Sunday, February 20, 2011

Australia Part II

Between visiting a friend I haven't seen in 5 years, being in a new and glorious country (and continent), and not being in Korea, there is a lot I want to write about. Too much, actually. So instead I'll stick to lots of pictures and a run-down of the awesome second week.

We got back to Melbourne Friday night fairly tired after a long drive and detours due to the recent floods, plus Friday evening city traffic. So we picked up some burritos (mine tofu asada with shredded beet, among many other things) and microbrews and called it a night.

Saturday morning we rode bikes to an awesome Environmental and Sustainability Education center called CERES to check out their Farmer's Market. Local produce, artisan wares, fresh bread, community pea patches, health products, nurseries, a bike shop, and a retail garden spot are just parts of what the center does. Here the market checkout is under grape vines.Signs told where the produce came from, how far it was, and if that crop had been affected by the recent storms and floods. We got lots of fruits and veggies, including the biggest bunch of silver beet (American: swiss chard) I've ever bought. Like a small child could hide behind it.

It was a lovely weekend of rest, laundry, bike rides, vintage port, meals with friends, and playing with Scott's nephews.

On Monday we did a day trip just outside Melbourne to the Healesville Sanctuary where we saw a birds of prey show, emus, wallabies, many other birds, and this guy, sleeping because it was daytime. Can you name this nocturnal marsupial?
That right! It's a Tasmanian Devil! And a koala, dutifully eating eucalyptus for the tourists.
On our way back, we went wine tasting in the Yarra Valley Wine region and found a delicious Pinot Noir to take home.
On Tuesday...Road trip Number 2! This time, instead of the coast, we headed inland north and west to Hall's Gap in the Grampian National Park.
This is the cabin where we stayed, a vacation home of one of Scott's friends. It sat by itself in a huge field, the only house off this dirt road.

Scott looks unsure about his gin and tonic, but really, it was delicious. We also were very committed to finishing our epoisse and silver beet. The sky was big, and there were so many cockatoos and lorikeets, the sound was exuberantly cacophonous all day and night.

The next day we were ready for a big hike. We had spent all this time the night before pouring over the perfect trail to do in our one day, and when we got to the trail head bright and early, we found this sign:

It was quite disappointing, but luckily we also saw kangaroos, including my first joey up close, and even nursing from the pouch! So it was a decent consolation.

We also found a couple other trails that were open, and still did a decent hike on the outer east side of the park.

Oh, didn't I mention my Outback hat? On our drive in, Scott and I stopped for a lunch picnic and realized we had forgotten our sun hats. We were in a small town, and decided to pick up some ridiculous but very functional hats.
After the hike we drove into the park farther, and an emu ran in front of the car! Then we saw some Aboriginal rock art that is like 20,000 years old!
The next day we had to leave the lovely cabin, and tried to get an early start on the road, but... the car battery was dead. Lights left on. Remember that whole "only house on the dirt road" thing? Yeah, we had to hike out to the main road and flag down a car for a jump start, but it was a nice walk and we were back on the road after not too long.
We drove to Bendigo, which is Scott's hometown, enjoying a vibrant blue sky and big clouds all along the way.
In Bendigo I loved seeing Scott's mom's awesome garden and beautifully restored, over 100-year-old house. We walked around the city and drank our flat whites (what they call lattes) before doing the last leg of the road trip.
We did some beer tasting at Scott's favorite brewery, which was delicious. On the beer menu/explanations, they really revered PNW breweries and even used Cascade hops in one of their beers!
We got back to Melbourne in time for a sushi dinner, then rode bikes in the warm but torrential summer rain to get gelato. I wish I could say more, but for now just a quick picture tour, and back to Korea. It was a wonderful, wonderful trip and I really hope to go back some day.

1 comment:

scott said...

I'm so not unsure about the G&T, the expression is more one of disbelief "holy cow, that's the best G&T ever, how can you fit that much taste into such a small glass?"