The closest accommodation to Walhalla we found at a decent price was Sue’s Bella Cottage in Darnum. A mere half an hour away, the road into Walhalla from Darnum is a beautiful, winding, rainforest drive.
Bella Cottage is situated on Sue’s farm and overlooks a valley. Quaint and rustic, the cottage itself, a standalone structure, looks as though it has been reconstructed from an old barn. It is not only a magnificent building, but it has a magnificent view. We missed sunset the night prior, but oh, boy was sunrise truly stunning.
We were most impressed by how much food Sue had thoughtfully left us in the fridge and fruit-bowl, as well as the array of face masks, soaps, and other products in the bathroom. We felt we definitely had received some bang for our buck, and we managed to use some of the food in the fridge for dinner and breakfast, with plenty left over.
As for the farm life, we didn’t get to participate in anything spectacular such as milking cows or collecting chicken eggs, but we did get to experience a night on a farm. With the cow paddock and dog barn right next to our cottage, we had a great time patting the animals (unbeknownst to Sue and family). Luke particularly loved Milly the cow, who would come up to him whenever he were nearby. We even experienced the wake up call of a rooster at sunrise!
The interior of the cottage is homely, with a cosy fireplace as the centrepiece in the main room. The bed was made neatly and colour-coordinated well with the carpet rugs. We also loved some of the minor decorations, such as farm-themed artworks (one of which was an aerial view of the farm itself), Australian books, and more!
In her description, Sue states that there is a river that runs behind the cottage which is nice to sit by and fish from. We didn’t take advantage of this while we were there but it would be a nice addition worth seeing if you stay there.
Sue herself was very friendly and incredibly understanding when I told her I thought I’d damaged something (whoops!). I felt incredibly at ease and safe staying in Sue’s cottage and I would definitely come back here!!
Rocky Hill Lookout and Memorial is a hidden albeit well-known gem in Goulburn.
The lookout shows off Goulburn with stunning views of the small town and beyond. It isn’t especially scenic but does provide an interesting vantage of the town as well as the opportunity to pay your respects to soldiers of The Great War. In saying this, the memorial tower stood as proud as a soldier, but was unfortunately closed when we went.
Also worth mentioning, my partner and I visited this lookout mid-winter and, being from the Central Coast, we did NOT expect how cold it would be. Seriously, do not get out of the car unless you are thoroughly rugged up (and I mean the full deal- long pants and a coat do not suffice!)
It was a lovely and well-kept memorial and lookout, with a nice view. Would be a perfect visit to pay respect to the ANZACs or for a beautiful landscape photography shot (I’ve heard it looks great at sunrise/ sunset!).
Hearing about the vandalism that occurred to Dog on the Tuckerbox overnight, both makes me angry to the bones and glad that we got to see it on our trip. (If you haven’t heard what happened, click here to find out). In light of this disgusting act, I wanted to share our trip to the Tuckerbox for those who have missed out and to also draw attention to what the Dog on the Tuckerbox was (or, maybe, is- if it will be restored!).
The Dog on the Tuckerbox was a beautiful piece of heritage located just five kilometres from Gundagai. Apart from the strong history associated with this place, as commemorated by the statue, it’s a great place to stop for a rest break with toilets, take out, and a gift store attached.
According to a sign near the statue, the Dog on the Tuckerbox was supposedly erected to memorialise “an incident that occurred to a teamster named Bill the Bullocky on the road to Gundagai in the 1850s”. After his wagon became bogged in a creek and one of the bullocks broke while he tried to drag the wagon out of the bog, Bill gave up and decided to have some lunch. It was in this moment he saw his dog sitting “-or worse-” on his tuckerbox. Apparently, all the other bullockies thought this was hilarious with one bullocky supposedly even writing a poem about the incident.
After reading this sign and taking a few touristy photos with the statue, we went inside for a meal. Luke ordered a burger. Unfortunately, it was overpriced, the order came out wrong, AND it had super basic ingredients. I had a milkshake that I also thought was quite overpriced. However, the take out is in a convenient location and, paired with the toilets, a great place to stop, as aforementioned.
We also thought the gift shop in general was overpriced; but it did have some lovely memorabilia that was unique to Gundagai. I bought a 3D postcard that I still think is the coolest postcard I have ever seen!
Hopefully the Dog on the Tuckerbox will be restored and the culprits caught. We loved this historical treasure, the story behind it, and appreciated the chance to stretch our legs.
Phillip Island is a gorgeous Australian ‘must-see’ just under two hours south from Melbourne. The island is known for its nightly penguin parade, seal colonies, and motorbike GP circuit, among other things.
We stayed at an Airbnb in Bass, just ten minutes from Phillip Island. Our hosts Ross and Tracey were outgoing, altruistic, and artistic; with these characteristics making our stay truly unique.
When we first entered the unit, we found a personalised note for us with a couple of chocolates. This made us feel very welcomed and really set the mood for our stay.
One of the small, yet very homely, ways that Ross and Tracey have made this place special is through the small pile of board games and books in the living room. This is perfect if you’re looking to kick-back and relax, and bond with your travel companion.
Ross and Tracey also run a café, Paul’s Table, adjacent to their Airbnb unit, out of their own home. They are all about community and hope to unite their customers in conversation. They achieve this by providing a single table that customers can sit around and talk, breaking the cycle that technology and the modern fast-paced society have created. To further illustrate that their café is focused on bringing people together rather than making money, everything on their menu is only $2.50.
Their café is decorated by beautiful Australian-themed artworks, painted by Ross himself. These add a sense of patriotism whilst giving a nod to the country roots of the café, adding homeliness to the space and giving it a touch that makes it stand out from other, everyday, city cafés.
(Fun fact: Paul’s Table Café was converted from an old police station to the modern and artistic building it is now!)
Unfortunately, the café is only open a few days a week (as pictured below), with the reason behind their limited trading hours being because Ross and Tracey work closely helping local people with disabilities on the days the café isn’t open. We were told they were helping one individual to exhibit his photography skills, and we had the good fortune of meeting another, who was learning how to make drinks and made us an excellent-quality cappuccino and hot chocolate.
Ross and Tracey went above and beyond by offering us tea/coffee from their café when we arrived and a massive breakfast the next morning consisting of scones, jam and cream, fruit toast and butter, and muesli with yoghurt. It really reflected in its taste that our breakfast had been lovingly and delicately homemade by them rather than bought from a shop…and we loved it!
All in all, we would say that our stay with Ross and Tracey exceeded expectations. Our Airbnb was truly remarkable, unique, and we were astonished at how kind-hearted and warm the couple was. We won’t be likely to forget our stay here soon and we hope to return some time in the future!
This is the basic itinerary of a road-trip from the Central Coast to Melbourne and back, recently completed by my partner Luke and I.
The trip ranges across 9 days, so we took advantage of all the must-see places and attractions in order to make the most of a short holiday! We would recommend taking this road-trip over a fortnight, if possible, in order to experience all these amazing places to their fullest. However, if taking more time off isn’t possible (like it wasn’t for me), we would suggest taking this trip in summer, as we found (since we went in winter) we were often chasing the sun, which rushed us along a bit.
Please click the hyperlinks to see more detail about specific aspects of our trip. ((These will be uploaded as they are ready)
Accomodation: Airbnb in Canberra (host wished to stay anonymous).
We travelled on a very overcast, winter day, and as a result drove alongside some of the most beautiful scenery. We stopped at multiple rest stops between Goulburn and Canberra to take in the views. Imagine: Rolling, gray-green hills being grazed by nonchalant sheep; speckled by gray-green trees, dotted with rusty brown leaves; and, distant windmill farms shrouded by low, misty clouds.
9pm: Walk down St Kilda pier to view Little Penguin colony
We had intended on driving through Bendigo, Castlemaine, and Maldon, but unfortunately made a wrong-turn that led to use by-passing these. This ended up being a blessing in disguise as we later only just made it to the Hanging Rock with enough time to skim the beautiful reserve before they locked the park.I’ve included these on the map. Consider splitting this part of the trip into two days.
10am: Shopping at Melbourne Central
2pm: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, pt. 1
5:00: Drinks and dinner at Lazerpig
7:30pm: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, pt. 2
We didn’t do this ourselves, however, after the Cursed Child would’ve been an opportune time to have a night out bar-hopping.
11:40: Historic train from Thomson Station to Walhalla Station
12: Lunch at Wally’s Pub, Walhalla
12:45: Walk through historic town; stopping in at the historic Post Office, Sweet Shop, feeding some wild King Parrots outside the Sweet Shop, and viewing historic buildings in the town such as the old Bank of Victoria.
1:30: Long Tunnel Extended Gold Mine Tour
2:45: Walk back to Thomson Station, via Tramline Path- Australian Alps Walking Track- Mormontown Track
3:45: Leave for Lakes Entrance via The Honeysuckles (1hr 40 mins) – Golden Beach (20 mins) – Lakes Entrance (2hrs)
We were travelling on a Sunday so our Airbnb host warned us that there may not be anywhere to eat in the vicinity of Lakes Entrance. We also didn’t see any food places along the 90 Mile Beach. Consequently, we stopped at a McDonaldson the way… so if McDonalds isn’t to your taste, we recommend taking your own dinner along.
If you choose to skip The 90 Mile Beach, the drive from Thomson Station to Lakes Entrance is only about 2.5 hours.
Day 8: Lakes Entrance to Jervis Bay
9.30am: Leave Lakes Entrance for Jervis Bay (7 hour drive)
12:30pm: Eden Lookout and Rotary Park
1:30pm: Lunch at Longstocking Brewery, Pambula
Dessert at Bodalla Dairy Shed
6:30: Arrive at Balan Village Motel (a Best Western), Bomaderry
Dinner at Chef Tony’s Modern Chinese Restaurant (attached to motel)
We chose to stay in Bomaderry due to the prices of accommodation around Jervis Bay, which meant we had to back-track about 35 minutes to spend the following day in Jervis Bay. We liked the motel, but not the area; so, with this in mind alongside the back-tracking, if we were to redo our choice of accommodation, we would’ve spent the extra money to stay in Jervis Bay.
Day 9: Jervis Bay to home
10am: Check out of motel
11am: Hyams Beach
12:00: Blenheim Beach
12:30 Huskinsson Beach and Moona Moona Creek
2:00 Abraham’s Bosom Reserve Walking Track
4:15: Leave for home via Grand Pacific Drive and Seacliff Bridge in Wollongong
Sunset at Kingsford-Smith Memorial Lookout
We only stayed on the Grand Pacific Drive until sunset, which for us was as we were driving past Kingsford-Smith Memorial Lookout. We then joined the fastest route home, via the Princes Highway. However, we plan on doing the full Grand Pacific Drive between Wollongong and home another time as it definitely looks like a must-do!
Split (2016) by M. Night Shyamalan is a psychological thriller/ horror film exploring themes associated with DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder) underpinned by ideas about abuse and the consequential emotional trauma. My initial expectations of this film were that it would unrealistically represent DID, be overwhelmingly scary, and be filled with ‘triggers’ (images that cause a person to have a negative mental reaction). However, I found this film to be enjoyable.
The film managed to successfully ‘show, not tell’ the psychology behind DID through Dr. Fletcher, who was the antagonist Kevin’s psychologist. This added to the film’s representation of DID as it depicted the disorder for what it is rather than allowing the audience to perceive Kevin merely as a ‘crazy psychopath’, which he was not. As Dr. Fletcher herself says, Kevin is more than an ordinary person because of the trauma he has survived in which his personalities each individually represent the malleability of the human psyche as a mechanism for coping with such. While I thought the film portrayed DID well (albeit exaggerating certain personas to be dramatic rather than realistic), I wish the film could have shown more of Kevin’s personalities than the six main ones (since he was described as having twenty-four personalities).
While the portrayal of someone with DID as a kidnapper is perhaps not a realistic generalised portrayal of someone with the disorder, it did make for good story. Likewise, the iconography of ‘The Beast’, while grossly exaggerating the capability of a DID personality, was an icon of horror for the characters within the film, including most of Kevin’s personalities, which stirred up audience anticipation as it built curiosity over what exactly ‘The Beast’ was.
As someone who does not handle horror well, I found the story bearable, only once being startled. Furthermore, despite the content of the film, I did not find it to have many triggering events. I myself only felt triggered once in the film, during a flashback, in which Kevin’s mum calls him by his full name “Kevin Wendell Crumb” as he is hiding from her under the bed and she is about to punish him for making a mess. Although, other scenes may trigger anyone who has been sexually assaulted. While I think this film exceeded my expectations in its approach to exploring concepts of abuse, I do not recommend the film to someone who does not handle grotesque images or who is easily triggered.
I loved this film. I would rate it 4 out of 5 stars.
The film was intelligently written and designed. The psychology behind Kevin and his personalities was well researched and applied and the flashbacks explaining the protagonist Casey’s backstory were brilliant and left me emotionally unhinged (in a good way).
What I disliked
The characterisation of two of the kidnapped girls, Claire and Marcia, made them feel like extras to the story. They seemed more vulnerable and incapable than they should have been. This felt like an attempt to contrast them with Casey and show how Casey was more intelligent and able to cope with the situation. Nonetheless, Claire and Marcia’s characterisation gave off a superficial feel to the characters which took away from the empathy one might feel for them in their situation.
N.B: This film is the second in a trilogy; the first film in the trilogy is Unbreakable (2000), also by Shyamalan. (I have not seen the first film and it is not necessary to view before viewing Split. Split closes on a cameo to a “Mr. Glass” in reference to Unbreakable).
Five and a half years ago I went to a Yoko Ono exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney. Ono’s artworks were all interactive and her overall theme was to encourage peace. This one artwork involved a suitcase and we, the audience, were meant to write on an envelope where in the world we would like to go and place the letter in this suitcase. On that day, I wished to go to England and in 2016 that dream came true!
My take on this is to always believe in what you wish for and never stop trying to make your dreams a reality!! One day YOUR dream will become true. As Dory would say “just keep swimming”… It may seem impossible but if you don’t lose sight of your goals, you will get there!
The Edge of Seventeen (2016) by Kelly Fremon Craig is an American ‘coming-of-age’ dramedy in which depression is explored as the central theme of the film. I found this film to be relatable, enjoyable, and engaging, and, though there was an aspect of the film I did dislike, I highly recommend the film.
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro explores an alternate reality in which the technology of cloning was developed during and after World War II. The book is set in the late 1990s in England. Narrated by the protagonist Kathy H., the plot follows the story of three Hailsham students: Kathy, her best friend Ruth, and Tommy. The plot is fairly linear, with Kathy’s narration beginning with her Hailsham years, then her time at the Cottages, and finally her life as a ‘carer’. At its root, Never Let Me Go examines the human condition and our acceptance of fate. The characters are slow to challenge their fate as ‘donors’ (in which they are required to donate their vital organs), and, even then, they only apply to have their donations deferred rather than what would be logical- to escape.
A lot of the negative reviews I’ve read about this book seem to stem from the fact the book doesn’t have a ‘happy ending’. I found that I have more respect for this book because of how it ends; I think it makes the story more realistic. Furthermore, despite the tragic fate of the book, the protagonist Kathy H. finds peace at the end, which if anything is, in its own way, a happy ending.
I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to readers who love science fiction, drama, or romance. The style of writing felt very mature, making the reading experience more enjoyable for me than the more amateur ‘young-adult’ styles that drown contemporary popular fiction. Additionally, the uniqueness of the first person narration style really added to the enjoyability of this novel.
Rating: 5/5. Give it a read – this is a book you won’t regret!