The Thursday in week three was spent by visiting Bendigo. This is a fairly small town with lots of museums in it. We visited the Chinese museum and saw that a lot of Chinese had come to the country during the gold rush in the 1850s. After the Chinese museum, we visited the war museum with lots of World War artifacts and we also visited the botanical gardens. Overall it was a very pretty town and we learned more about the history of the country in general.
The botanical gardens
On Saturday a large part of the group decided to go on the Great Ocean Road. This is a tour which was not in the programme, but was arranged through a backpacking agency. We spent the day in a tour bus driving past the twelve apostles, big rocks that have eroded from the mainland and stand as pinnacles in the ocean. We also walked through a rainforest with trees that were once used as prisons for convicts, we saw Koalas and Parrots in the wild and visited enormous beaches with no one on them. This trip was phenomenal and I would highly recommend it to anyone visiting this area.
The next day some friends and I decided to go to the aquarium. They had very large tanks with sharks and rays and all kinds of fish in them. They also had a saltwater crocodile, one that can grow up to six meters (20ft) in length. We also saw some penguins that were trying to hatch their eggs, fish that spent their time jumping around on the land, seahorses that looked just like plants and fish that shot flies right out of the air.
On Monday we had a biology field trip. First we went to Mount Donna Buang, which isn’t really a mountain but more of a glorified hill. We inspected the area for traces of wildlife and after getting bit by some leeches we decided it was time to hike down the mountain to the next spot. We spent the day visiting various types of (rain)forest and learning stuff about the trees and the wildlife.
The view from a viewing tower on Mount Donna Buang.
In the afternoon we went to a chocolate factory which had some amazingly tasteful chocolate to offer. Sadly it was also fairly expensive. After dinner and some billiards we went back to the rainforest as it was getting dark. We were going to see gliders, creatures the size of a cat with flaps between their limbs which enables them to float from one treetop to another. We saw plenty of them and even saw a fairly rare specimen fly. We also found a nocturnal frog and saw some very large bats.
The chocolate factory
Tuesday was Australia Day. This is a day to celebrate the arrival of the first settlers in Sydney Cove in 1788, but for most Australians this public holiday is just a nice excuse to go out and get drunk in public. We spent our time having fun on st Kilda beach and watching tennis on a big screen on federation square in the afternoon.
On the beach on Australia Day
The rest of the week we watched some more movies and the weekend was mostly spent writing essays and going out in the evenings. I also visited a large BBQ festival in the middle of the city. Right now is our last day in Melbourne. I am packing my suitcase because tonight I am leaving for Cairns, the city right next to the Great Barrier Reef! More about that next week!