On Sunday, we explored Melbourne, visited the Melbourne Zoo (more on this when I can download photos), and went to the train station to buy a ticket. We took the tram to the train station early Monday, a train to Ballarat where we switched to a bus, and rode the bus to the small farm town of Horsham.
Keith Lockwood (Noddy), a friend of my climbing partner Dave Goldstein, works in Horsham and lives in Natimuk, an even smaller town (500 - 700 inhabitants) abut 10 km from the Arapiles State Park. Noddy kindly lent us Dave’s water bottles, his stove plus pots and pans, and drove us to the Arapiles.
After we erected our tent, laid out the sleeping mats and bags, I admired our home for the next month. An enormous pine tree shaded the tent and dining area - a flat log propped on two rocks, sufficient for cooking and eating. The relatively level ground was pleasantly sandy and quite dry. After cooking our first meal, we jumped into our bags, exhausted.
I awoke early to to the chorus or numerous warbling birds. Just before sunrise, hundreds of different birds sang, cawed, hooted, and warbled to greet the new day. I wish I had audio recording to replicate the morning symphony. I’ve never before camped anywhere with such an abundance of bird song.
I got up quietly to not wake Tristan and explored the campground and surroundings. As I walked toward the toilets, a kangaroo jumped out from the bush and ran across the trail. Several more kangaroos grazed at a water seep near the toilets. I sat quietly, to see how close they’d come, taking pictures of kangaroos eating, kangaroos jumping, kangaroos grooming. I had hoped to see kangaroos in Australia, but never guessed that they would be so abundant. Apparently, the locals consider them a bit of a menace, much like those of us who live in deer territory in the United States view deer as a nuisance. The kangaroo, like deer, jump in front of cars, causing a great deal of damage to both. And local hunters shoot kangaroo, so that kangaroo steaks are abundant on local menus and grocery store shelves.
On our first day in the Arapiles, we hiked up the Central gully to the top of the mountain and visited both view sites. Below us, the flat farms stretched to the horizon in all directions. I could see why early man thought the earth was flat - sere, dried grass and brown fields stretched to the horizon in all directions, and I could see the curve of the earth (looking like a round plate, not a ball).
Living in the mountains, I’d never before viewed the earth lying flat below me and seen the curved horizon quite so prominent. When I’m able to download photos, I’ll post pictures.