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We started the day by clearing up the house at Wonthaggi and packing the car. With the temperatures due to soar it was likely to be difficult to move long distances and total fire bans can cause travel disruptions very quickly. By 10:30 we were leaving Viminaria road and heading into the town. We tried to find postcards of the area, but it isn’t really set up for tourists and the post office was closed, so I’m afraid I won’t be able to send you any of Wonthaggi.

Once we were on the move we made good time and stopped in Tooradin again for lunch. This time we went further down the estuary and found a whole flock of Pelicans. Their bills are very strange and they seem to have trouble holding their heads up because of the weight of their beak. I expect they are like penguins in that on land they are odd looking and cumbersome but in flight spectacular. We certainly saw some soaring gracefully in the distance. The pelicans had good reason to wait in the estuary as the fishing boats which returned would throw any bits of rubbish fish out to them on the beach where they were waiting. The fights that ensued over even the tiniest scraps of fish were quite amusing to watch, generally a lot of shoulder barging would take place even after the fish had long been eaten.

On the road back into Melbourne the overhead displays were announcing that it was a ‘Total Fire Ban’ day. Fire warnings are as standard as flood, wind, pollen and UV warnings in the UK. There are now six levels of fire danger

  1. Low to Medium
  2. high
  3. very high
  4. severe
  5. extreme
  6. code red!
    (having been added in quite recent years)

each with their own level of what is advised or allowed. On top of these the areas can declare total fire ban days, this means no heavy machinery can be used, no hot equipment, no naked flames. Gas BBQ’s can be used provided there is water and a responsible adult but no solid or liquid fuel at all. It seems to work quite well and without any real problems being reported. Certainly the press haven’t noticed it very much. It seems like the British press could learn a lot about reporting these natural occurrences!

Once back in Melbourne the temperature on the veranda had reached 41 degrees, the wind was quite strong and equally warm as it was blowing from the north, straight over a desert and onto us. It’s weird experiencing that kind of breeze as usually we associate wind with having a cooling effect. This breeze was like being in the blast of a large hair drier. Amy and I walked into town to post more cards and the heat was quite sweltering. In fact so hot that I just hadto buy an ice-cream (we had an Icy pole – an ice lolly) to get home!

As this was our last supper all together I had suggested that I take everyone for a final meal together. Susie and Amy suggested and booked an indian restaurant on Upper Heildelberg road in Ivanhoe called Cafe Safron. It was quite different to curry houses at home with completely different dishes. When they came the were full of flavours and the lamb was very spicy – still very tasty. I also enjoyed my first ‘real’ lemon lime bitters, made fresh. It was something else. It arrived at the table in two layers one orange, the lower lemonade which I had to mix together. Quite delicious and very refreshing.

Afterwards Susie, Luciano and I wandered down the street to the supermarket whilst Amy drove the car to pick up some supplies for the final days adventure. It was still well over 30 degrees. Even now at quarter to eleven it is still over 30 degrees. It’s going to be a scorcher tomorrow!

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