|May 26, 2000: Our trip from Townsville to Melbourne took us back through the Brisbane airport, which had the greatest collection of vending machines we'd seen anywhere in the world, and that includes the place in Paris which had a vending machine that made a rubber stamp of your photo.|
|See what we mean? Hot Wheels and Barbies! In a vending machine! We also were able to send an electronic postcard, too. Here's how it turned out: Greetings from Brisbane, Australia|
|May 27, 2000: We arrived in Melbourne at night and checked into our hotel. Our room overlooked a charming couryard with sunlight streaming in the next morning.|
|We spent the day with our friends, the Bresleys. They're the nicest people you'll ever meet, and Debbie met them when they lived in Indiana briefly in 1992. Their daughter, Nicole, had Rett Syndrome. She passed away in July 2003, so we are grateful to have visited her.|
|Tom's love of friendly orange cats began at the Bresley home when their cat fell asleep on Tom's lap. He was Nicole's cat, and would sleep on her bed to keep an eye on her.|
|After lunch, we went for a drive around Melbourne. The late fall weather was sometimes cloudy, but the sun started to peek through the clouds as it was setting.|
|That evening, Robert and Desley got a babysitter for Adam, Ben, and Nicole, and the four of us had dinner with Bill Callaghan and his sweetheart, Rosalie. We met Bill, president of the Rett Syndrome Association of Australia when we were in Sweden for the Rett Syndrome Congress in 1996. Robert and Desley knew we would be there and told him to find us there, and we're glad he did. It was a fun surprise to be in a hotel lobby in Sweden and hear an Australian voice ask us if we were Tom and Debbie after overhearing our American accents.|
|May 28, 2000: The next day, we went sightseeing in Melbourne on our own. First, we visited the Victoria Market and picked up some bug bite cream and socks with Claire's name on them (a name we don't see on personalized items in the US). Next, we visited an unusual indoor mall with a huge, dome-shaped atrium.|
|Next, we started a package tour that began with a river cruise through Melbourne, passing under many beautiful bridges. We saw parks, lovely homes, and the facilities built for the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne.|
|After the river tour, we climbed back up to street level to join the coach part of the tour. Melbourne has a lot of fascinating modern architecture, and we were quite taken with this tower.|
|Our coach tour took us outside the city into the mountains. First, we stopped in the forest for hot tea and Lamingtons, which are a uniquely Australian dessert -- cake cubes covered on all sides with a light frosting and coated in coconut. Yum! Next, we reached the summit of Mt. Dandenong and looked out over Melbourne in the distance.|
Returning to Melbourne, our tour concluded with a ride and dinner on the Colonial Tramcar Restaurant, which is a restaurant in a tram (like a train) which tours Melbourne during dinner. It was a great dinner and a fantastic experience.
May 29, 2000: The next morning, we headed back to the airport and began the many flights back home.
Copyright © Deborah Schilling/Thomas Bundy