December 30th, 1999 – by: hauteboy
After a late start, went to Sovereign Hill, the gold mining town in Ballarat
. Panned for gold and found a few flakes. All of the machines were steam powered, with belts and wheels spinning like something from a Jules Verne novel. Went by the wildlife park that afternoon, but decided to come back for the tour tomorrow. My bags finally showed up, they hadn't been transferred in Austin after all. Also finalized my plans for the Antarctic flights.
Dec 31, 1999
NYE! Went to the wildlife park this morning, saw lots of kangaroos, snakes, wombats, Tasmanian devils and of course koalas. They were tame here and let you touch and feed them. One kid there was afraid when some kangaroos started hopping towards him.
In the afternoon, we left for Melbourne and met Effie's Japanese friends Etsuko and Terumi, and had a delicious sushi dinner. Afterwards we rode the tram downtown for the NTE festivities, which were mostly lame. There was supposed to be a fancy river parade with lit up lanterns ala Sydney's but they looked like they had been thrown together at the last minute. The light show on the town hall was better but the fireworks were the best of all. We were stuck by the barrier on the bridge, the crush of the crowd was so great. Some moron threw a lit flare into the crowd. After the fireworks, it took us nearly a half hour to get out of the crowd and ended up walking back most of the way to Etsuko's because the trams couldn't get through the crowds. Arrived back in Ballarat at 4AM.
Jan 1, 2000
Happy New Year! Well the power is on and the world hasn't ended yet (although the power did go out at 1PM for twenty minutes!). Had lunch, but wasn't too impressed, lame drippy tiramisu! Went to Blood on the Southern Cross light show at Sovereign Hill. Pretty neat but it was freezing cold!