Triumphant ending to Cambrian Way, Colwyn Bay Castle
Triumphant ending to Cambrian Way, Colwyn Bay Castle
  • Australia
    • 27/04/2012
No point going to bed with a 1am flight out of Samoa, and then a 7am flight out of Auckland to get to Sydney. I did get two different free breakfasts though.

On the flight over from NZ i was sat next a race horse trainer who was coming over to bid on some new thoroughbreds in the Easter auction.
He then told me about how they constantly fly horses back and forth between Australia and NZ, and how he once flew to South Korea on a 747 jumbo transport plane with over 100 horses.
It never would have crossed my mind that there are all these horses at 30,000 feet every day.

The hostel i stayed at in Sydney was near the station in an area almost exclusively made up of hostels and travellers. But here most people seemed to be on working visas, and live in the hostels on a long term basis.
Nearby was the inevitable china town, and then the downtown was just full of tourists. I'm sure some ozzies live there somewhere though.

so my first concern in australia was actually to get a visa for America.
Thus i was printing off bank statements, qualifications, contracts, photos etc to support my application
it was a nerve wracking wait at the consulate on the day, since you could overhear all the other interviews during a 2 hour wait, and a lot of people were rejected
for either not demonstrating sufficient ties to Australia (despite having lived there for 5 years in some cases) or for benign convictions 15 years ago for drunk and disorderly or possession.
So i was a bit surprised when my own interview was all of short, sweet, and approved.

Sightseeing in Sydney, the city has its obvious landmarks which i dutifully walked around, and across, adding another famous bridge to my resume. It also has a nice layout and architecture.
The Botanical gardens were a nice surprise, full of parrots and bats, and some birds with big curly beaks. And there are some good free art galleries also, particularly with comtemporary art, which i was sceptical about going in.
Yes, some of it was bizarre, skill-less? crap with long explanations of how it represented some juxtaposed emotions or whatever. I guess the craft in that is convincing the viewer that their "work" is art
But a lot of it was excellent, more contemporary styles than "modern art" persay.
One exhibit was a realtime 24 hour film called The Clock, which consisted of lots of movie clips in which clocks featured displaying the current time, or the time was mentioned by actors. It was edited to be more engrossing and comical than the premise might sound
Some ozzies i talked to at an 'all you can eat pizza for $10' night recommended visiting Cockatoo Island in the bay, and it was worth a visit - a former jail, then dockyards, and now used as exhibition space, it was an interesting mix of old industrial and street art. There was a sense of silenced activity with all these huge cranes and sheds standing empty, and the empty ruins of the jailhouse up on a cliff.
Having a taste for street art i took a walk to Newtown and Darlington! to check out some notoriously graffitied streets, which was nice.

To get out of the city i took the very cheap train up to the Blue Mountains, staying at ????? to see the Three Sisters, some pointy pillars of rock petruding from a deep valley.
The viewpoints along the valley cliff top were swarming with Asian tourists and buses, but hiking down into the valley it was immediately tranquil and i then met only a few locals and europeans.
To get up out of the valley i took a ride on what claims to be the steepest incline railway in the world. It certainly was steep. The cars were designed so you were cushioned when you inevitably fell out of your seat.
The hostel had some guitars and bongos laying around, but a large sign ordered "please play, but NO WONDERWALL"

People kept telling me Australia is expensive. Everything is expensive.
Well, this is definitely at least half true. Beer is unbeliveable. $10 a pint is normal. Even in the bottle shops $5 a bottle is pretty average. However wine is also $5 a bottle. some disparity but an easy solution, just drink wine.
Food, well, eating out is not cheap, even a takeaway. And the little pies that were the saviour in NZ are also $5 rather than $2.
In the supermarket though, prices are very normal and comparable to back home. I can only guess that this huge disparity is due to the miniumum wage for bar staff and shop assistants etc being about $20 an hour.
Yes, everything is relative to the higher salaries over here. So having any job and living in a hostel you could bank a fortune.

Anyway, then i took the train down to Melbourne to stay with Jamie and Nicci, who emigrated from the UK in October. I used to work with Jamie at Boots.
Melbourne is another very nice city, with the added benefits of having the Australian Open and the Grand Prix, but minus the famous beaches.
It has a fantastic public transport network of trams and trains, and also famous for its street art, graffiti and murals. Aside from that its not remarkable for anything in particular, apart from getting rich from the gold rush.
Whilst enjoying some great hospitality here i;ve been to the comedy festival, an AFL game at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), the biggest stadium i've been to (100,000 seats), and rugby league.
Most significantly i made the pilgrimage every fan of the TV soap Neighbours dreams of to Ramsey Street, and then to the outdoor sets at the studio, including Harold's Store, Grease Monkeys etc.
Even though Ramsey Street is just an average residential street, it felt so familiar being there and seeing all those famous houses. (it's a real street "Pin Oak Court" with real people living in it, they rope it off 3 days a week for filming)


I rented a car (turned out to be a bright red nissan micra. Nooooo!) for three days to drive down the Great Ocean Road, an entertaining piece of rolling, twisting tarmac along the, er, coast to the west of Melbourne.
The weather was unhelpful, being largely grey, windy and raining, but it made the see more interesting to look at i guess. I also saw wild koalas, clutching their trees as they slept, and some wallabies bouncing off into the woods.
The whole are has annoying strict "no sleeping in vehicles" rules which meant finding campgrounds to park in. There are some free ones but the first one i tried was closed for "controlled burning".
The coast is sandstone or something equally erodable, resulting in some famous outcrops, arches and towers standing in the ocean, including the "12 apostles" and "London Bridge" (which ironically fell down a few years ago)
On the way back to the city i popped into a creamery for some free chedder tasting and then detoured via a cattle station in Wensleydale. Melbourne is also another place with a prominent Richmond.

japanese meal where chef cooks on hot plate in front of you, throws stuff around, including throwing omlette in your mouth and bowls of rice at you.
very entertaining and range of tasty stuff. didn't enjoy scallop. ate fried prawn shell/legs, which tasted nice but could feel all the legs in your mouth, errrp
  • New photos uploaded
    • 27/04/2012
koalasignramseysistersharbour
  • plans
    • 11/04/2012
today i went to the US consulate in Sydney, and blimey if they didn't go and give me another visa! So it's back to summer camp in New Hampshire.

So the plan is:
Get home at the start of June, have a couple of weeks saying hello and sorting myself out.
Fly off to America for camp, and travel to Florida and the south till mid September
Spend Sept/Oct hiking and cycling around the UK.
the english winter? not sure, maybe a ski season, australia working visa, or temp work to save for next trip (south america or asia where it's nice and inexpensive)

in the meanwhile i've got a couple more weeks in Australia and then 5 weeks in Asia.
  • long time no blog
    • 09/04/2012
Ok I've been blogging offline for the last month, sorry. But internet isn't everywhere in Fiji and Samoa and I didn't miss it. Why would you want to spend time on a computer when you've got beaches and kava? And news is always bad, including the football results.

I'm now in Sydney, spending the day walking around the big tourist landmarks, and now finally a brew pub. Unfortunately the beer cost £6 a pint here so I won't be getting drunk (fiji was less than £1 a pint sigh)

Visa interview (for going back to USA summer camp) is on Wednesday. Crossing fingers, toes etc.


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