Aussie Day Weekend in Wilsons Prom

When a public holiday falls on a Tuesday, what better reason than to take Monday off and enjoy an extra long weekend? So we rallied some good company and headed 3 hours outside of Melbourne to Wilsons Promontory National Park.

Since Ben we generally aren’t ones to pitch a tent and rough it in the outdoors, we rented a house outside of the park and ventured in each day for exploration. Lots of credit and gratitude going out to our friend Marie for planning and preparing loads of delicious food ahead of time to make the weekend easy and hassle free.

It was the perfect way to appreciate what we believe is the best part of Australia – its natural beauty. Ben and I may get into our moods and are too often guilty of complaining about some of the [often petty] frustrations we have living in Australia. However, while we might have complaints about work or over-hyped and under-delivered festivals or the lack of ANY decent Mexican food… the one thing that this country has NEVER disappointed us with is breathtaking holiday locations.

Wilsons Prom brings you to tidal rivers that cut through lush valleys and mountain ranges that open up to stunning beaches. Walking trails range from scenic boardwalks that hug and connect different beaches to hikes that take you through rainforest covered mountains. And if the scenery isn’t enough, the animal encounters take it over the top.

A subset of us decided to use one of the days to get out to Sealers Cove (Thadius unfortunately couldn’t get the day off so worked remotely from the house as his loyal better half stayed to keep him company). Sealers Cove is a beach that can only be accessed on foot. The walk out to the site is described by the park as a “moderate” 10km walk one way… so yes, that’s a 20km return trip. There is no other way there or back and you have to make sure that you return in time to catch a bus at the entrace of the trail to take you back to the visitor centre.

Having had a delayed start, we wanted to make the most of our time on the beach and agreed to keep a brisk pace. Surely if the sign recommends 3 hours for the walk then we could do it in 2 hours without much trouble, right? We’re fit and still young (sort of) … We did in fact finish the walk in 2 hours but not without pain. This was NOT a moderate walk! This was, by all definitions, a hike through the rainforest and up and around mountains. Plus all the way there, you keep thinking, ‘I have to do this all over again in just a few hours to get back!’

Was the walk beautiful? ABSOLUTELY. Was the beach stunning as described? ABSOLUTELY. Would I recommend it as a must-do if you are in Wilsons Prom?…. I really want to say yes but I’m a bit torn. If you like to camp then I would highly suggested putting on a pack and spending a couple days out there so you can truly relax on the beach without worrying about the imminent trek back. If you simply love to hike then start early, take a leisurely pace and you will be well rewarded all day long with a range of different scenery, treating the beach as a secluded rest stop that feels like only a lucky few earn the privilege to see. If you are just looking for a beautiful beach to laze the day away then there are several easier to access – Australia is in no short supply of amazing beaches even just within Wilsons Prom.

With all that said, I’m very happy we did it. Not only did it feel good to be active but we were all proud of the pace we accomplished. More importantly, I never want to feel like I possibly missed out on something wonderful just because it might have required some extra time and effort to get there. So cheers to Australia and all its wonders!

Australian Open and Straya Day

We had many things to celebrate over the weekend. First and foremost, Ben returned from his trip to Hong Kong. I am super excited to have him back home. He took the redeye Friday night and arrived bright and early Saturday morning. Unfortunately for him, there was no time to rest as there was immediate fun to be had!

Australian Open

The Australian Open has been taking place here in Melbourne.  We had passes for Middle Saturday which marks the middle weekend in the two week tournament (no awards for creative naming). I went ahead with a group of friends so that we could ensure good seats and Ben rushed home from the airport to shower and meet us at the venue. I think he’ll tell you that it was worth powering through as it was a great day out!

We were able to watch several matches including women’s singles Muguruza (24) vs Bacsinszky, men’s singles Becker vs. Raonic (8), and Isner (19) vs. Muller along with a brief viewing of one of the men’s doubles. I’d have to say that the highlight was watching Raonic who served up to a 230km/h (143 mph) serve.

Isner in fact is a UGA alum who attended when Ben and I were undergrads. We were thrilled at the chance to see him play… then, the match went forth and Isner fell apart. By the score alone, the game was very tight but if you were watching, there was nothing close about it.

Isner mentally broke down. He let his frustrations set in after the first set and could be seen arguing with his coach in the stands throughout the entire painful match. He even broke one of his racquets in anger at one point. As a spectator, you knew you weren’t watching the match you should have been and if Isner’s head was in it, he would have smashed this opponent easily.

Nonetheless, for us the day was a joy. We had a great time admiring the tennis pros, having a few drinks and obsessively re-applying sunblock all afternoon.

International Food Festival

On Sunday we attended an International Food Festival with some friends. There were tons of food stalls and live music and even some carnival rides but the whole thing felt a bit random. We’ve come to learn that whenever anything is hyped up in Australia, the likely outcome is generally more lackluster.

Still, we stuck around, sampled the food and mostly lazed about on the big lawn while listening for whichever music genre was to perform next – it ranged from 90’s covers to reggae and beyond. We were all waiting to see the headliner performance The Cat Empire and were determined since we had stuck around all day. However, the evening brought low temps and chilly wind. So, while we did manage to see the beginning of the act, we all called it quits early on because of the cold.

Australia Day

Monday was Australia Day (Straya Day) which marks the arrival of the first fleet of British ships in Port Jackson. Lots of people have barbies and celebrate outdoors and of course, there are festivals and events in town. There is also a bit of conflict that comes with the national holiday. Some Indigenous Aboriginals view this as a day commemorating the loss of Indigenous culture and have coined it ‘Invasion Day’. There are always a few protests in the major cities but we did not see any.

In fact, we spent most of Straya Day being lazy and watching Netflix. Ben was recovering from his trip along with the weekend festivities so we stayed low. We did feel a slight obligation to observe the holiday somehow so for dessert we bought some lamingtons and made fairy bread.

Lamington is an Australian dessert made up of sponge cake which is dipped in a chocolate sauce and then coated with coconut flakes. We just bought some store bought cakes but they were still pretty delicious.

Fairy bread on the other hand is something we learned about from our Aussie friends. Apparently, it is something you grow up eating as a kid. You take cheap white bread (like wonder bread), spread some butter on it and then top it with rainbow sprinkles. I guess this is what you give kids here instead of Lucky Charms 😉 So, we gave it a go. The store was out of traditional rainbow sprinkles so we went with stars. It tastes just like it sounds… I suppose I could see how anyone under the age of 10 might be pleased.