South to Melbourne


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We left Sheryl with a jar of her homemade plum jam headed for Williamstown, a suburb of Melbourne. A very elegant suburb in fact. We were visiting Dawn and her children for one night. Dawn and her husband Darryl are Canadians who immigrated to Australia almost 15 yrs ago in pursuit of a military career. Darryl is currently deployed overseas for a full year, so I thought Dawn would like some adult company from some friendly faces. We hadn’t seen her since our first term vacation in September 2011. Of course the kids didn’t remember either of us but it didn’t take long to make friends with them.

Olivia and William are bright and charming children wanting nothing more than to play a board game to keep them occupied during the summer holidays. William and I started with a game of Scrabble and we had an honest tie. I was impressed with his reading and math skills as he not only came up with some great words but kept the score easily (not bad for a 9 yr old).

After a lovely dinner that Dawn had prepared, we kept the bubbly and wine flowing as we challenged the family to a game of Scategories. I won but I won’t gloat too much. The important thing is that we had a lot of good laughs!

The next morning, Dawn took us to the  downtown/waterfront area where we had breakfast in a really nice cafe. After that, the ladies decided to get a pedicure (much needed in my case) while the guys went to tour the HMAS Castlemaine, a corvette mine sweeper/escort vessel used in WW2. I guess William must have been impressed because he plans to take his dad to visit this floating museum as soon as he can.

As for the girls, we happily chatted and tried to keep Olivia’s mind off her orthodontist appointment the next day. I am not sure we succeeded but we did find out that her braces went on perfectly and she didn’t seem any worse for wear.

We bid farewell to our friends and made our way to another suburb of Melbourne called Chadstone to meet up with Helen. We last saw Helen in Vietnam when we took a 2 week tour with a small group on our way home from our year in Australia.

Helen had very recently completed an extensive renovation of her home and we were happy to take the tour and oooh and ahhh! Of course we are waiting for our own new home to be completed while we vacation in Australia, so that made it even more exciting.

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We enjoyed a glass of bubbly and some wonderful cake Helen had made for me, almond and citrus, something about being named after the Compostela de Santiago. Anyway, it was so good you can bet I had some for breakfast the next day and didn’t decline her offer to take a large piece for the road.

Helen took us to an area called Oakleigh which is the Greek quarter. We dined in a restaurant called Mykonos. The food was plentiful and delicious with Helen ordering everything in Greek and making triple sure that no gluten was in sight!

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After dinner, we took a stroll along the pedestrian avenue and had a look at all the cafés filled with people enjoying a summer meal. Back at her place, we talked late into the night, catching up on our activities these past 6 yrs.

We turned north in the morning, headed to Bendigo, our former Australian home. We tried to find our way without using the GPS but that was not so easy. Leon continued to concentrate on driving on the left while I tried to recognize the area I thought I knew well. We finally located our former house on Green Street and found nothing had really changed, in spite of new owners.

From there, we headed to Milton and Judith’s for a 3 day stay filled with activities and familiar faces!

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