Trip Start Aug 22, 2006
Trip End Nov 19, 2006

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Flag of Australia  ,
Sunday, October 1, 2006

I felt that Melbourne is kind of like a poor relation to Sydney. Had really been looking forward to spending time there because most of my friends in Australia live or come from there! It's just that nobody had told me about the awful weather. Gale like winds, 12 degrees celsius(London was 23 degrees)! Like most foreigners I'd assumed that Melbourne weather would be similar to Sydney's, so was in a state of shock for most of the week.
I stayed with Yati in her great apartment right in the heart of Melbourne. 5 minutes walk from the city centre.
Sunday went to Brunswick St in Fitzroy- which is a trendy, bohemian, happening kind of place for hippies. Has great cafes. The shops were a bit on the expensive side. One called 'Shag' was selling what I can only describe as my mom's old clothes from the 60's and 70's! The cheapest item was about $100 AUD. For SECOND HAND CLOTHES!!! oh excuse me VINTAGE. Nicole Kidman shops here, don't you know?
In the evening, my friends Karina and Heather invited me to their church in Heathmont, an hour away from Melbourne Central. Lovely little Baptist church, nice people. Imagine my surprise when halfway through the service, MALCOLM BRITTON walked in. I guess only KT people would appreciate this seeing as they know Malcolm. But what are the odds of meeting someone I know from London, in the STICKS?? His wife grew up in this little town, and they moved out here a couple of years ago. The Aussies call him a Pommy, or POM which means Prisoner of her Majesty. Ironic!
Spent the night at Karina's- lovely house and hyperactive cat Misty who makes that squirel from 'Over the Hedge' look rather tame in comparison! Headed out to the Royal Melbourne Show, which is a major annual trade fair event out here. Farmers from all over Victoria bring in their animals to exhibit. There are lots of competitions and fun interactive activities for kids like cuddling lambs, kids and piglets. My personal favourite were the racing and flying pigs. Hilarious! As this was Multicultural Monday, there was entertainment in the Town Square, featuring performance by Maoris and Indigenous Australians. The latter was a bit disapppointing. The Aborigines did not bother to explain what the dances meant - kind of left it for the crowd to work out for themselves. Having only listened to the didgeradoo (Aboriginal wind instrument) accompanied by techno beats, I felt there was something lacking - a bit boring. I guess it all boils down to personal taste.
The City Circle tram is a free transport service that runs around the city centre and came in quite handy as I did not pay for transport! Spent quite a lot of time wandering around Fitzroy and the Collin Gardens home to the beautiful Royal Exhibition Centre building, and Melbourne Museum. Was running quite low on money so didn't actually enter the museum. I've heard that it has quite a good section on Indigenous Australians. Did the one in Sydney so...
There are loads of quirky buildings in Melbourne - the RMIT university features an organic green/purply looking facade. There's another building that has optical illusion like black and white squares in the Docklands. Then arty looking buildings at Federation Square. Clearly these people are not afraid to express themselves architecturally. Melbourne Central Station has this giant Seiko clock which plays a classical music interlude at the top of each hour. A big circle with carvings of birds, and 2 guys - one playing a violin the other a flute, lowers itself, kind of twitches then retreats back into the clock! The first night, I stood transfixed for all of 3 minutes.
Because of the bad weather I felt disinclined to take long walks in the parks. Although on Thursday it cleared up and I joined Karina and Heather in Fern Tree Gully, the Eastern Suburbs. They took me to the Kokoda Memorial trail walk which commemorates Aussie soldiers who fought in the Second World War in... hmm.. i think it was Indonesia. On the way up the 'Thousand Steps' I spotted a male Lyre bird - with it's magnificent tail. It's very rare to see these birds in the wild, even some Aussies have never seen it, so felt kind of privileged. The Lyrebird imitates other birds calls.
Legs still aching from that climb.
We had lunch in Olinda - it's got great antiques shops, and then on to the National Rhodadhendrum Gardens (can't spell it, but really nice flowers). Our tour guide on the 20 minute bus tour was new to the job so was making it up as we went along. At one point he says
"Over to your left are the chinese blossoms"
Then 5 minutes later
"Urmm sorry those weren't the chinese blossoms, Here they are!!!"
Afterwards we drove to various look-out points from the top of Dandenong mountain ranges (spotted a bush fire), and then on to the Yarra valley, famous for it's vineyards and wineries
Lygon Street is my bestest favouritist street in Melbourne. It's a 'Little Italy' with gorgeous street cafes, restaurants and gelati! It felt really nice to be there! Spent quite a bit of time there. As I did at the State Library which is a beautiful building with amazing interiors!
On Saturday, I was invited to an Aussie Rules Football (AFL) Final Barbeque. This is to Melbournites what FA Cup is to the English. The West Coast Eagles (WCE) from Perth were playing the Sydney Swans. Since the latter were the cuter team it seemed only natural that I support them! AFL is a bit like Gaelic football except that it has one large goal post in the middle, and 2 smaller ones on either side of it. There are 18 players per team. If a player kicks the oval shaped ball through the middle goal, he scores 6 points. If he misses and it goes through the other goals, he scores 1 point. So essentially you get a point for missing the goal. There didn't seem to be any other rules to the game apart from... you aren't allowed to push another player in the back. But you can head butt them in the chest (Zidane style)and exchange vicious punches with each other.The guys at the barbeque were really nice. Special mention goes to Glen however, who was swearing at the TV and kept yelling at some guy to shut his homosexual ass up "You Puff!"
Noticing me flinch, his American wife explained apologetically
"Glen is very old school"
West Coast Eagles won by one point! Tense Nail biting match! Much more fun than footy! or should I say soccer!
I'm off the New Zealand now. Have been warned that the weather is worse than Melbourne and it is colder, so have stocked up on my waterproofs, thermals. I'm also on a very tight budget which should prove quite a challenge for me!
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win on

Really enjoying reading your blog. Good stress buster!


dorothyl on

Hi, I've enjoyed your candid comments enormously. Safe travelling!

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