Last days in Melbourne

January 6, 2009

Beach at Barwon Heads on the Ballarine Peninsula
Beach at Barwon Heads on the Ballarine Peninsula

We had two more excursions following those in late December. One was a trip to Barwon Heads to visit Robin’s cousin, Heather, and her husband, Peter. They live in a bright, airy home that looks out over a tide-flushed Barwon River and acres of native bush. Within five minutes of their home, they reach a river walk that meanders for miles. On its banks are stretches of restored mangrove swamps, thanks to countless volunteer hours and the financial support of grants.

Peter, Heather and Robin above the beach at Barwon Heads
Peter, Heather and Robin above the beach at Barwon Heads

On the other side of Barwon Heads, we saw beaches that ranged from areas where families can romp in shallow water to stormier stretches where surfers find challenging waves. From the beach nearest the town, we could look out to the narrow channel where huge freighters and cruise ships thread their way toward safe harbour in Melbourne.

Castlemaine's original hotel is now a fashion centre
Castlemaine's original hotel is now a fashion centre

Our last longer trip around Melbourne was via train to Castlemaine, where we were met by Jennifer, Robin’s sister, and her husband, David. They are two artistic (theatre, stained glass, dance, architecture), thoughtful people. Nearly twenty years ago they chose to leave busy Melbourne for a quieter country life in tiny Chewton, east of Castlemaine. In the 1850s the population reached 40,000. Once the gold rush passed, many of the miners and their families left. Now 18,000 call Mount Alexander Shire home, half of them living in Castlemaine.

After years in a large house in the bush, Jennifer and David are now in the home they have built in Chewton. David’s architectural talents are obvious throughout, as are Jennifer’s artistic touches. In their time in the region, they have become integrated into the community. Theirs is a life where they are known, appreciated, and important to their neighbours.

We’re also grateful to Stan and Mary Chapman, who invited us to join their family for a New Year’s Eve celebration not far from where we’re celebrating. Robin was their tour guide on a Rockies trip last May. And we had yet another fabulous meal with Sandy and Andy Hamilton,  a couple Robin met when they were on a teacher exchange in Kelowna in the 1970s.

Garden of the Brunswick flat we've been house sitting for five weeks
Garden of the Brunswick flat we've been house sitting for five weeks

Soon our time here in Brunswick, enjoying the small garden and our time with sweet Max, will end. We’ll be happy to start our next adventure but sad to leave the little canine who’s stolen our hearts.

Max, our canine companion in Brunswick
Max, our canine companion in Brunswick
Cathryn and Max enjoying each other's company in the Brunswick garden
Cathryn and Max enjoying each other's company in the Brunswick garden
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