They drove all 18 of us in vans with all the balloon equipment about half an hour out to Glen Burn, which they can only use when the wind is just right. All the balloon companies ended up there, so we could see everyone inflating the balloons & setting up, just as the sky was lightening. Climbing into the basket was a bit of a challenge - glad I wore stretchy jeans! It was such a gentle launch that I was messing with my camera & didn't realize until we were already floating. It was absolutely gorgeous, Amy & I each took probably 300 photos during the flight, and I was very glad for my polarizing filter, even though it didn't cut through all the haze in the sky. It was nice that all 3 balloon companies take the same route, since then we can take photos of other balloons from sky level. I will probably post most in a separate album eventually, along with the 5 minute video I took of our descent & landing, but for now just my favorites are in Gallery in sequence in the "road trip" album. Since I am so not a morning person, this is the first sunrise I've seen in a long time!
After the ride we all helped pack up the balloon equipment, then it was a short drive back to Chateau Yering for our champagne breakfast at 9am. The house is one of the oldest in Yarra Valley, so I took photos of the fancy interior. The breakfast hit the spot, and we chatted with an older couple from Melbourne sitting across from us. I rinsed the gunk off my contacts in the bathroom & felt much better from my goopy-eyed morning, but still pretty tired from only 1 hr sleep. Since our balloon ride earned us a free tasting at the winery there, but they didn't open until 10am, Amy & I pulled the car into the shade & rested our eyes for about 45 minutes...thankfully that got us through the day!
Yering Station had some nice wines, but I liked their late-harvest Rielsing & their tawny port the best...but none unique enough to lug back home in my suitcase. Next we drove to the Yarra Valley Dairy, another free tasting from the balloon ride, and those were tasty. Wish I could bring cheese back with me! I did buy a little ashed pyramid of creamy goat cheese made onsite for a snack along our road trip.
We made the loop around into Yarra Glen, which was even a smaller town area than Healesville where we had dinner on Friday, so we didn't even stop. We tasted at Warramute, 40 year old vines with only nautral irrgataion so low fruit yields, and
next door at Coldstream Hills with some cute golden retrievers and a gorgeous view past Warramute's vineyards and out into the hills. Train Trak had a free tasting, too but by then we were pretty wined out! We found Mandala for one last tasting, then we headed to Healesville Sanctuary, the regional zoo & sanctuary habitat.
We just missed the Birds of Prey show that started at 2:30pm, but right after that an aborginal man was demonstrating his digiredoo & homemade boomerangs, so that was fun. The only other scheduled even was the koala keeper talk. I've heard some zoos will let you hold koala babies under supervision of course, which would be so fun, but not this place. We were lucky that one was awake & eating, since all they do is eat & sleep. It was funny since as soon as he was finished eating, he face-planted into the tree to sleep. The keeper was giving a talk about their biggest koala, and he nicely posed, even turning to look at us.
The kangaroo paddock had hand sanitizer for after petting the kangaroos, so that must mean it's okay...hooray! Of course this was like Disneyland, trying to get through the mass of kids already squeezing for a view. There was a young roo very interested in the crowd for a bit so close to the ropes, and I found a long piece of grass he'd been eating to offer him. Very cute! Another roo is older & loves people, as the keeper showed us by scratching under the chin and the roo just loved it. That roo came over to me & let me scratch it's ears. The older gray one was softer than the red one, but I only got to pet the red one's back...but I got to pet kangaroos...yay! :)
The zoo closed at 5pm, so we wandered the rest of the track in search of the platypus for Amy (very hard to find in the wild), and wombats to go with our cottage here. We stayed awhile by the platypus tank while he swam so fast there was no way to catch a photo. I swear he knew Amy was waiting there and was just teasing her! None of the reptiles were out, but we saw plenty of birds. Lots of local birds come hang out there, so I wonder if they taunt the ones inside the netted areas like the neighborhood cats taunt my kitties through my windows back home? ;) We saw a Tasmanian Devil peeking at us, and echinda who graciously emerged to come our way, and the wombat woke up, looked at us, then decided to chow down...so cute!
I had decided too late in the day that I should bring a sauvignon blanc for my co-workers to share at happy hour, and then I didn't find they would like, so too bad. We went back to Healesville for an early dinner at Wattleseed since we never did have lunch. I had delicious Tasmanian smoked salmon, but the wattleseed ice cream tasted close to coffee, and I was so full anyway I didn't finish it. The native plum with berries sauce was very nice with it, but I was ready to pop! We got back to Wombat Cottage at 8pm & checked in with Tom. He said he was worried about us since he hadn't seen us all day, but glad all was well & the balloon ride was nice. We'll be getting breakfast from them at 10:30 since we need to sleep in to catch up, then we hope to be on the road before noon to get down to the coast at Genoa for the first real stretch of our road trip to Sydney.
No internet in Genoa tonight, so until next time!