No surprises that I slept all the way to our first stop of the trip which was Canberra. What a boring city! Nothing going on at all, for some reason we had a tour round parliament which I almost dozed off in, however we were able to stand on the roof and admire the views over Canberra. Such a ghost town! We then visited the National History Museum, which was very interesting. At last I learned something of the Aboriginal culture and the current affairs in Australia. Earlier on in 2008 the government had broadcast a live apology to the Aboriginal population, the "stolen generation", in the early months of 2008. The land was given back to the people and there was a beautiful exhibition in the museum. 23 Aboriginal people had created a magnificent painting on a huge canvas to express their emotions and show their journey over the last few decades. Then there was the garden of Australian Dreams which had huge messages written in braille on one wall. I found out that it was built around 7 years ago and had originally said "sorry", but due to it being a very sore subject around that time all the braille had to be jumbled up as it was too controversial and would portray the museum in the wrong light. Now the issue has been addressed across the nation, more people are visiting the museum because it is now a cause for discussion.
Our overnight stop was a small town in the mountains of the the Great Dividing Range called Jyndaborough. Had a very early start and headed into the snowy mountains for a trek. The trek was to take 3 hours but I only lasted 2 as I didn't have the right gear. Nevertheless the views were stunning and the snow was up to our knees in some parts. I think everyone fell over at least once! Some of us went back to the bus to wait for the hard core hikers, while we were sitting on the bus one of the older Japanese men (who hardly speak English and take photos of absolutely EVERYTHING, even when we stop to use the toilets) whipped out a small guitar called a Shamisen. They both burst into song which was a surprise and the most I'd heard out of both of them since we started the tour. Not very tuneful but good fun!
The rest of the afternoon was spent on the road with a couple of stops. One was way into the mountains where quite a big family live, and keep reproducing!!! Eeuuww! We had a really nice dinner at our overnight stop and hit the sack early ready for our early morning start.
At 5.30 we packed the bus up again and began our last day of the tour. First stop was Wilson's Promotory National Park. We set off on a 3 hour walk along the cliffs and onto Squeaky Beach. Saw a great big Shag, an Australian bird, and a really cute wombat let us get right up close to him as he was grazing. Next stop Bones (our driver) took us to a deserted airfield which was home to Red Kangaroos, Emus, Wombats and Red-Backed Spiders. I am completely fascinated by wildlife and had been disappointed that I am nearing the end of my time in Oz and hadn't seen any poisonous spiders yet!
The last leg to Melbourne took 4 hours and by this time everyone was shattered but happy! Everyone but myself and Liz got off at Base St Kildas just outside of the city. We stayed in Nomads in Melbourne but that evening we travelled back to Base for the night. Everyone was given numbers as they came in and at the front of the room was a board with a grid and all our numbers written in. The idea was that if you could see someone you like in the room you write them a message and leave it on the board for them to read! Funny once we got pissed the messages were getting quite rude and silly.