Friday, April 06, 2007

Mount Dandenong

Initially, my friend John and I were going to ride our bikes to the city from Glen Waverley via these riding tracks that I have never heard of. It's like a secret passageway to the city on tracks that ran parallel to the highways. Unfortunately, John decided to feel unwell (conspiracy I tell you, I'm wondering if these riding tracks even exist, I'm joking) so we decided to drive around Melbourne. Instead of going to the city, we decided to go to Mount Dandenong, since neither of us had gone in ages.

It was a glorious day for driving and in my new Honda Civic Sportz (no I'm not rich, just in lots of debt), I was able to open the sun roof and let the beautiful sunshine stream into the car. We took some detours on the way to Mount Dandenong, on purpose and also not on purpose. I came to realise that John is as equally a bad navigator as myself. We got lost quite a bit, but did find ourselves in some nice towns and interesting things to see and do.

First stop for the day was by design. We went past Kallista and saw this interesting place called Round About Thyme. The name was quite funny and the sight of all the herbs in the garden and the promise of pancakes made us stop. The place was this great little cafe/shop/nursery.

We got coffees and pancakes and sat around in the upstairs deck and just relaxed. I'm not usually a coffee drinker but the organic coffee was totally delicious. My cappuccino was extremely frothy and creamy, with a smooth taste that wasn't the least bit bitter.

I got the Mixed Berry Pancake, which was huge and quite good. Some of the berries were slightly too sour and would probably have tasted better with one dollop of ice cream, but apart from that, it was great. John's Apple Pancake and Cafe Latte were good according to him.

The next stop was not by design. We sort of missed a turn and got lost, but then saw the Monbulk Winery sign so decided to pop in and have a look. Monbulk Winery is a very very small winery run by husband and wife John and Marion. We saw their business license on the wall, and guess what their surname was, its was Berry. This was quite funny I thought. Its like Mark Loo being a plumber or David Tire being a mechanic.

The wine tasting shed was literally just a shed, unlike at the Red Hill Vineyards that I had been previously, which were all very large wineries. The service however, was just as great. John opened up bottles of their 2001 Cabernet, 1999 Shiraz and 2005 Kiwi Fruit Semi Dry for us to try. Yes, that's right, they used kiwi fruit to make a dessert wine. The Cabernet and Shiraz were good, but the kiwi fruit was strangely good that I had to get a bottle.

After getting boozed up after 6 glasses (we were responsible, they were tiny glasses the size of your thumb) of wine, we left with a box of their wine (paid for and not stolen) and tried to find our way to Mount Dandenong. Again, we got a little lost and went past this town that seemed to be full of people. So being the inquisitive people that we were, we stopped and got out to have a look. Plus I was getting hungry and wanted to eat lunch, but most importantly, we were both busting to go the toilet after drinking all that wine.

It turned out we had stopped at a small town, which Slyvester the cartoon cat would have called "Suffering Sassafras". The town had the weird name of Sassafras, which you could get confused with Succotash which Slyvester always says. What does Succotash mean by the way, anyone know?

The town had quite a number of interesting shops, from Gepetto's hand made toy shop and the Sassafras Lolly Shop and shops selling candles, display items, clothes and furniture.

We stopped for lunch at The Black Kettle Teahouse in Sassafras. It looked nice enough and was very crowded.

I ordered the Beef Burger. The burger was very large and filling, if a little flavourless. The patty didn't particularly have much flavour. The chips were nice. I share half of my burger with John since his Chicken Schnitzel was wrongly written down by the waiter and arrived 20 minutes later. Since his Schnitzel arrived so late, I was already fully into eating mode so forgot to photograph it. The plate pretty much looked like my Beef Burger, but just replace the image of the burger with a slab of chicken. I tried half of the chicken and it too was quite bland.

Fuelled by our full stomachs, we decided that we should finally get to Mount Dandenong. So we consulted the map and worked out a route rather than just drive and hope the road signs would lead us.

Even with a map in hand, we still managed to overshoot the main observation area and find ourselves at another lookout. It was really cold at this lookout and here we were shivering away.

Tracking back, we finally got to the main observation area known as Sky High Mt Dandenong. The view from there was very nice indeed. It was very hazy today so was quite hard to make out where everything was.

Here is John pointing out the only obvious buildings, those of Melbourne city.

You can see Melbourne far off in the distance. According to the display placard, I live somewhere on the left hand side of the photo, in the South Eastern suburbs.

The Sky High observation area was good for a little while, but it soon got boring staring out into the hazy skyline so we decided to head off home. As the saying goes "It's the journey that is more important than the destination." That couldn't have been more true today. Despite getting lost, we actually had a lot more fun along the way at the various stops and chatting in the car than reaching the final destination, which was a bit of an anti climax.

Here is the final photo of the day, a very tired me ready to drive home. That marks the end of a fun and tiring Easter Friday. So how do I look with blue eyes?

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