Day 39 Feb 12 (Melbourne)

Got up late. Had breakfast on the Lido deck with Claire and Jeane (Claire's roommate). Took some pictures and video of the port. Caught up on journal entries.

At 12:30 I left on an excursion called, "In the Wild, Koalas and Kangaroos." I prefer seeing the critters in the wild but it does mean you don't get too close. We went first to a "forest" about 50 miles away and saw two koalas (separate trees a bus ride apart). The tour company has a couple of spotters who go out in the morning and look for the koalas. I didn't realize how solitary these animals are. The only time they get together is to mate! Thank goodness I have a 35x zoom lens on my video camera because the pictures I took with my still camera are too far away even with the 3x lens to really be very interesting. Top that off with the fact that both "bears" (they aren't actually related to bears) didn't move noticeably and a great photo op was not really in the offing.

From the Koala habitat we bussed some more to a place called the Serendip Reserve. This had been a farm at one time but it was bought by the government to be used as a preserve to help bring back a very endangered species called the Cape Barron Goose. They were apparently very successful at captive breeding and reintroducing the species to the wild. This farm has been left unused and the kangaroos have more or less taken over. So it is a good place to go to view them. We couldn't get closer than about 50 yards (maybe 100 yards??). We also saw a number of bird species (Emus, Bustards, Magpies, Magpie Geese and Cockatoos) and Wallabes (sort of pigmy kangaroos). It was a nice trip even though we didn't get to be pet anything.

We had two new tablemates at dinner. Carol and Darryl. Apparently they were not happy at their old table (by the front window!). They said one guy at the table drove two couples away. Some people apparently never learn to play well with others! I may have to smack one of these two ones. They have this obnoxious habit of trying to pass the bread around. I have informed them that we have three bread baskets on the table and that it is unnecessary to pass them around. We have all become so comfortable with each other that when there is something in one bread basket that is not within reach we ask for it. I know, it isn't really a big thing but I'm trying to get them relaxed and in the group. We have stopped being "formally" polite a long time ago. We're more like family now. We also tease each other mercilessly at times. (OK, not really mercilessly but quite a bit. Everyone seems to enjoy it and participate in it.) Everyone is quite bright and can take being the brunt of the joke as well as dish it out. We do have considerable fun.

The show tonight was Soul Mystique. This is a duet of Aussie ballroom dancers with sometimes magiclike costume changes. They are pretty good dancers (have won some contests in London. They apparently won the Australia's Got Talent competition one year. Pretty good show.

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