Over the past couple of weekends, I've done some exploring in other regions of Victoria. I have always loved a field trip, after all and my flatmate is also new to the area and up for sightseeing. Last weekend, I went to Ballarat, an old mining town about an hour outside of Melbourne. The first stop was Sovereign Hill, one of those historical reenactment towns (nerd alert!) a la Old Sturbridge Village. The highlight was the mine tour, where you actually ride carts down into an old mine- it was dim and dusty and downright scary, especially if you're prone to daydreaming about disaster scenarios. The photo doesn't quite do it justice. Then I panned for gold, but didn't strike it rich, alas. After that, we headed into downtown Ballarat...it was 6pm on a Saturday, all the shops were closed, and the place was absolutely deserted. I was half expecting to see a tumbleweed blow by. We did manage to find a (surprisingly good) Thai restaurant, though.
This weekend's field trip was to Geelong, a small costal city about an hour West of Melbourne. Again, it was pretty quiet but not nearly as void of inhabitants as Ballarat. And they had a ferris wheel set up on the beach- bonus! We walked around the waterfront for a bit and bought some mussels from a Spanish man who sells them from his boat, before we headed to our main destination- the Mt. Rothwell nature reserve for a guided nighttime walk. (I already mentioned the nerd thing, right?) My boss had recommended it as a unique experience and a cool way to see a lot of native Australian animals in the wild. I didn't bother trying to take pictures in the dark, but we did see lots of strange little marsupials, my favorite being the quoll. And now I can add another qu word to my Scrabble repertoire- double bonus!