Following travels from Sydney to Canberra and Wagga Wagga, with a few more days before our next house sit, we scheduled stops to quickly check out Wangaratta and Melbourne.
Back on the train!
A Geek and Her Bicycle.
Bike helmets aren’t really the best fashion accessory, but I knew I really needed to protect my noodle. I was on a borrowed bike, in an unfamiliar city, riding on the left side of the road, AND maneuvering roundabouts! We only went the wrong way around once!
Learning curve aside, this was an excellent way to see as much as possible on a short stop. Thanks to our Airbnb hosts for lending the bikes to us!
A quick stop to admire the architecture of the Holy Trinity Anglican Cathedral was called for; I’m a sucker for the stained glass windows, woodwork, and arches. The pews were beautiful, but not comfortable enough to make us stop and sit a spell. Back on our bikes!
In addition to the art gallery, a quilt shop (Yes, I popped in and bought a bit of fabric. What could I do?), and a little more fun with roundabouts, a rural bike trail tempted us. A little bit of country-side, a few cows, a horse or two, and FLIES!
We were warned about these damned things, but coming from Manitoba’s Interlake, we thought… flies shmies, we have mosquitoes. How bad could they be?
They are BAD.
They are EVERYWHERE.
Even with bug spray, we often have swarms of them hitching a ride on our backs (better than on our faces). We have adopted the ‘Aussie Wave’ to shoo them away & we have even taken up the customary habit of carrying leafy branches, so we can swat at them. This is all well and good when walking, (actually, it isn’t; I am often driven to saying nasty words), but it’s a bit much on bikes. Flies in our ears, flies in our helmets, flies up our noses, flies in our eyes! AGRGGH!! Country bike ride aborted.
Back on the train.
Australia’s second largest city, Melbourne is known for it’s Art Deco buildings. Nonetheless, it was the modern architecture that caught my eyes in the Carlton neighbourhood, which was our base.
Using the city’s bus and trolly service made it easy to see a great deal on this short visit. The Shrine of Remembrance, the National Gallery of Victoria (centre top picture above), and the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne topped the list of stops.
If you have not yet toured a botanic garden, it’s worth considering. You don’t have to be a plant freak or a gardener to enjoy the experience (If you are, you’re likely already a regular!). In addition to being great places to learn about native plants & those from around the world, they are some of the most beautiful green spaces in cities.
There are almost always spots where you can stop for a picnic, read, have a nap on the lawn, or watch birds. This Kookaburra was teasing me by sitting pretty and letting me get very close, but would not sing for me, even when I asked nicely. Too bad; they sound like monkeys, as they chatter away in the trees!
An easy jaunt from Melbourne is the Yarra Valley, home to many wineries, cheese makers, and a chocolate factory! A day long mini bus tour with 9 others was a nice treat.
We’ve always visited wineries on our own; it was a nice change to have someone else do the driving and provide a bit of information and entertainment.
We certainly wouldn’t want to join one of those huge tour buses that roll into wineries, but this was a good one. Oh, the cheese and chocolate? Oh, yeah, baby!
Melbourne is an ethnically diverse city, adding to its interest for us. Different languages are spoken, a very wide range of goods are available in shops and markets, and there seem to be restaurants from almost any country (OK, we didn’t see any Canadian poutine shops!).
Just a quick stroll down the block from our Airbnb lead to Lygon Street and restaurant-palooza! Walk a few blocks and you’ve toured much of the world. Too many choices, but we settled on Thai, Turkish, & Italian for our nights out.
An exciting city for such a short stop; we had a dog and a house sit waiting for us, but we certainly won’t rule out a return some day.