Werribee Open Safari Park and Zoo

Visiting Werribee Open Safari Park and Zoo has been on my list of things to do for quite a while so today was the day, as my days are running out! I was in Werribee Park with Tucker and Alison because that is where the Equestrian Center is located, but we did not go to see the wild animals.

I drove about 30 minutes west of here and it was an easy drive because I left after rush hour. The winds were ferocious though and there were high wind warnings up as I approached the West Gate Bridge and the speed was reduced from 80k to 60k because of the high winds. My little car had no trouble.

Because it is a school holiday I knew that there would be lots of families at Werribee but I was there early enough to be ahead of the major crowds. Park entry ($26.50 AU) included a safari ride in their big open buses so I did that first when I arrived. Here are some of the animals I saw from the the bus.

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This is the type of bus I was on.

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One hump dromedaries.

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Giraffes

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Zebras (here in Aussie-land they pronounce zebra so it rhymes with Debra! Go ahead, try it!)

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Rhino

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A mixed grill!

After that I walked through the zoo and wetland portions of the park. Here is what I saw  there.

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Three hippos.

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African Wild Dogs.

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Meerkat.

On the Werribee property, the sheep shearing shed from the original owners still stands. It was a great building with thick stone walls and lots of doors to let the sheep and breeze in and out. The woolshed was built in 1860.

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Inside the Chirnside Woolshed.

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The thick stone walls and beautiful doors of the Chirnside Woolshed.

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One of the flowers in the zoo park.

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The safari park/zoo offers a Slumber Safari where people take a night tour of the property, sleep in these luxury tents and then take an early morning tour. Sounds good!

Overall it was a good park and I am glad I made the visit. I left around noon and decided to check out the town of Hopper’s Crossing, with a name like that who would not be interested, which is not far from Werribee park. I’ve seen the exit signs for Hopper’s Crossing on the M1 any time I’ve driven west so I checked my Melway map book and set off on a short drive to a mall in HC. The mall was actually much bigger than I thought it would be and it had both a Coles and a Wooly’s so I could get a couple of things for dinner. I walked the whole mall, but only bought some mince (ground beef) and tomatos. Now I can say I’ve been to Hopper’s Crossing!

I spent the afternoon making an inventory of all the stuff I have purchased here in AU, that I will be taking in my  luggage on our way back to the states. I then had to pull all (or most) of the receipts for these items. I will make a list of the items and their values for the customs folks when we re-enter the good old USA!

Jim is packing up his bike tonight which means I will start driving him to work these last 4 mornings. Most nights he thinks he can get a ride home with a colleague. I think I have mentioned about the magpies harassing Jim on his ride to work in the mornings. Well today this one bird swooped by his head 6 times and made a direct hit on Jim’s helmet 4 times!!! Never a dull moment!

Tomorrow is October 1st, it is hard to believe that when we return home we will have to think about raking leaves and preparing for another winter!

G’Day Mates!

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Marvelous Melbourne Day

This was our last full Sunday in Melbourne and we made the most of it! We were like the locals when we went out for brekky and read the Sunday paper! It was a perfect morning to sit outside the cafe and read all the footy news and eat a delicious meal.

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Sunshine, a cup of tea and the sports pages!

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Fresh-squeezed OJ, eggs and bacon~alas, no baked beans!

We also took our last weekend bike ride and the great weather continued. I became aware of something called the Royal Melbourne Show happening somewhere in the city but I didn’t really know what it was or where. So I did a little research and gathered that this show was like a state fair, which sounded like it could be fun. When I figured out where the show grounds were I realized that we could ride our bikes there, so that is what we did. The 9 mile route to the show was mostly on bike trails, some of which were new to us. We biked along the Maribyrnong River, which flows into the Yarra from the west.

Indeed the Royal Melbourne Show had a familiar feel to the New York State Fair, minus the butter sculpture! We enjoyed our time walking around the grounds seeing the sights and doing some people-watching! Here a some photos from our time at the show:

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Our route took us past the Melbourne docks.

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Waiting to buy our $32 entry tickets! Yikes, and that was a general admission ticket, no rides included!

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The roller-coaster rose over our heads as we went through the entry gates. Not sure why there is an American Flag flying.

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Royal Melbourne Show sights.

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In one of the Ag buildings.

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Lots of local olive oil to taste.

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Toasted Cheese sandwiches and only $2.00 each!

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Lunch!

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Replica of the famous Royal Flying Doctors plane.

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Thinking of Alison as we watched the horse jumping!

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Beautiful cakes in the Home/Life building.

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Yarn-bombing!

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Local crocheters teaching the skill.

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Spinners doing their thing and answering questions.

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Prize-winning knitting entries.

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Lace skirt and top~as a lace knitter, I was most impressed! Sorry about the flash reflection on the glass case.

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Sweet treat awards.

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The Livestock building!

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A beautiful Merino ram.

Cow judging.

Cow judging.

Love the striped cows!

Love the striped cows!

 

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Car and trailer that were yarn bombed. Not really my thing, but impressive none-the-less!

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Cotton Candy is called Fairy Floss in Australia!

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Cheering for the lumberjacks during the springboard chop competition.

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One of our favorite activities to watch was the speed and agility course for dogs.

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In addition to jumping over barriers the dogs had to run through tunnels and weave their way through these wands. It was fun to watch it made us think of Ophie!

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Our ride home along the bike path by the docks.

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Approaching Melbourne from the west.

So that was our day. Hope you had a good day too!

Happy Anniversary to Tucker and Alison!

Cheers!

Hawks Win!

Footy fever peaked today as over 100,000 fans squeezed into the “G” to see the Hawthorn Hawks defeat the Fremantle Dockers in an excellent game.

The game started at 2:30 PM but we decided to walk over to the “G” around 10:00 to check out the festivities and growing crowds. Jim also had a colleague who told him vaguely where he and his buddies would be tailgating and we should try to find him. We enjoyed walking through the ranks of tailgaters, but never found him. I was amazed at how early people were lining up to get to their seats considering the gates did not open until 11:00. We did find out that there were many per-game activities in the stadiums so that must have been the attraction to get people there so early. We didn’t have tickets so we headed home, but enjoyed the walk as we watched many hopeful fans from both teams heading towards the stadium in their team regalia!

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Rainbow lorikeets watching fans pass on the way to the big game.

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Face Painters were out in force to help fans “support the team!”

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Gathering crowds at the “G”.

Another one of Jim’s colleagues invited us to his house to watch the game because he was having a BBQ with some friends. It was a fun afternoon to watch the game with these people, who knew lots about the game and the history of these two teams. I was cheering for the Dockers and I think most people at the BBQ would have liked to see them pull out an upset win, but it was not their day. So I guess there will be lots of celebrating and sorrow-drowning tonight, but we plan to stay home. Jim has work to do and there is still packing and organizing to do to get ready for the professional packing of the air shipment on Wednesday.

We arrived in Melbourne shortly after the footy season started and we have become big fans of the game and were glad to still be here to see the exciting conclusion of a great season!

Cheers!

Friday Footy Fanatics!

So if you are getting tired of reading about the Footy  Frenzy that has taken over Melbourne, hang on, the Grand Final is tomorrow and then the country moves onto cricket!

The Aussie Today Show, which is usually broadcast from Sydney was in Melbourne this morning as part of the pre-game festivities. I got going a bit earlier than usual and rode my bike to the “G” to watch the weather guy do his portion of the show and then I continued my ride to the CBD where the 2 anchors were doing the show from the banks of the Yarra River on a beautiful morning. People associated with the Today show were giving away souvenir bags filled with things like pens, rulers and magnets and I happily accepted one! I didn’t hang around too long because I wanted to get to yoga.

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The Today Show jeep let me know I was getting close to the broadcast location.

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The anchors of the Today Show along the Yarra River.

I love my yoga studio, but it is a very quiet place. Everyone walks in, unrolls their mat, and starts meditation. It does not have the social component that my classes at home have. A couple of months ago one woman said “hi” and we got to talking and we became friends. Well, she got a full-time job recently and today was her last time at the 9:30 AM class so I wanted to be there to say “Good-bye!”

Right after yoga I walked quickly to the train station where I took a train to the CBD for the Footy Parade. The parade started at noon and I arrived at the parade route at 11:15 to find the streets closed off and thousands of people lining the route. I decided I wanted to position myself so that the sun would be at my back so I was lucky to find a single spot right behind the first row of parade goers. By the time the first parade participants came by, the crowd was 10-deep! The parade started on schedule and there were several bands, and both teams traversed the route in the back of white, Toyota pick-up trucks. Interestingly, the parade included the Carlton Beer Clydesdales~just like Budweiser! It is estimated that 100,000 people attend this parade and I can believe it! After the parade the streets were just packed. I guess all the business people who work in the CBD and came out at lunch for the parade, did not go back to work!

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The crowd gathering along the parade route!

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The Police horses led the parade, notice the team leg warmers on the horses!

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The Australian Army was the first band to pass by.

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Carlton Clydesdales.

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Bagpipes and drums.

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This year’s Brownlow winner, similar to an MVP award, only more.

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A local band playing the Fremantle team song.

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The Fremantle coach being interviewed while moving along the parade route.

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Another local band playing the Hawthorn team song, which is to the tune of Yankee Doodle!

 

Two of the Hawthorn players.

Two of the Hawthorn players.

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Fans come in all sizes and ages!

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Businessmen watching the parade from the balcony of an office building.

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The crowds after the parade.

The two teams playing in tomorrow’s game are the Hawthorn Hawks (a local team) and the Fremantle Dockers (from a suburb south of Perth). The Hawks have won the Premiership Trophy multiple times in their history and were in last year’s Grand Final, but lost to Sydney. The Dockers are a young team, forming in 1994 and have never been in the Grand Final. It is amazing to see the huge number of Docker fans around Melbourne, proudly wearing their purple, green and red team colors and yelling “Fre-oooooooo” any chance they get! The Hawk fans will probably out-number the Docker fans at the game, but the Docker fans were lots more vocal at the parade today. Groups of fans will spontaneously break into singing their team song no matter where they are! It is such fun!

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Hawk fans and Docker fans side-by-side waiting for the parade to start.

Jim and I are going back down to the CBD tonight to get a beer and maybe find some dinner. There should be lots of energy with all these fans in town!

Cheers!

Goal!

I did it! I kicked my first footy goal and won a footy ball!

It was a beautiful morning for a ride to the CBD and I got there in time to get in line for the Kick to Win game with only about 20 people in front of me. Each person was given 5 chances to kick and you only needed to get one through the goal for a free ball. I went 3 for 5, missing my first and last attempts. Not bad for a rookie!

The carnival atmosphere was once again in full swing in Federation Square and I took advantage of free give-aways of meat pies and a new Cadbury candy. See the photo below for my haul!

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My footy prize and other free stuff!

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The very popular meat pie man!

I didn’t hang around too long because I had a FaceTime get-together with a friend, which was wonderful! Love FaceTime!

I did the Capitol City Loop on my bike one more time for a total of 28 miles today! There is a new hazard for bikers these days and that is the magpie population. Apparently in the Spring, they fly into biker’s helmets! Jim’s colleagues warned him about this and today out of the corner of my eye I saw one coming towards me and instinctively ducked down so I only heard his wings go by my helmeted head, no direct contact was made! Some local riders put stiff plastic cable ties on the top of their helmets, sticking straight up to deter a direct hit, but they look pretty funny!

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Sign along my bike route.

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Can you see the plastic spikes sticking out of the guys helmet?

Here is a photo of the enormous ferris wheel that is being repaired. I think I have written about this before. For the past month or so we have been watching the progress as the pods are systematically attached. It looks complete now.

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The pods are all finally in place.

Jim was out to dinner with his colleagues tonight so I had a quiet evening to get some reservations made for New Zealand.

Time for bed for me~those of you in the USA, have a good day!

Footy Fever

Or as the Aussies say, “Footy Feva!”

I decided to take a trip to the CBD, specifically Federation Square where my research indicated that there were footy festivities happening today, in preparation for the Grand Final on Saturday. And sure enough, my sources were right!

As I mentioned yesterday, this is School Holiday Week so the families were out in force to have some fun at the Footy Fair. There were all kinds of booths set up where you could try to kick a goal and win a footy (the ball), have your photo taken and put on a team badge, practice catching a ball for a mark, and have your photo taken by the championship trophy to name a few.

I thought I might try to kick a goal to get a ball to bring home, but the line for this activity stretched across the square and I was unwilling to wait in it. When I returned to Federation Square before returning home, the line was closed because the free footys were running out. One of the women working this activity told me they would be there tomorrow and to get there early. So I plan to ride my bike to the CBD in the morning to try to kick a goal so I can get a free footy. Wish me luck!

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Larger than life footy players were on hand for photos. They are representing the two teams playing on Saturday.

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This will be me in the morning! Hope I can make it!

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10 meter high footy player made with little footy balls!

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Street entertainment for the hordes!

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Even the sides of large buildings get into the footy spirit!

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Families waited a long time to be photographed by the championship trophy.

Cheers!

September 23, 2013

There was no blog last night because we were traveling home from Darwin to Melbourne, and we did not get back to our apartment until 1:30 AM!

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Kakadu rock art.

We made the most of our last day in the Top End by visiting a couple more sites in Kakadu National Park, featuring lots of Aboriginal rock art and a couple of good hikes to overlooks. It certainly would be interesting to see this land during the rainy season when most of the land and roads are under water. A regular feature along the park roads and the roads leading to the park are the gauge posts to indicate the depth of water over the road, so you know what you are getting into if you chose to cross the flooded roadway! These gauge posts are 2 meters tall!

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Kakadu view.

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Flowers from a Kakadu tree.

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I don’t want to meet the termites that build this termite mound!

We returned to Darwin and did a few things that we missed when we first arrived. The Botanical Gardens were a pleasant surprise and here are some sights that caught my eye.

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Pineapples!

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Paint-splattered bush!

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A spectacular tree house in the Children’s Garden!

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We checked out Cullen Bay and because it was very hot and humid we found a lovely restaurant with a covered deck and indulged with an ice cream and lemonade while enjoying the ocean breeze and ocean view.

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Refreshing ocean breezes cool us down after lots of walking in Darwin.

There was one more place we wanted to check out in Darwin and that was the Deck Chair Cinema. We found it near the waterfront and peaked in through the surrounding hedge. There were hundreds of deck and lawn chairs set up facing a large screen where a movie is shown every night during the Dry. If time permitted, that would have been fun to visit.

Today I spent a lot of time getting things organized for our last few weeks down under. Our air shipment is being professionally packed up next week, but we need to submit our inventory list tonight so insurance can be acquired for our stuff. I have three staging areas set up around the apartment. The guest room bed has become the collection point for all the stuff to go in the air shipment, my New Zealand gear is on the floor in our bedroom and the luggage for our flight back to the USA is in the living room. And as you might imagine, I have detailed lists of what goes where! Hopefully my system will not fall apart. Packing up to go home is easier than packing up to come here because I know that I need to pack everything that is ours in this apartment~there are no tough decisions to make~just which pile to put things in!

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Air shipment stuff, minus the bikes.

The weather was perfect for bike riding today so I took a break from packing and did my favorite ride, the Capitol City loop. I had lunch at the Collingwood Children’s Farm cafe, which was jumping because this is the start of a School Holiday week and I was entertained by children chasing chickens and making horse and cow sounds! Jim will pack up our bikes this weekend, but I hope to do this ride one more time.

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Entertainment at the Children’s Farm Cafe.

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Warm Dutch Carrot Salad with Lentils! Delicious!

Melbourne is in a footy frenzy as this Saturday is the Grand Final for footy. Jim’s team, the Hawthorn Hawks will play the Fremantle Dockers from the west coast. I’ll take the Fremantle team because they were very impressive in their semi-final game against Sydney, plus I like their colors, purple and black! There is a parade downtown on Friday for the teams which I plan to attend, but I don’t think we will be able to get tickets to the game. General admission tickets go on sale tomorrow morning, but we’ve been told that the tickets may all be gone by then! We will be able to watch it on TV! I will have to keep my eyes and ears open for other pre-game festivities and try to go to those as well.

This springtime weather is easy to take. The high today was in the low 70’s F. and mostly sunny, which was more pleasant than the high 90’s and low 100’s we had in Darwin and Kakadu!

G’Day Mates!