Thursday, February 25, 2010
Melbourne, and the Great Ocean Road
As the Olympic Games continue in Canada, we follow the results on Australian television. The entire package is an enormous tourist promotion for the country, for Vancouver, and for Whistler in particular. Negative comments are most rare.
The main desk man is Eddie McGuire, and he brings a lot to the table. He covers some of the events, does many of the interviews, and serves as an anchor for the presentation. Naturally, he does get revved up with the success of the Australian athletes. But he also enjoys the stories and events around the venues. We watched the interview with Wayne Gretzky, and he almost got Wayne to laugh, twice.
Another occasional host is Mike Malloy, also very funny. They do carry on, to the benefit of the audience---sometimes most irreverently. The suggestion that the competitors in the two man luge should light up a smoke after the sled comes to rest was brilliant. His chats with American figure skater Johnny Weir are excellent.
The Hockey Boys have rebounded with a couple of victories to advance. McGuire said that ten million Canadians had watched the game against the Germans. Add two to that number. And likely countless other Canadians around the world.
We are staying in Melbourne with the Grangers. As if they hadn't already seen enough Hursts! Jane stayed here during her Rotary exchange time, and Joanne visited with them for a month in 1999.
I was overwhelmed approaching the city. It looms far on the horizon when approaching from Canberra, almost like Judy Garland's "Emerald City". The same view comes into sight from the western road.
The Great Ocean Road stretches from Geelong, near Melbourne, to Port Campbell. It is not a drive for the faint of heart. I have never been comfortable with heights, but can adapt. Driving along the highway, on the wrong side, the ocean side to boot, passing bleary-eyed truckers in their haste to get to market. The drop from the road to the ocean is sometimes a couple of thousand feet. Makes the gonads sing, the old sphyncter costrict to the size of a micro dot. The views are brilliant, but require a stationary position. Park the car first.
We witnessed the "Twelve Apostles", rock formations on the ocean's edge. (In the last century, they were called "A sow and her piglets".) There is a natural erosion process that goes on constantly, but the formations remain relatively intact for the tourists. We stayed at Port Campbell, just past the helipad, from which twenty flights of tourists an hour rise to see the rocks up close and personal.
We took the inland road back to Melbourne, no ocean views, just valleys far below, and we topped it off with a few hours on the beach at Torquay.
Classes of school kids tore into the surf with their boards as part of their curriculum. Damn fine activity, thought I.
Plans are in order for a night of Australian Rules Football tomorrow evening. "Footy" rules here in Melbourne, and we hope to get a taste of it tomorrow. With the obligatory meat pie, of course.
The Grangers are exemplary hosts. We can only hope they will show their faces in Prince Edward County some day to learn of County Hospitality.
Saturday, February 20, 2010
We are indebted to Anne and Peter Edwards, who have taken us in, on short notice. It has given us a chance to regroup, revitalize, and to reintegrate with the world, as we are learning to know it.
We had a chance to chat with Marion and Murray Swan this morning via Skype. It is yet another of those tools I have not completely come to grips with, but was fun to use. The Edwards are on their way to Florida in a month or so. That gives them plenty of time to come up with a list of reasons why the Hursts were such fabulous guests. We are even going to play a hand or two of bridge this evening.
We spent several hours today touring the grounds and buildings of the Australia War Museum. The Aussies have had a hand in many world situations, from the early 1900's in South Africa right through to the present, in Afghanistan. They were far more involved in Vietnam than were the Canadians. Darwin, on the north was bombed by the Japanese during the Second World War. Australians suffered greatly in the Second World War, especially at the hands of the Japanese.
Peter whisked us around the city before our stop at the museum. On Red Hill, overlooking the Parliament Buildings, we were startled by a wonderful pair of kangaroos, mother and child. We have seen several on the hills while driving from place to place, but this was our first close look at the roos.
We spent the previous night in Newcastle, attempting to solve the insurance problems and claims from our fender bender. Not a lot was resolved, as bureaucracy reigns supreme here as in any other country. You may not "Pass Go", unless you know the correct password. And you need to "Pass Go" in order to learn the password. Methinks it will not be resolved until we get back to Canada.
Let me share the moment. It is five o'clock in the afternoon. We are on the deck, writing travel journals, sipping Coke. I have yet to wear a sweater, let alone a jacket while in Australia. The sneakers are getting a little high, as I have neglected socks as well. Time for some baby powder. A slight breeze, listening to the Beatles' "Another Day". Brilliant rosellas, scarlet parrots, will arrive shortly to get a treat or two from the bird feeder.
As can be expected, the Bee Gees have followed the Beatles. Never a bad thing. Moving along......Later.
Sunday, February 14, 2010
Valentine's day Plus One.
We arrived here in the early afternoon, following a pleasant drive north from Woolgoola, north of Coff's Harbour. We`ate at another "Club". The lamb was`just satisfactory, but the fries were good. No matter what you order, the base is made of fries, topped with your meal, with some salad on the side. The shrimp were deep fried, looked like they were from Cysco or M & M.
We met three delightful nurses who shared a bit of the local history with us. Two were retired, and the other was a Community`Service nurse.
Ofeten Australians say, "Why yes, I've been to Canada". They then tell you they have been to Victoria, Vancouver and perhaps to Banff. They have no idea of the size of Canada, nor do most Canadians, (nor Australians, for that matter). We met an older couple at Manley Beach who told us they visit Sydney from Perth every year. "How long is the flight? I asked. "Oh no, we don't fly," they replied. We take the train---something called the Asian-Australian Express, or something similar to that. Four days, nicely appointed. Private cabins with washrooms. Dining room service for all meals. "Quite expensive," they added. I'll bet it is!
The beach here at Byron's Bay is at or near the top of all beach lists. From the lighthouse in the east, to the mountains to the west, it must be almost forty kilometeres long. The ,town itself is inundated with young Australians, and others from around the world. We sauntered up the main street on the Sunday evening. The bars and restaurants were packed. We are nearing the end of summer. The kids went back to school a couple of weeks ago, and it even feels a little like September.
We talked to Jane and Hunter yesterday. A man of few words. "Hi, grandma. i went swimming. Bye." Apparently, all is well on the home front.
We may get to the local library today to catch up on Belleville news. The internet is free for an hour in the Aussie libraries. Not a bad thing.
Tomorrow we are heading north to Brisbane. That will be the extent of our norther journey. We have spoken to Jason Lees, and`are planning to meet him at his place around 5:00pm. God bless the GPS. It failed us only when the fuse when in the thing, according to the Thrifty people in Newcastle.
Did I mention we stopped by Newcastle? It also is on the Pacific with stunning beaches. As we approached the city, we encountered a couple of rounabouts. Joanne was at the wheel for the first time in our journey.
Up the Coast-To Brisbane
Up the Coast-To Brisbane
This is a bit slower process than I am used to performing at home; nonetheless, you will get a taste of the whereabouts of my wife and myself for the next couple of months.
My cutting and pasting did not work with the memory stick.
But it seems the pictures are coming through. So we will go from there.
This is a hot sun to deal with. It is plus 30 degrees here in Byron Bay, the Fort Lauderdale of Eastern Australia.
Busy with tourists from around the world.
I will posty another photo and depart.
The best to y'all.