Fun with Frances :)

Trip Start Feb 16, 2010
Trip End Jul 15, 2010

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Flag of Australia  , Victoria,
Saturday, December 18, 2010

I was picked up from Melbourne airport by Frances' dad who fortunately had a meeting in Melbourne the day I was arriving. I then drove with him the 1 and a bit hour journey up to Ballarat - luckily I had met Frances' parents a couple of times previously, first when we were in Gellong on outreach and again when they came up to Townsville for our graduation. They are an amazing couple who are incredibly welcoming and accomodating and loving so I felt very lucky to be spending a few days with them - athough obviously more excited to be spending time with Frances and getting to see her home and friends. They have the most amazing house which I quickly fell in love with although I was less enamoured by the cat as I'm mildly allergic and had forgotten my medication - fortunately it wasnt too much of a problem tho. Anyway, back to my arrival...

After we reached the house we had a speedy dinner before dashing out to a christmas musical that Frances' mum was a part of. The local community choir apparently do this every year and I greatly enjoyed it. Very good music, very festive and got me feeling nice and christmassy. I also got to meet some of Frances' friends and chat with them which was nice. Afterwards we went to Cold Rock (ice-cream) and to look at the christmas lights on the high street. Not quite the hot chocolate we would have in England but just as good!

Wednesday after a nice lie-in, Frances and I went with her mum into work. Heather works as an archiver in a school library and they were moving the stuff into a new building which meant moving lots of boxes so frances and I were glad to lend our young muscles to help out for a bit. Then we went out for a walk around the local lake. Australia has had a drought for pretty much the last 10 years but this year the rain has come and it's been phenomenal (to the point of flooding in much of the country) so I was fortunate enough to see the lake full rather than the dry empty thing it has been the last few years. Part way round the lake we stopped for coffees in the botanical gardens. It's a pretty big lake and took us a while to get round so we figured we could get away with a lazy evening, so we went round to a couple of Frances' friends where we watched a couple of episodes of the BBC series North and South which I had never seen and promptly fell in love with.

Thursday we decided to have a bit of a day out - I'd told Frances before that I'd missed out on gold-panning in New Zealand and was sad not to have given it a go and as luck would have it, Ballarat was a major town in the gold rush and has a historical tourist site thing just up the road called Sovereign Hill, so we went for our gold rush experience day. The place is set up with all the old buildings and shops, people walking around in costume and lots of displays and things. We got to see the trouper fire his rifle, see sweets being made, watch a gold pour (where Frances even got to hold the gold worth $1380!!), find out our weight in gold, see the red-coats, do candle-dipping and of course go Gold Panning!! We even did relatively well with that finding a few decent flecks. I greatly enjoyed myself and finally got the experience I had wanted for months. In the evening we went to go and see the latest Narnia film (Voyage of the Dawn Treader) which I had also really wanted to see so it turned out to be a fantastic day.

After all the excitement of the day before, we had more of a lazy day on friday, but with a few fun things thrown in. We went out and cut down a small christmas tree from a nearby bit of bush, made christmas cookies (called yo-yos) and watched the final couple of episodes of North and South. In the evening we watched Disney's the fox and the hound to round of a lovely chilled out day before I headed off to my final stop in Australia on Saturday - Geelong...
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