03.10.2010 - 13.10.2010 13 °C
Colac is now a smaller farming town after a more exciting past over a hundred years ago being on the fringes of the massive goldrush era in the 19th century. Off to the local Baptist Church and were welcomed by Rev Angela Thomas, newly appointed pastor, and an excellent communicator. A lovely cuppa afterwards and a chat with the locals. On the way back to the CP we were delayed a bit by a road blocked because two cars had argued with each other and a power pole. The power pole lost, as did the cars.
Lunch and then back into town to do some family history at the local library – but didn’t make much progress. Power still off at the CP when we returned for a very quiet afternoon catching some sun and resting.
Colac to Melbourne/Braybrook
Although the weather threatened a storm we only had a few drops as we left Colac to head towards Melbourne. Mary managed to catch part of a dramatic sunrise with her camera.
The usual poor roads that we have come to expect in Victoria, except for the new M1 from Geelong into Melbourne, however, the traffic flows just got busier and busier as we approached the city. There was plenty of greenery along the roadside as we travelled so they had received some good rains recently.
We checked in before lunch and got nicely setup before taking a bus into the city for a look around. Mary spent hours trying to get another photo album to replace her first one, and we finally got to doing a few more helpful things including a few photos. A late coffee and after locating the State Library we caught a bust back to camp. A very exhausting day. I finalised our accounts for the month and awaited a phone call from my old flatmate from London days in the sixties – Bruce Smith – finally visiting Australia, especially for family. Bruce called during the evening but we could not get a face to face meeting as he was leaving for country Victoria early the next morning.
A fine day at last although with some high cloud. So, after a quick haircut at the next door shopping centre, we hopped in the car and drove (courtesy of Tomtom) to the Dandenong Ranges on the other side of Melbourne. It was about 60 Km mainly via built up suburbs, however, we enjoyed the ride up through the mists and heavy forest to a small village called Sassafras (after the local trees?). Very picturesque with lots of expensive coffee shops. Very Olde Englishe! There was even a ‘Miss Marples Teahouse’ to spend lots of cash in.
We enjoyed our lunch (home-made) at a little park – at least until the Thieving Magpie (no music please) attempted to steal pack of cake that she had taken out of her lunch box! Mary 1 – Magpie 0.
We drove back via the large Doncaster shopping complex where Mary finally (!!!) found a suitable photo album, then our friend Tomtom brought us back home after an interesting but tiring day.
Lots of washing had accumulated so that was all done before we caught the bus into the city for another go in the State Library. Not a lot of success again, so, after a quick bite at Gloria Jeans Coffee we headed for the bus stop, just in time to get wet from the first thunderstorm attacked us. The bus was way behind schedule so that by the time we reached the CP we were wet and the lovely washing was absolutely soaked. Oh dear, more money for the dryers. We had some nice sunshine for about one hour and then the weather pattern reversed itself and the thunderstorm attacked us 180 degrees from the first storm. Well, it is Melbourne we are talking about!
Eventually everything was dry and stowed away, and then the really heavy rain hit as we packed up our small bags to fly to Hobart the next morning. Watched some TV, and booked our seats on the flight.
Melbourne to Hobart
After all the windy and wet weather we were not looking forward to more of the same in Hobart, however, after putting the car and van into the Park security area we took a mini-bus to Tullamarine for our flight in the afternoon. I increased my baggage allowance for the flight after seeing how much Mary intended taking! The flight was OK although with a lot of cloud and then the usual bumps into the strong westerly wind at Hobart. Into town for a nice meal at la Porchetta and then a well-earned sleep.
8th – 11th October
Looked at a few shops, but, apart from Mary’s buying more fridge magnets etc, we didn’t buy anything useful. A walk along the beach at Sandy Bay was very pleasant, if rather cool.
A visit to Hobart without visiting the famous Salamanca Markets on Saturday morning would be a dereliction of duty. In spite of the freezing wind it remained dry and so we stocked up on some vital necessities for home, namely, a few bottles of Johnnos sauces, fudge and honey. In my experience these are among the best Markets in the world and always worth a visit, especially as the vast majority of goods on sale are local Tasmanian produce and crafts with only one or two tarot types filling up the spaces.
Basically a time to sleep in a real bedroom for a few nights after five months in a caravan less than the size of our bedroom at home. The weather was cold but fine so that was nothing new.
Hobart to Melbourne
Off to the airport fairly early, fortunately against the morning traffic peak inbound to the city, and made the airport in good time for our flight back to Melbourne. The weather forecast had not been too encouraging so, whenever Mary made a comment about the weather prospects I tried to change the subject! However, the first drops of rain hit us as we walked over the open tarmac (no fancy covered aircraft access in the one city that really needs is!) and the rain front could be seen coming straight towards us. We departed on time and as we lifted off and turned north we could see the rain shower heading to the airport area that we had just left. The rest of the flight was pretty boring as there was 100% cloud and it wasn’t until we commenced descent into Tullamarine airport that we could see anything at all. Flying over the Metro area was interesting as we could see Port Phillip Bay, the CBD and the MCG among many things.
A safe landing into a strong wind, a quick baggage pickup and our chappy from the Airbus shuttle was on hand to take us back to the Park to get organised again.
After a quick re-setting up we got the bus into the city to catch a famous St Kilda tram.
About half way in to the changeover place the bus driver didn’t stop for a group of young people lounging and laughing near the bus stop.
The policy is quite clear, if you want a bus to stop for you then you hail it clearly, otherwise the driver can just carry on to his destination. However, one young thug took extreme exception to the driver’s perceived insult and negligence in not stopping and came racing alongside the bus bashing at the side of the bus. It gave all the passengers a fright. The next instant we could hear this very angry young male demanding that the driver allow them all on the bust at the traffic lights, where we had just stopped, or else! The driver allowed them to get on and the young thug started abusing the driver and, not getting the profuse apology that he demanded, started attacking the driver in his supposedly secure compartment. The physical and verbal abuse escalated very quickly as the thug used almost every imaginable swear word in his limited vocabulary all the while passengers sat, stunned, in their seats. The driver then gave very explicit and frank instructions to the thug to get of his bus. (Or words to that effect). On hearing this the thud tripped over a frail old lady near where the first fracas had broken out and then proceed to kick the back door off its hinges. After several vain attempts, during which I could see the door bending considerably, one of the thug’s friends managed to intervene and flick the emergency lever above the door and the thug left with all his ‘friends.
The sudden quiet in the bus following his departure was very striking, however, the frail old lady was busy crossing herself over and over again, such was her fear at what almost became a serious problem for her.
The bus then moved towards town and shortly we had a routine driver exchange and I decided to offer the drive a Statutory Declaration as to what I had witnessed first hand. He was very pleased to take my number and get home!
Anyway, back to the tram trip to St Kilda. Yes, we managed to fit it in and enjoyed a pleasant walk around St Kilda pier area, marvelling at the exotic cakes (all unpriced) in the shop windows.
Back on the tram to the city and a peaceful ride home on the bus to be greeted by more rain and wind. (This is Melbourne we are referring to so why should I be surprised!).
Another rainy day but I took a bus into the city to try and get closure on the family history issue for Mary. However, after several hours of searching I reached a dead-end and decided to head back to camp. In the meantime Mary had done a major clothes wash and dry and shopped for groceries for the next stage of our journey.