Moomba Festival

Melbourne is home of many festivals, but Moomba has been a crowd favourite due to the labour day public holiday and the parades that happen on that day. It is also a celebration of arts and sports, where watersports attract another crowd on the yarra river. I guess it is the convenience of the location (right next to Flinders Street Station) that it attracts such a crowd.

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There are many activities for both children and adults. There are specific children’s programs which you should check out before heading out. Each year, there are different types of rides, attractions and entertainment as well as food stalls. As we had no children in our group, we went straight for the food and snacks to fill our bellies before exploring.

 

I don’t generally visit a festival more than once, but I have been to Moomba on more than one occasion, and it’s always a surprise to see how much the food quality has increased. Instead of greasy chips or a standard wet and soggy hotdog, you get an abundance of choice nowadays. I guess it might be a Melbourne thing, but even the coffee from the donut truck was quite amazing.

Other than the food, there is ample entertainment, on the main stages as well as other small stages across the grounds. There are water sports and skateboard competitions as well as on-stage music that you can bob your head along to. And if you want to try your luck there are plenty of games stalls that lure you in with the giant plush toys. Beware though! They are not easy to win!

If you want to get more thrill for you money, you can always try some rides as well. Even though they are portable units that travel to many places, these machines are a lot stronger and sturdier than you think, and give you more than ample exhilaration.

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To end it all, make sure you secure a spot on the yarra to see the fireworks on around 21:30 each night. Although my post is late for this year’s moomba, make your plans and keep the labour day long weekend free for a visit to the Moomba festival in 2017.

 

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NightJar – independent Artists Festival

On Fridays in February, the Nightjar comes to visit Geelong. I remember visiting a couple of years back, moreso stumbling into it on a visit down to Geelong. I had enjoyed the ambience of foodstalls, small marquees selling goods, relaxing in a grass-filled outdoor area. So this time, when I saw the advertisements, I planned for another trip down there.

 

The first thing you see is the entry, where you pay $5 for a stamp on your hand. Don’t feel too bad about it as it’s raising funds to support local artists. Children under the age of 18 are free to enter, so bring your children along.

As you walk in through the entryway, you see the abundant amount of decorations as well as stalls. Whether they be selling food, dessert, wine or other goods that they have designed. Before anything else, it was food time for us.

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We grabbed a pizza, quesadillas and a baked spud. All were quite good quality, and filling too. Of course, we had to have some poffertjes (dutch pancakes) as well. The poffertjes were well made other than the fact the butter was too salty and not enough icing sugar came out of the shaker. Next time, I’ll go for the maple syrup.

Once our bellies were full, we had a look around the stalls. There were stalls selling meringues, which I was tempted to buy for a friend, but was worried it’ll all crumble down. A local steelworks company came down too, showing off some steel artwork. But the most impressive of all was a vintage clothing shop, which had retrofitted a caravan trailer into a shop.

 

Once a round of the stalls is done, you can sit down for a drink and enjoy the music on stage.

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February is showing a nice trend in weather, so hope you get to try this experience before they pack away for next year.

And say hello to the performing artist, and don’t freak out when he starts moving.

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FRIDAYS IN FEBRUARY
JOHNSTONE PARK
4 – 10PM

Festival of Sails (Geelong)

It is a semi-long weekend, where most people are taking Monday off to enjoy a longer weekend thanks to Australia day(26th Jan) being on Tuesday. On this weekend, there are many different events, but I think this one will be a fun one to go to if you like.

The ‘Festival of Sails’ is an annual event that has been happening since 1844. For those sailing enthusiasts, it is a celeboratory yacht race, and hence you’d be able to see quite a few yachts sailing into Geelong. But for those who are not sailing enthusiasts, you get to enjoy the free entertainment and an abundance of stalls selling food, crafts and even just simple trinkets.

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Map of the events happening during the festival

There are definitely more food trucks than the normal Geelong festivals, and even a great coffee van! (This was what made my trip worth it as I wasn’t expecting decent coffee at a festival, and their iced coffee was just a touch of magnificent.)

 

From the abundant food choices, we had a spud and some Indian. Both the food was quite amazing, but I would highly recommend the spud. There are burgers, tacos, pizzas, hot dogs and all the more, including ice cream. If you venture further, even the local restaurants like taco bell have a stall too.

 

 

There are many different activities for the Kids to try (I didn’t have any kids with me so I shied away from it) including waterslides, beach volleyball and other rides they may enjoy. Feel like flying in the sky? The water ski spectacular might make you feel like either a hero or villain from an action movie.

 

Also, for anyone looking for a nice car to try four-wheel driving (or sitting in one), there is a land rover ‘experience’ area too, where you get to ride in a land rover as it goes over bumps and hills showing off its grip and power.

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So I guess there is plenty to see other than ships, yachts and boats (never know the difference between these) so have some fun and venture out. V-line is free this weekend anyway! 🙂

And a token photo of a wooden ship that is on display. You can pay $2 for children or $5 for adults to go inside and have a look Apparently, the only wooden ship left in Victoria!

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Dates: 22nd January – 26th January

Cost: free for entry, tickets required for certain sections

Yuulong Lavender estate

It was going to be another sunny (not scorching) saturday, so we decided to go for a small trip to the Yuulong lavender farm. I did see that the lavender festival just happened last week (at another farm) where they harvest all the lavenders. So I thought I’ll give this place a go since they never mentioned anything about harvesting yet.

This place is located near Ballarat, so if you were coming from Melbourne, you could do a quick pitstop on your way to Ballarat, and then enjoy a visit to the gold mines as well. As I’m not coming from Melbourne, and I have already been to Ballarat, we went through the backways to this local beauty.

It’s not an easy place to find since the entry is not marked with flashing lights or anything. Just look out for a few flag-like things, but google map’s location setting was quite accurate, so the location that google maps sent me to was the start of the entry way.

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Entry into the cafe and shop

After the subtle climb up with the car, we found our ways to the car park for the cafe and shopfront. The surroundings are quite serene, and I was excited to get some food inside me. (It was about an hour drive for me)

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Entry into the cafe and shop

We stopped by the garden on our way into the cafe. So we ended up going in the back door of the cafe, but the garden was a good start to our visit. It isn’t a huge garden, but very cute and set like a little maze. So we had a bit of fun trying to go through all the little road ways that was open.

The shop sells lavender plants as well as all sorts of lavender products you could imagine. It also had lavender flavoured white hot chocolate or lavender cookies!

 

We ordered some food and enjoyed it outside in the cafe deck. Although I wanted to sit inside as it looked so bright but cozy, my mum likes to sit outside looking at the open space.

Considering this is the view you get from the deck, I didn’t mind either.

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view from the cafe deck

The typical devonshire tea (scones and tea/coffee) is here, but most people were going for the lavender cookies. (Now, I couldn’t try it at the time.. but I will try one day..)

After filling my growling stomach, we went and had a walk around the lavender plants. Apparently, this place was where a new breed of lavenders were found, so it was named ‘yuulong lavender’. Until I came here I never knew there were so many different types of lavenders!

As we were walking around the lavenders, I felt like I was in a bee hive. There are so many bees around the lavender plants, so you have to be careful when taking pictures. It’s an interesting feeling when you sit down next to a flower to take a picture and all you can hear is the buzzing of bees.

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stretch of lavenders on the hill

 

Unfortunately, many of the plants had been harvested or cut, and the remaining flowers were mostly dry. It seems lavender season is December to January, so I’ll have to come again at the end of this year.

Yuulong lavender estate
admission: free
open: weekends and public holidays (10:00-16:30)
address: 58 Sharrocks Rd, Mount Egerton VIC 3352

Portarlington Mussel Festival

Moving down to Geelong has its advantages. You are so much closer to the beaches down here, and also the festivals that happen here and there. One of the festivals that caught my eyes was the Portarlington mussel festival. I guess it is from my love of seafood, and I thought it involved unending supply of mussels.

We drove down on a sunny Saturday, and was wowed by the crowd that turned up. I have been to Moomba and other festivals in Melbourne, but this did take me by surprise as I didn’t expect so many people to turn up to a festival at such a far away location. We struggled to find parking on the street (let alone at the parking lot) and hence ended up with a bit of a walk.

 

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The location is across the road from the Woolworth and Portarlington Primary School, and the entrys easily found with the $2 sign.

Once you get into the festival grounds, find any stall that is selling mussels, and they are so fresh and nice. Cooked onsite, I felt bad for the chef cooking up the mussels in the heat. A 20 minute wait is natural, hence make sure you’re not hungry when you arrive, and order early. Once your order is done, you can pick it up and enjoy it wherever you can find a seat or space.

There are multiple types of entertainment on site as well. Allow a few extra minutes (or more) to go have a browse in the many different stalls that are set up, as well as the entertainment provided on stage.

A advantage of this festival is definitely the proximity to the beach. So on the way home, we went for a pit stop at the local (?) beach. Actually, we drove all the way down to Ocean Grove. It is a beautiful beach, where I once nearly drowned during surfing, but I still love the beach.

As I remembered, the beach was as beautiful as it could get.

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There were still a few surfers on the beach trying to catch a wave, and the sand felt ever so soft under my toes. Although I’m not a fan of birds, my mum wanted to feed the seagulls, and hence while we were throwing random pieces of bread at them, we found one dark and large bird flying above us. We thought it could be a hawk of somesort, and I wondered why the seagulls weren’t flying away.

In fact, once it landed, I found it was a brown albatross. I’ve never seen an albatross before, so I’m just assuming it’s an albatross purely due to its size. It was easily double the size of the seagulls.

 

All in all, a day with perfect weather and beautiful food. The only downside would be the difficulty in parking, and the crowd we had to fight to get seats to eat our mussels.