Australian football is a strange, fast paced sport that that strangely suits Australia. While in Melbourne, I caught a game of footie, watching a game between Collingwood vs Hawthorn on 14 April 2013. Admission was quite reasonable at $22, and the event was attended by 72,000 spectators.
If one day I get the urge to move to Australia, it will without a doubt be to Melbourne.
After spending five days on the ship (and losing at least five pounds), we finally reached Melbourne! Those three ‘clouds’ are actually smudges (?) from my camera – presumably some dust on the lenses.
The thing about Melbourne is that it has this rivalry going on with Sydney -Sydney is the larger and older of the two cities, but Melbourne claims to have more culture. Though, it’s mostly folks from Melbourne who insist on this rivalry – folks from Sydney tend to smile condescendingly at the notion that Melbourne could be a rival.
I do agree though, that Melbourne has “character” – it’s as if there were a law saying that if you want to build anything in Melbourne, it has to be unique. While this character infusion makes it more interesting to walk around the city, sometimes it’s pretty apparent that the city is trying too hard.
On my trip from Sydney to Melbourne, I took the road less traveled – I took a boat!
After being dropped off by my travel companions, I hit up a library, looked up some cheap hostels, and ended up in King’s Cross – the center of nightlife and (unbeknownst to me) the red light district. There, I ended up staying at Sydney’s worst hostel for a couple of nights, before finding a couch surfing host to stay with for a couple of days.
From my travels in Australia, I’ve noticed that there’s an entire industry here that doesn’t exist in the USA – the backpacking industry.
Going around any big centers of activity – tourist hot spots, city centers, nightlife areas – and you see all sorts of businesses absent in America – hostels, backpacker flights centers, backpacker ‘hubs’ offering free (really crappy) wifi while selling you on travel experience packages (and invariably full of people checking facebook).
From Brisbane, I fell in with a Canadian couple who were traveling on a leisurely road trip from Brisbane to Sydney via the Gold Coast.
Meet Jesse (28) & Kristina (20)!
They were traveling in this ancient camper van, at least 20 years old. It used to be rented out by Wicked (one of the many camper van rental companies), but was then sold to a series of travelers before passing into our hands.
On the way down the Gold Coast, I tried out travel camping almost every night – since the campervan was only large enough for two (my new Canadian friends), I slept outside in a tent. It was pretty comfortable though, since it was fall in Australia. And in the week and a half that we traveled together, I had a lot of variance in my camping.
Exhibit A: camping right along the coast, going to sleep while listening to the waves. I think the best part isn’t even falling asleep to the waves, but waking up to both the sound of the waves, and the warmth of the sun shining down on my tent.
Exhibit B: camping right along the side of the main highway, after finding that every campground in the area had closed at 5pm. Seriously, every campsite closed at 5pm – even if they had space, they wouldn’t allow you to check in. Take my money, damn it!
It’s really cool, how you can have fascinating chance encounters by being friendly and keeping an eye out.
Somewhere along the beaches of the Gold Coast, while hiking along the beaches, I came across a bunch of guys from Sydney, playing a game a beach cricket, and decided to join in. Never having watched or played cricket before, I found it a really fun and fascinating game. At its core, you have a batsman defending a post (a small tube stuck in the sand), and a pitcher throwing a ball at the batsman / post. If the pitcher hits the post, the batsman is out. Otherwise, the batsman gets to keep swinging at the ball until he connects – at which point he has to run to the pitcher and back to the post before somebody either catches the ball, or picks up the ball and pegs the post.
This being the beach, of course the dominant strategy is to hit the ball into the ocean. I’ve no doubt the game is more complicated than I’ve described, but I had fun! And I managed to score quite a few points too!
After a chance encounter in Byron Bay, I’ve got a new nickname: Zen
While camping out at Byron Bay, I arrived back at the campsite one night to see a bonfire off into the distance. Hoping there might be s’mores, I headed over and check it out, and discovered a bunch of 20ish Aussie blokes, who all leapt up and yelled “hey, its Zen!” I rolled with the punches, and thirty seconds later was having a beer with them.
For the first stop on my journey, I stopped at Brisbane, a river city located on the banks of the (aptly named) Brisbane River – which always to be a pleasant shade of brown. Brisbane is actually a pretty large metropolitan area, and at it’s heart is Brisbane City – rather like how Manhattan is the heart of New York City.