April 3, 2017 – Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
When we came back from breakfast this morning, the cabin crew had put balloons in our cabin and had a card wishing Patsy a Happy Birthday.
Our tour today was 7 hours, and we had debated if we really wanted to do it. We are glad that we went ahead because it turned out to be one of the best tours we’ve done. Our guide was very knowledgeable and explained a lot of the history of the area as well as talked about the animals. The 1st park which we visited was the You Yangs Park. While it looked like a mountain range from a distance, it is actually one huge solid rock which has been weathered to look like a mountain range. There were holes in the rock which he explained were actually wells created by the aborigines to hold water. They would build a big fire and after the rock under the fire was hot, they put out the fire and then poured cold water on the rock. This caused the rock to crack. They scooped out the debris and repeated until they had a hole or well deep enough to hold as much water as they thought they might need. It was either do this or walk several miles to the nearest water source and lug water back.
From the Big Rock, we walked into the bush to see 2 koalas. The 1st one we saw was a young 2 year old female. She was at the top of a very tall tree. She pretty much ignored us until she got tired of us and turned her back on us. The next one we saw was much further away and didn’t pay any attention to us.
After our tramp through the bush, we boarded the bus again and went to the Serindip Park where we had lunch. It was a very good one with lamb brat, beef, chicken and veggie burgers. There was a program afterwards by an aborigine named Norm who told about the aboriginal culture. He is working hard to preserve the ancient ways. He explained about the different kinds of boomerangs such as ones for hunting emus, kangaroos, etc. He pointed out that boomerangs were not meant to be caught when they returned to you. Instead, you let them land near you. The reason you want them to return is if you miss the game you aiming it. If it hits the game, it doesn’t return to you. He had a boomerang which has been dated at about 2,000 years old. He and his father found it when he was just a boy. He has had offers of big money to sell it, and several museums have asked for it for their collection. He believes that it if far better for it to be treated as a living thing which needs its freedom. He passed it around, and it was awesome to hold something in your hands which was that old. You wonder if the person who made it had any idea that some 2,000 years later, someone would be holding it.
Norm had other items which he had made. He also had his father’s authority stick. Whenever his father was called back to the bush to serve as a judge for someone who had done something wrong, his father would take the stick from the cupboard, pack it in his suitcase and off he would go. When he returned, he put it back in the cupboard. When his father died, his mother found a note with it which told her to give it so Norm as he would know what to do with it. But, Norm said, that he had no idea what to do with it.
He played the digeridoo while his daughter played clap sticks. He has 4 children, and it seemed like the oldest daughter was the only one who might follow in his footsteps. Although that is not quite fair since the 2 youngest children are under 5. While the teenage son was present for the presentation, he took no part in it and really seemed a bit uncomfortable with the whole thing.
We saw birds while we were having lunch which I’ll let Patsy tell you about. In the pasture close to where we ate we saw Cape Barren geese and some emus. And, of course, close to the tent where we ate was a Sulfur-crested cockatoo and the Australian magpies!
After lunch, we went to the grassland area of the park and saw a mob of about 40 eastern grey kangaroos. We spent an hour watching them and getting closer to them. We got close to them by walking as a compact group (no small feat with 40 people) parallel to the roos zigging and zagging until we were remarkably close. There were several young joeys which were out of the pouch but staying close to mama. There were several mamas who had joeys in their pouches. It was a wonderful experience.
After spending so much time photographing kangaroos we had a very quick stop at a “billabong” which is a water hole. It was full of birds!!!! Mostly ducks (chestnut teal, wood ducks, mallards) but also black-necked stilts, Willie Wagtail, white-faced herons, masked lapwings).
On the way back to town, Scott told us that Melbourne has the distinction of having several buildings which have won awards for outstanding architectural design. It also has the distinction of having an award for a building with the poorest architectural design.
Scott, told us that it had been a pleasure to guide us because we were the best group to follow the instructions to stay together and not wander off. If we stayed together as a group, we were less threatening to the animals than if we were strung out all over the place. So, while we thought he was one of the best guides that we’ve had, he gave us a pat on the back too.
While we were tired when we got back, it was well worth the trip. You will be pleased to know that the 371 pictures that Patsy and I took were whittled down to 120 pictures. I wish that we could upload them now because we want share our excitement of seeing the kangaroos and koalas. You’ll just have to wait to see them until we get home.
We had a late supper. I finished editing pictures and wrote this blog. We’re making a bit of an early night because we have another tour tomorrow.
The You Yangs are a series of granite ridges that rise to 1,046” (Flinders Peak) above the Werribee Plain approximately 35 miles south-west of Melbourne and 14 miles north-east of Geelong, in Victoria, Australia. The main ridge runs roughly north–south for about 6 miles with a lower extension running for about 9.5 miles to the west. Much of the southern parts of the ranges are protected by the You Yangs Regional Park. Although only 1,046’ at their highest, they dominate the landscape and are clearly identifiable from nearby Geelong, Melbourne and beyond.
The You Yangs are also the home of a Geoglyph constructed by the Australian artist Andrew Rogers in recognition of the indigenous people of the area. It depicts Bunjil, a mythical creature to the local Wathaurong Aborginals. This geoglyph has a wing span of 328’ and 1500 tons of rock was used to construct it. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see this.
The name "You Yang" comes from the Aboriginal words Wurdi Youang or Ude Youang which could have any number of meanings from "big mountain in the middle of a plain", "big or large hill", or "bald". The Woiwurrung word for granite stone 'yow.wong' is also a possibility. The Yawangi people probably enlarged natural hollows in the rocks to form wells that held water even in dry seasons.
Explorer Matthew Flinders was the first European to visit the You Yangs. On 1 May 1802, he and three of his men climbed to the highest point. He named it "Station Peak", but the name was changed in 1912 to "Flinders Peak" in his honor.
The You Yangs have always attracted artists to paint them and feature most strongly in works by one of Australia's greatest artists, Fred Williams. Williams spent long periods developing his plein air representations of the You Yangs. These have now become classics of Australian art — rugged, dramatic, yet sparse in their imagery — unquestionably of the Australian bush.
Melbourne is the capital and most populous city of the Australian state of Victoria, and the second most populous city in Australia. The name "Melbourne" refers to an urban agglomeration spanning 3,800 square miles which comprises the broader metropolitan area, as well as being the common name for the city center. The metropolis is located on the large natural bay of Port Phillip and expands into the hinterlands towards the Dandenong and Macedon mountain ranges, the Mornington Peninsula and Yarra Valley. Melbourne consists of 31 municipalities. It has a population of 4,641,636 as of 2016, and its inhabitants are called Melburnians.
Founded by free settlers from the British Crown colony of Van Diemen’s Land on 30 August 1835 in what was then the colony of New South Wales, it was incorporated as a Crown settlement in 1837. It was named "Melbourne" by the Governor of New South Wales in honor of the British Prime Minister of the day William Lamb, 2d Viscount Melbourne. It was officially declared a city by Queen Victoria, to whom Lord Melbourne was close, in 1847. It became the capital of the newly founded colony of Victoria in 1851. During the Victorian gold rush of the 1850s, it was transformed into one of the world's largest and wealthiest cities. After the federation of Australia in 1901, it served as the nation's interim seat of government until 1927.
Melbourne rates highly in education, entertainment, health care, research and development, tourism and sport which makes it the world’s most livable cities for the sixth year in a row in 2016 according to the Economist Intelligence Unit. It is a leading financial center in the Asia-Pacific region, and ranks among the top 30 cities in the world in the Global Financial Centers Index. Referred to as Australia's "cultural capital", it is the birthplace of Australian impressionism, Australian Rules football, the Australian film and television industries and Australian contemporary dance. It is recognized as a UNESCO City of Literature and a major center for street art, music and theatre. It is home to many of Australia's largest and oldest cultural institutions such as the Melbourne Cricket Ground, the National Gallery of Victoria, the State Library of Victoria and the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Royal Exhibition Building. It was the host city of the 1956 Summer Olympics and the 2006 Commonwealth Games
The main passenger airport serving the metropolis and the state is Melbourne Airport (also called Tullamarine Airport) which is the second busiest in Australia. The Port of Melbourne is Australia's busiest seaport for containerized and general cargo. Melbourne is also home to Australia's most extensive freeway network and has the world’s largest urban tram network.
Before the arrival of white settlers, humans had occupied the area for an estimated 31,000 to 40,000 years. At the time of European settlement, it was inhabited by under 2000 hunter-gatherers from three indigenous regional tribes: the Wurundjeri, Boonwurrung and Wathaurong. The area was an important meeting place for the clans of the Kulin nation alliance and a vital source of food and water.
The first European settlement in Victoria was established by Colonel David Collins in October 1803 at Sullivan Bay near present-day Sorrento, but this settlement was relocated to what is now Hobart, Tasmania, in February 1804, due to a perceived lack of resources. It would be 30 years before another settlement was attempted.
Between 1836 and 1842 Victorian Aboriginal groups were largely dispossessed of their land by European settlers. By January 1844, there were said to be 675 Aborigines resident in squalid camps in Melbourne. The British Colonial Office appointed five Aboriginal Protectors for the Aborigines of Victoria in 1839. However, their work was nullified by a land policy that favored squatters to take possession of Aboriginal lands. By 1845, fewer than 240 wealthy Europeans held all the pastoral licenses then issued in Victoria and became a powerful political and economic force in Victoria for generations to come.
The discovery of gold in Victoria in mid-1851 led to a gold rush, and Melbourne, which served as the major port and provided most services for the region, experienced rapid growth. Within months, the city's population had increased from 25,000 to 40,000 inhabitants. Thereafter, growth was exponential. By 1865, Melbourne had overtaken Sydney as Australia's most populous city.
At the time of Australia's federation on 1 January 1901, Melbourne became the seat of government of the federation. The first federal parliament was convened on 9 May 1901 in the Royal Exhibition Building. Subsequently it moved to the Victorian Parliament House where it was located until 1927 when it was moved to Canberra. The Governor-General of Australia resided at Government House in Melbourne until 1930 and many major national institutions remained in Melbourne well into the twentieth century.
Melbourne has a temperate oceanic climate with warm summers and cool winters. It is well known for its changeable weather conditions. This is mainly due to Melbourne's location situated on the boundary of the very hot inland areas and the cool southern ocean. This temperature differential is most pronounced in the spring and summer months and can cause very strong cold fronts to form. These cold fronts can be responsible for all sorts of severe weather from gales to severe thunderstorms and hail, large temperature drops and heavy rain. Winters, on the other hand, are usually very stable, but rather damp and often cloudy.
Melbourne is also prone to isolated convective showers forming when a cold pool crosses the state, especially if there is considerable daytime heating. These showers are often heavy and can contain hail and squalls and significant drops in temperature, but they pass through very quickly with a rapid clearing trend to sunny and relatively calm weather and the temperature rising back to what it was before the shower. This often occurs in the space of minutes and can be repeated many times in a day, giving Melbourne a reputation for having "four seasons in one day", a phrase that is part of local popular culture and familiar to many visitors to the city. The lowest temperature on record is 27.0 °F on 21 July 1869. The highest temperature recorded in Melbourne city was 115.5 °F on 7 February 2009. While snow is occasionally seen at higher elevations in the outskirts of the city, it has not been recorded in the Central Business District since 1986.
Melbourne has the largest Greek-speaking population outside of Europe, a population comparable to some larger Greek cities like Larissa and Volos. The Vietnamese surname Nguyen is the second most common in Melbourne's phone book after Smith. The city also features substantial Indian, Sri Lankan, and Malaysian-born communities in addition to recent South African and Sudanese influxes.
There are 7 public universities in the city.
Melbourne has a wide range of religious faiths, the most widely held of which is Christianity. This is signified by the city's two large cathedrals – St. Patrick’s (Roman Catholic and St. Paul’s (Anglican). Both were built in the Victorian era and are of considerable heritage significance as major landmarks of the city.
According to the 2011 Census, the largest responses on religious belief in Melbourne were Roman Catholic (27.2%), no religion (23.5%), Anglican (10.8%), Eastern Orthodox (5.5%), Buddhist (4.0%), Muslim (3.5%), Jewish (2.5%) and Hindu (2.0%)
Although Melbourne's crime rate dropped 6.3% in 2014, it still has Victoria's worst crime rate with over 26,000 offenses per 100,000 people.