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Australia Round the World 2007

Wasting Time Till My Coach

So, last day in Melbourne. Checked out of the hostel at 10am, but still had some milk and juice to use up, so ended up sticking around watching TV until about 11.30am. I got the tram up to Bourke Street (couple of stops further than Federation Square, my usual stop), to then change to another to get to the station. However, I started walking in the opposite direction to the nearest tram stop, and ended up walking a whole block with my heavy rucksack. It’s so heavy now that I almost completely lose my balance when I’m trying to get in on my back.

So, eventually get to the station and manage – after much struggling – to push my rucksack into one of the lockers. Very glad to see the back of it for a few hours. walked back up Bourke Street because I noticed some of the shops looked nice. Ended up buying a new pair of sunglasses since the frame of my green ones broke a few days ago. Then I got a smoothie from “Boost” – it’s like the Starbucks of the juice/smoothie generation.

Then I wandered around Birrarung Marr, the city’s newest park area. Not that impressive, but at least it’s green space. Got photos of the Federation Bells, Rod Laver Arena and cricket ground. Sat by the river for a while. Then walked back up to Federation Square and got a coffee. Still four hours to go until I was leaving.

I wanted to go to the Melbourne Observation Deck at Rialto Towers today. 360 degree views of the city, all the way to the sea, the Dandenongs, and around. But it’s cloudy, so I won’t waste my money. So I wandered around the shops for a bit, then went on the internet. I really will miss this internet cafe. Great coffee and muffins, souvenirs, and of course, internet. “Cafe on Flinders”, right near the main entrance to Flinders Street Station, if any of you go to Melbourne.

Got back to Southern Cross Station around 7pm, and rearranged my rucksack for a bit, to try and make it more comfortable. Amazing what a bit of tweaking with the straps can do! Then the coach left just after 8pm.

So, relatively uneventful coach trip. Twelve hours on a plane gets you from Frankfurt to Singapore, but twelve hours on a coach gets you from Melbourne to Sydney. They showed a couple of films. “Bringing Down the House”, with Steve Martin and Queen Latifah, and “The Shawshank Redemption”. The first was OK I suppose. Comedy about racial differences. A few funny moments. Steve Martin and Eugene Levy saved it. Obviously loved Shawshank. Cried when Brooks died though, as always!

Listening to: Take That – Greatest Hits

Watching: Bringing Down The House, The Shawshank Redemption

Australia Round the World 2007

St Kilda

Started my day by walking along the promenade to St Kilda. It’s about a 20 minute walk, which was fine, but would’ve been better if the weather had been nicer. There were people kiteboarding at one of the beaches, and offering lessons, but alas, I had no suitable attire with me. I walked through Catani Park, where there were people having picnics under trees and children getting pony rides on Shetlands. Got to St Kilda and took a walk along the pier. Nothing special – I preferred the one near the hostel.

Then I walked along the Esplanade. There was a handicrafts market – all handmade products apparently. I probably would’ve spent longer there if I’d have wanted to spend money – lots of nice stuff – jewellery, arts and crafts, woodwork, natural cosmetic products, all sorts. A couple of the stalls smelt like Lush, only not as overpowering!

I passed by Luna Park – kinda the Blackpool Pleasure Beach of the southern hemisphere. Then I walked along Acland Street. I can see why people like it too. Cafes, bars and cake shops line the street, with indoor and outdoor seating. And some shops and juice bars squeezed in between. I got a coffee and strawberry tart at a cake shop on one side, then a smoothie on the other side on my way back.

Got the tram from St Kilda into the city. Some radio station were interviewing the junior tennis champions in Federation Square so I stuck around to listen to that. Then I went on the internet for a while, uploading photos and emailing Mum – still an hour to go until the mixed doubles final, and the mens singles didn’t start until 7.30pm.

Got back to Federation Square in time to see the end of the mixed doubles. Then I decided to check out the bus station, so I knew where I would be going tomorrow. Lonely Planet says the Greyhound stop is on Franklin Street, and the Greyhound website is pretty vague. So I get a tram up to Franklin Street, and there is the Greyhound sign. I wander in, even though everything looks pretty shut, to see if there are lockers for me to put my luggage in for the day. And there is a poster: “Urgent Notice: All Greyhound buses now depart from Southern Cross Station”. Glad I found this out before I trundled all the way up here with my luggage!

So I get a tram back to Federation Square to get one to Southern Cross Station, only to find out that none go from there to the station. So I walked there. It’s pretty far. But, I fund where I need to be, lockers, and how to get there, so all is good.

Walked down to Flinders Street to get a tram back to Federation Square, and then back to the hostel. Treated myself to chips and onion rings from the chippy next door. Way too much food! And apparently, you have have to specify that you don’t want salt, or you end up with a year’s intake on one portion of chips. This applies to restaurants too.

Then I watched the tennis. Federer won 7-6, 6-4, 6-4. Gonzalez played well and made all the Chileans happy, but Federer is just magic.

Packed my stuff up before I went to bed. I thought I’d be the only one in the dorm for the night, as the two German girls left last night, but there was a new guy, Dave. Nice guy. Spent a while travelling, and is now starting work in Oz (he’s a plumber), and working on getting a permanent residency. He’s kinda like Stuart Jones, if he developed some muscle and spoke with a Mancunian accent.

Australia Round the World 2007

Ho Hum

Did very little to tell of today. Wandered around. Bought a long-sleeved top. Got a coffee and muffin from the internet cafe – my new favourite place. Went to watch some of the women’s singles final, but it was all over by the time I got there, because Serena Williams demolished Maria Sharapova. Watched a bit of the mens doubles final instead. Then it started to rain.

Have I mentioned problems with my lenses? Well, I switched to these 30-day continuous wear lenses (the ones designed for you to leave in for ages, not the dailies that I usually can’t be bothered taking out). And I’ve been having a few problems being able to see. They go a bit cloudy and everything goes fuzzy. It’s been taking me ages to focus on anything. So, this evening, I decide to take them out and put them back in. It appears they had make-up or something on them. So I’ll have to take more care when I removing my make-up.

Bean and 2 Fast 2 Furious were on TV tonight. Neither were particularly good. One of the guys in the hostel was saying the original and #3 Fast and Furious were good, but not #2. I had to bite my lip rather than get into a big debate about how they’re all basically rubbish.

Finished my chick lit. Hurray! Predictable ending – you know, it’s all over between the prospective couple, but then, in the 11th hour, he comes back with some big romantic gesture, and they live happily ever after. Oh, and all her friends are coupled up too. Ugh. Bought a new second-hand book – The Zahir by Paulo Coelho. Not chick lit. Found in the “literature” aisle rather than “fiction” too.

Australia Round the World 2007

Australia Day

Fireworks in Melbourne on Australia Day

National Holiday. Lots of celebrations. I’m not really sure what it’s all about though, to be perfectly honest.

I had my little guide to what was going on in Melbourne today, to mark the occasion. So off I went on the tram, but had to get off early because the parade runs down Swanston Street and past Federation Square. As I was getting off the tram I noticed Luke, also from my dorm. He was moving to a new hostel in the city today and had all his stuff. So I helped him by carrying his guitar. I thought I travelled with too much stuff, but Luke was definitely making life difficult for himself!

So I watched a bit of the parade. Different ethnic groups from Melbourne/Victoria by the looks of it. The Asians always seem to do best at this kinda stuff, making lots of noise, singing , dancing and banging drums. Then everyone dissipated and I decided to take the tram over to the Docklands. They were quite boring. There’s obviously some initiative to develop that area, but at the moment it’s just restaurants and a dock. And the view ism’t enough to draw you in. They could do with a designated cycle track though!

So I got the tram back to Federation Square, watched a street performer finish, and then went over to the Australian Centre of Moving Image, and watched short films for a while. These are films made by film students, independent film-makers, and amateurs. Some of them were really good, especially the animation. There was one about ‘the complexities of life’ or something, which I enjoyed, aside the sign off. The overall winner of some award however, was a load of rubbish. Something about nature and religion that I didn’t understand.

So, then I went to the Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia (gallery of Australian art). That was OK. Had some good photographic pieces. And then I went for some food and coffee in a cafe in Federation Square (same one as Tuesday). And now I’m here, updating my blog. And later I’ll probably watch some tennis, read, watch the sunset and then the fireworks.

Australia Round the World 2007


Usual morning scenario. Woke up early. Lay awake for a while. Eventually got up, went to the kitchen for breakfast and did some puzzles. Ready and into town by 11.30am.

Gardens today. All the best ones are apparently south of the river. I got off the tram at Federation Square and walked back over Princes Bridge and into Alexandra Gardens. These are pretty small and run right alongside the river. Lots of small marquees going up in preparation for Australia Day celebrations tomorrow. So after moseying through there, I crossed the road into Queen Victoria Gardens, just south. Big statue of the lady herself, and a few sculptures of random other stuff. And a big statue of King Edward VII on a horse. I might’ve crossed over into Kings Domain by then – I’m a bit hazy on where one gardens ended and the next began.

Anyway, then I walked along the Tan, the joggers track, with helpful distance markers along it. Felt quite lazy as one of the only people walking! So this part was definitely Kings Domain. I wandered around doing my best Ansel Adams for a while (photos of trees!), and visited the very nice Pioneer Womens’ Memorial Garden, and then crossed into the Botanic Gardens.

I wandered around trying to take an interest in the plantlife (who am I trying to kid?!) until I came across the lake, and then sat beside it and read for ages. Moved along, then found another spot to stop and read at. Then went to the visitors centre and had a coffee and ice cream.

Around 4pm I went over to the Shrine of Remembrance. Its huge. Very impressive. There’s a massive forecourt with flags flying on one side, and the Eternal Flame and a WW2 memorial on the opposite side. And directly in front of you is the giant WW1 shrine. It looks somewhere between a pyramid and an ancient Greek structure from the outside. Anyway, so you go in through the visitors centre, where there are displays on various war memorabilia. Then you walk up some steps to the crypt, where there are plaques commemorating lost battleships and batallions and such like. Then you walk up more steps, and they have the register of all those killed, spanning about 20-30 books, set out around the outside of the room. In the middle of the room is where people go to pay their respects. There’s also something to do with the sun shining on the aperture, through a whole in the roof, at 11am on the 11th of November. Then you walk up more steps and get out to the balcony. Its about two-thirds of the way up the building, and the highest point visitors can go to. You can walk all the way around the outside and see all of Melbourne. I really liked the place, and would’ve spent longer there, but they shut at 5pm. Hopefully I’ll make it back before I leave on Monday.

I walked up St Kilda Rd, back to Federation Square, and had a quick look in a second hand bookshop for Dan Brown’s Deception Point. It wasn’t there. Then I went on the internet for an hour, and then the tram back to the hostel.

I noticed a building on the journey home, with ‘AD 1993’ engraved above the door. Did they think we’d be confused if they just put ‘1993’? Like we might think the building was 4000 years old rather than 14 years old? Or are they just really hopeful about how long it’ll be standing for?

Watched the tennis when I got back to the hostel. Federer vs Roddick. Think I was the only Federer fan, so stayed quiet. He won 6-4, 6-0, 6-2.

I’m peeling loads today. Huge pieces of skin! Urgh! It’s so gross!

Reading: Single White E-Mail. My God I hate chick lit. Obsessing over The One. It always men, work, and hanging out with friends talking about men. Apparently life is not complete if you’re single. You have to devote your time to at least thinking about finding your soulmate, if not doing something about it as well.

Australia Round the World 2007


If you like a lot of chocolate on your biscuit, join our club! Going round and round and round in my head for no reason.

I get lots of thinking time in the morning at the moment. I wake up around 7am but don’t want to disturb anyone in the room, so I lay awake til around 8.30am. I’m considering changing my flights. I’m bored. I thought I was made for travelling, but turns out, all this relaxing just isn’t me. I’m filled with dread at the idea of being in North America for twelve weeks, alone, relaxing. Of course it doesn’t help that I have little money, but I knew that anyway. So I think I might stay working in New Zealand until the end of July, then have my week in Tahiti, then get to New York by August, and have five weeks by myself before Cameron and Alex join me for our two week road trip. At least that way I’ll be doing something, rather than just relaxing.

So I eventually went into town around 12ish. I went to the NGV International to check out the Manga exhibition. Except, what they don’t tell you is that you have to pay for that. So I wandered around the rest of the gallery/museum instead. Took a good few hours. Did you know Nike was the Greek ( I think) goddess of winning (or glory, or something to that effect)? Apparently trainers are now art too. Huge display of about 200 pairs of different designs. Some of them were cool, but most were just, well, trainers.

Then I walked past the Arts Centre and Hamer Hall to Southgate. This is the Southbank shopping and restaurant complex. Not overly exciting. A few nice gift shops, but looked like pricey stuff. Lots of ‘Australian art’ and vases and stuff. So I walked through there and then along Southbank Promenade as far as the casino, crossed a bridge with lots of sculptures on to the north bank, walked back the way I’d come, crossed another bridge back to Southbank, then crossed Princes Bridge (the main one) back to the north. I finally ended up in Federation Square watching some tennis on the big screen.

I got back to the hostel around 6pm and watched tennis on the regular-sized TV. Later I went out to watch the sunset again, but just sat on the beach reading and waiting for it, rather than walking again.

Reading: Single White E-Mail.

Australia Round the World 2007

Melbourne: Day 1 (Well, Day 2 Really, But I Was Asleep For The Real Day 1)

So, feeling better today. I knew I would. Two very nice Canadian dorm mates took me under their wing, and took me on the tram to Federation Square. I thought I was coming from bad weather: they’re from Edmonton, and it was -37 degrees Celsius when they left home!

I got off the tram and picked up loads of leaflets in the Visitor Information Centre. I went for a coffee near the racing museum while I sifted through them. Don’t think I’ll bother going to the racing museum – don’t know of any Oz racehorses (sorry Dad!).

Is every city in the world constructing something for a temporary event, or just the ones I’m going to? Trying to enjoy a coffee in Federation Square and watch a bit of the tennis on the big screen TV. According to the commentators, this week is better weather for the tennis. It’s still boiling hot though.

Federation Square is strangely appealing. It seems like awkwardly pieced-together glass and steel. But it is quite pleasant, and reminds me of Millennium Square in Leeds when they actually do something there.

So after my coffee I wandered up Swanston Street, which is ‘the people’s street’ apparently. Don’t know what that means – just a tourist/marketing term I think. Nothing special about it as far as I could see. Just a shopping street. There was a trapeze though. And a crowd of people watching cheered as a girl made a catch. I went into the State Library, which wasn’t hugely interesting. I did learn a bit about Ned Kelly though.

Then I wandered back down the other side of the street and to a little side street called Degraves Street, for lunch. It was only small but had cafes on either side, all with tables out on the street.

I’d been told there was a supermarket on Elizabeth Street so walked up, but couldn’t find it. Then I walked back down, and it was about two doors down from where I’d started! After getting some basics I sat in Federation Square and watched a bit more tennis before getting the tram back to the hostel.

There wasn’t anything particularly interesting going on in the hostel, so I read for a while, then decided, around 7.45pm, to go out to the beach and watch the sunset. The hostel is right on the beachfront, so I crossed the road and walked left (towards St Kilda) until I reached a pier. I watched the windsurfers and fishermen and a lone surfer trying to catch a wave for a few minutes, then walked back past the hostel for ages in the other direction. I passed the life saving clubhouse, where there was a group of people about to do tai chi or something. I was really hoping they’d break into a Fatboy Slim “Praise You” routine right in front of me, but alas, they did not. I managed to get all the way along the prom and back to outside the hostel before the sun was near setting. I sat on the beach to watch the last few minutes. Took way too many photos!

I think seven days is a long time to have here, especially with little money to spend. But I’m still in the mindset of getting up early and seeing everything, which isn’t necessary. I’m in a better mindset than yesterday. This hostel isn’t all bad. Just cheap. Can’t argue too much for 6 quid a night.

I imagine this is a nice place to live. I’m in the inner suburb of Albert Park, which is between Melbourne city centre and the inlet of sea just south. It’s about a 20min tram ride to the centre. The hostel is right on the beach, which is a fantastic location. Most of Albert Park that I see on the tram ride is coffee shops and boutiques. Places you imagine people run just as a hobby, rather than to earn a living.

Australia Round the World 2007

Arriving in Oz

The flight to Melbourne was pretty rubbish. The entertainment system wasn’t working, so we were limited to watching The Scoop with no sound, listening to one of three radio channels, playing the games, or watching the flight map. I was kinda rubbish at the games, so mostly read, watched the map, and chatted to the lady next to me. The food was kinda crap too.

Then we arrive in Australia at 6.30am. One of the questions on the immigration card is something like “are you carrying any soil, or anything with soil on?” Erm…My boots (that I was wearing) still had mud from Honduras and Guatemala on. I said “no”. And no-one stopped me, thankfully.

So I get into the arrivals lounge, and there’s a shuttle that can take me to my hostel. Great. Except it was the wrong hostel. However, the guy in the wrong hostel very kindly drove me to the right hostel. I couldn’t check in because it was still only 9am, but I sat in the common room for a while.

It’s a bit out of the way, but it’s cheap at least. No internet access though.

Get a key and a bed after 10am, and sleep. For the whole day. Don’t know why I’m so tired. Maybe its a lack of caffeine. Averaging around 3-4 cups of coffee a day when I’d usually have about 10.

The fun seems to have stopped. Feeling deflated. I know it’ll be different when I get out and see Melbourne, but lacklustre at present. Keep feeling like I’m ready to go home already. After one week! Of eight months!