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Published: October 22nd 2006
After discovering that we should have gone overland instead of flying to take in the scenery of the Great Ocean Road, we tried to book a trip to Tasmania in order to spend a week traveling the island. Unknown to us we were trying to book flights in the middle of the school holidays, so all the cheap flights were now expensive, and all the campervans were booked out to holidaying families. Our lack of forward planning was beginning to really bite us in the arse after further discovering that the Greyhound bus route would only take us to places that we might not make it out alive from. Despite this setback we spent a few days in Melbourne exploring the city, a place that manages to fit both trams and cars on the same very busy roads without causing absolute chaos. The capital of Victoria is noted for its changeability in weather conditions, and right from the off we were treated to several seasons in a single day and reminded us both that even though we may be on the other side of the world, we’re not that far away really. There’s plenty to do in Melbourne and during the
time we spent walking around the city we witnessed the state funeral of touring car champion Peter Brock who died only days after Steve Irwin, and also walked strait passed Jamie Oliver outside his new fifteen restaurant that was due to open that night. The temptation was high to shout ‘Pukka’ and ‘Hello big boy’ but with restraint both thought better of it, the result would only leave us looking like idiots anyway. Melbourne is famous not only for being the home of Ramsey Street but it is generally seen as the sporting capital of Australia. It is home to the Melbourne cup and Australian Grand Prix, as well as holding the Australian Open Tennis Championship at the Rod Laver Arena. The arena stands in the shadows of the stadium-come-church, the Melbourne Cricket ground. After watching many English defeats on television by the Aussie cricket team, it seemed only fitting to take a tour around. The Capacity of the ground touches around 100 thousand, and looking up from the centre of the pitch, its not difficult to imagine how intimidating it must be to face a Shane Warne ‘slider’ during an ashes test series.
Parting company with Melbourne we
took an overnight bus to the capital of Australia, Canberra. The city of Canberra was developed in order to create a central Parliament and stop the different states from fighting over their different interpretations of Australian law. The layout for the city was decided by a competition, and Walter Burley Griffin’s winning design was created at the turn of the century, and even with its circular theme, we found the place to be incredibly sterile. Our arrival was met with dilemmas based around our accommodation situation, as with our timing impeccable as it is, we managed to descend on this fake capital right in the middle of a festival. This meant all the cheap rooms were booked out and we were headed for a few more nights under canvas. Unlike home, enquiring with people about the weather situation turns out to be as reliable as an English opening batsman, as instead of a detailed isobar analysis, our hopeful enquiry led to a response of “well it NEVER rains around here”. We awoke at 5 in the morning to high winds and light rain that held steady for 2 days making exploration near impossible, the highlight of our time here was
being able to walk to the local supermarket and fill our boots with KFC. The third morning was baked in glorious sunshine so we decided we should move into town and take a day to see the sites. Still with no accommodation available we decided to cut our losses in Canberra, and book ourselves on the next bus to Sydney. During the six hour wait we did get the opportunity to take a bus ride out to parliament house and have a look at the ‘Tent Embassy’ the Aboriginal permanent protest towards their issues with the government.
Our stop over in Sydney was a brief encounter at one of its many famed grotty hostels, and we left the following morning for a few days by the beach in the old industrial town of Newcastle. Newcastle was once the hub of the engineering and steel work industry in these parts and the city in some part still bears the scars, but we found it to be a great little seaside town. Booked in for a few days at our hostel, we decided we’d like to spend the weekend also, and with luck firmly not on our side again, we found
ourselves with the possibility of having to sleep with the homeless. We were trying to book accommodation on their busiest weekend of the year, a national holiday and unofficial ‘first weekend of the summer’, we even tried the caravan park in an attempt to get a place to pitch our tent, but all our efforts were in vein, and it was looking like there was more chance of snow than us getting a place to stay. Luckily for us we had plans to stay with Dave’s relatives in the Blue Mountains, but not for another 5 days. With tails between our legs, and feeling a bit stupid after already changing our arrival date with them several times, a phone call was made to Emmy and Roy. Thankfully they said it would be fine to meet up with us early, although it was pointed out by Roy that their rates were double over the weekend, we were just thankful that we could stop collecting cardboard boxes, and would not be needing to sleep on any park benches just yet.
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