GPK Erina Fair

GPK (Gourmet Pizza Kitchen) is, as the name suggests, a pizzeria located in the Hive at Erina Fair. GPK also serves pastas and alcoholic beverages; and is conveniently located near Hoyts, if one wishes to follow food with a trip to the movies.

Food

I ordered the Bacon & Mushroom pasta. I thought the meal was average. While it wasn’t bad, the pasta lacked the oomph that would have made it delicious.

My friends, who ordered a variety of pizzas and pastas, also found their meals to be bland.

2.5/5.

Drinks

I ordered a piña colada.

I thought the drink was thicker than other piña coladas I’ve had in the past, however I still enjoyed the taste of it. Despite the piña colada containing white rum and myself being a bit of a light weight, I never felt even the slightest bit tipsy, which does make me wonder if they forgot to add the alcohol… but, hey, maybe I was just having a heavy weight kind of day *shrug*.

Meanwhile, a friend of mine, who considers herself a piña colada connoisseur found the drink lacked the pineapple-y taste that usually characterises piña coladas, and she agreed that it was a bit thick.

2.5/5.

Service

We were served by the owner and we found the service exceptional!

My friend had a voucher for two free pizzas… and we somehow ended up with four free pizzas! One of these extra pizzas was due to kitchen forgetting to leave off an ingredient. They caught the mistake themselves, so the pizza wasn’t brought out to us before they offered to give it to us anyway. A friend that joined us later in the evening ended up eating this pizza rather than buying one for herself. The other extra free pizza was because a friend went home sick… His leaving had nothing to do with GPK, yet they offered us a free pizza anyway!

On top of this, the owner was funny (or as funny as you may find some lame dad jokes). He made the night enjoyable for our group.

5/5.

Overall

While we found the food and drinks to be very average, GPK’s service was some of the best I have seen. Altogether, I rate GPK 6.6/10.

St Kilda’s Pier

A hidden gem in the heart of Melbourne, St Kilda’s Pier is lovely for an evening or night-time stroll. The pier is, in my opinion, one of Melbourne’s best kept secrets.

Why?

Because it is the home of a Little Penguin colony as well as the Rakali (water rats). To boot, entry is free of charge!

About 1,400 penguins live on the breakwater at any given time. The breakwater is located on the pier, if you continue to the left of the kiosk. The best time to view the penguins is 30 minutes after sunset, however, in saying this, we strolled down the pier around 10pm and we still saw plenty of penguins and one Rakali (who scared the heck out of us since we didn’t realise that there were water rats living in the rocks here).

When planning your visit, consider that you will see the greatest number of penguins between October and April, and if you visit between November and December you will also see some baby chicks. We went at the end of July, which was beneficial for us as there weren’t many other tourists to compete with and, as aforementioned, we still encountered much of the wildlife.

Most tourists will travel to nearby Phillip Island to see the Little Penguins for their nightly march back to their burrows. We did both encounters. Our experience was that both viewings were unique and we would recommend everyone do both if possible. Our favourite aspect of the St Kilda Pier experience was that we were able to get up close to the wildlife (yet keeping more than three metres away) – and it was free. To think that a colony of penguins chooses to live on an inner-city beach is truly mind-blowing; for such a shy species to willingly live so close to humans inspires me to consider that perhaps humans aren’t so bad after all. 

The Little Penguin colony located here is managed and cared for by Earthcare St Kilda. A volunteer penguin guide is present every night to ensure tourists don’t harm the penguins by abiding by the rules they have set up to protect the penguins. These are:

  • No handling or feeding of the penguins
  • No flash photography of the penguins
  • No torches to be shone on the penguins without a red filter over the front
  • No dogs past the entry gate into the penguin viewing area, trained assistance dogs excepted
  • No climbing or sitting on the rocks
  • No littering, please take your litter with you
  • Keep at least 3m away from penguins moving around the viewing area

While people are generally respectful and mindful of the penguins’ welfare, unfortunately a fence was erected over the breakwater in July 2017 to protect the colony due to some harmful behaviour.

Seeing the penguins up close was honestly a treat I will never forget and an experience I highly recommend! 

In lieu of the free encounter, I would advocate making a small donation to Earthcare St Kilda for their work at St Kilda Pier. There is a donation pole at the kiosk on the pier or you can alternatively donate here.

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Photo credit: Pictures taken by Synchronous Photography & Editing

Breakout Bar and Escape Rooms

Luke and I recently visited Breakout Bar and Escape Rooms in Wollongong because they were closing down their Ancient Egypt -themed room The Tomb (to make way for a new room!).

Décor

The escape rooms are designed around the story of the mad Professor B, and this theme is reflected in the unique décor of the bar. As both a nerd and a romantic, as well as someone who just generally appreciates good art, I felt like I was right in my element.

5/5.

Drinks

Of course, I had their Cleopatra cocktail. Concocted from Four Pillars, lemon, and Pimms, it was one of the nicest cocktails I’ve ever had.

Luke had their Lava Lava beer. Despite the sheer force of lava (and its sourness), he somehow survived!

5/5.

The Escape Room

You can read all about the escape room here. In summary, we loved it.

5/5.

Board Games

In the corner of the bar, we found some board games stacked on top of a piano. After many years, we decided to ignite some childhood nostalgia by versing each other at the notorious game of Guess Who?. I’d like to say I won, but I’m fairly sure he bested me 3/3.

I love that Breakout Bar & Escape Rooms have board games available. I feel like it’s something that sets them apart from other bars we’ve been to.

5/5.

Overall

An outstanding bar with an ingenious concept. Definitely worth visiting!

10/10.

Accommodation in Lake Bunga

We stayed at Lake Bunga in Lakes Entrance as it was halfway between Walhalla and Jervis Bay, so a good resting place for us. My understanding is that Lakes Entrance isn’t a massive tourist destination but there are some lovely views of lakes, beaches to visit, and a quick Google search shows that it does have some noteworthy activities. We didn’t spend any time doing activities here – For us, Lakes Entrance was just a stop over.

We chose Alan’s Airbnb for affordability. We saw on his listing that his house had a lovely view of Lake Bunga and this was enough to excite us. However, we found Alan’s Airbnb to be much better than expected. He really went above and beyond with his effort in making sure we left satisfied and had the best possible trip. One thing I loved is that Alan responded to my messages quickly; giving me a much-appreciated tip-off about the best place to stop for fuel and warning me that most eateries would be closed by the time we arrived. He also added to our itinerary by giving us a tourist pamphlet and circling some scenic places to stop, great places to eat, etc. We actually did take his advice too, stopping in Eden at the lookout where we saw a seal flipper sticking out of the ocean and grabbing lunch from Longstocking Brewery in Pambula where we unexpectedly had a lot of fun with their attached petting zoo.

We had a great chat with Alan about his travels as well. He is a retired teacher, who spent the latter years of his career working in international schools around Asia. As such, his home is decorated with Asian artefacts and art pieces. We found this a real treat as both Luke and I come from caucasian backgrounds and haven’t been exposed to much Asian art, so it was quite culturally enhancing for us.

We would definitely recommend staying with Alan if you’re travelling through the Lakes Entrance area. He really goes above and beyond to help you make the most of your travels and he is great to converse with.

Book your Airbnb accommodation here and receive $55 AUD off your booking! If you want to stay with Alan, search ‘Lake Bunga’ and then select the listing ‘Quiet Lake Bunga Home with a View’.

Click my itinerary here to view ‘must see’ stops on your way to Lakes Entrance.

Photo credit: Pictures not taken by me were taken by Synchronous Photography & Editing