We woke up to a very chilly morning. It seems a cold front had blown threw overnight and the temperature had dropped from 30 to 11 Celsius. The cold weather inspired us to stay cuddly in bed under the covers. Eventually Lynn rolled over and wrote our blog post from yesterday. Meanwhile I slept in, folded laundry, and brought her a breakfast of fruit salad, raisin toast, and peanut butter in bed. Around 10.30 we loaded up the car and wrote Elizabeth a goodbye note to email us up if she ever makes it to Austin.
Today’s plan had us driving into Melbourne for a walking tour of the city before checking into our new Airbnb where, thankfully, we will be spending three nights in a row. On our way into the city we stopped at a place recommended to us by Elizabeth, Hanging Rock. Hanging Rock is very similar to Devil’s Tower if anyone has ever been to Wyoming or seen Close Encounters of the Third Kind, but is much further eroded. It’s famous, as we learned, from the 1975 Peter Weir movie and book of the same name Picnic at Hanging Rock about a bunch of girls that disappeared in the early 1900’s while on a girl’s school picnic at the rocks.
After a quick stop at the visitor center where we learned how the rocks had formed and a bit about the local aborignal population and, of course, the movie and book, we hiked 25 minutes up the jagged rocks to the summit and took in the views just in time to notice a rainstorm rolling in. We headed back down and made it to the shelter of the visitor center just as the rain started.
While it rained, we hid in the car and ate our picnic lunch of turkey and cheddar wraps, apples, and carrots. After finishing up lunch we plotted our course to Melbourne and hit the highway. We were avoiding tolls so we didn’t have to pay the ludicrous fee to use our EZPass and we ended up in traffic for a bit on surface streets but it gave us a nice tour of some of the less touristy parts of the city. We also very much enjoyed the incoherent ramblings of an old sounding DJ on 88.3 FM who seemed to be giving a history lesson of music from 2009. He would often loose his train of thought, mutter to himself, and make inappropriate jokes about the musicians.
We arrived at the State Library of Victoria a good forty five minutes before we were supposed to meet there for our free walking tour at 2.30 and set about to find parking. This would prove much more difficult than we thought. There were plenty of parking garages around, but as we learned only by going into one of them, they are all absurdly expensive. $75 dollars for the four hours of parking we needed! We both were shocked but couldn’t back out of the driveway we had come down so we took a ticket and then had to go find the security booth to get back out because the automatic ticket machine was not very understanding of us not wanting to pay for three minutes in the deck.
We drove around for a little bit before Lynn spotted some three hour street parking. It wasn’t quite the four hours we needed but we figured we could risk a little un-metered time. Besides, the price of $16 for three hours was a whole lot more reasonable. We parked, paid, and walked back over to the State Library just as the tour started.
The tour group was quite large, we heard because there had been hail in the morning so everyone had waited till the afternoon tour when the weather was much nicer. It was the kind of weather where a sweater is too hot for being in the sun, but a just a T-shirt is too cold for the shade and occasionally a brief shower would interrupt the sunshine. Our two guides split the tour group amongst themselves (we were #TeamAlex) and off we went around the city.
The tour was pretty excellent, especially for being free (well, its not quite free, you’re expected to tip the guide what you think the tour was worth at the end). As we walked through the city we learned about the rise of Melbourne from rebel farming colony to wealthiest city in the world at the height of the Victoria gold rush and on into the diverse, energetic, and cultural center it is today. Our tour took us by stately public buildings, the World’s Fair Expo Hall (we also had no idea Melbourne had hosted a World’s Fair), down alleyways where graffiti is legal and delicious smelling cafes were winding down for the day, and down bustling shopping roads where Christmas shoppers were starting to come out in full force. Sadly we had to leave our tour a little early to make it back to our car before our meter had been expired for too long but we very much enjoyed it and would highly recommend it to anyone in Melbourne.
Back at the car we started our long drive through rush hour traffic to the suburb of Bayswater, where we would be spending our next three nights. Along the way we stopped at a grocery to stock up on Thanksgiving dinner supplies. Sadly they did not have the requisite supplies for Cranberry Salad (a staple at my family’s Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners) but we did get turkey legs, potatoes, green beans, gravy, and rolls.
We arrived at the Airbnb just a short drive later and met Craig and Samantha, who’s guesthouse we would be staying in for the next few nights. They are lovely people and we met their daughter and dog, Oscar, as well while they showed us the house. It is incredibly well appointed (with the notable exception of an oven) and we began our turkey making extravaganza. With the lack of oven we had to improvise a little bit and ended up pan frying the turkey legs. After it was clear that wasn’t working we deboned them and that ended up a lot better. Though sorely missing Cranberry Salad, it was still a very good Thanksgiving dinner, even if we did each eat a half stick of butter between the potatoes and the rolls (oops).
After dinner, Lynn put on some comfy pants and we planned out our day tomorrow when we would be going to the local Vineyards, berry farms, and dairies in the nearby Yarra Valley for Lynn’s Birthday!
Daily Walking Miles : 8.7 miles
- Australia has possums instead of squirrels. They are way cuter than American Opposum’s and look very cuddly perched up in the trees.
- Melbourne has areas where street graffiti is legal to discourage tagging everywhere else. This has resulted in a very impressive culture of street art in the city. Outside of these designated zones the penalty for graffiti is very high, you can be fined $500 just for carrying spray paint.
- Melbourne conveniently split off from the colony of New South Wales, to form the colony of Victoria, just one month before gold was discovered. Because of this “fortuitous” timing they got to keep all of their gold rather than sending it off to Sydney. This created a ton of wealth and a lot of immigrants into Melbourne. By the 1880’s Melbourne was the second largest city in the British Commonwealth, second only to London, and was the wealthiest city in the world.
- A friend of ours has created @DougandLynnTLDR on twitter “because you can’t read it all.” We were informed by an email this morning that “someone we may know has joined twitter” and were first very confused and then very delighted once we found out what it was. (Link for the curious: https://twitter.com/dougandlynntldr)