1. Melbourne, Neighbours, Aussie Tennis, Hanging out with Kangeroos and getting arrested?!?!?
Distance covered so far = 91 Kms
G'Day! (as the Aussie's say) well after travelling across the Americas, swinging my way through the Amazon Jungle and kicking up the dust on the streets of Africa, I always had a burning ambition to do a 'Working Holiday' in the adventurous outback of Australia for at least a year of my life. As I said in my trip into the Amazon, my most passionate desire is to meet the indigenous people of the land, the Native Americans and Shamans, Indigenous African's and what struck me was the native primitive culture of the Aborigines, the first Australians' who my ancestors once seized, captured and killed to try and make their culture as there own. The past as nothing to do with me, but the future does so I was so intrigued to get down under and see the indigenous people for myself, teach me how to play a Didgeridoo or a 'Didge' in Aussie terms...... and also the fact I have a fascination with Kangaroos. So lets do the paperwork,..
Now there are certain boxes one has to tick to secure oneself a WHV
1. Be aged 18 - 30 years old. Ooh 27 pushing it but I'm in!
2. Have no dependent children. No way!
3. Be of good character. Hell yeah I'm the best person I know!
Now I did have to have a chest xray on London's prestigous Harley Street to test that I wasn't about to bring TB to Aussie shores and so successfully passing that, secured myself a one year Working Holiday Visa and prepared to leave the cold winter of Britain behind!
Well here I am, thought I'd let you know how i'm finding life in Australia as a 'Pome' (The affectionate name Aussie's like to call the English), pretty much as a temporary resident and living off Nutella sandwiches and Vitamin Pills. I made it to the other side of the world or the land that everybody calls 'Down Under' as it really is this HUGE island drifting in the Pacific Ocean tucked away down under the world from the rest of it. After surviving a 21 hour flight and having to be escorted from the plane in Hong Kong to the plane heading to Australia, I planned my arrival so I would touch down in the middle of the Australian summer which I was told is a 'scorcher'.....well it wasn't quite....I set foot in Australia to what was a not-so-hot Melbourne in the state of Victoria. In fact, it was cloudy and pretty cold! so I never should have listened to anyone telling me its too hot for warm clothes. Melbourne is pretty much like Chicago in the USA, it's on a bay and the weather can change in 5 minutes but after a couple of days Australian weather lived up to it's name to being gorgeous, hot, summer weather , which has been great for the Australian Open Tennis Tournament which pretty much dominates Melbourne during January, very cool. What took me by surprise was arrivng in a hostel after 21 hours and still on London time, I was crashing on a sofa in a lounge watching tennis feeling like half dead, when a film crew walked in and asked to film me for their new hostel film for promotion, I didn't really have to do anything, but God I must have looked terrible on that film! the plus side was they gave me a free pizza in the bar downstairs, how awesome is that with a pint of Stongbow cider. Mmmm think I'm gonna like Australia.....
Anyway, the weather is gorgeous here and very blue as the promotion for the tennis is everywhere. It is actually an ambition of mine being a tennis fan to visit all the major Grand Slam tennis tournaments in the world and the Australian Open is the last I needed to tick off.
Nancy Bolton.......Australian Open Champion...my great great great grandmother?
I got tickets to go and see the games Saturday Night in the main arena with my Aussie buddy from my time way back at Summer camp in the USA, Stevie G. The 'Australian Open' is a really cool atmosphere, that give out 'ice neck coolers' you can even get cocktails with the glass lighting up in the dark. I even noticed a bust of 'Nancye Bolton' a past Australian Open Champion in the 'Hall of Fame' and I'm convinced I'm her great great great granddaughter ha!. Seeing a night match is pretty exciting, Melbourne thrives on sport so when Lleyton Hewitt came out to play Marcos Baghadatis, it was quite entertainment...but unfortunetely was cut short when Baghdatis retired on the second set - major bummer as I was soooo looking forward to a riveting match....but.....the next match was pretty entertaining with Wozniacki vs. Wozniak - wouldn't you believe it with names like that and I don't even think they are related. Wozniacki had to face the embarassment of having points taken off her because both the pom poms on her socks tore off and disrupted play ha!
Also the giant moths get attracted to the lights of the stadium so they swarm over and then the birds fly in to try and eat them! I went back the next morning for a day session having woken up late and had to jump on a water taxi down the River Yarrra to the stadium which was cool, waving to the rowers and cruising by the riverlife of the Yarra. People just love to hang out by the river side, rowing, cycling, jogging, it's a really active city - thriving on it's sport, very environmentally friendly with the trams buzzing around (and theres even a FREE tram to the tennis too!)
So I've just been hanging out in Melbourne, enjoying the sun, music and tennis - perfect!. Adjusting to Aussie life - they're are very friendly and happy people. Down to road from me, there is a huge square called 'Federation Square' along the river, everyone gathers there to watch the tennis on the big screen (in Melbourne EVERYONE is given the chance to watch the tennis). I went to watch the Federer v Hewitt game for the atmosphere, pretty much half of Melbourne churned out for the match. The Aussies love their tennis. That's pretty much what I do at night, go and watch Gram Slam Tennis outdoors with a drink!
January 26th is 'Australia Day' where it's the National holiday when they celebrate the arrival of the first immigrants and when the '£10 Poms' came to Australia from England when it was just £10 - blimey why couldn't I have been born then? Everyone is off work, kitted out in Aussie gear in the bars, in the parks, Federation Square is alive with street performers and a concert of didgaridoos and the like. It was cool to see some real Aboriginal people play their music and of course lots of fireworks. There was even Aboriginal people in the audience with fair hair and dark skin - my first glimpse of indigenous people of Australia.
Of course, I couldn't come to Melbourne and just stay for the tennis - I was tempted to go and see the famous Aussie Soap Neighbours set at 'Ramsay Street' (which in real life is sooo small) but it was cool to see the street with all the famous houses and think this is where Kylie Minogue and Jason Donavan first started out. Having not watched the show since the 90's, I was really in the old school knowledge, so it was pretty funny and cringe worthy to have some people on the tour who knew the entire show inside out! (slightly out of my depth) was so funny when we met one of the actors who was having a break from filming and I had no idea who he was! but everyone was cooing over him and he plays the mechanic Lucas in the show. Still, how many times are you at the Neighbours Set in Australia? It's good fun, recommend it....
Neighbours Actor....no idea
I've spent most of time just hanging out in Melbourne City and watching the tennis - but Aussie people just tend to smell so good, like constantly, they always smell nice, but danger came my way when I saw...........the BILLABONG store......oooooo (not that I have the money but it's BILLABONG!) hopefully I get round to some surfing and put the stuff to use. Oh, and I got arrested!?!?!......drinking in a public place......nah not really, you are apparently not allowed to drink in a public place, but you know of the famous Australian Outlaw Ned Kelly? (Heath Ledger played him in a movie of the same name and freaky enough, he actually looked like Ned Kelly). Well I went to the Old Melbourne Gaol where I was arrested like in real life (not that I've been arrested of course ) and got myself locked in a cell in the dark for 'possession of a dangerous weapon' yeah yeah heard that before, under the name of Miss Shoreland ha! it wasn't Shawshank but would have been pretty grim back in the day when they really imprisoned people. Well 136 people were hung in the Gaol and you can see Ned Kelly's death mask (the mould they take of their dead face) was pretty creepy.......
I swear I didn't do it...
For all those who know me well, know of my love for animals and I took a day out of Melbourne in search of some funky Aussie Animals on Phillip Island down the South Coast and East of Melbourne. This was a really cool trip to take out of the city for me to see the real country of Australia. We first stopped off at a Wildlife Sanctuary where I took the opportunity to hold a carpet python snake which tends to just hang on to you - he was a cool dude, snakes aren't slimy, they are really dry and scaly so that was a first time for me - especially holding a snake in Australia of all places. In the wildlife park, l went to see lots of iconic animals of Australia whistling at Dingoes and chirping at Emu's and Kookaburra birds who sound like they're laughing.
In the park, we were allowed to walk in the outback area of 'Wallaby Walk' where you can just walk around with the Wallabies (they're like mini Kangeroos!) but they are sooooo cute and especially like you if you have some food around. What was really cool for me was when I came face to face with a KANGEROO - after the initial 'wow' factor and being slightly intimidated but it's HUGE size, I shook my bag of food and Mr. Roo came bouncing happily over to me - he was a cool dude - I love the Kangeroos. They have big long feet and long claws for all that bouncing around. I hope I can be around them more and learn about them, I find them fascinating.
Hello Mr Roo....my first encounter with Skippy
There's an Island next door called Churchill Island where I visited a farm to watch some good ole Aussie country Sheep Shearing and then bizzarely enough - the farmer Ken started to recite some poetry he had written for us! ahhhhh......after wiping the tears away from his moving poetry,
we headed to the special Koala Conservation Centre where you can see the Koala's up in the tree tops of the 'Gum Trees' the native trees here in Australa. I can't begin to tell you how CUTE Koala's look in real life, pictures just don't do justice! all of them were sleeping so it is quite rare to see one awake because they sleep 20 hours a day because of their low energy diet of eucalyptus leaves. They also have massive bums for them to sit comfortably in trees...ahhh...i'm determined to hold one.
Now what Australia is famous for - the beach! and with over 1,000 beaches fringing the shores of the continet, the first beach in Australia I visited was Cape Woolami, it hosts the Rip Curl Pro Surf Competition and shame it wasn't on when I turned up - would have been nice to see Kelly Slater in action. Plus there are sharks out there, kind of weird looking out onto a ocean knowing there are sharks patroling the deep waters. The sand is beautiful though with all those Surf Watch lifeguards in their iconic red and yellow outfits - so Aussie.
The main appeal of heading down to Phillip Island for the night was to see one of the most unique acts of nature in Australia - 'The Penguin Parade'. Every night, little penguins about 30cms high, swim back to shore and emerge waddling up the beach to their burrows. After penguins are about a year old, they take to the sea alone to learn how to hunt swimming 15 - 20 kms a day (good fact ay) they come back a year later for new feathers. The experience was so cool as people gather on the beach with popcorn like they are watching a movie! but seriously when I saw them, my heart melted coz I've never seen anything sooooooooooooooo sweet in my life, with little penguins emerging from the sea and waddling towards you. You can't take photos because the flashes blind them and they'll be disorientated and really confused wandering around awwwwwww. The amount of how many will come is not always known. but the night I was there......800, no kidding!!!!! we had to check under the tour car incase any were hiding out there, as some of them waddle up to their burrows in the car park awwww!!!!!That's been my favourite day so far, besides going to the tennis of course......I've met alot of people already, but at the moment they are just coming in and out of my life, a travellers life is all about losing and gaining I guess. The hostel I'm in is cool, right on Flinders Street near the Yarra River and Batman Avenue (not named after the superhero!) it was only a matter of time before I inevitable lost my room key so I had to run down 4 flights of stairs and sing a song to them at reception to get another one! ha! already experiencing the Aussie sense of humour.
Tomorrow, unfortunetely there's no more room at the inn here in Melbourne for the tennis finals (Murray's in the final!!!!!) so armed with my boomerangs, I'm jumping on a train heading 3 hours north of Melbourne to a town on the Murray River (funny that) called Albury on route to the hub of Australia.....Sydney home of the 2000 Olympic Games.......... but Federer v. Tsonga tonight, it's gonna be a beauty!
See ya later!