On the way to Melbourne, we stopped at Sovereign Hill. Our guide said it was an "amusement park", but it was more of a "living museum". I think for younger kids it would've been more entertaining, but we made the best of it. It's an old-fashioned gold mining town. The Aussie gold rush took place about the same time as ours. However, as leaders, we found plenty of adult entertainment.
We tried our hand at gold mining. Lu, our guide, saw me trying to awkwardly mine for gold and tried to give me some advice. Apparently, you have to hold the bowl at a tilting angle and dip it in and out of the water. After watching me splash around for a minute or two, look put her hands on mine and said, "Not so rough, dear. Gentle, like this, you see? It's a bit like sex."
Oh. My. Goodness. The inner giggling was too much for me to control. "I've never really been on this side of things, Lu," I explained. "Usually I'm the river."
Lu's response. "You might like it rough in the bedroom but gold mining requires a more intimate approach."
Inner giggling erupted into full on guffawing. I knew I liked Lu.
After gold mining, it was off to candle making. We couldn't help but notice these candles looked a bit like ... like ... well, like dildos. I'm sorry I can't find a euphemism, but there's no way around it. We made ours "rainbow colored". Then Tonya, whom everyone assumed is extremely conservative and straight-laced, kept sneaking up behind me and humming "Somewhere over the Rainbow." I knew she was my mentor for a reason!
After spending a night in this creepy camp-like structure, we made our way to Melbourne. On the way, we stopped to do volunteer work with a conservatory group. We planted 480 trees in two hours. It was so awesum to see some of the students really get into the planting and working as a team. This was one of my favorite activities, although riding up the mountain in the back of the jeep left little to be desired.
Finally, Melboure! We gave the students some free time to wander around the city to shop (souvenir overload) and it was nice to just have some adult-only moments. Melbourne was my turn to room with Jess. I didn't know Jess before this trip, but she's my age and originally from Michigan. I seem to have this attraction to people from Michigan. Jess was no exception; we were instant buddies. Here's a great picture from our "candle" photo shoot. Yes, that's a candle.
The next few days would prove to be awesum!