Melbourne VI

Melbourne. A beautiful, crazy, arty city that I was proud to call my home for 5 months. An unbelievably photogenic city, day and night.

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A city where dogs can have mohawks and no one blinks an eye.

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This is my catch up on the final few months of living in a home from home.

Work completely took over my life – I became a team leader and also broke a sales record!

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It wasn’t all bad though. I saved a fair amount of money, made friends for life and had a lot of fun. We had weekly occasions that kept us going;

– Pizza Tuesdays – cheap Tuesdays at Dominoes were great!

– Soft serve Wednesdays – the person with the least sales gets ice cream in the face.

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– Thirsty Thursdays – free beer!

– Fast Food Fridays – fast food to cure Thursday’s hangover!

We also had dares to encourage more sales – us girls were made to brush our teeth with vegemite, Tom lost his beard and Alex had his makeup done!

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Being a milkman sure was an experience!

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I met Martin, a ridiculous Scotsman, at work and we’ve been together since!

At the weekends we could use the work van so we went away to Torquay surfing and I stood up on the board – yay! Then got smacked in the face with another board – boo!

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I went to Future Music Festival in the baking heat and saw Dizzee Rascal, Bloc Party, Psy, Rita Ora, Prodigy, Temper Trap. It was an awesome day!

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2 friends from Pai came to stay. Kristin stayed for a few weeks, it was cool to have a roomie! We went exploring in St Kilda, found an interesting art gallery and watched the kite surfers.

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Louise was with us for Easter. It was so nice to hang out with her. We had a slightly disastrous Easter roast dinner!

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The Aussie Farmers crew drove the Great Ocean Road and slept in the van for 2 nights (mental!) and we went to meet them. It was very cold! We had to leave all the eskies in my room before we left. There were a LOT.

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My friend Jake left Melbourne for Perth and had an evening at the casino to say goodbye. I learnt I’m terrible at betting and was upset for him to leave. He was back in less than a week.

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I went to Comic Con with some girls from work and ended up playing Quidditch, sitting in the DeLorean and pretending I was in Star Wars.

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Martin and I kayaked down the Yarra river at sunset for his birthday. It was amazing to see the city from water level at night. We had fish and chips in our kayak and reached the casino in time to see fire balls go off, reflecting on the water. We went up the Eureka Tower (the tallest building in the southern hemisphere) to see where we’d kayaked. It was a magical evening!

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The team I led at work won a competition to go to an Aussie Rules game at the Etihad Stadium – it was a great atmosphere.

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I left my flat in Caulfield and moved to Prahran. I had so much stuff! We had a housemates leaving meal in Chinatown.

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Joe and Nat came to visit from Rochester where they were doing their Farm work. We went to the jail and got locked up! It was a really interesting attraction and well worth a visit!

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The following weekend, I went to the museum with Martin and saw stuff I’d missed last time.

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That night there was a mad Aussie Farmers house party! We played ‘goon of Fortune’ and Martin got knocked out by a washing line.

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Our last trip away for the weekend was to Lake’s Entrance. We had a barbecue and played soccer. It was a great final road trip.

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I can’t finish describing Melbourne without mentioning the Lords Lodge. This was where we moved to in Prahran. It was a fantastic hostel to stay in, run by the coolest hostel owner ever, Pat. The were a lot of “long-timers” so it had a real homely vibe. There was interesting art everywhere, chilled music on and always someone to chat to.

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On June 23rd, we left Melbourne in Mootilda, our work van. It was sad to leave but time to go – onward to the Philippines!

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I’ll visit Melbourne again one day, I’m sure of it. How can I not with
such great memories?

Melbourne V

Last weekend was beautiful. We got our hair cut and I met up with Kristin from Pai in St Kilda, we went to the Lentil As Anything there and got macaroons to eat on the end of the pier. St Kilda is lovely to photograph with the sea and the city in the background.

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In the evening we had a barbecue at Stu and Bam’s from work before heading to White Night Festival, an all night festival across the city. The video below (I hope this works!) explains all about it.

http://m.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fyoutu.be%2FB1Lj93zI_Do&h=sAQFfLVnB&s=1

It was astounding. The CBD was rammed and there was a real feeling of constant excitement, there was always something new to find! Martin and I were learning the ‘Thriller’ dance at 4.30 a.m. in Federation Square!

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I would love to be here for next year’s White Night to see if it’d be even better!

Similarly this weekend I went to St Kilda again. It’s a Sunday kind of place!

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I saw a quote I have on my wall in the UK in a cute bookshop on Acland St, it reminded me of home!

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Oh and last night Sam and I saw pals from Asia – Amy, Michael and Will. It was a good reunion!

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So there we go, once again I am up to date with this blog! Coming in the next few weeks… Future Music Festival, Wilson’s Prom and the F1.

Melbourne IV – St Kilda Fest and Phillip Island

Melbourne is truly weird and wonderful. They knit scarves for the trees in the middle of summer!

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They also do free festivals! We went to St Kilda Fest a few weekends ago, a free festival at the seaside. I didn’t get many photos but it was an awesome day of music, food and sun.

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Oh and I dyed my hair a bit green too!

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Coming back from work we see such wonderful sunsets. Here’s one coming from Pakenham back to the city.

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We get to use the work van at the weekends and took it to Phillip Island, about 3 hours from Melbourne. It was a fantastic weekend of surfing, swimming, laughing and dancing.

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Surfing there was great, I’ve never felt waves so strong!

Melbourne III

Having stayed in the Nunnery for a few weeks, I went to couch surf at my friend Dan’s house. We’d met in Pai in September and it was very nice of him to let me stay for a few weeks, it saved me a lot of money and it was great to be in an actual house (with a house rabbit, Chops). The day I got there it was boiling hot so we put the sprinkler on the washing line!

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I spent a while applying for jobs and after one interview I visited Lentil As Anything in Abbotsford. It’s a vegetarian restaurant within an ex-convent where you pay via an ‘honesty box’. If you have little money, you pay what you can and can make it up next time you go with more money. The food was so good that I wanted to lick the plate and the decor was great, an ever-changing art space. 

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I met a wonderful family there and the mother knew a lot about the history of the convent so I went for a wander round with them. There’s also a beautifully old-fashioned bakery within the building.

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I got a phone call whilst I was at the convent for a further interview… As a Milkman! I went along and got the job. I don’t actually deliver milk, I just tell people about the service and register them for the first delivery. It can be hard work going door to door and people can be rude but I’ve acquired a great group of friends from across the world working there and I get to meet lots of different people and see a lot of Melbourne’s suburbs. We have a lot of fun singing on the bus on the way to work, it’s a bit like having an extended family! I’ve seen some strange things on the streets of Melbourne, like this woman walking her pet goats.

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We have challenges each week to win prizes. One challenge is “soft serve Wednesday”. We’re pitted against each other for the most sales. Whatever loses gets icecreamed! I won against Jake on my first week 😀

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I work there Monday-Friday and sometimes we get to go further away. My bus won a competition to work in Bendigo (a city a few hours north of Melbourne) for 2 days. We all stayed in a log cabin in the woods overnight. It was interesting to see country Victoria but there were a lot of bugs!

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Working is great but sometimes we we’d up doing some really long days – I barely see my housemates but it makes me appreciate my time off!

I moved out from Dan’s into a short term rent with Sam, Matty and Marcus – it’s great to have our own place, I can make welshcakes again!

Melbourne II – The Grampians

Having spent a long time inside applying for jobs, we decide to go in a mini-tour. Sam, Matty, Marcus and I went to the Grampians, a range of mountains 3 hours from Melbourne. It was a boiling hot day and we stopped a few times to see various sites.

We were picked up at 6am when it was still cold. The boys were not happy!

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Driving through the countryside was bizarre. It was the first time I’d seen country Australia and the landscape was totally different to anything I’d ever seen before.

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We stopped to see some real life wild kangaroos!

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We also stopped for lunch and you could have kangaroo souvlaki. Sam tried it, it’s similar to beef but more gamey apparently.

Next up our guide took us to the Aboriginal Centre. It was interesting to learn about aboriginal culture and beliefs.

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We headed on to see some viewpoints and could see for MILES (or should that be kilometres?).

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Our group headed down hundreds of steps to an amazing waterfall.

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We went on to further viewpoints after trekking through the bush for a bit.

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There was an amazing lake/Dam too.

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We climbed up volcanic rock (it was hot with no shoes on!) to see further.

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It was a long day but so much fun and great to get away from the 4 walls of our hostel whilst we were looking for jobs!

Melbourne I

Right let’s do this! So Sam and I flew from Sydney to Melbourne on January 4th. Arriving at Melbourne airport was weird; it was a bit shack-like!

We stayed in the Nunnery hostel in Fitzroy. As you might guess from the name, it’s an ex-nunnery. There are lots of crosses, stained glass windows and nun-based puns on the posters around the hostel. I met some awesome people there and often we sat up on the roof chatting.

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We soon set out exploring the Fitzroy area and the CBD inbetween looking for jobs, setting up bank accounts and getting tax file numbers. Fitzroy is an indie kids dream. It’s like Camden, Dalston and Carnaby Street combined into one. Vintage shops, cafes (Melbournites love their coffee to a whole new level) and the cutest, funkiest bars you will ever see. We went for Afghan food in a restaurant where you could eat inside a tent!

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We went on the Nunnery’s bar crawl down Brunswick St and had great fun! Sam got very excited about the Lord Of The Rings pinball machine that we found.

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Drinks come in bizarre sizes in Australia; Pony, Pot, Schooner (“skull ya schooner, mate!”).

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We went to the cinema Australia-style – in the open air in Melbourne botanical gardens! Moonlight Cinema was amazing, we watched Hitchcock with bats flying across the inflatable screen with the lights of the city behind whilst sat on our duvets.

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Afterwards we got the tram home. Melbourne has the largest tram system in the world and I’m now used to seeing tram lines everywhere.

The CBD is so cool in Melbourne. Sydney was flash but Melbourne just oozes cool.

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We met up with Marcus and Matty and took them to Melbourne Museum “my mum would be so proud of me! I’m going to a museum voluntarily!”. It was fab (I love dinosaurs!).

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So there you have it. Melbourne, Chapter One. Little did I know back in January that I would fall in love with this intoxicating city.

Slightly out of order.

You may have noticed I did not end updating this last weekend as guaranteed. It’s starting today!

But for now I want to share a discovery of photos from October. Whilst in Luang Probang in Laos you may recall we visited a blue lagoon and jumped into it from a tree. 4 months later, I have only just located the photos (mostly to prove to my Dad I did it!).

Jumping in from the 5 metre high branch was exhilarating and I wish I could do it every morning as a wake up call!

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Coming soon to a blog near you…

Life has been a bit crazy as of late and as it’s been pointed out by various people, I haven’t blogged in AGES. So my mission by the end of this week is to fully update you all on Melbourne (and what a mission that will be!). I’m working on it, I promise and thankfully technical difficulties have been resolved so I can include pictures once again.

For now, here’s how we got to beautiful, wonderful Melbs; a bit of ‘flash packing’.

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Sydney II

Determined to explore a bit more of Sydney, Sam and I caught the ferry over to Manly. The harbour looked beautiful from the boat.

My phone died so I didn’t get any other photos! The beach we visited was very windy and we spent most of the time trying to get sand out of our eyes but it was nice to be by the sea again.

On December 29th a good friend from home came to Sydney; Alex Cook. It was so good to see him and meet his sister Jenny. We got some Thai food (I’m already missing it!) Then we went on the monorail around Sydney’s CBD. It really wasn’t worth it, a real waste of time! The windows were really bizarre to look out of and made your head feel funny.

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We also checked out Sydney’s Chinatown.

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In the evening we went to Cook’s hostel and chatted. It was so great to hang out and just chat with him, I hadn’t realized how much I’d missed him!

The following day we went to Sydney aquarium. We actually wore these hats the whole way around the aquarium.

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We saw sharks, jellyfish, dugongs and even found Nemo!

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On New Year’s Eve, it was bizarre getting ready very early for midnight but we had to get to the park at 5pm to get a good spot for the Sydney Harbour Bridge fireworks. There was a festival atmosphere in the park and we had a good little group sitting around waiting for the fireworks. The 9pm fireworks were amazing, mirrored either side of the bridge in the sky. The midnight fireworks were mind-blowing. Happy birthday, Mum for New Year’s Eve!
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When the fireworks were over, it took us 3 hours to get home – there were 1.5 million people in the city that night and not enough transport!

On New Year’s Day, Sam, Alex and I went to Bondi beach. I swam a bit in the cold water and five minutes later the shark siren went off! Everyone on the beach stood up and looked at the water. Helicopters came and boats went looking for the shark. Apparently it was a great white!

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The following day I went to visit some friends from Pai who live an hour north of Sydney on the Central Coast. The drive along the coast was beautiful and it was good to get out of the city.

Nathan and I walked through the bush “talk loudly so the snakes stay away” and had a look at some caves.

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It was really hot walking through the bush so we went for a quick swim to cool down and as usual I attracted ALL the sand. I was a sand monster!
We met up with Andrew and they took me to MacMasters beach to teach me to surf. It was really hard and the waves were breaking too soon but I gave it a good go! I got wiped out so much and swallowed half of the sea but it was fun and the boys were impressed that I kept going.

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We got a takeaway and hung out on the deck. It was really cool going to Kincumber and Avoca Beach and being in an actual house after so long in hostels!

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I can totally see why New South Wales is named such; areas of it look so like Pembrokeshire!

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When I got back from seeing the guys, Sam and I booked our flight to Melbourne for the following day (the same price for a 12 hour bus ride or an hour and a half flight… We chose the best option!), packed and got ready to leave. Sydney had it’s ups and downs but it did teach me two things; they have LOTS of varieties of M n Ms here in Australia and massive coke cans!

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Sydney

For the first few days in Sydney we mostly slept! It was only a 4 hour time difference from Bangkok to Sydney but it really affected me. I think the lack of sleep totally caught up with us!

Katie came to see us on the 21st and we went together to see the Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge. They weren’t as big as I had expected them to be!

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It was really lovely to see Katie again!

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The following day we went to Bondi Beach for a bit of sunbathing. It was very bizarre being on the beach in the middle of December. The water was very cold though!

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The next few days I slept even more – I had the worst sore throat ever, it felt like I was swallowing glass. Not what you want over the Christmas period in Sydney.

We met up with a friend from Asia, Kylie on Christmas Eve. It was good to see her again and funny to catch up on gossip!

Christmas Day in Australia was rather bizarre. It was fantastic to speak to both sides of my family but for at least this one day, I would have given anything to be home with them.

We had planned to go to a festival on the beach but it was raining! In Sam’s words “we came to Sydney for sun! What is this?!”. Eventually we decided to meet up with some of Sam’s friends from home to find something vaguely Christmassy to eat! We nearly ended up with KFC before we found a place you get a steak and chips. Sydney was so empty on rainy Christmas day. As it was so rainy we ended up going to the cinema to watch Les Miserables and eating cheese and apple in bed watching Home Alone. Next year I’m going to be Christmas personified!

Boxing Day we went to the cinema again – we had to, it was the Hobbit’s release date! (How is it released in Bosnia before Australia?). In the evening we saw Kylie again and had a great Boxing Day night at an Irish pub – Sydney started to grow on me.

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Today we went to Sydney Botanic Garden. It was so beautiful, right by Sydney Harbour. Just like Kew Gardens but in Sydney. There were so many wonderful plants and great views. Going there really helped change my so far negative perception of Sydney, it was stunning.

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After the garden, we went to look at an actually Christmassy arcade – the most Christmas we’ve seen in Oz!

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We wandered round the shops and I found some entirely unrealistic shoes that I NEED.

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But settled on some ridiculous $5 leggings instead!

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So there, an evening of blogging to catch up on my tracks right up to the day! We’re staying in Sydney until just after New Year before heading to Melbourne to look for jobs. Between then and now I’m going to try to catch up with some friends from Asia, see Alex from home (very excited!), see more of Sydney and see some pretty awesome New Year fireworks!