Day 3: When You Leave Melbourne, You See Animals at Healesville Sanctuary


With a bus trip scheduled to head to Healesville Sanctuary, we planned on having breakfast at the Treasury on Collins with Fr. Larry. He recommended heading up to the animal sanctuary, so he had some last minute recommendations. We also discussed Mugabe stepping down as that was all the local news was talking about. It was fascinating to see so little about the United States for the ten days we were in Australia. But since Fr. Larry traveled to Africa, he had lots of thoughts about Mugabe.

He also told us a story about me as a baby. My mom and Gramma went shopping and left me with him and my grandfather. My mom promised that I would be okay, but I ended up crying the entire time she was gone. When she returned, they told her that I cried the entire time, and she said, “Oh I guess he must have been hungry then.” One of the wonders of this trip was checking in with someone who has known me my whole life. Even with small stories like this one, I smiled and thought about all of those days on Dickens Ave.

After breakfast, we walked Fr. Larry to the train station as it was on our way. He got onto the tram and off he went back to Box Hill after our first weekend in Melbourne.

Next, we needed to head to the InterContinential Hotel and wait outside for a bus to pick us up. A bus sat in front of the hotel, so I walked towards the door but before I got one word out, the driver just shook his say and yelled no. When an entire delegation of Chinese tourists got onto the bus, I figured out why I was a definite no for that driver.

Nevertheless, our bus arrived and drove us to Federation Square. We could have walked there in the time it took the bus to pick us up. But we met up with anyone else. As usual, I needed to use the washroom so I tried to find it. Since we were the third bus and it seemed like we would be waiting a while, I ran off. Of course, by the time I was running back, Brian was looking nervous that I would get left behind. I got back just in time. But it did make the bus ride far more comfortable.

The bus was full of two groups. Some of us headed to Healesville Sanctuary. Others had a wine tour in their future. The bus driver/tour guide was an engaging guy who talked a bit about Melbourne as we headed out of the city. Finally, we would see something outside of the downtown area. The highway had changing speed limits depending on traffic. Everything was digital and if traffic was up ahead, it told you to slow down. It also was in kilometers. But I thought it seemed smart to try to break up that traffic.

Puffing Billy

First, we headed into the Dandedongs to a small cafe near Puffing Billy, an old steam train. I chose this tour because they would provide tea at the cafe. The countryside was beautiful, but it looked a bit like the tropical area of Brookfield Zoo.

At the cafe, we received our Devonshire tea and a scone. We also met Kevin and Cathy. He was a tuba instructor at the University of Memphis and she was a pediatric lung nurse specialist. They were very nice to talk to over tea and the only other young couple on the tour. But we were still the most adventurous pair.

After finishing the tea, we had time to walk into the rainforest. The flora was incredible and immense. All of the tall trees hid the birds well but the short walk gave us a nice taste of what tropics look like. Then we were able to feed some wild cockatiels. Brian did better than I did as he had long sleeves. My arms looked like I got attacked by lots of small knives. But we had fun feeding birds that we only saw in zoos or very fancy pet stores.

Next, we got back onto the bus and headed to Puffing Billy. Everyone we talked to on our entire trip smiled when we said we went there. It’s silly but it is one of those tourist spots. The practice is to sit on the ledge of the old steam engine cars, hold on, and then let your legs swing off the side. No one got onto the ledges as we waited for the train to start. An older couple next to us said that they would do it if we did. I said that I didn’t travel all of this way to not sit on the ledge. As a leader, everyone followed. They don’t teach you that in corporate life.

Of course, it was not very comfortable. I kept losing feeling in my legs and Brian could not sit up there for too long. He would go up and down. But as they say, we had a laugh.

Healesville Sanctuary

After heading back to the bus, we started our journey up to the Yarra valley. We dropped off the winery tourists. It took a very long time as many of the other tourists did not speak English or understand the Australian accent. Many people got on and off the bus as the tour guide tried his best. We did not envy him. So many individuals just excited and not speaking the same language. We stood out though as the only two who looked like a Dan and a Brian paired together. But it worked out fine and we headed to Healesville Sanctuary.

When we got off the bus, a guide who was probably around 75 was waiting to meet us. Although we had spent the last two days with an 85year old man, we wanted to see everything at the sanctuary. We only had a few hours to see an entire zoo and one recommendation from my uncle was the Birds of Prey show. We had no idea what she had in mind. But we asked Kevin and Cathy if they planned on following the woman around. They also thought they would head out on their own. As usual, we were the rebels.

The guide mentioned that her plan would be to take us around and tell us about the animals but first we had a 45 minute lunch plan. She also mentioned we did not have to stay with her and asked those of us who would head out on our own to raise our hands so she would not look for us. Our hands shot up. She snidely degraded our inability to understand animals on our own. But we grabbed our sandwiches and headed out to see the koalas, kangaroos, and everything else we paid thousands of dollars to see – not a lunch that would take 1/3 of the time we had.

Covered in SPF-50, we explored the entire park. Without question, Brian loved the platypus. We spent a lot of time in there watching them swim back and forth. It was like watching an otter with a bill. We saw just about every animal and bird in the park. But since it was so hot, many of the animals barely moved and the ones inside got a little extra viewing time.

Also, the Birds of Prey show was phenomenal. I got a lot of great pictures as eagles, owls, and other large birds flew over us and entertained us with their skills. We even saw the same cockatiel that was scratching up my arms just hours before. And if you ever want to see wild parrots, head to Australia. They are everywhere.

Overall, it was a fantastic day.

The bus ride home was uneventful as everyone was pretty tired. We headed back to the hotel to relax for a little while before getting dinner. We decided to head over to the Hardware District, which had an entire street full of small restaurants.

Max On Hardware

In Melbourne, restaurants have lead generators standing outside barking deals and benefits to you. On this day, we had free drinks offered to us with Italian food. We were not sure about eating Italian food as it’s Australia. But we figured – why not? Brian had mushroom goat-cheese spaghetti and a Sauvignon Blanc. I had cannelloni. It was really quite good. And we watched them wrangled in at least thirty people just like us as we ate. Additionally, we got two orders of Turkish bread and dips. Not sure how it all fit together but our waiter recommended it, we ordered it and then another waiter took the plate away with a little bread left on it. Our other waiter apologized and brought us more bread.

Unfortunately, at this point, I had all of the symptoms of a cold. My throat hurt, my nose was running, and I was tired. We turned in early by watching Netflix. We turned on the movie Sisters starring Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. It did not really have much of a point but it had a few good lines.

But day three ended and we definitely experienced our fair share of Victoria.


  1. Joyce Baxendale

    Delighting in see more of your adventure. This is a trip I’ll never have so it is wonderful seeing it through your eyes.

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