Thursday, December 21, 2000
Our flights went well, made it through customs and were met by Steve, Brett & Ryan. We were delighted to see them. After a short drive to McAllister’s home, we also caught up with Mary, Trent and Sharn. It will be nice to be in one place for more than one day.We quickly piled into his SUV and made our way to their home in the northern suburb of Eltham. There we were greeted by Mary and the two younger children, Trent and Sharn.
Eltham started out as an artist community and maintains a tradition of unique homes set in a largely unchanged natural environment. Steve and Mary’s homestead sits in wooded, rolling hills on an unsealed road (there are dust hazard signs along the road) with the neighboring houses barely visible. The house is a single story, timber and glass beauty that focuses on the wooded yard behind and below the house with its large deck, pool and tennis court. Even the kitchen counter tops are polished timber adding, along with the flagstone floors, to the natural feeling of the structure. The house was masterfully enlarged some time ago to add a beautifully spacious master bedroom suite on one end. The property’s original artist’s studio serves as a storage shed.
It had been a long day and we didn’t last long that evening. We retired to the original master bedroom that had been graciously vacated by son, Brett, for our use.
Friday, December 22, 2000
Friday started out as our first real relaxation of the trip. We did wash, tended to e-mail and generally took it easy with Mary and the kids on a rainy morning. Later, we picked Steve up at his office and toured downtown Melbourne. The shopping district was in full Christmas frenzy with lots of decorations (something we hadn’t seen in New Zealand) and shoppers doing their thing. Some of the department stores were really large, spanning a couple of blocks.
The weather cleared late in the day and we went to the top of Rialto Tower which oversees the city, its suburbs and the harbor. There we could begin to make sense of the city’s layout and see the path of the Yarra River as it flows through the city, the location of the many sports venues including those for tennis and the MCG (more later). Finally, we drove to Williamstown, a western suburb on the water. There we had traditional fish and chips, dim sims and potato cakes on a blanket in the park. We fed the final few chips to the seagulls as we watched the setting sun reflected on boats moored in the picturesque harbor.
Three days before Christmas and we’re not even stressed out with decorating and gift buying! This “away for the holidays” ain’t all bad!
We’ll be dreaming about a white Christmas (we certainly won’t see one here) and wish everyone a VERY Merry Christmas!