Oct 15

Australia 2010 – Melbourne

Saturday

A travel day. The morning was spend relaxing and writing blog posts, then a leisurely trip to the airport. Apparently buses are more expensive on weekends, as this time it cost me $4.60 instead of $2,80, anyway it’s still cheaper than a taxi ;-) A quick checkin, with the bag being labelled as Fragile as it carried my purchases from the Barossa and then more waiting. The flight’s only just over an hour, so they only had time to serve a drink before we were making our way down again.

Landing in Melbourne, the plan was to picked by my cousin, but circumstances changed (impending labour can do that), so instead to the Traveller’s Shuttle, which for $15 dropped my right at the hostel. There are at least a couple of companies that do this, seems a pretty good service as long as you’re not in a rush to get to your hotel.

The chosen accommodation in Melbourne was Nomads Industry, a very different experience from Adelaide. This is a lot more corporate, or so it seems. There’s a lively bar instead of a common room, which can be dark and noisy. As far as I could see there was nowhere to go if you wanted some quiet time in the evening, although in the mornings it was fine. It’s a bar open to anyone, so can get pretty busy; as a consequence it also gets very noisy – earplugs are a must! For a hostel that can accommodate a few hundred people, the kitchen is TINY! there were 5 of us in there on the morning and it was crowded. Otherwise, ther facilities are good, there’s plenty of laundry services and the staff are efficient.

Once checked in, all I did on Saturday was take a walk around the centre of town. There was a general Melbourne festival taking place, so there were quite a few bands playing in the streets.

Australia 2010

Sunday

Sunday was another walkaround day, it was bright and sunny, apparently one of the best for a while. It started with brunch overlooking the Yarra river, down in Southgate, at Blue Train Cafe, along with plenty of the marathon runners who had just finished up their race.

Australia 2010

Also, Melbourne has Boris Bikes. I wonder what they are called there? After brunch I went to the Immigration Museum, a really nice museum tracing the different waves of immigration with lots of personal stories being told. For the rest of the afternoon, all I did was wander in the many gardens and parks the city has, with a quick walk round Victoria Market, where I worked out you could buy almost anything.

Australia 2010

The end of the day was spent with Christy Dena, a twitter friend I’d never managed to meet up with, despite us getting close a few times in London. She’d kindly offered to host me and watch the Japanese Grand Prix, so we settled down with a couple of bottles of fizzy stuff and I did my best to provide a decent commentary. I was really surprised to see they used the BBC commentators; when they cut to an ad break, there was an Australian guy summarising anything you missed and then back to the BBC.

Monday

On Monday, I’d booked a day trip out with a company called Down Under Travel. Unfortunately, it was not obvious that this was really just a part of a far larger company called APT, so I managed to miss completely the pick up as I was not looking for an APT coach – it wasn’t all my fault, as the drivers did not ask the one and only person waiting outside the pickup place if I were waiting for them! Eventually, I caught up with the coach; the pick up was only to take people to the central departure point. First of all we went on a steam train called Puffing Billy; I loved this, i have a soft spot for steam trains.

Australia 2010

Then lunch at a winery and then we were supposed to go to Healesville Sanctury. But the bus broke down., so we were all stuck at the winery for another hour. Eventually another turned up and took us to the Sanctury so we did get an abreviated tour, allowing me to see platypuses/platypi (whatever your preferred plural), my favourite monotremes ;-)

Australia 2010

My final event in Melbourne was dinner with Amy and Pamela, more Twitter friends and fellow F1 fans I’d met very briefly in London and Spa; we were planning on brunch on Sunday before the race but the delayed qualifying meant that was cancelled.. A great dinner and chat was followed by a spin round most of the Albert Park track – far narrower than I expected.

Overall, I loved Melbourne, a great little city that I could spend a lot more time in. Next up, a 3 day bus trip to Sydney.

Oct 09

Australia Trip – Adelaide

I’ve finally arrived in Adelaide after about 34 hours of travelling, door to door. It started with a lift to the airport, 23 hours on a plane (well, nearly, there were just under 3 hours waiting in Bangkok), then more waiting in Sydney before the final plane to Adelaide. It wasn’t a bad a trip as it could have been; I flew business class, finally spending all those airmiles I accumulated 3 jobs ago. It’s been in the plans for a while, but seats to Australia are hard to find on rewards. This one was booked 370 days ago, on the 30th Sept 2009. There was one seat on one flight on one day in the whole of October, so that was all mine. Well worth the wait. A lounge in Heathrow, with a massage at the Spa an added bonus, a further lounge at Bangkok and then a final one in Sydney as I waited for the domestic flight. On board, a flat bed and plenty of food and drink. All in all, a pretty pleasant way to fly, it kickstarted the holiday and I’m not feeling too much effect at the moment, hopefully I managed to avoid a little of the jetlag through some timeshifting over the last few days before the travel.
In complete contrast, my accommodation for these 2 weeks or so is all hostels, something I’ve never done before having missed out on the backpack travel bug when I was younger. For this first one, Backpack Oz, I’ve treated myself to a single room; for the others in Melbourne and Sydney, it’s dorm rooms. The plan is to spend money on the experiences, not the beds.

Wednesday

There was little to report on day 1. Got into Adelaide early afternoon and the plan was just to stay awake. so starting off with a walk round the southern part of town. Plenty of restaurants and a great market, with plenty of fresh stuff available; the market is also part of the chinatown of Adelaide, so plenty of stuff on sale I’ve never seen. Wednesday was free dinner day at the hostel, so i just enjoyed that and chatted with some of my fellow residents. It’s a real mix, from the traditional backpacker (whatever that is) to people here for meetings or just a quick week’s holiday.

Adelaide 6 Oct

Thursday

This was my walk round Adelaide day. After Wednesday was overcast with a cold wind, today was glorious sunshine. Still a little chilly, but nice and bright. I started off with a trip to the Botanic Gardens, joining one of the free tours round the park. Next, lunch with Shai Coggins, someone I knew from my b5 media days. Last time I met her was in New York. We went to a great little Italian place, San Giorgio, for pizza and chatted about social media, new jobs and travel plans.
My next stop was the South Australian Museum, which was basically natural history and ethnography museums. Lots of stuff about the Pacific Islands and the history of the Australian people.
A jetlag induced snooze followed before a final venture out to Jasmin, regarded as one of the best Indian restaurants in Australia. There appeared to be no space but luckily, they managed to squeeze me in and it was worth it, a great beef dish, acoompanies by spicy green beans

Adelaide Botanic Gardens

Friday

On Friday, I joined Groovy Grape tours for a trip up the Barossa Valley to see some winerys. We went to 4, a mixture of big and small. First was Jacob’s Creek, which does far more wines than the generic version it built its UK reputation on. I hadn’t actually realised that it was an actual creek, which is well labelled. One of the oldest wineries in the valley, it’s now a large commercial organisation, run by Pernod Ricard. Next a far smaller winery, Simpatico, a company that had only been up and running since May. No tour here, just a tasting. I bought my first bottle here, a sparkling Voignier.
The trip included a barbeque for lunch, but given the weather was overcast and threatening rain, we went to the alternative, somewehre called The Club, for lunch. Tried out kangaroo here, pretty good. Earlier in the day, we’d stopped at the coffee shop, (with the largest rocking horse in the world) and I’d seen some live kangaroos (or were they wallabies, couldn’t tell)

Barossa Valley Wine Tour

The afternoon started with a trip to Richmond Grove, another winery in the same group as Jacob’s Creek) and had a good tour on how they used to produce wine. The final trip was to Seppeltsfield, which produces wine and a series of fortified wines. I bought a bottle of tawney from here – they can’t call it port but that is what it is. This winery produces a very expensive 100 year old ‘port’, they started laying down barrels in 1878 and have been doing it every year since.
For the final evening meal, I ended up a Kenji, a Japanese/French restaurant where I had a lovely piece of pork belly.

Barossa Valley Wine Tour
That’s the end of the Adelaide part, next stop Melbourne.