I delivered my overdue book 90 minutes before we left for the airport to fly to Australia. I do not recommend this. <G> But it did mean that when an east coast air traffic control meltdown caused us to miss our flight out of Los Angeles so we had a lazy day in LaLa land, it was not entirely a bad thing.
Luckily I'd built in several extra days to allow some recovery time from jet lag, and Melbourne was worth the wait. The Mayhem Consultant and I both loved the city, which had a vibe reminiscent of Boston or San Francisco or Seattle, all cities I love. It's also a foodie paradise, which is never a bad thing! (I'm told that hot air balloons floating over the city in the morning as in the picture at the right are a regular occurrence. Fun!)
Plus, our Aussie Word Wench, Anne Gracie, lives in Melbourne, and she's a fabulous hostess for her city. A highlight was when she took me, the MC, and Patricia McLinn, another featured American conference speaker and an old friend of mine, to the Healesville Sanctuary.
Healesville is devoted to native Australian wildlife and does rehabilitation work as well as preservation. And it's a hoot to visit! It was hard to reduce the number of cute pictures. The picture of me with the lorikeets, below, was taken by Pat McLinn. The lorikeets LOVE being fed! And Anne has bunches of them hanging out in the trees in her yard.
The other great thing Anne did was take me off for a girls'-only visit to the Laneways. a great cultural feature of the city. Originally service lanes, in the Victorian era fabulous shopping arcades were built, and most of them are alive, well, and irresistible. It's also home to Corinna Chapman, the fictional baker protagonist created by Kerry Greenwood, the mystery writer creator of the fabulous Phryne Fisher stories.
The arcades are marvelous, with great arches, mosaic floors, and shops ranging from tiny to large and sophisticated. We visited a silk shop where I could have happily taken up residence–the only thing I bought was a scarf because it would pack easily. I also bought a lovely, comfortable sweater in dark red with flaring black pleats. I want to go back!
The RWAustralia conference itself was wonderful. It was held in the grandest hotel I've ever stayed in (our room had a fireplace!!!), and I knew from my last trip that Australian writers are the BEST fun! They traditionally open the annual conference with a dazzling costume cocktail party.
Here I am with Anne, aka the fabulous Dame Barbara Cartland. My only costumey bit was the tiara, also for reasons of packing. <G>
The conference itself was wonderful, full of great people and great sessions. I'll save New Zealand for another blog, since it's equally fabulous in a very different way.
G'day to you all!