Public holidays in Melbourne are indeed quite precious – there are too little of them and they are all concentrated in the 1st half of the year. I guess it’s the trade-off for our 38-hour work week but when a public holiday comes along, it does seem like a bonus because it doesn’t happen often at all during the year!
And the perk about living in Melbourne is that there are places to explore just for a day trip, which makes up for a nice way to spend a public holiday!
So when a brother from church insisted that we visit him at Geelong where he works and is based at, we took the opportunity of Australia Day to make that trip. After all, it would only be a 45min drive away from Melbourne, with a whole day to spare, and a summer’s day at that as well… so why not?
I didn’t have much an expectation of Geelong – all I know about it is that it’s a name of a footy club! Haha. But this brother, Mr JZ totally talked it up and said that we were in for a Great Day Out. We just played along with him, going yea yea… we’ll visit you just to make you happy okay? cos’ we are nice people like that… haha.
So off in 2 cars, the 7 of us met Mr JZ at his fancy-cosy apartment by the beach, before taking a short drive down for brunch at Winter’s Cafe.
Ah brunch on a public holiday, in a beachside town, at a nice looking cafe… looks like a promising start!
It took awhile for the 7 of us to settle down – What’s nice here?… What does this thing on the menu mean?… Should we share?… I’m hungry!… Yea, I think we should share, we’re going for ice cream later right?… No, I’m getting my own… I’m hungry!!!… Okok we’ll share without you! – but yes, we finally got there ;)
The coffees, as pretty as they looked, unfortunately lacked the full-bodied taste. They tasted a little diluted, sadly.
But the not-so-nice-coffees could not dampen our high spirits, especially when the food arrived!
Some fancy-looking dish that Mr JZ picked….
I didn’t taste it but he quite enjoyed it, apparently. Doesn’t it look wholesome and healthy?
The dish that I shared with a sister, Ms NO…
We picked this dish because we thought it was the most value for money and especially since we wanted to save our tummies for more treats later (hehe). Look at how much we got even after we portioned the dish into two!
Overall, I thought it was a nice regular Aussie big brekky but Ms NO didn’t quite like the sausage. She thought that it tasted a little ‘weird’. Oh well!
And the dish that another brother, Mr JC picked, that caused everyone dish-envy…
The moment the dish was set down, everyone’s eyes popped at the size of the dish. There were probably about 5-6 beef ribs stacked on top of each other – what a massive dish! Mr JC kindly let everyone try abit of his beef ribs and it was delicious! The meat fell off the bone easily and it melted in the mouth. The seasoning of the beef was also lovely. Clearly the best pick of the day!
There seems to be a hippy laid-back vibe in this cafe, with lots of vegetarian and salad options available in the menu. The dishes were probably not as creative as those that you would find in the metropolitan Melbourne cafes and the coffees were definitely a little lacking. But overall, the food was satisfying – it’s nice to know that you can get a decent brunch outside of Melbourne on a roadtrip!
After filling our tummies, it was time to explore Geelong!
We walked to the end of the pier and sat on it for awhile, baking in the sun, chatting and taking in the views.
And 1 or 2 of the locals dropped by as well ;)
After we had enough of baking under the sun, we carried on walking by the sea, heading towards the beach.
We were actually thinking of taking a ride on the ferris wheel as it was only $8 per ride. But at that time, it was too hot and we thought we would come back later in the evening. But alas we didn’t make it… more on that later.
The afternoon heat was actually in full blast at this stage, with the temperature peaking at 36 degrees that day – yikes! But that didn’t stop Ms NO, Mr JC and Mr DC from playing some beach volleyball!
While the 3 of them played, the rest of us were happy to wade in the sea… ah, what a nice way to cool off!
After they were done with their beach volleyball, we walked further down the beach. There were actually lots of stalls along the beach and the entire beach was buzzing – clearly, we weren’t the only ones thinking of a beach getaway on a public holiday!
And then the highlight that Mr JZ forgot to tell us about – Eastern Beach Reserve, a public waterfront playground, complete with a diving tower!!!
Our Geelong local didn’t realise how popular the waterfront playground was and didn’t mention to us that it was FREE. So we didn’t bring our swimsuits and could only look at the happy crowd in the waters wistfully – oh it was so tempting to jump in the waters in this 36 degrees heat!
But guys being guys, could just get away with emptying their pockets and taking off their shoes and shirts on their backs. So after entrusting their wallets and handphones to us, Mr JZ and DC happily ran off to take the leap of their lives (ok, maybe not)…
After much exposure in the sun, it was high time to look for some shade… and some froyo!!
After walking under the heat for another 10minutes, we found this neat little froyo shop just by the waterfront, Mix & Go Froyo.
By that time, we were so hot that the sight of the froyo machines got us so excited! Trust me, my hands were trembling as I took that above shot. Hurhur.
The rest could not contain themselves and got 1 regular cup each for themselves. But between the 4 of us, we shared a large cup…
We got the fruity flavours, Mango and Strawberry, and topped up with some fresh fruits. The yoghurt was not too sweet and it had the right texture of the creamy soft serve but not overly heavy.
For a moment, there was an air of relieved silence as we dug into our froyos. The froyo totally hit the spot for us and it was such a treat in this blazing heat!
And to escape the afternoon heat, we spent the rest of the afternoon in Mr JZ’s apartment, playing games until it was time for dinner.
For dinner, Mr JZ recommended this Japanese restaurant, Oishii Japan. Again, he hyped it up by describing some of the dishes as ‘mind-blowing’ and ‘life-changing’ (haha it’s so hard to take this guy seriously at times…). And again, we played along… Okay okay, if you say so…
So before we started our dinner proper, we decided to surrender our handphones, to make sure that we were face-timing and not being anti-social! haha.
First up, we had the soft shell crab tempura…
The tempura batter was not too soggy which was good. And soft shell crab… mmm… do I need to say more?
Next up, was the ‘mind-blowing’ dish that Mr JZ raved about…
There was a moment of silence as all of us dug into our scallops with much contemplation. And the verdict?…
…Okay, we gotta give it to Mr JZ for this – the scallop was cooked beautifully. It was plump, juicy and the natural sweetness of the scallop was retained. The hollandaise was also not overly creamy and did not overpower the juices of the scallop. We were literally licking the sauce off the shell! The fish roe and spring onion also added a nice crunchy texture to the softness of the scallop. Yes, this dish was definitely mind-blowing ;)
With the bar set, we eagerly dug into our next dishes…
Mr JZ termed these sushi rolls as ‘life-changing’ but sadly, most of us found them pretty normal… haha. I mean, the sushis were nice but not exactly to the extent of ‘life-changing’. Oops!
Another main dish that we ordered/shared…
The meat was not as tender as I wanted. But it was a nice decent steak and the wasabi mash was quite unique.
And what’s a Japanese dinner without a sushi platter?
I love the variety of sushi on the platter and the raw fish was fresh. Mmmm the sashimi just melted in the mouth… Everyone enjoyed the platter!
And to end off the meal on a sweet note!
The pastry was a little hard and not as flaky. But the green tea ice cream was lovely and went really well with the azuki red bean and the fresh strawberry for a touch of sourness.
And last but not least…
Mr JZ said that this was his favourite dessert at this restaurant and this was recommended on the menu. However, the chocolate fondant that day was not as good as he remembered it to be. We also found that the fondant did not have as much chocolate oozing out and personally, I could not really taste the salted caramel in it. Overall, it was a pleasant dessert but not the best chocolate fondant – would totally love any recommendations for a nice fondant with gooey rich chocolate ready to ooze out!
The service at the restaurant was also a little slow and because of that, dinner was extended and we could not make it for the last ferris wheel ride :(
So we had to content ourselves with walking along the beach 1 last time, under the lights along the pier and making our way back to our cars… bidding goodbye to Mr JZ and Geelong.
So as Mr JZ pushed to us from the beginning, our daytrip to Geelong did turn out to be a Great Day Out after all! With good food, good summer weather, beach sights and great company, it was not such a bad way to spend a precious public holiday was it? ;)