At the start of this week, Loren and I flew the short distance from Sydney – in the state of New South Wales, to a western outskirt airport near Melbourne, in the state of Victoria. We rented a car to be able to drive part of the Great Ocean Road. We stopped first to see Aireys Islet, where we took a short boardwalk stroll around a small pond, finding a shag and several swamp hens on the way.
Then we took a longer walk to the lighthouse and beach.
Once back in the car, we enjoyed how the Great Ocean Road winds its way along though Great Otway National Park. And, this is where we saw our first ‘roos! I say it that way because we are unsure if they were kangaroos or wallaroos. The only difference is in their size, and we have nothing with which to compare these first ones. At least they made this road sign believable! Now with a little research, I think these were kangaroos.
Then we drove on to Kennett River, where I had read has the best koala spotting opportunities of the Great Ocean Road area. Daylight was beginning to fade, nevertheless, to our delight we did indeed see our first koala there! A most pleasant couple helped us to spot it up in a eucalypts tree. They then walked away after taking a few snapshots. For some reason Loren and I stayed to quietly observe for a while longer, and the little one raised its head to look straight at us. What a treat! Once again our AirBnB accommodation was self-checkin – the third of three in Australia.
In the morning we returned to Kennett River. Our prior day’s tree nook was empty, but walking just a little ways away we saw another koala with lots of most colorful birds on the tree limbs below, with lots of tourists, some of whom were attracting the birds to land on their arms, shoulders, even heads, by holding out handfuls of seeds. We heard one tour guide explaining to a small group that we were seeing Australian King Parrots. Another variety that we saw we believe are Crimson Rosella. Sadly, it seemed the one koala was trying to climb further up, away from the noisy crowd.
Loren and I soon hiked further on the now uphill road where few other tourists ventured. Here we found two other koalas, each sleeping undisturbed way up high in different eucalypts trees.
When we returned down to the first spot, the koala had found a comfortable spot to sleep again with one arm raised surprisingly, despite the continual parade of tourists still feeding the birds below.
We continued our drive on Great Ocean Road, where part of the time we were going through lush forest. We had time enough to see the 12 Apostles although there are now only 8 left, as well as Loch Ard Gorge, and Razorback, before driving back to turn in our rental car and catch the hourlong express bus to downtown Melbourne. Here we had our first Australian face-to-face check-in with our AirBnB host. And, speaking of the parade of tourists above, it has been interesting to notice how some streets in Australia are named Pd. or Pde., as in Ave. or St. For example, we are now staying on Alexandra Parade in Melbourne.
This week we have enjoyed catching up with a special friend who has lived in Melbourne for several years now, with her husband and son. I have known her since she hired me for a position when I was working in the computer industry. We became close from the start and have kept in touch over the years. They have just returned from a month overseas in Europe. They are also nearly done with a beautiful job of remodeling their home here, and it is fun to see how their handsome teen son has grown.
Loren and I have also walked over to see St. Patrick’s cathedral, the Fitzroy Gardens, the Carlton Gardens, and the Melbourne Museum, so far.
We have been glad to be taking daily Bikram Yoga classes again too. The studio owners are a delightful couple from the US originally, who met in the Peace Corp., serving in the Philippines. They never returned to live in the US. Their studio, the instructors and the community are vibrant and welcoming. One evening, I went for a double – a second class on the same day, so that I could take class with a dear friend from my Bikram Yoga Teacher Training who works during the day. Loren joined us afterwards for a nice dinner out to catch up more.
I also had a couple of firsts here this week. I have had knee pain for many years and lately it has interfered with my ability to do some of the yoga postures. So, I tried my first Bowen Technique therapy, which works on fascia and connective tissue, which I hoped would help. So far the one treatment has not improved my knee, however the process felt like the equivalent of a unique massage, so the session was not a waste by any means. The other first time activity I enjoyed was in taking a mid-morning Zumba class with my friend. We went for coffee too with a few other Zumba participants. Fun!