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Posts Tagged ‘Olinda’

Our Oz experiences have come in many packages but all of them have been memorable.  Recently, we were fortunate enough to participate in a Dinner at Pirianda, and that experience can only be described as magical.

Pirianda is a beautiful 28-acre garden in Olinda and the owners of Cream at Sassafras*, Mark and Leenah Johnston, host regular dinner-parties (and other customized events) from the gardens.  A few weeks ago, we attended one of their special seven-course degustation dinners. 

There were so many wonderful things to recount about the evening but I’ll highlight our top 5.

5.  Amazing surrounding scenery – the Pirianda Gardens are lovely and like nothing we’ve ever seen before.

4. Beautiful dining setting – There is an adorable little house where the dinner takes place, including a wonderful fireplace and a lovely deck from which to view the gardens.

3. Fun and interesting way to dine – The tables are set up so everyone dines together.  It’s a great way to meet people and for us, was a great way to learn more about Australia.  It felt like such an intimate dining experience.

2. Wine, wine, and more wine – Each of the courses is paired with at least one wine.  We loved tasting the fine wines, many from the Mornington and Yarra Valley vineyards right here in Victoria.  That night our cup over-floweth and in more ways that one.

1.  Seven “heavenly” courses – The seven dishes were delectable and a perfect balance of flavors.  Ryan’s favorite from the evening was the first main course which included baked Tasmanian salmon with a tamarind crust served with Mesclun salad tossed with an Asian dressing.  He boldly stated that it was “the best salmon he’s ever had”. 

If you’re interest is officially piqued,  you can attend one of the upcoming dinners.  We had a lovely time and it was such a unique experience that I deem it a “Melbourne-Must”. 

*Disclosure: I do a bit of Social Media Marketing work with this company. 

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There’s something about seeing a place through the eyes of someone discovering a place for the first time.  My dad visited this past week and I loved watching him fall in love with Melbourne in the same way we have.  I took him to the National Rhododendron Gardens and used the opportunity to snap some pics of the flowers a-bloom. 

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It’s the low season here in Melbourne.  Tourism and temperatures are low.  Or so they tell us.  To us mid-westerners coming out of winter, 50-60 degrees (F) is darn near balmy.  Apparently we’re in the minority with this way of thinking.  More to come on this.  During our weekend getaway, we visited to two hotspots in the Dandenong Ranges.

One is Sky High , a beautiful cafe, garden, and lookout over Melbourne.  Our internal clocks had us up at 5AM so we thought we’d be romantic and head up to Sky High to watch the sun come up over the city.  Two problems with that:

1.  The sun doesn’t rise over the city…at least from where we were at and 2.  The sun rises around 7:30 and Sky High opens at 8

We improvised, ate some brekkie and headed back to Sky High after 8.  The views of the city were decent but a thin layer of smog still hung in the air.  I imagine the panorama and fall colors we saw doesn’t even compare to the views in Spring or Summer.

That said, I’ll share a small version of a photo Ryan took that day in hopes that we’ll return when it’s a bit warmer to capture better photos of the city.

Being up there and overlooking the city was so peaceful.  It may have had something to do with the fact that we were the only people there enjoying the view.  Except for a small group of mountain bikers and another couple enjoying some coffee, we were the only ones there.  We didn’t mind it.  In fact it just added to the tranquil nature of the experience.

From there we headed to Olinda Falls where we were the only two souls within several miles.  Literally…

We hiked down a path and a few smaller inclines.  I think the path was rated “medium” but we were outfitted in our “I’m a tourist” jeans, tennis shoes, and t-shirts — complete with Ryan’s Northface jacket — and did just fine on the hour-long path. Note that I’m giving no credit to the handrails that were around the stairs and bridges.  We were true explorers, mountaineers, if you will.

The walk was beautiful and it gave us a great opportunity to play around with our new DSLR that we bought as our wedding gift for each other, although, the term “falls” may be slightly generous for what we encountered…just sayin’.

It was still a lovely sight to see and we could see why it’s a tourist attraction for all ages.  Truly, we have no complaints.  Our goal for the weekend was to de-stress after the past few months, explore, and enjoy time with each other.  Check.  Check. And Check.

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Our first official blog post!  It’s been a long-time coming but given the past few months, it’s taken us awhile to recharge enough to get this going.  I thought it worthwhile to give a quick snapshot of the past few weeks to kick off our blog.

Friday, May 20 – Ryan traveled back to the US.

Saturday, May 28 – We were married – HOORAY!  Happiest day of our lives.

Sunday and Monday – We packed for Australia, moved rooms in our apartment, said goodbye to family and friends who had come for the wedding, and fit in a graduation party for cousins.  Unfortunately there wasn’t a ton of time to bask in the glow of newlywed-ness.

Tuesday – We returned rented items to wedding vendors, finished packing and moving, and left Des Moines for our twenty hour (and then some) journey to Melbourne.

Thursday – We arrived in Melbourne as true time-travelers.

Friday – We headed up to the Dandenong Mountain Ranges, less than thirty minutes from our house.  These mountains are covered in rainforest – yes, rainforest!  Side note:  We drove through the town Ferntree Gully to get into the hills and I was quite positive there was a Disney movie about an Australian rainforest with a similar name so I googled it.  Now  I’m convinced Disney’s FernGully is based on this rainforest near us…let me live on this delusion.

We stayed at a lovely B&B and throughout the weekend we visited the beautiful little towns, ate at a couple of quaint cafes, saw some magnificent views of the city, and hiked some of the many trails.  I took this picture of the Olinda forest during one of our hikes through the hills.

The picture in the header of the blog is from our half-day at the National Rhododendron Garden.  A blog post and pics from the garden are forthcoming.

I’m sure there will also be future posts about the little towns in the hills but it’s all too much for just one post (or one weekend, for that matter).  We couldn’t possibly explore it all.  And that had nothing to do with the fact that we took five-hour naps during the day.  We were not impervious to jet lag as we so hoped.

Nevertheless, the first weekend in our new city was the perfect beginning to our adventure in Oz.

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