Great ocean road - Cont
Next stop was the tiny surfie town of Lorne. As we pulled up to the beach we couldn't help but notice that the sea was packed full of a plethora of children in varying stages of adolescence taking on the lively coastal surf and wiping out like some sort of pre-pubescent Guiness advert. Dunc had a sulk on because he wasn't allowed to have an ice-cream so Vickie attempted to distract him by taking him for a walk along the very picture-esque beach but instead stumbled across a much more satisfactory solution (stop sniggering at the back). We inadvertidly found a mini-flock of small grey and pink coloured parrots, and sat transfixed as they frolicked about the picnic area we had perched in. As it turns out, these fantastic little birds were actually that most australian of creatures, the Gallah. When we realised this, Dunc suddenly wanted to chuck a lit match at one of them just to be able to shout "You flamin' gallah!" like so many afternoon soap cliches, but decided that the creatures were just too cute.
After having spent a total of 8 hours on the road, we were highly chuffed to be greeted at the door of Steve and Sharons Melbournian abode by a huge and very succulant roast lamb dinner. Just as we were about to fall into bed, thoroughly sated, Dunc noticed a long-bodied arachnid skittering across the carpet. It was a white tail (he of "biting Chris" fame). He calmly announced the news to Vickie, who became jumpier than a mexican bean, at once both fascinated and terrified by the innocuous looking creature. Dunc returned to the room clutching a handful of specially designed "spider squasher" material (cunningly designed as a wad of tissue paper) before preparing to end the white-tails time on this mortal plane. Just as he was summoning up the courage to crush the beast, Sharon came charging into the room and introduced it rather intimately to the sole of her foot, before moving in for a closer inspection. "Yep, definitely a White tail", she declared. We had just killed our first poisonous animal in Australia. Kudos. The nights sleep was not a restful one.
We were nearing the end of our time in Victoria, but still had one important thing to do. See some wildlife. Concluding that the residents of the local aussie pub didn't really count as wildlife, we elected to visit Healsville Sanctuary, a home to many native aussie creatures injured through various means. Chris's wife Leona and her little nephew Charlie (a fellow Batman afficionado as Dunc was overjoyed to learn, despite the fact that he was only 5 years old) joined us on this little exursion. During a wonderful day, we petted a wombat (Dunc thought that "tickling a wombat" sounded funnier, but Vickie told him to stop being childish) and were surprised by the solidity of the rumpy brown hairball. Vickie (unsurprisingly) fell in love with the Koalas, and it was some time before we could peel her away from staring at their cuddly faces. We also spent some time being intimidated by the various avians in residence experiencing as we did the brilliant birds of prey flight displays, before getting pecked at by some over attentive pelicans who were due a feed. On top of this, we observed some (surprisingly dull) Kangaroos, and chased a little rock wallaby around his enclosure for a while before heaeding home via the Dingo enclosure. All told, it was a wonderfully diverting day, and a diversion via the imposing gum-tree lined Dandeenong mountain to check out the city views from Skyhigh point only served to improve our already highly-positive frame of mind.
Our final stop in Victoria was the set of that most famoust of Aussie exports, Neighbours. We were off to Ramsey street. Unfortunately, of all the things we'd done since we arrived, this proved to be the most disappointing of all as it was closed for filming a promotional video. We could just about make out the familiarity of it, but it was all a bit static and uninvolving, so before too long, boredom got the better of us and we harrumphed our way back to the car to head home.
One final artery-hardening fry up from Steve and Sharon later, and it was time to leave Melbourne and Victoria, and carry onwards in our Australian journey. As we boarded our inter-state Greyhound carriage and waited to depart, we were briefly treated to the dry aussie directness that has earned the country such a straight-talking reputation internationally when a couple of british girls "commuter ran" their way to the bus at dead on the departure time (despite being clearly instructed to arrive 30mins earlier) and frantically persuaded the bus driver to let them on. As they discussed it, the brits attempted to gain the advantage by suggesting that "Well, you're running a few minutes late anyway aren't you?". At this, the driver smirked slightly and bluntly responded "No love, you are". Back in your box, ladies.
With that, the bus pulled out of the station, and headed off towards the state line and our festive season appointment with New South Wales and Melbourne's competitive sibling, the ostentatious metropolis of Sydney.