We know Australia custom & immigration won't be so easy for us. Especially, we are number one illegal immigrants there and I heard about the stories of 6 girls that have been denied at boarding gate to go to the Perth. So we came prepared. Alhamdulillah, we got our visa easily. I applied on Saturday and got approval on Sunday. What a relief. Then we asked our HR to issue us confirmation letter that we are working and not going to be apple pickers as well as printed the itinerary and even bank account summary. I even bought a clear file to put all the details inside. So when we got there, at first the officer asked us to go to the gate but unfortunately, I can't go through so I when to the counter instead. I have my file ready to be shown to the immigration officer and within 2 minutes, she just looked at me and stamp my passport. No, questions asked whatsoever and I'm kind of baffled but happy. Then we have to wait more that 15 minutes to get our bag and then the second hurdle begins, the custom. Gulp! As we declare that we bring some medicines so we were asked to go to another section and the officer just asked if we got any food and we said no. So, the officer just let as pass through the green lane. So the whole thing just take up 30 minutes and and most of the time, we were waiting for our bags. When we got through to our freedom, I heard one of the officer said to an Indian lady, "This is herb" as she shown it to her angrily and we hurried get away from the scene.We bought Telstra for AUD 10 simcard with 2GB Data and it last until the end of the trip. We took Skybus from Tullamarine Airport to Southern Cross Station and it cost us AUD 28 per person for round trip. We bought it from Klook. Original price would be around AUD 37 for return and we saved AUD 9 for the trip. When we arrived at Southern Cross Station, we took a taxi to go to the hotel as it was late and we are so tired already.
So the next day, we went to the convenience store to get something for breakfast and walk to the tour office. It just 10 minutes from our hotel. It was super cold around 9C and we just moving around so warm our bodies. We met some of the tourist and most of them are Chinese descent (hence Chinese speaking tour) but one of them say hi and speak Malays to us. So there are from Indonesia and also Malaysia. So when we get into the bus, and true enough we are the only hijabis there and the tour leader realized it. As much as she can, she tried to mix English and Chinese explanation and we were very thankful for it.
Our first stop is Brighton Bathing Boxes. It situated at Brighton Beach and here you can see there are 82 distinctive bathing boxes, a row of uniformly proportioned wooden structures lining the foreshore of the beach. Mind you then we went early in the morning and there are still many people there. So you have to take turn to take photos in front of the boxes. So, we just when to the boxes that doesn't have people and just took the photo. We just spend around 30 minutes here and for me it more than enough unless you want to take photo with all the 82 boxes, then you might want to spend more time there.
Then we went for lunch at Grants Picnic Ground and it was just a lovely place. They have restaurant with souvenir shop and surrounding by greenery forest. We just ordered pumpkin soup and garlic bread and it was delicious and fulfilling.
Nest stop is Puffing Billy. At first we are not able to go in as there is a construction and the tour guide have to call the station to say that we are going to be late. Actually, it is not only us got stuck but got other tour buses also. After a while, the driver manage to find small road leading to the station and we were hurried to go to the train. So, what is so special about Puffing Billy's train? Puffing Billy is a steam train and is one of the finest preserved steam railways in the world. This century old steam train is still running on its original 24 kilometre mountain track from Belgrave to Gembrook, through the beautiful forests and fern gullies of the Dandenong Ranges. As for us, we only goes to 3 or 4 stations from Lakeside to Menzie's Creek. As the train is the open-sided carriages, so they are the best way to see the stunning views and previously, you can even dangle your legs over the side of the carriages but I think got accident, so that is why they didn't allowed it anymore.
The scenery was great. We went through greenery forest and small villages and a piece of you wondering how do people live here. We saw a glimpse of people's daily life and even children and adults are waving at us when we passed by. Maybe because the next coach is full with school children and to see they laughing and waving, it just pure joy. To be honest, it was the most peaceful thing I've ever done as looking through the open window and feels the cold breeze. It just so amazing. I will definitely ride it again if I have a chance.
Our next stop is actually quite scary, I think it just a bonus stop as we still have time. It is William Rickett's Sanctuary. William Ricketts is an artist, who remembered by his works at this forest sanctuary for his clay sculptures. Most of his subjects are about native indigenous people. So, you can see that some of the sculptures are NSFW and it is in the forest. So don't come at night. My friend and I just go through one round and get back in the the bus. Luckily that the bus has free wifi so we have time to upload some photos in social media.
Our last stop is at SkyHigh. At an elevation of 630m, it is the highest natural viewing point in the whole of Victoria, affording staggering views of Melbourne’s skyline across to Port Philip Bay and beyond. So from here you can see the whole Melbourne and the view is quite nice.
After completed the tour, we went for dinner at Pondok Rempah. It was busy night but the food is not bad. Then we still have time to go to Chemist Warehouse. To tell you the truth, this is my favourite place in Australia. You can get cheap original perfume here as well as medicines. We just wondering around figuring out what to buy as today is not shopping day yet. Actually, I can stay here all day, seriously.
So, we when back to hotel, refresh and wash some clothes before going to bed. The first day went great and tomorrow is Malaysia's Independence Day and we are going for a long trip. We are going to Great Ocean Road. So stay tune!
|Cute bathing box|
|There are 82 boxes along the beach|
|Restaurant / Souvenir shop at Grants Picnic Ground|
|Lunch of the day|
|You can go hiking here|
|You also can get close with birds with small fee|
|Attractions around Dandenong Ranges National Park|
|Looks sunny but still cold.|
|Our first station|
|Steam train full with school children|
|Cute train driver|
|Don't come at night!|
|Melbourne from Sky High|
|Dinner of the day|