The bus journey from Sydney to Melbourne took ten and a half hours. Everyone knows Australia is big, but it’s not until you start travelling around that you realise how big it actually is.
Having checked into a pleasant hotel, about 10-15 minutes from the city, I went for my usual wander to get my bearings. I fancied going to the Queen Victoria market but, after trekking what seemed liked forever, upon arrival I found it was closed. Never mind, I carried on walking and came across the Old Melbourne Gaol. This place was really interesting because it had stories of the men and women that were hanged there, and information about the crimes that they had committed. There was also quite a lot of information about Ned Kelly, who was an infamous bushranger, regarded as a cold blooded killer by some and a hero by others. If you get to thinking that these people were actually incarcerated there all those years ago, plus the fact that it is supposed to be haunted, it makes it rather creepy. And to make it even creepier, there were death masks in some of the cells which were made just after the people had been hanged.
The following day I took a trip to Phillip Island. It’s about 150 km south of Melbourne. On the way we stopped at a Flora and Fauna park, where you can feed the kangaroos, and see the some of the indigenous animals that live in Australia, like dingoes. Next stop-Woolamai Beach. The waves are huge in this area. Then, onto the Nobbies and Seal Rocks- an ecotourism destination. They had telescopes there for viewing the seals. I tried to see the seals through the telescope before realising that I was looking at the wrong rocks. Amateur! I managed to see the seals from a boardwalk that you can walk around. One of the things I love about Australia is that the tourist authorities have really taken the time and made the effort to make their natural wonders more accessible to tourists. Hence the boardwalks that allow you to view things easily, without making too much of a nuisance of yourself.
Afterwards, I visited the Penguin Parade. A group of people had assembled at the beach, on the viewing platform, so I joined them and waited. Waited for the little fairy penguins to come ashore. The penguins started to show up just after 6.00pm on their way to their burrows for the night. It really was a privilege to share this and something that you wouldn’t normally get to see. It was fantastic. It was really interesting how they knew which part of the beach to exit the water. They would wait until there were several of them before waddling up the beach to their beds! Some of them got scared when they realised that they were the only one to land on the beach and would waddle back into the waves until more penguins arrived. Others got knocked off their feet by the waves. When they were sure that there was safety in numbers they waddled up towards us (through their own territory I might add- we were the intruders!) Just minding their own business, making their way to their burrows for the night. It was one of those moments in life that you feel in awe of the nature around you.
Another day, another day trip. This time I was going to visit my old neighbours from Northampton, Ian and Carolyn, who had emigrated to Geelong a few years earlier. I left the hotel at 11am and made my way to Flinders Street station. When I finally found the ticket office, the guy told me that the train to Geelong left from Spencer Street station, which was back in the direction I had just come from (in fact one street away from my hotel!) Luckily I just made it after sprinting down the platform in my flip-flops, yelling to the guard that I needed to get on the train. I made it but not before he literally dragged me onto the moving train! Running in flip-flops is not a good idea. My foot really hurt and I thought I had broken something! In fact a couple of weeks later I went to the hospital only to find out that I had chipped a small bone in my foot. Anyway, an hour later I was in Geelong and Carolyn picked me up from the station. We went to lunch by the sea and spent the afternoon catching up. It was lovely seeing them again.
The last day in Melbourne was spent shopping, wandering around-I had to check out in the morning-and drinking beer. My plan was to go to the aquarium but sometimes plans go by the wayside. Instead I had lunch and continued to drink my way through the afternoon. I think I had forgotten about the long bus trip to Adelaide ahead of me!
Next Time: Wine tasting in the Barossa Valley, SA 🙂 🙂