For Easter, Australia gets the Friday before and Monday after Easter as a holiday. We decided to stay in Melbourne for the long Easter weekend and be tourists in the city.
On Friday, we decided to check out more of the downtown area. We took the tram to the downtown and strolled along the banks of the Yarra river enjoying the sites. We passed the massive Crown casino, the arts district and eventually made our way to the parks along the river. We enjoyed watching the rowing clubs as we walked along toward the botanic gardens.
We walked around the Shrine of Remembrance, which is a massive memorial to the Australian soldiers who lost their lives in World War I.
After descending from the steps of the Shrine of Remembrance, we walked over to the Royal Botanic Gardens and spent a few hours getting lost along the winding paths. It was an impressive garden that had plants from Australia and all over the world – the cactus section made us feel like we were back in Texas!
On our way back home we tried out a few of the beer gardens along the river and even found one right in the middle of the river under a pedestrian bridge.
On Saturday we got our bikes out of the bike boxes, assembled them, bought a pump for the tires and headed out for a quick ride along the bay. As this was our first time to bike in a couple of months, we kept the ride slow and only rode for about 2 hours through the waterfront neighborhoods. We got good practice on staying to the left and interacting with traffic, but there are a lot of bike lanes and trails so it wasn’t too hard.
For the rest of the weekend, we explored our neighborhood in Port Melbourne and the many shops and restaurants along Bay Street. Todd got his driving lesson in and managed not to kill anyone, so we are both officially trained to drive on the left side now!
We also took Dharma to the beach a few times after discovering that she loves to sprint along the shore and splash in the surf. She’s already forgotten the Colorado mountains and seems to be enjoying the beaches of Australia.
We finished our weekend of tourism by heading down to St. Kilda beach to see the penguins coming ashore. There is a colony of penguins that lives amongst the rocks along St. Kilda beach about 2 miles from our house and we heard that every night you could watch them coming ashore to nest for the evening.
We arrived at dusk and joined the dozens of people perched on the dock and rocks waiting for the penguins to swim ashore. One by one the little penguins swam up and waddled onto the rocks. Some immediately hopped off to their nests to greet their mates, while others found a perch and preened and shook themselves with the crowed watching a few feet away.
Finally the sun set and it was too dark to see any more penguins coming home to roost so we hoped on the tram and headed home – happy with the thought that we’re lucky enough to be living where we can have such adventures without even leaving the city! We’re looking forward to exploring our new home in Melbourne even more.