melbourne day 3: dandenong and the rhododendrons / by mmkeyes

DCIM100GOPROGOPR0790.
DCIM100GOPROGOPR0790.

After our trip to Healesville Sanctuary, we drove about 40 minutes to the Dandenongs--a mountain range east of Melbourne. The drive was stunning, and I was itching to get out of the car and explore the area. Towering eucalyptus trees as far as the eye can see, and green ferns and undergrowth covering the forest floor.

DCIM100GOPROGOPR0795.
DCIM100GOPROGOPR0795.
DCIM100GOPROGOPR0792.
DCIM100GOPROGOPR0792.
DSC_0591
DSC_0591
IMG_4087
IMG_4087

We stopped to eat at Miss Marple's Tea Room. It's a quaint little place named after a well-known character in Agatha Christie's crime novels. 

IMG_4081
IMG_4081
IMG_4085
IMG_4085

After our late lunch, we drove up the road to the National Rhododendron Gardens. This place was unreal. The trees, the flowers, the colors. We were all in awe, since it was my parents' first time visiting the gardens during autumn.

DSC_0581
DSC_0581
DSC_0498
DSC_0498
DCIM100GOPROG0340837.
DCIM100GOPROG0340837.
DSC_0535
DSC_0535
DCIM100GOPROG0310806.
DCIM100GOPROG0310806.
GOPR0805-3
GOPR0805-3

As I was trying to force everyone to take pictures, my dad suddenly yelled my name, "MARTHA! MARTHA! MARTHA!" Guess why?

A WOMBAT.

A real, live one in the wild. I about died. And I chased it.

DSC_0525
DSC_0525

We walked around the gardens until it got dark, admiring vistas like this one (and me still secretly looking for the wombat):

DCIM100GOPROGOPR0863.
DCIM100GOPROGOPR0863.
DSC_0547
DSC_0547
DSC_0573
DSC_0573
DSC_0540
DSC_0540
DSC_0567
DSC_0567
DSC_0555
DSC_0555
DSC_0569
DSC_0569
DSC_0561
DSC_0561
DCIM100GOPROGOPR0855.
DCIM100GOPROGOPR0855.

I still can't quite get over how incredible nature is.

DSC_0582
DSC_0582
DSC_0585
DSC_0585
DSC_0570
DSC_0570

And the last view we saw before driving home:

DCIM100GOPROGOPR0869.
DCIM100GOPROGOPR0869.

Such an epic day deserved an epic ending. So, naturally we watched Meet the Mormons (Brandon's and my first time seeing it), and then we watched The Pink Panther Strikes Again (Peter Sellers version, obviously). It was so fun to laugh til it hurt with Brandon and my parents! I love them all so much. And I love Australia.