Friday, June 27, 2008

yarra valley

Using Melbourne as a base we headed north to the Yarra Valley in the Dandenong Ranges as the wine cellar was seriously depleted. The ranges are full of mountain ash, the tallest flowering plant in the world.

The valley claims to be the first region to start viticulture in Australia back in 1838, reaching a peak in 1881 before going into a decline and closing down totally in 1921. A revival started in the 1980's and now boasts the second largest area under vine in Victoria.

The Winnebago stocked with chardonnay and pinot noir rose we stopped at the Healesville animal sanctuary which has an excellent veterinary hospital dedicated to treating injured native wildlife. I was very tempted by the set up and the thought of cuddling wombats for a living. The circular building is one of the most attractive vet facilities I have seen.

The raptor display was well worth the visit, particularly a ginger falcon called james who was not as compliant as the other birds and did what he wanted in his own time, obviously a ginger creature trait.
The barking owl ( below) is a splendid bird.

Then headed off west to Geelong en route to the Great Ocean Road. This is Victoria's second city and the waterfront is being transformed, and we liked it a lot. Geelong Council commissioned artist Jan Mitchell to create something out of old 2 metre high wooden pier pylons and there are now over 100 quirky brightly painted statues in the Victorian naughty postcard style.

They made me think of the Hall of Bright Carvings in Mervyn Peake's Titus Groan novel.... Rottcod the Guardian dusting down and hauling out a few specimens for display. It was a bright and sunny day and the whole place felt extremely cheery.

Slightly disappointing post office though.

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