These next series of blogs cover what we have been doing in Melbourne for the last few months. They are roughly grouped together by theme but may jump around in time slightly so Karen may be walking and then be back in a wheelchair again…..
This is a picture of the inside of the pool house/party room at Pierre’s place. It was a snug comfortable home for us for the first few months when Karen had just got out of hospital and most importantly was all one level (bar 5 steps to get in) as Karen was still in a wheelchair then. Pierre is an absolute gentleman and we both grew very fond of him and his partner Nancy.
The first few months out of hospital were hard on Karen she was having to do a lot more on her own and thus getting tired easily. Life soon settled to routine of Hydrotherapy classes and exercises which I attended too as I had to drive her and help her get into the pool. Croydon pool had a water wheelchair which she transfered into and I wheeled her down the ramp until it was deep enough for her to stand. If she was submerged up to her neck in the pool she could walk normally and hence looked forward to her Hydro days. She still had limited use of her left arm and no use in her legs and the change in heights of the various items from the bed to the sofa to the chair when she was transferring exhausted her. I also didn’t realise how much work I would have to do. All the cooking, cleaning, shopping, taxiing and carrying for us both. Planning to go out for the day took several trips to the car before I even came back to get Karen, good job it didn’t rain much here. People also came out to visit us. Here is a photo of Neville and Marg a couple we originally met at Hervey Bay on the East coast but more of them later.
One day Pierre and Nancy took us up to Mont De Lancey a little known historical village up in the hills. There was a church, homestead and farm buildings which were still farmed by the original family until the 1990′s when they donated it to a historical trust in remarkably original condition. You would be forgiven for wondering why the place has a French sounding name.
In 1867 the plot was leased by Henry Sebire and his family under a released bushland agreement on the proviso that he clear and cultivate a minimum of 1/10th of it every year. Henry and his wife were recent immigrants from Guernsey (one of the channel islands close to France) which was why they chose to name their new property Mont de Lancey. Mont meaning High outlook and De Lancey a lane in their former home of Guernsey. Also at Mount De Lancey was a working blacksmiths forge which was great to watch. They run blacksmithing classes and sell some of their work. The strange barrel looking thing is actually a section of wooden water main recovered from a Melbourne street. They were constructed in a similar way to a barrel with iron hoops pulling it all together.
We went to a local restaurant at a vineyard for lunch together afterwards which was a nice treat, this is where the last picture was taken. Seraphina the other lady in the photos had many hidden talents and treated us to beautiful rendition on the organ in the museum. The wheelchair didn’t stop us from exploring everywhere and I got a chance to photograph as Pierre offered to push Karen.
Travelling to and fro into town for various specialist appointments, Hydrotherapy etc. we regularly drove past Lilydale lake. Rather than keep on driving past when Karen had the loan of the electric wheelchair we put it in the car and went for a look around. Karen had a setback in her recovery after some months, in that she tore her main tendon in her left arm meaning she could no longer wheel herself around in the manual wheelchair. It would have been a long push round the lake so it was good we had the electric one. It was a beautiful day and the local radio control boat club were out sailing too which gave us something to watch.
Believe it or not the lake is artificial and was only built in 1990 as a sump to protect low lying areas of Lilydale from flooding by Olinda creek. The lake itself covers 28 hectares and is set in 100 hectares of parkland which gives people a place to walk, jog, picnic and exercise their dogs. The hills in the background are the Dandenongs, little did we know at the time that later on we would end up staying up there.
One weekend when Karen was more able and I could leave her home alone I went out with some of the guys on a train spotting themed fun ride, here are some of the pictures. We rode through the 660 foot long Cheviot tunnel built in 1889 on the old Mansfield Line which closed in 1978 before getting back on the bitumen and exploring some more of beautiful rural Victoria.
Karen wasn’t quite up to riding on the bike at that time but we took a drive out in the car that Pierre had kindly loaned us the next weekend so that Karen could see some of the country and landmarks we had ridden through. It also gave me chance to stop and take pictures that I couldn’t on the ride. As you will see Karen was just starting to walk on crutches then and even drove the car for the first time that day too. There is a seam of granite that runs through these hills which is very evident in parts of the landscape. It’s beautiful country.
This is the magnificent trestle bridge at Mollisons Creek near Pyalong. It has featured in lots of films and is one of the largest timber trestle bridges in Victoria.
As I mentioned earlier the other lady in the pictures of Mont De Lancey is Seraphina. She and Karen met at hydrotherapy and became friends. She was quite badly hurt in a car crash and because of her foot injuries still cannot drive. Over several weekends we picked her up and all went out together. One such weekend Pierre suggested we might like Williamstown so we collected Seraphina and went for a look.
Williamstown was the other side of Melbourne over the West Gate bridge but it was well worth the drive. Pierre told us it used to be a run down industrial and dock area in the 60′s and 70′s and that it has had a renaissance only in the last decade or so. As you will see in the pictures it has a great view across the water to the city. We wandered along the old waterfront stopping to look at a great farmers market and some of the interesting artefacts on the way. There was a fabulous ice cream shop as well with about 100 flavours so it took us a while to choose.
The huge anchor and shackle was originally from HMS Bellerephon which served alongside Nelson’s ship at Trafalgar. It was later fitted to the HMVS Nelson the only Naval ship owned by an Australian colony. One of the flukes of the anchor is bent almost flat which apparently happened often here due to high tidal changes leaving the anchors of moored ships just below the waters surface and several holed ships.
Over time the mouth of the Yarra River was deepened and the main dock was moved upstream to Port Melbourne which was the beginning of its industrial demise. Interestingly Williamstown (named after William IV) was originally planned to become both the major port and the capital city of the new colony but lack of fresh drinking water moved it further inland to where Melbourne now resides.
Serephina found a dumped kids scooter by a bin and took great delight in whizzing along faster than she had done for ages giving us heart failure in the process. At least it wasn’t too far to fall I suppose.
Also at Point Gellibrand close to Williamstown was this restored lighthouse / time ball, the tower was first built as a lighthouse then the timeball was added in 1858. It dropped at precisely 1pm every day (and still does) to allow passing seafarers to check and correct their chronometers. It was in use right up until 1926 when the tower was given a brick extension and converted back to a light house, a purpose it served up until its decommissioning in 1987. The local historical trust then removed the brick extension and reverted it to its former construction as a point to interest. It seems bizarre now in an age where every gps or mobile phone will tell you the time but keeping accurate time at sea was vitally important for navigation and extremely difficult to check for accuracy.
As we drove from Point Gellibrand into Williamstown itself we passed this fantastic Titanic themed pub, sadly it was closed at the time or we might have popped in for a beer to have a look at the inside too. 10 out of 10 for the outside though, have you seen the funnels etc on the roof.
Next up – One of Victoria’s hidden gems.