Another beautiful day dawned here in Melbourne and we awoke to a half dozen hot air balloons floating over the city.
We headed up the Yarra River valley with thoughts of doing some walks and visiting some wineries. We had some literature about some places to hike in the Yarra Ranges National Park, a place that Jim and I had never visited, so we headed there with two hikes in mind. After almost an hour and a half of driving northeast of the city, we arrived at hike #1, the Rainforest Gallery. This hike started with a short walk on an elevated metal path, up in the canopy of the rainforest, an excellent way to start a hike. We were up 15 meters from the forest floor and enjoyed seeing the tops of the fern trees and the low branches of the tall mountain ash trees.
The hike continued down a metal boardwalk to the forest floor where we hiked past a fast flowing creek with lush greenery all around. We nearly fell over as we bent backwards trying to look up to the tops of some of the very tall trees in this rainforest!
Our second hike was supposed to start very near the Rainforest Gallery hike, and take us to the summit of Mt. Donna Buong, for what was billed as spectacular views all around. There was a sign at the trail head indicating that the trail was closed because of hazards on the trail. We were only a little disappointed because there was also a road that went to the top of the mountain, so we loaded back into the car and headed up the narrow, twisting road to the summit. Mt. Donna Buong is at an elevation of over 4,000 feet and on top of that was a 21 meter high tower. We eagerly climbed the tower and were in awe of the views all around on this clear day. We could even see the tall buildings of Melbourne rising in the distance and we were 70k’s away! After taking lots of photos we had to check out the toboggan runs on this summit. Apparently when it snows, this is a popular tobogganing spot so we walked around until we discovered 3 nice looking hills cut into the rainforest! Very cool! Jim and I may have to listen to the snow report and when we hear that this mountain has snow, make the trip to try tobogganing in Australia! We then went on a 6k round-trip hike to Mt. Victoria, which was not a mountain at all, but a trail leading to a huge radio tower (which was not for climbing!) and a small view down into a lovely, lush, green valley. The surprise on this trail was the frost covering the ground and ferns in one spot. We knew it was cold, but didn’t realize it was frosty! It was beautiful!
By now it was after 2 PM and we still hadn’t had any lunch so we headed down the mountain and chose to take a different route down, one that included a long stretch of gravel road. It was an interesting drive as it was on a road that was essentially a one lane road and when a car came from the other direction, we had to pull over onto the forest floor, but not so much that the car rolled down the steep cliff! Pressure driving! I loved it!
We decided to find a winery that also had a cafe so we could do some wine tasting and eat lunch. Unfortunately the place we tried was having a special function and could not accommodate us. Plan B was to stop at the Punt Road Winery and Ciderery to do some tasting and then move onto the Yarra Valley Dairy for a cheese lunch.
Things went as planned at the winery, but when we got to the dairy, the place was so busy they had no tables available for us to eat at. I was starving and had to draw on all of my adult strength to not throw a tantrum right in the dairy! So on we went, headed home, where I knew I had some nice cheese from the market visit yesterday. We arrived home around 5:15 PM, when I promptly served cheese and crackers, followed by dinner an hour or so later. I am much happier now!
Our day of exploration was exciting and rewarding. And it was a perfect weather day to do all that exploring.
Tomorrow I take Sally and Bob on the Great Ocean Road so prepare yourself for more crashing waves photos!