We tabled our Sydney sightseeing until the end of our trip and moved out straight toward Melbourne. Our first morning of driving and right away we saw kangaroos bounding along and hanging out in fields near the highway. So cool! We also saw several "watch out for these animals" signs and only recognized the koala and kangaroo. John thought one was a wombat and I thought he made that up. We'll come back to that later.
Example signs (or "fun Australia souvenirs"):
Australia, it turns out, is huge. Our tour was much more "whirlwind" than we normally prefer, but that couldn't be helped with the time allotted. Early on we decided that we will definitely have to return, and started a list of what to see/do next time.
We would for sure like to go back to Melbourne. The city vibe was right up our alley, even in the rain that kept us wet as we ran around exploring. Fun and hip and not too big, as cities go.
We had time the first evening to drive over to St Kilda Pier and look for penguins. There are several penguin colonies along the southern coast, who knew? I mean, Australia isn't that far from Antarctica I suppose, but there's still an ocean in between.
View of the city skyline on a gray evening:
Walking out toward the penguin pier:
And - sure enough! Right as we walked up there was a penguin waddling up the rocks to its lair. We just managed to see it but without enough time to get a photo. We waited for a while to see if another would pop out of the water but none did.
As we started back, we were lucky to get a peek at this little guy watching us from below the pier - hello little one! Very cool.
The next morning we started at the market for browsing and breakfast. My first up-close-with-a-koala opportunity:
Public art with pallets:
Neat mural painting:
One of the pedestrian bridges, right before it really started raining:
Kind of Banksy-like:
Can't remember why this campfire was here near the visitor center, but it didn't provide enough heat to counteract the rain and chill. About this time John was probably questioning the wisdom of swapping summer for winter.
An excellent lunch at Crossways restaurant:
Taking a tour of Town Hall, one way to get out of the rain and still learn something about Melbourne. Bonus was having an excellent tour guide.
John playing politician:
An exciting part of the tour was seeing the giant pipe organ in the theater (excuse me, "theatre") and getting a backstage tour to see the thousands of pipes. This is just one small part of it:
The organ from the front, with a gentleman practicing on it.
He was kind enough to play a bit for us:
Back out on the sidewalk, we found more public art:
A special parking spot! We would love a Tesla version of a Jucy campervan (Elon, can you work on that please?).
Just a quick stop in Melbourne and then we had to be on our way. Scenery to see!