I woke up this morning, with the whole day planned out. I was going to do a half day of work, pack my stuff for leaving and then head out for a meal with Adele to say goodbye. I managed 2 out of 3, but when you're backpacking - plans change.
After cleaning myself up for the day ahead I headed up to the roof to do another half days work. As I had been working yesterday, things were fresh in my mind and I wanted to capitalise upon that with the free time I had before packing. Whilst sitting up there I got chatting to Mark, a guy I have talked to in passing in the hostel for a few days now.
Mark is a fellow brit from Manchester and like so many people I have met, travelled out here 6 months ago. As an aside, its interesting that so many people travel to Australia in June or July, but this is the cheapest time for tickets. He mentioned that he was going to go to a Twenty20 cricket game at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, and invited me along. I declined, having made plans with Adele and wanting to keep a low profile the night before I left Melbourne Metro.
I began work and managed just under a half day before my stomach could take it no longer and was threatening a strike unless I ate. I prepared the remaining pasta and tomato sauce from yesterday, and happily ate away whilst already mentally organising my gear for leaving the hostel.
For those of you who are about to go backpacking - you may find this next section useful. First off, before you leave make a list of EXACTLY what you are taking with you, even in what bag. I used a piece of software called evernote, which is great for saving things and accessing them on other computers etc. Using this list I knew exactly what I had brought with me, but I can also add to it as I have bought things since I left.
Next, only bring what is absolutely necessary. I did not bring any toiletries with me - they could all be purchased out here, I was saving weight in my backpack and best of all I dont have any worries with customs. I sat and added all my newly aquired toiletries to my evernote list.
Keep almost anything that might be useful to you as you travel. For example, I have been shopping now 3 times, and as a result of collected 3 plastic bags - very handy. 1 has become my wash bag, 1 has been used for storing my toiletries, and one is used to keep all my food together. You never know what things can come in handy!
One final tip I have for packing is this - roll your cloths (mother taught me this) but also, put your cloths so that they are vertical - not horizontal. The reason for this is they take up the same amount of space, but when you are unpacking its far easier to work out what your taking out, as you can see it from the top, and so there is far less "fishing around".
As I sat with my list and packed all my belongings, I received a message from Adele. Her tour had been postponed and she could no longer make our meal. We rearranged for next weekend, when she will be on a flying visit back through Melbourne on her way to New Zealand. After sorting this out, I contacted Mark and confirmed I would come along to the cricket game with him.
I headed out down Elizabeth street to Flinders, and to Federation Square. The square was packed with avid tennis fans, watching the match on the big screens. Completely unintentionally, I was sucked in watching the tennis for almost 3/4 of an hour before I dragged myself away to walk to the MCG.
On the way I ventured into a new part of the CBD that I hadn't yet been to. I couldnt help but take some (ok lots) of photos of the CBD from the new angle, and I have to say I really think Melbourne is a beautiful city. I carried on walking to the CBD past the Australian Open - and could even see some matches as I crossed a bridge toward the cricket ground.
I met up with mark at the ground and we headed in. The ground is fairly impressive, with a capacity of 100,000. By comparison, Newcastle's St James park can only house 52,000 at its maximum. I took plenty of photos before the game started, ready to be made into a hi-def panoramic.
I am not a fan of cricket by nature. I tend to find it a boring old mans game, with little excitement. That said, I thoroughly enjoyed the evening. My new adopted team, the Melbourne Stars, (featuring Shane Warne - just about the only cricketer I know of), managed to beat Adelaide, and rounded off the game with an out the ground shot for 6, to rapturous cheering and applause. Twenty20 cricket (which is what I saw this evening), is very different from test cricket (though dont ask me how, all I can tell you is its more exciting and shorter).
By winning the game, Melbourne secured a match in the semi finals of whatever tournament they are in, against Perth. Me and Mark agreed that we would try and get along to that match aswell, seeing as we couldnt really abandon our newly adopted team. We left the ground, and headed back towards the hostel.
This evening was the first night I have walked through the CBD at night, and it really is a sight to behold. Lit-up, Melbourne is a captivating city that really does draw you in. The buildings look fantastic, especially the skyscrapers. For me though, what is so unusual (and great) to see is that those skyscrapers mix so well side by side with single or two story buildings, and neither look washed out, but rather complement each other.
Tomorrow I head off to Tom and Jills again before travelling to Walhalla - a town out in the mountains around 2 and a half hours by car. I really can't wait to head up there and see a new part of Australia, and better still I have been promised a kayaking adventure. Can't wait!