G’day Mate! We are in Australia again, heading south. Greg and Alexis returned to Oz from a wonderful month back in the UK caught up in meeting up with family, friends and wishing our friends and family into a happy marital bliss. Adriano flew to China on his way back from the UK and spent a week catching up with our Chinese friends, before returning to Sydney.
Sydney – Kioloa – Lakes Entrance - Melbourne!
23rd June 2005 - 24th July 2005
Alexis and Greg arrived in Sydney a week earlier than Adriano and spent a fantastic week being shown around Sydney by Jenny and Jim Greneger, Alexis’s second cousin who had lovingly looked after the Beast for the month. Sydney is very much a waterbased city. There is a myriad of waterways weaving between the suburbs, creating a shimmering city. You can even catch a ferry to work. The centre of Sydney is a series of glittering, towering buildings crammed full of financial and foreign institutions. There are classy surf and turf restaurants lining the available waterways competing with the expensive houses and jetties, all sporting the compulsory boat. There was the obligatory visit to the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge as well as Darling Harbour. Jenny and Jim showed Alexis and Greg the eastern and northern beaches. The eastern beaches wash up to the smaller than imagined Bondi beach, which stretches down in the direction of Botany Bay where Captain Cook and the First Fleet landed. The northern beaches are full of expensive mansions that start at prices of #500,000 for 1 bedroom beach fronted houses. We stopped off at Palm Beach, the orange sand beach with waves crashing onto the shore, to see where Home and Away is filmed.
We needed to ensure that the Beast was legal to drive the 1200km south so we visited the motor vehicle registry test centre believing that the Beast would pass with flying colours and enable us to drive down through the state of New South Wales to Victoria unhindered. Irritatingly the Beast failed because in New South Wales it is illegal to have a hook at the front of your vehicle – it is the only state in Australia that this is illegal but it meant that we failed, AGAIN! So a visit to the MVR office to confirm that we could obtain a temporary pass, as in all the other states, was met with annoyance and irritation as we were refused a pass. So we were told to our amazement that we would have to just drive illegally to Victoria.
Adriano has stayed in Sydney to work as a tour guide for Japanese visitors and also to complete his Masters in Linguistics whilst Alexis and Greg bid a sad goodbye to Jenny, Jim, Georgia and Rosie and continued south, with slight trepidation to Melbourne. Adriano is presently residing near to the university in a hotel apartment, busily writing up his dissertation!!
On the recommendation of Jenny and Jim, we stopped off in Kioloa at the caravan site Merry Beach. We pulled up to our site, overlooking the beach, the crashing sea and some crumbling orange cliffs and were instantly surrounded by large grey kangaroos begging for bread. Our evening dinner, cooked under the stars, was shared with three ring tailed possums that came up and pestered us for food. Alexis’s over exuberance to feed the kangaroos the following morning on the beach almost ended up in her being boxed by a rather large ‘roo who was convinced that there was more bread to be eaten. A quick escape up the hill to some nearby campers was welcomed by a story of two intelligent kangaroos that were chased by some vicious dogs. The dogs chased them into a lake, the kangaroos bounced out of the lake and turned on the dogs that had followed them in and were swimming back to the shore, in order to hold the dogs heads under water and drown them. The moral of the story – always give the ‘roos their food, you don’t want to piss them off!
We progressed on down the Princess Highway passing through towns with names like Ulladulla, Meribula and Lakes Entrance, driving through cheese areas, wine regions and olive growing zones. We had one more puncture and a slight run in with the police before we crossed over the border into Victoria state. We were driving along the road when a traffic police car spotted us and pulled a U-turn. We panicked and pulled off the road, the police car followed us. Luckily when they found us we were not in the vehicle, so we sat and waited until they left. They pulled off around the corner and sat waiting for us to return to the Beast, we spotted them and waited a bit longer. There may have been a slight paranoia on our part, but we didn’t want to take the chance. We just needed to cross the border into our safe state!
We arrived into the treelined grid system of Melbourne to be kindly put up by Al Draffan and Sarah Wilson, Alexis and Greg’ ex flatmates in the UK. A preliminary tour around Melbourne presented the beautiful beachfront, the wonderful street cafes and the Grand Prix circuit which you can drive around, albeit at a stately 40kph as well as the stunning architecture. They have now found a flat in the heart of St Kilda, the red light district, haute cuisine and the Jewish community (the Bagel Belt as it is known locally), where they will be residing for the next 6 months or so. If anyone is passing that way they are more than welcome pop in and visit the delights of Melbourne. We will also have the Beast legal and on the road!
Notes about Australia:
- The capital of Australia is Canberra.
- The Australians national animals are the Kangaroo and the Emu, which are two animals that cannot go backwards, the motto of Australian society – go forwards not backwards.
- Sydney has a population of 4.2 million in comparison to Melbourne which has a population of 3.5 million. Canberra, the capital, has a population of 300,000.
- Both Sydney and Melbourne have had a historical battle to become the capital of Australia. Canberra was created back in the early 1900s to stop the arguments!
- Sydney is mainly constructed from clapper board wood covered houses whereas Melbourne has pretty brick victorian buildings with ironwork adorning the roofline.
- Home and Away is filmed in Sydney. Neighbours is filmed in Melbourne. On a Thursday, if you are truly desperate, you can meet the cast of Neighbours at an English pub in St Kilda.
- Captain Cook’s house was translocated to a Melbourne park in 1934, brick by brick from his Yorkshire village.
- In Victoria state it is a legal requirement that you register your pet every year.
- Australian pedestrian crossings beep at you when you have to cross the road.
- Melbourne has the oldest Chinatown in the world outside of china.
- Australia had in place from 1919 until 1973 the White Australia Policy which prevented any persons other than white applicants from becoming Australian citizens. This was brought in when there was a rebellion against the Chinese who seemed to be finding too much gold in the goldfields in the goldrush of 1850s. The government responded by restricting Chinese immigration.
- In the centre of Melbourne if you want to turn right on a road that trams run, you must pull into the left lane and stop in the middle of the road, otherwise known as the hook junction. You must then wait for the traffic lights to change to green in the direction of your turn and you are the first to go.
- The Great Ocean Road that runs along the coast from Melbourne to Adelaide is considered one of the things you have to see before you die, ranked up there with the Pyramids and the Taj Mahal.
- There are more holocaust survivors in Melbourne than anywhere else in the world.
- Australians are addicts of coffee. If you ask for a coffee in a cafe you will be presented with an array of over 10 different kinds of this caffeine based beverage, many with 2 or 3 shots of expresso.
- Australian petrol prices vary daily. Depending on where you live in Australia, for example, the petrol prices may start at $1.13 at the beginning of the week and drop to $1.03 or the other way around.
- It is compulsory to vote in Australia. If you don’t vote you can be fined or imprisoned. Valid excuses for not voting include you are homeless, you cannot attend a polling place on polling day or you are working in Antarctica.