Big Question Marks

Monday, December 24, 2007

In the city that is about to sleep...

We did it, we reached Melbourne (and yarrrr, it's cold here)!
It was an ass-numbing four-and-a-bit days of driving, but Daisy wins again. From Stanthorpe, we rode the scenic New England Highway (think: mountains, rolling hills, flower-covered meadows, old country towns with gorgeous buildings) down through inland New South Wales for our first few days of driving-- and New South Wales is huge, though not as big as Queensland! We swerved around our first highway-crossing goanna (a big lizard-- he stretched across a whole lane-- and he made it across after all), and then passed another one, belly-up and not so successful a little later. We visited Tamworth, the "country music capital of Australia" so we could take photos with a giant golden guitar and buy tacky souvenirs. We've treated ourselves to some nice restaurant meals and a night at a huge old cinema in Newcastle (it's been ages for both movies and dining out). We watched "Into The Wild" finally-- two thumbs up, go see it if you haven't! (And don't worry, Moms and Dads, we're now going more "out of the wild" than into it, at least for the time being. But I guess we're rubber tramps!)

We finally dug our toes into the sands of the east coast in Newcastle, after being landlocked for a few months, yay! And we checked out Sydney in one whirlwind afternoon-- and sipped Coronas by the Opera House, which was every bit as impressive (maybe more) than we expected. The city itself is gorgeous- chock-full of old architecture and history (and living history-- we followed a guy dressed as a pirate through The Rocks district till we lost him). It's a nightmare to drive and navigate-- we circled the core and suburbs for 2 hours before we figured out where to park. Sydney's best discovered on foot, or on the super-futuristic monorails which we didn't get a chance to ride yet. As we left the city the next day, we were like "Damn, we kind of like Sydney, should we go live there instead?"

But we continued on-- this time along the long and boring 12-hour drive to Melbourne on the multi-lane Hume highway. The winds whipped up like crazy as we headed west (we don't know if it was just the mountains, or a storm) and Daisy was making almost no progress, so we finally stopped after a hellishly windy ride. We managed to stop in the sheep-shearing centre of Goulburn (a few hours west of Sydney) to climb up into the Big Merino, a funny, wrinkly-looking three-storey sheep with historical wool-industry displays inside (and his name is Rambo, said the lady in the gift shop).

From there, we crossed the border to Victoria and the road became even more boring. Luckily, it was a short three hours to Melbourne-- via Glenrowan, the little town where the infamous bushranger Ned Kelly and his gang met their final fate in a big shootout with police in 1880. And Ned's huge here, so we went to pay our tributes. We're going to check out the homemade armour (from ploughshares!) he wore in the legendary gunfight soon-- it's in a museum here in Melbourne.

Our plans to sleep at friends' houses didn't work out so well (everyone's between houses) but we scored ourselves a sweet hotel room in the Miami Hotel for $80 a night-- with free parking, a king sized bed, fridge, walk-in closet, and a swanky bathroom! It's sparkling white and pristine, and the carpet's really soft. But my eyes keep darting to the sprinkler system on the ceiling, which looks like a Huntsman spider from the corner of my vision. Slow but sure, we'll get out of bumpkin mode.

And Melbourne's wicked--this is the 3rd time here now (almost feels like home), but we'll see how it works out for jobs and apartments. Looks like the whole place might shut down till after new year's (it was a battle getting a dinner out last night!), so we might end up camping again for a while after all. but thanks to all you spider sympathizers and blog-readers, and MERRY CHRISTMAS to you all! (photos to come on Flickr soon, promise). xoxoxo, A&D