Eager to get back to the coast we drove to Lakes Entrance. The clear and beautiful water combined with the many bays and inlet made for great swimming and surfing. The kids quickly made friends with some boys, Billy and James and we soon met their parents Steve and Michelle. They had just started their holiday around Australia from Queensland. Michelle was a keen surfer and we hooked up for an early morning session together, we had a ball.
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Traveling up the sapphire coast was beautiful, the mountains and forest meet the sea making it extremely picturesque and brings kangaroos onto the beaches! This lush coastline is such a contrast from the west.
It has had an impact on Mike like no other place we have seen so far; I suspect the green rolling hills remind him of home. But for those of you that know Mike would have heard it often said that he’s is happiest when grumbling, a self-confessed grumpy old man and with the hills creating bad fuel economy it gave him something to grumble about.
watching the boats on Naroona Bar wall
We stopped for a week in Tathra where, we swam, did yoga (well I did), we surfed and did day trips up the coast. We tried fishing but between the seals and the dolphins we like many other struggled to get our catch onto the wharf!
We tried our luck one night, but instead we arrived to find some local’s had caught two hammerhead sharks and were fileting them. Quite fascinating yet I would have preferred to see them in the water. They generously gave us some flake but it was all a bit too traumatic for Bryce and so we gave it away!
We sat out a huge thunderstorm in the van that at times was so loud we all were covering our ears. It was deafening and too much for Tom, so we put on some headphones and he listened to ACDC at full volume, strangely it seemed to help (So soothing!!!!).
We put Jackaroo in storage and stayed with Mike’s sister Bronwyn and fiancé Brendon in Armadale. This is a beautiful area of Melbourne and only a short tram ride to the city. They were in Adelaide for the majority of the time we were in Melbourne – typical- never the less we had dinner with them the night before they left. Thanks for the inner suburban pad, it was great!
So I discovered that the saying for Melbourne's weather is ‘4 seasons in 1 day’ and that is exactly what it was like. One minute you needed an umbrella and the next sunburn cream and shorts! Actually that would pretty much sum up the weather ever since we hit Victoria!
Melbourne Zoo was very impressive, the humid butterfly house was
magic, Bryce had many land on him and his chocolate milk. Mike loved the Thai theme area around the elephants and I think my favourite was the Gorillas, magnificent creatures that I could have watched for hours.
Mike and Greg
I had no idea how well Melbourne caters for tourist, with free trams and buses around and though the city and I tourist guide on every corner. We went to the Victoria markets and then did a self-guided walked through the city’s hidden lanes ways and arcades. Mike was unsure when we started and I took them off the main thoroughfare and down what at first seemed like muggers ally, but around the next corner it all burst into life with tiny café’s, shops and tightly squashed in restaurants, it was very cool and for me seem like the heart of Melbourne. I would highly recommend this.
It was great to be able to catch up with old friends, wander along South Bank and do few yoga classes.
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Ballarat was bigger than I remembered and the town centre was full of fantastic historic buildings. We went to the cinema to see ‘Hugo’; it was showing in an old renovated theatre that made the movie experience more fun (well it certainly did for me!). Of course the main attraction was our day at Sovereign Hill which I think I had been looking forward to more than the kids. I have very fond memories of it from when I was about 9 years old and it didn’t disappoint 30 years later. We watched candy being made, held a real gold ingot, panned for gold and watched many shows. We ventured though the underground mine tour that was a bit too realistic for the boys. It was like a being on a haunted house ride, once in, the door shuts behind you and there's no turning back!! Opps another parental stuff up that may require therapy when they're older. Any way after some candy distraction and some old fashioned bowling we were back into it. Staff were all dressed in period costumes and played their parts perfectly, involving the kids and having fun. It is the best history lesson that you could ever experience and I hope the boys remember it as clearly as I did.
We only have a few months remaining of our year and I've found myself out voted in the option of extending our trip (boo hoo).Our plan was to head to NSW and Queensland, but the weather there had become very wet, and even flooding in some areas, causing us to reconsider our route. Eventually we decided to make our way to the eastern coast of Victoria. We had our first stop in Naracoorte, where we toured the Victoria cave which was quite incredible. Mike and I had fun reminiscing of our holidays here as children.
munching out on home picked mullberries
After the falling boulder incident at Mt Arapiles, we drove onto Halls Gap in the Grampians for a few nights; we did some hikes, played tennis, chilled out around the pool and met friends Peter and Noelene for lunch. It was a great catch up, we were able to sit and chat for ages while the kids played in the creek and we finished the afternoon with a huge ice-cream!! It was wonderful to see you both looking well and enjoying your new life in the country.
On our 2nd to last day the weather started to change and the clouds rolled in, we went for a walk to the Balconies and noticed lots of smoke. From a lookout we watched helicopters taking water to a bushfire in the far distance. Fortunately the temperature had dropped and the ranger informed us they had it under control fairly quickly.
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