Tuesday – July 7, 2009 –
Today was our first full day in Australia. Jeff and I woke up fairly early to do something completely unique: skiing down under! We decided to take a ski trip into the Snowy Mountain range of northeastern Victoria. We walked down to the Flinders Street bus station to catch a bus to Mount Buller, the largest ski resort in Australia.
The first thing our driver said over the intercom was “Good morning, is everyone bright eyed and bushy tailed?” I hadn’t heard that since I was a kid when my grandfather would say that! He then explained our route and day’s agenda over his headset as we left Melbourne.
I fell asleep for a while, during which time, Jeff decided to take blackmail photos of me (what else is new?). We passed near Marysville where we could see charred remains of the forests and buildings that were devastated by the fires that swept earlier during the year through the Victoria countryside on Black Saturday, Feb 7. More than 170 people died in the national tragedy. It was remarkable how extensive the burn area encompassed.
Later in the morning we stopped at Georges Ski Hire outside the mountain area where we hired our ski gear much more cheaply. All of it was about AUD$20 and we also had some breakfast. After rejoining the tour, our driver continued on to Mount Buller where we proceeded to climb a long series of switchbacks. We could see snow hanging on the top of the summit. Upon reaching a parking lot at the top, we disembarqued for the Alzburg Resort. Jeff and I walked up with our skiis, boots and poles to buy our lift tickets.
Not long afterwards, we were on a quad going to the middle of the slope. I have never seen this many people on a ski slope in my life – it seemed like all of Melbourne was out on the slopes today! It was a holiday weekend in the middle of the Australian winter, so that probably was part of the reason why. After Jeff and I skied to the bottom, we took the lift back up to the midway point before taking another lift to the summit. The views at the top were remarkable, and you could see the Victorian countryside well below the treeline. Just a stunning view of the forested hills and eucalyptus trees below.
The lines were longer at the bottom so we decided to fan out from the top to other areas. Jeff and I are pretty good skiers and have been doing it since we were kids out in California, but I have never used a tow rope that you put between your legs. Jeff and I had to take one of these up one side of the mountain and we busted hard but managed to hold on being dragged up the mountain. It was pretty funny because some people were laughing hard at us and others who were falling! We made sure not to go back down that hill again.
We stopped for lunch once during the day and enjoyed the views. Before long, we had to be back at the bus around 4 p.m. for our return trip back to Melbourne. Along the way, we watched the classic Victorian movie, “The Man from Snowy River.” I honestly didn’t think it was that great, but the scenery was pretty in the movie and show places we passed by during our bus journey.
Around 8:30 p.m., we arrived back in Melbourne. We decided to walk for a tour of Chinatown. Melbourne’s Chinatown has some of the best Chinese food and markets outside of China. We decided to have some Malay food, something we had never eaten before. Jeff and I ate dinner at the Oldttown Kopitam. I had some noodles and chicken that were similar to Thai food, but spicier! It was good, and I think Jeff enjoyed his too.
We went back to the hotel and I had a good night’s sleep. Melbourne is such a spectacular city!