The many wonders of the Great Ocean Road

Apart from the 12 Apostle Gourmet Trail, the Great Ocean Road is also known for its many scenic and picturesque sights! On my recent trip to Melbourne, Australia, we dropped by a couple of stops along it to enjoy the many wonders!

Our first scenic stop along the Great Ocean Road was The Grotto. A five-minute ride from our accommodation at Peterborough, The Grotto showcases a small open cave that looks into the ocean. The return journey from the carpark to The Grotto, steps included, is about 750 metre. It is definitely worth the walk down the steps as the base of it lies a stunning view of the ocean – it is as though you’re looking into the ocean with a natural photo frame!

The Grotto

The London Bridge was our next stop which was just another five-minute drive away. This single bridge view used to be a double-spanning bridge which linked to the mainland but the connecting surface linking to the mainland collapsed in 15 January 1990 – a good 30 years ago. What used to be a full stack now remains a bridge, with the centre portion of the base being eroded over the years. The return trip from the carpark to the attraction is less than 500 metres and the view is worth the short walk!

The London Bridge

Our third scenic stop was the Loch Ard Gorge. With four trails to choose from, my family and I went for the easiest trail where we overlooked The Razorback – a very large limestone stack with sharp edges and bumps on the surface. The lower section of it is, however, very smooth as it has been well-eroded by the waves that come in every 14 seconds, over a period of about a thousand years. With its straight and smooth top section, it actually looks like a very flat-surfaced cement block!

The Razorback (Loch Ard Gorge)

Our final scenic stop along the Great Ocean Road was the Twelve Apostles. Having been here a good 11 years ago, walking back here brought back memories! Some of these limestone monuments have stood the test of time and remained, but some have since collapsed, the most recent collapse of one was in 2005. The return walk from the carpark to the viewing point is around 700 metres, with the option of walking a little further for an even better view. This attraction also has a small kiosk which sells coffee and collectibles.

Thoughts

Driving along the Great Ocean Road brought back many memories, and it is no wonder how this coastal road welcomes more than 1.2 million visitors annually.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, travellers are advised against visiting these national parks and attractions, and the 12 Apostles attraction is among the list of attractions that have been closed till further notice.

Breezing through COVID-19 with these online resources

Regardless of where you are right now, I am sure that the COVID-19 situation is impacting you in one way or another right now. From countries going under lockdown, to various quarantine measures and working from home, I won’t be surprised if many of you are actively looking for activities for you, or for children.

Here’s a quick compilation on some of the sites I’ve come across that may be of interest to you, or those around you!

Videos and Shows

Photo by Lars Nissen from Pexels
  1. Netflix – original shows, TV series, documentaries and variety shows. You can try it out for a month for free, and a monthly subscription fee applies after.
  2. Prime Video – original shows, TV series and more, not as wide a range as Netflix but has some shows that Netflix doesn’t! It comes free for a month, and if you have an Amazon Prime membership, it’s free for you as well. Else, there’s a monthly subscription as well.
  3. Broadway Musicals – with theatres and musical halls closed during this period, why not watch some of them online? They are currently offering a seven-day free trial followed by a paid subscription.
  4. Virtual Disney World – this is a YouTube channel that has uploaded the different experiences in Disney World. From watching a Disney tour to the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, you can experience it all here! If you have a VR headset, plug your phone in and experience Disney World easily!

Reading/ Audiobooks

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  1. Audible – an initiative by Amazon is allowing children and teens free access to Audible, an audiobook site that has titles ranging from Winnie the Pooh to C.S. Lewis’ Surprised by Joy. Through this period of school closure, the site is granting free access to its books! If you have an existing membership with them, they will pause the membership during this duration for you as well.
  2. SCRIBD – a platform that has books, magazines, audiobooks and documents. During this season, they have granted 30 days of free access to the site, and no credit card is required to enjoy this privilege.

Exercise

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  1. Zumba! Burn it up – if you own a Nintendo switch, you can get this game on the Nintendo eshop! It’s fun, and has short classes that you can follow easily.
  2. Ready Set Sweat Challenge – a series of HIIT classes that you can follow for free, in the comfort of your own home!

Thoughts

There are many more online resources available for free at this moment in time, and it is comforting to see how many companies are stepping up and providing access to others as we tide through this crisis.  Now, enjoy and let’s have some fun during this period!

#stayhome #staysafe

Jewel a gem even during this period!

COVID-19 is sweeping the globe by storm, and many retailers are reeling from the effects of a drop in consumer spending as a result of a reduction of footfall in malls.

View of Jewel at night

Changi Airport’s Jewel, which was packed during its opening last year, was pretty quiet last night. Considering that it is the school holidays in Singapore, this is definitely not the norm or what its tenants had hoped for. Various travel restrictions imposed on the border have also affected the number of incoming passengers.

Most shops were opened but some had revised hours while others remained close during this period.

The Apple store was closed and will remain so until further notice. Lavender, a Malaysian bakery in Basement 2, also announced that it was closed till April 1, after the lifting of the ban from Malaysia on March 31. The Body Shop was closed when we walked past around 930pm though official hours stated that it closes at 10pm.

Notice of closure of Lavender

These closures aside, Jewel is still an incredibly attractive mall. I encourage locals to visit and support the shops during this period. Some of the attractions worth visiting include Canopy Park, Canopy Bridge, Sky nets (bouncing and walking), Hedge Maze, Mirror Maze, and Changi Experience Studio.

During my visit yesterday, we explored the Canopy Park which links many of the attractions. It has a Topiary Walk which displays animals in the form of floral and fauna, foggy bowls (the mist wasn’t turned on for health safety reasons I think), and Discovery Slide (only one was open). These attractions are free to access from now till March 31. On top of that, you’ll enjoy spectacular views of Jewel from here!

Let’s support our local malls during this period, but please practise social responsibility! It doesn’t hurt that Jewel provides free three-hour parking (with a minimum spend of $10 in a single receipt)!

12 Apostle Gourmet Trail

The 12 Apostles Gourmet Trail, as its name suggests, sits along the Great Ocean Road near the 12 Apostles), and was curated to allow visitors to experience the wonderful artisan food and beverage around the area. What’s great is that many of these places offer food tastings (for a fee), and sell local products that are exclusive to the region.

12 Apostle Gourmet Trail

Of the 16 available recommended places (some places are opened only in specific seasons and time), my family and I visited four – Timboon Cheesery, Timboon Ice Cream, GORGE Chocolate, and Apostle Whey Cheese.

Timboon Cheesery

A small set-up with a garden in the surroundings. This is a lovely place to walk around on a cool day. We paid AUD$1/Pax for a simple cheese tasting session. Apart from tasting the cheeses that they produce, they also have samples of jams and sauces that are from the area. The lady explained the different cheeses to us, and it was a pretty good variety – but none really appealed to us, so we left empty-handed, but we enjoyed the experience.

Timboon Fine Ice Cream

Five scoops of ice cream + Toppings + Chocolate Sauce!

A very modern ice cream parlour in the midst of the quiet town of Timboon with wonderful ice cream! From flavours like ginger, to fruity and our regular chocolate flavours, ice cream produced by this ice cream shop was spectacular. It was so good that we came back the next day for another daily dose of ice cream!

GORGE Chocolate

About a 20-minute drive from Port Campbell, GORGE chocolate prides itself for its range of chocolates that are made with Belgium chocolate. There is a very wide variety of chocolate types, which are all sold in small packets. They did have some chocolate-tasting, but it was well-controlled by the staff. The chocolate which I bought – the honeycomb chocolate – was really good – fluffy honeycomb with a good dark chocolate covering. This shop also sells products that are from the area, including llama-related ones.

Apostle Whey Cheese

From GORGE Chocolate, there was a sign that directed us to Apostle Whey Cheese which was a 3-minute drive away! Similar to Timboon Cheesery, Apostle Whey Cheese offered a cheese tasting session at AUD$1/Pax.

This experience was unique and we really enjoyed the variety of cheeses – soft to hard cheeses, that were presented in a very orderly manner. Each party was given a slip of paper with the list of cheeses to which we were going to sample, and it was used for us to circle the cheeses we really liked (helped when we wanted to purchase them!) The cheeses here are very fresh, and all made within the Apostle Whey Cheese compound. There is a small viewing gallery where we saw the owner processing the cheese!

We eventually bought the garlic and herb cheese as well as the brie (which they had recently won an award for). Reasonably priced and really nice, Apostle Whey Cheese is a must-visit!

Thoughts

The Great Ocean Road definitely wins for its scenic views, and the addition of the 12 Apostle Gourmet trail makes this route even more exciting. It is well-curated, and definitely can appeal to people of all ages. If you’re looking to add some spice into your trip along the Great Ocean Road, be sure to check this out!

Delicious Wallet-Friendly Chocolates from Australia

I’ve just returned from a trip to Melbourne Australia and would like to share some chocolate snacks that I feel are worthy to be mentioned!

Tim Tam by Arnotts

This is a well-known inexpensive staple for visitors and locals alike. Available in almost every international grocery store globally, Tim Tam is definitely worth a mention, especially if you’re visiting Australia as there are SO MANY OTHER FLAVOURS available in Australia which are sadly not readily-available overseas. The original Tim Tam is a classic – chocolate cream is sandwiched between two chocolate biscuits which is then coated in another layer of chocolate (talk about chocolate overdose!). It is a sweet, crunchy, yet light snack that many adore.

Two of the flavours I chanced upon this trip includes the Manuka and Honey Cream Tim Tam and Gisborne Orange and Dark Chocolate. These flavours are part of Arnott’s Crafted Collection, a new collection that was just introduced to the market in February 2020.

The Manuka and Honey Cream Tim Tam was delicious. Instead of having a chocolate cream filling, this was replaced with manuka and honey cream which gave it an equally sweet, yet different flavoured taste. Eaten at room temperature, the filling was soft and creamy on the inside, and it pairs so well with the chocolate outer-coating.

The Gisborne Orange and Dark Chocolate was interesting, but not as fascinating only because a similar orange flavoured Tim Tam used to be available market as well. It’s good, and if you’re a lover of orange chocolate, this should be added to your must-buy list.

At A$3.65, these biscuits are definitely a classic.

Tortina by Loacker

Loacker carries this product, and similar to Arnotts, the brand is pretty well-known globally, especially for its wafer biscuits. However, this product, Tortina, is one of my favourites under this brand!

It has two crispy biscuits, wrapping a smooth hazelnut cream and is coated with a layer of chocolate. This product does sound familiar to Tim Tam but tastes very different as the texture of the biscuits are on the crispier, wafer-y side. If you are a nut lover, this cream filling makes this chocolate-coated biscuit such a treat!

During this trip, I chanced upon the dark chocolate version, and it’s even nicer than the original as the dark chocolate makes the snack less sweet overall. This is an inexpensive treat and costs A$4 for a box.

Thoughts

Arnotts and Loacker are chocolate brands that aren’t new to many, but the flavours that are available in Australia definitely won me over during this trip. What makes it even more worth-while is the fact that these products are all wallet-friendly!

Have your cake and eat it!

While scrolling through my Instagram stories recently, there was an advertisement on AnnaBella Patisserie’s Crunchy Hazelnut Chocolate cake, and I bought it – but what drew me to it? Firstly, it had the elements I like in my cake – chocolate, hazelnut and feuilletine. Secondly, the advertisement showed a 50% off the price, with free delivery!

Here’s a quick review of what I like (non-cake areas):

Delivered – Crunchy Hazelnut Chocolate Cake by AnnaBella Patisseri
  1. Delivery was good and came according to the time slot I arranged it. I forgot the timing and the delivery guy called me to check where he could leave it – honestly quite a polite guy!
  2. Cake came with the decorations on the side – I liked this idea as it ensures that the macrons that were supposed to be on the cake did not turn soggy when left on the layer of chocolate glaze. Also, it allows one to get creative on how you want to place it on the cake.
  3. Candles were provided too! I did not request for it as the cake was just meant for dessert, but I was happy that they delivered some over. This is good to note, especially when ordering for a birthday.

Now for the review of the edibles!

  1. Chocolate glaze on the top was not too sweet and had a hint of dark chocolate hazelnut flavor.
  2. The layers of cake were soft and fluffy – for a cake that has to be eaten while cold, I’m glad that the cake did not harden too much and provided a lovely texture.
  3. The feuilletine was the icing on the cake – technically it was right at the bottom – but you get the point. This crunchy layer added that additional crunch to the cake which was AMAZING. On its own, feuilletine doesn’t taste much – but in a chocolate hazelnut cake, this layer ensures that the cake gets its additional texture and ‘feels’.
  4. Macarons given were really sweet (but that’s how they usually are!) – the dark chocolate filling helped ease a bit of the sweetness which made it more appealing (Forgot to take a photo of this but they were slightly smaller than an average macaron).

Would I buy this cake again? Yes, I definitely will if it’s priced at its promotional price of $29.80. The cake can feed 8 – 12 pax and for a dense cake like this, 12 small slices is sufficient! I find it a tad too expensive if it’s bought at its original price and will go for the Four Leaves Coco Exotic cake instead if I’d like a chocolate hazelnut cake.

You can purchase the cake here if you like! Straight-forward experience in purchasing the cake~