Soooo, it's been a while since we told you that we were going to travel to Melbourne via the infamous Great Ocean Road - in a HUGE campervan -
so without further ado here's our tale of the journey to and our stay in Melbourne.
We arrived at the rental place and were immediately taken aback by just how big this campervan was. We were scared. Then we were told that this was in fact the 'small' one - ours was round the back. It was roughly the size of a truck. Carrying a house. EEK - watch out roadusers, or should that be low bridges? But not to be put off, and armed with a map, power steering and a new mix CD we began our 2 day road trip. It was all good, until we tried to park at a petrol station, forgetting the height of the truck. Oops. Luckily we saw it quick enough and no damage but we learnt our lesson.
Enough about our ineptitude anyhow, the Great Ocean Road is just as gorgeous as the name suggests. After every corner there is something amazing to stop and see. The main attraction is the Twelve Apostles (although there are only about 8 now as the others fell into the sea). They are beautiful coastal stacks, and as usual the photos don't do the trip justice, but we've done all we could, so have a gawk in their own separate photo album and see the collosal vehicle that we had to drive!
And so we finally arrived in Melbourne, Australia's capital of sport, culture and home of Neighbours! We decided to indulge in these aspects
and so started our stay with a trip to the Australian Open. We picked a beautiful day and had our little picnic sorted (although no strawberries and pimms :0( ) so we were all set for a day of tennis. That is until play was delayed - because of the HEAT! Weird but definitely justified. Absolutely nothing like Wimbledon. We worked our charms though and managed to wrangle our way into the air conditioned show courts. We got to see Andy Murray in action and saw Andy Roddick warming up topless (check the pics). All in all a very fun if heat exhausting day.
The common thread of our trips has been football, so went to see Melbourne in their bid to win the league. It was a big surprise to see how popular it was here considering it is new, the 56,000 stadium was full and there were no song sheets. The team didn't dissapoint with a very close, frustrating and exciting semi-final win over rivals Adelaide to host the final against, um well Adelaide (yes that is correct - it is a very funny system here). The final was so huge a deal that we couldn't get tickets (Gem was distraught) but we found a pub frequented by fans and had a whale of a time as Melbourne won 6-0 with a guy called Archie Thomson getting 5 of them! The city went mad, even though no-one had been to a match before about a fortnight earlier, tho no open topped bus which was a bit of a shame! (If you're reading Felicity, we were on Adeleaide's side the whole time, honest).
Despite ourselves and the clear air of failure around the England cricket team, we decided to watch them in the one day finals against Australia. Except that, actually they didn't totally fall apart. In fact, Collingwood practically single-handedly took apart Australia meaning that we witnessed England winning against Australia - in Australia. Yay upon yay.
It may seem that watching sport is all there is to Melbourne, but the city in general is a cool place to spend some time. It's a small but pretty place with a lot of cool bars hidden away in what are known as 'The Lanes' (That's alleys to you and me). It was great fun finding these hidden gems. Jamie Oliver has a 15 restaurant hidden in the city, so for Gem's birthday we treated ourselves to a luscious lunch. Yummy. Our favourite place was definitely where we stayed, Chapel Street. It's a lively and trendy place, but laid back. Check the pictures out for the cityscpe and Federation Square (the centre of Melbourne where we celebrated Australia Day and watched the Aussie Open final).
Clearly the most important thing in Melbourne if not the whole of Australia is Neighbours. We had seen Boyd at the end of our road, but it wasn't enough. We needed to make the pilgrimage to Erinsborough High, Ramsay Street and to touch Karl Kennedy. So we did just that. Ha ha! Look at the pics, he was just there, he was so cool, he even left an answer message for Katy!
You'd think that we would be satisfied with this, but we weren't - we were hungry for more. Luckily there was more to be had in the form of a Neighbours trivia night with 3 stars from the show AND Karl Kennedy's band. We nearly burst with excitement but kept it together well enough to greet Steph, Fraser and the legend that is Harold Bishop. Being away from the UK we hadn't seen Soapstar Superstar, but were happily surprised by Karl Kennedy's band. They were good and did good covers of tunes, as well as give an energetic performance. Finally our Neighbours appetite was sated.
With Melbourne truly experienced,we decided to go a bit off the tourist track with a trip to Traralgan (3hrs outside Melbourne), where Felicity's mum and brother live. It was good to see some familiar faces again. It was even better when we were taken panning for gold! We had visions of finding a huge nugget to fund the rest of our trip in luxury, so, under the guidance of expert Lorraine, we went panning. We panned and panned, having great fun as people watched on in excitement. Then, oh yes, there in the bottom of the pan was a shimmer of that magical stuff. Alas, it was mere powder and of virtually no value but it was fun as the pics show.
Hope the update isn't too long for you all, we just spent so much time there. We haven't even told you about our seriously deranged housemates
- although that is probably best. Anyhow, after 6 weeks and a bit of work behind us we set off for the bright lights of Sydney, via the hopefully less challenging transport of bus this time.....
Also don't forget there's separate albums for the Great Ocean Road and Melbourne! You lucky things! ;)