Andrew and I took a holiday for nearly three weeks in Australia, spending some time in five areas of the continent to get a quick sampling of the nation. Those 19 days were interesting and wonderfully enjoyable. Each place was different, but the people everywhere were great.
After landing in Melbourne, we drove a couple hours to Castlemaine, where a couple live whom we met while living in Guadalajara, Mexico. Hans and John are wonderful hosts and interesting guys. They showed us around their part of the country, taking us to several places with different terrain, architecture, and history.
After showing us around a bit of their town (Castlemaine), they drove us northwest, out into the country, to the historic gold mining town (and Historic Reserve) of Maldon. To preserve its heritage, the town enforces strict controls on building alterations. Visiting this town is like stepping back in time to the Victorian gold rush era.
Hans and Paul took us first to the top of Anzac Hill for an overlook of the town and then to the Beehive Mine with its magnificently constructed and well-preserved 30 metres tall chimney and the nearby battery foundations.
On the way into (and back out of) Maldon, I saw my first kangaroo outside a zoo. He was an old geezer that didn’t seem to want to move much, even when I approached within five metres of him. He was just lying in someone’s lot beside the road. We saw many other kangaroos during our later travels through other parts of Australia, but this guy was my first.
After a small lunch in a cafe in town, we drove to the nearby Mount Tarrangower Fire Lookout Tower and climbed the 70 stairs for a 180° view of the state of Victoria, Australia.
That afternoon, we all drove out to Mount Alexander Regional Park, where there is an amazing oak forest that was in its autumnal colours. It is one of the most beautiful forests I’ve ever seen, but then, I’m partial to oak trees, especially in autumn. After meandering through the beautiful oak trees awhile, we drove to the top for another view of the surrounding area. Up there are many rocks, some with trees growing right up through the middle of them.
We stayed with Hans and John for two days, and we very much enjoyed renewing our friendship. We appreciate that they cleared their schedules to be able to show us around their town and area. Before we departed, they told us of a couple of other places we might like to visit during our return drive to Melbourne, places we would never have even known were there had they not told us.
One was the largest river red gum tree (eucalyptus) in Victoria, located just off the A300 south of Castlemaine, in the town of Guildford. The tree stands 30 metres tall, with a trunk circumference of 9.35 metres and a canopy spread of 34 metres. It is thought to be between 500 and 1,000 years old.
Another stop was the Convent museum and art gallery in Daylesford. That place is huge. I sat in a small alcove and enjoyed the atmosphere, thinking that Andrew would be along in just a few minutes. I finally went looking for him, and I ended up walking through about ten rooms and hallways before I found him, and I hadn’t even reached the other end of the place. And there are three levels to the Convent. The place really is amazing and well worth the $5.00 entry fee.
Our next stop is Melbourne…