Monday, May 14, 2018

Dandenong Ranges--Victoria, Australia--July 2010--A Travelogue from the Archives


Tuesday July 13, 2011

We met at Flinders street station, and then walked to Jen's car. (Jen was house sitting for her brother, who lives right in the city) and then drove out to the Mountain Ranges.

This was the first time I had left the city of Melbourne since I flew into it 6 months ago(as pathetic as that is). I didn't even have a clear idea of where we were going, but I was just happy to be leaving the city for a day.

As we drove out, Jen asked me if the scenery was at all similar to America.
I commented that in a way it was. Although some of the trees lining the road were distinctively Australian, the way the city sort of gradually faded out into urban sprawl with lots of suburbs and shopping centers along the road all seemed very American to me.

We drove up into the Dandenong mountains. (There was some debate among the group as to whether these were really mountains or just some big hills. Jen said that after seeing the Andes in South America she could no longer call the Dandenongs a mountain range with a straight face. But after living in Japan, I'm quite used to a liberal use of the word "mountain".)

Jen was the only native Melbournian in the group (Carl was from Queensland, Charma from New Zealand, and Dana from Mauritius) but Jen had been up in the Dandenong mountains many times. ("I love coming up here, and I love bringing people up here," she said.) So she knew her way around a little bit. We went into Sherwood forest, and followed the trail down to see the falls.

The forests themselves were really beautiful. Even in the middle of winter they were amazingly green. (I can only imagine what they look like in summer.) They looked to my Midwestern eyes a bit like rain forests, but the rest of the group assured me it was nothing like the real rainforests up in Northern Australia.

Jen warned us that the actual falls themselves would be a bit disappointing, and they were. Just kind of a small river going over a few rocks, which you could see from a bridge.

"I think at one time this must have been much more impressive," Jen said. "You can see just by the dry river bed on the sides that at one point this was a much bigger river than it is now. But we've been having a drought here in Australia for the last 10 years."

We walked back to the car park, and had a picnic at the picnic tables.

There was a continuing cry from the trees that sounded like a monkey howling, and Carl and Jen told the rest of us that it was just the sound of the Kookaburra bird.

There were also all sorts of brightly red colored parrot type birds, which I think they told us were called Rosella. There were a whole flock of these on the ground, so we all tried to get as close as we could to take pictures without taking them away.

Later, another group of people showed up and put birdseed in their hands, and had the birds perching all over them to get the birdseed.

(There were all sorts of signs around saying not to feed the wildlife, so I thought this was of dubious legality. But it was still pretty cool to see these beautiful birds perched on people's shoulders. Jen took part in the fun by simply holding out here hands as if she had birdseed, and some of the birds fell for it and landed on her briefly.)

Next we got back in the car and drove down the road.

There were a couple mountain town in the Dandenong ranges that seemed to cater to tourists. (They had the usual over priced coffee shops, and arts and crafts type stores you'd expect to find in these little quaint small tourist towns.) We stopped at a couple and got out of the car and wandered around.

First we stopped at Olinda, where they had a candy shop (or "lolly shop" as they call them here) with all sorts of lollies we remembered from our childhood but had long forgotten about. We spent like 10 minutes wandering around calling out things to each other like, "Hey, remember these?"

Then, loading up on lollies, we walked around the town, made a bit of a circle of it, and back to the car.

Next town we stopped at was Sarsparilla.

We stopped in a tea shop that Jen really liked, and then walked down a trail through the Sarsparilla forest. (Over Dana's objections, who was complaining about how tired of walking she was by this point, but the rest of the group over-ruled her.)

Jen had to get back at 6, so we cut our hike short and headed back.
Drove home. (Took a brief stop to try and get a photo of the view from the mountain. As usual, the photo does it little justice)

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