Today was the start of the “Free Weekend” for everyone on our study abroad trip. Nine of the students went up to the Great Barrier Reef and nine of the students stayed in Melbourne to do some further exploring. Kathy, Stephanie and I stayed in Melbourne as well since we still had lots of things we wanted to do.
We were pretty excited to book a combined tour of a very famous animal sanctuary which is located right in the middle of one of Australia’s famous wine growing areas – the Yarra Valley. This is where Eltham College is – our second school visit.
So, we began our day at the Chandon Vineyard – famous for sparkling wines and one of four vineyards in the world owned as a joint venture between Louis Vuitton and Hennessey. The other vineyards are in Napa Valley, CA, South Africa, and France. The vineyard is beautiful and Kathy took this stunning artsy picture. Good job, Kathy. This may be my new wallpaper for my PC when I get home.
These are the actual vineyards and surrounding hills at Chandon. It was stunning!
After Chandon, our driver dropped us off at the Healesville Animal Sanctuary and the other three people on the tour went on to the next winery. The Sanctuary is more like an open range place than a zoo, but we were still able to see many of our favorite Aussie natives. This was a huge Eastern Grey Kangaroo who kept his eye on us, and at one point went over to a smaller kangaroo and started bellowing at him. The smaller kangaroo promptly got up and moved from his comfy spot and relinquished it to The King:
Besides the last wine photo, this has to be my favorite photo of the trip so far. Kathy caught this guy just hanging out, waiting for the weekend. Kathy and I have worked hard to make sure this trip is a success for the students, and some nights in our apartment, we look just like this! Exhausted!
One of the Healesville signs that we thought was appropriate:
Besides kangas, we got our best views of some of Australia’s unusual birds here. Laura G. and Jackie K. – these are for you!
There was a set of twin platypusses born at Healesville last year. Although spelled wrong, I wonder if our President knows he has a platypus named after him?
And, we saw little fat wombly wombats:
But by far the favorite part of our visit to Healesville was the opportunity to have a “magical moment” with the dingos! Kathy and I were both on board for this in a big way, and we got to actually interact upclose with two 2-year old dingos. We were on Cloud Nine.
This was one of the older dogs who kept his eye on us the whole time! Don’t mess with him, especially if you’re a bay-bay!
These were the youngsters – aren’t they striking? AND, we both got Dingo Kisses!!!
You’ll notice that we both have our hands either in our pockets or on our laps as we were instructed to do. I guess the ranger didn’t care if we lost part of our face, as long as we didn’t lose our hands!
After the Animal Sanctuary, our driver picked us up and we visited two additional vineyards. Here’s a picture of the vineyards at the Fergusson Vineyard where we had lunch.
And, the unusual chandelier at the Fergusson Cellar Door Restaurant, where we had lunch.
Finally, at our last vineyard, the Cellar Door was in a building that was set into the hill, so that the actual cellar was below ground. The building looked like an American ski chalet with a second story balcony overlooking the vineyard. Up on the hills, within eyesight of the building, we saw more wild kangaroos to end a wonderful day.