August 9th 2016 – Melborne and Darwin

Today i slept in a bit, which was wonderful. I feel like I have not been able to catch up on sleep since I started my trip due to the early mornings. I had a lazy morning at the hotel editing photos, writing my blog, and making breakfast (more eggs, ham, and cheese on toast).
I left the hotel at 10:00am and boarded the train into the Central Business District (CBD). When I arrived at Southern Cross Station in the CBD I put my large backpack in a locker for the day for $12. I walked around the lanes and arcades, as well as looked at more historic buildings. I was starting to get hungry at about 1:00pm so I went in search of a place where I could find some Kangaroo to eat. I found a Burger cafe that served a Kangaroo Outback burger. The burger was absolutely delicious, albeit pricey. $15 only gets you a burger without fries.

After I finished my burger I travelled north by tram to a park, which had a beautiful small conservatory, and some old buildings. I then travelled East, through the cricket stadium area, to the Royal Botanical Gardens, which are world renowned. There is a lot of art, and memorials dedicated to the men who served in the wars.

After that I walked through an artsy University area, and an area called South Bank (I think) before heading back to Southern Cross Station. I had two pints of beer and some noodles for dinner before going to get my bag from the locker.

After getting my bag from the locker I boarded a double decker express airport bus to the airport. The bus driver, who looked like he was about 16, was the most herky jerky driver I’ve ever experienced in my life. I was actually quite sick to my stomach by the time I got to the airport.

When I got to the airport I was given the good news that I could check my bag for free, which I ended up doing. The only downside is that I have to wait for my bag in Darwin after disembarking the plane.

My phone battery was dead so I sat down next to someone and plugged my phone into the wall next to her. She was laughing hysterically at a video she was watching so I asked her what she was watching. She said “Orange is the New Black”. We kept on talking television shows, politics etc., and then a bunch of other people joined in the conversation too, so it really helped to pass the time. It was about an hour before the flight now so I cleared security, which was the least busy security I’ve ever seen at an equivalent sized airport. I sat down near the gate and continued talking with the people.

It was time to board the airplane to Darwin at 9:00pm. I was handed a census form when boarding them airplane and was told it would be a $180/day (maximum of $1800) fine if I didn’t fill it out, and there would be census staff on the other end to collect the papers. I was told if I did not fill it out and was caught leaving the country without filling it out then I was subject to the $1800 fine. They seemed fairly strict, so I obliged and filled it out. It is a requirement to do the census even if you’re not an Australian citizen and just visiting the country.

The JetStar flight to Darwin was cramped but smooth. On arrival in Darwin I got my checked bag from the baggage carousel, and boarded an airport shuttle bus that delivered me right to the doorsteps of my hotel, called the Poinciana Inn. My room key was waiting for me an a safe in the wall, which I was given the key code for via email earlier on. Off to get about three hours of sleep before my outback adventures!

You may not hear from me for a few days due to the fact I probably won’t have service, but I know I will have service in three days. Check back regularly for the next installment of my great Australian adventure.

If you like the content that I produce and want to donate money towards my travel, or buy me a cup of coffee please feel free to contribute towards it. I really appreciate it.

August 8th 2016 – The Great Ocean Road

Today I woke up early again so that I could get ready in time for my tour of The Great Ocean Road. I took the train into the CBD and waited at the Immigration Museum for pickup at 7:45am. The tour was a medium sized tour with 22 people. I deliberately picked a smaller tour, because I felt it would be a bit more personalized, and I’m glad I did because it was fantastic. Steve, the tour guide, was exceptionally knowledgeable about the grand history of Melbourne and told us all fascinating facts about Melbourne, and various things along the way.

As we were passing over West Gate bridge Steve pointed out that two years into the construction of the bridge that a portion of the bridge actually collapsed, killing 35 workers. It was the worst industrial accident in Australia’s history. He said the bridge has numerous problems and they are working on it nearly every day. The bridge was opened in 1978.

During our commute to our first stop steve pointed out that Melbourne is actually a fairly young town, around a 150 years old, and the gold rush caused expansive growth, with a lot of Italian and Greek immigrants. The gold was about 100km south of Melbourne. The settlers actually had an opportunity to settle closer in Geelong, but the British actually messed up drawing the map and made it seem as if Melbourne was closer, so most people settled there. Steve also pointed out that Avalon airport, the airport I landed at a few days ago, is owned by Lindsay Fox, who is a multi-billionaire. He started his first business (Linfox) as a truck driver delivering lemonade during the summer, and firewood during the winter.

We were almost at our first stop when Steve pointed out the famous Pole House, which stands many metres above the bush. It’s a posh place to stay if you want a romantic weekend for a few hundred dollars. This house survived the great bush fire on 1983 because it was so high above the bushes.

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Our first stop was for tea, coffee, and biscuits. Our second stop was the Archway commemorating the workers who built The Great Ocean Road. Originally there was a toll booth to collect toll fares for using The Great Ocean Road, but it is now free. Three archways have been built on this site. The first was knocked down in 1970 by a truck that was too tall, the second burned down in the 1983 bush fire. The road originally was started in 1919 after World War 1, and opened three years later in 1922. Picks, shovels, and Dynamite were used to clear the way for the road. The second phase of the road was built in the Great Depression, to stimulate the economy.

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On our way to the third stop we oversaw the Grand Pacific Hotel, which Steve pointed out was named incorrectly, as it should have been the Grand Atlantic Hotel. The third stop was Cumberland River. The Fourth stop was Kennett River, where we saw Koala’s and four types of birds. There was a red bird called Crimson Rosella, a green bird which is some kind of Parrot, a white bird called a Cockatoo, and a black bird which was some sort of raven.

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Our fifth stop was Apollo Bay, which was a whaling station. It received its name from a whaling ship that frequently ported there. Right before arriving in Apollo Bay we passed a waterfall on the right side of the bus that belonged to Wild Dog Creek. In Apollo bay a complimentary lunch of pizza was served. I had a Hawaiian pizza, which was actually quite delicious!

The sixth stop was a “cool” rain forest. Most rain forest that we are used to are the ones that we think of in South America which are “hot” rain forests, but this one is a “cool” rain forest. It doesn’t get too hot here all year round, but it does get fairly wet, and rains over 2 metres of rain per year. This rain forest has world’s tallest and oldest eucalyptus trees, with some reaching over 80 metres tall, and some are over 400 years old. There also was some beautiful ferns here!

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The seventh stop was Loch and Gorge, which was just amazing!

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The eight stop was the 12 Apostles, which Steve told us makes no sense because there was only ever 8, and now they are down to 7.

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The ninth and final stop before heading home was Gibson Steps, which we walked down to see two famous rocks called Gog and Magog.

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The tour ended at 8:45pm back where I was picked up in Melbourne. I thanked Steve for the great day, gave him a tip, and boarded the train back towards my hotel. I then went to bed at around 11:00pm.

Tomorrow I will be exploring more of Melbourne, before I board a 9:30pm flight to Darwin. Check back soon for my latest blog!

If you like the content that I produce and want to donate money towards my travel, or buy me a cup of coffee please feel free to contribute towards it. I really appreciate it.

August 7th 2016 – Melbourne

Today I woke up early at 5:30am. I made myself my first “fancy” breakfast on this trip; toast with smoked salmon, melted cheese, and eggs. It was delicious! I got ready to leave, and left to catch the 7:20am train to Flinders Street Station.
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After arriving at Flinders Street station I walked to Hosier Lane, which is one Melbourne’s most famous grafitti street art locations. There are 16 locations that are officially recognized by the council. While I was walking up Hosier Lane I saw a gentleman with the exact same camera is mine, which is a rare sight, so I said “nice camera”. He introduced himself as Mark. Mark had so much valueable information to give me about the street art, because he works with homeless people and people with mental health disorders. When Mark isn’t working he goes around and takes photos of the street art, which he says is quite relaxing. He pointed out a few fabulous pieces of art, which had caught my eye earlier, and told me the Melbourne famous “LushSUX” had painted those pieces. Later on in the day as I was exploring other locations I was able to spot the “LushSUX” pieces with ease.
After admiring the beautiful work in Hosier Lane I walked around the CBD (central business district), similar to our downtown, and came across and information booth, where I grabbed some maps and information pamphlets. One of the pamphlets I picked up showed the location of all the 16 grafitti art locations that are officially recognized by the council. Natually I was curious so I explored them all. The one that struct my eyes the most was the one of the Kardashians. Mark had told me the council had to censor it, so they painted over their breasts with black paint. The council is quite quick to cover up anything that is beyond PG13.
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After visiting all 16 grafitti art locations I came acorss the Queen Victoria Marketplace, where I walked around for a bit and admired all the delicious food trucks and venue’s. I thought I had almost safely cleared the area without having any purchases, when I came to a truck selling fresh mini donuts. Naturally I had to purchase them! I recieved 5 hot mini donuts filled with strawberry goo for $5.50. I was almost able to finish all of them, but I gave up on the last one!
I then walked to the Italian district to view some very old architecture. After visiting the Italian district my feet were starting to get tired as I had already walked 15km today. I caught a ride on a tram to the CBD, and then caught another tram to the Docklands area. Melbourne’s tram network is fantastic! Trams run every 10 mintutes or so, have lots of space, and the network is huge. In fact if you’re even lucky you’ll get on an original rolling stock train, which is quite beautiful. They even have some restaurant trams where you can get on and have a fine dining experience while circling the CBD.
The Docklands area is an upcoming trendy area, similar to East Village back at home. There is tons of development going on here, ranging from many malls and hotels, to low and medium rise condominium developments. There is even a huge ferris wheel called the Melbourne Star. I sat down here and ate the lunch which I had packed for myself (ham and cheese sandwich, apple, and a banana).
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After walking around the Docklands area I boarded a tram back to the CBD, where I switched to another tram to take me to Saint Kilda beach. There is a very long boardwalk at Saint Kilda where you can get a pretty beautiful view of the entire CBD.
After Saint Kilda I took a tram straight into the CBD, where I walked around a bit more until my feet could no longer take it. I got on a train back towards my hotel, but this time stayed on a stop further in search of delicious food. I disembarked the train at Preston station and walked towards High Street, where again the first thing that caught my eye was a Vietnamese place. I caved and had to go there. I’m glad I did because it was the best Vietnamese food I’ve ever eaten to date. After having dinner I walked back to my hotel, where I worked on my blog and fell asleep at 8:00pm.
Check back tomorrow so you can read about my Great Ocean Road experience!

If you like the content that I produce and want to donate money towards my travel, or buy me a cup of coffee please feel free to contribute towards it. I really appreciate it.

August 6th 2016 – Sydney & Melbourne

Today I woke up at 6:00am, which means it only took two days to get my circadian rhythm back on track. I had a lazy morning working on my blog and packing my bags for my travel to Melbourne later today.

I left my hotel at 10:30am and walked to Kings Cross station where I took a train to Town Hall station, switching trains and arriving at Circular Quay station. I people watched and watched boat traffic come in for a while, but then it started to rain so I went and sought some shelter. I walked to the same mall that I had the Vietnamese food in two days ago, and to my surprise the mall was completely empty; a complete ghost town! I remember there being some comfy leather seats on the second of three floors so I went there to relax for about an hour, while catching up on all my social media and news.
It was time to head to the airport. I walked to Wynard station, where I purchased a black coffee from McDonald’s. The cost was $3, which makes it $1 more expensive than back home, but it’s actually better than the coffee back at home. I hopped on the express airport train, which only took twenty minutes to get to the domestic terminal.
The airport terminal was beautiful and had an open airy concept, substantially better than my experience at the International terminal. I was flying on JetStar flight 607 to Melbourne. This was my first experience with a European style airline in the last decade. They charge extra for every little thing. I tried to get away with doing carry on only, even though I knew they had a 7kg weight limit, but our local airlines at home have 11kg weight limits which I regularly exceed so I thought it wouldn’t be a problem. Well I was wrong. I had to put my bags on a scale and it came up to 16.5kg (36.3 pounds). I should have paid $50 but… I did a bit of persuading, and possibly flirted a bit with the woman, to get my way. Success, I didn’t have to pay! I boarded the plane and sat down in seat 12C, which was in an exit row. The doors closed and the flight attendant came over to me and actually went through every step of opening the door, which I’ve never seen an airline do before. The airline then had multiple other safety announcements, which seemed a bit over the top, but further digging concluded why. The airline is under scrutiny from the ATSB (similar to our FAA) for a variety of factors including safety, and overloading aircraft.
Continuing on with the flight they started serving food and beverages for purchase, which I wasn’t actually made aware of until I said I would take a coffee. She poured it and gave it to me and then said “that’ll be $4”. I was baffled and a bit annoyed as it was not mentioned before hand, nor in a placard in front of me. I reluctantly paid and enjoyed my overpriced bitter coffee. Overall this is the worst airline I’ve ever flown, and wouldn’t recommend them to anyone else, even if it is a cheaper airline to travel on. The saying goes “you get what you pay for”. In my case $60 doesn’t get you much except annoyance.
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The flight arrived 25 minutes ahead of schedule at Melbourne Avalon airport. I then boarded the Avalon Airport Transfers bus for a fifty minute ride into central Melbourne. The cost was $22, which was pretty reasonable. The bus ride was fantastic with a comfortable seating, and a beautiful sunset to watch.
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I arrived in central Melbourne at 6:00pm. Kirsty had given me a Miki transit card to use while in Melbourne, which I loaded with $24 for use over the next 3 days. Melbourne is significantly cheaper than Sydney to travel around, but the trains don’t run as frequently, even though Melbourne and Sydney are roughly the same size.
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I boarded my train, which took me roughly fourty minutes to get to my hotel, called BreakFree Preston. BreakFree is a chic boutique hotel at a reasonable price (I only paid $70 CDN per night, which was only $20 more than a hostel but I get my own personal space). The room is small but reasonable.
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I settled in for a few minutes before heading to Woolsworth to purchase some beer and groceries for the next few days. It was approaching 10:00pm so I decided to call it a night since I was tired. Tomorrow I will be exploring the city centre of Melbourne. Check back shortly to follow my next adventure!
If you like the content that I produce and want to donate money towards my travel, or buy me a cup of coffee please feel free to contribute towards it. I really appreciate it.