Belgrave 2017 Day 3 – Melbourne to Belgrave, Puffing Billy train ride

7am and the alarm rang. K woke up to and asked for milk, which I made in a jiffy for him. He fell asleep after that. The parents however were all up and preparing for the move today. Mommy prepared the meals and I packed. Deflated the tub and anything that wasn’t required for the day all went into the luggage. I left early to the car rental company to get the car first as we had to leave by 930am. Brought along one luggage to minimize moving later. Apex car rentals was sharing an office with Budget, and could be found at the storefronts facing Spencer street. When I arrived, the staff was servicing a couple already.

Apex Car rentals in Melbourne

15 mins later, it was my turn. Since we have made the booking online, I just had to give my address and 2 phone numbers, signed 2 forms and I was ready to go. She gave me a carpark redemption ticket and informed that I could pickup my Hyundai Elantra at the Wilson carpark just up the ramp to the left and to meet with one of the staff there who would proceed with the handover. I left the office and met with the staff on the first floor and after looking at the form, he handed over the key to the car saying that he checked and since it was zero excess he wasn’t overly concerned. A quick intro and a help with the luggage, I was ready to leave the carpark.

I drove out with the redemption ticket and once on the main road, I made a right to drive to the small Little Londales street and left my car there. Supposed to pay for parking but since we were going to be quick and also I couldn’t remember what the signs met, I took the chance and went up to the apartment.

Entering the apartment, I found K still sleeping in bed. I tried changing the diapers for him and that woke him up. Changed his clothes gave him some Youtube “Wheels on the bus” videos to make him move. Even with that it took a while to get him out of the apartment. Mommy had already done the tablet check out earlier on.

After dropping the keys off at the letterbox, I loaded up remaining luggage and start our road trip, a drive towards Belgrave, at almost 945am. With the GPS on Google maps with the newly minted data plan, we drove about 40 mins to Woolworths in Belgrave. After a few busy streets in busy Melbourne, we got onto M1 and joined quite a crowd on the expressway with many heavy vehicles. There was etoll, like ERP, and charges would be done through the credit card. Exited M1 and onto the smaller roads, it was also not difficult to drive.

1030am and arrived into the small town center of Belgrave. We were lucky to find a parallel parking slot that I drove right into, especially when the road was extremely busy, for the visit to the supermarket. Mommy got off the car to buy something to eat and when she returned, she only managed to get cream rolls. We continued towards the final location which was another few hundred meters to free parking of Puffing Billy, which I was quite surprised to find it full on a weekday so we drove further down the street and found an official carpark of Mater Christi that was free too.

Mater Christi carpark

We had to backtracked down the street to the entrance of Puffing Billy and we used the toilet there before proceeding to the ticketing, further ramps below. Since we had made an online purchases, we only need to exchange for the return tickets and souvenir tickets at the counter. Through the souvenir stores, we moved to the boarding platform and it was crowded. We got up close to the locomotive at the front to take a photo of the “true to its name” Puffing Billy and went to search for a place to sit in the free sitting train. We ended up in an enclosed carriage at the end as the open carriages in front was all filled. The enclosed carriage was initially empty when we boarded but eventually was filled up too.

Puffing Billy entrance
Walkpath to the boarding deck
Train tickets
Belgrave station
Puffing Billy train

A while later as scheduled, the train started to leave at 1110am. It was an interesting experience on this comparatively slow moving train and amusing to see everyone have their legs hanging out in those open carriages as the train travelled.

All the legs hanging out

The train would stopped at multiple stops, first at Menzies creek and then at Emerald, both for about 5 mins where people could get off, take photos, stretch and/or use the toilet. K got off to kick some rocks and stomped on some leaves.

Menzies Creek stop
Emerald stop

Our choice of stop was the next one at Lakeside which we arrived at 1230pm. There was a small lake by the station and the plan was to find a table and bench where we could sit there for picnic lunch. Mommy and K settled on one of them and I proceeded to the one and only Emerald Lake Park cafe there to buy a chicken focaccia and a chicken wrap for aud18 and aud4.5 for drinks.

Lakeside stop
Train staff topping up water
Emerald Lake park cafe
Chicken wrap

We took our lunch till 1pm, disturbed by a bee and accompanied by birds, a few moments of chilly wind and an overall nice backdrop. Explored the area a bit and went to the bridge, where K had fun running across the bridge several times. After the photos and the running, we returned to the train at 120pm, this time earlier to try to get some seats. This time, we chose the open carriage one and the journey back seemed to have less people. Train left at 135pm.

Accompanying bird at the park
Panorama of the lake

The return journey felt colder because the carriage was uncovered. K soon fell asleep. The 2 station stops were very quick, about 1min stoppage and the train would leave. We arrived back at Belgrave at around 220pm. With K still sleeping, we walked back to the car with K in my arms until he awoke upon reaching the car. Before heading back to the accommodation, we made a stop at Woolworths again and parked at a 3P carpark across the road. Spent some time at the supermarket while K was engrossed with the Marvel stuff on sale, mommy went to shop for groceries.

View from the train back
Train moving on a wooden bridge tracks
Belgrave Woolworths supermarket
Inside Woolworths

By the time we left for the airbnb, it was about 330pm. There were driving instructions given to us over email and I immediately recognized the parking area when we arrived. We parked at a small carpark area.

The landlord met us and showed us the apartment with a fireplace. We were surprised not able to find kitchen as it was stated in the webby and we were intending to cook. K seemed to like the place as he started running around from room to room. The landlord then showed us what was available outside like the playhouse that was built by her husband and boy which K played in. K liked the steering wheel but there were cobwebs as it might not have been used that often. We were introduced to their gardens and sandpit with filter, all didn’t seemed playable for K at this time of the year. There was a nice breakfast eating place too. The family had a thing for engineering and ecofriendly things like solar panel. We were also told about not turning the aircon on throughout the night with big temperature difference as that would chocked up huge bills, and not being energy efficient.

Playhouse in the airbnb
Living room
Master bedroom
Fireplace at the dining place

The husband came back and I had to move the car to the side as that space was meant for their car. After that, he helped us set up the fireplace to warm up the area. Then we stayed in in the apartment to rest and bathed. Couldn’t cook so after bath, K watched some online videos (no TV too) before we decided to drive out for dinner. It was drizzling as predicted by weatherman so I went to landlord to borrow umbrellas. They only had one which was taken by the husband and he was out. So K wore raincoat and we scurried to the car and drove out to town, negotiating the dark small streets in the drizzle of the neighborhood.

In the almost dead town, we saw a restaurant still opened called Bell tavern. Parked at the roadside closest to the ramp to the entrance and braved the drizzle to get in. There weren’t many people in this bar that was designed like a bar of the old West. Ordered red snapper and a spinach and broccoli fetuccine for aud46. Water was free flow. Since K didn’t have any home cooked dinner, he shared our dinner which he liked and ate a lot. After our meals K spent some time playing at the steps going up and down. We only managed to leave at about 830pm but good thing was, the drizzle had stopped.

Inside the Bell Tavern bar
Spinach and broccoli Fetuccine
Red snapper
Bell Tavern
Belgrave town at night

Once back, we found the fireplace burning with ferocity since the owner had helped to put in more firewood. It felt warmer already but it was enough to warm up the room where the fireplace was. We changed to pyjamas and got ready for bed. A few story books and a bottle of milk later, it was lights off at 930am, earliest time in the cold night.

Escape to Victoria & South Australia April 2017

A brief summary on the itinerary

Escape Plan to Victoria & South Australia 2017:

Total duration 16D15N
Melbourne is 2hrs ahead of Singapore. Flight time is 7hrs 25mins on Scoot from Singapore to Melbourne.
Adelaide is 1.5hrs ahead of Singapore. Return is 7hrs on Singapore Airlines from Adelaide to Singapore.

Flight from Singapore to Melbourne at 115am, arriving at 1040am in Melbourne. Return flight from Adelaide to Singapore is at 910am and touching down in Singapore at 310pm.

Day 0-1 – Arrival in Melbourne and R&R
Day 2 – Victoria Market, Federation Square and Newquay promenade
Day 3 – Melbourne to Belgrave, Puffing Billy train ride
Day 4 – Belgrave to Squeaky beach and overnight at Phillip Island
Day 5 – Inverloch, the Caves beach and Penguin Parade
Day 6 – From Phillip Island to Queenscliff Big4 Beacon Resort
Day 7 – Coogoorah Park, Split Point lighthouse and Koala spotting
Day 8 – Otway lightstation, 12 Apostles and the other rocks
Day 9 – Port Fairy to Robe – Tower Hill Reserve and the Blue Lake
Day 10 – Robe to Victor Harbour – Kingston Lobster, Meningie and Victor Central
Day 11 – From Victor Habour to Kangaroo Island Emu bay – R&R
Day 12 – Flinders Chase National Park and Vivonne bay
Day 13 – Raptor Domain and Seal bay
Day 14 – Arrival in Glenelg, harbour town outlet shopping and Beachouse
Day 15 – Botanic Gardens and Rundle Mall
Day 16 – Home Sweet Home

This trip was planned to as one of our annual trip for 2017. There were 2 days of public holiday in May and therefore to maximize the usage of our leave, we chose to do it at this time of the year. Torn between the choices of going to Central Europe and South Australia, we ended up with SA because of the ease of logistics arrangements.

Budget – Not cheap.

Costs of food were expensive since food court was not usual in towns outside the main cities. Costs of accommodation were not cheap either especially when we need a kitchen to cook. Fuel was thankfully way cheaper than Singapore and with the not too bad exchange rate, costs were balanced out.

Complexity – Easy with GPS downloaded into the phone in a car

The initial traveling plan was to drive around with a data enabled phone but since we could actually download the google map onto the phone, we didn’t need data at all! Paved roads most of the time was easy to drive though some of them were a little bumpy for an Elantra. Signboards were everywhere. Since attractions were far from one place to another, driving would be the best option for a family traveling from one spot to another.