Although the city centre kept me occupied for days, I’m glad I ventured out to join James in the Dandenong Ranges and Darren and Cherril in Ballarat.
Photos are the best way to showcase my day in the Dandenong Ranges!
Thanks again James for a really nice day!
After visiting the Dandenong Ranges and getting a good night sleep, I caught a train the next day to meet Darren and Cherril in Ballarat — for the first time! For two days I enjoyed home cooked dinners and spending time with two lovely individuals who made me feel *right* at home.
On Wednesday Cherril and I visited Sovereign Hill, an open air museum that depicts the gold rush and town in the 1850s. Everyone working there wears period clothing and stays in character Because you know I love food, I enjoyed my first pumpkin soup of the trip there, along with my first Lamington. The only ones I’d seen before were processed ones in convenience stores in the US, and they have a completely different name. The one we shared was super moist and was served with the most perfect strawberry sauce. I bought one from a coffee shop yesterday and it didn’t even come close to comparing.
But enough about food — this is the gold rush!
I took a 45-minute tour of a mine with our fearless leader Craig. My favorite part was when he showed us the mine shaft elevator that used to carry men from the surface down to the mines and back. One’s shift didn’t begin until his feet touched the mine floor, so men would cram themselves into the elevator and then another 4-5 men would stand ON TOP of the elevator. This thing traveled at 30 meters per second, and it took 2-2.5 minutes for the journey. I can’t imaging standing/riding on top of this thing, but it beats standing in line for 2.5 hours on the surface — time you’re not getting paid.
Sometimes the elevator failed and there was a lone ladder from the surface to mine floor. This journey took SEVEN hours. While men would be climbing up to get home, men would be descending to *start* a shift…again, they’re not getting paid for these seven hours of travel time.
To commemorate the day and my visit, Cherril and Darren gave me a gold coin they’d had engraved with a special message while I’d been on my mine tour. THANK YOU both!! It means a lot to me.
Cherril also drove me around Ballarat and showed me a lake that has been dried up for ages. Even dried up you can tell how absolutely beautiful the area must have been. Get this, the schools all had rowing teams because of the lake! Every one of them. Since the drought in Australia (been a problem for years), the schools have had to go without, and the expensive homes along the lake’s edge don’t have such a fantastic view anymore.
If you’re in Melbourne and have time to get out of the city, I recommend visiting either place! You’ll need to rent a car to see the Dandenong Ranges properly — thankfully I have a great new friend who loves to drive and loves the area just as much.
Final Melbourne post in a couple of days…my review of Nomads Industry hostel.
Featured image is one I took of the Melbourne city skyline