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Australia 2000: [Sydney] [Great Barrier Reef] [Melbourne]

Saturday, May 27, 2000: We arrived in Melbourne at night and checked into our hotel. Our room overlooked a charming courtyard with sunlight streaming in the next morning.
Here's the view further to the right toward the entrance of the courtyard.
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 at Jarrah Restaurant 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.

Sunday, May 28, 2000: The next day, we went sightseeing in Melbourne on our own. The hotel has since closed, but here's a Google Streetview of the exterior grabbed in 2018.
We walked a couple of blocks to the Queen 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 walked a couple of blocks further to Melbourne Central Shopping Centre, an unusual indoor mall with a huge, dome-shaped atrium over the historic Shot Tower. We picked up a couple of souvenirs here, including a leather kangaroo bookmark and a book on Aussie slang. We probably had lunch here, too, but who can recall?
At 12:15 PM, we started a package tour that began with a river cruise through Melbourne, passing under many beautiful bridges, including Princes Bridge, where our tour started.
We saw parks, lovely homes, and the facilities built for the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne. Here's a little map of the route we took, taken from the boat company brochure.
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 spire that stands over the Melbourne Arts Centre.
Our coach tour took us outside the city into Sherbrooke Forest in the Blue Dandenong mountains.
First, we stopped at Grant's Picnic Ground for hot Bush Billy tea and Lamingtons, which are a uniquely Australian dessert -- cake cubes covered on all sides with a light frosting and coated in coconut. Yum! While our tour guide brewed the tea outside in a picnic pavilion, we visited the gift shop and bought a small dingo figurine.
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.
It is a restaurant in a tram (like a train) which tours Melbourne during dinner.
Here's a more recent photo of the beautiful interior.
We were served a three-course meal, starting with Chicken Liver Bigarade as an appetizer, Chicken Colonial or Tramcare Fillet for our main course, and chocolate mousse or an apple cinnamon crepe for dessert.
It was a great dinner and a fantastic experience.

Monday, May 29, 2000: The next morning, we headed back to the airport and began the many flights back home. We have no pictures of this, so here's a Melbourne postcard instead.

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