Saturday, June 30, 2007

Australia Report #5: Dandenongs, Central Melbourne & The Rugby!

The last few days have been very busy indeed! We took the kids up to the local mountain range, called the Dandenongs. My sisters came as well, with niece and nephew in tow. We shopped around one of the small towns up there for some souvenirs, and I managed to grab a few things for the Aussie-style garden I am working on. We then took the kids onto the local steam train ride that meanders through the hills themselves. The "Puffing Billy" was initially used to transport timber and fruit from the smaller townships in the hills to the mainline terminus (Belgrave), which connects to Melbourne. Now it serves as a tourist railway and is quite scenic, wandering through thick fern tree rain forests and spacious farmlands. The kids really enjoyed it, who sat on the windows of the carriages with their feet hanging over the side much the same way as I did as a kid riding the train with my parents.

We also spent some time in central Melbourne. With my kids and my sister's kids it was a tough trip, as we had to stop for toilet, drink and food breaks every ten minutes or so. We didn't cover much of the town as a result. Still, we checked out some neat stores including "Minotaur", an awesome store that sells popular culture type stuff including comics, models, action figures etc. Their range of Doctor Who stuff was amazing, and I very nearly bought a 1/4 size K9 remote control toy for the house! But common sense prevailed and I walked out of the store empty handed. We also had a look at Melbourne Central, a fancy shopping center built around the famous Coops Shot Tower (picture below on the right). Again, we could have spent a fortune there but resisted the urge!

Tonight was a ripper of an evening. My father, wife, sister, her fiance and I went to the Melbourne Cricket Ground to watch the Australian "Wallabies" take on the New Zealand "All Blacks" as part of the Tri-Nations Rugby series. We got fantastic seats, just five rows behind the try line. To be honest I expected that the Wallabies would be slaughtered like lambs, and after the first half this was looking highly probable. But in the second half a very determined Aussie team came out onto the field and played terrific rugby, eventually beating the All Blacks by five points. A very close game indeed, but taking into account the Wallabies' terrible track record from last year, this year they're looking fairly decent. With a few months until the World Rugby Cup in France, things are getting interesting... Anyway, some fun rugby shots below.

We only have a few days left now. Funny how time flies in the last part of your vacation. But we're going to fit a bit more in before we leave, including a birthday party for my oldest sister, a trip to some volcanic remnants north of Melbourne and fair bit more shopping!

1 comment:

Scott Ogle said...

You guys are having a fabulous trip.