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On Saturday, October 16th, a group of ten people from New Zealand 41 Clubs flew into Tullamarine Airport, Melbourne.

Waiting to greet us were Apex 40 National President, Max Cheney, Apex 40 I.R.O., Brian Roach, along with members of Melbourne Gippsland and the Northwesters Apex 40 Clubs.

The Kiwi group included Diana and Bill Keown of Gore, Marj and Stan Thorn of Oamaru, Tina and Derek Johns of Amberley, Margaret and Peter Butchart of Ruby Bay, along with Bev Morton-Jones from Richmond and Gordon Widgery from Ngaruawahia.

After spending the weekend with our hosts in and around Melbourne, and enjoying activities as diverse as sailing up into Melbourne harbour on a yacht, visiting Healesville Animal Sanctuary, and renewing a 48 year old friendship with Chloe in Young and Jacksons pub, we climbed into our hired mini van and headed for our first night's stop at Apollo Bay, on Monday.

Brian Roach travelled with us and shared the diving duties.

While there, Tina and Derek Johns celebrated their wedding anniversary.

Then it was onto the Great Ocean Highway, with lots of stops to admire the beautiful scenery along the way.

Our next stop was Portland where our Apex 40 hosts met us with a barbeque on the waterfront before heading for home.

A ride on the Portland tram and a visit to the aluminium smelter were the highlights of the next day, and capped off with dinner at the local R.S.L. Club - complete with a Male Revue for the ladies!!!!!

From Portland it was north and east to Ballarat and the Eureka Goldfields. Staying at Eureka Lodge, we spent a very enjoyable afternoon in the old workings and the Gold Museum before enjoying dinner in the old Hotel. Then it was time for the sound and light show telling the story of the Eureka Stockade. Words will not do the show justice - you must see it if you haven't already been. Next morning Brian had arranged for Steve Smith of Ballarat Apex 40 to show us around this town, during which Brian had his photo taken with his modern day hero - little Johnny - see photo!!!!!!.

Morning tea in the boardroom at Steve's accountancy practice (can recommend it to you all!!) capped off a delightful stay in Ballarat, and then it was off north for some 500kms to Mildura.

After a couple of stops, including a very welcome cold beer at the Hotel Victoria in Ouyen, we arrived in Mildura late that afternoon.

A quiet night was had by all with their Mildura hosts, and early to bed seemed to be quite popular!!!!.

The following morning we were collected in a local bus, and taken out to an Apex 40 member's home for morning tea, and a walk around his vineyard - after we had had a look at his collection of orchids.

Lunch at the local museum, a short film on the district, and we were back on the bus heading for the Murray River and a paddle steamer. A very delightful afternoon was spent on the Murray, and included a couple of the Kiwis being allowed to steer the paddleboat.

Something new tonight for dinner at the Mildura R.S.L. - a couple of the Kiwis tried Kangaroo for the first time, and thoroughly enjoyed it too - before heading for the pokies!!!!!!!!!!!!.

Out of Victoria and into N.S.W. (spot the kangaroos in the paddock), back into Victoria and finally we arrived at Bendigo. Our hosts collected us and took us home for a quiet night - very welcome too, believe me.

Next morning it was off to do some local sightseeing - some went down the mine at Bendigo (ably shown around by Peter ????? of Bendigo Apex 40), while others had a look at other historic sights. After lunch, we went to the Chinese Museum, and what a place of interest that is. A very knowledgeable guide never missed a beat, and we all thoroughly enjoyed it.

While the previous evening was relatively quiet, tonight was anything but!!!!!. Meryl and Ron Clarke's home was fair rocking by the time everyone arrived for a barbeque - including roo again - and just as nice too it was. Ron's wheelie bin had a very distinct glass rattle to it by the time everything had been cleaned up - thank you Bendigo Apex 40 members.

From Bendigo, we headed back into Melbourne for a day and half of 'retail therapy' for the ladies!!!!.

And back onto 'the big silver bird' headed west across the Tasman went a very happy bunch of New Zealand 41'ers.

Finally, a very big thank you Brian Roach for everything you did to make this trip the success it undoubtably was, from arranging home hosting for us, to sharing the driving with me, to planning the trip, and making the necessary contacts.

To all our hosts, to those who we came in contact with and to those who helped in any way, all we can say is a very big thank you so much for everything. The welcome mat is always out here in New Zealand for any of you members of Apex 40, should you wish to pay us a visit.

Group at 'Domain Chandon' winery in the Yarra Valley

Portland Tram - Oct. 20th

Having a beer at Ouyen, Oct 21st

About to go on the Murray River at Mildura, Oct 23rd

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