Australia Part 2 - melbourne +

Trip Start Jan 08, 2004
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4
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Trip End Ongoing


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Where I stayed
Grant's Place

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Friday, March 12, 2004

I got an overnight bus from Canberra to Melbourne. Cost about $60. Arrived and got picked up by my Mum. :-) She seems well. Went home, saw my grandmother who has just had her 90th birthday and she is also looking quite well. I saw my brother Egan also, however only occassionally as mainly he was sleeping for the 9 days I was there. He has just started university and is studying engineering. My other brother Craig was away visiting Vietnam and Malaysian Borneo. Saw also my friends Dougs, Chuck, Fred and Dan - all are well (well, what else can I tell you without going into great detail?) Fred has a baby now - very nice, and Dan is engaged. Good to catch up with them.

Whilst in Melbourne I went for a few walks with my Mum. It was good to see the bike / walking paths have been extended and are well used. Many cities in Australia have managed to retain some of the native bush land and lately they have linked up those areas by paths. In most ways Australians are more and more urbanised and more cut off from nature but also whilst this is happening many are trying to keep a part of it and enjoy it. As I have already mentioned, Australian cities are reasonably green with many trees dispersed amongst them and there is also plenty of bird life in the cities. More so than I see in Bangkok. In Canberra (Australia's capital city) I went for a run early in the morning and saw lorikeets and rosellas (colourful birds) and kangaroos within 10 minutes of the city centre. However, another reality can be seen when flying over Australia. It is often a desolate place. On my return flight from Melbourne to Canberra I saw mainly farm lands, with a handfull of sheep and cattle trying to survive on dusty paddocks with almost all the trees gone. Australia is today the 3rd or 4th fastest land clearer (removing trees)in the world. Yet it is the driest of continents after the Antarctic. A goverment report that came out last year stated that the number of species of animals that live in Australia would be halved in 25 years due to extinctions.

Whilst in Victoria I got my International driver's licence by paying $26 and filling out a form. ? I spent some of the week trying to get fit. Went for quite a few runs and to the gym. I do feel a bit better but really would like to keep that as a habit. At the gym, I saw two people I worked with in the Army, Hugh McMillan and Matt Burr. I was very happy to catch up with them and find that they were both doing well with their lives.

On the weekend my Mum and I went to Phillip Island and looked around. Saw some penguins and whilst taking their pictures I realised that I didn't have any film in my camera. Hmmmm, up to that point I had thought been I had been taking pictures of my Australian trip, however apparently not. We also went to a park and saw kangaroos and koalas and emus and much more. Sorry no pictures.

Soon it was time to go back to ACT, stay with Shannon and Simone again (Shannon had started his own building business whilst I was away - good luck) and go kayaking. The group of kids were very good on this next trip and althought the river was low we still had fun. I also saw a platypus in the river, early one morning before anyone else was awake. it was great to see one.

After the camp I went to stay with Grant and Claire. Grant is another friend from the Army. They are both very well and seem good. I enjoyed catching up with them and eating the chocolate chip cookies they made together. Oh - the morning I got up early and went for a run and saw the kangaroos was from their house. I got back and they were still in their room. I got my toiletries and some fresh clothes and went and had a shower. When I finished my shower I realised that I hadn't taken a towel into the bathroom. Hmmm, I was soaking wet and my other clothes were all sweaty. OK. hopefully they are still asleep. I poked my head out the door. Bugger - their door is open now and looks straight down the corridoor. I heard noises downstairs. I wonder if that is both of them or just one? Hmmm, there was a hand towel in the bathroom. It covered my private parts in front but not my bum. It is just 3 metres to my bedroom. I poked my head out again. No noise from their room. Noise downstairs. Quickly run into my room. Yay! didn't get caught. Got dresses and down for breakfast.

From Grant and Claire's I went to Sydney. I will talk about that later.

Another observation about Australia.
An amazing thing about Australia is how poorly the general public are informed. As an example, weekend news papers contain about 8 pages of cartoons, 2 pages of International news (generally that is mainly about the British royalty or USA movie stars or singers plus something about Iraq) and about 30 - 40 pages of sport. Australian popular TV is similar - most shows are totally void of intellectual material and seem designed to dull the mind. Australians are generally very poorly informed about the rest of the world. This was something that Australians once accused the U.S. Americans of. However, there is plenty of information available to Australians. When looking through their bookshops I was amazed at how much information there was on a great variety of subjects and from all sorts of viewpoints. When flicking through Australian radio stations it is possible to find highly informed intellectual discussions and also complete mindless garbage.
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