On our final day in Melbourne, a friend of the SRE's took us on a wonderful drive to the Dandenong Ranges, about an hour away from Melboune. Mount Dandenong is 633 metres high, and from the top there's a wonderful view of Melbourne and its suburbs. The first and last pictures here are of Puffing Billy, Australia's more than a century old train, which takes a scenic route through alpine forests. The second picture is a view from Mount Dandenong- endless beautiful countryside. The third and fourth pictures were taken in the William Ricketts Sanctuary, which is a moving collection of clay sculptures of Aboriginal figures; the sculptures blend in artistically within the nearby forest. It was a truly awe-inspiring place. The sculptures seemed to be growing out of the trees, and seemed to be part of Nature. Cool and green and mossy, with the original kiln still in place. The late Mr. Ricketts was a remarkable person and artist.
The trees and plants were all lush and green. We drove through roads lined with rhododendrons in full bloom. We had an excellent lunch at a restaurant called Lillypilly, which is the name of a local flower ( Acmena smithii). After more long drives, wonderful music in the car and a visit to our friend's home for tea, he drove us to our next halt in Melbourne, the home of a young cousin of mine. She used to live in Chennai while we were in Gummidipoondi, so we had been in recent contact. Her daughter was born in August, and her parents were with her for the delivery. And so I met my aunt in Melbourne, after nearly twenty-five years of not being able to meet her in India! We had a lovely evening with them, and enjoyed the gurgles and coos of my tiny infant niece.
Next morning we were off to Brisbane.