The Land Down Under

Trip Start Dec 29, 2012
Trip End Aug 15, 2013

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Flag of Australia  , Victoria,
Tuesday, February 26, 2013

So we finally arrived back in an English speaking, tap water drinking, toilet paper flushing country.  The boys were happy!  They were especially excited to see their old camp counsellor, Toby, who was our appointed tour provider for the Melbourne area.  We were extremely thankful to have a home in Melbourne, thanks to Toby's parents who welcomed us in.  Our first days were spent exploring the neighbourhood and having some tourist moments like going to the Wildlife Sanctuary.  Here we saw so many of Australia's animals - the top ten poisonous snakes, platypus (Caleb's favourite) and Tasmanian Devils (Aiden's favourite).  We saw koalas, kangaroos, and kookaburra's to name a few others.  We opted out of paying extra to feed the kangaroos as we thought we have plenty of time in Oz - a whole six plus weeks to get up close and personal with the wildlife. We saw a poster board here for "Crapman" superhero and we all thought this rather funny and investigated further to find that Crapman promotes the use of recycled toilet paper to decrease the use of trees for bathroom purposes.   Even the bathrooms at the sanctuary had recordings of Crapman's helpful hints.  Caleb bought a Crapman T-shirt which gets many comments as we walk the streets. 

 Over the next few days we learned a great deal about the game of cricket - Toby and his family being avid cricket enthusiasts.  We toured the Melbourne Cricket Grounds which is a beautiful building where we saw part of a cricket match in-between bouts of rain.   We walked the "city" downtown beside the river and met up with an old friend of mine from camp who now resides in Melbourne.  We visited the Victoria Night Market which is mostly beer and food gardens with some artsy vendors.  
On the weekend Jo and Charles, Toby's parents, took Jim and I to the horse races.  Racing is a popular pastime in Australia and the greyhounds and horses race regularly.  Toby and his brothers brought the boys to their cricket game and looked after them for us.  The races were fun!  We lost some money, won some money, but overall had a nice dinner with racing excitement.  Black Caviar was coming to Melbourne soon for a race and was it was hoped he would win his twenty-fifth race in a row.  So we had to have our picture with him!

 In Melbourne we met up with another camp friend, Pip, who met us at an Aussie Rules game.  A cross between soccer and American Football.  We essentially geared up for an all sports weekend.  After the Footie game, Caleb and Aiden went to learn cricket with the young team he coaches.  They had a great time and we stayed all day at the cricket pitch watching Toby's team afterwards.  Tea included.  The next day we went to a soccer match with Jo at the new stadium.  Melbourne has the most amazing sports venues!   They are beautifully designed and each sits thousands of people.  The soccer game was exciting as it's a game we all understood and new the rules for, unlike Footie which I'm still not entirely clear about even after watching s few games on TV.  The soccer fans were loud chanters and scarf wearing, giant pompom waving, sign holding fanatics.  They were as entertaining as the game itself.  We are looking forward to seeing a few more games in Europe later this spring.  

 Pip invited us to the Melbourne Jail with her on one of our days.  She was getting ready to continue her bike journey as she rode the Great Ocean Road to Melbourne and was heading up to Sydney next.  The Jailhouse was very interesting.  We heard stories of the many hangings that took place there.  The original jail cells held stories of the prisoners.  Think of wild west meets British.  One the most notorious criminals, Ned Kelly was held in the Melbourne jail for a time before his escape.  There is a recent movie that was about Ned and all the souvenirs at the jail museum are of Ned Kelly in his famous home made metal armour.  At the jail we were all "arrested" in the recently closed modern facility where we were booked and locked up for a while.  The sergeant officer was nasty (truly played her role) and the boys learned a bit about Australia's justice system in the process.

 We visited the Aquarium and rode the elevator up the Eureka Tower (the tallest building in Melbourne) to view the beautiful city of Melbourne.   We keep hearing people exclaim that Melbourne is the greatest city in the world and it's not hard to understand why.  We had a wonderful stay here before we headed out of the big city for some beach R & R.
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shirlee pollock on

Good Morning to you all - I am truly enjoying your writing. Great way to start
the morning - with my coffee in hand. Love Aunt Shirlee

Kelly on

I miss Australia. I miss you guys. I miss Pip. I miss Toby. (sigh)

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