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  • Writer's pictureKimberly OLeary

Saying good-bye to Australia-let's not go 5 years the next time!

It's hard to believe it's been over two months since we returned to Australia, after almost five years away. We've loved every minute of our time here. We've explored Melbourne, the central city, the near suburbs, and the breadth of Port Phillip Bay, the large bay on the Bass Strait (the body of water between the Tasman Sea and the Southern Ocean).

In January, we had so many wonderful experiences with friends. It will be hard to say good-bye, although the lure of seeing New Zealand helps mitigate the loss.

In early January, we visited an animal sanctuary on the Mornington Peninsula, The Funky Farm. Located in Hastings, The Funky Farm cares for rescued Australian wildlife who cannot be put back into the wild. Some of them were pets whose owners either no longer wanted them or passed away. Others were injured or abused and cannot survive in the wild. The guides help care for the animals and offer a wealth of knowledge about them. Patrons can interact with the animals - all except the koalas, because koala encounters are strictly regulated in Victoria. The Funky Farm also specializes in working with groups of people with disabilities. You have to book in advance. You can book online here: Below are photos - included are emus, kangaroos, wallbies, python, crocodiles, blue-tongue lizard, bearded dragon, dingo, wombats, parrots, and others.

The following week, we rented a car and drove down the Bellarine Peninsula to Point Lonsdale, on the tip of the bay that Melbourne is situated on. That tip is only 3.5km from the other side. We visited with friends in Point Lonsdale, then drove to Queenscliff and took the ferry across to Sorrento. Then, we drove down the Mornington Peninsula back to Melbourne.

We biked 3 times. Alejandro from Blue Tongue Bikes looked out for me - set aside the shorter bike for the second two rides, even though they only had three of them. I really appreciated his cheerful smile and encouragement. It was easy to book online at I have only recently started riding a bike again, after many years of not doing so. It was fun. The photos below are along the Yarra River in downtown Melbourne. It was a hot, but beautiful day.

We had High Tea at a tea room in the Block Arcade that has been in business since 1892. Delicious and fun!

We went to the Australian Open! What a cheerful atmosphere. We watched the semi-final junior women's doubles and it was a great game! Then, we watched one of the semi-final women's matches on the big screen.

We went to Chinatown for Lunar New Year. This is the year of the rabbit. Two local artists painted rabbit murals throughout Chinatown. We found those, watched the lion dancers and drums, then had Chinese food for supper. It was nice to see so many people out and about having a good time.

We had many adventures in good eating! Melbourne has lots of really good restaurants. Here are some we sampled:

Red Spice Road, an Asian Fusion place. This was banquet style, meaning we had a series of dishes that we shared. Delicious!

Milk the Cow Fromagerie. Paul selected this for his birthday. We had a wine and cheese pairing flight, a charcuterie board, and rosemary and honey flavored fondue served with brandy.

Brunetti Italian bakery. We ate here several times because it was in the neighborhood. Paul's birthday cake was from here. It was beautiful, but Paul wasn't fond of the spongy nature of the cake.

Lygon Street Italian area, we visited this area frequently: D.O.C. Espresso cafe for breakfast, Piccolo Mundo for lunch, Cafe Nozzurno for cheesecake, Casa del Gelato for wonderful flavors. We lived in this neighborhood. Yum.

Ramen from two places