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Saturday, May 3, 2008

After visiting the 12 Apostles along the very windy and hilly Great Ocean Road, I started suffering from my childhood car sickness – the more we drove the worse I felt. So instead of continuing our drive along the Great Ocean Road and spending another night on the road we decided to take the more direct route to Melbourne.

This meant that we only arrived in Melbourne after 8pm. We programmed the GPS to take us to the nearest Caravan Park and when we arrived there, there was nothing – just an empty piece of land. So we programmed in the next caravan park and arrived there just after 9pm which meant that the office was already closed. On the door there was a night bell, which I decided to ring – we were both tired and all we wanted to do was set up our tent and sleep. The woman which came through to open the office was visibly unimpressed with us ringing the night bell and proceeded to inform us that the night bell was for emergencies only. We humbly asked for a place to stay for the night and waited on tender hooks to see what would happen next. Thankfully the woman decided to help us and booked us into the cheapest tent spot for the night. We were both very grateful until we actually arrived at our 2 x 4 tent site that was really just a patch of sand with people squatting on either side of us. By this point I was exhausted and was still feeling car sick so all I cared about was curling up into a little ball and falling asleep.

Eddy decided to spend some time researching for other accommodation to stay at in Melbourne and I drifted off to sleep. We both woke up in the morning ready as ever to move on – so we got packing as soon as possible and moved on out of there.

We arrived at Crystal Brook Holiday Park just after 9am and were lucky to find the last tent sight available. Our new home for the next week was set beside a small stream and was surrounded by big trees. It was Anzac day today – a national holiday to remember all the people who have fought for Australia in the past. We needed to do some shopping so decided to seek out a shopping centre.

On Saturday we wanted to get a look at Melbourne city, so we headed out there, and spent the day exploring. We found a carved fairy tree and the Melbourne market – which was awesome and filled with really interesting goodies. By wondering around we got the feeling that Melbourne was more cosmopolitan and filled with a variety of cultures. We also wandered along the main shopping streets and just before dark we headed back home to get ready for a night on the town. It started raining and I was a bit apprehensive about going out in the rain, but Eddy managed to convince me, so we picked out a night club and headed back into town. While trying to find the night club, Eddy and I were running up and down the streets and Eddy was using all the metal grates on the pavements as an opportunity to practice his CAT like reflexes and was running and then skiing along the top of them. We ended up at a place called La Di Da – now this was a lot better than Adelaide by a long way. The people were dressed well, they were acting more civilized and we ended up having a great party night out. It was still raining when we left the party and after getting home around 3am we decided that Sunday would be a rest day!

Monday was the beginning of us researching and looking at the areas surrounding us. On Monday night the temperature dropped radically. I was so glad that we had a camper’s kitchen that is fully enclosed and with a heater to hide away in until just before bedtime. I couldn’t believe that we were going to climb into a tent in this freezing cold weather. I went to bed feeling cold and ended waking up in the middle of the night after having a dream that my toes were falling off because of frost bite – man oh man was it cold. I tried to get back to sleep, but I just couldn’t get my toes to warm up. If I was feeling this cold then I wonder how Eddy was feeling – we all know that he isn’t the meatiest person around! I started worrying that I would wake up and find him frozen solid. I turned over to look at him and all I could see was the sleeping bag pulled right over his head – he was hiding away from Mr Freezzzzing cold! The next day on the news we found out that the temperature recorded was the coldest EVER recorded in Melbourne!!!! Now I know why I was so f*$%ing cold!!!

We have spent the last couple of days driving all over the neighbourhoods and trying to get a feel for each one. It has been raining on and off and the temperature has gained a degree or too – but it is still extremely cold. We took a drive down to the bottom point of the bay and visited a park area called Cape Snaack. It is so awesome with beautiful cliffs dropping off to the sea. These cliffs were formed by volcanoes long ago, so there are some gorgeous rock formations in dark black rock.

Rob, the Australian that we met in SA will be joining us in Melbourne tomorrow, and we have a party night out planned for Thursday night to see DJ Tiesto. After that we plan on heading on to Sydney.

So far our overall impression of Melbourne is a good one. It is a beautiful city filled with many rolling hills and trees. Our only disappointment so far is that we haven’t found any good beaches. So, we are not so convinced that Melbourne can offer us the lifestyle we are looking for.

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The Tiesto concert rocked but then again it is Tiesto. We had a huge amount of fun there, maybe too much fun. Lynda and I danced and danced like we haven’t in quite a while. The place was packed and the crowd very festive. Tiesto put on his usual performance but not quite the large scale event that we went to in South Africa at the Market Theatre Square in downtown Joburg when the Springboks played and won the Rugby world cup in 2007. So Tiffany and Grant, as per your post, it’s not getting old, trust me, we far from there. I think it’s really just Adelaide :-).

At the end of it all, Melbourne is a beautiful city and it has everything one can possibly want but I don’t think it’s the city for us. Once again, the reason we are here is to change our lifestyle and become beach lovers. Melbourne doesn’t have the greatest beaches possibly because it’s so deep into the bay. Don’t get us wrong, if we had to live here for whatever reason it would be just fine but we are not looking for just fine, we are looking for perfect. We are looking for that place that screams out at us and captures our imagination.

I wanted to tell you all about a bunch of stuff that we find really intriguing and wonderful about OZ. Some of this seems so simple but it makes a difference in your life. There are quite a few things in OZ that still depend on people’s honesty and integrity and it’s heart warming to see that this does still exist on planet earth in a broader society.

Self Service Grocery Store Pay Point
We walked into Woolworths, not the same upmarket Woolworths as back home, and Lynda happens to see this out the corner of her eye. She is over the moon. Imagine that, no hassle, just shop, pitch up at the till and do the whole thing yourself. Wicked. Obviously this works on honesty otherwise you scan 1 item and slip 3 past. Great thing is that there are far more of these tills available and it seems like there is always one free.

Pumping Gas
I guess most of you know this one but ye, you have to pump your own gas here. Although, there were two places where the owner of the garage come out to pump the gas for us. I wasn’t sure if I should have given him 2 bucks or not. Once you finish putting gas in you leave your car there and walk into the shop to pay.

Paying for camping
There are more national parks here than I’ve seen anywhere. The public are allowed in all of them as far as I can gather and in many cases you can camp in these parks. Now, because there are so many parks it’s almost impossible for there to be a person on duty taking money for camping in every one of them so they have an honesty system. You pitch up, put your money in an envelope and tear off the slip as a receipt then drop the envelope into a collection box.

Stand up for the toppies
I remember when I was a little tot my mom always taught me good manners. One thing she always taught me was to give up my seat to a senior person. Well, it’s now law in OZ in public transport. Pity it has to be law but at least something as simple as this value is introduced into the law.

Baby sense
Support for parents with little babies is quite a big thing in OZ. One such display of this is baby facilities at shopping centres. These are not just changing rooms but full baby care facilities fully equipped even with microwaves so that you can warm up that bottle of milk. I’m sure the mums appreciate this.

Public toilets
This must be one of the weirdest sights. They have public toilets which look like time capsules right in the middle of the street. I guess shopping in town is not something that is done in South Africa too often because most of the shopping is done at shopping centres but here there is a combination of both so they have to cater for those running around in town. These things are silver cubicles with a button on the outside like a lift. You push that and a door slides open, you step in and push another button and the door slides closed and a voice starts to tell you what is what and concludes with “have a good shit”. Kidding about the last part.

Turning right but left first???
This was just a strange one that took us by surprise in Melbourne while driving in town. It seems to be something only done in Melbourne. These are called hook turns which funny enough is also a term in skydiving. A hook turn involves turning right from the left lane. When you enter the intersection you stay as far left as possible allowing the traffic that is going straight to pass on your right hand side. Once in the intersection, opposite the street you are entering, you wait there until the lights of the street you are entering into have turned green. Then turn right. A very weird manoeuvre but it works. It’s basically done because of the trams.

These are just some of the different things that we have found in Australia and I thought you might just find them as interesting as we did.

So that’s it for now. We are off to Sydney this Sunday and we think we are going to make the trip in one day because we don’t really have anything that we want to see between here and there.

Catch up to all of you soon again.

Eddy & Lynda