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The start of my second week involved us setting off to the beach house in Wanthaggi. Again we aimed to leave by 9, so I was annoyed with myself when I woke up at ten to. Thankfully this time I had packed ready and wandered through to the kitchen to grab some breakfast. At 10:30 we managed to set off and drove south west towards the beach. The highway was wide with five lanes at times and high grassy, green banks to each sides. After a short period of time it became fairly monotonous and I settled down to watch the world go by.

After an hours driving we drove through Cranbourne a small town just outside Melbourne. We drove through and stopped the other side in a small picnic area in a clearing amongst gum trees (still no Kookaburras) we drank tea from the thermos again and had some of the left over mince pies we had been given by Katy from Bendigo. As we sat a family arrived and set up for a BBQ on the other side of the clearing. There were plenty of public BBQ’s around again and they soon started cooking up sausages.

The reason for stopping in Cranbourne was to stop at the Melbourne Royal Botanic Gardens which were based there. Again the gardens were free and we walked through the entrance and down steps to see a cast sea of red desert like expanse. The Gardens were known as the Australian garden and demonstrated how native plants could exist within Australian gardens easily and make sense.

The first exhibit type area we walked past was really very clever. In 1m wide strips that went back over the brow of a hill there were typical plants from each area of Australia. Each strip contained typical progression exhibited from small to large plants. Very cleverly planted and beautifully presented with a map and codes. This was a triangular patch a good 50 meters wide and it went back 40m at its longest.

The gardens were on a scale I’ve never experienced before and took a good couple of hours to walk at a swift pace around. They included several large lakes and a research garden (I will try and upload pictures of this for you Jonathan!) There was even an entire garden based around prehistoric plants and contained plenty of Wollemi Pines and bracken.

After leaving the garden we made our way a little further east to a town called Tooradin where we had lunch. I ate a plan meat pie, delicious again! We sat on the banks of an estuary where it might have been possible to see pelicans, unfortunately they must have been out fishing as there was a solitary Pacific Gull and a whole host of normal gulls, the latter of which were fairly keen to share our lunch!

On the dual carriageway we came across a very rare occurrence in Australia, a traffic jam. This was filled with traffic for Phillip Island the head of the Weston Port bay. We risked taking a shortcut and took a dirt track away from the traffic. The road was very windy and took us up into the hills, the view from the top was worth it. Weston Port Bay lay to our left with Phillip Island at its mouth, the Bass Strait lay in front of us clear & very blue as the sky was completely cloudless. Making our way back down to the main road gave us more and more views of the Strait and whetted our appetite for the beach.

We arrived at the house (just outside Wonthaggi, in an area called Harmers Haven in the Bunurong Marine park – another protected area of coast) it’s built very much like the inside of Bernis, basic but comfortable and in a fantastic location. Having not been visited since Easter, we weren’t sure what the inside would be like. Thankfully the structure was fine, but the possums had made their way through the ceiling in the bathroom and had left a little mess in the floor and there was a major ant invasion in one of the cupboards.

I helped check the water tanks with Luciano before helping empty, clear and clean the cupboards. The ants were a little more populous than expected and it took a couple of hours to really find their nest and spray it fully. They seem to be clear now, fingers crossed!

Amy and I went to find the beach, it’s about a 50 meter walk from the house through heathland and I had my first close up view of the Bass Strait. The path we were on took us out to a small headland from which we could look along the coast for miles. The beach had large flat looking rocks pushing out into the sea with golden sandy beaches lining them. The tide was quite high and so we were only able to see a few rock-pools, even so they were full of small sea creatures and we found a tiny crab under a stone very quickly. We walked along the beach around a couple of headlands to see the ‘surf beach’ (just an area of water which is a little safer to swim in than the others as it doesn’t have rips or rocks.)

On climbing back up to the house Luciano had cooked another fantastic meal. A tomato and lentil sauce with ham on polenta and mozzarella which was absolutely delicious. We polished it off very quickly before finding the scrabble board and starting a game. I finished first but my score was second, just behind Amy’s 159 (although she had started first!) I think there may be plenty more games over the next few days!

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