Sunday, 29 May 2016

Winter in MELBOURNE 2016-Day 1

After 7 hours, we arrived.....
We survived the flight
There is an express lane for family with kids so we cleared custom in no time... this is one of the benefit of bringing young children and many countries do provide a special lane for kids which is good....
Loving our new toy!
Let me help with the suitcase
After collecting our checked in luggage bag, we queue up for Optus Sim Card for about 30 mins.. It is a very popular prepaid telco company as they provide the best deal. $2 for 500MB each day with unlimited call/text to local number.

Optus $2 for 500MB per day :https://smb.optus.com.au/opfiles/Shop/All/cis/Cis%20Documents/1391513_CIS_Optus_Two_Dollar_Day_4G.pdf

After that, we called Apec Car Rental company and a van came by to bring us to their office. Lots of tourist renting with them and a couple of Apec van came around at the same time. We settle the paperwork and we got our car at 10am local time (There is 2 hours time difference with Singapore).
Playing while waiting 
We rented Hyundai i45 and the car boot is large. We put in a large suitcase, medium suitcase, trunki for the kids and we still have ample of spaces.
Our huge car boot
Initial plan is to drive to San Remo for lunch but hubby is really too tired to drive. We did not sleep well in the plane as the kids are too excited. After a meal and watching movies, kids only slept for a while and the same goes to us. 

So, we stopped by Waverley Gardens Shopping Mall and hubby take an hour nap while I go for some groceries shopping at Aldi, clothes shopping at Target/Big W and bought coffee for hubby as well....
Waverly Garden Shopping Mall
Target shopping sales!!!
Clearance!
Super cheap swim suit!
and shoes are on sale too!
Lots of sales at the stores and I got quite a lot of good deal clothes, mostly for the kids. Swim suit for the boy, pyjamas for both of them, bedroom slippers for the girl and thick track suit as well. Bought biscuit, bread, raisins, mineral water, etc from Aldi as snacks.

Hubby woke up around 12.30pm and much recharged by now. Drove to San Remo for lunch at Co-Op Fish and Chips which is now known as Pelican View Fish and Chips. The fish is fresh and the batter is nice and crispy. We ordered two fish, a medium fries and 4 scallops to share between us. It was huge! Highly recommended if you are going to Phillips Island.

San Remo Co-Op Fish and Chips: http://www.srfco.com.au
Co-op Fish and Chips
Huge portion
Yummy!
After lunch, kids went around feeding and chasing seagulls. Jaclyn asked why the seagulls come to us when we feed and when we run out of food, they fly away once they see us... such a good observation.
Chasing the sea gulls
Here I come...
Hey, seagull, stop flying...
We then went ahead to Phillips Island. We bought the 3 park passes (Penguin parade, Koala sanctuary and Churchill Island Heritage Farm) at the Tourist Information Centre.

More information on the tickets:
https://www.penguins.org.au/buy-tickets

Note: You will have to choose a date for Penguin Parade which happens at sunset daily. Then, for Churchill Island and Koala Sanctuary, you can actually go anytime within 6 months of the ticket date. 

Lucky to see many rainbow this trip!
We then went to our house in Cowes which we will be staying for 3 nights! Unload our luggage and then freshen up and we are going to see the penguins!

Upon entrance, there is a lot of information on the different types of penguin, their life cycle etc. Very informative.... there is also a few penguin houses near the visitor centre so if you are lucky, you might be able to spot the penguin who is at home. We manage to spot one! Yay!!! 

I am a yellow eye penguin
I am a king penguin
Different penguin around the world
The penguin that we will be seeing today is the Little Penguin which is the smallest penguin of all species. They are so adorable and tiny, weighing about 1kg each.
Found one penguin who is at home...
Penguin reaching in 1 hour and 13 minutes
While waiting for the sun to set, we walked at the broad walk to spot some other animals who is staying in the same habitat as the penguin.
Stroll along the broad walk 
We spotted these little boxes which is tailored made for the little penguin to stay when they are not at sea.
Penguin's abode...
So, we spotted some wallabies, wild rabbits, geese who are all staying around the area.
Wallabies and me
Wallabies spotted...
It is recommended to arrive at least 30 minutes before the sunset. 

Tips: As the penguin house is more towards the right side (when facing the ocean), it is best to sit towards the right side for a better view of the penguin when they come ashore. Personally, I find that the best part is not when the penguin come onshore from the sea but when they are walking back to their house. So, it is wise to just purchase normal tickets, after seeing a few batches of the penguin coming home (yes, they come in batches over an hour so don't worry if you can't get the front seat, you can still enjoy the cuties penguin), then proceed to the broad walk. Actually their houses is all around the area so any part of the broad walk will have penguin walking pass. Just walk around and spot their cuties making their way home!
Normal parade seating
Photography is not allowed during the parade to protect the penguins. 

As the whole parade lasted about an hour, do bring thick jackets in the winter as the weather can get very chilly and windy. And the time of the parade varies depending on the time sun set on that day as the penguin only comes ashore when it is dark cause that is when they feel safe-- to avoid their predator (birds who went home after sunset).

6.30pm in Melbourne
We left at 6.30pm as everyone is cold. We bid goodbye to the penguins and it is already so dark outside. Everyone is exhausted, didnt sleep well in plane and only nap short while in car. We had quick dinner at Thai on the island restaurant. Portion is huge and food tasted good. 

After dinner, hubby did quick groceries shopping at Woolworth. Bought portable heater, electric kettle and some food. We went back, shower and rest!

Melbourne Day 2- We went to Koala Conservation Centre, watch car racing and Churchill Island Farm. We started our activity for the trip- SHOW and TELL! Check it out!
http://blessedlittletravelers.blogspot.sg/2016/06/winter-in-melbourne-2016-day-2.html

Winter in MELBOURNE 2016 (Rough planning before the trip and Emirates flight experience)

We had visited Perth for winter for the last 2 years so this year we wanted to visit a different city for a change. Ding dong a few choices and in the end, we booked our Melbourne trip 2 weeks before the trip (again another last minute trip).

If u also book ticket last minute like us, hopefully my quick guide can help a bit in the booking of hotel, planning etc. So this is roughly what I did....

After booking the air ticket, we took a couple of days to finalise a rough itinerary before we start searching for places to stay. So, the plan is to stay 3 nights at Phillips Island , 3 nights along Great Ocean Road (at 2 different accommodations) and last 4 nights in Melbourne CBD. Thereafter, I start to slowly planned a more detail itinerary by looking at the location and opening hours of the places that we wanted to visit with a focus on animal encounters/park/activities for the kiddos as we are bringing our two little cuties along for the trip! I have not had time to research on restaurants so we just had to do it along the trip. 

Then, it is time for packing and since Melbourne is much colder than Perth in winter, we had to bring along our super thick winter jacket. Cant wait to see the duo wrapped in the cute thick jackets running about. Since we had lots of luggage allowances this time round (30 kg each) so we bring along extra luggage bag for our shopping loots!

My Perth winter travel tips, the tips is for Perth but besides the winter clothing which you have to bring super thick ones to Melbourne, the rest is pretty similar: http://blessedlittletravelers.blogspot.com.au/2015/04/travel-tips-to-perth-in-winter.html

We have planned a couple of learning activities as well during this trip so stay tuned to see what it is :)

So the day has come and we reach the airport about 2 hours and 15 mins prior to departure.

There is no Q at the check in counter but upon checking in, we were told that the ETA is not valid.... upon asking, we realise that the dates is valid until 12 June 2016 but because hubby had change his passport couple of months ago, so he had to apply for a new ETA. So, we had to apply one additional ETA at $50 (Usually if you apply online, it is $20 only but we were told that applying online might not appear in their system immediately so we had to apply via the counter).

ETA application: https://www.eta.immi.gov.au/ETAS3/etas

Make sure apply at least 1-2 days prior to departure dates to save $$$

Checking in....
Most airline now offers 30kg of baggage allowances so we will have 120kg of baggage. We only have 31.7kg now on our way to Melbourne .. Hopefully we get lots of shopping done and maximise our baggage allowances on our way home!

2 checked in bag on our way to Melbourne 

The two cheeky one playing while waiting ..so cute!
Pretty model for the trunki...
A shot on me by our little photographer
A photo opportunity before the check in gate...
After checking in, time for the kids to play... need to use up their energy so that they get a good night sleep on the plane as it is late night flight, reaching Melbourne in the morning.

Huge playground
Playing time

While waiting, hubby and me just grab some quick bites and coffee.

Time to go...!!! Lets go!!!
On board EK404
This is the first time kiddies are taking Emirates so they are pretty excited plus we had been taking budget airline for the last few trip so this trip they are looking forward to all the free food and on-flight entertainment that is provided. To them it is free food, free toys ... but daddy actually had to pay extra for the flight... well, we will just save on food/hotel so that the kids can have a different flight experience this trip!
Menu...
Girl and the mummy

Enjoying herself...
It is an A380 double decker and inside is pretty new and advance with nice, cool flight entertainment controller. We can start watching in-flight movies even before the plane take off as all the earphone is provided before departure. Touch screen, huge screen and great variety of movies! Love it!
Cool control
Flight attendant is friendly and kids get lots of free toys. Activity book, drawing pad, colour pencil and a soft toy that comes with a blanket too! Wow!

One of the flight attendant also mention that we can take photo using the polaroid camera and get the photos as souvenir but in the end, he didnt come around to help us take...oh well....
Free toys!!!
Soft toy with a blanket! Wow! I want one too!
Lots of meal choices and kids meal is pretty good. Besides the meal and cute looking cake, they get a titbits box with biscuit, milo, chocolate, sweets etc.
Kids Meal
Yummy...
I ordered a low fat low cholesterol meal and it was ok. Not fantastic but at least it is healthy. Hahaha! and I get to eat first as they serve all these "special" meal before the normal meal...
My low fat low cholesterol meal...
White wine
Enjoying, eating and watching
I also bring comfortable sleeping pants so that the kids can sleep better rather than wearing jeans for the whole journey. So little one all changed and ready to sleep. Some food and movie, then it is time to zzzZZZ!

There is also free WIFI on board. How cool is that! You get to stay in touch.... free wifi is for 10MB only but you can pay USD$1 for 500MB which is a super good deal for on-air wifi.
Free wifi on board
There is also a camera on the plane and you get to watching the outside of the plane... like a bird's view... super cool too!
Camera on plane
Ok, lets just sit back and enjoy the flight. Oh ya, for the 7 hours flight, we get two meals. Dinner and breakfast :) Kiddos slept after the first meal so I just takeaway their second meal for them to eat when we reach Melbourne :)

Day 1-- heading to Phillips Island and we had great time at Penguin Parade
http://blessedlittletravelers.blogspot.com.au/2016/05/winter-in-melbourne-2016-day-1.html