Monday in Melbourne Central


I was up early.
Left cabin before 9am so I could drop off the data projector and pick up her b’day cake from the hall.
Somehow it had gotten left behind.

I got back just after 10am, screamed in to pick up Tim, Nate & Azzan. They had slept in as they were all quite tired.
Then it was a hurried drive into Jesik’as to meet up with Anson who had to be on the train to be at the airport by midday.
It was a 1.5hour trip for him and we were wanting to spend the first part on the train with him.
I grabbed the girls on the way – they were both looking a bit like stunned mullets from the hustling along.
Robyn and Jesika escorted us to Mont Albert train station so we could get to the city a bit quicker.
It was a bit of a nightmare getting the tickets as I didn’t know how to use the machine and you have to buy one ticket at a time. No place for family groups!
And the train was there and about to leave.
So Robyn got Anson through first as he had to leave, then she and I stood and fed money into the machine and pushed the buttons to get 6 tickets.
All the while yelling at the guys to jam the doors open so I wouldn’t get left behind!
What a drama.
Thanks so much Robyn – I really appreciated your help – we would never have made it without you.
Just sorry we didn’t get to catch up again before we left.

We got to Southern Cross Station and walked quickly with Anson over to the Airport Shuttle bus and waited while he got his ticket and then said our farewells.

Then it was our turn to figure out where we were going.

We got help romt he Info desk and then walked 2 blocks to the free bus.
Waited for that for 15 mins.
Shanni was so tired she collapsed on the pavement.
Nathan reckoned we should’ve put a sign up by her as she looked like a beggar and she could’ve made some money while we waited!!

We finally hopped on and did part of the tour.
Hopped off at South Bank so we could go look for food.
We ate lunch at the food hall.
Then walked over the foot bridge and along the river bank and under the road bridge.
Took the lift up to Federation Square and had a look around.

We then got the free tram and did a 3/4 circle of the CBD and got off to go see the Old Melbourne Goal.
It was a really great place.
So glad Herbie and Tania had recommended it.
We were all limed up by the Sergeant and givent he orders to stand straight, no leaning, slouching or talking.
We were then all searched for drugs and sharps.

Given our charges and told in no uncertain terms what was going to happen to us.

Azzan and the sargeant got on quite well – they both amused each other!!

Then we were taken to the cells and locked in.
Then the lights were turned off.
We really got a feeling of what it might have been like.
They were all put into solitary confinement.
23 hours a day in their cells.
No talking.
Even on Sundays, they went to church and were seated one inmate to a pew so they couldn’t talk to each other.

The padded cell.

I found these hardened crims in there – pretty sorry bunch eh!
Bet they got locked up for a long long time

Then we went and visited the rest of the prison.
This is the flogging frame.
The cat-o-nine-tails was used here.

A very stark and unforgiving environment.
It is 3 layers of cells.
Women on top floor, men in the middle and wardens below.
During the war the top floor was used for military prisioners – mostly those who went AWOL.

Ned Kelly was incarcerated here and was finally hung on the gallows on the 2nd floor.
This is his armour he wore.

We left to catch the tram back to Flinders street as it was getting late.

I really loved the architecture of the buildings in the city.
It is so solid and imposing and has a real beauty of it’s own.

Our tram arriving.

Parliament buildings

Azzan loved these lights.

Not too sure what this building was – it was across the rioad from Parliament.
But I liked the architecture of it.

We caught the tram back to Jesika’s and met up with Cat, Seb, Sasha & Herb – they had been on an exploration around Mt Dandenong and Herb had gotten them lost into some interesting places!

I hopped online and found some heated hand grips for Jesika’s bike for her b’day.
I managed to order them on the net and email the folk to ask them to call Jesika about them.
I got them from her favourite bike shop so was quite pleased with my sleuthing
Especially as I managed to do it all before she got home!!

We all headed back to the cabin to pack up our gear.
I worked until quite late sorting and packing while Tim cooked dinner.

Thankfully Herbie was able to take a bag home for us as we had way too much luggage.


Sunday night madness

We whizzed back to Jesika’s in time to load everyone into the car and go to church with Jesika.
She attends Crossways.
There werfe two women there who sang – they had amazing voices.
I really enjoyed them.
The preaching was interesting – about us and our responsibility and stewardship for the environment .
Quite thought provoking.

We were supoosed to be meeting the rest of the family in the city but they were all tired and not wanting to go back in so we all went to a Chinese restaurant for dinner.

Robyn & Ari joined us so these was quite a crowd of us making merry.

Nathan & Nathan

Afterwards we had to part company.
We dropped Nathan & Tania at the train station as they were heading to the airport – Tania was flying out early in the morning.
Then we dropped Bri off at the tram so she could get to Carlamia’s as she was flying early too.
Jesika & Sasha walked home so Tim & I could head back to the cabin.
We stopped by to pick up Azzan.
Marion had tucked him down on the couch but when we walked in the door he came out to meet us.
We couldn’t raise anyone so we just crept out the door with him
Felt like baby snatchers!!!
I did tell one of the boys that we had him cuz he poked his head around the bed room door just as we were leaving the house, so figured Marion would work it out!!

To the top of Mt Dandenong

…..we got to the top and paid to park at the Skyhigh Mt Dandenong.
It was quite chilly up there even with our coats on.
But I soon had the kids running around the gardens looking at all the sculptures etc.

They found Mr Percy Possum’s door.

Then the Wishing Tree

And the lovely English Garden with it’s lovely curved bridges

and a pond just right for finding frogs in if I let him!!

Azzan met up with these two youngsters

They really really wanted to go into the maze.
Shanni pleaded with her daddy to come too.
‘You know Daddy when you really want to do something you shouldn’t worry about how much it costs!!’
So he headed off to find a bathroom and I watched them from the lookout as they found their way through to the 4 places they had to reach to get their cards stamped.

In the butterfly garden – the last place on the card.

They all got presented with ‘I was Amazed’ buttons to wear.

Tim sussed out his new car at the door of the hotel.

Then we found the Giants chair in the bottom garden.

By this time it was getting late and we needed to head down the mountain.
Tim had said we should go to the William Ricketts Sanctuary on the way down seeing as we were now on our own.
But I unfortunately missed the turn off and was at the bottom before I realised.
Oh well, I guess it leaves me something to do next time we visit Melbourne.

The fuel tank was reading empty so we cruised down to the nearest garage to get some petrol.

The children were all very tired.
But they really wanted to have a sleep over at the Stolk’s and it was the only night they could.
So we dropped all three off there, arranging to pick Azzan up later on.

Picnic at Mt Dandenong


Everyone slept in till nearly 9am.
I put a few loads of washing through while they were all waking.
Nathan & Tania had to vacate their cabin so they came up to ours and then came with us to meet Jesika etc at the hall.
We arrived too late to help with the fnal clean up as they had already done it.
So we piled into our cars and drove up Mt Dandenong to a lookout.
We spread out all the party left over food and had our lunch there.

There were quite a few crazy antics going on as we ate.

We were at the top of a steep slope so this precarious carrying on was a bit breathtaking when you realise there was nothing behind these two if they fell!

Robyn & Ari came too which was lovely.

Sasha & Jesika – best friends forever

or are they??

After we had had our fill we packed up.
Herbie used one of the platters as a sled on the hillside.
Made a hole in it so Jesika won’t be able to reuse that one!

We were going to the William Ricketts Sanctuary but when the others discovered they had to pay $7 to get in they were a bit antsy so we didn’t go there.
I was quite disappointed as I really wanted to go.

But majority rules.
We drove to Olinda and had pies and ice creams instead.

The others all headed off home but Tim & I decided we wanted to go to the top so we did.
We had a lovely time up there with the children……….

Family, relations and all.

With 13 of us we can pretty much make up a party on our own!!
But it was really cool to have a few other relatives come to join us on the night.

Anson, Seb & Tim

Cousin Andrew Labbett and Anson meeting for the first time.

Our newly weds – Sunni & Ryan

Not too sure where these two slot in actually

Group hug – big sis and little sis and bro-in-law.

Jackie and Azzan.
He was very tired so enjoyed a l-o-n-g cuddle on her knee – for about 4 hours he reckoned.
I think he actually went to sleep!
Jackie didn’t look like she was complaining much

Seb, Bri & Anson

Anson & Shanni

Sunni & Azzan

Anson & Ryan
Anson was right into party party, party

Raewyn & Carlamia
another cousin meeting some of the cuzzies for the first time.
Thanks for finding space for Cat, Seb & Bri to crash out at your place Carlamia

Andrew & Shanni
Andrew had to take some balloons back for Imogine and Christopher – we did have plenty to share around!!

Sunni & Ryan, Bri, Shanni, Cat, Carlamia & Nathan just before Carlamia took them back into the city.

Jesika danced till 1am.
We began cleaning up around her so there would be less to do in the morning.
Then it was decided that she would open all her presents so the children could share.
So they were all brought back inside again!!

Nathan pegged out on the table – after all it was 2am so way past his bedtime.
I found out later that he had been inhaling helium from the balloons with his big brothers so no wonder he had a headache!!

Then everyone got hungry so we got stuck into the leftovers and there was sure plenty of those.

We managed to get back to our cabin and be in bed before 3am.
The kids heads barely touched their pillows and they were all snoring.
It was a good night.

Shanni had been so tired int he morning she was asking me is she realy had to come to the party.
On the way home she commented,
‘It really was a great party wasn’t it.’!
I think she was glad she had gone to it after all

Friends at the party

I was introduced to many of Jesika’s friends for the first time so I won’t attempt to name all of them.
But I will try to put some names to faces.
The ones I cannot name I will have to ask Jesika and fill in the gaps later.

Singing happy birthday in several different versions.

?, ?, Ida, Andrew, Sasha, Cindy, Jackie,

Bill, Ari, Tania, ?, ?,

Marion & Jemima Stolk

Tania Davies and her big bro Nathan aka Herbie


Jesika’s growth group friends

Her yachting friends

Jesika & Maria

Her biker friend Mark,  and Alex

Jesika and her very, very lovely friend Robyn

And the wonderful Marion & Bill Stolk and children who have been so fantastic to all of us including Jesika.
Thanks Marion for having my family to stay and to play etc.
Looking forward to when you can come to visit us!!

The dancing

Jesika and Tim danced a father/daughter dance together to begin the nights festivities.

It was a very heartwarming moment.

Then later on Jesika and her instructor Ruchi danced some salsa for us.

Jesika has been going to salsa dance classes for a while now and absolutely loves it.
Ruchi reckons she is really good!

Then it was speech time.
Once again very moving and special.

As Jesika said – it wasn’t a huge party but all the people that she loves and who matter were there

Jesika had hired a dj so we had music till 1am.

And party is what everyone did.

Nathan was doing some pretty hot moves on the floor.
He did quite a few solos and even did a shirt strip when Bri offered him $10 bucks to do it!!

Jesika was determined to dance till the music ran out and she did.
Shanni couldn’t understand how on earth she could dance in high heels for so long – she was very happy to ditch her boots after a while – my country farm girl who is happier in barefeet and gumboots!

THE cake

As per usual – Jesika’s cake must have an entry all of it’s own.
It was glorious.
4 layers and each a different flavour with several layers or ganache etc.
I had suggested she should take photos of the first cut as the insides are almost more better than the outsides – I know that’s bad grammer but explains it best!

The top was black with a model of her baby
A Kawasaki Ninja 600cc

The 2nd layer was red – her favourite colour with a model of her her dream Ferrari sports car.

The third layer – music – her other love in life.

And the fourth cake was about home – the sea and the land and animals and kiwiana and kiwi expressions

The bottom layer was decorated with sayings from the u-tube video
Beached Whale

Jesika wanted to share her 30th birthday with her dad’s 60th.
They have a special bond these two – 30 years and she is still Daddy’s little girl!

Cutting the cake!

Preparing for the party


We all went to the The Basin to meet Jesika at the hall.
She was already there getting things organised for the party that night.

Shasha & Jackie were doing food preparation – there were huge food platters, chips, crackers & dips.

Jesika was doing the final touches to her cakes.

Herbie, Tania & the children blew up the balloons with helium and tied tassles to them.
They were soon all bobbing about on the ceiling.

Ari & Anson were doing other decorations and trying to be cool at the same time!

Cindy & Azzan were hanging the streamers and flowers.

Herbie looking spectacularly gorgeous with balloons tied to his ears.
We were waiting for lift off

Tania & I zipped off to Knox City Mall to get table cloths and other last moment things.

Jesika dn the girls left as soon as they were done.
I came back and we finished moving tables and then literally flew back to the cabin.
Herbie & I zoomed back to Knox City to get another tablecloth leaving Tania to iron the others and some clothes.
Thanks Tania for all your help there – it was great.
Cat, Bri, Seb, Sunni & Ryan arrived in their car so we rushed about getting changed as we were really on a mission to get everyone to Jesika’s by 2:30pm.
The bigger ones had to get changed and ready there.

Then all 13 of our family headed to a nearby park to meet our photographer – Luke.

We spent the next 2 hours having family photographs taken in the park and gardens.
It was quite chilly so there were a few frozen ladies as they were not wearing a lot.
Everyone was dressed for the evening dance.
Coats were being chucked on and off in between photos.

We went back to Jesika’s – Tim, Sunni, Ryan & I went and got food for dinner which was devoured very quickly by the ravenous hoards once we got back.

Jesika left early as she wanted to spend a bit of quiet time at the hall with her dance instructor before everyone arrived.
The hall key was in our car.
So her two flat mates drove it out there specially.
30 mins each way!
Berthe & Ida – you sweet ladies – thank you

We all left soon after 7pm to go party.

Back in Melbourne

6/8 – Thursday
We had endured a weird loud spooky scraping noise all night so once it was light we investigated and discoverd that a tree branch had broken and was lying on the cabin roof and because it was so windy it was moving a fair bit.

So Tim wandered off to have a chat with the park folk who said we should’ve phoned them during the night!! They dealt to it that day so all was ok the next night.

I did another load of washing and then it was time to head off.
I dropped Tim & the kids off at the Stolk’s house and I went to have my hair done at Jesika’s hair dresser.
She completely reshaped my hair and I love the cut.
Of course when I got back Tim & Nathan made a huge thing about me being away for 2 hours and coming back looking just the same  – men!

I took Tim & Nate around to Jesika’s.
Sasha had flown in that morning with Tanya & Nathan (Herbie) and commented very positively about my hair so made up for the males.
We took the three of them shopping at Knox City.
Rivers had a 50% sale on boots so Tim bought another 3 pairs for him and Anson.
We then dropped Tania & Nathan, Tim & Nathan back at the cabins – T&N were in the same caravan park as us.
Then I took Sasha back, picked up the kids and popped in to see Jesika.
The children were all very pleased to see their big sister again.
We got back to the cabin at 7pm, had dinner and put kids to bed.
N&T popped over to socialise for a while.
Crazy having to meet up in Melbourne to catch up with local friends

I was now feeling quite confident about negotiating the streets and was zipping about like a pro.
Quite a change to how daunted I felt last year.
It makes such a difference when you have maps and can get a feel for the directions.

We were up and away before 9am.
Picked up a data projectore for Jesika from and audio visual place.
Then zipped into Rivers to change Shanni’s top I had bought for her and found 2 more!
Picked up a few groceries for Marion before dropping the children there for the day.
Then drove to Jesik’as.
Nathan & Tania took the tram into the city for the day.
We took Jesika & Sasha – or should I say Jesika took us – she was in the drivers seat so fast I never got a look in.
We went to Lombards to get all the decorations for her party.
Robyn met us there with Anson and they took Tim & Nate away for the day.
They were going to have a BBQ at Mt Dandenong and go for a walk.
But it pelted down and they even got hail so they just had the food and came back intot he city.

We got the party food at Forest Hill Chase and then rushed back to Jesika’s at 2:30pm.
She hopped on her bike and we tried to keep up with her as she led us across the city to the Veneto Club where she now works and had to be for a 3pm meeting.

Robyn met us there with the guys and Jesika gave us a quick tiki tour of the place.
Nathan & Tim of course had to chat up the kitchen ladies.

Tim, Jesika, Nathan, Anson chatting with Robyn.

Outside the club.

Tim, me, Sasha, Nathan & Anson.

We left Jesika to her meeting.
Anson was staying with Robyn so they headed off back home.
I spent a couple of hours updating my blog at Jesika’s while the others watched a movie.
I went around to pick up the children a 6pm and then did a bit more blogging before leaving at 7pm.

We had the most frustrating cooking equipment in our cabin.
We kept blowing fuses.
We had a small oven with 2 elements on top. Plus a microwave, an electric jug and a toaster.
Everything would work ok as long as we didn’t use the oven at the same time.
And the oven needed about 3 hours to actually come to heat.
It made cooking dinner a very tedious occasion.

Anyway, we finally got our stir fry and steak cooked. N&T boiled up the potatoes for us in their cabin.
It meant that the children were not getting to bed until around 10pm.
Way too late for them after a busy day.
Nathan & Tania came up for a quick cuppa before we all hit the sack.