Big Question Marks

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Victorian times...

Today there were a few tears, a little bit of shock.... it was only today, while unscrewing license plates in the parking lot of the VicRoads office where we finally had to say to our trusty travelling companion-- "Daisy, I've got a feeling we're not in Queensland anymore."

I suppose it's hard to deny that we're no longer Queenslanders... we once again wear socks AND shoes when we go to the supermarket, possums outnumber cane toads here immeasurably, and while we can be happy there will never be any cyclone threats in our present home, we continue to freeze our butts off in the Melbourne winter. Daisy's been living in our covered garage for a while now, her "Sunshine State" plates just a tad ironic (though there was a fabulous late-afternoon rainbow visible in Richmond today). So it was only a matter of time before we had to switch our van's Queensland registration (that's "Rego" in Aussie) to the state of Victoria. Daisy's taking it well-- true, "The Place to Be" is a bit of a lame slogan to bear, but we weren't shelling out the extra cash for the "European"-style plates. We don't know too much of her history, we do know she came from Melbourne before her move to Port Douglas, and her window-stickers like "I played Apollo Bay Music Festival 2000" (a big annual concert held on the nearby Great Ocean Road) give us some clues to her past. So maybe she's happy to be home! Not to mention this whole rego thing saves us a car wash if we can just trade in our bug-encrusted and bird-poop-splattered old plates for sparkly new ones.

We haven't told her too much about our future plans, but we're planning a great deal of quality time together in the coming months. Time on our visas is running out but there's a lot of road to cover and sights to see before we take off in February. We've found a fantastic website, Roadmap Australia, which has eliminated our need for a ruler & map to guesstimate the mileage we hope to cover (about 15,000 km!). Since we rushed down a good chunk of the east coast to Melbourne and missed a lot of the classic sights in New South Wales-- the Blue Mountains, outside of Sydney; Nimbin, the hippie mountain village; legendary surf spot Byron Bay; and Bondi Beach, to name a few spots-- we've got some backtracking to do. Then there's the highway up the centre of the country which will take us to that giant red rock, Uluru, underground opal-mining town of Coober Pedy, and Kakadu National Park in the Top End. And last but not least is the gorgeous west coast- endless beaches meeting outback, Ningaloo Reef (from what we've heard, better than the Great Barrier Reef and way closer to shore); swimming with dolphins, and camels and wildflowers everywhere... well maybe not everywhere, but close to it. We figure we'll start the big trek in December, since we have the apartment til then. We'll just have to tough out a bit of the wet season up north-- maybe learn finally what "Going Tropo" really means-- and might have to share the beach with a few screaming brats (school holidays, ugh), but the thoughts of being on the road again are exciting!

In the meantime, we've got a mini-trip booked to visit Tasmania finally in August. It's possible it'll be really cold and rainy, but then again, the environment's so unpredictable everywhere that who really knows?! Flights cost next to nothing from Melbourne ($49 there and $29 back) and if it's rainy, we'll just spend more time in the museums, on brewery tours, and perhaps wandering the Cadbury chocolate factory. It's supposed to be gorgeous, and full of old buildings and colourful history. We take off on August 15 and return on the 19th... as there's no way Dayle's going to work on her birthday. Fingers crossed we'll see a Tasmanian Devil!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Catching up!

Hey everyone! It's been a busy and chilly couple of months in Melbourne (yup, we're still here!) and we thought, geez, it's about time to update the blog. Sorry for being such blog-slackers... here's the wrap-up on what's been happening (more details to come):

The Big Move: Back in May our nutty Kiwi housemates told us they wanted to break their lease (it was too expensive somehow suddenly) and move out of the house on Canning Street sometime in July (it was something new every week with those guys!). We were sick of freezing in an increasingly-crowded house anyway-- the one chick's freeloading 18-year-old brother and his friend had moved over "temporarily" from New Zealand and had already overtaken the 1st floor of the house for six weeks, and we were getting sick of eating our meals in our bedroom-- so we started a quick n' dirty apartment hunt. Over two weeks we saw some flashy, grungy, huge and tiny living spaces, until we came upon The One. Just like we met Daisy, we knew we were meant to be, we knew we had to have the fabulous one-bedroom apartment on the banks of the Yarra River. The current tenant, an interior designer, had been assigned to work on a fancy Shanghai hotel but didn't want to give up her gorgeous gem of a place from June to December. She'd met a couple other potential subletters before us and so naturally we were ecstatic when she let us know she wanted us to have the flat! And after so much hellish share housing, hostels, camping and rustic cabins on cow paddocks, needless to say we've been thoroughly enjoying the bliss of having our very own space-- kitchen, balcony, gas heater, views of the city and more :)
Happy birthday to Adrian: Last week Mr Rogers got a little older. And though he continues to creep toward the big 3-0 (a wee bit faster than Dayle, I must add!), the part-ay spirit has not left him, and so we celebrated the big event last Saturday night with many beverages and three hours of karaoke in our own room at FM Karaoke on Bourke Street (in the CBD). It took a little bit for voices to get warmed up but soon enough the initial shyness was lost and everyone was enjoying a good selection of karaoke favourites like Queen and Aerosmith set to excellent and very dramatic Asian love-story videos. The staff at FM were fantastic and put up with our jolly group of songbirds (thanks to everyone who was brave enough to get onstage!). When everyone was hoarse we dashed down a few alleys and made it to the Croft Institute just in time* (* Note: Despite protests, Melbourne has just begun a citywide "lockout" policy where you can't enter a bar after 2am, no matter how late it stays open... something to do with curbing streets violence or something...) for some more hours of dancing. Fun times for all! Adrian also joined the trendy Melburnian crowd and got himself a real authentic Crumpler bag, straight from the Crumpler HQ in Collingwood. He hasn't stopped grinning since.

We'll have more updates soon... complete with the grand photo-tour of our awesome apartment, our thoughts on Australian television (something we haven't seen in ages before moving in to our new place!), and updates on our future adventures as they materialize. Now it's time to get back to watching one of many generic cop dramas which occupy weeknight TV... :)