A Travellerspoint blog

Grampians Weekend Trip

Another weekend trip is in the books. This time 32 of us travelled about 4 hours west of Melbourne to the Grampians National Park where we stayed at the Grampians Retreat and Field Studies Centre. We stayed in cabins and had all our meals home cooked by our hosts Dennis and Maree. They even made me a birthday cake that we ate after lunch on Saturday. The first picture is the view from the dining room window. This is Mt. Abrupt, our challenge for Saturday morning.
On Friday afternoon we took it easy with a 1 hour hike up the Picaninny, a small hill that still offered some great views and introduced me to some new plants and birds. We took it easy on Friday night with some table tennis so we could be up early the next day.
On saturday morning we set out at about 9:30am on the trail that would take us to the top of Mt. Abrupt. The views along the whole trail were magnificent. The landscape of the area is very unique. The mountains are surrounded by very flat plains that used to be used for harvesting rice. When the land dried up the land was then used for farming mostly sheep and some cattle as well. The area used to be an a shoreline and therefore lots of sand was deposited and turned into sandstone. The more resistant layers of sandstone were uplifted into their current position while the surrounding weaker sandstone was eroded leaving the plains that exist today. The second picture is the best example I have of the contrast between the mountains and the plains. The second mountain from the right is Mt. Abrupt. Here is a link with more detailed information on the geology of the area for those who care.
And of course here is a picture of me on the summit of Mt. Abrupt contemplating how cool it is to be there on my 22nd birthday and watching rain showers blow across the plains and into the mountains, missing us to the north. Here is a link to another awesome picture that I dont have room for here. It was really cool to be there and reminded me of the last mountain I was on top of in Como, Italy, except I walked up this one and took a funicular to the top of the other one. What goes up must come down and I have to say it is a lot easier to go up then go down. There is a lot more stress on the legs going down but you get to see everything you missed when you weren't looking backwards on the way up! The roud trip took us just over 3.5 hours with fairly frequent stops for photoshoots and what not.
After an awesome lunch of sweet chili chicken wraps and birthday cake, we went to a nearby winery. This was another Ma and Pa operation that has done well for itself. I have no interesting pictures from this visit but I managed to learn a lot. Did you know that it takes about 1kg of grapes to make 1 litre of wine? Did you know that under an agreement with the EU, champagne is called sparkling wine if it comes from anywhere other than the Champagne region of France? We also got a chance to sample their award winning Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc wines among others.
Next we took a drive right up the middle of the national park which was probably the most interesting part of the trip. This past January, more than half the park was ravaged by the worst bushfires on record. This link has a great sattelite picture of the park while it was burning. For reference, the bottom right hand finger of the park is where we stayed and climbed Mt. Abrupt and it is probably about 100km from top to bottom. Here is another link with an articles about the bushfires. As we drove into the affected area, some of the sides of the moutains looked like the leaves had changed for autumn when in fact the leaves were brown and dead due to the intense heat. Most of the area we saw consisted of no vegetation close to the ground at all except for blackened twigs that didn't burn up completely and blackened tree trunks with dead leaves on them. Contrary to what you might think, the bush fire didn't always engulf entire trees, but rather burnt up the underbrush before moving on. This could be partly due to the fact that the eucalyptus trees shed their bark which provides fuel for the fire to burn up fast and not give it a chance to set fire to the actual tree. The picture you see is the typical landscape of the area. Notice how the trees have sprouted green plants all over them. The trees keep a bunch of 'epicormic' buds beneath their bark. They lie dormant until the tree loses it's canopy, in this case due to a bushfire. This provides almost instant leaves which helps the tree receive sustenance and helps it recover.
This link is a picture I took of some seed capsules. These capsules contained seeds that are only released under intense heat. The fire causes them to split open and release the seed thereby allowing the species to survive. These guys are smart and it was really cool to see their geniusness at work.
Saturday night we had a campfire under another sky jam packed with stars. We even hired a guy to come down and play guitar and sing for us. He taught us a bunch of old Australia folk songs and the meanings behind them.
On Sunday morning we went to a sheep dairy farm (Grampians Pure Sheep Milk Dairy near Glenthompson). Since farmers in Australia receive no subsidies at all, they often try other things to make money. This couple has been very successful in making yogurts and cheeses from sheep milk. First we watched as he brought out about 20 sheep into the milking parlour. Then he had put the milkers on every other sheep and by the time he put the last one on, the first one was finished and me moved the milkers over to all the other sheep. His sheep give about 3 litres of milk per day which is a far cry from the 40 litres a day that a good cow can provide. His wife then takes the milk to make her products. We sampled one of everything she makes. It was neat to be on their farm and meet the one single lady behind the product that can be sometimes found in the national grocery store and also in Hong Kong: the country that imports the most of her product. They mentioned that they often need help in their Spring, and later I found out that one guy in our group talked to them and will go back there to work for a month or two. I reckon it would be pretty neat to travel in Australia working on farms. Here is a lesson in Australia slang I learned at the sheep farm too: one person might refer to another person as a 'dag', eg. "You are a dag". A 'dag' occurs when sheep shit accumulates on the sheeps tail and rectum area and becomes infested with maggots. They eventually feed on the sheeps flesh causing it a great deal of pain. 'Dag' is therefore a very nasty term and you don't want to be called one.
After that visit we made our way to another section of the park for a short walk to a small mountain with caves. While the others looked at traces of Aboriginal art in the cave, I made my way to the top of the mountain and found this little lizard sunning himself. He was kind of enough to let me take his picture, but wouldn't let me hold him. It wass suprisingly the first reptile I had seen in the wild since arriving here 1.5 months ago. I am however told that the extremely venomous king snake can be found near the creek that runs behind the campus.
Before I end this post I want to show this last picture. I took it on Sunday morning after breakfeast. I walked down to the edge of the property and took this shot of the neighbouring field. It is a bit strange to find these massive river gum trees in the middle of fields. The kangaroos were all around me and though I could get pretty close to them, it was nothing like on Philip Island where they would approach us looking for food. These ones were clearly wild. This picture will go into the collection of my best from the trip and will stay on as my desktop background for next little while.
I have no big plans yet for the 1 week Easter break coming up but I'm sure I'll figure soemthing out. The weather has been cooler lately, around 20 degrees, which makes visits to the beach a little less appealing.
So that's all for now, I hope you learned something and you can always email if you want more pictures.
Cheers!Another weekend trip is in the books. This time 32 of us travelled about 4 hours west of Melbourne to the Grampians National Park where we stayed at the Grampians Retreat and Field Studies Centre. We stayed in cabins and had all our meals home cooked by our hosts Dennis and Maree. They even made me a birthday cake that we ate after lunch on Saturday. The first picture is the view from the dining room window. This is Mt. Abrupt, our challenge for Saturday morning.
On Friday afternoon we took it easy with a 1 hour hike up the Picaninny, a small hill that still offered some great views and introduced me to some new plants and birds. We took it easy on Friday night with some table tennis so we could be up early the next day.
On saturday morning we set out at about 9:30am on the trail that would take us to the top of Mt. Abrupt. The views along the whole trail were magnificent. The landscape of the area is very unique. The mountains are surrounded by very flat plains that used to be used for harvesting rice. When the land dried up the land was then used for farming mostly sheep and some cattle as well. The area used to be an a shoreline and therefore lots of sand was deposited and turned into sandstone. The more resistant layers of sandstone were uplifted into their current position while the surrounding weaker sandstone was eroded leaving the plains that exist today. The second picture is the best example I have of the contrast between the mountains and the plains. The second mountain from the right is Mt. Abrupt. Here is a link with more detailed information on the geology of the area for those who care.
And of course here is a picture of me on the summit of Mt. Abrupt contemplating how cool it is to be there on my 22nd birthday and watching rain showers blow across the plains and into the mountains, missing us to the north. Here is a link to another awesome picture that I dont have room for here. It was really cool to be there and reminded me of the last mountain I was on top of in Como, Italy, except I walked up this one and took a funicular to the top of the other one. What goes up must come down and I have to say it is a lot easier to go up then go down. There is a lot more stress on the legs going down but you get to see everything you missed when you weren't looking backwards on the way up! The roud trip took us just over 3.5 hours with fairly frequent stops for photoshoots and what not.
After an awesome lunch of sweet chili chicken wraps and birthday cake, we went to a nearby winery. This was another Ma and Pa operation that has done well for itself. I have no interesting pictures from this visit but I managed to learn a lot. Did you know that it takes about 1kg of grapes to make 1 litre of wine? Did you know that under an agreement with the EU, champagne is called sparkling wine if it comes from anywhere other than the Champagne region of France? We also got a chance to sample their award winning Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc wines among others.
Next we took a drive right up the middle of the national park which was probably the most interesting part of the trip. This past January, more than half the park was ravaged by the worst bushfires on record. This link has a great sattelite picture of the park while it was burning. For reference, the bottom right hand finger of the park is where we stayed and climbed Mt. Abrupt and it is probably about 100km from top to bottom. Here is another link with an articles about the bushfires. As we drove into the affected area, some of the sides of the moutains looked like the leaves had changed for autumn when in fact the leaves were brown and dead due to the intense heat. Most of the area we saw consisted of no vegetation close to the ground at all except for blackened twigs that didn't burn up completely and blackened tree trunks with dead leaves on them. Contrary to what you might think, the bush fire didn't always engulf entire trees, but rather burnt up the underbrush before moving on. This could be partly due to the fact that the eucalyptus trees shed their bark which provides fuel for the fire to burn up fast and not give it a chance to set fire to the actual tree. The picture you see is the typical landscape of the area. Notice how the trees have sprouted green plants all over them. The trees keep a bunch of 'epicormic' buds beneath their bark. They lie dormant until the tree loses it's canopy, in this case due to a bushfire. This provides almost instant leaves which helps the tree receive sustenance and helps it recover.
This link is a picture I took of some seed capsules. These capsules contained seeds that are only released under intense heat. The fire causes them to split open and release the seed thereby allowing the species to survive. These guys are smart and it was really cool to see their geniusness at work.
Saturday night we had a campfire under another sky jam packed with stars. We even hired a guy to come down and play guitar and sing for us. He taught us a bunch of old Australia folk songs and the meanings behind them.
On Sunday morning we went to a sheep dairy farm (Grampians Pure Sheep Milk Dairy near Glenthompson). Since farmers in Australia receive no subsidies at all, they often try other things to make money. This couple has been very successful in making yogurts and cheeses from sheep milk. First we watched as he brought out about 20 sheep into the milking parlour. Then he had put the milkers on every other sheep and by the time he put the last one on, the first one was finished and me moved the milkers over to all the other sheep. His sheep give about 3 litres of milk per day which is a far cry from the 40 litres a day that a good cow can provide. His wife then takes the milk to make her products. We sampled one of everything she makes. It was neat to be on their farm and meet the one single lady behind the product that can be sometimes found in the national grocery store and also in Hong Kong: the country that imports the most of her product. They mentioned that they often need help in their Spring, and later I found out that one guy in our group talked to them and will go back there to work for a month or two. I reckon it would be pretty neat to travel in Australia working on farms. Here is a lesson in Australia slang I learned at the sheep farm too: one person might refer to another person as a 'dag', eg. "You are a dag". A 'dag' occurs when sheep shit accumulates on the sheeps tail and rectum area and becomes infested with maggots. They eventually feed on the sheeps flesh causing it a great deal of pain. 'Dag' is therefore a very nasty term and you don't want to be called one.
After that visit we made our way to another section of the park for a short walk to a small mountain with caves. While the others looked at traces of Aboriginal art in the cave, I made my way to the top of the mountain and found this little lizard sunning himself. He was kind of enough to let me take his picture, but wouldn't let me hold him. It wass suprisingly the first reptile I had seen in the wild since arriving here 1.5 months ago. I am however told that the extremely venomous king snake can be found near the creek that runs behind the campus.
Before I end this post I want to show this last picture. I took it on Sunday morning after breakfeast. I walked down to the edge of the property and took this shot of the neighbouring field. It is a bit strange to find these massive river gum trees in the middle of fields. The kangaroos were all around me and though I could get pretty close to them, it was nothing like on Philip Island where they would approach us looking for food. These ones were clearly wild. This picture will go into the collection of my best from the trip and will stay on as my desktop background for next little while.
I have no big plans yet for the 1 week Easter break coming up but I'm sure I'll figure soemthing out. The weather has been cooler lately, around 20 degrees, which makes visits to the beach a little less appealing.
So that's all for now, I hope you learned something and you can always email if you want more pictures.
Cheers!
Another weekend trip is in the books. This time 32 of us travelled about 4 hours west of Melbourne to the Grampians National Park where we stayed at the Grampians Retreat and Field Studies Centre. We stayed in cabins and had all our meals home cooked by our hosts Dennis and Maree. They even made me a birthday cake that we ate after lunch on Saturday. The first picture is the view from the dining room window. This is Mt. Abrupt, our challenge for Saturday morning.
On Friday afternoon we took it easy with a 1 hour hike up the Picaninny, a small hill that still offered some great views and introduced me to some new plants and birds. We took it easy on Friday night with some table tennis so we could be up early the next day.
On saturday morning we set out at about 9:30am on the trail that would take us to the top of Mt. Abrupt. The views along the whole trail were magnificent. The landscape of the area is very unique. The mountains are surrounded by very flat plains that used to be used for harvesting rice. When the land dried up the land was then used for farming mostly sheep and some cattle as well. The area used to be an a shoreline and therefore lots of sand was deposited and turned into sandstone. The more resistant layers of sandstone were uplifted into their current position while the surrounding weaker sandstone was eroded leaving the plains that exist today. The second picture is the best example I have of the contrast between the mountains and the plains. The second mountain from the right is Mt. Abrupt. Here is a link with more detailed information on the geology of the area for those who care.
And of course here is a picture of me on the summit of Mt. Abrupt contemplating how cool it is to be there on my 22nd birthday and watching rain showers blow across the plains and into the mountains, missing us to the north. Here is a link to another awesome picture that I dont have room for here. It was really cool to be there and reminded me of the last mountain I was on top of in Como, Italy, except I walked up this one and took a funicular to the top of the other one. What goes up must come down and I have to say it is a lot easier to go up then go down. There is a lot more stress on the legs going down but you get to see everything you missed when you weren't looking backwards on the way up! The roud trip took us just over 3.5 hours with fairly frequent stops for photoshoots and what not.
After an awesome lunch of sweet chili chicken wraps and birthday cake, we went to a nearby winery. This was another Ma and Pa operation that has done well for itself. I have no interesting pictures from this visit but I managed to learn a lot. Did you know that it takes about 1kg of grapes to make 1 litre of wine? Did you know that under an agreement with the EU, champagne is called sparkling wine if it comes from anywhere other than the Champagne region of France? We also got a chance to sample their award winning Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc wines among others.
Next we took a drive right up the middle of the national park which was probably the most interesting part of the trip. This past January, more than half the park was ravaged by the worst bushfires on record. This link has a great sattelite picture of the park while it was burning. For reference, the bottom right hand finger of the park is where we stayed and climbed Mt. Abrupt and it is probably about 100km from top to bottom. Here is another link with an articles about the bushfires. As we drove into the affected area, some of the sides of the moutains looked like the leaves had changed for autumn when in fact the leaves were brown and dead due to the intense heat. Most of the area we saw consisted of no vegetation close to the ground at all except for blackened twigs that didn't burn up completely and blackened tree trunks with dead leaves on them. Contrary to what you might think, the bush fire didn't always engulf entire trees, but rather burnt up the underbrush before moving on. This could be partly due to the fact that the eucalyptus trees shed their bark which provides fuel for the fire to burn up fast and not give it a chance to set fire to the actual tree. The picture you see is the typical landscape of the area. Notice how the trees have sprouted green plants all over them. The trees keep a bunch of 'epicormic' buds beneath their bark. They lie dormant until the tree loses it's canopy, in this case due to a bushfire. This provides almost instant leaves which helps the tree receive sustenance and helps it recover.
This link is a picture I took of some seed capsules. These capsules contained seeds that are only released under intense heat. The fire causes them to split open and release the seed thereby allowing the species to survive. These guys are smart and it was really cool to see their geniusness at work.
Saturday night we had a campfire under another sky jam packed with stars. We even hired a guy to come down and play guitar and sing for us. He taught us a bunch of old Australia folk songs and the meanings behind them.
On Sunday morning we went to a sheep dairy farm (Grampians Pure Sheep Milk Dairy near Glenthompson). Since farmers in Australia receive no subsidies at all, they often try other things to make money. This couple has been very successful in making yogurts and cheeses from sheep milk. First we watched as he brought out about 20 sheep into the milking parlour. Then he had put the milkers on every other sheep and by the time he put the last one on, the first one was finished and me moved the milkers over to all the other sheep. His sheep give about 3 litres of milk per day which is a far cry from the 40 litres a day that a good cow can provide. His wife then takes the milk to make her products. We sampled one of everything she makes. It was neat to be on their farm and meet the one single lady behind the product that can be sometimes found in the national grocery store and also in Hong Kong: the country that imports the most of her product. They mentioned that they often need help in their Spring, and later I found out that one guy in our group talked to them and will go back there to work for a month or two. I reckon it would be pretty neat to travel in Australia working on farms. Here is a lesson in Australia slang I learned at the sheep farm too: one person might refer to another person as a 'dag', eg. "You are a dag". A 'dag' occurs when sheep shit accumulates on the sheeps tail and rectum area and becomes infested with maggots. They eventually feed on the sheeps flesh causing it a great deal of pain. 'Dag' is therefore a very nasty term and you don't want to be called one.
After that visit we made our way to another section of the park for a short walk to a small mountain with caves. While the others looked at traces of Aboriginal art in the cave, I made my way to the top of the mountain and found this little lizard sunning himself. He was kind of enough to let me take his picture, but wouldn't let me hold him. It wass suprisingly the first reptile I had seen in the wild since arriving here 1.5 months ago. I am however told that the extremely venomous king snake can be found near the creek that runs behind the campus.
Before I end this post I want to show this last picture. I took it on Sunday morning after breakfeast. I walked down to the edge of the property and took this shot of the neighbouring field. It is a bit strange to find these massive river gum trees in the middle of fields. The kangaroos were all around me and though I could get pretty close to them, it was nothing like on Philip Island where they would approach us looking for food. These ones were clearly wild. This picture will go into the collection of my best from the trip and will stay on as my desktop background for next little while.
I have no big plans yet for the 1 week Easter break coming up but I'm sure I'll figure soemthing out. The weather has been cooler lately, around 20 degrees, which makes visits to the beach a little less appealing.
So that's all for now, I hope you learned something and you can always email if you want more pictures.
Cheers!
To view photos from this trip, visit www.ryandownunder.blogspot.com

Posted by mista2kool 04:31 Comments (0)

Beach Weekend in Torquay

This past weekend the beach club from university went to Torquay: home to two or the surf industry’s biggest names, Rip Curl wetsuits, and Quiksilver clothing. The party got started as soon as we got in the vans (I guess it's not illegal here, but hey, "When in Rome"), and it took us almost 2 hours to get to Bells Beach Lodge. This was pretty much a stereotypical hostel, with a great atmosphere and a good mix of people other than our own group of about 25.
A few of us rented surf boards and wetsuits and then we all walked down to Torquay surf beach where I was met with the view in the first picture. This is pretty much the beginning of the Great Ocean Road and the coastline is spectacular from here westward. I spent no time at all on the beach since I was in the water for the next 2 hours surfing. These were the best waves thus far and made for some of the best rides I've had so far as well. We had spaghetti for supper and hit up the Torquay motel until the wee hours that night.
The next morning we all went back to Torquay surf beach for a few hours and out near the point was once again the best surfing I have done yet. The waves were more like swells since they didn't really break and mostly disappeared before getting to shore where they built up and eventually broke again. Longboards (which I used) are meant for riding these swells which never get a really steep face like the breaking waves do near shore.
A few of us left Torquay to go back to the hostel and then go about 10 minutes further down the coast to Bells Beach: one of the famous surf desitnations of the world where the Rip Curl Pro surf tournament is held every Easter (It is the oldest surf comepetition in the world dating back to the 1960's). I am in the picture with the beach in the background and as you can see it wasn't busy at all for late on a Saturday afternoon. There was literally 10 other people on the beach. We went down to check it out and swam out a ways since we heard it was all reef and was kind of dangerous. We heard right, a few metres out from the waterline there were rocks covered in weeds so it would indeed be dangerous to fall off a wave and get plowed into them.
That night we had a BBQ (it's still the season), and headed back again to the Torquay motel. After it shut down at around 2:30am, a few of us decided it was warm enough to swim, so we walked down to the empty beach and went for a swim under a perfectly clear sky with the milky way streaking across the sky above us. Such a cool experience.
The next day we went shopping in the morning and we found some factory outlet stores so I picked up a rash guard since I was planning on boogie boarding and not wearing a wetsuit in the afternoon since we were going to Bells Beach and I didn't want to become a part of the reef and since I was tired of paddling. The waves were much bigger that day (~2metres) and when I managed to catch a wave in just the right spot and drop down the face right in front of the barreling crest it was easily the coolest thing Mother Nature and I have ever done. It was suprisingly fast but a bit nerveracking to catch glimpses of the sea weeds under water in front of me. I spent the next 3 hours in the water doing it over and over again and also moved just past the point in the picture above to where the waves were a bit bigger but breaking on sand. (Here are 2 other links to other cool pictures that weren't great quality, but still give an idea of what it was like). Another guy in the group and I managed to catch the same wave and we just flew with it; him standing on his surfboard just a metre over from me laying on my board. Stoked is the word that best describes it.
Here is another picture I took that is now my desktop background. This is on the point in the background of the picture of me and Bells Beach. Notice the sedimentary rocks that make up the reef and also how clean the wave is breaking; one long line with the break moving across it which makes for awesome rides on surfbaords and boogie boards.
So that made for another weekend full of sun, sand, surf and parties and very little sleep. I was completely exhausted when I got home. I should be recovered for this coming weekend where I will celebrate my birthday in the Grampian Mountains. It should be interesting since it is the area that was affected by bushfires this past summer and we will be climbing Mt. Abrupt (~800 metres) and visiting waterfalls, a sheep farm and a winery.
That's all for now!
Cheers!
To view photos from the weekend, visit www.ryandownunder.blogspot.com

Posted by mista2kool 04:26 Comments (0)

Swimming with Dolphins and Seals

Another great day trip.

Today about 20 of us headed down to Portsea to meet up with the cleverly named company Sea All Dolphin Swims. If you check out the pictures on their website, it was pretty much the exact same thing today. We started out by heading to where the dolphins were last spotted. There are extremely strict rules in place since there are only 80 dolphins in the entire bay and they are all wild. This meant that we had to hold on to "mermaid" lines from behind the boat as it towed us around. Dolphins are pretty curious by nature and they swam right underneath us several times, clicking and whistling as they went. It was tough to get a picture of them, but check out this video I took of them surfing off the bow of the boat. They loved this and did it for our boar, a catamaran near by, and the huge ferry that passed by a few times. Tons of fun.
Next we headed over to the seals' bachelor pad. This group of seals is made up of all juvenile males who were kicked out of their colony by the dominant males. They will beef up here for awhile before they go back to stake their claim. The current was really strong, but a bunch of us went at it anyways. We jumped in and caused a ruckus to make the seals come and in play with us. Sure enough about 20 or so jumped in and swam around with us. It was heaps of fun to dive under water and chase them and as be chased by them. They were really impressive to, since some were longer than me and weighing I think up to 300kg, and there was even a baby one. The guides said they are in the same family as dogs and coyotes, and it showed in their puppy like eyes and huge fangs.
Next we headed back to the pier which happened to have a reef next to it. This tiny reef alone has more weed species than the whole of the Japanese archaepeligo and more fish species than the bottom portion of the great barrier reef. It sounds like a big deal, but there wasn't a heck of a lot to see. A real treat though was finding sea dragons which are native only to the states of Victoria and South Australia. Here is a link with pictures, they have much longer bodies than sea horses. We also found and held sea stars and puffer fish and I swam alongside the resident stingray which was as long as me.
The seals and the reef were a huge bonus seeing as I though we would only be swimming with the dolphins. So there are another few items checked off the non-existent yet ever growing list of things to do while in Australia.
This weekend I make my way to Torquay with the Beach Club for even more sun, sand and surf.
It's all good downunder.
To view photos from the trip, visit www.ryandownunder.blogspot.com

Posted by mista2kool 02:20 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Golfing with Kangaroos and Cockatoos

A real Australian golf course.

If you've ever played a Tiger Woods golf game and played on an Australian course in the game, you will have noticed kangaroos grazing in the fairways. We went to Yarrambat Park Community Golf Course and it wasn't quite like that today, but there were indeed kangaroos lazing around under the trees off to the side, totally oblivious to the people nearby. They are also really well camouflaged (there are kangaroos in that first picture in case you couldn't see them).I have a feeling this isn't as common as I might think since we were playing on a golf course about 40 minutes from here which is just to the north of the city. I'm not sure what's normal around here, but green fees here are heaps cheaper than at home. 18 holes today was $25 and it's actually only $10.50 on weekdays for students and seniors.
There was also a flock of female cockatoos causing quite a racket as well. I don't know what the sound they were making means, but it sounded like some were about to drop dead out of the tree. At least the posed nicely for a picture for me while they were digging in the dirt.
Another great thing about Australia is that you can golf all year round. It might be a bit cool in the winter, but the grass probably greens up nicely. It is the end of summer now, so a lot of the grass was really burned up.
Before we went to the golf course, we stopped by Niclas' relatives house to get his cousin and some clubs for me. They live about 5 minutes from the golf course and the scenery from their house is awesome; a real typcial hilly Australian landscape. It's actually pretty impressive and this picture I took will be my desktop background for the time being. I have some other great trips lined up and I'm sure another picture will take over then.
On a side note, last night was St. Patricks Day. We went to an Irish pub on Chapel Street. I was disappointed because other than people wearing green, it wasn't Irish at all. It wasn't like a pub at all, more just like any other club, with a DJ playing the usual music from any other night. There was also no green beer like in Canada. There is always next year...
When I go places, I follow our route on a map, and when I look at where I've been compared to the entire country it's pretty insignificant even though it has seemed like it's been a lot and been heaps of fun. I think I will constantly be reminded how massive Australia is, and be glad that I still have until December to get to as much as possible.
To view photos from this trip, visit www.ryandownunder.blogspot.com

Posted by mista2kool 02:20 Comments (0)

Commonwealth Games - Opening Ceremonies

The scene at Federation Square

Last night was the opening ceremonies of the Commonwealth Games here in Melbourne. I heard that they are getting a whole lot of coverage at home, but this is a HUGE deal for the city of Melbourne. I didn't have plans last night but then it struck me that I really had to do something since it is happening down the street. Shortly after 8pm I took a tram into the middle of the (free) action. Tickets for the event in the stadium started at like 400$ so that wasn't really an option.
The ceremonies were actually pretty impressive, maybe moreso for me since I knew it was all going down on the other side of the river. Her Majesty the Queen was in attendance to decalre the games open. I don't know exactly what bits of news get to you, but there was a big controversy about not singing God Save the Queen this time around. The compromise was to sing like a half a verse. Some kid went up and mentioned that since the Queens 80th birthday was coming up, they would sing for her. Then some kids choir and a lady sang happy birthday and threw in the half a verse of God Save the Queen after that. Very well done. But man, they kept showing her on TV and that Prince Philip beside her never seemed too happy. He seems old and bitter, probably because noone knows him and his spotlight has been stolen by the Queen for the past 54 years of her reign.
The Queens Baton was also kind of neat. It travelled to everyone of the 71 Commonwealth countries, over 186 000km, with a message from the Queen in it, which she read to open the games. There was green on it to represent the Garden State that is Victoria. and gold on it to represent the goldfields of Victoria, as well as 71 flashing lights on it representing all the countries.
I have to say though, the most impressive part of the night was the fireworks. We were fortunate enough to have the big screen showing the fireworks in front of us, and then the actualy fireworks happening right behind us. There was actually 3 venues of fireworks, we were looking at the ones on the skyscrapers and could see some on the river and then there were more above the stadium. Check out this link to a video I took, it should give a good idea of the atmosphere.
The last picture is Flinders Street Station. It is pretty much an icon of Melbourne and a pretty impressive building as well being the gold colour that it is. There was masses of people piling out of everywhere after the ceremonies. The tram home was completely packed and just when you thought noone else would fit, some foreigners would squeeze their way in and make it tighter. Unreal how many people were everywhere last night, a real party atmosphere. Hopefully I will make out to some events next week, should be interesting.
That's all for now. I have to say, I have a busy and interesting month ahead with several trips planned.
Cheers!

Posted by mista2kool 02:18 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

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