Emerald: a Great Family-Friendly Place

We’ve been at Emerald once or twice. Remember Forget About Monday?

I thought it was gorgeous.

Until Tash told us about Emerald Lake Park.

Now I think we should move there.

If only there’s a church like what we have now where there’s  daily Mass and is open all the time, I wouldn’t think twice.

Emerald Lake Park is a gem for families. You can take the paddle boats at Lake Treganowan or swim at the free, nearby wading pool.

Anton preferred to play at the playground.

The Captain went for a walk around the Nobelius Loop Track.

Everything is delightful to my eyes.

This time around, I found a great cafe. The General Food Store. It was too good, I asked the Captain to go back there the next day for our Valentine’s date.

Yay!

And the best part was discovering Resale Therapy. This shop sells refurbished second-hand furnitures at reasonable prices. I wanted to buy most of the pieces. The only thing hindering me is that I don’t have that much money!

Right.

But I brought this baby home. The Captains buys me furnitures instead of roses.

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I love it.

I love Emerald.

I love the Captain.

 

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Why Did We Miss That? Melbourne Museum

It’s one of those places where you scratch your head and ask yourself, “Why didn’t we go here before?”

We’ve passed by Melbourne Museum gazillion times. To be honest, I’m not a big fan of museum. I always think of paintings and sculptures attached to it. I’m not really an art lover. I’m just pretending to be!

So when the Captain suggested we give it a try, I was a bit apprehensive. Actually I was interiorly reluctant. The clincher was that kids go free. You know how many kids we have right?

So GO!

Now, I’m a big FAN!

You can spend the whole day there. Well, as for us, we only spent about 3 hours. That’s how much my back can take from walking before my joints completely disintegrate and before my mind gives up from answering multi-layered questions from ten thousand kids. But my children can live there if I give them that choice.

There’s a children gallery for kids 0-5 yo.

There’s a dinosaur walk. A wild animal section.

The World War I exhibit broke my heart.

My favorite one is the section on human body and how the brain works. Fits a geek like me.

There is the Forest Secret which is a forest in the middle of the city. Reminded me of the Dandenong Ranges. Sort of.

The thing I enjoyed the most were hanging out and sitting at the beach seats. Alfresco.

I think we should make it a yearly thing to check out the museum. It’s actually suitable for a scientist like me rather than for an artist.

Fantastic.

RJ Hamer Arboretum

If there is one place in the Dandenongs where I can spend the whole day in, it will be RJ Hamer Arboretum. 

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Regardless of the season, it remains to be breathtaking. It is conducive to contemplation that often leaves me more grateful. Such beauty in my fingertips. Only God can do something so perfect.

My babyccinos like to run wild here.

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We went for a walk down one of the trails. I never realized my kids immensely enjoyed such walks. They talked so much. That is a good sign that they’re happy.

Here’s LuNa (Luis + Nina).

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Mornington Peninsula: Where It All Began

We went here during our first entry to Australia in December 2009. Back then I thought the weather in Melbourne was so weird. (My thoughts about the weather hasn’t changed much.) The day’s temperature peaked at 40C while it plummeted to 11 C at night. What a nightmare. Luis (9 month old then) broke down with asthma and we didn’t really enjoy not having our yayas around. I was pregnant with Nina and our 3 kids (2.5 yo, 1.5 yo and 9 months) were not just settling down to give us rest.
In short, we had an unpleasant trip.
Bad trip.
Now 7 years later, the Captain and I were having the time of our lives watching the kids play.
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Luis kept on venturing into deep water with his strong lungs.
We have perfect moments like this. Many. Too much. I have to remind myself never to lose track, not to get used to it.
The ocean is still and picturesque. The kids were in their element. The Captain was relaxed. I was grateful to be in Melbourne.
All these validated my decision to take care of my kids and to stay at home.
It’s a hard life but absolutely worth it. Nothing like it.

Farm or Paradise

Sometimes when I get cabin fever from overstaying at home, I get a strong urge to drive out and look at the overwhelmingly serene farm lands surrounding the Dandenong Ranges.
It’s beautiful, awe-inspiring and tranquil. It gives me back the harmony which I crave for.
Last Thursday we found ourselves short in fuel. Can’t drive too far. Instead we drove just across the road to see these idyllic sceneries. It’s like a hidden garden and I bet not a lot of people know and check it out. We discovered it by chance.
How lucky we are.
This is my paradise across home.

Falling in Love With Olinda

The longer we are in the Hills, the more I appreciate the countryside.
Green, expansive lands.
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Breathtaking lakes and reservoirs.
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Long drives. Crystal fresh air. Dramatic skylines. Slow pace of life.
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People know how to enjoy life, to pause and connect with the sublime. They go for long walks through the bushes, have picnics side by side majestic  trees, trek down waterfalls, get lost in gardens, splurge on great meals, visit art galleries, drink wine while riding Puffing Billy.
So we became part of it all. A picnic and trip down to admire Olinda Falls with newborn Jose.
We took it all in and were filled with beauty and joy which only family and nature and can freely give.

Stunning Olinda

I can’t get enough of the Dandenong Ranges. There are so many hidden gems. I’m sure we are just scratching the surface of it.
We didn’t have a plan when we drove  there. All we were screaming for was a drive to anywhere.
The kids wanted something sweet after lunch so we headed to Gino’s Churros Place at Belgrave. This is an amazing place to have churros. The servings are heaps!
I wanted great tasting coffee so we stopped by Evolve Cafe to get Proud Mary’s coffee. It lifted my spirit.
Sasha wanted to see some mountains while the rest wanted to play.
A good friend recommended Olinda. Off we went.
First stop: RJ Hamer Forest Arboretum.
All I can say is: Oh my God!!!
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This is as good as it gets.
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The mountain ranges draw you in. You wouldn’t want to leave. The children rock climbed the gigantic stone monument, played tag of war with the Captain, ran all over the place.
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This idyllic spot reminded me of the scenes from Lord of the Rings.
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There’s a barbecue area and a bush trail walk. So we now what we’ll do next time.
Before heading home we stopped by Pirianda Garden. It was closed to 5pm so we had the garden to ourselves. We picked some wild flowers and brought it home.
Now all I can think about is just one thing. Going back to Olinda. Such a stunner.

Reminiscing Lysterfield Lake

You know us.
We have to be out on a sunny winter day. What’s the point staying at home?
Off we drove to Lysterfield Lake. About 10 minutes away from home.
I only have one word for this place.
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BREATHTAKING.
The tranquil lake, the unassuming bridge, the beautiful horizon, the idyllic scenery satiate your senses to an ultimate degree.
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Oh Lord. How can I not be grateful for all these?
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Did you see the kangaroos?

Pretty Nina Meets (Puffing) Billy

It never appealed to me to ride a slow, loud, steam-engine train.
My idea of fun is going for a scenic, long drive or a quiet morning in the library or eating at one of Melbourne’s cafe.
It will take a lot to change my ideas.
I mean ALOT!
Until Nina asked for a Puffing Billy ride for her 6th birthday.
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What??!!
We have to pay over $100 for a family fare! What’s so fun about noisy, outdated trains?
Nina managed the cost part by calling her Tita Ann to foot the bill. And you know my sister can’t say NO to her nieces and nephews.
I can’t say NO to her either because it’s her birthday wish.
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Off we went with their cousin, Clare.
I brought 2 books to read in case I get bored.
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I must say, I was swept away with the ride.
I forgot time, food and my books. I just wanted the ride to stretch as long as possible.
Everything I saw was idyllic. Life in the country. Peaceful farmlands. Roaring hills. Skyrocketing trees. Vintage houses.
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My utterly delighted children.
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It was pure bliss!
I wanted to go back. Next time just with the Captain. On a date.
I thought it was awfully romantic.

Lost in Belgrave

We came. We saw. We enjoyed.

Belgrave.

What an enchanting place to get lost in.

It didn’t took long before Pio finally figured out that we were just going around in circles.

“Didn’t you actually plan before we go here Mommy?”

That is the thing. We didn’t have a plan.

We just went there to practice driving and to pass by Puffing Billy. But since we’re in the midst of the Dandenong Ranges, might as well drive around it.

We were looking for a place to have a picnic. Guess what we found?

Belgrave Lake Park.

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It was as good as in the movies.

Large expanse of land, trees next to each other like broccolis, playground, lake trail.

The highlight was the dam.

Coolness.

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We saw this cafe while we were wandering around the mountain. Decided to try it out.

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EVOLVE Cafe.

Friendly staff, vintage place, Proud Mary’s beans.

In short, heaven.

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Just around the corner is Sherbrooke Art Gallery.

We wouldn’t want to miss that either.

So check this out.

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My budding artist, Sasha, was lost for words.

She said she can stay the whole day in that place.

It’s amazing how getting lost can be so much fun.