Oz Report – Part 16 – Last Day in Melbourne, and on to Albury

Wednesday.

I had one goal for today: by hook or by crook, I was going to see an echidna. This was the only well-known Australian animal I hadn’t yet seen, since they didn’t have one at Taronga Zoo, and it looked like Melbourne Zoo was going to be my last chance. So we headed off with Em and the Boardlets to Melbourne Zoo – conveniently located only about 15 minutes away by car. Someone had good karma, because we managed to park literally right outside the zoo entrance – we couldn’t have been any closer at all!

Having packed in the morning, we were under no particular pressure to hurry along, and we planned to leave by 4. So we meandered around the zoo and saw all the usual zoo animals. For lunch, we opted for the more up-market option than the fast food stand outside, and the restaurant was surprisingly good. We were also in the market for some Australian animal souvenirs for the small bloke; either stuffed, plastic, or part of a wooden puzzle. Mini-Elbeno had had fun playing with Leo’s plastic animals and had taken a particular shine to the “eh-neh-neh-neh”. The best souvenir option turned out to be stuffed, and we picked up a nice plush platypus and an echidna hand puppet, then headed to the playground.

Time was getting on now, and I was still missing the echidna in my notional “I-Spy Book of Australian Animals”, hand puppet notwithstanding. The Boardlets were showing signs of tiring too, but before leaving, we made a swift detour to the Australian animals section, where, Em promised, there was an echidna to be found. Kangaroos, emus, wallabies, they were all old hat now. Koalas? Pfft. But wait, what’s that in the koala enclosure? That brown spiny thing ambling along with its round-shouldered gait? Could it be?

Echidna

Hurrah! My monotremal curiosity was now fulfilled. We fairly rushed past the rest of the birds and animals and headed home, it now being about half past three. I loaded the car, and of course since the boy had fallen asleep on the way home, we waited for him to wake up, reasoning that it would be strange for him to wake up on the motorway with everyone else gone without a goodbye. And so it was that about an hour after originally planned, we were heading out of Melbourne, trying to find a way on to the Hume Freeway.

The Hume Freeway

We stopped at the Avenel Roadhouse for refuelling (us, not the car) where (I think it was here) mini-Elbeno discovered the delights of milkshake. I fear that whenever we eat out now, I am doomed to have to order a milkshake so I can share it with him, because he inevitably now asks for one and gets annoyed if it is not forthcoming. We will also (as we have subsequently learned) have to limit ourselves to restaurants which serve milkshakes, or incur his wrath.

We finally pulled in to our overnight stop, Albury, at about 9pm, just as the proprietor of the motel was emailing us and wondering where we were and why someone from California would be booked in anyway.

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