Heather Hapeta lives in Aotearoa-New Zealand: real travel, real adventures, real stories, real photos. Recent destinations Vietnam, Cambodia, Taiwan and Hong Kong – now NZ destinations due to COVID travel restrictions
Off out for a day tour with Grayline (Melbourne, Australia) as well as visiting a wildlife sanctuary and riding the Puffing Billy, we had food in many ways, including for some fellow passengers feeding birds.
Interestingly the chef at our dinner stop -‘for the best roast beef you will ever have’ our driver had told us – insisted that the alcohol in the jus would have been ‘cooked out’ – an old chefs myth that’s repeated all the time so I was not surprised she didn’t know. (See here for the facts from the US Department of Agriculture’s Nutrient Data Laboratory which calculated the percentage of alcohol remaining in a dish – based on various cooking methods)
From oysters, berries, and cheese through to chocolate, my gourmet food and sightseeing day trip with Bruny Island Safaris had it all: beaches, history and wildlife and for any foodies delight, meeting some of the producers of our food tastings.
One of those producers was an ex-teacher who turned an Adventure Bay paddock into a productive berry farm in only 3 years. A berry I’d not heard of was my favourite – Jostaberry – a thornless blackberry-gooseberry cross.
The Bruny Island Cheese Company has artisan cheeses, great breads, and many other foods in their shop and cafe-restaurant. It was a very popular stop, not just with my group but many others who were also enjoying tastings or their meal. The award-winning chutneys, pâté, & pastes (made on site) at the Bruny Island House of Whisky were award-winning for me too – of course, others preferred the whisky tasting 🙂
Bruny Island is about the size of Singapore, has a population of 600, and thousands of visitors each year – with nearly all arriving by the regular and frequent vehicular ferry (15 mins, no booking needed).
Arriving at the bus departure place, near “Fed Square’, Melbourne,I was not surprised to find many others had also signed up for a Puffing Billy day trip – it seems everyone loves a ride on a steam train.
My first driver, Ismet – who in the Aussie tradition has had his name babified/shortened to Issie – regaled us with local stories as we drove out of Melbourne and, as this was my first trip to the city, I valued the historical and current background context. He told of car museums, rich suburbs, soccer, wide streets; that the city has 32% of its land in sports fields and gardens, and explained the thirty-six ‘right-hand hooks’ – the unusual but elegant solution to keep the trams moving in the city.
As well as the Puffing Billy trip, other activities on the day included a visit to the Healesville Sanctuary, Billy Tea, riding through forest and little towns and for those who wanted to, feeding colourful Rosellas and King Parrots; chocolate, wine tasting and a roast dinner – the day covered them all. (But more about those topics in another blog)
We boarded the Puffing Billy at Belgrave for our short trip (about 30 mins I think) in the Dandenong Ranges, but first its seemed all passengers took many, many photos of the fire-fueled steam engines.
This line, built in the early 1900s, helped open up the area and carried logs, livestock, and other goods it now carries about a million and a half tourists annually: it is mostly staffed by volunteers. Running every day except Christmas Day, of course it is also closed on high temperature-high fire risk days for fear of starting a bush fire – a wise precaution.
Our Grayline tour had its own carriage and it seemed all the other carriages were full too – I said, seems all the world loves a steam train!
Here’s a slideshow for you – a few of the many photos I took on this little section of our day tour. (A friend had recommended I rode the Puffing Billy and I’m glad I took the advice)
Many thanks to Grayline for hosting me on this fun day.
Just got home at midnight last night: but here are a few photos from my first day in Melbourne, Australia to give you a taste – these are from a great day tourwhich included food, wine, wildlife, and a Puffing Billy!
I did this tour with Graylineand for more about this day tour and my other activities during the past 3 weeks make sure you sign up to get my blogs by email (top right hand corner of this page) and/or follow me on FaceBook, Pinterest, Instagram etc – get the links off my website www.kiwitravelwriter.com)