Mr Rosanna and I booked a last-minute holiday at McCrae a couple of weeks ago for this Australia Day long weekend and boy, we’re sure glad we did. It was our first time using Airbnb and we booked 1A on McCrae located right behind the Blue Bay cafe (popular with cyclists and dog owners) in the little strip of cafes and restaurants off the service road near the Nepean Highway.Our accommodation was pretty simple and basic but what it lacked in style it made up for in terms of convenience being right across the road from the beach and walking distance to the shops and cafes including the very groovy Merchant & Maker, pop up pizza restaurant Zero 95 (whose flagship restaurant is in Templestowe!) and the stylish and upmarket modern Greek restaurant Alatonero (above). We had pizza and gelati the night we arrived in McCrae at Zero 95, both of which were very good.
We spent Australia Day morning on the beach in front of the bathing boxes before treasure hunting at the Rosebud Vintage Bazaar where I found a vintage Chinese silk jacket and Japanese dress. It’s a great place to while a few hours away and has a retro cafe attached to it if you get hungry. If you like 50s style fashion, you might also like the clothes from local label Pretty Parcel.
In the evening, we joined the throngs of people at Rye who’d come to enjoy the carnival rides, live music and fireworks on the beach, which were spectacular. We were so close we could feel the ground vibrating and if we held out our hands, it was like we were touching the fireworks (below). It was well worth it just for the experience as much as I missed out on coffee from the Woodland Folk van as we dashed across to the beach from the Ferris Wheel ride at the carnival.
The next day we joined my cousins, who happened to be down on the peninsula at the same time, at the Ashcombe Maze. Our kids had a great time running around trying to find the hidden gnomes around the place. If you have bigger kids, the nearby Enchanted Adventure Garden where you can tree surf looks like a lot of fun but allow 2 – 3 hours for it if you go. That night we took our kids to the Dromana Drive In to watch Moana which was also a great experience for Mr R and I re-living our childhoods complete with Aussie rock music playing in the background. It felt even more 1970s when a blonde surfer couple, both with long hair and faded jeans, pulled up in their van beside us and then walked to the nearby playground pulling some pretty rad moves with their white frisbee.
We spent Saturday morning trying the new Eagle Skylift at Arthur’s Seat, which has replaced the chairlift and has only been open since November last year. It’s not cheap ($78 for a family of 4) for a 15 minute ride up and 15 minutes back, but you can buy single trip tickets and the views are stunning. The cafe is up the top if you’re wanting a bite to eat while there’s only a kiosk at the bottom. Go early to avoid the crowds, heat and wind but remember they do make you get off at the bottom and re-queue even if you have a return ticket. The complimentary water and sunscreen is a nice touch as well as the entertainment (busker and balloon artist) at the bottom.
While we didn’t get the opportunity to visit Marlene Miller Antiques in Sorrento, we did drop into the Marion Rosetzky Gallery in Red Hill, which is located in a beautiful bushland setting where you can buy Marion’s Persian-inspired tiles in various forms. There’s also a selection of jewellery, Buddhas, glassware and Fair Trade products from Africa and other places.
On our last night in McCrae we went to the early dinner sitting at Alatonero, which was empty when we arrived before being packed out within a matter of 5 – 10 minutes. The food was sensational – we had the saganaki, chargrilled octopus and pan-fried calamari as starters followed by the 18 hour slow-roasted lamb with a Greek salad. There is also a kids menu and choc tops on offer for them for dessert. Drinks service was a little slow but we found out later that they were down one staff member, who’d called in sick.
We spent our last day on the peninsula at Point Leo as we met friends who are surfers. We grabbed a bite to eat at the Point Leo General Store next to the Trigger Brothers surf shop before entering Raw’s Reserve where it’s $4 to go in. Make sure you use the toilets at the camping grounds before you go to the beach because unless you’re a Point Leo Boat Club member, there are no toilets at the beach! The little cove on the right side of the boat club is perfect for novice surfers and boogie boarders while the left side is better for sunbathers as there are less rocks to step on. Sun shelters are a good idea as I managed to get sunburnt despite wearing sunscreen, hat, sunglasses and cover up.We’re back in Melbourne and I’ve been busy not only working on the Bold Thinking Series lectures but also the 50th Anniversary communications for La Trobe University, which I will post about soon.