For some reason, the idea of renting a car and heading out of the city for a few days didn't materialize until a friend of mine came to visit from Canada. I guess I just needed someone to be a tourist with, as most of the people I've met in Melbourne are from here or have been living here for so long that they've seen it all. I'd been asking around for good places to visit in the winter and got lots of reccommendations.
We picked up the car on Saturday afternoon and took a quick drive out to Heidelberg, about one hour east to the Heide Museum of Modern Art. It was raining that day, and I wasn't sure what the museum's policy on photography was so I left my camera at home. I really wish I hadn't! The museum has a rich and interesting history and is spread out on 15 acres, including a sculpture garden, bee colony boxes, several kitchen gardens that service the onsite cafe, and lots of wide open parkland. (Crestfallen, I did take some photos with my phone: see the sculpture garden and bee colonies on Instagram.)
The museum had lots to view, including exhibits by Albert Tucker, Mike Brown and Siri Hayes. By far our favourite exhibit at the Heide was Fiona Hall's Big Game Hunting. Encompassing mixed media, beadwork, sculpture, found objects, and traditional barkcloth paintings, it was an intricate and mind-blowing statement on industry, finance, war and environmental destruction. It's one thing to blog about it, it's truly another to see it in person. Anyone in Melbourne with a day to spare should get out to Heidelberg to see this exhibit ASAP! Big Game Hunting runs until July 21.
The next day (Sunday) we grabbed another friend and headed to Healesville to visit the huge wildlife sanctuary located there, and on Monday drove out to Mornington Peninsula to visit the Peninsula Hot Springs. It was pouring rain both days so I opted to leave my camera behind again (and I also wanted to fully immerse myself in the 25 different bathing experiences at the hot springs) but on Tuesday the sun came out, so out came the camera! We had stayed overnight in a little coastal town named Rye, so in the morning we had breakfast at a beachside cafe and walked the pier.
We took advantage of the nice weather and drove to Cape Schanck, the southernmost tip of Mornington Peninsula and site of a historic lighthouse and spectacular volcanic formations jutting out into the Bass Strait. Although Tasmania lies due south, it truly feels like the edge of the world. We walked the 2.5km Bushrangers Bay track, down the wooden boardwalk to Pebble Beach and the Pulpit Rock and Devils Desk rock formations.
There were all kinds of giant seaweed species and interesting plants I'd never seen before. Of course I had to document the weird and wonderful things I found.
After we were done the hike it was still relatively early in the afternoon, so instead of heading straight back to Melbourne we decided to take the scenic route and visit the Dandenong Range. After a quick snack (which definitely *wasn't* Krispy Kreme donuts from 7-Eleven...) we stopped at the National Park just outside Ferntree Gully and visited the 1000 Steps Kokoda Memorial Track. It was built in the early 1900s, and later refurbished and renamed to commemorate the WW2 battle between Japan and Australia in Papua New Guinea in 1942. A hike was in order to work off the donuts so we selected the 2.6km steep trail to get to the top instead of the easy trail, which took forever because I was taking pictures along the way.
The sun was rapidly setting by the time we reached the top, so I wasn't able to take too many photos on the descent. It was cold and wet but we were quite sweaty, so we selected the easy trail for the way down. Let's just say "Ferntree Gully" is an incredibly accurate name for the area, the side trail weaved down through a thick jungle full of ferns and massive trees.
We sadly returned the rental car on Wednesday morning, and that was the end of the road tripping adventures. But there will be more adventures, and I'll blog about them all!