Now, I show you this Bulletin Board advertisement to start this segment, not just because it's a bit different, but because I wanted Janny to know that we did stop in Inverloch to get a picture of this ad we'd seen on a Community Bulletin Board after lunch, but weren't sure we'd REALLY read it correctly. Can you imagine a guy who calls to answer the ad, only to find out that the one he's found is the wrong one -- this one speaks the wrong dialect??? Are you kidding me? -- and how the hell do you know what a cockatiel is saying?
Anyway, Janny and Geoff give us a great send-off, and what wonderful memories we have of the time spent with these folks. We just hope that we'll get a chance, someday, to reciprocate a bit in the States!
Patty and I are now heading for "the vicinity of Melbourne", but we do it in a leisurely way, by way of Phillip Island, the Yarra Range, and The Yarra Valley. A beautiful drive. Once again we're struck by the diversity of the countryside that takes place just in a few hours driving time.
A few shots of some Phillip Island surfers, and then one of Yoga, PI style. Then on to the Yarra Range, lunch in Monbulk, and more shots of the Yarra Valley, before reaching Lilydale.
We stay in the wonderful little town of Lilydale, at a great property, called The Billanook Country Inn, owned and managed by a terrific young couple, Fiona & Frank Vaughan. Had a great pub meal at The Olinda Hotel in Lilydale. The next day we decided to drive out to St. Kilda and Brighton. We had taken a trolley/bus out there in 1999, and decided to see if the beach/pier looked the same. It did! The skyline did as well. (Note the last shot -- in Dundee kind of verbiage - "Now 'at's a rod!")
Had lunch at "The Baths" restaurant in Brighton, as we watched lots of folks, all ages and sizes, take a swim in the protected waters of "the baths". Not much has changed there either. Food still very good!
Thursday morning. We're due to have dinner this evening with Sally & Bill Bachman. You may recall (those of you who partook of the Australia 2001 site) that Bill was really the guy who piqued my interest in seeing more of this great country. In 1999, Patty and I met Bill at a flyfishing lodge in central Tasmania. Bill, who is a world class photographer, and whose work has appeared frequently in Australia Geographic, and in National Geographic, was there to do a shoot for FlyLife Magazine. Anyway -- he's become a good friend, and we're looking forward to dinner with them. Just by chance, Bill has an exhibition of some of the work from his "Local Colour" at a place called Montsalbot, in Eltham. It's an interesting recreation of an small French Provincial farm. Some of the small farm out buildings are artists' studios, and there is even a small chapel on the grounds. While it looks much older, it was actually built in the 1930's.
Now, I know it would appear that I'm giving more time and space to Montsalbot, than to the Bachmans. That would not be smart, if for no other reason than Sally is a GREAT cook, and they were both terrific hosts! However, I did something I've not done before on this trip. I failed to bring my camera. Therefore, the shot of Sally, Bill, and the ever faithful Gemma was actually taken in October 2001. They all look EXACTLY the same. Bill did take a photo that night, and when we get it, we'll publish it because it's the only official record of our meeting with a great friend of the Bachman's, and a most interesting guy by the name of Magnus Bartlett, who is Chairman of Twin Age Limited, a Travel Guide publisher, and is based in Hong Kong. From Scotland originally, he eventually launched the very successful Odyssey Travel Guides. Try them! We hope our paths will cross again, and the way Magnus travels, I'm betting they will. A terrific evening. (It pays to be a good guy here --- we were stopped at a roadblock on the way home for a breath-o-lizer. After 20 years, I'd hope the old system wouldn't register me!)
OK - we're back home, and the pictures arrived (in B&W). Now you tell me -- don't the Bachman's look as though they haven't aged a day?
So there you have it - Left, The Bachmans & Ulmers with Gemma. and Right, straight from Hong Kong - Magnus Bartlett.
We're up and at 'em on Friday, and driving through more gorgeous country to get out and visit Bronwyn & Richard McCormick, and their two little guys in Beaconfield. Bron is the daughter of Gwen, and sister of Brett, and one of my favorite little old Aussie gals. They have two great little guys - Thomas, almost 4, and Joshua, almost 2.
In Australia, they call that little pacifier, (or binky, or whatever you call it) that Joshua has in his mouth in the first picture, a "dummy"! Hardly an apt description for these guys! They are sharp, fun, young mates! We get in a little tour with Bron, and the boys. It is really great to see them again, to meet Joshua, and to see the beautiful new home they've just built.
On the way home we spot two things worth a mention. One is a real piece of rock art that some family (or group of friends) has done on two huge boulders outside of a little town there. Hope Connie enjoyed it. The second was just a reminder that there's more than one Flakey Jake!
There is some sort of Wine Growers celebration, and the rooms at The Billanook were long ago sold out, and so, with Frank's suggestion (and a great one!), we move a bit closer into Melbourne, and our new digs are now at The Tudor, in Box Hill. We keep meeting all these great families who own and run some wonderful hotel & motel properties. This is no exception. The Tudor was built by Tony & Joanne Pelosi about 7 or 8 years ago, and along with their son, Mark, and some other terrific staff, our stay there, as Frank predicted, was just outstanding!
On Saturday we have still another wonderful Aussie experience when we're invited (actually I made it difficult for Allison to avoid us!) for lunch at the summer home of Alison & Jim Leslie. Jim is the retired Chairman of Qantas, and an old friend of The Landings own Chuck Lehr. It was great to see them again, and to give Patty a chance to meet these great folks. Their summer place is a beautifully restored old farmhouse in Queenscliff, overlooking the harbor, and the cut which we'll be sailing through tomorrow evening on The Spirit of Tasmania, on our way to Van Dieman's Land (a bit of trivia - the first European to see Tasmania was the Dutch navigator, Abel Tasman, who arrived in 1642, and named it Van Dieman's land, after the governor of the Dutch East Indies. Not surprising. I knew guys who built careers that way!) Anyway Jim & Alison put on a great luncheon, and introduce us to 3 of their long time friends from Melbourne. It was a very special experience for us with 5 very special Aussies! (L to R around the table, Ann, Alison, Bill, Patty, Jim and Lisa ? Sorry - will repair if necessary!! Next Ann sacrifices her Bill to get me in. Not a good swap!)
We make a brief stop in the quaint little town of Point Lonsdale - long enough to get a few shots of the rips, pilot boat, the lighthouse, an amateur cricket game, a bowls club, and a wedding ceremony. Would you call this "Marriage on the Rocks"? Sorry!
Our Saturday with the Leslies and friends, and the drive out to the Queenscliff/Point Lonsdale area is then capped off with a terrific dinner at The Tudor. Not only are these great digs, but their food is excellent as well - and service superb!
Tomorrow starts our Week 7. Stay tuned!