Sunday, April 29, 2012

WITL 7 : Portland

We planned to have a day out with David and Karyn, which isn't easy because David was the ranger "on call" over the Easter long weekend. We thought it was best to go to Portland, so it shouldn't be too far for him to go if he did get on call. The city of Portland is the oldest European settlement in Victoria. Located around one hour from Casterton. Nowadays, Portland is the home of a varied professional fishing fleet.

As usual, it took us sometime to decide what we were going to have for lunch. While we were looking around the city when we found these old cars. Karyn was very interested on them.

Finally, we decide to have Indian food for lunch. It was nice but as usual, I couldn't finish it.

On the way back to Casterton, we stopped by at Darryl's Glass Studio and Gallery. Darryl's is a very talented glass artist. He works with  pieces of glass and using  modern techniques and equipment, he creates spectacular jewellery, kitchen-ware and stained glass. Here, David bought a beautiful pendant for me.

The tour was not yet finished. Darryl invited us into the church that he bought and turned into a very beautiful home. He designed and made all the lead lights, 22 in all which truly showcase his incredible talent.   

To know more about Darryl's stained glass, patterns and his "church" which, by the way is up for sale, please visit his website

Saturday, April 28, 2012

WITL 6 : Casterton

Casterton, a small town in western Victoria, 42km east of the South Australian border, has become our annual Easter holiday destination. We always have a great time there with our great friends David and Karyn Bothe. When we have good weather, we sit outside enjoying the bird songs and watching what their cat, Tigger and the chickens are doing.

After breakfast we went to Cheryl's, David and Karyn's daughter's, farm. There is always something interesting to do here. Playing with the kids, walking to the dam to catch yabbies and this time, I learned to feed their cows. ^_^

In the afternoon, Karyn and I walked to the lagoon. Her David was on call so he couldn't be too far from home and my David was too lazy to join us.

Friday, April 27, 2012

WITL 5 : on the way to Casterton

Today we left the caravan park heading to Casterton, our favourite Easter holiday destination. It was around 2 hours journey, however we stopped at several places. The first stop was Horsham, the biggest city by population in the Wimmera region of Victoria. With population of around 20,000, Horsham was quite a busy city. As usual, when we visit Victoria, we look for an ALDI, a supermarket chain that offers cheaper prices on all their product lines compared to other supermarkets. It is so disappointing that we don't have ALDI in South Australia.

After having lunch at a Chinese fast food, we continued our journey stopping here and there to take more pictures and make a donation.

We then stopped at Coleraine, a small township just outside Casterton. This picturesque little village has a very good chocolate factory and we bought Easter chocolates for all our friends and family.

Finally, at around 4pm, we arrived at Casterton to meet our wonderful friends, David and Karyn.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

WITL 4 : Ararat

In the morning I took some pictures around the caravan park, hoping there might be some kangaroos still on site, but David told me that kangaroos are a nocturnal animal which avoid the daylight and are most active during the night. Knowing this, we should make sure we're back in time to the feed then again.

Our next destination was Ararat, the only town in Australia founded by the Chinese in 1857. A group of 700 hopeful Chinese immigrants from Guangdong province in southern China, made the slow trudge from the South Australia port of Robe to the central Victorian gold-fields. One of the main tourist attractions in Ararat is the Gum San Chinese Heritage Museum.

Designed in traditional Southern Chinese style, this unique heritage museum offers a look back at the regions colourful history and tells the stories of many of it's famous inhabitants. This is an important base for the understanding of the influence of Chinese on the development of Australia, economically, culturally and socially.  A series of exhibition spaces, state of the art presentations, and rotating displays of Chinese artefacts and period pieces provide a record of the rich colour and history of Chinese culture in Australia.

It was very interesting that the roof of this museum was donated by Ararat's sister city, Taishan in Guandong Province of China. Four tradesmen from Taishan took four months to fix the tiles into place. The roof was estimated to be worth $400,000 in the year 2000. 

On the way back to caravan park, I saw something quite amazing. As we passed a field close to the National Park, we saw literally hundreds of kangaroos. It was the first time I'd seen so many kangaroos.....
I felt like I could just stay there and watch them all night, but I had to feed the kangaroos waiting for us back at the caravan park! 

Arrived at the caravan park, it was just in time for feeding the kangaroo and today David filmed it for me. However, this evening there were not too many kangaroos coming. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

WITL 3 : The Grampians

The Grampians is a national park in Victoria, Australia and is located 235km west of Melbourne. The Park is listed on the Australian Heritage list for its outstanding natural beauty. There is a wide range of outdoor activities on offer such as, walking and hiking around the park while stopping at the many scenic lookouts,   rock-climbing, kayaking or canoeing at remote mountain lakes and much more.

Our first day here started with "breakfast with emus", as the grazed in front of the park. Too bad they were aware of my presence and ran away as I was trying to take their picture.

Our first destination was Lake Wartook, the reservoir in the Grampians National Park. Bordered by many wild flowering plants and the majestic mountain in the background, Lake Wartook is one of the popular scenic spots in the Grampians. There are many species of native birds and animals on display throughout the ranges that have to be seen to be believed.

Around 10km from Lake Wartook is McKenzie Falls, the most visited waterfall in this area. The walking trail from the car park to the base of the falls is fabulous. We stopped at several lookouts which offered a magnificent views. With a height of around 25 meters and measuring 20 meters across, it is the largest waterfall in the Grampians.

Our next destination is Stawell ( pronounce Stawl), a small town located just around 30 minutes from the Gramphians National Park. With the population around 6,000 people, the town which enjoyed the gold mining boom of the 19th century, is now famous for the countries oldest and richest professional sprint race, the 120 metre Stawell Gift.

On the way back to the caravan park, we stopped at the Giant Koala which situated at small community of Dadswells Bridge. Inside the Giant Koala there is a gift shop which sells a large range of gifts and souvenirs for all ages. As Dadswells Bridge is regarded as the gateway to the Gramphians Ranges, Sam the Giant Koala, is their guardian.

The excitement had not finished yet. Back at the caravan park, we saw a kangaroo in front of our cabin...then another and another until they had invaded the caravan park. Garry, the owner of the caravan park feeds them every evening, so they know when there is a free feed on offer.

As Garry came out with a basket full of bread, I followed him and helped him feed the growing mob. We counted 35 of them! Although I was a bit scared at first, I really enjoyed being so close to these wild animals. It was a fun and exciting experience.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

WITL 2 : On the road again.....

With the Easter holidays on the way, we were on the road again. This year, we were heading to the Wartook Valley, the major entrance to the Grampian's National Park, in western Victoria. The 486km journey took us around 6 hours by car. To avoid the rush hour traffic, we decided to start around 9 o'clock.

Our first stop was Bordertown, a small town in South Australia near the Victorian border. We stopped for a rest and bought our lunch at local bakery which is located near the river with a park around it. So, we chose to sit outside and enjoy our fresh, country baked pies.

Next stop was Dimboola, a small town in Victoria. David spent many Christmas holidays on , so he took me on a nostalgic trip to all the places he remembered. We visited the caravan park where his family used to stay, the weir where they used to walk to every evening after dinner to go fishing and yabbying and many other places. I took a lot of pictures for my father in law that I hoped would bring back a lot of pleasant memories.

Finally, we arrived at the Happy Wanderer Holiday Resort in the Wartook Valley. This caravan park is a small, family owned tourist resort located between Horsham and Halls Gap. The cabin that would be our home for the next 3 nights was very cosy and came complete with a full kitchen, bathroom and view of the swimming pool just outside our front door.

Monday, April 23, 2012

WITL 1 : INDOFest 2012

INDOFest, the most waited for annual event for the Indonesian community of Adelaide was held on the 1st of April this year. This Indonesian arts, food and culture festival is aimed to promote and provide an exciting opportunity to learn more about our closest neighbours. As usual, the festival was held at Rymill Park, one of Adelaide's finest parks, just a small walk from city centre.

Thousands of Australians and Indonesians come to this event. INDOfest is not only a gathering event for ex-patriot Indonesians, but is one of many festivals held in the Festival State. Jemadu Vincent, Deputy Director of the International Campaign for American tourists and the Pacific Region, Ministry of Tourism and Economic Creative said that INDOfest 2012 was the best Indonesian event held outside of Indonesia.

As usual, this event was full of cultural entertainment. This year, the Adelaide Indonesia Angklung Orchestra performed a suite of Indonesian, English and Mandarin songs. They also asked the audience to join in and together, made music with this traditional bamboo instrument. This was a very exciting experience for many of the of people who joined in.

There was also a special performance from SMP Bakti Mulya, who came over especially for Indofest from Jakarta.  Their Aceh sitting dance, which requires paramount precision, received a big ovation from the appreciative audience.

Reog Ponorogo and Kuda Lumping groups received great attention too, as they paraded around the park lands.  A lot of people followed them with cameras at the ready to get the best pictures of their colourful and unique costumes. 

The musical group called the Indonesia Band, or iband sang many popular songs which had e the audience dancing and singing along in front of the stage. There were many other dancers and performers during this one day event. I was happy to see everybody having so much fun and enjoying themselves to the rhythms, sights, tastes and experiences of Indonesia.

Then there was the one thing that always draws people to this fabulous event...Yes, it's food! With the variety of dishes from many Indonesian regions available, it makes it difficult for anyone to decide what they should choose.  After checking all the food stalls, finally I decided to have rice with chicken in Sumateran green chili sauce from Warung Padang for lunch. It was really nice.

Overall, this was a very successful event and I am looking forward to INDOfest 2013.