Living in a Marsupial World
 
It’s official: returning to Melbourne on December 14th marked our complete circumnavigation of mainland Australia! By plane, train, and automobile we traveled over 22,000 kilometers and found ourselves back where we had first entered the country, bewildered and bleary-eyed like newborn kittens, on May 21st. It was great to be back, and we were looking forward to spending some quality time exploring Melbourne, Victoria, and Tasmania in our remaining months down under.  
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No longer bewildered but maybe still a bit bleary-eyed. And much hairier.
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Looking down Flinders Street towards Federation Square and the Flinders St Train Station
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Roughly eight months had passed since I had seen my mom, so when she arrived at the Melbourne airport on December 16th, it was a warm and fuzzy reunion to say the least. She and Charlie (who arrived a few days later) were finally taking their first real vacation in (some obscene number of) years and, much to the delight of Ben and myself, were spending Christmas and New Years with us down under. We spent our first few days in Melbourne, showing the two of them around and walking a ridiculous number of kilometers during our daily touring. We had beautiful weather for the most part; it was unseasonably cool so the climate change from winter to summer wasn’t too harsh for them. 

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Bridge Street Precinct in the suburb of Richmond, Melbourne. There was a great old fashioned cheese makers here!
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Exploring laneways with mum!
We wanted to make sure they really got a good feel for Melbourne and all it had to offer, and even though they only had few days it wasn’t too difficult since we walked in, out, and around the city until our feet turned to nubs. As we may have explained in one of our first Australia posts, what truly sets Melbourne apart from other cities is its laneway café culture. Secret alleyways and corridors are hidden all throughout the city center, each one containing anything from upscale restaurants to specialty shops to cheap cafés, awesome graffiti and public art. Soaking in all the little hidden gems of Melbourne counterculture was a great way to spend a few afternoons. 


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3D graffiti.
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Charlie joins the crew! Photo courtesy of Nancy :)
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Other highlights of our wanderings included the Queen Victoria Market, the Botanic Gardens, walking along the Yarra River, and (particularly for Ben and myself) the plethora of delicious, real food available to us. After eating nothing but canned food and the occasional reject orange for several weeks, being able to go to a restaurant or café or bakery was magnificent. Melbourne has a fairly large Asian population, so cheap dim sum, pho, and sushi rolls were abundant and made for some fun nights out in Chinatown and Little Vietnam. Thanks again Mom and Charlie for keeping us well fed! 


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Ah to be young and engaged.
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Ben took this incredible photo of a family of black swans at the botanic gardens!
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Ducks eating duck weed. Nom nom nom.
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Sun and storms over Fed Square

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