After a bit of a disasterous first day in Melbourne (see the day that turned to custard) we had a restful second day - in the morning we took our boys and Aaron to the swimming pool and then spent the afternoon chillaxing back at the house (except Peter who caught up on some school work). The kids all woke early again the next day (waking us too). We drove into the city early and did a walking tour around the Botanic Gardens (4 miles) which was somewhat spoiled by an attack of the Grumps from Luke and an unusual navigational error from me (as a result of this rare occurrence, getting lost in the Botanics was a regular topic of discussion over the next few days).
Although Dan and Fiona's house is quite big, the downstairs sleeping quarters (which we shared with the four boys) are quite small. Aaron’s excitement at having his cousins visit never really wore off and we were regularly woken by roaring well before 6am! Luke suffered the most from the early rise, but slept a bit better when we moved him in to sleep with us after a few days.
In the afternoon I dropped Nicola and Joseph off at a nearby shopping mall for a couple of hours birthday present shopping and took Luke home for a sleep while Peter did more homework.
On Saturday we drove down to visit the Formula 1 Grand Prix circuit at Albert park - which for the rest of the year is a fairly regular park and lake, with the pit complex used as a sports centre. We then took a quick drive down to the nearby St Kildas, the famous beach area close to the city. The afternoon turned slightly custardy when we got stuck in traffic trying to drive to the shopping centre to meet Sarah(Holmes) and Sarah (Southpaw) who had taken Aaron out for the day.
Highlight of the week: on Sunday Sarah and I went on the Neighbours tour which included Ramsay Street, the external sets and a surprise meeting with……..(drum roll)…….Dr Karl Kennedy, who kindly wrote some nice messages for fellow doctors Chris and Dan. Nicola had also wanted to come, but since we would have had to then bring the boys (the tour lasted almost 4 hours) and because I had some birthday money which I wanted to put towards the tour, she spent the day making birthday cards with the boys and took the 5 kids to the park with Dan.
Over the next few days we spent a lot more of the daytime with Dan, Fiona, Aaron and Maria. We visited a great museum in Melbourne called Scienceworks which was full of excellent interactive activities for the kids. We also took a drive out to an animal sanctuary at a place called Healsville - the kids liked getting up close to the kangaroos and seeing a display of the birds of prey. (Although it was a fun day for the kids, we wouldn’t normally visit a zoo or animal park because of the confined space the animals are kept in and sadly this was no different at Healsville.) Healsville is located at the start of the Yarra valley, one of the areas devastated by this year’s bushfires. We took a drive to one of the worst affected places, a small town called Marysville which was almost wiped out. The scene was amazing - most of the rubble and mess has been cleared away but there is very little left standing. In some cases a charred sign was the only evidence of businesses and other buildings which once stood there.
On my birthday Sarah and I went down to the pool for a short training session while the kids played at the park outside. In the afternoon we took a drive out to Ramsay Street so that Nicola and the boys could have a look (no Karl Kennedy though). We got back early to prepare for the traditional birthday tea (sandwiches, crisps, cakes, biscuits etc) and had everything ready to eat when the others arrived back from their drive (Dan was still refusing to go to Ramsay Street!).
Our overall impression of Melbourne? Initially we weren’t impressed having come straight from Sydney, but by the end of our stay we found that there is quite a lot to do around there. There were several city walks which we would like to have done but didn’t have time - and due to our tram crash we didn’t get to see as much of the city as we would have liked. If you could only visit one city then we would recommend Sydney, but if you have more time Melbourne is worth a visit.
The complete Melbourne photo collection is here.