Posted by: siddharths | April 4, 2010

Kangaroos and Kookaburras

Kangaroo and everything else: Jervis Bay Trip

Unplanned to Planned

One thing that Australia has taught (read forced!) us is to plan our trips. Here in Oz you really cannot think of last minute booking. Come weekends or long weekends or any holiday everything is either booked or is available at prices which are skyrocketed in every sense of the word. So, after killing couple of our weekends and long weekends we realized that it’s better to plan it in advance than to chuck it at last moment. So, this post is first in series of our planned trips…. Oh by the highlight of this trip was meeting much awaited Mr Kangaroo (not the one in Zoo …!!) and Kookaburra.

The Planning

Thought of the day at Collectible shop in Robertson

Everything about this trip was planned except the beginning and the end… Let’s first talk about the beginning and leave the very exciting end for the end. They say an idea can change your life. If not life changing the idea for this trip did made it exciting for 9 of us who went on this road trip It all started with a casual dinner chat with Namrata and her Husband Dev (NavDev) on one Saturday night.. NamDev were planning for an overnight trip over weekend to Kangaroo Valley and suggested that it would be good Idea if we (SidBhavna) also join them. Then the idea grew a little bigger… (we had not seen the grand pacific drive which is situated just outside Sydney and that this drive passes through a National Park) so, the next suggestion that though it would be a longer, however since its beautiful and scenic we must take that route to go to Kangaroo Valley. All of us liked the Idea and decided to go ahead with it. Then, over next couple of days the idea was bounced onto few dear friends of ours – Anjali & Abhinav, Priti & Amit, Priyanka & Amol, Priyanka & Harmees, Priyanka & Vivek (I know too many Priyanka’s, thankfully their partners have different names) and simultaneously we (Me and Nam) went on a accommodation hunting spree. Though our first preference was to look out for accommodation in Kangaroo Valley and on day 2 travel to Jervis Bay but unfortunately for everything in Kangaroo valley was booked out till the end of March and we intended to travel around end of February. Couple of phone calls, few online enquiries and we were home… we came across what looked like a service apartment just decent for a one night stay at Sanctuary Point near Jervis Bay called “Laura’s Country Home Stay” . The most appealing was the photograph of two Kangaroo’s on the first screen of the website. It gave wings to my imagination and I hoped of

Laura's Holiday Home

saying “hello” to them (of course the Kangaroo’s!!) at least on this trip to kangaroo Valley (Hoping as the name suggests…there would be a Valley full

of Kangaroos… Alas! It’s Wishful thinking). Meanwhile our initial idea became a mountain when in spite of few drop outs, the number of people grew from 2 to 8 and eventually to 9 of us … Sri  who (Vivek & Priyanka’s friend) squeezed in at the last minute i.e. a day before we were booked to leave. So it has been really (dynamic) planning for this trip.

On our Way to Jervis Bay

It was Saturday, February 21, 2010 when we left and as usual behind schedule and living up to our reputation of being late….No hard feelings… As it is never late…it was not too late either…we were just a few hours behind schedule which is not a big deal as it is not an easy task to manage time when everybody is staying in different parts of the city and you need to assemble at a common place… getting late is but natural and to mortal souls like me…the excuse is good enough. But why am I harping so much on this…dunno… as AJ would say … nevers the minds

Let’s get on to/ with our journey / trip

So, we collected our car from North Sydney Budget Car Rental and were on our way via Pacific Highway, Over to Humes Highway… Blah blah blah…. You better check out the Google Map below for the route …. Or take the help of Tommy as we did …

To take us on our journey were also Tommy and Saraswati. Tommy was the name for our Tom Tom and Saraswati was the name for GPS device in Car 2. Tommy for some reason was upset with NamDev and simply refused to talk and give us voice instructions and we did miss couple of turns coz of that. For the benefit of our readers… in Car 1 were “muted – Tommy” (Poor Thing), Dev and Sid in front while in back were m and Nam. In Car 2 in front was Saraswati with Ab on the driver’s seat with directions from Sri and in the back seat were AJ, PriVi or is it PriV…Again As AJ would say nevers the minds… So, we fastened our seat belts and were ready to roar.

Royal National park

The Grand Pacific drive was fascinating but for the ones who have already seen the great Pacific Drive it was not so “grand” but having said that the glimpse of sea itself with all shades of blue is always mesmerizing so no matter how many times you have marveled at its beauty it still feels different each time. The drive cutting through the National Park was soothing with green dense forest on either side of the road, shading us from the sizzling sun and the heat.

Sea Cliff Bridge

We @ Sea Cliff Bridge (Otford Lookout)

On the way, we crossed past Sea Cliff Bridge. To give you a little background about this Award-winning bridge, it is off-shore and parallel-to-coast. Sea Cliff Bridge forms part of the Grand Pacific Drive and is located on scenic Lawrence Hargrave Drive, 60 kms south from central Sydney (or 23 kms north of Wollongong). It was opened on December 11, 2005, at a total cost of A$52 million.

Our First halt was a secluded park just off the Sea Cliff Bridge. We saw a shaded place and since we had been munching on not so healthy junk food like wafers and biscuits for over an hour now…it made more sense to feed ourselves with some healthy food namely – aloo bonda, chic peas, vegetable pulao and the likes. With our stomach’s happy or should I say more than happy we decided to reach our next destination that was Fitzroy Falls – Morton National Park.

Coffee at Robertson

Dev and Ab has been driving for quite some hours now and poor things was in

Collectible shop at Robertson-click for more

need of much desired coffee to

take care of their low caffeine levels, so we pulled our cars at a coffee shop in Robertson. We all feasted on hot chocolate, hot coffee, cold coffee and the likes. While we were relishing our coffee, Sid went out to explore nearby shop of collectibles and played around with his camera… After clicking and Sipping we were again on the road to Kangaroo Valley

Fitzroy Falls – Morton National Park

Rainbow Effect at Fall

The falls lie in the path of the Yarrunga Creek, which drops over 80 meters down the escarpment, and flows on into the Kangaroo River. The small, sleepy village of the same name lies astride the main road between the Highlands to Kangaroo Valley and the South Coast at Nowra, and is a favorite stopping off place on that journey

There is a Visitors’ Centre which is situated in the wildlife reserve. Inside the Visitor Centre, there are displays of flora and fauna and the works of the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, tourist information, picnic area, toilets, and a cafe

We @ Falls

Fitzroy Falls Walking Tracks called imaginatively the East Rim Walking Track and the West Rim Walking Track they are described in detail in a free handout at the Information Centre. Before you start either walk go to the lookout. The falls tumble 82 meters to the floor of the ravine and the view, on a clear day, is both dramatic and beautiful. However, if the weather is adverse, the sight of a massive gorge full of mist is at least as spellbinding. But, we went on a clear day so can’t really comment on how the mist would look like. The East Rim Walking Track is approximately 3.5 kilometers long and, while an easy walk, takes about two hours to complete – that’s about three hours to Valley View Lookout and back. Of course you don’t have to go all the way. There are plenty of good vantage points along the track. So, we took the advice of the information Centre and did not go all the way… :). Though this fall was not so exciting and nothing compared to the Erskine Falls in Lorne

Perhaps the easiest and most interesting of the walks is the first section of the West Rim Walking Track. An easy walk of 15 minutes from the falls is the Jersey Lookout which offers an excellent view back on the falls and the dense rainforest which grows around the creek below. In my view this was the best place to take some good photographs of the fall.

After burning a few calories, we headed back to our journey to Jervis Bay

Views of Kangaroo Valley from Cambewarra Lookout

driving via Valley of Kangaroo’s where all in my mighty imagination I saw kangaroo’s hopping all around me. Alas! That was a dream. In reality there was no such valley and there were no Kangaroos to be seen. (bu huh u subak subak).  On our way we took a detour to Cambewarra Mountain Lookout, phew we did get to see wonderful views of the Valley (minus the Kangaroos!!) which was beautiful and worth the stop.

Kangaroos … Finally

On the way, we also called to let Laura know that we would be late in reaching her country home to which she promptly responded saying that yes we indeed would be late because there are so many beautiful look outs on the way. And she surely was right and we did stop over at many places on the way from time to time. On the way to our final destination for the day, if it was not for Dev, we would have surely missed Kangaroos on the roadside. Though

Nowra Bridge

from a distance, but it was worth the watch. So far we got to see Valley and Kangaroos separately, not bad…at all…It was first sight of live hopping Kangaroos …  I was happy  …. I felt my Australia visit was worth it … I saw kangaroos … Finally!! However they were really far away deep inside some sort of private property. We will have to wait for next day morning to get closer and click some pics…  We also had a quick stopover at Nowra to buy food stock for next two days and crossed historical Nowra Bridge over the Shoalhaven River.

At Laura’s

Mysterious Vase

By the time we reached our final destination for the day, Laura’s Country Home at Jervis Bay it was dark and the home was something indeed. The first time we entered we got the impression that we may be trespassing on somebody else’s home. It was if I may admit much beyond our expectations, spacious and well kept. It was like a dream home sitting on a number of mysteries to unfold. It did look mysterious with paintings which just stare at you blankly, with flower pots in unusual shapes and sizes; you will have to see it to believe it.

The pianist

The rooms were segregated from one another as if they were independent houses. We were 9 of us but we could easily get distant from one another with nobody noticing that we all were in that house all at the same time. Thanks to

the piano, we didn’t know that we had talented Piano players amongst us namely Pri (genuinely) and Sid (nevers the minds…:P)  …. With Sid playing it … I have only two words for the Piano… Poor Thing ……

Home was self sufficient for so many things to do like playing Table Tennis, Cards, cook food in huge kitchen and to read huge collection of books ranging from fiction to scifi to spiritualism. We had awesome time there. Laura’s dog Frank (or as AJ would say … Stupid Frank) was pretty friendly;

Huge Kitchen @ Laura's

however sudden entry of Frank jumping all over the place, scared quite a few of us. Once we had explored everything we cooked food, treated ourselves with heavy dinner and finally retired to our respective bed rooms.

If you are planning for a trip around in Jervis Bay, I would highly recommend giving Laura’s holiday home a serious thought. You can know more about Laura’s home here

Good Morning …. Kangaroos… and Kookaburra

Good Morning Jervis Bay

I and Sid got up early to catch the sun when it was still young and also since Laura had told us that you can catch the Kangaroos in that place at dawn or at dusk. So, in the hope of meeting the Kangaroos we got up pretty early and went for a morning stroll technically directionless. Though there were no Kangaroos that we saw but we saw different species of parakeets, beautiful Parrots and Native Kookaboora At last (and hopeless) we were on our way back to home, and when we were couple of meters away I just blindly turned to look at something moving in a home on my left and there it was … a “KANGAROO” silently grazing the grass. I couldn’t believe my eyes in the first instance. The first time when I saw kangaroos the previous day I shouted so loudly at the sight of them that I scared them away. This time I was more cautious and kept my excitement under wraps. The kid kangaroo was patient enough to pose for few photographs and then when he realized that we were not giving up on him he went to call his mamma Kangaroo. Then we saw their nails, got a little scared and left the place as quietly as we came. Finally I saw Kangaroo up and close … it made my day and my stay in Oz. The bar of expectations keeps rising. So, my next expectation is to see a Kangaroo with the baby kangaroo in the sack… Am I asking for too much ?… naaaaah … after all I am in Australia … land of Kangaroos!!

Me and other Animals

Since those 2 kangaroos were parked at somebody’s house which was we believed vacant, each one of us had the privilege of meeting them and clicking some pics with them :).

To the Beach

Jervis Bay

By now everybody was up and it was time for us to hit the beach, the white sand beach that Jervis bay is famous for. That day coincided with the Triathlon and there were a few road blocks and diversions … so we circled the city for quite some time before reaching the beach. Actual journey which was supposed to be no more than 15-20 min drive turned out to be two hour long and slow drive. The white sand beach was simply stunning. It was one of the calmest beaches that we have visited so far in Australia.

The Gang at Jervis Bay

Though I am scared of water, I actually dared to get quite far inside from the coast where I was almost waist deep in water.

We did spend good 2-3 hours on the beach getting wet and playing around with the waves and the water. Since that was the day when we were to head back to Sydney, we came back after a few hours to pack up and leave.

Unplanned twist

Laura was kind enough of being flexible and allowed us to stay longer on day 2, so we were not in a rush to check out at 10 am. Our original plan was to get back to Laura’s Home, freshen up, have brunch and then bid good bye to Jervis Bay by 2:30 – 3:00 pm. But the destiny had decided a little bit more adventure for us. This started when we all were to begin our final journey to head back home. Drama started when NamDev realized that somehow they managed to lock the car keys in the boot of the car. Their car being highly secure Model of Jetta neither the NRMA guy or the locksmiths could help us. After waiting for a couple of hours, we decided that all the occupants on Car 1 would be dropped at Bombaderry and from there they will take a train to Kiama and from Kiama to Central and from Central to their respective destinations. So, the task of dropping all of us was with Ab and he had just over half an hour to drop us to the station otherwise we would miss the train.

Our bit of adventure got over that night but for NamDev the adventure continued till the next day when they had to travel back to Jervis Bay to pick up their car. But, they didnt’ have a choice!!

Finally… Thanks to everybody for pulling together this memorable trip .. watch this space out for next adventure …. DO IT !!

Advertisements
Posted by: bhavnasingh77 | March 28, 2010

Krishna Jesus and Buddha

2009-2010

December 2009 and January 20010

We are almost at the end of third month of 2010 and think it’s little late to talk about what we did last December! However an ultimatum from Bhavna that she will not pen down any of our future events, it is high time to edit and publish about our December Trips.

December in Sydney means Fun, long weekends, vacations, Christmas, New Year Fireworks.  We were feeling spiritual and spent our time with Krishna in Gokul Ashram and Buddha at Nan Tien Temple in Southern part of Sydney!! Need not mention about visiting churches and listening to Christmas choir in Sydney City 🙂

Gokul Farm – Hunter Valley

Gokul Farm – Click for more pics

So let’s start with our first trip up in North to Gokul Farm in the heart of Hunter Valley. It is Krishna Temple from world renowned ISKCON group, however you need not be follower of Krishna visit to Gokul farm. You would love to visit Gokul Farm if you love to be close to nature, lush green trees; the tranquility that prevails in the open spaces surrounded with hills; a place where you see clouds kissing the hill tops; and the scent of the woods or the enthusiastic chanting of Hare Krishna; Krishna Krishna Hare Hare. Still looking for a reason? Then I shall tell you that energetic satsang and prayers  are followed by delicious, healthy and vegetarian feast prepared in temple kitchen. If you are into vegetarian food, then do check out following recipes from ISKCON cook  Kurama Dasa.

Hunter Valley is famous for its Wineries, and we had plans for to visit at least one Winery and taste some free wine. However the day we visited Gokul farm, rain Gods were making merry, weather was wet and wild and the day was a total wash out.  There is something about Hunter valley … Free food and Free wines, not sure if somebody offers free Bed and Breakfast too!!

Ours was a short stint at the Gokul farm; however it was a wonderful experience to see some native Australians enchanting Hare Krishna with so much energy and dedication. We all started with lot of hesitation but the aura of the place soon took us over and we found ourselves getting louder and louder with our enchanting. I hope our voices reached Lord Krishna and that our prayers were heard. We also did spend some time listening to Bhagwat Gita which detailed out the greatness of Lord Krishna from his early childhood years from the Australian priest who was really good with the verses and new the subject very well.

Christmas Eve  and Boxing day

Chirstmas tree made out of used Bottles ... click to check out more pics

Christmas Eve was just a stroll in city capturing various Christmas trees made of waste coke bottles or expensive Swaroski Crystal. Then there was this famous and huge Christmas tree at Martin Place along with musical Christmas Carols by Salvation Army… What else can you ask for perfect Christmas eve.

Boxing day in Sydney and I think in most of the Western countries is famous for sales and stuff available at throw away price. Stores open early even before the sunlight. We got up early and went out around 6 am happily thinking we were among the early birds, however we highly underestimated Sydney crowd… we were greeted by long queues and amazing crowd, had never seen so many people in Sydney before, it was

Meyer store on Boxing day ... Click to check out mad shopping rush

amazing!! Most saught after sale is that of Swaroski… Swaroski stuff is never on sale, but only Boxing day … we reached there around 6:45 to find a kilo meter long queue … first person in queue was standing since 4 am in morning with no clue when will the store open …. we spent almost 2-3 hours to buy that perfect Swaroski necklace. We thought it was worth the effort, till we saw the same necklace available online for the same discounted price, even days after Boxing Day.

New Year

Mid Night Fireworks .. click to see more

Our appartment is at Blues point reservoir, which is one of the vantage point to watch Harbor Bridge fire works for New Year Eve celebration,  so there

was no point going out anywhere and we

View from the Top of Blues Point Tower...

along with couple of our friends decided to park ourself at Blues Point Tower and got good shots of

Beautiful and enlightened Harbor Bridge and Fireworks from our Terrace at 26th Floor!!

Nan Tien Temple – Unanderra

Buddha .... Click to see more

Okay! Lastly we went down South and started our New year paying homage to Buddha at Nan Tien Temple. We took train from Central to Unanderra, Nan Tien temple situated on Berkely Road is just 15-20 min walk from Unanderra train station. On the way to the Nan Tien temple we also visited the Wollongong City Memorial Gardens which is also a Crematorium. This is a very colourful place with rose flowers blossoming and blooming all over  in different shades, shapes, colours and sizes.

Nan Tien is the largest Buddhist temple in the Southern Hemisphere. Temple

Lotus Pond

complex has a Main Shrine, Pagoda, Great Compassion hall, Museum, auditorim, Conference room, Reception, Pilgrim lodge, dinning hall and a

Dew drop inn which is a tea house. The shrine also has a lotus pond which is really a treat for all your senses. Also in the pond you will be thrilled to see colourful fishes  and ducks in all shape, sizes and colours.

Temple

Pagoda Kissing the clouds ...

The main shrine has five Buddha statues depicting Confidence, Longevity, Wisdom, Inner Beauty and Peace. There are around 10,000 smaller Buddha statues dotting the walls of main shrine encouraging each one of us to follow the path of Buddhism.

The soothing music on the pathway and in the various parts of the shrine soon takes you over and you become one with the surroundings without much effort and realization. The Great Compassion hall and Pagoda are dedicated to the Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva and Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva respectively. The Museum showcases art work and a range of beautiful Buddhist souvenirs. There is a souvenir shop adjoining the Museum which offers a variety of momentos, gifts, books etc to choose from for your near and dear ones.

The Dining hall serves delicious and healthy vegetarian meals; snacks dessert and light meals are also available in the tea house. The Auditorium is utilized for cultural and Buddhist performances whereas the conference room is used

Duck Meditating on Buddha's head

for meetings, meditation etc. There are guided tours available and the information for the same can be collected from the reception. The day we visited, there were no guided tours available, so we helped ourself with a handout with a temple map to guide our way through the temple.

Way Back

Though we had plans of exploring Wollongong on our  return journey but again the rain Gods washed out our plans and we took a train back to the city central and from there we took a connecting train to our final destination for the day from where our journey began.

Posted by: siddharths | January 10, 2010

Melbourne Road Trip

Great Ocean Road

It was late in October of 2009, when our friends in India were celebrating Diwali we had planned for a road trip on Great Ocean Road in State of Victoria, Australia. I had seen Europe only in Bollywood busters under the banner of Yash Chopra and Karan Johar’s of the world. But I am sure The Great Ocean Road is a total paisa vasool (Worth its money) in true sense of the word and an amazing experience no less than Europe as seen in Bollywood flicks. It is one of World’s great scenic coastline drives that is no less than a fairytale and is a must visit place during your Australia trip.

Great Ocean Road

The Great Ocean Road follows the coastline of Victoria’s south-west, stretching 243 Kms from Torquay, just south of Geelong, to Allansford, just east of Warrnambool. To give you a little insight about its history, it was constructed to provide work for returning soldiers and dedicated as a Memorial to those killed in the First World War. Parts of the Great Ocean Road runs around steep coastal mountains which pass through many small towns where mountains meet the sea. The road runs along cliff tops, up to breathtaking headlands, down onto the edge of beaches, across river estuaries and through lush rain forests, wineries,  offering panoramic views at every turn. What more can you ask for? Isn’t this is perfect for a long drive !!

Click for more Clicks from Road

On the Great Ocean road there are a number of lookout zones where you can halt and marvel at the scenic beauty of nature. Various colors of sky, sea and flora around is simply amazing. Do remember to watch your heart so that it does not skip beats, cos i did skip a few. You have the sea on one side which has different shades of blue, purple, grey and on the other side you have hill tops covered with thick dense forest displayed for you in shades of green.


Melbourne here we come

IMG_6178.JPG
Click for more Melbourne Pics

we boarded a Virgin Blue flight from Sydney and  reached Melbourne  a night before we were to begin our excursion. Next morning we met up with an extended group of friends in city,  rented cars – our mode of transportation for next two days. It took us a while to complete the paper work and other formalities and we left city only by 10:30 am which was late by our earlier target of leaving city by 8 am!! . And I have to mention this – that we also got stuck in a JAM i.e. a TRAFFIC JAM on the highway just outside Melbourne while heading towards Princes Highway. It reminded me so much of Delhi by-pass when you are heading towards GT Karnal road 🙂

On Road

The journey was comfortable and the day was sunny and bright unlike the prediction as it was expected to rain over the weekend. It is very unlikely for predictions to go wrong in this part of the world. But we were lucky that our weekend trip did not get washed out. Thanks to the rain Gods.

Click for more Clicks from Road

Once on the Princess highway, the road started at Torquay, which is a short distance south of Geelong. We had our bit of misadventures on the way as we missed a couple of turns, thanks to our guide –GPS who misguided us once in a while and kept “recalculating” a fresh route for us. We got a little lost enroute in the cities like Bellarine, Geelong but the blessing in disguise was that we passed Nadoos and then treated ourselves with chips and periperi.

Lorne and Erskine WaterFall

Gang in the Shadows

Our final destination for day 1 was small beautiful town “Lorne”. By the time we reached it was around 13:30 and we were starving. After debating for a while over limited options available we feasted ourselves with few portions of Pizza, chips, coke from an joint “Pizza Pizza” run by an Indian. After filling our tankers, we checked in to Mantra Erskine beach resort quickly dumped our belongings in our room and were on the driveway again.

Click for more pics from Erskine Water Fall

Now, we were off to visit the Erskine Falls. Erskine Falls are at the end of Erskine Falls Road 10km north east of Lorne. There is a viewing point above the falls and a walking track amidst the rain forest which leads to the base of the falls. The fall cascade over one of the highest drops in the Otways. Erskine falls is surrounded by lush green rain forest and the pathway all the way down to the waterfall is slippery. It is a beautiful, quiet and peaceful place for a family outing like a picnic or a barbecue. We however had gone there for none of these 🙂

Loved this Tree Stump at the Entrance of Fall

Note on Shops at Lorne

We came back to Lorne late in evening to discover that most of the eating joints were closed as we went from shop to shop looking for coffee. We realized that in spite of many restaurants and cafes in Lorne, there are very few options for Vegetarians and the eating joints are generally closed from 3 to 6 pm and most of the open restaurants will shut shop by 9:30 pm and there were others where we need to have prior booking for dinner.

Gang NOT in the Shadows!

So, in case we wished to have dinner we should have it before the designated time. This looked unlikely as we had late lunch and none of us were in the mood to have pizza again. So, we went to the ONLY retail outlet available at Lorne Foodworks and grabbed ready to eat meals and stuff which gets cooked with minimum time and effort. Then we closed day 1 with dinning, wining and dinner, a lazy stroll along the sea shore and then it was time to hit the bed.

Sunrise and Sculptures

Click For more Pics of Beautiful Morning at Lorne

Click for More Sculptures


Day 2 was early wake up call to catch the sun when it was still young. We realized that we succeeded in our quest when we reached the sea shore around 6’o clock in the morning. After spending close to an hour capturing the various shades of a beautiful Sunday morning on the sea shore we moved ahead to view the Lorne Sculpture exhibition 09 which were spread from Mantra Erskine Beach resort to the foreshore walk along the sea coast. It was joy to watch so many beautiful pieces of art made out of unexpected non-traditional materials including  found and recycles objects and in unbelievable shapes and sizes. There were around 50 sculptures displayed at different locations.  Inspite of a map guiding us, we were not successful in capturing all due to scarcity of time but whatever we could, it was worth the effort.


On Road Again

We grabbed a quick breakfast and were on our way to the final destination of twelve apostles. On the way we witnessed a number of rivers merging into the sea, however by now our initial excitement of watching the sea had settled down a bit. Few Kilometers away from Lorne we stopped at one of the many ship wreck point; The rock formations on this look out were splendid and if it was not for the 12 apostles, we would not have moved ahead from this place.

Sid the Stunt Man

Sid even tried some stunts which were nicely captured by Abhinav

Koala

Cute Innocent Koala .. click to watch more pics

We took a de tour and drove some extra miles in hope to view Otway lighthouse, however entry to lighthouse was not free and we were running out of time we decided to duck it. On our way back from  he light House which meets the main road we saw a koala on the road who was patient enough to pose for some spectacular photographs. The only disappointing thought is that in spite of viewing the sign boards “drive slow, Kangaroo ahead” at a number of places during our drive, we were not fortunate enough to spot one.

Twelve Apostles

12 Apostles .. Click for more..

The first sight of the twelve apostles and the disappointment did a disappearing act. They were simply marvelous. These are striking and dramatic natural limestone and sandstone rock formations. These apostles have been created by erosion from waves and rain over a period of time.

We also headed downwards to the Gibson Steps and the Gibson Beach to have a closer look at the twelve apostles. The Gibson steps

Sid struggling to climb to reach Gibson Stairs

do not take you all the way to the beach. They leave you just one or two steps above the coast. The waves here cover the entire coastline and can leave you stranded if the tide comes in close to where you are standing. Sid tried his stunts here too and jumped down to reach the beach and later struggled to climb and reach stairs…

Return Journey

Baaaa Baaaaa

Great Ocean Road was  like a dream world, believe you me it really did. As all dreams come to an end, this also came to an end and a bit too soon when we found ourselves heading back the Princess Highway, taking us to Geelong from where we joined the M1 to Melbourne. It really was an awesome experience and worth

an effort to drive through Great ocean road as the scenery was spectacular and there were plenty of great places and look outs to stop over along the way.

Max

Last but not the least, how can I forget “Max”, a new member in our family? He is the wonder dog of The Smith Family (Organization where I work as a volunteer). At Smith Family, whosoever goes for a vacation Max goes with them for an excursion. The deal is that you click pictures of max and Max is ready to Play…. 🙂 So he played and we played too along with him…

Max The Wonder Dog

*Once again Thanks to Bhavna for putting the Post Together

Posted by: siddharths | November 8, 2009

Canberra Here we come

Planned in a Jiffy …

We will live up to our promise of going out with minimum planning!! So this trip was planned in half an hour flat…call it planned if you feel like, however calling it unplanned (or slightly planned) would be more appropriate. A friend calls on Friday noon that he along with his colleagues is planning for a trip on Saturday morning, have place for couple of more people if interested finalize in half an hour! Neat!!

Canberra here we come!!

Our last trip was planned and got cancelled coz of bad weather. Weather forecast for this weekend was nice and we were in no mood to spend it indoors. So, there was no point in saying no to it, without much of thinking we said yes to our good Friend and off we were on Saturday morning to the city of Canberra, capital of Australian Capital Territory. The distance between Sydney & Canberra via the Hume Freeway is around 280 Kms and the travelling time is around 3 hours 30 min.

En route via Hume Highway

We had gone with a group of extended friends who had hired a tourist bus. Travelling was an ordeal because it meant getting up at 4:00’ O clock on a COLD Saturday morning (SIGH!!!). This was the need of the hour as we had planned to cook and carry food items for the entire day and also reach Sydney Central by 7:00 am (45 min travel from where we stay). So the way calculation went was one hour for cooking, one hour for getting ready and one hour for travel time before it is 7:00’ O clock.

Most of us were on time and we were able to leave Sydney central by 7:45 am. We were 12 of us on the bus and a few (unplanned) additions of 3 firang tourists and 1 guide cum driver (Michael) who took us through our one day trip. Michael was also our proverbial guide who took us through the historical journey of Australia, Aborigines. Told us all about the wrong doings that has happened with the tribes Later on in Canberra he also showed as the tented embassies of Aborigines just opposite the old parliament house. It was interesting to know that how Sydney and Melbourne were fighting for the capital city and thus Canberra a city almost midway from Melbourne and Sydney was chosen as the capital city (LINK). According to Michael this rivalry is also visible in having Sydney and Melbourne Buildings at the commercial center or Civic (LINK) (Now, I could not find any source on net to validate this fact!!)

En route, the highway was awesome. The journey was comfortable and the  landscapes were mesmerizing and breathtaking. The hills, the lush green farms, the vineyards, the deep blue sky, the wind mills, and the rainbow everything was just perfect to add to that fairy tale effect. Sadly Michael was going too fast for us to click anything 😦

In Canberra

The first halt that we had in Canberra was Mt. Ainslie (Link) from where we saw the old and the new parliament house at a distance and also it was like over- looking the city from the top.  The other places that we visited were The Australian war Memorial, New Parliament House, Old Parliament house, The Aboriginal Tent Embassy, The Oval Stadium, The embassy area where we also spotted our very own Indian embassy, Captain cook Memorial Jet, Floriade 2009 to name a few.

click to see more views from Mt. Ainslie

Parliament House

Canberra is home to Government, so we visited the new and the old Parliament House (LINK). See Australian parliament had 11 new members that day 😉

New members at parliament house!!

The spectacular thing was that we could actually visit the house, learn about the legislative process from kiosks and other display materials, interestingly they also had their budget books on display. They had a parliament shop there. It was Democracy at display!! Finally we also saw the prime minister’s house (of course from the outside).

Click to see more pics of Parliament house

Just outside the old parliament house there is the aboriginal tent embassy(Link). The people who live in these tents are representatives of the aboriginal tribes of Australia. According to Michael (remember our driver guide!!) this is sad and dark part of Australia to know what have they done to the natives of the land.

Tent Embassy

After this Michael took us to Manuka Oval Stadium(Link). He told us that he use to play football here during his childhood days!! Though Oval is home to many functions, cricket and Football year round, it had a deserted look as there were only 12 spectators and the players had decided to go for fishing. This was a little disappointing but with no match ON it was supposed to be no different.

Click to see more pics

Floriade

Luckily we were in Canberra during spring and this is the time of year when Canberra hosts Floriade (LINK), which is the biggest flower festival in Australia, a spectacular celebration of spring, set in Canberra’s Commonwealth Park (LINK). The floral experience was rejuvenating and refreshing as we walked past tulip flowers in all shapes, sizes and colors ranging from pink, white, blue, and mauve, red. It was like a rainbow that had decided to come down the aisle/ horizon. It can’t be described in words; you just have to see it in pics …

Click to see spectacular Tulips

Phew!! We could just capture it

Near commonwealth park was this captain cook memorial jet huge fountain throwing water roughly to the height of 140 meter. It was awesome we had passed it couple of times on our journey to and fro in city. As it was supposed to be our last spot in Canberra I had made a mental note to spend some good time playing around to click some good pics of the jet. So, here I was near the jet at around 4pm, lo and behold! Jet was dying out … later we came to know that it only operates till 4 !! Could only click one shot of the dying jet …  so if you planning to be at jet memorial keep in mind that it operates only from 2 to 4 pm (LINK)

Just in time to capture jet!!

Back home

This was the last destination that we visited in Canberra and before we realized it was time to be on our way back. And it was non stop journey on same highway dumping us all back at Sydney Central Station at around 9:30 pm.. watch out some Random pics clicked

Random Clicks @ Canberra

Posted by: siddharths | October 29, 2009

Lets Roam Again

view of Harbor Bridge from Blues Point Reserve

Long Time

It’s been a real long time since travel log was updated last; it’s been a while since I updated any of my other blogs too. Last one year of real life has been quiet eventful for me and for almost all my friends present in some of the (very few) trips. Yes, almost everybody got married and stepped into Life part II, and as they say became responsible citizens, dedicated husbands and employees of their organizations; busy with home, work and LIFE in general there wasn’t enough time to travel, forget updating travel log!! And obviously group, unplanned, adventurous trips transformed to personal, planned (dare I say Boring) trips which might be adventurous in their own sense 😉

Let’s roam around again

So, today when we (more on this “we” later) sat down to start this blog again, it is worth talking about two important trips, one life changing (one to Chamba during which I met my partner in crime and companion for life and travel) and second trip to the land of Kangaroos, which gave an opportunity for further trips to explore the new land!! Good news is that these trips are still alive in our memories, pictures (which are worth thousand words: P) and yes some of these are there in written logs too… Thanks to the partner in crime (Bhavna), she actually took the pain of writing couple of them in hope that I will ONE day POST them on blog. So, here I am thousands of feet above the ground, in my flight to India trying to live up to my promise and reviving Roam around again. For the sake of comfort and memory we would be starting from our latest trip first and then randomly posting our past trips. Come along as we explore various corners of earth….

Planned Vs Unplanned trips

This debate is starting point of every trip!! Do you like to plan your trips or just head out unplanned with just destination in mind!! We try to, however as the luck would have it since our first we have only been “planning for unplanned trips” like book for a hotel in Himanchal’s Chamba while travelling to Uttranchal’s Chamba (That’s called Planning!! more on this exciting journey later). We personally like unplanned or trips with minimum planning … Planned trips are generally washed out in rain and end up as a journey for the taste buds treating ourselves with home made pizza (Link)

so watch out this space for some action …

Posted by: deepakmalhotra | September 3, 2007

Pristine Kasuali

THE NIGHT BEFORE: It was yet another weekend approaching…and b’day treats of pramod, vineet and mahinder in the offing…usual conversations started…pramod said he wanted to drink, i was as usual game…as usual sid dropped in the “outside Delhi trip thingy”…i was game but guptaji had office and bhalu had homely affairs to look after…nonetheless vineet was gung ho about the trip…so like our previous plans this too was shelved and me along wid bhalu went to pvr saket to meet sid on fri nite…bhalu’s fav. pizza hut was chosen inspite of protests from sid due to lack to nice faces arnd…I dunno whether it was destiny of the “Simplicity” [Finally, I came to realize that’s THE thing I look for in THE ONE with some help from GP] of the waitress that made me and sid rethink…somehow hurriedly by midnight the plan was finalized…it was gonna be vineet, sid, me, rijju (another GOOGLER) and Ankit (sid’s spjain batchmate)…

WATTEY START!!: At sharp 845 am I left home after getting some not to pleasant comments from my parents…little did I know what awaited me at vineet’s house!! not a nice way to start a trip i thought…made me ponder why can’t our parents understand that “weekdays” we spend in office working (not true for me currently but still!!) and not in masti marooing…cos thats what they say…saara hafta to bahar tha ab weekend to ghar pe reh liya kar…parents perspective is correct too…they want to spend time with their children, share their issues/look at us for answers…want us to take responsibility…mabbe its just that transition period everyone goes through…cos we were free birds till now, and suddenly we are expected to do more than just earning…ok lemme not digress here but just wonder how we are not able to take care of only one reln which most of us have right now…they aint call handlin wife+mum together tough for nothin!!

THE JOURNEY: So after some nice wrds and nicer paranthas (Before this I thought only Punjabis knew how to make good paranthas!) prepared by Vineet’s mum we picked up Ankit, sid and rijju and started for the journey around 10 am along wid a bottle of Absolut…although we had been fooling our parents that it was only 250 km and 4-5 hour drive…we knew it would take us 6-7 hours with the eat-pee-crap [one cant discount the later wid me arnd 🙂 ] breaks…So we started our journey with the effervescent Simran on Delhi’s Radio City 91.1 Whattey fun…ah if she had been 10 years younger and I 10 kgs trimmer, I would have had thoughts of having a more serious reln. wid her than listening to her everyday from 730-9 am…So with our mood upbeat we headed towards our destination Kasuali with me taking the first half of the drive (on the amazing GT Karnal Highway) and Vineet the second part (the bad Ambala-Karnal highway and the typical hilly terrain after that)…some interestings thing to notice during the road-trips are the arbit names of places on the way (Dadupur is one I can recall); a conspicous change in people you find as you change region – from typical delhites to rural part of haryana to myriad of surds as one enters Punjab…another interesting thing is the messages on the back of trucks… [UPLOAD PICS HERE]…To get back to the trip, we took a break in between at Kalka for having a typical dhaba’s lunch…amazing how these dhabas neva disappoint you – whether in terms of value for money or the taste…The weather as were started going up was getting pleasant along with the view…we stopped in between to take “orkut” pics…others tried taking pics while jumping dsc00823.jpg…people werent impressed with my jumping skills but thats fine!

FUN @ KASUALI: We finally reached Kasauli by 6 pm and got a good deal for stayin (1200 for 2 rooms) after some haggling…straightaway we were out to experience the pristine surroundings of Kasauli…We went to the only market at Mall Road. We were a bit puzzled by the entry sign at the entry point p7170374.jpg…The guard there was too eager to share his thoughts on the same especially with sid and told he will repaint it the next morning…We spent around an hour in the market and strolling around generally…nothing special about the market to be candid…the only amazing feature for me was the non-commercialing of this small town…there were no sales people standing on the way and pestering with the amazing offer they had in their shop…pleasant change after seeing places like vaishnu devi and nainital…we were off to our rooms around 8 with the supply for snacks with Vodka…vineet, sid and rijju went back again to buy lowers and food, only to return back drenched and with yuck veg momos from a pretty girl…then began the typical bing, dance, overacting, puking display…sid tore apart my vest as it had a small hole and his mother told him not to ever allow someone do a sin like that…i agreed only cos my mum believed in the same!!…incidentally sania was also playing her 3rd round match and rijju managed to somehow get the TV on…i stood up, raised my hands and did anything possible to help sania, but alas she lost…nonetheless this was followed by watching Borat…Reliance didnt help me and Vineet hear Namak isssq ka from Omkara, but we kept humming the lines si si karti mein maroon with expressions to give Bips a complex…Ankit (the only guy in senses that night) would have loved the free show 4 daarubaaz had to offer and me being the one to oblige most [DONOT UPLOAD PICS HERE!!]…As with all daaru affairs someone had to puke and rijju obliged us…Vineet was busy cajoling him and I was bursting in laughter indoors, sid and ankit were asleep in another room downstairs…so we were all off to sleep around 12:30…

PRISTINE KASUALI – Unusually everyone woke up pretty early (sid might disagree on this! but watever) and we were off for breakfast at 7:40…strangely the tea waala didnt keep anything to eat and dhabawaala didnt make tea….Breakfast was expectedly alloo ka paranthas with makkhan…vineet hai some fun wid some dogs n monkeys before we started for Manki Point – the highest point Kasuali where Hanumanji had kept his left foot while carrying Sanjeevni Booti…it was a 3.5 km trek and we were treated with amazing pristine scenery, flowers dsc00857.jpg…we took hundred of pics of the scenery and us to get that elusive perfect orkut pic…the views were amazing – the leapard like pattern of the corn trees’ bark, the clouds playing around with the mountains, the multiple colored flowers forcing us to climb the rocks till we found ourselves amongst them dsc00863.jpg …we stopped over at Sunrise point, though a couple of hours late but still the view couldn’t have got more breathtaking…We carried on and reached entry to Manki point – an AF station – by 10:30…As we could not carry mobiles/camera me, sid and ankit went first and the Googlers had to wait till we get back…It was a 1 km trek as told by the security person but 500m of that was very steep and it reminded me of Vaishnu Devi…we reached the top and paid homage to bajranj bali…the view from the top was even better than wat we had seen earlier…had it not been the thought of making vineet n rijju wait more, it was worth spending an hour there…after we were bak vineet and rijju left for manki point and meanwhile we three started our journey back to the hotel before taking a rest after being exhausted by the steep 1 km trek dsc00868.jpg…we stopped and looked for a lift but didnt get one offering a good value proposition!…It started raining again, so we halted at sunrise point although to the consternation of a couple already thr! as it stopped raining we meandered to point we started our journey and were exhausted…we ordered for some juice and as we were about to start we saw the googlers trotting bak…we had a drink each and resisted buying Chuli ka Tel that was sold by the “Daily Needs” shop…interesting name for the shop we thought, what needs was it satisfying were our thoughts 🙂 …It was noon now and we stopped over at the beautiful church before starting our journey back home… dsc00870.jpg

THE WAY BACK: So after a short and sweet visit it was time to go back…this time i took the not-so-good part of the route as vineet was looking a bit tired and sleepy (not sure whether he slept or was busy last night…) It started raining again but that didnt stop me from having the amazin cholle kuche on the way back…We thought about taking the cable car at Kalka but with paucity of time and money we dropped the idea… We only took a break for lunch and crap+tea…it was the usual journey back …vineet enjoying a clash of ego with a ford fiesta only for me to quiver multiple times!…the usual zing bang at the trucks back and an amazing attempt by two surd cops to challan me for stopping for 2 secs to figure out in punjabi where to turn for ambala!

CONCLUSION (sorry cudnt find a better word!): An amazing trip as usual…but the revelation for me was the mingling of us different friends…Usually i tend to assume that one should not mix friend groups – based on an odd bad experience – but man i was wrong…its an opportunity to grow ones friend grp and mabbe find some more frndz for life…rijju and ankit welcome aboard!!

Posted by: siddharths | September 1, 2007

300 Kms in search of Sanjeevani

On our way …. finally wait for the second post for this blog ….

Posted by: siddharths | May 12, 2007

260 Km @ Weekend

It’s been long time since I posted anything and its been really ages since I posted something from my personal life. So here is a log of a driving weekend. It’s an attempt to write a travel log. In coming years I wish to go places and share my experiences here at this offshoot of my blog. Comments, critics and additions are invited.

It was sunny lazy Saturday morning. I joined Deepak and Pramod, who came to Paharganj to treat their taste buds with Yummy and famous Choor Choor Naan (stuffed Naan soaked errr drenched in Ghee and then crushed into pieces that’s why the name choor choor). Actually this was the first step of our larger plan to leave the periphery of Delhi on weekend. Unfortunately plan was cancelled coz Sachin could not join us. So, as any other exciting day we were measuring the circumference of C.P. But this weekend we were destined to leave Delhi and after lot of discussions we decided to just do it. And lo! No plans, no bookings, no clothes, no food no itinerary nothing; just our thirst to leave the city and go out on weekend no matter what. We called and informed our parents about our unplanned plan and were on our way on

to the left side of Golden Triangle on National Highway 8, which would take us straight to pink city, Jaipur.

 

 

 

 

 

A 260 Km journey so we picked up rajma rice, poori aaloo bhaji, halwa and onion kachori from Haldiram at 42nd Mile stone.

 

 

 

 

Our first stop was at Neemrana Fort Palace , approximately two hours drive from Delhi is this fort built in 1464 AD, on a huge plateau in Aravali ranges. Now this fort has been reconstructed into a beautiful resort with a swimming pool, Jacuzzi, yoga & meditation center, gym, recreation rooms, rejuvenation center and yeah some rooms were out of bounds only meant for private use. Deepak told that this fort was considered as wedding venue for Abhiash. Don’t know about Deepak’s news but we could not deny when Pramod gave the verdict that this place is perfect on a weekend with loved one and booked private room. Don’t know how much harm it will cause to your wallet, however if you are planning to visit like stags like us it will cost you 200 bucks.

After spending (read walking) two hours in the royal fort we were tired and hungry. We decided to leave and head for our destination. Now, it was non stop journey to the living city of monuments. Jaipur – Delhi highway is one of the finest highways in the country and ideal for the drive. To make our journey more comfortable rain god blessed us with his blessings and drizzle was enough to bring down the temperature. Deepak started an argument, which is worth mentioning here for your views, he goes like:

For raising kids, responsibilities back home and successful marriage its necessary for girl not to be career conscious, rather compromise and take up 9 to 5 job (if at all taking up job is necessary) to look after family. We had heated argument on this, I strongly disagree to this view if this view is by design and forced upon the girl, it’s different if she chooses it herself. And if at all compromise is to be made it should be by both. Okay, after some time our arguments went to mars, we discussed why Rani or Vidya Balan is perfect marriage material while some others are not.

It was 2030 hours and we were in the pink city; we realized this when smooth, broad roads of highway converged into the narrow road of city with pot holes. We were late and didn’t go the city center; rather we headed straight for some more fun and food at Chokhi Dhani. Located at Jaipur Tonk Highway approximately 18 Km from the city center, is this ethnic village resort with complete environ of Village with modern five star amenities. While you can check out these amenities and price at the above link, I will tell you about what we did. It costs 250 bucks and covers all the cultural shows, unlimited Rajasthani food and chatpata Jaljeera.

So started our journey with 2-3 glasses of Jaljeera and watching traditional Rajasthani dance performed by a young girl who was so much full of energy. A group of local guys told us that the secrete of her energy is chilly, that is she daily have 250 gm of green chilly that’s why she’s dancing so fast and energetically. Jokes apart she had really practiced hard and was dancing really well. Oh by the way to give complete village look, instead of chairs place had traditional cots all around to sit or lie down and relax in open air. Then we enjoyed the ride of giant wheel which was not operated by electric motor but mechanically by two guys; one person giving push from bottom and the other person walking inside the giant wheel to give speed to it.

Now it was time to eat so we had some chana jor garam, sugarcane juice pakoras and tea in lalu’s kullars. Let me introduce arbaaz khan aka ashu; a kiddo who tricked us with some water game where we had to drop coins in a glass kept inside a bucket full of water. Then mesmerized we saw the performance (read haath ki safai) of local magician. It was fun. It was high time to catch up with our free unlimited dinner so we headed straight for open air food being served in pattal (leaf plates). Deepak and Pramod gave up after first serving, I relished each and every morsel of food being served, and it was worth over eating that tasty food. I would have been able to enjoy more, provided I would have had anything earlier. Anyways I wasn’t able to walk, had to remove my belt and get loose!! Deepak headed for loo; me and Pramod strolled around and then were horizontal on the cot, however could not sleep coz of huge mosquitoes.

Somewhere around mid night we decided to leave, for place closes at around this time (official timings are from 1900 to 2300 hours). Now it was time to hunt for some place to spend remaining night and it wasn’t easy for we were not aware of the routes and it was late in night, good thing was that city was not as dead as Delhi, it was moving and there were people to guide us and we also managed to see some of the famous monuments in night. Not even a single bed was vacant in any of the government hotel or the youth hostel. Even the dorms were full. Private hotels were either shady or way too costly to just sleep and shit. We tried to teach them opportunity cost that its better to give room at low cost for few hours than leaving it vacant. At around 2 am we got the room, now I don’t know if he understood opportunity cost or we were too tired to explore further and idea of sleeping in car was not exciting enough. Anyways in 600 Bucks hotel Nirbana was good place to attain one night nirvana; we just hit the shack to wake up at around 0800 to start our day afresh.

0900 hours we left the place and started our journey with Rajasthani kachoris, poori, aloo paratha and tea. On road again, this time we took the service of young guy kumar nick named goli. Instead of going to school young guys like ashu and goli are working hard for their living. One earns five bucks per trick and the other 20 bucks for two hours of talking about royal families and historic monuments. Well he first took us to white temple and then to royal factory of maharani gayatri devi, where he disappeared and to be replaced by Kishore Kumar who claimed to be his father. We purchased famous Rajasthani quilt which just weigh 50gm and also a pair of Famous Kallu chacha’s famous Rajasthani shoes. Kallu Chacha is famous for two reasons one obviously for the camel leather shoes which weighs just 20gms, which is so flexible that you can fold it like a film roll. Second Kallu Chacha is famous coz of his father, who is 137 years old (Oldest man in India and as per my knowledge in world). Kallu Chacha hiself is 110 years old. I don’t know how true is the fact which our guide told us that this 137 year old guy is getting back new hair and teeth. Then we saw hawa mahal, Jal mahal from outside for reconstruction work was going on. We skipped the city palace for the paucity of time, and headed for Amber fort which was en route to Delhi. Amber fort has the biggest cannon on earth which they say was fired once and the bomb created water spring at a distance 30 km away from the cannon.

This was the last monument after which we headed straight for Delhi. We stopped at Reliance A1 Plaza, Dhaaba at reliance petrol pump. It was lunch time and we had good home like food and cutting tea. While we were having our lunch it rained again!!

From here we went non stop into the periphery of Delhi. In all it was an experience of lifetime. We have decided to take out time once a month for more such visits, so watch out this place for updates in future!!

Click here to see the snaps of the trip

 

Categories