Melbourne | Puffing Billy

Melbourne Day 2 (Part 1)
Puffing Billy | Yarra Valley Chocolaterie | Costco Wholesale

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It was a slow morning. We woke up late and took our own sweet time to have our breakfast. Faith entertained herself with the box of Lego bricks in the living room of the host and subsequently offered to ‘look after’ the baby in the house. She missed her Papa and little brother and counted down to the day when she could meet them again (though we had barely arrived!).

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By the time we set off for Belgrave Station, it was past 11am and we reached the station at 12 noon. Drizzling, Faith and I bade goodbye to J and P and dashed off to the ticketing office to purchase the 12.30pm tickets to Emerald which is a 50-minutes ride (see timetable here). Since it was a weekday on a non-holiday, that means it’s quite likely that there would still be available tickets.

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We bought a one-way tix to Emerald since we would be meeting the other two ladies at that station. Once you have purchased the tix, do take time to capture some pictures for memories’ sake!

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As you can see, there are many tourists taking pics with the steam train. Photo bomb everywhere!

img_1127An obliging girl

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I got the very relunctant Faith to sit with her legs dangling on the side of the carriage and this is perhaps the only time that she did so because shortly after this shot was taken, she asked to get down.

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All getting ready for the ride!

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Mandatory mother-daughter shot

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You can read up the history of the train on the carriage. And with the advice of many travel guides and blogs such as this, we took our seats on the right side of the train.

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Off we went! Always be prepared to get your camera ready to take some awesome shots. Faith saw the smoke from a train for the first time and that look on her face was truly priceless.

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Fascinated by the temperate rainforest

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20 minutes into the ride, she was bored (sigh, young kids!) and asked to go to the toilet. I was exasperated no doubt but quickly remembered that I have got snacks in my bag. Seeing the biscuits, the little girl soon forgot about the urge to pee. So, pls remember to pack snacks in your bag at all times when you are on the go. ;p

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First stop – Menzies Creek – and we got down to take some pics (what else?). You could visit the toilet but the train only stops for 5 minutes and I reckoned we wouldn’t make it in time and abandoned the idea.

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We continued with our journey…

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We’ve reached! And like most enthusiastic tourists, I wanted to take pics of the train and asked the girl to pose in front of it. She, was NOT interested. Grrrr..

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Reached and we visited the toilet. We took our own sweet time, only to realise that the train master was waiting for us. How nice of him. When he realised we would not be continuing the journey, he just exclaimed a “Oh!” and moved on.

We met up with the ladies and checked into a cafe for our lunch before moving on to Yarra Valley Chocolaterie.

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Melbourne | Chesterfield Farm

Melbourne 2016
1st day | Chesterfield Farm

Our flight was at 1.20am. Not a very ideal timing I must say. I was worried that the girl would be cranky with lack of sleep. Thankfully she slept a few hours before we headed to the airport and slept on the plane for a good few hours. As anticipated, she got bored along the way and I had to take out the Usborne sticker book and get her to work on it. The book is on airport and I chose it so that she could connect her experience with the task at hand.

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We cleared the custom at Melbourne airport rather quickly and by the time we settled some stuff, it was past noon. Chesterfield Farm was on my itinerary and we only realised that it closes at 3pm then. We wasted no time and Pauline, my host, sent me to the farm. This farm was recommended by Jenn and boy, was I glad that I chose to visit it.

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This is the sight that greeted us when we arrived and to be honest, I wasn’t impressed. However, once you go in through the cafe cum ticketing counter, you will realise that the farm is big!

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There is a list of things to do on the farm -tractor rides, shearing of sheep, milking of cow, feeding of the animals, etc – and one could devote a few hours visiting it. There are specific timings of course so it would be good to read up a little on its website. Faith and I had only one hour in the farm but we were really thrilled by the farm animals.

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Cows

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Camel!!!

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Goats

The girl was truly fascinated by the kangaroo. The mom too!

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This space is truly big, quite different from Collingwood Children’s Farm and it has a bigger range of farm animals, much to our delight. Because we had only one hour before the farm closed for the day, we had to literally race through the various sections. We didn’t even purchase any feed for the animals; I thought it would be a good experience for the kiddo. I think one could possibly spend a good 2 to 3 hours on the farm.

It was a wonderful experience for both of us and we love the close encounter that we could have with the animals. Worth a visit!

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Faith has often read about farm animals and that day, the animals came alive and you should have seen her excitement and fascination with them.

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We had a wonderful mother-and-daughter bonding time too as we talked about the farm animals and taking turns to take pictures of them. It pays to bring along a good camera to capture all those beautiful memories and I’m glad to be equipped with Canon’s EOS M10 during this trip.

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Next stop, Puffing Billy & the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie!

Back from Melbourne

It was an impulsive act.

It happened about two months ago.

I was sleep-deprived because the boy woke up every hour and sometimes, every half an hour during the night for feed. Caffeine was my best friend and I dreaded evenings. By 6pm, both the kids would show symptoms of tiredness, especially the boy, and gave me a hard time. I couldn’t cook in peace and there would often be tension at the dinner table.

And I found myself screaming at them (the girl) more often.

I didn’t want to be a mad mom.

And I toyed with the idea of buying a pair of air tickets for Faith and me so that we could spend some much needed mother-daughter bonding time. The proposal got approved very quickly by the CFO in the family and I was very blessed to be invited by a friend to stay with her (she has close friends who are residents in the country). I just needed to buy the air tickets. And I need not worry too much about accommodation and research of the place.

So I bought the tickets and then realised … I was still breastfeeding Dan.

The past one month saw us getting Dan adjusted to formula milk and changing his sleep arrangement. It went fabulously smooth and things got so much better. He could sleep and eat better and both Da man and I could get some decent sleep. Since everything was turning out well, I shouldn’t be leaving him behind right?

Guilt set in. What a horrible mom I am. I had wanted to give up on the trip but friends told me to make good of the decision we have made and to spend some quality time with the girl.

And we did.

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Faith and I came back from Melbourne yesterday evening.
It happened to be our wedding anniversary and there is no better gift than to be with my family.

Blessed.

Faith and I had a fabulous time in Melbourne; the trip far exceeded my expectations.

I couldn’t thank Jenn and the host enough. They made the trip a very pleasant one indeed.

Will be recording some of the trip’s highlights soon.

Melbourne museum

I know this post is way too late. It’s been more than a year since we came back from Melbourne but I thought I had better record these wonderful memories on my electronic diary lest it be gone forever.

That morning, we had a slow breakfast at Queen Victoria Market before strolling to get onto the tram to get to the museum. Before that, we stopped in our tracks to have some workout and fun at the playground. This is one thing (of a lot of many others) that I appreciate about Melbourne – wide open space for playground.

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I didn’t expect Faith to be interested in visiting museums. She was, after all, just 19 months then but we still went ahead since we have heard good stuff about the museum.

And we were stuck in the Children’s Gallery for more than an hour. It wasn’t a big space and there weren’t a lot of exhibits but there are certainly interesting stuff that engaged the toddler.

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The area leading up to the Children’s Gallery has quite a few activities for children to work on such as puzzles, colouring paper, puppet show, blocks of different civilisations and books to read.

20140610_102644Just outside the area are some activities to engage the children physically. Look at these gigantic Lego rubber pieces!

Play is a way of learning…

20140610_110843Let’s enter the Children’s Gallery!

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One could learn much about nature here!

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To me, the exhibits are well designed and get the children to use their senses in exploring them. I guess if Faith was older then, we might have to be stuck in there for more than an hour.

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Faith has shown keen interest in building blocks at a very young age but then again, this applies to a lot of children eh?

20140610_105855One of the many quotes that I love…

20140610_124054The little girl finally fell asleep after I strapped her in the carrier and it’s time for the adults to view the other exhibits. We spent a good time at the other levels and eventually rested at the cafe.

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The food was nothing to boast about but we were glad to have a rest after all that walking.

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Oh, how I love the fall season.

20140610_134112On our way back, the hubs and I were just strolling with Faith following us behind. As we turned around, she was running towards us and then fell into the big pile of fallen leaves.

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Oops!

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But she got amazed by them and continued to play. This picture reminds me to allow her to explore and not restrict her no matter how dirty she might end up. ;p But I think the story will end up differently if there are lots of ants underneath the leaves.

Melbourne : Royal Botanic Gardens

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Life has been so busy lately with playdates, baking and family outings that I couldn’t catch up with reminiscing the days in Melbourne through blog posts. I resolve to do that today!

The Royal Botanic Gardens is founded in 1846 and comprises 38 hectares of garden beds, lakes and lawns. A relaxing walk through the gardens can be rather uplifting to the soul especially with the cool weather in Melbourne. If you are into botany, you would be excited to know that the gardens is home to 52000 individual plants representing more than 10000 species from around the world.

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The hubs and I had a good time chatting as we strolled with Faith. The little one was running all over the place and her excitement was evident as she spotted some unique birds and their chirping. The Terrace, a cafe overlooking the Ornamental Lake to Government House, was our pit stop for the much needed caffeine fix.

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To be honest, the main reason for visiting the gardens is for Faith to explore the Ian Potter Foundation Children’s Garden. When you travel with kid(s), it’s not all about the adults anymore, is it? ;p

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The Children’s Garden is good for kids of all ages and they get to discover the various plants at the kitchen garden and explore the vegetation of the rainforest ruin.

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I must say I find it delightful to explore the Children’s Garden but that’s just me. I know that as compared to the farm, Faith was more interested in animals than the plants but we did have a good walk around it.

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And you bet we made use of those moments to teach Faith about the fruits and vegetables found in this small garden. We don’t have the luxury of space to grow our own fruits or vegetables, so this is an opportunity not to be missed.

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We spent about an hour in this Children’s Garden, taking the time to explore and having Faith play at the water features. Generally it was fun and educational though I think older kids would enjoy it more. I didn’t dare to have Faith play with the soil; I don’t think she liked to do that too. We stopped by The Gardens Shop and purchased a book and some toys for the little one.

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Besides The Ian Potter Foundation Children’s Garden, there are also the Dinosaur gardens, educational programmes that are offered throughout the year from kindergarten to tertiary level and a checklist of 50 things to do at the Royal Botanic Gardens that one can get from the Visitor Centre. I have a copy of it and let’s just see if we can adapt some of them at our own Botanic Gardens! 😉

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Aww…writing this post makes me miss Melbourne and the lovely weather in June.

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😉

Melbourne : Philip Island day tour

Friends whom I have asked to recommend places to visit in Melbourne will definitely point me to Philip Island to watch the Penguin Parade. We put it down on our to-visit list and book a day tour when we were in Melbourne. Yup, that’s how we travel – very last minute, I know.

We booked the tour via this tour operator and we thoroughly enjoyed it. We had a mini bus to ourselves with about 20 people on board. We were picked up from our hotel and they also sent us back to our accommodation. I like such a service!

We travelled through the Gippsland region directly to Phillip Island and made our first stop at the Rhyll Trout & Bush Tucker Farm where we had our lunch and enjoyed a guided bush tucker tour.

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Then we meet the koalas at the Koala Conservation Centre. There were not a lot of koalas though but we were still ecstatic when we spotted those few. One bad thing about joining a tour group is that one might not be able to spend sufficient time in one attraction spot since the itinerary can be tight. I would very much love to read more about this marsupial via the gallery but we had to move on!

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Can you spot the koala?

To the delightful Phillip Island Winery where Faith had an awesome time chasing the older kids (she invited herself to the group) and the adults had a few sips of the wine.

Lovely green!

Lovely green!

Waiting for the wine sipping session!

Waiting for the wine sipping session!

Mother and daughter

Mother and daughter

We also made a stop at Point Grant and The Nobbies where we enjoyed views over Westernport Bay and Bass Strait, including Seal Rocks, home to Australia’s largest population of fur seals. It’s very windy here so we were clad in our down jackets.

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Lastly, it’s to the main attraction where we got up close to enjoy the Penguin Parade. It’s an amazing feeling, I assure you! We paid a little more to be on the viewing gallery that brings us closer to the penguins but it’s worth it. They came ashore at around 5.45pm that day and the parade lasted for about an hour. Faith slept through the first part because she was too tired from the tour but when she woke up, she was jumping with pure joy! Bliss!

We can’t take pics of the penguins but these count too?

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It was a long day indeed and we basically K.O. once we reached our hotel. But we really enjoyed this day tour. We missed the chocolate factory though so if you are going to do this on your own, visit on our behalf?

😉

Thursday Travels is a weekly column featuring sights and experiences from my wanderlust adventures, including staycations. These sweet memories need to be stored sand shared. 

Melbourne : Collingwood Children’s Farm

One of the goals for our recent Melbourne trip is to visit farms. There are a few that we have shortlisted – Bundoora, Collingwood and Laurimar Glen farmstay. In the end, we settled for Collingwood Children’s Farm and we are glad that we did so!

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Collingwood Children’s Farm is an attraction spot that one has to visit if you are travelling with kids. It’s a taste of the country in the city and is accessible via the train (the farm is only 4km away from the city!)

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After alighting from the Collingwood station, the hubs used the GPS which led us to the farm after about a 20 minutes’ walk along the trail of the Yarra River. The farm is nestled in a bend of the the river, amongst the river red gum and paperbark trees and it was really delightful to be greeted by cyclists, runners and sheep (!) as we made our way to the farm.

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By the time we reached our destination,  our stomachs called out for food. Thankfully, there’s the Farm Cafe which serves really decent and healthy food. I had Green Eggs which is made of Broccoli and almond pesto, spinach, quinoa, herbs, poached eggs, parsley aioli and crispy
fried onions. The hubs had the Farmer’s Breakfast which is a sizable portion and no doubt delicious. We ordered the babyccino (made up of froth with chocolate powder on top) for Faith but she obviously didn’t want to even taste it! Grrrr!

Love these dishes and this experience has inspired me to make hearty breakfast when I get back home!

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It’s crowded that day and we had to wait for about 20 minutes for our meals and caffeine fix. Since we were not in any rush, it’s a great time to chill and people-watch and have fun with the kiddo! The farm seems like a hit with families with young children and the place is stroller-friendly too!

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You can get up close and personal with the typical farmyard animals and there are pony rides, tractor rides and cuddling of the guinea pigs, just to name a few activities. Every second Saturday of the month, the farm organises a farmer’s market selling fresh, seasonal fruit and vegetables, free range meat, ice-cream, honey, just to name a few. Aren’t you excited already? We didn’t get to enjoy it since we went on the first Saturday. ;(

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We spent some awesome few hours on the farm and the little one was intrigued by the farm animals.

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Near to the farm is The Abbotsford Convent where you will find more choices for food and drinks. There is also a garden nearby if you intend to have a picnic.

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And guess what we did when we returned to the hotel at the end of the day? Debrief Faith on the animals that she had seen on the farm! This is an educational trip no less! Hah!

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😉

Melbourne: Things to do (for family)

Hi there! Our family just came back from cool Melbourne and I thought it would be useful to pen down some of the places we went and those that were recommended by friends who have been there.

It was the beginning of Winter in Melbourne (June) and we packed in warm clothing like down jackets (for Philip island), boots, and lots of heat tech tops from Uniqlo since we are often advised to layer and I don’t want myself to look like a penguin after all those layers. My Ugg boots still survived after these few years of being kept in the storeroom since we came back from Boston. Talk about quality! I regretted not bringing the stroller; this place is stroller-friendly! Nonetheless, we had an awesome time in Melbourne!

In planning the places to visit, we take into account the distance and whether our little bug would enjoy. We couldn’t cover as many places as I would love to but oh well…

1. Queen Victoria Market

How could you not visit this lovely market when you are in Melbourne? This is in fact our first stop upon arriving in Melbourne. After dropping our luggage at the hotel (too early to check in anyway), we walked to the market to have a cup of latte and a bratwurst from The Bratwurst Shop as recommended by friends. Yummy, I say! And I’m so jealous that the locals could enjoy such fresh produce! Just looking at the colouful fruits and veggies makes me happy! >> Spend a whole morning touring this large market and enjoy the many foods available! Note the opening hours.

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2. Visit a farm!

We visited the Collingwood Children’s Farm which is located within the city. Part of my goal for this trip is to get Faith to be close to the nature and the farmyard animals since she has often been reading about them at home. This one is great fun! Do take a break at the farm cafe as it provides healthy delicious food! Spend half a day here.

3img1402280408657. Philip island

You have to take a day trip out to Philip island because it is really worth visiting the penguins! The hubs and I booked a last minute day tour from this tour operator and we thoroughly enjoyed it. We travelled through the Gippsland region directly to Phillip Island and made our first stop at the Rhyll Trout & Bush Tucker Farm where we enjoyed a guided bush tucker tour and had our lunch. Then we meet the koalas at the Koala Conservation Centre before we proceeded to the delightful Phillip Island Winery. We also made a stop at Point Grant and The Nobbies where we enjoyed views over Westernport Bay and Bass Strait, including Seal Rocks, home to Australia’s largest population of fur seals. Lastly, it’s to the main attraction where we got up close to enjoy the Penguin Parade. It’s an amazing feeling, I assure you!

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4. Melbourne museum

This museum has stuff to cater to all age groups. We spent almost the whole day there, slowly savouring every bit of information that is on display. There is a children’s gallery for young kids and our little girl was just so entertained by every station. We had to drag her out of the gallery just so that we could continue with the rest of the exhibits. It’s truly a world-class museum, IMOH.

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5. Great Ocean Road

One has to visit the Great Ocean Road when in Melbourne, no? We took a one day tour for this but was told it would be easier and more relaxing if we could spend a night at one of the towns. Take it easy and enjoy the magnificent sight. It was a tad too packed an itinerary for us and we found ourselves fighting fatigue and couldn’t really enjoy the grandeur of the rock formation along the coastline.

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6. Royal Botanic Gardens

We love to get close to the nature and we have heard that this large garden is very well-kept. Even if we are not serious botanists, we found ourselves enjoying the slow walk among the fauna flora. A plus point is that there is a children’s garden too. Continue the walk through Alexandra Gardens and Queen Victoria Gardens and you will reach Federation Square in the end.

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7. City tour via the free city circle tram (route 35)

Melbourne is known for the maze of laneways that wind through the city. Start the day with a coffee at one of the many cafes hidden in Degraves Street and Flinders Lane. (Here is a list of lingo for ordering your favourite caffeine fix). Head to Bourke Street and Collins Street for the shopping and if you miss some Chinese food, there’s always the Chinatown! The Eureka Skydeck 88 is recommended if you want to overlook the entire city. We never made it there though. ;(

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8. St Kilda Beach 

I know it’s winter and it’s probably not the best time for a walk along the beach. But since we put up at a place near the area, we thought we should just head to the beach. I think it would be a worthwhile visit in summer.

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The days are short in winter with the sun setting around 5.30pm. We couldn’t do much then except to visit some of our friends. There are so many attractions that we have missed out like the Melbourne zoo and aquarium, Fitzroy, Yarra Valley, Mornington Peninsula which are recommended by friends. Of course, there are tons of other things to do in Melbourne but we just didn’t have enough time. We did have a very relaxing time and we are just contented that we have visited the above, considering the fact that we had a very young kid with us.

I will be blogging more in detail about some of the places that we have visited, just for memories’ sake. Those pictures need to be stored somewhere, ya?