The House-sit 1
Another good night - no noisy birds, though there was a party not far away that carried on till late. Emily was even later than us! We left her to finish her packing and drove to the nearby Eastland Shopping Centre. It is absolutely huge, took ten minutes to find a parking space and there were so many shops. Ruth managed to find a few items of clothing and I got some new shorts as mine were now showing signs of being worn almost continually this trip (and the last trip too!). A bit of food shopping (including some wonderful mangoes) to get us started and then back to the house for lunch. Emily was just about ready, joined us for lunch before we set off for the airport. A fair bit of traffic, but it kept moving and we dropped Emily at the airport before setting off for Kilmore once again.
We wanted to catch up with Carolyn again and collect the rest of the stuff we had left with her. Google maps took us to the ‘Old Sydney Road’ which, we discovered was mostly gravel and very dusty. It followed the ridge-line and did have great views and we were not really in a hurry so we stuck with it and after what seemed like ages we arrived in Kilmore. Nice chat and a good dinner and we hit the road again to drive back to Croydon. Google maps took us off the Hume (where we had expected to go) and along country roads all the way to Croydon. The route was actually pretty direct and the roads were in good condition, so Google’s choice was justified; would like to do that drive in daylight.
Unloaded the car and spotted a possum in the garden, feeding on stuff in Emily’s compost heap. He hung around long enough for a photo but scooted up the tree as we got closer. Ruth looked him up and found he was probably a ring-tailed possum, about the size of a small cat. Bedtime.
I was up early-ish to go swimming. The local pool, The Croydon Memorial Pool was built in 1962 as a memorial to ‘the fallen’. It has a 50 metre pool, an intermediate pool and a toddler pool, all outdoor and set in a small park. Only a few lanes were occupied when I arrived so I had a lane all to myself, great. It was really good to have a swim outdoors in the slightly heated water and despite a slow start, I hadn’t swum for six weeks, I soon warmed up and enjoyed my 3km swim.
Back to the house for breakfast and to have a bit of a sort out of all the stuff we had unloaded from the car and just a very relaxing day. Ruth reading, me checking out the toll fees (again!), bank accounts and catching up with the blog. Not much else happened, we just relaxed, had a good dinner, watched a bit of tv then went to bed. Quite a change from camping! Didn’t see much of the cats.
Up, leisurely breakfast, the cats had been in and eaten their food but had gone out before we were up. Off to the supermarket to get some things for Christmas; $250 later we returned home for some lunch.
After lunch we drove out to the Dandenong Ranges about 20 minutes away, a wonderful drive up and through tall eucalypt forest, cool and green, quite unlike the surrounding urban sprawl of Melbourne, very refreshing. The Ranges rise to just over 600 metres, there are several small villages along the road, but it was mostly forest. Great views from the lookouts. Having driven through we will definitely be back to walk some of the trails and visit the arboretum and gardens, but the rain was just starting so not so good today.
Back to Croydon. Ruth prepared the gravad lax for Christmas Day while I did the ironing; a very domestic scene! Ollie, the male ragdoll cat wandered in for some supper then went to sleep on Emily’s bed. Watched a BBC production on tv as there was little else of interest on Australian TV (there are a lot of British programmes). Bed.
Another leisurely morning; being in a house makes quite a difference to our holiday, much more relaxed. The cats had been in during the night and cleared the food bowls. Still haven’t seen much of Lily, but Olly is starting to show some friendliness, he comes to us and expects some stroking before he wanders off again. Beautiful day, still a bit cloudy with rain threatening, but it held off. Still cool in the breeze.
Carolyn arrived for the afternoon; went shopping! Back for dinner, followed by a delicious pavlova; lots of mango! Watched the last episode of ‘Archangel’ - not brilliant acting, and the storyline got weaker as it went on; all a bit clunky! Bed.
Beautiful morning, cloudless and starting to warm up. Ollie greeted me with a big meow and wanted a cuddle. Lily came in, cleaned up her food bowl and left without backward glance. Such a beautiful day we just had to get out and enjoy it, so we drove out to visit the Yarra Ranges. We drove through Yarra Glen on the Melba Highway where we swung off onto the older Healesville-Yarra Glen Road, a nice change fro the highway. Lovely gently rolling countryside, mostly grazing lands, coming around a bend we spotted a sign fo the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie, so a slight deviation was called for.
The Chocolaterie was heaving, well it was a Sunday, the weather was great and the kids had finished school. A very quick wander around, tasted some of their samples, bought a couple of pieces then left. On into Healesville and to the ‘Sanctuary’, - for Australian wildlife. Once again, too many people, but we were able to pick up a map of the Yarra Valley. Just down the road at Badgers Creek was a lovely picnic area, completely free, so we stopped for lunch. A very friendly magpie tried to join us.
Back into Healesville for a wander, window shopping. Great little gallery selling aboriginal art, but very pricey. Do wonder who would buy some of the very large pieces, at over $2,000. Nice little town. Lots of eateries. Took the Don Road, then the Donna Buang Road to drive up into the Ranges. Tall, tall eucalypts (called Mountain Ash here), said to reach over 100 metres in height and live for over 350 years; wonderful forest, lots of tree ferns, many over 3 metres tall. The road turned to gravel after a short while but was in really good condition.
We stopped by the footpath to Mount Ben Cairn. Ruth stayed in the car while I walked the 300 metres trail to the top (alt. 1,043 metres). Really nice walk through the eucalypt forest, lovely smell of these trees. The top was a smooth granite dome the top of which had protective railings to prevent anyone falling off the cliff edge whilst admiring the view, sadly now obscured by the aforementioned mountain ash trees having grown several metres since the railings were erected. So, no view, except for glimpses between the branches. Many Banksia bushes with quite small flowers here. Walked up, and back again slowly to keep an eye out for anything slithery and long; fortunately arrived back safely. Lots of birds, including one of our favourites, the whip bird.
Further along the road, just enjoying the birdsong and the smell of the woodland and the cool air. We drove on up to the the summit of Mount Donna Buang (alt. 1,250 metres) which very conveniently has a car park at the top. Not much of a view as the surrounding trees are so tall but there is lookout, a 21 metre high tower which the brochures assured us gave views of Melbourne, Dandenong, Yarra Valley and Cathedral Ranges. When I got to the top the views were, once again limited due to the growth of the mountain ash trees, since the tower was built. Great views where they existed, of the Ranges, couldn’t see Melbourne. Lots of pretty butterflies, pale green with black markings, on bushes with thousands of orange coloured flowers near the base of the tower.
So now the descent, large car parks on the way down, set up for the snow season; there was a toboggan route from one of the car parks. The road slowly descended and wound gently through the forest and down into Warburton where we joined the highway west. We noticed the railway track is now a walking/cycling trail and the railway station a museum. Googlemaps took us off the highway at Wandin and took backroads to Croydon, just as well as the highway was now getting very busy.
Home. Large G and T before dinner; large prawns and salad, delicious! Fed the cats; they had been in during the day and cleaned up their bowls. Bed.
Up moderately early as I wanted another swim. Ruth joined me this morning; the pool was a lot busier, I mean I couldn’t get a lane to myself, I had to share with one other swimmer, but then it was nearly 9 o’clock. Exhausted, we drove back for breakfast. Quick visit to the supermarket for last minute items and it seemed everyone else in Croydon was doing the same thing.
We retreated to our house-sit, listened to music and read. This was our first really hot day, it was 34 degrees with clear blue skies, moderate northerly breeze (it’s the hot wind here; still sounds counter-intuitive to us). Same expected tomorrow, Christmas Day, and for much of the rest of the week, maybe getting to 38 degrees on Friday, whew!