Where have we been these last few weeks? Well, my parents came into town on the 9th, and after a few days to recover, we all hopped a plane to Melbourne. We spent a week there, then came back. My parents went back to the states on the 21st, and we have used the last week to recovered ourselves.
The first day of our Australia trip was a long day. It started by getting up at 3AM to make our 4AM taxi for our 6 AM flight, which arrived in Melbourne (due to time change) at 6:30 AM! We got our rental car and drove out to the animal sanctuary in Healesville. This was quite nice, as it gave us a chance to see and read about lots of wildlife in a controlled setting before we went off to try and find it in the wild. In the end we were quite successful, and managed to spot most of the non-noctural critters in the wild. We did not, however, see any dingos in the wild. A pity, the puppies can be mighty cute! We also dsicovered that Wombats and Koalas are close relatives, and they both have armored bums! What’s more, the wombat’s armored bum can be deadly! No kidding, sometimes when chased into its burrow by a fox or other predator, it will wait for the attacker to stick its head down the hole then BAM!, it crushes their skull against the roof of the burrow with their armored butt! Who knew?!
On day two we went back into Melbourse (after staying at the wonderful Wyoming B&B up in Kyneton, about an hour north of the city) and explored the central city. Mainly we were waiting for dinner, as we had booked on the trollycar restaurant. This was on old trolly that they had modified into a luxurious mobile eatery. You dined and cruised the city at the same time. Good food, fun service, and we got to see many parts of Melbourne we had missed in our walking tour.
Day three we dropped by the natioal alpaca show up in Bendigo. Tam and I spent a few hours looking at ‘paca and chatting with various people. We then got back in the car and headed west, towards Horsham.
Lovely Horsham. A town we felt we could never escape. You might say all roads lead there, and they seem to. We passed through the town mutiple times over the enxt 2 days. We also visted the Little Desert National Park, and while in the tiny town of Dimboola stopped in to the local A&P show (just dripping with local rural flavor!). Western Victoria is flat. Very flat. The farms are big. Very big. 3000+ acres on average we later learned. We were there in Spring so everything was green, but it must be dry much of the time, as the stocking levels were very low. And they gorw lots of canola. Lots of it. Endless fields of yellow. At one point we found ourselves atop a mighty hill, and took this photo.
While in the Little Desert NP we achieved my mothers main goal- to see some ‘Roos in the wild. After many days of being told they were common, but not seeing any, we were wondering if this was all some big joke the Aussies play on the foreign touists. But as soon as we saw one, we started seeing lots. And emus. And deadly Tiger Snakes. We also saw Koala bears later on.
We then visited the Grampians National Park, which was as beautiful as advertised, especially with all the spring wildflowers in bloom. It was also a bit wetter and lusher than the surrounding land, due to the mountains catching the rain. A nice green experience after the little desert. For fun we climbed up through the Wonderland rock formations up to the pinnacles. It was a good long climb, and we felt very accomplish-ful by the end, and a bit sore and tired.
For the final leg of the trip we followed the coast road. The southern coast here has some fabulous terrain, with all sorts of cliffs and sea caves and rain forests and the like. Great stuff. There were also some really funky rock deposits along the beaches in places. Leftovers from a volcanic past many millions of years ago.
The day after we returned to NZ the weather was not too bad (my parents left convinced that it is always cold and raining here in NZ, while it was always fine and sunny in Australia- but then again they have endured 7 years of drought now!). We took advanatge of the good weather and took the ‘paca for a walk up the road. This shot was right before Jim and Oak decided to have a little spit fight, to my fathers non-amusement!