Canberra and Melbourne!

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March 21st 2008
Published: March 24th 2008
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The time has come for an update from Melbourne as I have been here a total of 7 weeks now, double the intended time but as I've learnt travelling plans just cannot be made when you are backpacking a country.

As a follow on from my last entry I finally got a diagnosis from test results as to why I had been ill for so long......I had salmonella food poisoning from Fiji and as it had been so long it had been multiplying in my bowel - that explains why I felt so rotten. The Doctor prescribed me with very strong antibiotics which I had to stay out of the sunlight whilst I was on and made me feel ill but it cleared it up and I can almost eat everything again.

Going way back to early February, I stopped of in Canberra en-route to Melbourne. I was there during the International Food and Music Festival which wasn't the best place when you can't eat a thing! I did watch a aboriginal dance troup dressed in traditional aboriginal dress tribal dancing to dance tracks. Very cool! I also managed to get the bus down to the Australian War Memorial for a few hours which was a touching place with an eternal flame and lots of remembrance poppies.

Flew to Melbourne and out to St Kilda where my nice new hostel was, felt rotten so ended up at the Drs again and my recovery period basically covers my first 3 weeks of Melbourne. During this time I met a nice group of girls in the hostel who looked after me and even cooked Catherine / salmonella friendly food for me on a few occassions. I went with the girls to the Moonlight Cinema at Botanical Gardens one night to watch a chick flick and have a picnic - was a really nice night with bats flying past the big screen.

I have been to two free Neighbours nights now at a pub in town. They consist of a big quiz then meeting the 'stars'. The highlights were of course meeting Toady (fish) and then meeting Harold Bishop. The first night was really quiet and low key and they got to spend a while sat chatting to us. The second was madness as Harold was there but he came to chat to us and was worringly a little creepy
Parliament Buildings in the backgroundParliament Buildings in the backgroundParliament Buildings in the background

Feeling like death warmed up this day!
but was good fun.

Later that week Sarah (Leeds) and I went on a day trip to the Philip Island Penguin Parade. First stop was Gurdy winery which was in full bloom unlike my twiggy visit to Hunter wine valley back last year with Sonia. Only problem is I couldn't drink at this point but still fun. We then went to a wildlife park where we saw koalas, a wombat and kangaroos including an albino kangaroo! I came face to face with a huge one as big as me who wanted some food and scared me half to death. We then went to 'The Nobbies' and 'Seal Rock'. The seals were too far away to see with the naked eye but Sarah and I were intent on spotting some of the world's smallest penguins as we'd been pre-warned that we couldn't take any pictures at the parade as we may disorientate the penguins. We spotted a few hidden away under the boardwalk (as very windy and cold) then saw a dozen or so under the boardwalk. We ended up lying on our front on the boardwalks hanging upside down to take photos. After dinner we were took to the Penguin Parade where we upgraded to Penguins Plus which is an exclusive boardwalk and sat and waited until one brave penguin decides to come out of the water and make a dash up the beach towards their nest. Once one makes the dash the rest follow and go single file in a long line in different directions (generally straight past the tourists or up a hill). They stop periodically to preen themselves and eachother and when they do they all stop. They walked all the way down the boardwalk and almost into the Visitor Centre-so cute. A really good day out.

During the next week I lined up a new PA job for 4 weeks, met Melbourne Pete from Melbourne and ate out with Lauren. Pete and I went on a day trip intending to drive to the Dandenongs Valley but ended up in Yarra Valley which was just as pretty so no problem. We drove through all the little districts with a guided tour from Pete the local as we went. We stopped and went to Hedgend Maze in Healesville where we went around a huge 6 foot hedge maze complete with treasure hunt clues which was good
Moonlight CinemaMoonlight CinemaMoonlight Cinema

Cinema after sunset, Melbourne Botanical Gardens
enough to actually get lost in! There was also crazy golf (which I was terrible in), rainbow maze and frisbee golf (which I was more than terrible at!). Yarra ranges are really pretty and typical Ozzy green!

Just a couple of days after Nicola (met her in Perth, Sydney and Tasmania) and her brother Gary came to pick me up and take me on our fantastic road trip of the Great Ocean Road. Woke up to grey skies which wasn't very promising but the weather kept getting better and better at every stop. After a short stop in Torquay, home of Ripcurl brand, we went to Bells Beach where the surf and surfers were pretty impressive. Next stop was Split Point Lighthouse which is the lighthouse from the kids shows, "Round the Twist". We then drove onto a few pretty lookouts including the site of the WB Godfrey Shipwreck where we could see parts of the wreck due to low tide. When we continued driving the ocean road, Gary spotted something on a rocky beach. On further investigation we saw it was a big seal lying by himself which caused a great debate as to whether he was sunbathing
Neighbours Night 1Neighbours Night 1Neighbours Night 1

Sarah, Lauren and I with a group of girls from the hostel waiting to meet Toady, Lyn Scully and Ringo.
or waiting to die :-S.

The highlight of the road trip followed when we stopped off for a helicopter ride over the "12 Apostles" - famous limestone formations in the sea. Interestingly there were only ever 9 in total and the 9th tumbled some years ago. I got to sit in the front of the helicopter as I was so excited about my first helicopter ride. The ride and views were AMAZING! The sun was dusky and we got a commentary on everything we saw. Our 10 minute ride passed all too quickly and we were back to catch sunset at the Apostles - again, WOW!

After a nights rest at a hostel in Appollo Bay we got an early start and looked at more limestone formations; Bay of Islands and Bay of Martyrs. Both great views and low clouds gave an amazing effect. We saw London Bridge which appropriately fell down in the middle in the 1990s. Stopped at Loch Ard Gorge and Blowhole before we were all 'rocked out'. Got back after a great, tiring couple of days and ended up back out with the hostel as it was celebrating its 2nd Birthday so there was live entertainment, food and drink so ended up persuading a few hostel pals not to go for a paddle at 4am. I was unsuccessful so took photos of them doing so instead!

Melbourne is good for its festivals and Lauren (New York) and I caught the Moomba Water Festival which was hosting an international jet ski-ing competition with some pretty impressive jumps. That night was the night I met Harold Bishop! The following week was work so lots of formatting documents and editing (working for a company building the new Melbourne Convention Centre so helping edit the mass of documents - policy and procedure manuals, handover documents etc - that are required before the end of the month). The weekend consisted of a night out, the beach and then, the highlight of the week - the F1 Grand Prix!

The first point I must make out about the Grand Prix is that is was a SCORCHER! 40c all day! A group of us all walked to the Grand Prix (around the corner from the hostel) and took obligatory tourist photos then Louise (Ireland), Lauren and I attempted the F1 car simulator. We were rubbish! Very fun but spent half the time with the car rolling upside down. After taking photos and trying to stay cool we went to get seats. As it was far too hot to camp out for the day we got there just before it started and couldn't get onto a bend so sat 10 metres or so from the track and watched a straight strip from under a sarong over the 3 of us and our earplugs as it was sooooo loud. I took about 30 pictures to capture about 8 with cars actually in them as they were also sooooo fast. Sian was texting me with all the action so we decided to move and sit under big sun umbrellas and watch the big screen. Lewis Hamilton won for England and we walked the track after the race had finished and saw the casualty cars being towed away and thick rubber tyre tracks where a few cars had crashed off the road which were so thick. The second part of the day was a free KISS concert (old 80's rockers with black and white face make up for those of you who don't know who I'm talking about!). We didn't know any of their songs until the encore where we had a classic moment where we all turned to eachother and started singing to eachother. Firework finale before heading back to the hostel covered in dark and ready for a good nights sleep but pleased to have an amazing day.

The next day was Paddys Day which was a must to celebrate with some of my irish friends. I met the girls after work and we wore our green tops and borrowed shamrock hats.

I had outstayed my 2 week maximum stay at my hostel at St Kilda so moved last week to a hostel opposite work which will save me a 2 hour daily commute on the trams and a weekly tram ticket. Unfortunately it is one of the poorer quality hostels so I will be on the move again on Wednesday. It brings me closer to my friends flats and I have been enjoying my weekly dinner at their flat. This month is Internation Comedy Festival in Melbourne and last night Danny, Ollie (both UK) and I went to a see a show in town. Unfortunately it was cringe worthingly bad so I hope the next shows improve. Nothing worse than an unfunny comedian!

I have just got back from an Australian Football League game between Sydney Swans vs St Kilda Saints. My loyalites were torn as I have lived in both towns but when I noticed the 3/4 versus 1/4 of the stadium were backing the Saints I decided to back them and they just won. Very strange rules and a lot more like rugby than football but great atmosphere again and my second sporting event in a week.

My plans from here are another 2 weeks working for the company I am with now and a relocation to a hopefully nicer hostel in the city centre. If I can I will work elsewhere for another 2 weeks and then spend a week in Adelaide and then funds permitting hit New Zealand for a month before returning to the UK. Of course plans can change but I will keep you all updated.

p.s The new promotional video for Fraser Island has been released - this was one of my first stops in July 07 last year. You may recognise someone from their main promotional video and testimonal.....

Promo video -

Testimonial -

Last but certainly not least I'd like to dedicate a few words to the very sad news that I received last week that my Nan had passed away. As fun packed as these past few months have been they have really tested my strength. I have decided to stick out my final two months and will be thinking of everyone at home even more so than usual in the months leading to my return. It can be so hard at times being away from my family, certainly in times of sad news and illness, both for myself and not being there to support the ones I love but you are in my thoughts and I will be paying my respects in spirit on the day of the funeral. Love to you all xxxx

Additional photos below
Photos: 59, Displayed: 30


More penguins!More penguins!
More penguins!

Smallest penguins in the world!
The Road Trip CrewThe Road Trip Crew
The Road Trip Crew

Nicola, Gary and I
Have you ever, ever felt like this?Have you ever, ever felt like this?
Have you ever, ever felt like this?

Had strange things happen, are you going round the twist? Split End Lighthouse

24th March 2008

Wow Dad is Jealous
Great Blog really missed them, with you being so poorly, glad you are fit and well now, it was quite a worrying time. Photos look stunning, just makes us all the more determined to visit these places when we retire. Your Dad was very jealous of you at the Grand Prix, glad you enjoyed the day. Speak in the week Love you loads xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
25th March 2008

Glad you are well again and having fun
Hi Catherine, Glad you are feeling up to scratch again, the penguins and kangaroos and midnight movies sound like such fun, and I laughed when you said Harold Bishop is a bit creepy, I can imagine that! Wow, I cant believe your time to come home is fast approaching, it has flown past. Sorry to hear your sad news, but I bet your nan was really proud of you, and wouldve been happy you stuck it out there. Take care J x
28th March 2008

Love the beautiful pictures Cat, you look like you are having a fantastic time. Lol re: Harold Bishop!! Keep well and enjoy, love Sarah xox
30th March 2008

ur having a ball
my special niece catherine,well girl ur blogs over the months have been wonderful.really sorry your so far awayas your nan passed away,but shes at peace now and loved u very much.alex has motor neuron disease so please pray for usto keep his fighting spirit going as he becomes a grandad in sept.mark sends his regards pam and alex
1st April 2008

Sounds like your having a fantastic time.I'd have loved to have met Harold and TOadie, very novelty.I recognise the lighthouse from the kids prog 'Round the Twist', i remember watching that years ago as a kid. Miss you loads Love Jennie. xxx
2nd April 2008

Welcome Back Blog
Glad to hear you are finally starting to feel better. I am so sorry to hear your sad news, I bet your Nan is looking down on you and keeping an eye on your adventures down under. I love the photos! But I tell you that everytime! I can't believe its nearly time for you to come home. Time flies! Take Care Love George
2nd April 2008

Your better now
Hello Catherine,thanks again for the pics. you really do get around and now maybe New Zealand. I am glad you are better. It is not nice being away and being ill. I am sorry to hear your sad news I remember you showing me the wedding pictures of her. She will have been proud of your achievements. Best wishes CharlesX

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