-respecting tourist should do and went to the Red Hill Brewery for lunch. We had been waiting patiently all week for a taste of their brewed on site beer selection and food matched menu, but they had been teasing us with the lazy opening hours of Thursday till Sunday only! It was worth the wait. The four beers on tap were all exquisite, with the Golden Ale my personal favorite. The lunch menu was seriously devoid of vegetarian fare, but a bowl of crumbed mussels and some potato patties hit the spot. B matched his Wheat Beer with a steak sandwich and we were both happy and full by leaving. Inspired by good food we went in search of the apple orchard that had sold us fresh apple juice at the Rye market and were disappointed when we discovered they don't sell to the public from their shed, so we travelled on in search of an open cellar door instead. We were looking for the famous Yabby Lake vineyard to taste their Pinot Noir, rated in the top ten wines in the world, but again we were turned away at the gate with a menacing sign telling us that they do NOT sell to the public. Luckily we managed to finally stumble upon the Dromana Estate vineyard and stepped inside for some wine tasting. Mornington Peninsula is famous for it's Pinot Noir, though B & I wouldn't know a good one if it slapped us across the face. Being primarily a Shiraz drinker I expect my reds to be big and bold, not quiet and shy like a Pinot. None the less we did find a bottle that wasn't offensive to our Shiraz pallet and left quite proud of ourselves. It was time to start packing for our dreaded 9AM checkout.

Many heartfelt thanks to Gloria and Col for the Birthday/Christmas present of a week in luxury at the Nepean Country Club.

Friday 7th August 2009 -
An early start and an hours drive later we arrived in the strange, multicultural, traffic chocked suburb of Dandenong (not to be confused with the ranges of the same name). Neil in Cobargo had told us about Melbourne's Dandenong Markets with such passion that we had to see them for ourselves. It was bustling and diverse, with a great deli stall selling homemade salami, a cheese stall and fresh bakers, among the usual fruit and veg stalls, seafood, butchers and a whole other side of clothes, shoes, jewelry and nicknacks. Cheese, salami and fresh bread in our possession we drove up to the Mia Mia Gallery and Cafe set in the beautiful surrounds of Westerfords Park, Templestowe.

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