Werribee Park and Mansion, Australia

Werribee Park Mansion is an Italianate style mansion in Werribee, south-west of Melbourne.


Werribee Park Mansion was built between 1874 and 1877 by Scottish brothers Thomas and Andrew Chirnside. Thomas committed suicide in 1887. Andrew died three years later and the property was divided between his four sons.

In 1923, it was brought by the Catholic Church, who added additional wings, and it became Corpus Christi College, a Catholic seminary.

Currently it is owned by the Victorian Government. A separate wing housing the Mansion Hotel and Spa was later built.


It is free to explore the Werribee Park Mansion gardens and grounds, but entry to the Mansion is by admission.

One of the features of the 10 hectare grounds is an ornamental lake. A grotto is located on a man-made island in the middle of the lake. The grotto was built in 1877 and decorated by the Chirnside family. The ceiling is lined with shells from their holiday home at Point Cooke.






Werribee Park and Mansion is located at Gate 2, K Road, Werribee.

Healesville Sanctuary, Australia

Healesville Sanctuary is a zoo specialising in native Australian animals.


Dr Colin McKenzie set up the Institute of Anatomical Research in 1920 on 78 acres (32 hectares of land. The reserve was passed to the Healesville Council in 1927 and was named the Sir Colin McKenzie Sanctuary in 1934 (McKenzie was knighted in 1929).

Today the sanctuary is part of Zoos Victoria, which includes Melbourne Zoo and Werribee Open Range Zoo. It is well known for its work saving endangered Australian species.

The zoo is set in a natural bushland environment with over 200 species of Australian animals. The zoo is split up into a series of different areas / tracks to explore.

The main track is home to reptiles, amphibians, birds of prey, parrots, and emus. There are also several sites of Aboriginal cultural significance to the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. There is also the Flight Arena, where there is a daily bird show and the Australian Wildlife Centre, that treats more than 1500 sick and injured native animals a year.


Spirts of Sky – Bird Show

The woodlands track includes emu, wallaby, barn owl, Australian pelicans, kookaburra, Tasmanian Devil. Also here is Animals of the Night, a facility that houses nocturnal animals, such as possums, bilbies, bandicoots and gliders.

The wetlands track is home to native wetland birds and frogs, such as the black swan, which originated from the Southern Hemisphere.

There is also Dingo County, Kangaroo County (Kangaroo Island Kangaroos, Red Kangaroos and Wombats), Koala Forest (Southern Koala and short-beaked echidna), and the Platypus Track.

Healesville Sanctuary is approximately one hour from Melbourne. The address is Badger Creek Road, Healesville, Victoria.

Tree Kangaroo








Kangaroo County

Puffing Billy Railway, Australia

The Puffing Billy Railway is a heritage steam railway in the Dandenong Ranges in Victoria, Australia.


The steam train runs on the historic 24 kilometre (15 miles) track between Belgrave and Gembrook through the Dandenong Ranges. This is one of four narrow gauge lines that opened in the 1900s to provide transport and access to remote parts of Victoria.

In 1954 the line closed due operating costs. The Puffing Billy Preservation Society was formed and reopened the line between Belgrave and Menzies Creek in 1962. Later the line was reopened to Emerald in 1965, Lakeside in 1975, and Gembrook in 1998.


Majority of passengers will start their journey at Belgrave, but it is also possible to start at Lakeside. Usually there a four departures a day from Belgrave.

From Belgrave it is 30 minutes one-way to Menzies Creek, 50 minutes to Emerald, 60 minutes to Lakeside, 1 hour and 50 minutes to Gembrook. A return journey from Belgrave to Gembrooke is approximately 5 hours. Please visit their website for more information on journey timings.

The carriages are open-sided providing views of mountain ash trees, forests and fern gullies as it travels through the Dandenong Ranges National Park.

The service operates everyday except Christmas Day. Belgrave Station is located at 1 Old Monbulk Road, Belgrave, Victoria. Please visit the website for information on parking.






Grants Picnic Ground, Dandenongs, Australia

Grants Picnic Ground is located in the Sherbrooke Forest in the Dandenong Ranges National Park.


Grants Picnic Ground is known for its picnic grounds, bush walks, and bird feeding (due to cease February 2020).

Grants on Sherbrooke is a locally-owned and run tearooms and souvenir shop located in the grounds. You can purchase tokens here to access the bird feeding area.


The fenced bird feeding area is the only spot currently in the Dandenong Ranges were hand feeding native birds is permitted. Bird feeding at Grants Picnic Ground is due to be discontinued in February 2020.

In the past there was the opportunity to feed colourful lorikeets and king parrots. The sulphur-crested cockatoo has in recent years pushed the smaller birds out.




Nearby is the Margaret Lester Forest Walk. This short 500 metre, 15 minute loop track has been designed with a hardsurfaced track to allow those with prams or limited mobility enjoy the forest.

The sealed track was constructed in 1981, the International Year of Disabled Persons. It was first of its kind in Victoria. Margaret Lester was a paraplegic and architecture graduate advised in its design.



There is also the Hardy Gully Nature Walk (700 m | 45 min loop) and the Eastern Sherbrooke Forest Walk (7.1 km | 2 hour loop), which both start from the Picnic Grounds.

Facilities wise there are several picnic tables and electric BBQs dotted around the reserve, including a covered pavilion with four picnic tables.

Grants Picnic Ground and Grants on Sherbrooke are located at 70 Monbulk Road, Kallist, Victoria.





Lake Mountain Alpine Resort, Victoria, Australia

Lake Mountain Alpine Resort is a mountain and ski resort in Victoria, Australia.


The Lake Mountain Alpine Resort is situated between Lake Mountain and Echo Flat, and is provides access to the Yarra Ranges National Park. The mountain is 1,433 metres (4,701 feet) high.

This ski resort is approximately 120 kilometres (75 miles) from Melbourne. As it is the closest snow resort from Melbourne it is a popular day trip for snow play, particularly for families.

There are many activities to partake at the resort including tobogganing, cross country skiing, shoeshoeing, children’s snowboarding lessons, a flying fox, tube run and laser tag. In the warmer months mountain biking and bushwalks / boardwalks are popular.

I tried snowshoeing. It was $35 to hire poles, boots and snowshoes.


There is a bistro onsite open 9am-4pm, which serves a variety of hot takeaway style foods, such as pizza, fish n chips, chicken; as well as sandwiches, wraps, salads and baked goods. It gets very crowded, and its designed like a food hall, so not the best atmosphere to relax.

Interestingly there is not actually a lake. It is named after George Lake, who was the Surveyor-General of the area.

Lake Mountain Alpine Resort is at 1071 Lake Mountain Road, Marysville, Victoria. Check out the website for their carpark entry prices.




Three Sisters – Blue Mountains

The Three Sisters is a rock formation of three sandstone peaks in the Blue Mountains National Park.


Three Sisters

The three rock formations, which are located at Echo Point, Katoomba, are over 900 metres high. The highest is 922 metres, the other two are 918 and 906 metres.

The rocks were formed and shaped by wind and rain eroding the soft sandstone rock.


Three Sisters

There is a Aboriginal legend attached to the rock formation. Legend has it that there were three beautiful sisters Gunnedoo, Meehni and Wimlah. The sisters had fallen in love with three brothers from another tribe. Tribal law forbid them to marry, so the brothers planned to capture the sisters and make them their brides. This caused a major battle between the tribes. To protect them a tribal elder turned the sisters to stone. His plan was to turn them back to life after the battle but he was killed and no one had the power to turn them back so they remained as stone.

This story has been disputed by Dr. Martin Thomas in his book The Artificial Horizon: Imagining the Blue Mountains (2003), who states that the legend was created by a non-aboriginal local to drum up interest in the rock formation.

Either way it is still an interesting story.

Princes Rock Track – Blue Mountains National Park

The Princes Rock track in the Blue Mountains National Park offers stunning views over Wentworth Falls.


Wentworth Falls

This historic track was built in 1868 for a visit by Queen Victoria’s son Prince Alfred – hence the name. It has been used by sightseers ever since.



Princes Rock Track

The track is well maintained and is less than a kilometre long, so it is popular walk for visitors that have limited time or are not willing to commit to longer walks.

It is a 20 minute return walk to Princes Rock Lookout, which offers views of Wentworth Falls.

The track begins at the Wentworth Falls Picnic Area, at the end of Falls Road.



Princes Rock Lookout

The Hunger Games: The Exhibition

The Hunger Games: The Exhibition is currently on at ICC Sydney until February 5th.

After successful seasons in New York City and San Francisco an exhibition based on The Hunger Games film series is now in Australia and on at the International Convention Centre Sydney in Darling Harbour.

After stepping into the exhibit area visitors are welcomed with a video message by Elizabeth Banks (Effie Trinket) in character and then as herself as she introduces the exhibition.


Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks) costume – The Hunger Games. Designer: Judianna Makovsky

After the video welcome the doors open and visitors can move at their own pace through 7 themed areas, including District 12, Tribute Train, The Capitol, Making the Games, District 13, Katniss’s Journey, and Fan Gallery.

There are over a 1000 props and costumes from the four films (The Hunger Games [2012], The Hunger Games: Catching Fire [2013], The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 [2014], The Hunger Games – Mockingjay Part 2 [2015]).

Highlights include ‘The Girl on Fire’ dress, the Mockingjay dress, the Mockingjay armour, Katniss’ wedding dress and her hunting bow.


Cinna (Lenny Kravitz) costume – The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. Designer: Trish Summerville and Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) costume – The Hunger Games. Designer: Judianna Makovsky


Mockingjay Dress – The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. Designer: Trish Summerville and Mockingjay Armor – The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1. Designer: Kurt and Bart


Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) hunting costume – The Hunger Games. Deisgner: Judianna Makovsky and Katniss’ Wedding Dress – The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. Designer: Trish Summerville


Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) & Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth) costumes – The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. Designer: Trish Summerville

There are also several hands-on interactive activities including an interactive map of Panem and a stunt choreography challenge.

At the end there is an extensive gift shop with a variety of Hunger Games souvenirs. I purchased the Mockingjay fridge magnet.

Tickets are available online from Ticketek or at the venue.

May the odds be ever in your favour!


Sydney Tower Buffet

Sydney Tower Buffet is a revolving self-serve buffet restaurant offering stunning views of Sydney’s cityscape.


Champagne cocktail at Sydney Tower Buffet

Two friends and I went for lunch on the 31st December to end the year. Lunch is from 11:30 am to 2pm and dinner is from 5pm to 9pm.

Each dining session is 1.5 hours. Not to worry it only takes 70 minutes for the restaurant to complete one rotation, so diners can enjoy 360 views of Sydney’s cityscape.

On a clear day you can even see as far as the Blue Mountains.




The restaurant serves more than 50 international dishes, that includes modern Australian, Chinese, Italian, Japanese and Thai.

A highlight are the speciality native Australian meats. At our seating there was emu and crocodile chipolatas and kangaroo rump.

There are also extensive salad, seafood and dessert bars.


Crocodile and Emu chipolatas

Entry to the restaurant is via the reception and lift access on level 4 of the Westfield Sydney shopping centre.

The Sydney Tower Buffet is located on the tower’s second level. The Sydney Tower stands at 309 metres (1,014 ft) and is the second tallest tower in the southern hemisphere.

Although Auckland’s SKY Tower is taller, Sydney’s main observation deck, Sydney Tower Eye, on level 4, is 50 metres higher than the SKY Tower’s. Note: Sydney Tower Buffet is not affiliated with Sydney Eye Tower. This is a separate attraction. Both businesses offer stunning views.

There is also an à la carte revolving restaurant 360 Bar and Dining located on level 1 of the tower and on level 3 is STUDIO, an event space.