Melbourne, Australia

November 5th thru the 8th, 2013

We flew from Bali to Melbourne, Australia on an overnight flight.  We arrived on the 4th and learned that apparently, the biggest horse race in the world was being held in Melbourne on the 5th. It is called the Melbourne Cup and the date is a National Holiday.  Horses from all over the world participate.  It is very similar to the Kentucky Derby, except that the horses are weighted, so some of them have a handicap, which makes the race a bit more fascinating, as any horse can win and the entire Nation stops for 5 minutes to watch the race.  There is a big parade held in downtown Melbourne with horses, jockeys, bands, celebrities and politicians participating.  All the women are decked out in Kate Middleton look a-like hats, dresses and high heels.  The men are dressed in coats, ties and hats also.  We placed a couple of bets, sat at a bar in a casino and watched the race.  As suspected our horses did not win, one of mine, and one of Rita’s placed, but of course, since we know nothing about betting, we placed our bet wrong, so we won nothing!!!  We could have won about $2500.00, had we known… Oh well, it was exciting just to participate in the local event.   

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Afterwards we hopped in a taxi and went to the suburb of St. Kilda, which is on the beach about 6 kilometers from the city center of Melbourne.  We walked the boardwalk along the Southern Ocean, enjoyed the setting sun and watched the throngs on the beach.  As you are aware, it is November in Melbourne, which is like April in Indiana.  The temperature today was 79 degrees and very sunny.  We ate a snack at a beach side bar/restaurant called the “Stoke House” and watched the beach crowd as well as the race crowd returning from the Melbourne Cup.   

Like Singapore, Melbourne has been a very pleasant surprise.  It is clean and modern.  It is located on the Yarra River.  Melbourne has developed the banks of the River and created all sorts of upscale bars, restaurants, hotels, casinos, stores and malls.  The riverbanks are crowded day and night with people enjoying the nice spring weather, strolling along the river, eating and drinking.  All these people attract artists, musicians and magicians.  One unique street entertainer had a bicycle that was designed to go the opposite direction you are steering it.  He would bet people $10 they could not ride the bike about 15 feet.  While this may not sound too difficult, we watched several people try and fail miserably.  The people we watched could not even ride the bike 3 feet!!  We could not figure out the trick bike and how it worked.   I came to Melbourne specifically to see the Apostles.  The Apostles are 12 large limestone stacks or rocks standing in the surf off the Southern coast of Australia, in the Southern Ocean, 3 hours from Melbourne, of which only 9 are left standing.  Yes, I know that there were 12 Apostles in the Bible, but there are only 9 Apostles in Australia because unfortunately three have been lost to the wave erosion.  Why did I want to see the Apostles?  Well, the spectacular beauty of the Apostles always fascinated my father Harold whenever he would see them in a photo in a magazine.  He would always show me the photos of the Apostles and tell me that if he went to Australia someday, he would want to see them.  Although my father Harold gave to me his love of travel, and traveled extensively himself, he never made it to Australia to see the Apostles.  So, here I am in Australia and yes I did see them for my father Harold.  The 9 Apostles were impressive indeed to see in person.  But, more importantly, as I stood on the cliffs overlooking the Apostles, I could feel the presence of my father Harold with me and he was pleased that I was there.   To get to the Apostles, we drove three hours on the Great Coast Highway.  Along the route we saw eucalyptus trees, wild koala bears and kangaroo crossings, but no kangaroos.  The wild koala’s eat 4 hours a day and sleep 20 hours a day.  I am sure some of you would be jealous of that schedule!! 

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The countryside was beautiful, rolling green hills with lots of trees, cows, and sheep.  The farms in this area are quite large by our standards.  They run in excess of 5000 acres.      On our last day in Melbourne, we decided to take a bus tour, to see what those “hop on – hop off” bus tours were all about.  It was actually very nice to ride in the comfort of the bus and hear the commentary with the history of all the different places.  We also got to see a lot of homes along the way, as this is a very downtown residential city.  Most of the buildings are made of glass to sustain the weather here, as wood rots easily.  The glass buildings make for a wonderful city landscape.   

We wanted to see Perth, on the southwest side of Australia, as Rita’s parents lived there for about 5 or 6 years prior to coming to the United States.  Her next oldest sister, Mary, was born in Perth.  But, unfortunately, since Australia is such a large country, we could only fit in two of the cities on our list.  So, we are off to Sydney now to explore this harbor town.  Talk soon!  

Happy birthday to Martha, Mary (Rita’s sister), and Brody!! All of them celebrate their birthday on the same day!!! November 11!!  

Love and miss all of you, Norm and Rita      

Melbourne, Australia

Our first sight of the south bank in Melbourne.

Our first sight of the south bank in Melbourne.

Helicopter rides over the city scape!

Helicopter rides over the city scape!

Evening on the boardwalk!

Evening on the boardwalk!

Whoah!! Didn't know the fire was coming out of this when we walked by! We both jumped!

Whoah!! Didn’t know the fire was coming out of this when we walked by! We both jumped!

Lots of black swans here.

Lots of black swans here.

Walked by these on our way to the mall. Love them, they are named "Venus" and "Mars"!

Walked by these on our way to the mall. Love them, they are named “Venus” and “Mars”!

One of the street performers that swallows balloons!

One of the street performers that swallows balloons!

Yes, he REALLY did it!

Yes, he REALLY did it!

Looks like a great place to stop for a drink!

Looks like a great place to stop for a drink!

Looks easy, right??

Looks easy, right??

Actually, NO ONE could even get it started, they didn't even pedal once!

Actually, NO ONE could even get it started, they didn’t even pedal once!

Found these guys in the mall! Why he kept patting Rita's head down, we have no idea!!

Found these guys in the mall! Why he kept patting Rita’s head down, we have no idea!!

St. Kilda's Beach

St. Kilda’s Beach

The Stoke House

The Stoke House

Beautiful artwork on the beach, with real fire!

Beautiful artwork on the beach, with real fire!

One of the first views along the Great Ocean Road.

One of the first views along the Great Ocean Road.

Stopped along the way to take a picture.

Stopped along the way to take a picture.

Can you see the surfers?

Can you see the surfers?

Yes, Stephanie, you are correct... The top ten MOST DANGEROUS snakes live in Australia!!

Yes, Stephanie, you are correct… The top ten MOST DANGEROUS snakes live in Australia!!

When we stopped to see the Koala bears, we were told to watch out for all the birds. They attack people!

When we stopped to see the Koala bears, we were told to watch out for all the birds. They attack people!

As mom is taking her sons picture, a bird decided to land on her ipad!

As mom is taking her sons picture, a bird decided to land on her iPad!

This is a sleepy head Koala bear.

This is a sleepy head Koala bear.

Lots of these signs along the road.

Lots of these signs along the road.

We arrived!

We arrived! Here are a few pictures of the 12 Apostles          (we mean 9 Apostles)

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This is the story of London Bridge.  Read the sign.

Yeah, Not the whole story, here!

Yeah, Not the whole story, here!

See this beautiful rock formation? It was once ONE piece.

See this beautiful rock formation? It was once ONE piece.

The real story is...

The real story is…

There was a tour bus group out on these rocks and all of the tour peeps had come across the rock on the left to the rock on the right, except for two people.  Then the crossing broke, fell and the two people were stranded on the rock on the right.  Of course the news people were all there, with there helicopters, TV camera crews, etc.  Well, turns out the two people stranded were a man and a woman on holiday together as a couple!  BUT… their respective spouses had no idea!! of course, until the TV news announced it! Crazy!

This is called Loch Ard 1878, where a ship wrecked right into the wall of the ocean.

This is called Loch Ard Gorge of 1878, where a ship wrecked right into the wall of the ocean.

This is along the stretch of the Great Ocean Road that is called the Shipwreck Coastline.  Over 50 ships have wrecked along this part of the ocean.  The Loch Ard hit the reef and crashed.  One man held on to the hull of the boat for 5 hours and then swam from the other side of this gorge into this little inlet.  One woman, survived by clinging to the spar of the boat.  The man came ashore first and was resting on the beach at sunrise and he heard a women yelling for help.  He then swam out again to the other side of this gorge and rescued her.  Hence this is named “Loch Ard Gorge”.

Beautiful cove.

Beautiful cove.

Here comes our bus tour!

Here comes our bus tour!

This is supposed to be a ballerina's tutu.

This is supposed to be a ballerina’s tutu.

Cricket Stadium

Cricket Stadium

Lego Building

Lego Building

Dinner at Nobu.

Appetizer at Nobu.

We could do with out the eyes on this plate.

We could do with out the eyes on this plate.

Norm, finishing his dinner with his MANNERS!

Norm, finishing his dinner with his MANNERS! At least he didn’t put them in his nose!!

Rita making friends with an Aussie woman to get some tips on betting!

Rita making friends with an Aussie woman to get some tips on betting!

O.K. Now let's get down to business.

O.K. Now let’s get down to business.

YEAH!! Won a couple bucks!

YEAH!! Won a couple bucks!

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