I spent the last week at the celebrate ...
Trip Start Nov 15, 2000
10Trip End Dec 02, 2000
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Each morning I purchased a tram ticket at the local milk bar (convenience store) before walking across the street for a coffee and muffin. This morning I told the Chinese lady who sold me the ticket that it would my last one. When she found out I'd be going back to Canada, she became quite excited and said she used to live in Scarborough where she could get along just in Chinese. Wouldn't you know!
I'm astounded at how easily I've adjusted to this time zone. Melbourne is 15 hours ahead of Toronto, but I've not really had any serious jet lag at all.
Each evening they continued to keep me busy
This weekend, Lynne & I are in the Snowy Mountains (remember The Man From Snowy River?). I was assured it would be fabulously beautiful and it is! They expect the temperature to stay very warm (29+). When I tell them how cold it is in Toronto right now, the Australians all shudder.
Yesterday, Lynne and I finally got away from Melbourne in late morning and headed up to Beechworth, an old mining town three hours northeast of Melbourne. My original plan was to spend the weekend on my own in Melbourne and then rent a car and head west, making a circuit through much of Victoria before returning for my flight home. However, an invitation to spend the weekend at Lynne's house in Beechworth was too good to turn down
To get to Beechworth, we drove through rolling hills as well as some flat ground. I really felt as if we were driving through California. It's remarkable. No matter where we went, there were eucalyptus trees in sight. Also, where we would see roadkill of raccoons and foxes at home in Canada, here you see kangaroos and wombats. During the whole trip I saw at least a dozen kangaroo dead by the side of the road. They warn tourists about driving at night when the kangaroos are out. I made sure I was off the roads by dusk. It was hard enough to drive on the left side of the road. I didn't want to have to worry about missing kangaroos, as well.
As we approached Beechworth ("Victoria's Best Preserved Gold Town"), we took a detour (about an hour return) to visit the hilltop property Lynne has purchased with friends. They hope to build homes up there. It's quite isolated. In order to reach the property we travelled progressively narrower and rougher roads. About four times each way, I had to get out of the car to open and close farm gates. During the process we saw a variety of animals: rabbits, wild parrots and rosellas, two eagles, a kookaburra, cattle and many sheep. And last, but not least, two large bounding kangaroos. This was definitely the highlight of my week! We were driving along a lightly treed meadow that didn't have too much undergrowth. I glanced into the trees and saw a large kangaroo leisurely loping through the trees. "A kangaroo," I gasped. "And another!" I cried. Off they went into the trees. Unfortunately, it happened too quickly to get a photograph.
When we actually reached the property itself, there was no road and the field was littered with huge rocks that could have easily taken out the bottom of the car. But we carried on, following the faintest of tire tracks in the long grass. At the edge of the hill we stopped and walked about, admiring the view, and waving away the persistent flies. Lynne said I had mastered the Aussie Wave - constantly brushing flies away from my face. I'd like to say the flies were worse than our mosquitoes, but I've been to Muskoka in May!
Lynne would like to build a large house on this spectacular spot, using it as a retreat for herself and guests. She also talked about how she'd have a tunnel built underground that would provide protection for bush fires. Yikes! Sounded scary to me.
After our scenic detour, we drove on to Beechworth. It's a very attractive town with wide streets and well looked after cottages. The main commercial streets have wooden sidewalks and make the town look like it should be called Dodge. Lynne's century-old cottage, Charnworth, needs a lot of work (she just bought it last year and only comes up from Melbourne occasionally), but will be very nice when it's done. She has the ubiquitous roses in the front yard, as well as an orange tree and a lemon tree in the back yard.
Afterward, we went down the street to a pub for steak supper - very good. The dining area looked out on a beautiful garden. After walking around town and looking at the nearby man-made lake (little more than a pond by Canadian standards), I was starting to weave from fatigue. I went right to bed when we got back to the cottage. Today, I think we're going to do some sightseeing and shopping.