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November 23, 2014

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I almost forgot to mention wallabys and kangaroos

By Joanne Niswander

Well, my daughter and I have been in Melbourne for a week and are preparing to leave for Sydney tomorrow. So here are a few more southern Australia impressions to send your way.

When I wrote my first impressions of Melbourne a week ago, I had not yet been introduced to the countryside - only the city. And, although the city has been good to us (they really treat their tourists well), this "country girl" was ready to see something other than tall buildings and trollies.

Now, I know I'm "not in Kansas any more" because Lee and I have had a chance to travel out of the city of Melbourne to get a feel for another part of this southeast corner of Australia.

To the northeast of Melbourne lie the Dandenongs - a beautiful area of rolling hlls, covered with a huge variety of eucalyptus trees. Some of these trees are ancient and toweringly beautiful, rivaling California's redwoods. By the way, Australia's native trees are all evergreens - any deciduous trees here have been imported. So one can see lot of dark green even in early spring.

These mountains, the Dandenongs, extend all along the east coast, getting taller as they reach north as part of the Great Dividing Range. So, even though Melbourne never gets snow, one can drive a couple of hours or so north of here and go skiing.

Nestled in the Dandenong valleys are vineyards as picturesque as you might find in California's Napa Valley. A lovely area less than an hour out of Melbourne, so the suburbs of the city are marching out that way.

Then, to the south and west of Melbourne is the Great Ocean Road. Picture the Washington-Oregon-California coast with all the scenery but without wall-to-wall towns and people. An hour out of Melbourne in this direction one finds high cliffs, surfing beaches, ans only an occasional seaside village. The road winds on and on with new vistas around every corner. Spectacular!

And, on the ride back to Melbourne we traveled through rolling countryside containing large cattle and sheep farms. The grass looked lush and green, although they evidently are just coming out of a 5 to 7 year drought. The vagaries of farming!

Oh, and then I almost forgot to mention wallabys and kangaroos and koalas and magpies and parrots - all part of this continent Down Under. I'm sure we'll see more of Australia's uncommon wildlife as we travel on.

So now, it's on to Sydney. What will we find there? Stay tuned!

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