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australia, ocean

Detours off Britta Blvd

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Melbourne to Yarra Valley
australia, ocean
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We were out of our Melbourne hotel at the stroke of checkout time, then since we kept missing the tram stops anyway, we walked the several blocks up to the Hertz office. Of course today it was finally bright sunshine, so I was sweating by the time I had my heavy suitcase all the way there! There were several in line ahead of me, then by the time I had everything settled, including maps & directions how to avoid the toll roads, just before noon we were parked at Queen Victoria Market to find some food & see what it was like..with me driving the first time in Australia, but not my first time driving on the "wrong" side of the road. ;)

Queen Victoria Market was pretty much the same large city market I've seen in most European cities, and like a flea market in the USA...large fresh produce farmers market style, lots of junk stalls inbetween nicer jewelry, lots of leather, and plenty of silly souvenirs. I did buy a few things, some for myself & some for others, then we found the food court to split a falafel special with turkish delight for dessert.



We were on the road to Yarra Valley by 2pm (I'm not sure why the river has an H but the valley doesn't?), and we quickly hit the Brunswick neighborhood on the way out of town, which is Melbourne's answer to Haight-Ashbury, so Amy had to take a peek. She also bought some coffee from a store so fragrant of beans I couldn't even stand in the shop for more than a couple minutes! :P



The Maroondah Highway goes through every town, so the 40 km to the main wine region took the full 90 minutes we'd read, then Wombat Cottage was another 20 km of windy roads through Yarra Ridges National Park region, very beautiful but another good 40 minutes away...the only bad part about that is that we have to drive that back into town to meet the balloon group at 5am...that means out the door by 4am to be sure we make it...ugh!



We settled in with Tom the owner of Wombat Cottage a little before 5pm, then we looked at the map in case any wineries were still open...voila! Two in Healesville were indeed open, so we made it to both for tasting with a little golden sunset on the hills above the vineyards, and stayed at the second for a delicious dinner too. Amy just had to get an _imported_ Sierra Nevada since it was there!



After dinner we drove the rest of the way to our balloon meeting point to be sure we knew the way for the wee hours, then made it all the way back to Wombat Cottage by around 10pm for an early night. 3:15am to get ready with my contacts in my eyes is going to come VERY early!