Thursday, February 16, 2006

Australia ~ Mornington Peninsula

Yvette decided to take advantage of some free time, and drive us down to Mornington Peninsula to go to the U-Pick strawberry farm, and one of the wineries down there.

The winery was beautiful. We picked up a bottle of Muscat (Uno), and then went across the road to the strawberry farm. The U-Pick part of the farm was closed. Maybe. We were getting some mixed messages from them, so I'm not sure about that, but they also said there weren't many berries right now. So we bought a few already picked, and also bought a bag of freeze-dried, chocolate-dipped strawberries. Strange. But not bad. Yvette then drove us over to Hastings, where we were scheduled to meet up with Shane & Fiona, our hosts.

Shane & Fiona are self-employed, and work on a horse ranch (is that the right term?) where they breed, raise, and break race horses. They're both very easygoing, very easy to talk to, and don't seem to get too worked up about much. We really enjoyed their company, and their home is just beautiful. Our timing has really been pretty bad everywhere, and the realtors were coming over while we were there to view their home. It's their hope that they can make enough profit on their current home to buy more land up in the mountains outside Melbourne, and build a strawbale home. We had a great time talking with Shane about the area they're hoping to live in, the lifestyle they hope to have, and their dream to build their energy efficient home in the mountains. Not too unlike our dreams.

Before we'd arrived in Australia Shane had suggested that we might want to swim with dolphins. What a great idea! So we signed up with Moonraker Charters for a half day of swimming with Seals and Dolphins. Turns out that, as usual, Gregg takes to any sport ... and I'm not such a great snorkeler. I had a lot of trouble getting the mask to seal properly, and couldn't keep my mouth wide enough to make a seal around the snorkel. Yummm. Sea water. But we both had a great time. The dolphins weren't as playful on the day we were out, but we did manage to see them jumping and playing in the wake of the ferrys for quite a while, and I did manage to get in the water near a dolphin. It was pretty amazing to see them so close.

After the dolphin swim we walked up the hill to Sorrento, a quaint and very small tourist town, and found a little pizza place to eat and relax. Floating around in wetsuits is hard work. We wandered around and found a phone booth and a place to have dessert and coffee, and we got caught up on a little reading while we waited for Fiona to pick us up again ... a 40 minute drive for her each way! We've had the most generous hosts here in Australia!

Anyway, after a little more time in the evening chatting with Shane & Fiona, we decided to head to Phillip Island the next morning, and stay overnight. Ferries are not as frequent as we first imagined they'd be. The last ferry leaves the island at around 5 pm, and the penguin parade happens late in the evening. Being the middle of the week in the shoulder season though, we decide to wing it, and find lodging once we get to the island.

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