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Kim’s Travel Diary

Monday, 17 Mar 2008

Location: Melbourne, Australia

MapHow do you balance a country that you can go from beach and sand to mountains and snow within three hours. Albury is a smallish place just above Shepparton and Wodonga, homeland of Ned Kelly and his band of rogues. This part of the country is so different again, gone are the beaches and sea and instead, rolling plains of grass land and cattle. You can see from the land just how little water there is, several places looked more like Africa with brown and burnt vegetation but at least the cattle look really healthy. I half expected to see balls of tumble weed being blown across the road and this is really a place that you do not have to talk to your neighbours if you don't want too! I think along with Uluru, this is what you imagine Australia to be - the land of the farm and sheep, along with flies!

Saw Andrew for dinner on Thursday night as he was also in Albury for business and then on Friday night, we took off and drove to Falls Creek, about two hours away, up the mountain. It felt really strange to be in a ski resort with no snow and really hard to imagine what it must look like, three feet under snow. Glen and Leonie who own the hotel are the most wonderful kind and generous people and happy for me to stay. At this time of the year, the hotel is closed and most of the resort is getting ready for the new season. The snow falls from June and settles until early September. It must be such hard work making a hotel pay for such a short season. As all of you that know me well, snow and mountains are really not my thing and a fear of heights does not help either but I did manage to survive some of the drives - amazing what closing your eyes can do. It is a beautiful area and still recovering from terrible bush fires that ravaged the area several years ago. most of the trees here regrow either from the top or start sprouting shoots from the base making thicker and denser bush but the mountain gums do not recover and although the pictures do not show it will, large swathes of the hill side are covered with ghostly white trees with small patches of green inbetween.

Jeff decides to return back to Melbourne via Bright a town that is famous for its autumn leaves and lunch at Brown Brothers. Unfortunately, Bright does not live up to its name - the leaves are very firmly on the trees and show no signs of changing colour and wanting to fall but Brown Brothers is very thing you would want from a winery that is famous. The lunch is a work of art - you choose a course and they bring the matched wine to go with - all the hard work of deciding white or red is taken away from you. I had a lamb dish with a wonderful warm red and then a chocolate-chilli fondue with a sparkling red - different but still fantastic. I could get so used to this way of life, ski lodges in the morning and beaches in the afternoon. It has been a wonderful weekend and I feel really spoilt, the end of this holiday is turning out to be just one of the best parts.