Melbourne and Canberra

Hello from Australia! Sorry for the late update, wifi has been hard to get hold of and I’ve basically been lying around on the beach for the past few days. Anyway, here’s an update : our first two stops in Australia: Melbourne and Canberra.

We were really sad to leave New Zealand. We had to say goodbye to Philine and Kerry, who we’ve been with for seven weeks all together, but we’ve promised we’ll visit them to go and see an authentic German Christmas market, and they’re going to come and see us too.

The flight to Australia departed at 8.30pm. I think evening flights are my favourite time to fly because there’s none of the getting up at a ridiculous hour nonsense which always makes my belly hurt for some reason, plus you can watch the sunset from above the clouds, which is pretty spectacular. The flight was beautiful, and we were sat next to a really cool South Korean bloke who is travelling the world with his family. The kids are 11 and 13 and they’ve already seen 31 countries in 9 months. How insane is that?

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We touched down in Melbourne after a three hour flight and got off the plane. The air felt different. I love changing countries and breathing in the air and experiencing a new climate. We got through customs, got a bus to the city centre and then began looking for our hostel which was allegedly opposite the bus station, but to no avail. Then a really old man with a beard, eating an icecream (at 10.30pm – legend) shouted “BACKPACKERS ARE YOU LOST ALREAADY??!!!” at us. I said yes and he directed us to the hostel.

We had our own room, with a bunk bed in it again. I still can’t get my head round this and it makes me a bit hysterical and think of that scene from Stepbrothers. Anyway.

The next day we headed into town. I decided to hit H&M for a new bikini, and found a MATCHING one in the sale for $10, which works out at a fiver. Bargain. Then we found some discount sushi for lunch. I was delighted at my bargain hunting and we were practically skipping across the road in delight, wondering what our next stroke of luck would be when it came in the form of a huge bird poo that splatted all over us both. We managed to wash it all off in a fountain luckily.

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(There’s lots of yarn bombed trees in Melbourne!)

We then went to a film museum, which was really cool, and stumbled across a Buddhist monk leading a free meditation class. There’s lots going on in Melbourne. We also enjoyed the cool street art on Hosier Street. We then wandered around a bit more, went to the hostel and tackled our laundry mountain and then watched the Matrix Reloaded (it’s rubbish) then fell asleep.

The next day we walked back to the city centre and then jumped on the free old fashioned city tram. There was a bit of a rush to get on, and I jumped on before realising that Tom had got on the back door and was laughing his head off at the look of panic on my face when I thought I’d lost him. We headed to the park, which I was enjoying until Tom started walking around at about 100mph because he was convinced a tarantula would drop out of a tree and onto his head. Not very relaxing. In the middle of the park is “the oldest building in Australia” which was made in 1770 in England and shipped over to Oz in 1934…. Hmmmm….. There were people dressed in stupid outfits pretending to be Captain Cook and I was a bit like WHAT THE FUCK then realised that I’ve been spoilt growing up in England. We have so much history. Kendal castle was built around the 13th century for gods sake. Anyway. I had a reality check and got over it.

We went back on the tram and headed to harbour town and had an incredibly strong coffee and more discount sushi. Melbourne is famous for its coffee, so I was eager to try it. I then gave Tom a mild heart attack by spending $30 on a new tangle teezer because I’d lost mine in New Zealand and the cheap replacement one I’d bought was making me bald. Long hair problems.

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(Here’s Tom doing some drumming to vent his despair.)

The next day we went downstairs in our hostel and found Luke, who’d arrived from Bali on an early flight. He even came in a matching outfit! It felt a bit like when we met Billy in Queenstown: surreal but completely normal. It was great to catch up on his adventure so far, and we went to the travel agent who helped us book our buses up the east coast, a trip to the Steve Irwin zoo (thanks for the recommendation Nia!) and a trip to Fraser Island. We then said bye to Luke, who was staying on in Melbourne and got on the Greyhound bus to Canberra.

I hadn’t realised that Canberra is the capital of Australia. I’d assumed it was Sydney for some reason. So we decided to go, mainly because it’s another place, like Melbourne, in that Tom hasn’t been there before, and also because the travel agent said “Canberra is good for porn and fireworks.” …
The bus journey was a bit freaky really in that we were on it for eight hours and we saw about two small towns, a few petrol stations, lots of huge trucks and a load of flat desert land covered in trees. I got a bit spooked because I kept thinking of Wolf Creek and panicking that the bus would break down. Too many horror films.

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Anyway, we made it to Canberra, absolutely knackered and starving. As we waited for the bus to our hostel, I heard a cheeping sound and a load of parrots flew past. There were bright red and green parrots everywhere and big parakeets who were making a bloody awful racket. I couldn’t stop watching them! The hostel was nice (bunk beds again!) and we had some food then conked out.

The next day we decided to head into town to have a look at Parliament. A good idea in theory, but in reality involved five hours of walking, with not very much to look at. A lot of building sites. Also there was no shops or food places anywhere near Parliament so I got a bit hysterical and nearly died of starvation when we finally had lunch at 3pm. The good thing about the day was that we walked through a park when a huge bat flew past us. It had about a 70cm wing span, and looked like batman. We watched it fly into a tree where it hung upside down with a load of its buddies. Absolutely awesome and terrifying.

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We made it back from parliament, completely knackered, and after a short nap headed up to Mount Ainslie, recommended by a fellow backpacker for the wild kangaroos. I was very excited. We walked through a few housing estates before coming to the foot of the mountain. Within five minutes we’d spotted our first kangaroos! They had clocked us way before we’d seen them and were frozen, ears cocked, looking right at us and chewing grass. We saw probably about thirty in total, and they were so lovely! There were mummies and babies and big huge muscled daddies. When we got too close they would bounce away from us. We were totally captivated and amazed that several locals were out jogging. Kangaroos are completely normal for them!

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After a long while trying and failing to get decent photos, we decided to walk back down the hill. We heard pounding feet and stopped, and a pair of kangaroos bounced right behind us. We were frozen, and amazed. They were so close and unfazed by us, it was truly awesome.

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So all in all, Canberra as a city was a bit dull, but the incredible parrots, bats and kangaroos made it well worth a visit. Not what you’d expect from a capital city!

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