Thursday, February 3, 2011

New Zealand & Australia 10: Melbourne

We docked in Melbourne under low clouds and light drizzle.

Immediately after breakfast, we disembarked from the ship, walked past a long line of tour buses before arriving at the one which would take us to the Puffing Billy train.

After the train ride, we made our way to a sheep ranch outside Melbourne that did a thriving business entertaining tourists.

They fed us a nice lunch and we got to pet some live kangaroos.

We were herded into a shed with a sheep shearing operation on one side and bleachers on the other.  Then the entire busload of us watched a sheep being sheared.

The whole thing felt a bit cheesy, like the mass produced show put on for tourists that it was. On the other hand, I've never seen a sheep sheared before and probably never will again.

And I haven't seen a dog herd sheep, either.

All in all, it was worth the time and money to fully indulge ourselves in the role of tourists.  Cheesy seemed a small price to pay for us to get a first hand experience, even if contrived, about life here in Australia.

There were two nights requiring formal attire on the ship.  The first night, ship photographers came around and took everyone's pictures.  Geoff and Teena, our table companions didn't like theirs and we didn't like ours.

Neither did we like the steep price tag to purchase them. So, on the second night, while waiting to leave Melbourne, I brought my camera along, and after dinner we went out on deck, where I bounced my flash off the white wall behind me and took their photo.  Teena, also a photography buff, then returned the favor and took ours.

Our ships captain, a nice guy, a Brit, with a relaxed formal air about him, prided himself on being punctual.  Here he is standing on the bridge looking out over the docks, waiting for two tardy tour buses to arrive so that we could cast off.  He was not a happy camper.

The ships crew made it very clear each time we disembarked that we would be sailing on time and that  passengers needed to be punctual on their return, or risk being left behind.  But now our captain found himself in a touch spot. He couldn't sail away and leave the tardy tourists behind because they were on tours arranged by the ship.  Oops.

I'm real glad I was not party to the conversation which ensued when the tardy buses finally arrived back at the dock--a full hour late.

Melbourne harbor has what I would consider to be a very narrow channel, which was marked by beacons on top of these green poles.  We sailed right next to the line of these poles, no more than a hundred feet away from them.

Most of the poles were empty.  But a few, like this one, had a number of birds resting there.  It made me wonder what it was about the energy of these specific poles that attracted the birds because there were either lots of birds on a pole or no birds.

This car ferry runs roughly twice a day between Hobart, Tasmania, where we had just been, and Melbourne.

We were told that crossing time takes anywhere between 8 to 13 hours, depending upon the weather.

That seemed like a long time to travel in order to get a bit of shopping in.

As soon as we were outside of Melbourne harbor seas became rougher.  Oddly, I didn't see much difference in how the ship felt.  The most obvious indication of rougher seas was the sloshing of the swimming pools.

Next time, we arrive at Sydney
Continue on to Post 11: Sydney by clicking here.


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