Last night we went out to dinner with 3 of Jim’s colleagues from Rochester who have been in AU to work with the AU company that Jim is working with. Sue, Dan and Bruce joined us for dinner and we had a nice evening with them. We made plans to meet them today to do some sightseeing.
Since they were here for such a short time, they had done some research and decided that they would like to go to the Healesville Sanctuary and to a winery. The Sanctuary is (according to Eyewitness Travel Australia guidebook) “a natural bushland” and is the “best place to see indigenous Australian animals in relatively relaxed captivity.” So there were large areas where the animals had lots of room to move, but were still within fenced areas. It was very well done and we got to see kangaroos, platypuses, koalas, beautiful birds, eels, swans, tasmanian devils and dingos. We paid an extra fee to have a “Magic Moment” with the kangaroos which meant we got to go in the roped off area and feed the female kangaroos. The males were there but the ranger said to stay away from them as they can get aggressive. So we had fun feeding the ladies for about 10 minutes. They ate some grasses, carrots and sweet potatoes. It was a good experience and we learned a lot about the animals. I still am looking forward to seeing my first ‘roo in the wild!
After a few hours at the Sanctuary we started to look for a winery that had a restaurant because we had worked up an appetite. Between Sue reading a guidebook, Jim reading a map, Bruce putting info into the GPS and Dan driving we got to the Rochford Winery. I was just along for the ride!
The restaurant portion of the winery overlooked the vineyards with the nearby mountains rising in the distance. The weather was perfect for our outing as it was sunny with pleasant temperatures (at least we thought the 60 degree temps were pleasant, the Aussies would tell you it was cold!). The leaves on the grapevines were just starting to change color so there was a touch of yellow/gold as we looked across the rows and rows of vines. The Healesville Sanctuary is located in the Yarra River Valley, which is famous for it’s wineries. There are so many here that we could not visit them all if we stopped in to 2 of them every day of our stay!
After lunch we went to the tasting room where for $5 we could taste as many of their wines as we wanted. Dan was our designated driver so we felt free to sample many of their fine wines. There were many delicious varieties and Jim and I ended up buying 2 different types. If you bought a bottle of wine you got your $5 tasting fee back! We felt lucky that the winery that we randomly chose turned out to be a winner!
We returned to their hotel and we continued on home. I hadn’t driven in a few days so it was good to get behind the wheel again. And, I only turned on the windshield wipers once when I intended to use my turn signal!
We took the #8 tram downtown to the Chinatown section where we were meeting Bruce, Sue and Dan. Chinatown was jumping and we knew we would have trouble finding a place to eat since we didn’t have a booking (reservation) anyplace. We all walked around a bit and after being turned away at 3 restaurants we found a table at Happy Palace. It was on the second floor of a corner building so we had a good view of the happenings down on the street. The meal was pretty good, but the service was not great. But it was a fun evening with friends and we got to explore another section of Melbourne.
Thanks to Sue, Dan and Bruce for a fun couple of days!