I tried writing a couple of times on the way home. It didn’t go that well. The train was too unsteady, and I couldn’t cut and paste from the tray table on the 787. Putting pictures in the posts was difficult and frustrating. Plus editing, correcting, and moving text was next to impossible from the mouse pad. It got to be such a hassle, I gave up. Most of this is written from home.
Writing from the dining car. I didn’t realize what a pain in the ass this is. The train car rocks and rolls like Elvis at his best. Still, I wanted the view and this is the best place to watch the countryside go by. And it’s going. We’re doing about 70 mph through the wheat fields and sheep pastures.
It’s a lot easier than driving. We’re retracing the route that brought us back from the Grampians. We’re along side the 18 inch steel pipe that supplies water to Bordertown or Keith. 40-50 miles of pipe. That’s how dry this country truly is. Water is precious.
Typing is too bloody difficult. Going to give this up and watch the scenery.
4 days later, on the United 787 somewhere near the equator on our flight home. This is a lot easier to write. Time to start catching up. We’ve got a lot done in the last few days.
We spent two more nights in Mount Barker with our friends, then it was time to start for home. First stop was two nights in Murray Bridge.
I’m going to have to come out and say that the town of Murray Bridge was a bit of a disappointment. There isn’t really a lot to do there other than take the dinner cruise on the sternwheeler boat. These were booked out months before and there was NO chance of getting a nice romantic dinner on the river with only a week’s notice. Methinks there is an opportunity for another business, or at least another boat.
The motel we stayed at, the Parklane, was convenient for catching the train. What I liked most about the place was the tasty and inexpensive Vietnamese restaurant at the motel. A welcome break from the greasy food, Vietnamese cuisine is more about vegetables.
This is the east side of the old Murray Bridge, which was built in the late 1800ds. Sign says 1879. The newer railroad bridge is now located about 100 yards downstream.
After two nights in Murray Bridge, it was time to say goodbye to the state of South Australia. Up at 7:00am, pack up, and get ready. We ordered a lunch from the restaurant, pork, rice and veggies. Better fare than what you can get on the train and a lot less expensive. About 100 yds away, all down hill, all concrete or pavement, sat the train station. It took us one trip to marshal all our luggage down to the track side.
Praxy on the platform.
While we were waiting for our train, a freight train came through the opposite direction. It was a long one. The end of it was obstructing our train’s track. Ours pulled in and the freight train took off for Adelaide. Loaded all our stuff into the passenger cabin and we took off for Melbourne.
Not much to report about the return trip. Most of the good scenery lies between Murray Bridge and Adelaide. But I was able to look out and watch the traffic on the Adelaide-Melbourne highway. The same highway we had driven on four days before during our return from Ararat and the Grampian National Park. It occurred to me that we might have been better off catching the train to Ararat and renting a car there. I’m going to look into that if we ever go to the Grampians again.
Hotel room, then plan for the next day. I chose a destination that seemed to be close and fun, the Melbourne Zoo.
It was only a 15 minute train ride from Southern Cross Station to the zoo. This zoo is worth a visit.
Most of the cages, especially for larger animals, are quite roomy. The large animal cages are set up for quick, safe, and easy cleaning. The day we chose was very warm and some of the animals could have suffered. Not to worry in Melbourne. Sprinklers are installed on every cage that had animals that couldn’t take the heat. Koalas, birds, orangutans, and probably others got either an afternoon mist or impact sprinklers. It made it nice for us as well as long was we protected our cameras. Temperature on that day ended up being 99F.
Over the equator now and the sun is starting to set. 3560 miles down, 5160 miles to go. 5 hours and two movies down, over 8 more hours of butt time to go. This jet is quiet! We are over the wing in premium economy and talking is easy. The only sound is the air rushing by the cabin, rushing by at 571 mph. I’m watching the shadow of the cabin creeping up the wing. When the light is gone, I’m going to try to get some sleep.
Here are some of the highlights of the zoo…
[Break again. The pictures were such a problem, I gave up writing and went back to watching movies on the jet.]
Meerkat Manor. Engaging little things. They would come right up under your feet and rare up, hoping for a handout. I found out later that we happened to be there at about feeding time and they were hoping for their meal. I didn’t get a picture of them up close that wasn’t blurry. Meerkats are always on the move. There were four in this pen.
Finally, I saw a platypus. The room was dark, so I was stuck with trying to time it when the plat was still. No luck. This was the best I could do without a flash. Flash photography was forbidden in the viewing area for obvious reasons. Oh well. At least I saw a real, live platypus. They are quite cute little things. Very busy. I assumed the zoo kept this cage brilliantly lit during nighttime as the little critter was active as could be during our daylight hours.
Better pictures of Little Penguins, also called Fairy Penguins. These are cute as well. In the underwater viewing area, they constantly came up to the window to check out all the humans. It was a blast to watch the toddler kids chasing penguins around the room!
Banded lemurs. By now the day was quite hot and the animals were looking for the coolest part of their enclosures. Lucky for us, this cool spot was close to the rail.
I can’t remember what kind of monkey this was, but I got a kick out of it. The keepers had JUST put the food in it’s cage and it had “hidden” all it’s favorite food from the other monkeys in the cage. This hiding spot was at the viewing window, right next to us. Cucumber spears. It kept peeking at the other monkeys below, watching to see if they were going to come up and steal the treats. The other monkeys were pawing through the goodies, vainly looking for the cukes. Hilarious. I got a blurred picture of this monkey with a cuke, but it wasn’t worth posting.
The walk through aviary was just about the best part of the zoo. About a quarter acre of flying area, and the birds were taking advantage of it. I missed some photos as the sprinkler system was spraying water everywhere, and that everywhere included my camera. This is a Royal Spoonbill, about 10 feet away. Pretty cool looking bird.
Another denizen of the aviary, a Black-Necked Stork. There was a pair, but one flew by a couple of feet away from me. A picture of that flight was impossible, but it sure looked impressive.
Just outside of the aviary this little bird. a Bell Miner bird, had built a nest. A day later, I learned that these birds are very noisy with a distinctive call. They are also very aggressive about defending their nest. As I shot these pictures, both parents few over and stayed close, ready to pounce on me if I got any closer. Brave little birds. This picture is shot from about two feet away, the nest was almost in my reach. Both parents were not about to let me get to that nest without a fight, and I sensed this even before I learned about their habits.
Of course there was the normal zoo assortment of lions, tigers, zebras, elephants, etc. etc. that I couldn’t get close enough to take a decent picture. Every single animal in the zoo was in the coolest part of their enclosure by now. And of course that wasn’t close to the viewing areas. Those areas are kept clear so us humans can see the animals better.
There were also numerous indoor displays with low lighting. These were poorly lit to keep the animals calm. Not great for pictures. Reptile house and amphibian house come to mind
All told, a great zoo to visit and anyone in the area should have a look. On a cooler day, of course. At least the crowds weren’t there. Not a lot of people as most stayed home rather than deal with the heat.
We took a number 55 tram (air conditioned) back to downtown Melbourne. This route winds through the park, then across the CBD to a different station than Southern Cross. I got off at the correct stop, then proceeded to, yet again, get completely disoriented. We walked a complete circle in the hot day as I couldn’t figure out where our motel was. Egad. Next trip south of the equator, I’M. TAKING. A. FREAKING. COMPASS. WITH. ME! I never, ever, really got my bearings. I was lost 6 minutes after arrival and 6 weeks later when we boarded the jet. Yep, I was even turned around again at the airport. Very disturbing to me. I never get confused like that in the US, or even Mexico. Ever.
Edmund later told me he has similar problems north of the equator. His aren’t as bad because he travels a lot and is more adapted to the change of hemisphere.
Next day, we met up with Edmund and his wife, Didi. On to a free tram across the Melbourne CBD (Central Business District) to Chinatown for lunch. I wish now I’d known about Chinatown. There were perhaps a hundred different restaurants just waiting to be sampled. Plus, stores and such. And all in the free transportation zone in the CBD. On second thought, maybe not. I’d probably get lost and end up Sydney. Or Tasmania.
Didi went home, but Edmund took us over to the Melbourne Botanical Gardens. This place was beautiful. I have to admit. Melbourne has some of the best public attractions I’ve ever seen.
Huge trees, flowers, birds, and relaxing people in a little paradise in the middle of the city.
Guilfoyle’s Volcano. This originally was to supply water to the plants in the park. Now it’s more of a display, a round collect pond for a local spring.
Succulent kale on a stalk. Weird looking stuff.
Three pleasant hours. That’s about all for this day. One more post to go. The Great Ocean Road with the voyage home.