December 15th - We both managed to sleep for a couple of hours on our overnight bus to Melbourne. We arrived at 8am. From here we were going to see Emma's Grandma's nephew Andrew so he called us at 8am and told us how to get to his house in Terang. We thought we'd spend the day in Melbourne and then get the train to his house later for when he finished work. So we put our luggage in a locker at the station and headed out for breakfast and to explore. We visited the Melbourne gaol museum first which was really good. You were firstly taken to the old watch house and treated like a prisoner that was being 'checked in'. Each person was given a card to tell you what you were charged with, your name, address and who arrested you.
'Constable' then picked on certain people during us being checked in and mug shots taken. We weren't picked on for a change but it was really good fun. We then looked all around the gaol and learnt about Ned Kelly which was interesting. This took a coule of hours and then we walked to Federation square which is meant to be similar to Trafalgar Square but we didn't think it was! We then looked round the shops and wandered around. Its a really nice city as its clean and not too busy but you've got to be careful of the trams. We also went for a drink before we got the train at 6.30pm to Terang. The train arrived at 9.15pm and Andrew walked straight to us (with his springer Connor) even though he'd never met us before. We must've looked like the only backpackers! We then walked to his house which is about 200m away.
We had a couple of drinks adn chatted for a while befor going to bed quite early as we were very tired, we felt a bit guilty as Andrew gave us his room to sleep in and he slept in the kids room, he had a very comfy bed!
December 16th - We must've been tired as we didn't wake up until 10am but we got up and read a note from Andrew to say he'd be back in a couple of hours so we quickly went to the shop as we found out the night before that it was Andrew's birthday, so we got him a card and some beer. We then assembled his Christmas tree as we wanted it up before his children came home. This was fab as we were getting Christmasy atlast! Andrew came home and we had lunch and when he went back to work we finished the tree. While we were finishing off his 2 sons came home Charlie and William.
..and they looked very worried with 2 strangers in their house. Once they realised who we were they were very friendly telling us about their day at school. Andrew and his 2 daughters then came back Hannah and Lucy. The children had come round to see the birthday boy but were staying at their mams that night and then from then were at Andrews for 5 nights. So we played backyard cricket with them until they had to go back home. Andrew's friend Andy then came round and we had some tea and some wine.
December 17th - We got up and got the train to Warrnambool at 10.30am which is a small town near Terang. We did a long walk along the beach which was really good but there were so many flies they were getting annoying.
We sat on the beach for a bit as the weatehr was nice and warm and then walked back to the town for a look around the shops and to find some presents for the children for christmas. We got the 5pm train back to Terang and by that time the children had arrived at Andrews after finishing school for Christmas exctited about their 6 week holiday! We played for a bit then had a bbq and sat in the sunshine which was wierd as its christmas and warm! Terang is a small town in the middle of the country so we then all went for a walk with the dog and cricket bat and ball. The whole family loves cricket to Andrew was hitting catches to everyone for the whoel walk. Charlie who is 6 was running behind in his soldiers outfit and gun which was funny.
After the walk we all sat down to watch the Vicar of Dibley and had some icecream.
December 18th - After a bit of a lie in we got up and just hung around the house for a bit then we went for a long walk with Connor as we thought we needed some exercise. We kept thinking that we had lost the dog as he kept running off but we managed to get him back home! He did jump into a big drum of water and we thought he was stuck so Neil pulled him out and got soaked! we later found out he always does this and gets out himself! Emma unfortunatley electrocuted herself by accident when she was trying to get some horses attention to stroke them...such a country girl!! After our walk we went back adn Neil played football with William and then we decided to make tea for everyone to show our gratitude for staying.
We wanted something a bit different and made fahitas. Andrew was amazed as they all loved them and it normally is really hard to find a meal that all four children like. Phew! We then all went outside and played cricket until it got dark and then went in to watch a video before we went to bed. Andrew was now sleeping in ther garage as we had his bedroom and we felt bad.
December 19th - We woke up, had breakfast and then just stayed around the house. Andrew and his children are so kind and they really made us feel at home it was good just to chill out and spend time with them all. We went for a quick walk with Connor before he was going 'on a romantic holiday' to make puppies (the children are trying to persuade their dad for them to get one!) and then we came back to play with the children, including a game of scramble where Neil got smashed! The girls were so good it was embarrasing.
We had our tea then all went for a walk and went to meet Irene, Andrews partner at the train station at 9.15pm as she was visiting for the weekend. She lives in Melbourne so not far. We all had a drink together and watched 'Meet the Parents' before going to bed. We insisted that we moved out of Andrews room so we were in the garage now, plus the spiders.
December 20th - We didn't get biten by any spiders in the garage and both slept fine and got up at 8.30am. We then all piled into Andrews car to drive to the Grampians. 3 in the back back, 3 in the back and 2 in the front, very cosy! It took a couple of hours to get there and straight away we had a picnic by a river. We then all paddled in the river and threw stones at each others feet so all got a bit wet but it was hot so nice to cool down.
We then walked to some baths but it was really hot so didn't do a long walk. We all sat by baths and paddled for ages which was really good as we were chatting and getting to know Andrew and Irene well. We treated everyone to an icecream and then drove back home. That night Andrew had his christmas do so we were babysitting the four plus Charlie's friend Kyle. We got takeaway pizza and watched a video which was fun, although the video was rubbish and a bit rude in places!
December 21st - We were all up quite early again for another day out. Unfortunately Emma had come out with a rash on her face from something she must have brushed up against so we went to the pharmacy and they suggested she take anti-hystemene tablets. We had breakfast and set off for a day at the beach.
We drove out through Warnambool to a beach town called Port Fairy. We walked out to a small island which had a lovely little beach where we stayed for about an hour. We played football with the children who all went in the sea and they all rolled in the sand and had lots of fun. We finished the walk before driving to the shops and going to a Candy shop which all the kids loved (as well as us!) and then had a coffee in a cafe before driving back to Terang. Irene had to catch a train back to Melbourne for work the next day so she left and we all sat around, had fish for dinner and watched another episode of the Vicar of Dibley which the kids love before going to bed,
December 22nd - We were up and ready by 9am as Andrew had asked Neil to help him this morning.
Neil, Andrew and William drove out to Warnambool as Andrew had to pick up a new truck that his company had bought so he and William drove back in the truck and Neil drove Andrew's car home. Emma stayed at home with Lucy and Charlie and played Jenga. When Neil got back we then went to catch our train back to Melbourne. Everyone came to the staion to wave us off it was great. We got back into Melbourne and then walked to our hostel, Urban Central. Its a really big hostel which we don't normally like but its very clean and has small dorm rooms of 4 which we liked. We quickly got showered and then went to meet Zoe and Rich who we met in Brazil who live in Melbourne. We had some wine and beer at a bar in St Kilda
and then went for some food.
It was great catching up as they have got married since we saw them last and we were hearing all the news. After a couple more drinks we then went back to bed.
December 23rd - We slept in for a change and then we made our way to the Thai Consulat to arrange to get our visas for when we go in January. We got the tram there but unfortunatley it had closed 10 minutes before we arrived! So we got the tram back to the shopping area of the city to buy our secret santa presents for Christmas day. We both had to buy 2, one for a girl and one for a boy or unisex presents and to spend $10 on each. It was quite hard to find something so cheap that didn't look too rubbish but we managed and decided to go for jokey presents. We then went back to the hostel for some food, where you could get pasta and rice for free which was good and then went out to skype Neils family which was dead nice as we could see Dylan in his Christmas outfit and santa hat that we had bought him.
He looked very cute! After skyping we went back to the hostel and our room mate gave us some jack daniels so we sat with his group of friends for a while chatting before going to bed.
December 24th - We got up early this morning to go back to the Thai Consulat for our visas. They were open this time and we filled in all the forms, unfortunately we had to pay for a $45 each for the visa as we don't have proof (like a flight ticket) that we're leaving the country within 30 days. Glad that they were sorted we got a tram to the south melbourne market to get our food for Christmas day. Everyone had been given orders of what to bring for the day and we had been given the job of 'cheese, chutney and crackers' which sounded easy. The market was packed with everyone buying their fish, meat, veg etc for Christmas day, it was a really good Christmas atmosphere.
We got our cheese (and lots of it as we were feeding about 16 people) and then went to get santa hats and tinsel to wear. Before leaving the market we had been told to go to the Dim Sim stall as the dim sims were legendary in Melbourne.....they were so good! We then went back to the hostel for a shower and then went out to meet Ainne and Daire our Irish friends for a drink in Frederation square. It was great seeing them again as we had not seen them since Brisbane. After a few drinks they went to Carols by Candelight Concert and we had another drink and then surprisingly went into St Pauls Cathedral for their Christmas Carol service. It was full so we stood at the back for about 30-40 mins then left to go watch the Carols by Candelight on the big screen in Fed Square.
We stayed until the end and then went back to our hostel to bed. Luckily there was no ne else in our dorm so it meant it was just us two on Christmas morning.
December 25th - Emma woke up first and climbed into Neils bunk with our presents and cards to open. Neil then gave Emma a stocking as a surprise which she loved! All our presents were really nice and we put all the cards up. We went down to breakfast before it closed and then went to an internet cafe to call home in our santa hats! After calling both parents we went back to get ready, then got a free train to the house where we were spending the day. When we got their we knew nobody and there was about 10 people there, but everyone was so friendly and welcoming saying we were known as Mr X on all their emails when planning the day.
Ainne and Daire got there about an hour later plus some others so there was 13 of us. Most people were English or Irish and living and working in Melbourne, we were the only backpackers. Evo was dressed up as santa which was funny, especially as his trousers seemed to be crutchless! He brought out 2 trays of oysters, which were amazing! Even Neil tried one as he thought he'd better as its an ozzie Christmas tradition. Everyone then was just drinking and people giving presents to people before our 'feast' at about 4pm. It started with mussels and then our main meal was a mixture of lots of things people had been cooking in the kitchen like ham, chicken, mash, pumpkin and avacado salad, yorkshire puddings.....so much food it was so good. We were stuffed! The boys washed up and then we carried o drinking until 8pm when 5 of us wanted to go to the beach for a swim as we thought we had to while we were in Australia.
The sea was quite cold but we both loved being on the beach on Christmas day and it was still busy at that time. When we got back santa dished out the secret santa presents to everyone and then someone set up some decks and was djing until we left at about 2am to go to Ainne and Daire's for a night cap. We then got a taxi home after an unforgettbale Ozzie Christmas, it was brilliant!
Decenber 26th - Very hungover we managed to get out of bed at about 10am to go to the Boxing Day Test at the MCG, Australia v South Africa. We got there about midday and met up with Andrew and Charlie. The ground was amazing and the atmosphere was buzzing, so many groups of lads and people making massive plastic towers out of their beer glasses.
Ainne and Daire got there a couple of hours later and we all had a really good time. Emma had taken a couple of magazines with her to read but she didn't even read them as she was enjoying the cricket. It could have been because she was sat next to Charlie who loves cricket so much it was rubbing off on her! It finished about 6pm with Australia batting well and then we went back with Andrew and Charlie to Irene's unit where we would be house sitting for the next week or so. We wanted to see the place before we arrived the next day and wanted to see everyone before they went off on their holiday. Her place was so nice, it was unbelievable that she did not mind us staying there. It was so kind of her as she had only met us for a couple of days.
We had some food with them and then caught the train back to our hostel.
December 27th - We checked out at 11am and then caught the train to Moorabin to move into Irene's. We quickly settled in and then went to get some food and alcohol for the night as Ainne and Daire were coming round for some food. It was the last time we were going to see them as they were off to New Zealand next. Neil went to meet them from the station at about 7pm while Emma prepared the food and spoke to Laura on the phone to find out about her Christmas back home. We had a fun night eating and drinking lots, including playing a drinking game that Neil lost every time so got very drunk! We went to bed about 2pm as we were falling asleep on the comfy sofa's.
December 28th - We had a lie in today and then had a lazy day not leaving the house. It was so good having our own place and being able to relax and do nothing. Neil stayed in his pants all day watching the cricket! and Emma sat outside reading lots of English magazines she had been given by Zoe catching up on celebrity gossip. We then watched a film on the tv and went to bed.