Oz in '08 -- Beth and John Lucas Tour Australia, 4

All pictures, unless otherwise noted, are copyright 2008 by John A. and Elizabeth B. Lucas. All rights reserved.
Introduction Sydney Canberra Melbourne Western Victoria Queensland Uluru-Kata Tjuta Notes on the Photos GBCC File Transfers

Tueday, 10 Jun 2008 to Saturday, 14 June 2008

We drove from Lakes Entrance to the Melbourne metropolitan area, getting to Glen Waverly in mid afternoon in time for a late lunch, a petrol refill and a little bit of walking exploration before the daylight fled. We spent three nights in Glen Waverly (on the eastern edge of the metropolis) instead of central Melbourne our three local contacts and a number of items on our itinerary were all on the east side. Glen Waverly is also the end of one of the train lines into the city so it was easy and quick to use and only a couple of blocks from our hotel (thanks to Michelle Chen for helping us pick that location and hotel!). Friday night we spent with Allan Peace in the mists of Mount Dandenong.

Melbourne Tours on the Yarra River; Phillip Island and the Little Penguins

We took the train in from Glen Waverly to Melbourne for two half-day tours
This is looking west (downstream) over the Princes Bridge. The low round building is part of the Victorian Arts Center. The production of My Fair Lady we saw later in the Sydney Opera House played here before moving to Sydney. The shiny "measuring stick" is the Eureka Tower currently listed as the second tallest building in Australia.
A little further downstream and still looking west, the low yellow building with the clock tower is part of the Flinders Street Station. The tall Building in the background is the Rialto Towers, listed as the sixth tallest in Australia. (#2-6 and 8 are all in Melbourne; #1 is on the Gold Coast of Queensland and #7 is in Perth, current 2008 rankings)
The tour took us into the docklands before turning around. The Bolte Bridge is in the foreground -- the twin "silver candlesticks" are for aesthetics and perform no structural function according to Wikipedia. They don't even touch the bridge! The view is upstream (east) toward the central business district.
We finished the river tours in early afternoon. We headed away from the river to meet a small tour bus heading for Phillip Island and the "Penguin Parade." Phillip Island is south of Merlbourne and Port Phillip Bay, more than two hours driving time from center city. The tour has the sole purpose of getting tourists to the nightly arrival of the Little Penguins (formerly called Fairy Penguins). Phillip Island includes wildlife reserves to preserve their threatened roosting areas in the sand dunes.

These ARE little, the smallest of the penguin species, barely a foot tall. The penguin "parade" occurs after dark when birds that have been out to sea feeding (sometimes for weeks) come ashore to their burrows in the sand dunes. They gather offshore and emerge on the beach in large groups for safety. Three separate groups came ashore where and when we were -- several dozen in each wave. Where we were sitting to observe, they paused at the top of the beach as if waiting for the crossing signal to change. Then it wasn't a parade, more like pedestrians trying to cross the street before the traffic resumed. What they don't tell you is how NOISY these birds are as they waddle off the sand up the pathways into the underbrush and taller dunes! They yell at the neighbors as they pass other burrows and "greet" their mates when they get home. Beth does a passable impression. She wanted to take two home in her suitcase! Photography is completely prohibited (indeed no talking, moving around or lights while the penguins are coming in. We were in the front row and they weren't more than 3-8 feet from the platform.) The following is of a stuffed specimen in the Australian Museum in Sydney. (Photos of live birds as on WIkipedia are taken of captive birds.) WIkipedia also claims that the Linux penguin is a Little Penguin because one once bit Linus Torvalds in Australia.

The Healesville Sanctuary; The Yarra Valley Wine Region; A Courtesy Call to HP Australia

So everyone wants to know, "Did you see koalas/wombats/kangaroos?" Yes and no. We saw living examples of each, some in the wild, and dead examples of wombats and roos by the side of the road.

We traveled to Healesville in the Yarra Valley wine country (northeast of Melbourne) to the Sanctuary there. Here's what one usually sees of a koala in the wild -- a ball of gray fur high in the green-gray foliage of a eucalyptus forest. They do get active at times but it was a cool winter's day just perfect for a morning snooze.
Roos we did see in a number of places in the wild. These pictures are from the Healesville Sanctuary where you can walk through the kangaroo and wallaby enclosure.
This one looks like it may have a small joey in its pouch as "pointy bits" seem to be protruding through the fur.
A Rainbow Lorikeet.
A dingo.
We had lunch in Healesville at the Innocent Bystander Winery. We looked for the Train Trak Winery (are you picking up a pattern here?) but couldn't find the correct road and so headed home for Melbourne. In late afternoon, John went to the HP Australia offices not far north of our hotel (not a coincidence) to visit Michelle Chia, who had been HP's APJ Regional Records Manager. We talked "shop" for an hour or so, then John drove back to the hotel to get Beth, who had in the meantime been doing the first round of laundry at the hotel. Despite the variety of climates we were experiencing, we took fewer suitcases and less clothing than we had to the UK in 2005. It makes it easier to travel but does place added importance to restocking the luggage with clean clothes every 10 days or so.

We joined Michelle and her family at a nearby restaurant for a very pleasant evening. (We forgot to take a camera if you can believe that.)

Puffing Billy and a Visit with Allan Peace (and Lunch also with Bryn Meek)

Friday the thirteenth was a wet day in the Dandenongs. Victoria received its first snows of the season in the ski areas further east and at higher elevations. We simply got drenched.

Puffing Billy is a tourist steam train, a former narrow gauge (30" between the rails) railway for primarily timber. During the winter it only runs for about half its length but does so everyday. The local Gray Line tour buses drop hordes of Japanese tourists onto the train in Belgrave, and they get off at the first station to disappear back into their buses. We went as far as they would take us (and back again) with John frequently hanging out the windows in the rain to take pictures. This is the Belgrave station -- we opened the ticket office, getting there earlier than we needed to.
The engineer offered John the opportunity to ascend to the footplate of the locomotive. People were smaller in those days! It was REALLY tight in that particular locomotive.
The line runs over several trestles and grade crossings as it passes through several different forest regimes including temperate cloud forest where tree ferns abound. We had lunch at Emerald while they ran the locomotive around the train for the return trip. The picture below is on probably the most famous of its trestles and turns -- this is on the return trip.
It was a short drive uphill from Belgrave to Sassafras, where our GBCC friend Allan Peace lives. Allan showed us the Mt. Dandenong overlook, which on a good day reveals much of the Melbourne metropolitan area. Although we could glimpse Glen Waverly (where we had been staying), the weather was having none of that and started to pour again almost immediately. We stayed with Allan that night, entertained by his collection of comedy audio and video.

For Saturday lunch, Allan and we drove back up the Puffing Billy line to Clematis Station where the Paradise Restaurant is located. Bryn Meek also of the GBCC met us there. As far as we can figure out, this is the second time three GBCCers have gotten together. In an earlier year, Martin Hood had met Allan and Bryn when Martin came to Melbourne. Is anyone aware of a three-way meeting in the UK? In 2005, we met GBCC members one at a time. Left to right: John, Bryn Meek, Allan Peace.
As it was Saturday and not a weekday as it had been for us, three Puffing Billy trains passed the restaurant (two up and one down). We had seen the restaurant from the train the day before.

After a leisurely lunch, Bryn (in his car) led John and Beth (in their car) south to the M1. From there, we headed west through Melbourne on the toll road, bound for the Great Ocean Road and Western Victoria. next page