Trip Start Mar 18, 2011
8Trip End May 15, 2011
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We are just winding up our week in Kyneton, a town about an hour northwest of Melbourne. Since we left Kangaroo Island about 10 days ago, we have been meandering through the country roads and small towns of the states of South Australia and Victoria. We are getting better at the driving; we only use the windshield wipers for turn signals on the rare occasion when panic sets in. We have navigated at least 100 'traffic circles' or roundabouts as they call them, so no longer fear them quite as much.
We spent the first two days on the road, travelling back-country roads with narrow lanes and no shoulders, but blessedly few big trucks (called ‘road trains’)
The first night we stopped in Robe, a typical small town that could be in central Alberta, except that we had the best seafood dinner we have ever had – the food tasted like it leapt from the water on to our plates. The next night we stayed in Warnambool – another small town with wonderful food. Before heading inland we set out on the western part of the Great Ocean Road, a spectacular drive along the coast, with huge limestone pillars surrounded by crashing waves.
We have stayed the last week in a timeshare called the "Bushland Resort". Let’s just say it doesn’t quite measure up to North American timeshares
During our week of dodging mice we have had two wonderful outings. On Monday we took the commuter train into Melbourne and spent the afternoon exploring the city. It has great charm – lovely old Victorian buildings combined with very modern ‘edgy’ architecture. There is a free tram that circles the central areas of the city in a continuous narrated loop.
Yesterday was our first marathon birding day – we were picked up at 6:30 AM by Steve, “The Melbourne Birder”. Twelve happy hours later he dropped us back at our place. Some of the highlights of the day were: red-rumped parrot, red capped robin, noisy friar, diamond firetail and too many species of honeyeaters to remember! Like most great birders, Steve can pick out the songs and calls and knows just where to look for the birds, so we added 39 new species to our Australia list, bringing our total to 107 so far.
Having been in Australia for about three weeks now, we have assembled a list of things we love about the country
Some things have surprised us – the cost of meals and groceries is high - a typical dessert in a decent restaurant starts at $16 and we paid $5.50 for two bananas at a supermarket (bananas are ‘dear’ because of the typhoon in Queensland). Pedestrians do NOT have the right-of-way. The roads are really narrow and the speed limits are really high – 110 km on a narrow country road –we have to keep pulling over to let people by!
Next we head down to the Mornington Peninsula, south of Melbourne for more touring and birding. Hope everyone is well – thanks for the emails back!
Ruth and Phil