My parents arrived in Oz last Thursday, when their flight arrived in Sydney. After a night in Ulladulla, they made their way to Bairnsdale. As I was wrapping up the successful day of parent teacher conferences, my dad rang to tell me that they were in town and settled into their hotel. I had them meet me at school, so I could show off what a wonderful predicament that I was in!
I was so pleased to see them and was extremely excited to show off BSC. They seemed to be quite impressed with the science center…who wouldn’t be- you can’t see anything like it back home. While at BSC, they met a few of my colleagues along with Domenic and Sheryl, who kindly invited my parents to a BBQ for dinner at their home that night.
That afternoon, I decided to take mom and dad to Raymond Island to see a few Koalas. I assured them that they would see many kangaroos and wallabies but may not have the chance to see too many koalas in the wild whilst they were here. Little did I know, we would see a multitude of them while driving on the Great Ocean Road later on the trip throughout Victoria. On the way we stopped at Eagle Point so they could get a view of the surrounding area and to see where the Mitchell flowed into King Lake.
After spotting a few Koalas and a couple Kookaburras, we headed back from Paynesville to Bairnsdale for tea at Domenic and Sheryl’s house. They had a little bit of everything on the grill, from lamb to Kangaroo sausages (kanga-bangas is Aussie speak), along with a ton of vegetables. After dinner and a great conversation, it was time for the best part of the meal- the Pavlova (Pav)!
Pavlova is a meringue covered in various different fruits that are in season. Australians and Kiwis will both tell you that they invented this sweet piece of heaven but it really doesn’t matter- it is the BEST. I made sure my mom left with the recipe!
The following morning, I took my parents to Lakes Entrance to walk to the entrance through the Banksias and Eucalypts on the Cunninghame Arm of Ninety Mile Beach. I had done it prior with Linda, but it was nice to be able to point out a few things to my parents, like Linda had done for me; I really felt like I was a local. At the entrance, we watched boats fight the intense current coming from the lakes to get into town. After a few minutes, we headed back to the bridge linking the town to Lions Park along the beach. The weather was clear and the water in Bass Straight seemed to be relatively calm; it couldn’t have been a better day to take the adventure out to the entrance.
After making in back to the car, I decided it was time for a beer and some lunch, so we headed to Metung. A beautiful town on the lakes, Metung is home to beautiful real estate, and mega sailboats and yachts, along with views that I knew would remind my parents of Northern Michigan. After a pot of Carlton and a chicken Parm each, we took in some more of the view and decided to head back into town.
We headed back into Bairnsdale, stopping at Linda and Ernie’s house so I could show their property and views off to my parents. I am increadibly jealous whenever I go over to their home; they have an incredible garden and a spectacular view of Jones Bay. I would love to call a place like theirs home one day!
My parents decided to take out Linda, Ernie, Domenic, and Sheryl to dinner that night. I decided on the Main Hotel since their menu is outstanding and it was only a few doors down from my parents’ hotel. Dinner, of course, was outstanding, other than the noisy children at the table next to us who seemed to be unsupervised the whole time we were there. After getting fed up with the whimpering children, we decided to move the after dinner conversation to the pub, just across the dining room. Luckily footy was on so Domenic and I had a chance to fill in my parents on the rules of the unfamiliar sport. I was very pleased that my parents had some time to spend with the people that I have become very close to while here in Australia!
We awoke the next morning early to make our way to Melbourne for the next few days. The three-hour drive was quick, especially with minimal traffic. Our apartment was situated about 150 meters or so from the Yarra River in Southbank. We were stunned when we entered the 17th story apartment we stayed at. The main room faced southeast and overlooked the funny-looking Rectangular Stadium (AAMI Park), the massive Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), and the beautiful Port Phillip Bay.
We decided to make the most of the rest of the first day and headed into the city for a walk around. We first started in Southbank, where I decided to point out the largest casino in the Southern Hemisphere, the Crown Casino. Whilst browsing, we noticed the Ohio State Final Four game was on. After getting some lunch at the food court, we headed back into the casino to catch the last few minutes of the game. We weren’t too pleased when we left the casino.
We decided to take our sorrows up the street, across the river, to the Queen Victoria Market. Unfortunately, we didn’t have too much time to walk around since it was about to close. The market was immense and full of fruit and veg, as well as various crafts. We came across a stand with aboriginal crafts with a few didgeridoos on display. I remembered the vendors for the following market day so I could return to pick one out.
After a quick walk around, we headed back south toward the river, where I took my parents to see Chloe on the second floor of Young and Jacksons, right across from Flinders Street Station. Chloe looked as beautiful as she was the last time that I had seen her. If you’re wondering who she is, please find a link to my first blog about her to the right.
The next morning we decided to have brekkie in St. Kilda at a café on Acland Street. After something quick to eat, we made our way out to the pier so I could show my parents a little penguin. We eventually found one of the blue-feathered little animals in the rocks, but it wasn't easy. The pier also provided us with a great chance to take pictures of the Melbourne skylinesouth to Phillip Island. We didn’t plan to go see the penguin parade, but we decided to head to the Nobbies to see the seals. On our way to the western most part of the island, we stopped at a Koala sanctuary; I guess my parents didn’t get enough of them at Raymond Island! It was a great stop since we were able to see so many of them and a few wallabies that had hopped the fence to graze within the sanctuary boundary, where there was no risk of cars. I was amazed at how close we were able to get to one of the koalas. It walked across the railing of the boardwalk, which took us up into the trees of the sanctuary. I could have easily reached out, without fully extending my arm and pet the koala. I decided not to risk and finger and kept my hands to myself. In fact, we had to stop a lady from touching the koala. Blatantly disregarding the rules of entry to the exhibit, she reached her hand out to touch the koala, and the three of us yelled at her to keep her from bothering the animal.
After a fantastic experience with the koalas, we headed out west to see the largest fur seal colony in Australia. The seals were situated on an island in the distance and could only be seen with the use of a telescope. The views from the island’s edge were spectacular, overlooking Bass Strait and the mainland.
The following day, we headed back to the market to pick up a few souvenirs and that didgeridoo that I became fond of during our previous visit. I chose to get an authentic didgeridoo, which was made by an aboriginal, and had been bored out using termites, rather than by machine. After choosing the didgeridoo that I wanted I was shown how to apply the beeswax to the end of the instrument and was given a quick lesson on how to play. I have a feeling I’ll be learning for a few years to come.
We headed deeper into the market, where we found ourselves in the seafood area, where I decided to get a ½ dozen fresh Tasman oyster. I was surprised to only have to pay a dollar for each of them. We later saw the same oysters in on the of the Crown restaurants for more than five dollars an oyster…we made out quite well! They were delicious as well!
Once our time at the market was over, we headed southwest to Southern Cross Station to take the pedestrian bridge over to the Docklands where Etihad Stadium is situated. We made it to the docklands just in time to see the end of a dragon boat rowing competition. There were thousands of people from all over Australia; there were even people from Perth…FROM PERTH! We made our way back to the hotel along Southbank. We went out later to Federation Square to finish our stay in Melbourne with a pint of beer…not a bad way to say goodbye to one of the most beautiful cities I have ever been to!
The following day, we headed southwest along the Great Ocean Road…
Part 2 to come tomorrow.