Nicky & I are in Melbourne. We are combining seeing Mike & Carol with the Australian Grand Prix.
Mike and Carol actually live quite a bit out of Melbourne in a little place called Clifton Springs.
While Doug & Jude are battling snow drifts we're lounging by Mike & Carol's pool in 30+ degrees.
We arrived late Monday, so Tuesday we took it easy, and didn't really do much. Mike was in work, but Carol showed us around the local area a bit.
Wednesday was a cruisy day too - went to Bells Beach which is a famous surf beach. The was quite a lot of activity as they were setting up for a big surfing competition over Easter weekend. Then we went to "The Chocolate Factory" for lunch. Lots of chocolate for sale but we were all very good and refrained. Nicky and I did buy a little to take home to New Zealand.
The next stop was a little wildlife refuge called Jirrahlinga . They take in injured and rescued animals. It was a nice way to see wombats and koala's and echidna and kangaroos. I think my favourite was the dingo's though. The ranger who was telling us about the koala and wombat explained that pure dingo's are gentle and scared of humans, but if you had one from a pup, they're extremely loyal. Apparently most of the dingo's seen in the wild are hybrids (crossed with other canines brought into Aus by Europeans) and it's the hybrids that can be aggressive.
Today is Thursday. Mike and Carol have to work, so we're entertaining ourselves. I went for run this morning, and then we had a swim in the pool (well, Nicky swam, and I splashed about a bit). We're relaxing (outside in the shade) for an hour or so then we're all taking the train to Melbourne. We're staying in Melbourne tonight as Mike and Carol are having breakfast in the Formula One circuit with David Coulthard (and presumably a few other people, but DC was the only one Carol was bothered about). We will head into the track a little later (M & C have to be in the track by 07:00) and get the lay of the land so we know the prime spots to view the race from on Sunday.
We've had a good few days at the GP. Thursday evening was spent being city dwellers, which was different for Nicky & I. We wandered around the Yarra River banks, had a drink, ate dinner & watched the flame torches, which do a "routine " every hour.
Mike & Carol left for the track very early on Friday to get to their breakfast. DC recognised the Scot's accent, and add that to the fact that they were the only ones there who could pronounce his home town, he had a chat with them & a photo. Carol was well impressed.
We wandered down to the track much later. Mike & I watched first free practice, then I went to the other side of the track to suss out a place to stand on Sunday. The others hung around near the stand that Mike and Carol had tickets for. Unfortunately, my phone went flat, so when I'd worked out where to be for Sunday, I had no way to get hold of the others. It took us about an hour and a half to meet up again, by which time everyone was a bit fractious in the heat (~30 deg), so we headed for home.
We woke on Saturday to thunder and lightning and torrential rain. Mike and I had planned to go to qualifying whilst the ladies went to see elephants at the zoo. The weather wasn't the best for either activity, so we had a late breakfast, and headed in to Melbourne early afternoon; the ladies to look around the shops and Mike and I to get to the track in time for the later activities - qualy wasn't starting until 5:00pm anyway. The rain stopped and the temperature increased to a comfortable low 20's. Mike & I enjoyed the support races and F1 qualifying. Mike & Carol, with allocated seats for Sunday, didn't need to rush, but I wanted to get into the track early on Sunday to bag a spot, so Nicky and I stayed 20 mins walk from the track with Nic's cousin Gwyn. She cooked us tea and entertained us with stories of life in the area with Scarlet, her Welsh Springer Spaniel.
Sunday dawned bright and clear. I went into the track with two collapsible chairs and claimed a spot at a good vantage point. Nicky and Gwyn walked Scarlet and ended up taking another dog too who they 'picked up' at the cafe where the dogs all meet.
I watched all the support races. Nicky arrived in the middle of the V8's, which is a very popular series in Australia, so the grassy knoll where I'd set up was pretty busy. Looking for my orange running jacket wasn't much help to Nicky at that point.!
The race was good, the weather warm and dry - though not uncomfortably hot. We had a great day. Getting out of the ground to the trams was time consuming. We met Mike and Carol at the train station to get the train back to Geelong.