The VI line bus at seven thirty a.m., 12 hours last 2 via train to Melbourne...Clear blue sky, very comfy with AC. Once over the inland hills we enter the fog/clouds and nice S. CA-type coastal clime. Countryside of farming with lunch stop in a cute rural town of Nhill where I first experienced classical music piped into the public restrooms! Great! Visit Wiki Info Nhill
Bus dropped us at the Bendigo RR station and we hopped on the commuter fast rail the last 2 hours into S. Cross Station, Melbourne.
The closer to Melbourne the countryside goes from flat to rolling hills and significantly greener. The woman who sat next to me was a farm girl (now in her 70s) from Nhill, married a sheep rancher (lots of that around here). She said it's very dry now, only 7" of rain vs usual 16"! In addition, because the government ruled that livestock cannot be shipped out of country due to inhumane slaughter practices (ie killing sheep/cattle as sacrifices for Muslim & Hindu religious purposes) the sheep industry is suffering great losses. The price paid within Australia for lamb etc. is below cost of raising it. She still runs their sheep ranch (husband died) but it's only a small operation shipping 500 lambs/year! I saw at least 3 semi loads going to market just during our bus ride, so I guess the drought is a double or triple whammy for these farmers...wheat and other grains had a poor harvest as well.
We took a taxi to Ken's in Fitzroy...at the door we thought his apt was #2 but when no answer we went to a Thai food place around the corner - great meal, especially liked the coconut rice and Tuesdays 20% discount! Back at Ken's it turned out he was home with Joanne waiting with dinner ready but in apt #4! Great reunion. Ken runs an Air BnB so we had a fine chat with them and Johnathan and Danen (family has a BIG sheep ranch N. of here and he confirmed what I had heard from the gal on the bus).