Everything is backwards in Australia. Yesterday was Easter, a day which for me usually symbolises that the darkness and cold days of Winter are almost over and soon we will all be basking in the Summer sunshine. But rather than the days getting warmer and longer, flowers blooming, baby animals being born, and Spring generally springing, Autumn is undoubtedly approaching. Not that I’m going to let that stop me, and as I heard that it snowed back home the other day I’ve probably still got it better down here.
The school holidays started last weekend so I’ve been working a lot more this past week while also trying to cram in some extra Easter fun for myself, including my first surf lesson at the beautiful Bells Beach in Torquay, and although I am unbelievably bad at it I instantly fell in love. I also managed to catch a show in the Melbourne Comedy Festival. Being from Edinburgh, home of the world famous Fringe Festival which takes over the whole city and completely transforms it for the whole of August, my first impressions of Melbourne’s Comedy Festival were a bit underwhelming. But on Thursday I found myself in the city enjoying some much needed me time and with a couple of hours to kill, so I thought I’d check out a show. My choices on a weekday afternoon were fairly limited, but for $5 I caught a surprisingly good show, ‘5 for 5 at 5’, where 5 comedians each gave a 10 minute taster of their own shows.
On Friday I headed out to the countryside with the fam to spend a couple of days with them at their house near Ballarat. Friday was also Passover, so I celebrated my first ever Passover Sedar. Saturday was then packed full of kid friendly activities, though I think I actually enjoyed them just as much as the little ones. As we all piled into the car at 9am, our breath misting in front of us in the 3°c morning air, I was brutally reminded of family holidays in the Scottish countryside when I was younger. Unlike in Scotland though, the day quickly warmed up.
Our first stop was Sovereign Hill, an open-air museum of an 1850s gold mining town based around Victoria’s gold rush and the discovery of the ‘welcome nugget’. Although I was expecting it to be mostly aimed at children it actually has a lot for adults as well. We spent most of the day there, looking in the old shops and cafes, exploring the mine, panning for gold (which I sucked at but the kids managed to find me some), playing bowls, making candles and generally pretending we were living in the past.
After that we visited the Ballarat Wildlife Park so that I could finally have some Aussie animal experiences, and I am so glad we went there rather than to a zoo or something. Despite it being the Easter weekend, being a small place in a small town it was really quiet. One member of staff even said that they’d had people drive all the way from Melbourne because the queue for the zoo there was going to take longer than the drive to Ballarat. Anyway, I finally got to feed and play with kangaroos, see koalas, Tassie devils, wombats, echidnas, snakes and all sorts of other Aussie wildlife.
As if that wasn’t already a long day, I then had to catch the train back to Melbourne and head out to Chapel Street for a pub crawl! All in all a damn good but exhausting start to my Easter weekend. I was supposed to do the Great Ocean Road Sunday – Monday but once again the weather ruined my plans. Luckily that gave me a couple of days to recover before the second week of the holidays begins, which I definitely needed!