I finally ventured out of the comfort of my suburb this weekend. First, I have to explain the concept of suburb here. The city is “hyper local”…so it’s made up of small neighbourhoods that are fully set up so you basically never have to leave. I just happen to live in (in my opinion) the nicest one! I’ve seen about 5 so far, all within about an hour’s walk. Mine is called Prahran, which is next to Toorak, where the homes are all “Spanish style mini-mansions” (The Californians reference).
I left Melbourne entirely and went to an inland town called Ballarat, where my friend Nicole lives. The drive there was somewhat terrifying, as I am not used to being on the left side of an expressway. It didn’t bother me coming home from the airport (Ativan still in the system?) but I was on edge for the hour drive. The landscape was shockingly beautiful. It’s very hilly, with farms and interesting trees I’ve never seen. The cows also look different. (I actually didn’t know they were cows!)…they are jet black and silky.
We got to Ballarat, and in typical jetlag fashion, I passed out while Nicole prepped for her housewarming party. The party was great—Aussies are super friendly (which we already knew) and everyone went out of their way to make me feel welcome. I managed to stay awake until 5 am, about 10 hours past my usual bedtime. I also found out that Dickinson is a common last name! I met two brothers that I shared the name with. The ID came out and lots of excitement ensued. The downside is, there’s bound to be other Emily Dickinsons.
The sun came out on Sunday, and despite our exhaustion, we took to the town. Ballarat reminds me of Stouffville. It’s pretty rural, with a main street and lots of residential areas. There’s a man-made lake in the middle. Lakes (especially man-made ones) aren’t overly exciting for me, but I was shocked to see BLACK SWANS!
As if the swans and cows weren’t enough, Nicole suggested that we check out the wildlife park. Since it has a huge reptile area, I wasn’t too keen. They lured me in by telling me I could pet kangaroos. I don’t know one non-Australian who could turn that down.
I’ll let the pictures do the talking.