Monday, 17 April 2017

Easter Sunday in the Dandenongs

We are back from our amazing family holiday in Bali. My mom has travelled back to Melbourne with us, and is staying for the next nine weeks, but sadly all of Ella’s other grandparents have gone back to England and Canada. I’m working on a couple of blog posts about our trip, which I will post over the next couple of weeks. In the meantime, here’s what we got up to over the Easter weekend.

On Friday we took the night flight home from Bali, arriving in Melbourne at 7am on Saturday morning. That flight option worked well in one way: Ella slept the whole time we were in the airport and on the plane so was super easy to manage. However, as adults we didn’t sleep much at all. There was no comfy pram for us to lie in at the airport, nor were we able to spread out on our parent’s laps on the plane like Ella could. When we got back home we were all pretty shattered, except for Ella of course, who was happy to be home and ready to play. We were also all FREEZING, as the temperature seems to have dropped drastically since we left Australia two weeks ago. Winter is coming! (Haha, I think I say that every autumn. Speaking of which, when is the new season of Game of Thrones out?!)

We decided to drop off the suitcase and immediately head to Miss Marmalade in Brunswick for some brunch and much needed coffee. Refueled, we headed to a nearby park to let Ella run around and burn off some energy. Fortunately that tactic worked and we tired Ella out, and she fell asleep in the car on the way home. A long nap for her gave us adults some time to nap as well!

I also used the time to meal plan for the week. I’ve decided to cancel Hello Fresh while my mom is here and get into the habit of planning our meals again in order to save a bit of money. We spent the rest of the day unpacking, grocery shopping, and trying to keep up with Ella. She’s a bit jet lagged now and didn’t go to bed until 9pm (which is 7pm in Bali) so we are back to square one with trying to get our bedtime routine set again.

After a mostly solid night's sleep, (with two Ella wake-ups, argh!) we all felt a bit more human on Sunday morning. The weather was cool but not raining, so we decided to head to the Dandenong Ranges for the day. Charlotte and Adam also met us there, much to Ella's delight (she absolutely adores Cod, especially since our weekend in Rye in March), giving us an opportunity to catch up on our holiday and what they’ve been up to.

We met at Sherbrooke Picnic Ground, and had a little picnic lunch while waiting for Charlotte and Adam to arrive. The grounds are nicely set up with picnic tables, BBQs and washrooms. My mom was amazed to learn that the BBQs come stocked with gas and are free to use. This is pretty standard in Australia and I remember being amazed with it myself when we first moved here.

We passed the 1000 Steps on the way and it was PACKED this holiday weekend. I’m not sure escaping the city to be one with nature has the same impact when there are millions of people doing the same thing.  Luckily Sherbrooke Forest was much less busy. We the short hike to Sherbrooke Falls through the forest, starting at the picnic grounds. The path here is very wide and flat and it is only 1.2km each way, so a perfect walk to do with kids. Ella walked some of it herself, but 2.4km is still a bit too long with her without a rest. We took our robust jogging pram which was easy to take on this path (though there were a few steps around the bridge to the falls which were a little bit tricky with it).


The forest scenery in the Dandenongs is gorgeous, with lush ferns and towering Mountain Ash trees everywhere. Every time I’m there these trees make me feel like I’m in some sort of magical fairy tale. The falls themselves weren’t much to see this time – there was just a thin stream of water running down. I think they are much more impressive after a heavy rainfall. Still, it was a beautiful walk and very refreshing to be in a cooler climate after the heat and humidity of Bali.






Once we returned to Sherbrooke Picnic Grounds (which was now full of people having delicious smelling BBQs) we took a short drive to Burnham Beeches, a historic property that is owned by celebrity chef Shannon Bennett of Masterchef fame. Within the property is the Piggery Café, a restaurant set within the property overlooking the magnificent grounds. The food is all sustainable and ethically caught or farmed, with lots of the produce grown on site. There was a long wait for a  table but we were more than happy to amuse ourselves within the grounds while we waited. There were (smelly) pigs to see, a pack of alpacas walked by, and there was a coffee cart with some yummy pastries to hold us over until our table was ready. There was also a great play space for kids, and the option to rent equipment to play Bocce Ball, Lawn Bowls or Croquet for an extra fee.  






Once our table was ready we all indulged in the local beer and wine that was on offer. I had a lovely Pinot Noir from Coombe Farm in the Yarra Valley, the perfect light red for a rustic lunch. Our meals were good, but a little on the expensive side and not excellent by Melbourne standards (especially when you consider the celebrity chef owner). But the surrounding grounds and atmosphere made up for it. There are plans to expand the site to include a diary, brewery, steakhouse and hotel, though there was no mention of the timeline expected on these developments, so no idea when all that would be ready. There were no signs of building works being done when we were there.


After lunch we decided to play a round of mini-golf, to finish up our day of activities. We went to Wetland’s Golf and Games which was about halfway between Melbourne and the Dandenongs. Ella was looking a little sleepy so my mom took her on a walk while the four of us played. No surprise, Andy won and Adam came in second, but I’m happy to report I came in THIRD, and not last! (I always lose!) I even got a hole in one!


We got back home that evening tired but happy from a full day.


Today is our last day of holidays, and we are just spending it chilling out at some local parks and getting things ready for a new term at school. It is much less stressful than normal, as we have my mom here to help out with Ella for pretty much the whole of this term.

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