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For Week 5, we went back to Mornington Peninsula.  Steve to play golf; Claire to continue the hiking challenge.  There’s a ~30km coastal walk along the southern end of the peninsula, so I set out from the golf course towards the coast and just kept on trucking. (Full pictures)

Week 5: Cape Schanck (golf course) to St. Andrew Beach / golf course
Distance: appx 15 kms
Grade: moderate
Weight: 10-12kgs

From the golf course, I set out for a familiar landmark – the lighthouse at Cape Schanck. Just 3kms in, I arrived there around the boys’ tee time, so figured a side jaunt down to the beach and back up would help lengthen my overall time and simulate a little elevation change.

From there, I followed the water’s edge on the cliffs for a 7km stretch to Gunamatta Beach.  The brush offered a welcome respite from the blistering midday sun, and the trail was a challenging mix of soil and sand.

I had some company along the way — no humans to speak of, but dozens of monarch butterflies flitting along the path.  The path looked like no one had passed this way in a long time, other than perhaps the wayward wombat.  So I was forced to adopt a robot walk through the thickest brush, to avoid spiderwebs to the face. It’s a technique I perfected in college, in the back woods of Rocky Mount NC, when trips home for the weekend usually involved me patching the fence or clearing brush from mom’s 5 acre homestead.

As the path grew more sandy, my legs grew more tired. Hiking in sand dunes is no easy feat.  Finally, I broke out onto one of the most beautiful beaches I have seen in the greater Melbourne area.  Extremely hot and due for a bit of a break, I dropped the pack and went for a swim.

The last leg of the journey would continue on the beach.  Good grief, more sand.  As the sun set on a beautiful day, I only wished I had the legs to go further (the coastal walk extends another 15 kms or so to the tip of the peninsula at Sorrento).

Miraculously, though I was thoroughly exhausted Saturday night, I only felt slightly stiff on Sunday.  All this practicing is paying off!

Week 4 was a (delightfully enjoyable) hiking let-down.  A holiday weekend (with Australia Day on Thursday and a vacation day reserved for Friday), we had originally planned to go to Snowy River National Park, no the Victorian Alps, no Snowy River National Park…

With much indecision, and soaring temperatures for 4 days straight, we went… to the beach.  After our very hot excursion at Werribee Gorge, Steve was feeling a bit hiked out.  And it was, as he put it, “stupid hot”.

So on Friday, instead of hitting the road for another hiking adventure, we did a nice 15km bike ride down the coast of Port Phillip Bay, from St. Kilda to Brighton and back.  And on Sat, we rounded up Kelly and Adam and escaped the heat of the city, fleeing to our favorite ocean-side beach on the Mornington Peninsula.

Sure, it wasn’t the most active weekend, but when it so hot outside you’re sweating standing still, hiking is just no fun…

Turns out the old adage is false, you CAN teach an old dog new tricks.  On a gorgeous sunny hot Saturday this weekend, we took off for the beaches on Mornington Peninsula.  The coast on the eastern of the peninsula catches the Arctic winds, but on a hot humid day that seemed like the right place to be.

It was a day of firsts for our little dachshund–he learned to swim and dig!

Despite the gray and rainy weather, we took off for the coast this weekend and spent the day on Mornington Peninsula.  Kelly & Adam had suggested lunch at Montalto Vineyard, which has received an Aussie “chef’s hat” (the equivalent of a Michelin star) for its restaurant concoctions and has an award-winning Pinot Noir available at its cellar door.

So on Saturday we rented a car and headed down south of the city.  First, we dropped in on the T’Gallant winery to stock up on a few of our favorite wines for the impending visit from the (in-law) Whites, then we spent the afternoon tasting, noshing, and traipsing around the muddy Montalto grounds.  Check out the full pictures here.

During Leah & Jordan’s recent trip, we rented a 4-sleeper campervan and embarked on a vacation, Aussie-style.  Roadtrip!  After deciding in the 24th hour to completely change our course, we set off on the tantilizingly close and beautiful Great Ocean Road for a 5-day adventure.

It was… spectacular. We were so happy to have shared these moments with Leah and Jordan, as we saw more native wildlife in 5 days than we have in our 9 months traveling around this great land.  And all no more than a 3-hours drive away!  It was a trip to be remembered.  The narrated story is on the out and about page, and a full slate of pictures up on the photos page.

More to come of our continued adventures in Melbourne proper when we returned from the great ocean road(trip)…

As the end of the year approaches, Greg, having just discovered he receives a yearly allotment of S&C funds for junior associate “development”, generously offered to take us out  for an amazing afternoon lunch at a vineyard, the Vines.  So, on Sunday morning Greg, Adrianna, Krisztian, Steve and I set out for the south east coast, an hour and a half south of the CBD in Melbourne, to the Mornington Peninsula. 

The main event was a bit disappointing.  Vines of Red Hill boasts all farm fresh organic food raised on French Island (a virtual nature preserve just off the coast) selected seasonally and daily to create a perfect dining experience.  Although my food was great (for entree, a spin on eggs benedict (duck egg, prosciutto and brioche) with Kurasodoi beef topped with pate for a main, accompanied by a robust, complex pinot noir, and tart cherry soup and fig gratin for dessert, with cappuccino (served with a coconut merengue)), not everyone was so lucky.  Steve and Greg had large chunks of fat with a few strings of beef in there somewhere for mains, and though almost everyone got the eggs benedict for an entree, not everyone was a fan of the spicy Hollandaise spiked with curry.  Service was slow, and apologies were not forthcoming for the lousy meat.  Sorry Vines, I thoroughly wanted to write a raving review to post on “eats”, but no can do.

But, our backup plan to see a bit more of the peninsula before heading back to the city was a spectacular success.  Unfilfilled by our meal, we headed to Cape Schanck, the southern-most tip of the peninsula.  Extremely windy, with extremely beautiful sweeping vistas of the coast and cliff-crashing waves, I was quite pleased with how the afternoon turned out.  More pictures on the out and about page.