Saturday, February 18, 2006 - Melbourne and Macs Cove

First thing this morning Dean took Tom and me for a ride on his learner motorbike with home-made sidecar, then he turned over the reins, so to speak, and let/made us each drive. Without a doubt the most dangerous thing we did on our trip. Great fun!

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I'm an excellent driver

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Look out, here I come

Later in the morning Dean and Catherine took us into downtown Melbourne for a quick look around the city proper. The Shrine of Remembrance is the State of Victoria's memorial to its brave veterans throughout Australia's history. It is the site of the annual ANZAC Day commemoration, a holiday in honor of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. This is a moving place to visit. Australia is our greatest ally!

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Shrine of Remembrance

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Phillip Bay, Melbourne

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Melbourne from the Shrine

We drove along Port Phillip Bay in St. Kilda and stopped by Luna Park, the Coney Island of Australia, featuring the oldest wooden roller coaster in the world. The laughing-face entrance is a Melbourne icon.

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Luna Park

Further along the bay at Port Melbourne the Spirit of Tasmania was docked. Next time we come to Australia, we'll be on it!

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Next time!

The city tour had to be cut short since our visit in Australia was so brief and there was so much to do. We were headed to the lake for the night, and it's a couple hours' drive. At Safeway Dean and Catherine got food for the weekend, while Tom and I picked up a "slab of stubbies." That would be a case of beer in bottles in American. Australia and the United States are two countries separated by a common language, but at least we were picking up the most important lingo.

As we were icing down the slab in the "eskie" (cooler) back in Lilydale, a WW2-vintage Hudson bomber flew low directly over our heads, a rare and special moment, especially when we'd just visited the Shrine of Remembrance earlier in the day.

For lunch we had Four 'n Twenty brand meat pies, a very Australia food. These are a combination of beef and mutton, and the Aussies eat them with "tomato sauce" (catsup). Unexceptional. Catherine doesn't like meat pies and had a vegemite sandwich instead. Vegemite. Yikes.

This afternoon we traveled to Catherine's father's holiday house, two hours to the north on the shore of Lake Eildon, near Mansfield, in Macs Cove, (which sounded like "Mexico" to our American ears). I say "on the shore," but Victoria is in such a drought that the house really wasn't very near the shore at all. All of Victoria is a tinderbox that could burst into flames at any moment. I hope they get some rain soon. The house is wonderful and the area is beautiful. It just doesn't get any better than this!

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The lake house and the Jackaroo 4x4

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Australian scene

At dusk we went on safari in the four-wheel-drive truck and saw heaps of 'roos in the bush. It's fantastic to see them in the wild! Choco the Dog got overexcited and leapt from the vehicle to make chase, and for a moment we feared we'd seen the last of him. A kangaroo can easily kick a dog to death. But Dean called out his name, and after a few tense moments he returned.

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Hello there

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Goodbye

Dean made superb homemade pizza for "tea," then turned on the telly to Winter Olympics highlights. He brought out an enormous Australian flag from out of nowhere and made us all join him in cheering on the Aussies. "Stand up for Australia!!!"

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They're everywhere!

 

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