Reminiscing about The Ashes!

Brisbane Travel Blog

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Katy and I enjoying the wonderful Whitsundays

Saturday 22nd April

Aussie, Aussie, Aussie! I finally arrived in the land of Bruce and Sheila, of venomous animals, the former island of convicts and has-been cricketers. I landed early in the morning and deliberated about having a look around Brisbane before my connecting flight to Cairns later on, but decided to crash out in the airport instead for a few hours. I checked into the Virgin Blue airport lounge for the worthwhile sum of $5 (2 quid) and spent most of the day sleeping, watching DVD's and playing on the PlayStation. I eventually dragged myself away and boarded my flight to Cairns. Upon arrival, I met Katy, Laura and Jane (Katy's friend from home) and we got a minibus to our hostel.

Our yacht awaits...
We went into town, caught up on old times, had a look around and came back early after a thoroughly exhausting day!

Sunday 23rd April

Today we got up early sorted our Greyhound bus out (my form of transport from Cairns to Melbourne) and essentially planned our little adventure down the East coast of Australia. I celebrated the epic plans with some fish and chips before continuing the celebrations downtown with a massive Aussie steak and a big night out in The Woolshed (a place full of backpackers, which was a highly sophisticated establishment - the highlight being goldfish races on the dance floor)! We then stumbled home along the Promenade.

Chilling in the Whitsundays

Monday 24th April

This morning we checked out of the hostel and went to the Lagoon, which was fantastic. I had a nice chilled out swim, which seemed to iron out any potential problems like a hangover and proved that sport can do some good after all (who'd have thought it?). I ensured that my hangover would not return by having a mammoth fry-up, which looked funny next to the girls meagre toasts and pastries! We looked around town (which was full of bats) and returned to the hostel. We waited around for a while for dinner and generally chilled out before our Greyhound pick-up shortly after midnight.

Tuesday 25th April

After spending eight hours on the bus overnight I had a good sleep, all things considered and arrived in Airlie beach by mid-morning.

Watching the sun set at Bustard Point in the town of 1770
Today we were going to the Whitsundays; a picturesque selection of islands off the East coast, which boasts some of the best corals and fish in the Great Barrier Reef. Needless to say, I was excited! We checked our baggage into the hostel we would return to after the trip and went to the Marina for departure. At first, we were told that there was no alcohol on the boat, which after some agonising moments, resulted in me running to the bottle shop. I arrived to learn that it was Anzac day; a public holiday in Australia, which meant that the shop would open later than usual (can anyone else see the correlation between my urgencies and bank holidays?!). I then returned to the Marina, before being told that the boat would be delayed, which allowed me time to leg it back to the bottle shop and stock up for the trip, much to everyone's delight.
An unimpressed Python that stopped the traffic
By early afternoon, the four of us joined company with another 13 travellers on SV Whitehaven and duly cruised through the islands for the rest of the afternoon. Two of the other travellers were Shaunie and Heather, a couple Laura and Katy met whilst in Alice Springs. Shortly before sunset, we went snorkelling, which was excellent as we saw loads of fish depsite being in shallow waters. In the evening we met the rest of the group and stargazed.

Wednesday 26th April

This morning, we chilled out before heading to Whitehaven beach (the deservedly famous beach on the Whitsundays). Before getting to the beach, we walked through light forestry, where our guide spotted some green ants.

All smiles on Fraser Island
She instructed us to pick one of them up by the head and lick their backsides. This was met by my usual response of 'what?!' as it reminded me of the sea cucumber incident. I knew I'd end up doing it so I picked it up and had a good lick before replacing the disgruntled and bewildered ant back onto the branch in a state of shock. It actually tasted like lemon and lime, but it did make me wonder who first thought of licking the backside of an ant to pass the time of day... Anyway, when we arrived on the beach the weather wasn't great, but we braved it and the views weren't restricted at all. We took loads of photo's and headed back to the boat in high spirits. We continued our voyage and stopped for some more snorkelling, however this was disrupted due to poor visibility underwater.
Part of the stunning 70-mile beach on Fraser Island
In the evening, we taught our European friends drinking games, which lead to hilarious consequences and a good night was had by all. Later on, we all went on deck and picked out a few constellations of the Southern Hemisphere through the help of Katy's astronomical chart.

Thursday 27th April

This morning we woke up very early for a bushwalk on one of the islands, and saw some aboriginal art work before hiking to the waterfall (which turned out to be a stream with a slight gradient). Nevertheless, the guys all went into the freezing freshwater 'lake' (about the size of a large bath), whilst convincing the women that it wasn't cold and that they should come in as well. They didn't fall for it though - I think it was something to do with the blue lips and the state of semi-consciousness we suffered.

Loving the Sydney sun, even though it was a bit chilly!
After the refreshing dip we returned to the boat and sailed back to Airlie beach. The four of us went to the lagoon and baked in the sun for a few hours before Shaunie and Heather joined us. Shaunie's two hapless mates joined us and we played the mentally exhausting game of catch in the lagoon. After managing to annoy everyone in and around the lagoon with our over-ambitious and dangerous catches, we left the lagoon to see it fill up soon afterwards! Later that night, we joined our skipper and other crew for a big night out. Shaunie and I proceeded to get hammered and ended up in an Irish bar before I staggered back to the hostel.

Friday 28th April

After a slow start to the day, I packed my bags and made my way to the nearest cafe for a calorie hit.

The huge Sydney harbour bridge
The magical combination of grease and HP sauce worked its wonders again and before long I was waddling to the lagoon for another energetic day of sunbathing and reading. After being in danger of actually being fried alive, I slowly made my way to the lagoon and float aimlessly for a bit before returning and heading to the Pizza shop for some dinner. We chilled out and waited for the Greyhound for the next stop on the East Coast, which was already going by much quicker than possible.

Saturday 29th April

This morning we arrived in the town of 1770 (named after the year Captain Cook stumbled across a bit of land between the Pacific and Indian Oceans, which was later named Australia).We checked into a superb hostel called Cool Banana's and immediately checked out the shops and then meandered the short walk to Workman's beach; a small and very quiet beach.

Sydney Opera House
Later on, whilst being busy doing nothing, we were offered a lift to watch the sunset. Without a second thought, we jumped to see this phenomenon of the sun actually fall under the ground and climbed aboard a 4x4 and went to Bustard Head (note spelling). The aforementioned phenomenon was incredible - nothing like any of us imagined and we returned. On the way back, a motorcyclist in front of us swerved to avoid something on the road. It turned out to be a 2m python, which was heading in the direction of a roadside camp site. We climbed out, picked it up, prodded it, took photo's and after annoying it enough, let it go in the direction of the camp site. We retired to the bar to celebrate our heroic efforts and went back to the hostel. Later in the evening, we went to 'The Tavern', which advertised a free meal and a pitcher of beer for $10 (when I say 'went', I mean we 'ran').
The Opera house at sunset
 The very hospitable manager explained that the pub had only been open for a week and was trying to promote backpackers, as its' current clientele was mainly horny rednecks, who pretty much howled and jeered when a woman went through to the bar! Others from the hostel joined us and I was eventually surrounded by nine women, which I thought a fair ratio, before we were joined by a two pervy Aussies. The Aussies (one of which claimed to be from Brighton) were quickly named David Brent and Gareth, due to their slow wit and awful jokes which were met with tumbleweed flying through the bar. It was blatantly obvious that David and Gareth were attempting to flirt with the girls, which I thought was hilarious, yet painful, so after about ten minutes of the smelliest chat I had heard since the Durham Christmas reunion, I done the honourable thing and left the girls to dumb and dumber and headed home.
Sunset over the Harbour Bridge

Sunday 30th April

At some ludicrous hour I got up and left the girls in the hostel for the day I had been looking forward to for so long... diving the Great Barrier Reef! After doing my PADI Open Water and then the Advanced course, I was ready for a good, deep dive, but found that the deepest I the water got was 8m. 8m?!! My bath is 8m! Nevertheless, I set off as this was the most southern point of the Barrier Reef and therefore my last chance. We set off to Lady Musgrove island and I went diving in the lagoon with another guy (there were 99 people onboard, yet only two were diving - the others went to the island, which looked about as interesting as the dentist). Despite the shallow dive, we immediately saw loads of creatures, including a moray eel, which look a bit like Mick Jagger, so I hastily retreated.

Darling Harbour, Sydney
 We went around further and saw some turtles, which were amazing. The fish we saw in the first dive alone were more plentiful than in Thailand. I returned to the boat, surrounded by Japanese tourists, taking photo's of the sea at every angle imaginable. I had lunch there, which was hilarious. The Aussies always over indulge and the food was everywhere. I asked the caterer for some ham and she gave me 3 huge slices. I looked at her in amazement and she asked if I wanted more! (She whispered that she would rather give it to me than the Japanese, who were at that moment emptying the salad bowls). I then asked for tiger prawns... you'd expect two or three, but I got ten! I laughed and attacked my plate like a shark, much to the bemusement of the Japanese (I thought they were going to take a photo of the plate).
Catching up with Cat, Matt and Baz in Sydney
 My second dive was without my former buddy and therefore was just the divemaster and I. As we descended (I sank like a stone), we almost landed on a stingray and subequently chased it for a while. We saw even more fish than the first dive, so I was delighted. At the end, we fed some trevvies, which was brilliant. After an excellent dive, I met with a couple of English guys and had a good laugh until we got back to shore. I met the girls later that evening and we had dinner at the hostel.

Monday 1st May

Yet another early morning and yet another Greyhound (poor dog), this time to Hervey Bay. We stopped for a fry-up at Bundaberg, so I was content and so when we arrived at Hervey, I was ready for some shopping and a walk along the beach.

The Mason's in Oz
I left the girls at the beach and returned to the hostel, where I watched TV and lazed around. In the evening, we had some gastronomic experiment involving brown rice... needless to say the dessert (Mars bar) went down a treat! We watched Neighbours, but were clueless to the storyline and then went to bed, as tomorrow was... an early one (shock horror)!

Tuesday 2nd May

The early morning was offset by the prospect of going to Fraser Island, which was part of our package with the Whitsunday's. We left our bags at the hostel and met the rest of our group, (totalling nine girls, two guys; eight Brits and three Irish).

Enjoying a rugby league game at the 2000 Olympic stadium
Some of them went food shopping for the next three days and I  stayed behind, trying to work out why I had to get up at this time so often. The eleven of us got in a beast of a 4x4 and set off for the island. We stopped by for a safety debrief for the vehicle (basically, save the vehicle and tents, not yourself) and Katy and I volunteered to do a stock take on the camping equipment (11 knives, 11 forks etc). I was reading the checklist and managed to slip in 'four candles' to which Katy replied 'I can't find any candles', then started shouting at the attendant 'we haven't got any candles!!' It could only work on her! We soon set off and drove to the ferry, then got the ferry to the island. Firstly, we went to Lake Wabby, a beautiful lake, surrounded by loads of sand.
Watching the surf in Crunella
We continued the drive and went to Eli creek and trailed through the creek. Afterwards, we went to see the Maheno shipwreck, which had drifted to shore. Later on we visited the Pinnacles and coloured sand (I know is sounds like a Craggy island attraction, but it was rather impressive). After the daily adventures, we arrived at Base Camp and met the rep called Macca, who explained to us that the site was home to nine of the ten most venemous snakes in the world, some pretty scary spiders, a few dingoes and a couple of lizards, thrown in for good measure. He also explained that all of the tips we were given earlier about the tents was rubbish and that following this advice could kill you (thanks very much Beaches Resort, I sincerely hope you are eaten alive by dingoes).
Loving the AFL game at the MCG
 After this shocking report, we had a BBQ and after a copius amount of alcohol, all was forgotten. We played drinking games, ate like royalty and headed to the beach. After a while, we returned, plus one (a random from another group, who had got wasted and joined us). We had to carry her back, which was hilarious, as she fell into bushes, scaring anything that could attack us and eventually reached base for a long-awaited sleep.

Wednesday 3rd May

After enjoying a lie in (7am), we had breakfast and headed off eagerly awaiting another day of adventure. We went to Indian Head, which was a high peak, where we saw sharks from a comfortable distance. Getting to the area was difficult due to the thick sands and demanding hills, so it took a few attempts and a lot of cheering when it eventually crept up the near-impossible incline.

Everybody needs good neighbours...
We then went to the Champagne Pools, which I soon discovered to my dismay, were not pools of champagne, put coves off the ocean which produced bubbles from the ocean waves. I still went in the coves (partially just to make sure) and relaxed in there for a while before sunbathing. After lunch, we went on a mammoth trek to Lake Allom, with some excellent driving that Colin McRae would have been proud of. The lake was beautiful and had baby turtles in. We walked to the far point, where I persuaded Chris (the only other guy) that it would be a good idea to swim to the other side of the lake! After 10 minutes, I realised what a stupid mistake I had made and vowed to myself to shut up more often. We eventually reached the other side (beating the rest of the group walking the perimeter of the lake) and were astonished to see a large black snake nearby.
Back at school!
I was even more bewildered to see it head in the direction of the lake! We went back to base and had dinner, before another night on the ground.

Thursday 4th May

After a horrendous night sleep (using a rolled-up sleeping mat as a pillow) I woke up looking like Quasi Modo and shuffled outside for another aciton-packed day. Many of the others complained of a sleepless night too, but because of a drunken brawl outside. Therefore, we found it only right to wake up everyone else and left the base camp to a harmony of shouting and beeping horns, whilst flooring it in the 4x4. First stop was Lake Boomanjin, which was very pleasant, despite being before 9am. Another short drive took us to Lake Birrabien, which was even more beautiful. This lake was postcard-material and had pockets of black sand in the shallower waters.

In the hot seat - the press room of the Australia Open
We stayed there for a bit, clouding the lake with the black sand and left for Central Station and Pike Valley, which were both areas of heavy forestry with huge trees everywhere. The area was very nice, but we were eager to go to the infamous Lake MacKenzie, which is the top attraction on Fraser Island (and rightly so). The lake is huge, colourful and surrounded by white sand. We stayed there for a few hours, which was heaven! After such luxuries, it was time to return to the mainland and after returning by ferry we arrived in Hervey Bay and checked out of the hell-hole we call Beaches. Instead, we checked in to an infinitely better 'hostel' across the road. In fairness, it was a caravan site, but our caravan was huge and provided much more comfort and entertainment value that the cesspit over the road.
The Rod Laver Arena

Friday 5th May

This morning we left at some ridiculous hour and got the Greyhound to Brisbane. We dumped our bags in the locker (which also nearly involved me losing my thumb in the process...) and went for a look around Brisbane for a few hours. We went shopping, visited the Botanical Gardens and had a superb lunch at QUT (Queensland University of Technology), which we managed to stumble into. After taking in as much of the city as we could muster in the few hours we were there, we headed back to the station where we bumped in to Shaunie and Heather, who were travelling to Surfer's Paradise. We were travelling to Byron Bay instead, where we crashed out as soon as we arrived.

Albert Park, home of the Australian Grand Prix

Saturday 6th May

After savouring the rarity of a lie-in, we finally went into town, where the girls went off to look for bikini's and other girlie stuff and I went for a walk and in search of a bottle bar for tonight's BBQ. I came back from town quite late to find our dorm light on, so I thought it would be a good idea to use the opportunity to knock on the door and jump out at the girls (something that had been a major success throughout Australia). As the door opened, I jumped out, shouting 'boo!' to find our roommate (who was stunningly attractive) stand in the doorway, looking in sheer horror at the fool who just jumped out on her. After calming her down and convincing her that I wasn't insane and that there was in fact, no need for police involvement, I had to leave the room for a good old giggle.

The Melborune skyline
The girls (who were downstairs at the time) found it hilarious and I couldn't even look at the poor roomie for the rest of the day without laughing manically. Anyway, we had a great BBQ and played drinking games before heading to 'Cheeky Monkeys', which had scary similarities to Klute.

Sunday 7th May

This morning I woke up feeling pretty lousy and decided against the kayaking that I had planned to do that day. Instead, I had a series of breakfasts to combat the old liver and looked around the shops with the girls (neither they or I trusted myself not to make an ass of myself with the roomie again). We went to the Sunday market, which was nice and then went on a bike ride after my brain and stomach reached a mutual understanding that I wasn't going to be sick. The bike ride was filled with the usual drama's you would expect when taking three girls on a short trip. After the seemingly impossible task of attaching helmets without messing their hair, we set off at a pace that had to be 10.3mph exactly (Laura's bike didn't have brakes at all, and my bike was like a cruise ship, whereby the brakes had to be applied 30 minutes before I actually wanted to stop). We went to the lighthouse and went to the most Eastern part of Australia before heading back to the hostel and then going to the Greyhound stop for our next town. Whilst at the Greyhound stop, Mike Howe walked past, and soon we were united with Gareth and Scoots as well. After a good old' chin wag, we found out that whilst we were there, there were ten Hatfielders in Byron Bay, which is extraordinary given its' size.

Monday 8th May

This morning we reached the midpoint of the journey - Sydney. We check into our hostel and immediately went looking around the place. We went straight to the Opera House, via the Botanical Gardens, which was a very pleasant walk. After taking the usual touristy photo's and smiling a lot, we got a ferry to Manly. It was full of surf shops and beautiful women, but as we arrived late in the day and due to the colder weather, the beach was pretty deserted. We headed back to the hostel and relaxed before meeting Sam in the evening. We had an early night as the travelling was catching up on us big time!

Tuesday 9th May

This morning we (Katy, Laura, Jane, Sam and I) went to Darling Harbour to admire the views and see a bit more of the city. The harbour was really nice and afterwards Sam and I left the girls to go shopping whilst we went into a bookstore, which kept me entertained for hours. After another great lunch we came back and got ready for tonight. The three girls and I set off to the Opera House to watch a play called 'The Hanging Man', which actually premiered in West Yorkshire! The play was pretty good and it was nice to watch something in the stunning venue. We came back for dinner and another early night.

Wednesday 10th May

This morning the girls and Sam left at 5.30am, which I found hilarious as I lay in bed and murmoured something like 'goodbye'. I contemplated life without discussions of bikini lines, calories and nail varnish and grinned like a Cheshire cat all morning. Speaking of which, I phoned up Cat (from Norwich, not Cheshire) as I knew she was nearby Sydney and by mid-morning I had met up with her, Matt Smith and his friend from home, Baz. We done a bit of shopping and then had a nice long walk to the fish market, where we had the world's biggest portion of fish and chips (three pieces of hake, loads of chips and calamari as well)! We waddled into town and Cat went shopping for something girlie, so Matt, Baz and I went to the pub, which was called 'Cheers'. I loved the novelty value of this and played pool and had a few beers until Cat found the place. They went off to catch their bus (which was going to Newcastle) and I walked back to the hostel, very slowly, watching the street entertainers and then getting completely lost in the botanical gardens when it was getting pretty dark.

Thursday 11th May

This morning I got picked up by my Dad's cousin, Paul, who has lived in Sydney for most of his life. I was looking forward to meeting everyone, including his wife Jo, son Geoffrey and daughter Vanessa because I hadn't met most of them and I was too young to remember their last visit to the UK when I was around. It was even more exciting to meet the extended family, consisting of Paul's brother Barry and his wife, Liz and my Granda's brother Bob and his wife, Jean who were coincidentally visiting at the same time! I arrived at Paul's house and met Bob, before the ladies came in from their drive and finally Barry arrived from a long walk. I spent the rest of the day catching up on the family gossip and spent a lot of time doing not a lot! In the evening we had a huge BBQ for a proper Mason family reunion and Geoffrey arrived from work with his girlfriend Nat, which was great.

Friday 12th May

This morning we all went out to Sansusie after breakfast and had fish and chips for lunch at St. Georges club, as well as chocolate cake. It was a really pleasant day - a far cry from the spontaneity and inefficiencies of backpacking. We came back, chilled out and had dinner, and Vanessa arrived with boyfriend Daniel. Barry, Paul, Daniel, Vanessa and I went out to their local pub in the evening, which provided ample entertainment for a Friday night! We all had a good laugh and I met Daniel and Vanessa's friends, who were great fun as well.

Saturday 13th May

This morning was all systems go as Barry, Liz, Bob and Jean were all leaving Australia and heading back home to sunny old England. We had breakfast and ensured everything was packed before having a few farewell drinks and waving them off at the airport. In the afternoon, Paul and Jo didn't know what to do with themselves after a month of guests, so Paul and I chilled out and watched a DVD. In the evening, Geoffrey and I stayed up to watch the FA Cup final (I had earlier learned to my horror that he was a Liverpool fan) and therefore needless to say, he was delighted with the end result, as I went to bed at 3am after the longest FA Cup in history!

Sunday 14th May

After a very late start to the day, I left Paul and Jo to a much deserved 'day off' and headed into the city to watch a Rugby League game at the Telstra stadium (the main Olympic stadium for the 2000 Olympics). The whole area around the stadium was purpose-built for the Olympics and I couldn't help but think that this was what London was going to look like by 2012. I went to watch the Bulldogs v. Eels (their proper names were the Mitsibushi Electric Bulldogs and the Parramatta Eels, which made me think of small robotic bulldogs, but then was just glad that Mitsubishi hadn't taken over the eels...). The game itself was great. I was in Bulldogs section and therefore supported them or be beaten to a pulp, so I gamely cheered when necessary and booed when appropriate to do so. Only 13,000 people turned up, which was small for the 80,000 capacity stadium, but the atmosphere was still brilliant. The dogs won 22-18 after a nail-biting finale and I had a great time. The whole sporting theme in Australia is so cheesy and very American. After each try for the Bulldogs, the music 'Who let the dog's out?!' was blasted through the speakers to the 13,000 euphoric fans and a hysterical Pommie. It was a great day and I got the train back to Paul and Jo's and had a delicious Chilli con carne with them before retiring to bed.

Monday 15th May

This morning we had went to Cranulla, wich is a seaside resort usually visited by the locals. It has a beautiful seafront and lots of bars and restaurants nearby. We went to a great cafe and had some more excellent food, in true Aussie portions. We then continued the drive and looked at some of the most glamorous suburbs in Sydney and then continued the drive through national parks before heading back to base to chill out and watch a DVD, before the 'last supper' that evening.

Tuesday 16th May

Today I left the home comforts that I missed so dearly (warmth, good food and relaxation), thanking Paul and Jo and everyone else for their fantastic hospitality and brilliant daily excursions and headed into Sydney for a final look around. I casually walked around, saw the Harbour bridge, bid my farewells to the Opera House and walked throuh Hyde Park back to Central Statio where the bus picked us up for the night-time journey.

Wednesday 17th May

This morning I arrived in Melbourne, which was noticeably colder than Sydney and meandered my way through rush-hour foot traffic to the hostel recommended by Cat and Matt. Soon after checking in and taking full advantage of the free breakfast I ignored my body's cry for sleep and went investigating the city. I must have walked for miles and seemed confident of my whereabouts. The streets are very simple and well signposted, but I think the maps of Melbourne are actually of another city, because they do not correlate with Melbourne in any way whatsoever. Anywho, I got back and later went out to watch the highly publicised Mundine v. Green boxing fight, which invloved getting completely lost and ready for a fight myself. The Australian press had kindly advertised the bout at 5pm, but when I eventually found a bar with the fight on, I realised that the programme started at 5pm, and had 12 fights on that night, with the Mundine fight on last. I surrendered and went back to the hostel and relaxed, but stayed awake for the Champions League final, which was on at 4.45am! I stayed up to watch a very lucky Barcelona snatch the cup from Arsenal and then went for my free breakfast.

Thursday 18th May

Soon after scoffing my face with the breakfast, I checked out of the hostel and went to another hostel (one of the few productive things I achieved on my adventures yesterday), which was marginally cheaper and quite a lot nicer than the previous one. I had a rough idea where the new hostel was, so I went about looking for it, complete with my 200kg bag strapped to my back. After 15 minutes of walking the streets at 8am, I decided I was lost and made a few last-ditch guesses where the hostel was before I jumped in front of one of the trams. To my delight/anger I found the hostel, which was about a 100m walk from my previous hostel. I dried up my tears and checked into the new hostel, and declined the free breakfast for fear of exploding and went straight to bed. I slept until the afternoon and decided that I needed to do something pro-active. I settled on going to the Arts centre to see if they had any performances on and then went to ACMI (the Australian Centre for Moving Images)... get me! It was actually a collection of art work in the form of moving images (shock horror) created by, and for kids. Still it kept my simple brain ticking for a while and I left after my head started to hurt. On the way back to the hostel, I passed a bakery with loads of muffins, and I heard the woman in the shop say 'It's buy one get one free'. Needless to say I nearly tripped over myself getting in and got chatting to the staff, who were all from England. As I was leaving they offered me some more donuts/muffins/pastries free of charge as they were closing the shop. I gratefully accepted and walked down the street with bags of cakes, which drew a lot of attention from the fatties walking by. I deliberated scoffing my face all night, but instead donated them to the hostel guests (only after I couldn't physically look at a muffin again). I played pool with my donut-eating friends and watched TV for the rest of the evening.

Friday 19th May

This morning I woke up just in time for free breakfast (which finished daily at 9.30am), which was a great bonus and then went on another walkabout. After another mammoth walk I came to the conclusion that the more I walked, the more I got lost and vowed never to walk again. I eventually got back to my hostel and finally done something productive by falling asleep before I had dinner. I went to the previous hostel, where I had bought an AFL (Australian rules football) ticket and watched an introductory video of the sport, picking up the basics of the game. There were 50 of us, all going to the MCG to watch the game, so I was excited, not only because it was going to be a new sport to follow, but because of the history invloved with the MCG (it was the first stadium to host the Ashes). The game was between the Melboune Demons and Hawthorn Hawks. We were advised to support the Demons and so we did. The atmosphere was great - the stadium was huge and such a fantastic arena for sport. The game kicked off and the crowd got behind both teams. I was sitting next to an Aussie called Mick, who explained the rules as it happened. Surprisingly, there are very few rules and they are pretty straight forward. Melbourne dominated throughout and the final score was Hawks 61, Demons 136. This was a huge scoreline as anything above 100 is deemed 'high'. We were sitting behind the posts, so any goal scored was easy to see and we were cheering like mad. There were just under 43,000 spectators there, of a possible 95,000, but it was still a great occasion and I would love to see another game.

Saturday 20th May

The day started with the familiar sprint downstairs for breakfast and the subsequent celebration of making it in the knick of time. I went back to bed and woke up at lunch, which was much more reasonable. I then went to the pick-up point for one of the highlights of my time in Melbourne... the Neighbours tour! There was a mini-bus full of people eagerly awaiting the visit to Ramsay Street and as soon as the wheels on the bus went around, the theme music was pumping out of the stereo. I soon realised this was on a continuous loop, so five minutes later I found myself moving back-and-forth rythmically, sucking my thumb, waiting for the silence. It arrived later than expected when we stopped by to basically stock up on Neighbours memorabilia. We then drove to Ramsay Street and took loads of photo's outside random people's houses and caused a general nuisance before moving on to Erinsborough High (the school featured in Neighbours) and took some more photo's there - careful not to get any kids in the background as I feared the police may be called. We then went back home, whilst watching classic episodes of the show on DVD. The whole tour was very cheesy, but a good laugh and I would recommend it to others who haven't got a life and need a 'hit' of nostalgia after 3 months of travelling! I came back to the hostel and then went out again, having a great meal before going to the Art Centre for the evening performance of Gilbert and Sullivan's 'The Gondoliers'. After forking out a fair bit for the ticket, I was relieved to have a great seat in a very grand theatre. The opera lasted almost three hours, and it was spectacular. I thoroughly enjoyed it and would recommend it to people with lives! After such a busy day, combining the cheese of Neighbours and the wine of the opera I skipped back to the hostel with glee after a great day in Melbourne.

Sunday 21st May

After yesterday's dramatic day, I continued the culture fest by heading to the Australian Open Tennis arena. I had a tour around the courts, the seating areas, press rooms, and trophy cabinets, which was a worthwhile experience, before heading to the smaller courts to watch some of the youngsters play tennis. The Australian's have the right idea - Tennis is far more accessible to kids over there than in England, which is why English tennis has been supported by the likes of 'Tiger Tim' and 'Gormless Greg' for the past ten years. Court hire at this great arena was only $25 an hour (10 quid). The talent was great as well - definitely stars of the future. I got chatting to one guy who brought his son once a week, and the 11-year-old was unbelievable (he'd hammer Tiger any day). After the tennis, I got the tram to Albert park, which is used as the Australian Formula 1 track each year. The track is used as a public road throughout the year, so I walked around the perimeter and saw the pit lanes. It was a nice long walk, full of joggers and rowers. There were sports arenas all over and I was half-tempted to stay and watch a football game, but decided enough of sport! I headed back to the hostel and had dinner watching a DVD before going to bed.

alexandraglennon83 says:
What, no Neighbours spoilers for us?!! That's all I was waiting for :-)xxx
Posted on: May 10, 2006
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Katy and I enjoying the wonderful …
Katy and I enjoying the wonderful…
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Our yacht awaits...
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Part of the stunning 70-mile beach…
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The huge Sydney harbour bridge
The huge Sydney harbour bridge
Sydney Opera House
Sydney Opera House
The Opera house at sunset
The Opera house at sunset
Sunset over the Harbour Bridge
Sunset over the Harbour Bridge
Darling Harbour, Sydney
Darling Harbour, Sydney
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Catching up with Cat, Matt and Ba…
The Masons in Oz
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Loving the AFL game at the MCG
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In the hot seat - the press room …
The Rod Laver Arena
The Rod Laver Arena
Albert Park, home of the Australia…
Albert Park, home of the Australi…
The Melborune skyline
The Melborune skyline
photo by: Mezmerized