Australia has been number one on my list of places to go since I ticked Egypt off a few years ago. I’d dinked around, waiting for a big chunk of time to present itself, since everyone says you can’t “do” the country in less than a month. So I waited. And now, I can’t go anywhere for longer than a week. That’s me being penalized for not living my own philosophy. Oh well, a week in Melbourne could be (and was, thanks for my lovely friend, Tiff) a glorious thing.
I left Salt Lake City on Sunday morning and arrived in Melbourne on Tuesday morning. Monday vanished, only to make an appearance on the return trip. The time difference was 16 hours, which is weird. It created interesting issues for me with timing when I take my meds. Trying to figure out 12 (for my insulin) and 24 (for my trial drug) hour intervals with a 16-hour ingredient is challenging, especially for a math dolt like me. It meant the Aussie dosing time was the other end of the clock (am=>pm) plus six. Does that make sense to you? It may not have been right, but I went with it.
I tried to avoid jet lag at all cost since I was only going to be in Oz six full days. My plan was to stay up until bed time, even though my body was convinced it was the middle of the night. Tiffany flies back and forth to Salt Lake with some regularity, and she heartily supported my plan. We started by checking out downtown Melbourne, including the Eureka Tower, a 91-story skyscraper, Melbourne’s tallest, that gives an impressive view of the city. There’s a glass deck you can stand on. Boring. Instead, we went out on an open (fenced) balcony where we felt like we were going to be blown to Sydney. Hilarious.
We had the first of many coffees we’d have during the week. Can I say this? I have never seen so many coffee shops in a city, not even in Seattle. Always crowded. I’m surprised Aussies here aren’t awake 24 hours a day. I also suspect that with the number of restaurants here that no one ever eats at home. The food was fantastic everywhere we went. I’m a big fan of avocado toast; here it is taken to new heights. Smashed avocado and feta on big fat pieces of toast. Heaven on a piece of whole grain bread at Axil. Later in the day, we stopped at the Hopetoun Tea Room for tea instead of coffee, as I halfheartedly tried to limit my caffeine intake one time.
Our next adventure was driving and visiting the Great Ocean Road. It is a stunning drive along the southern coast of Victoria. When we got there, the rain was torrential, so we settled for seeing a couple of the iconic limestone formations from the car. Then we saw a busload of Chinese tourists getting out of the bus, so we, naturally, got out of the car and ran to the overlook so we could see it first. We weren’t disappointed. We were soaked, but not disappointed. We stayed in an old hotel in Port Campbell, getting one of the last rooms available. It’s rainy and winter, but the place was almost full!
The next day proved to be a better day to see gorgeous views of the rock stacks and arches right offshore. We drove a nauseating portion of the Great Ocean Road that reminded me of Mr Toad’s Wild Ride, but windier (as in more windy). I’ve been less carsick. I was very happy to get back to a really cute beach town called Lorne and its stomach-settling milkshake. It’ll cure what ails ya. Then we went to Geelong and managed to spend some money on clothes and more coffee.
Friday, I met up with Adam and Hiroko, who sometimes live in Park City, but usually in Melbourne. After exploring a park on the Mornington Peninsula, we visited another beautiful coastal town called Portsea and stopped in for lunch at the pub in the iconic Portsea Hotel. Adam says in the summer, this place is a madhouse. But in the middle of winter (they say it’s winter, but it’s 55 degrees), it’s peaceful and lovely. And the fish and chips were good. Especially the chips.
I knew a week would be too short, but we are cramming the Aussie Experience in to every minute. Because Tiff got us tickets to watch Australian Football at the Melbourne Cricket Grounds! North Melbourne (who we cheered for) vs Hawthorn. We had great seats even though we had not much of clue as to what we were seeing. We did understand the points: Six for between the close goal posts, one for the next ones farther out. And we did understand that “our” team was getting thrashed when it was about 40 to nothing in the first quarter. But beyond that, we were mystified. Still, there’s nothing like a live sporting event, whether or not you understand whats going on on the field. Right? Let’s head back to the beach.
We spent my second to last night at in Port Lonsdale and got up early the next morning to take the ferry across Port Phillip Bay. It was perfect: Warm and sunny without even a little breeze. The ride was over too fast! But next, we went to the Moonlit Sanctuary Wildife Conservation Park. We got to see pretty much all of Australia’s cool animals in one morning. This is one of the coolest parks, because you actually get to touch and pet some of the animals and feed the wallabies and kangaroos. Besides George the Python, none of these animals want to kill you, like I know most creatures in Australia do. (Tiff says, Oh yeah? Well, the animals in America want to kill you AND eat you. She exaggerates.) I am somewhat disappointed to report that no animals even made an attempt on my life last week. I didn’t even see a spider. Next time.
On the way home for the last time, we stopped to shop. I didn’t want to leave Melbourne, so I managed to take some of it home with me.
A week in Australia wasn’t nearly enough time, as I suspected. It was enough to make me realize that I want to go back as soon as I can to revisit some places we went and to see many more places I now know I need to visit. Til then, it’s not often that you get to fly to yesterday. This is how I found that Monday that I lost last week. Ciao for now.