And so to Launceston

Friday 26th January 2018

Off to Launceston today where we were staying for 2 nights before flying out from Launceston airport on Sunday morning. An absolutely stunning journey through the Cradle Mountain area. I have to say our chauffeurs Steve and Greg have done a marvellous job!! We drove through more mining areas too but most of the day we enjoyed being surrounded by tree lined mountains and the spiralling roads that go with mountain driving. We’ve hit some great place names on the way – ‘snake creek’ ‘double barrel creek’ ‘pea soup creek’ ‘weaning paddock creek’ ‘kookaburra rock road’ – you could only be in Australia. Drove though some quaint towns like Rosebery and Tullah – again like little pockets of land that time forgot. There is so much logging industry in this area … this involves very large and very speedy logging trucks on these narrow mountain roads. Often as we drove (slowly) down some incredibly step descents we would find cyclists just embarking on the climb … 🤨


We were aiming to get to Launceston without too much stopover as it was Australia Day … and we wanted to get there for the celebrations. We had kitted ourselves out with fake tattoos in the morning (Australian flags, kangaroos etc.) – I had posted a picture of me with said tattoo on Facebook – some people believed me … Sorry, it was just a joke!!! We arrived at our apartment in good time – it was impressive on first sight – the building was an old gentleman’s club – it had a cathedral style ceiling, spacious lounge and kitchen. Unfortunately the temperature over these two days hit the high 30s and we had not realised in advance that there was no air conditioning. It was absolutely sweltering at night … very little sleep … and lots of mosquito bites from having the windows open – oh joy!!

But the weirdest thing of all was that the city was deserted – it was like there had been an evacuation and we hadn’t got the email!! We dolled ourselves up for a party night all the same then started wandering around the empty streets. We were laughing saying that we might walk into a restaurant and all the locals would jump out with Australian flags and shout “surprise!!” But they didn’t appear – we still had a lovely meal, followed by a walk around town, a couple of drinks and then retired home for an earliesh night.

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It was a long night however – as mentioned before the extreme heat kept us awake + the mosquitos … and on top of that we were opposite the town clock which chimed every quarter of an hour, it was like sleeping (or not sleeping) next to Big Ben!!

Saturday 27th January 2018
Steve was up and out early to the Parkrun – admirable effort on such little sleep. Greg got up early too and went to the gym. Kaye and I … well, we just dozed!!


When we were all reunited we headed out for some breakfast – nothing like a good nosh when you’re feeling sleep deprived. From there we decided on a walk out to Cataract Gorge … the local information centre informed us that it was a pleasant walk with opportunities for swimming. But that didn’t prepare us for quite how magnificent it was going to be. We took the left hand walk on the way – the ‘boys’ had decided that we’d save the easier path for the way back!! Nearly killed us, it was a steep climb, step after step after step … it was like being back on the South West Coastal Path … except it was 32 degrees!! But all the agony was SO worth it when we arrived.


We all jumped into the beautiful gorge river – I had never experienced anything like it. Greg, Kaye and I swam over to the waterfall area under the bridge – fabulously cool fresh water, so deep and open – surrounded by stunning mountains.  On the swim back however there was a group of teenagers squealing about an eel in the water .. “look how big it is, it’s huge”… even Greg agreed with them but was laughing …. I on the other hand swam like my life depended on it – I was like an Olympian!!!  I had seen a washed up Moray eel in Thailand (see blog – The Tale of the Longtail Boat) and I knew how big their teeth were!!  Opted for a more sedate swim in the open air swimming pool with Steve afterwards, followed by a few hours of lazing in the sun.

The walk back was so much more pleasurable and manageable with spectacular views of the gorge all the way along … completely flat in comparison to our earlier walk.

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After our fabulous day, we refreshed ourselves and set out to find somewhere to eat. Settled for an Italian meal – delicious – and then thought we’d pop in for a night cap in Henry’s (the restaurant and bar below our accommodation).  It was rather posh with elaborate rules posted up (no thongs, no trainers, no shorts, no dirty clothing ….) but they allowed us in anyway …. and we had a few drinks in their oh so sumptuous lounge.

Sunday 28th January 2018

Up early for the drive to the airport and our flight back to Melbourne.  It’s been a fabulous week –  Tasmania is very high up on the list of favourites.

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Stunning views from Launceston airport lounge

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Off we go again … back to Melbourne

 

A walk in the rainforest

Thursday 25th January 2018

Woke up bright and breezy in beautiful Strahan – beautiful flat Strahan … seems like everywhere we’ve stayed in recent times has been hilly (and hot) … so today was the day for a run (there was no putting it off)! Steve and I headed out for a 45 minute out and back run … it was fabulous running through Strahan, along the harbour side and by the beach. It got hotter and hotter though so I resorted to walking the last 10 minutes or so. Felt good to be out jogging again – vowed to keep it up on a daily basis now!! Oh yeh!!

Came back to find that Greg had been out shopping and bacon and eggs were on the breakfast menu. Kaye and I left our two men to cook said breakfast while we went and had a game of badminton on the grass outside our lodge … much giggling and ‘a few’ rallies … but great exercise and stretching all the same!!

After a delicious breakfast we took off on a walk to explore Strahan – a walk through People’s Park into the rainforest had been recommended. Wow … it was a fabulous walk, again tall tall trees and overgrown ferns of many types, beautiful streams running through in an array of colours, and at the end we reached the Hogarth Falls – so so beautiful.

As you can see, the water is a strange colour here – it is due to the presence of tannin in the water. Tannin is leached out of the peat substrate upon which certain vegetation communities (such as tea tree scrub and rainforest) grow. (As you can probably tell, I had to google that bit)!!!!

The tannin is found in the Strahan sea water too, as we found out when we went to the beach that afternoon. We had decided some down time was needed and so some lazing around on the sand, reading time and beach picnic was next on the agenda. A very mellow afternoon – hot but not too hot – a swim was required for cooling purposes though and that was interesting … so warm but it was like swimming in Coca Cola or tea … it was amazingly clear through the colour though … and we had been told it was perfectly harmless. There were lots of other people swimming, mostly children I must admit … and inflatables!!

On the way home from the beach we caught a waft of cooking from Molly’s cafe – roast dinner was on the menu for the evening … so you can guess where we rocked up an hour later. Roast beef, roast potatoes and all the trimmings – just the ticket. We were right next door to a bottle shop too which was so convenient as the cafe was BYO (bring your own)!! As soon as we wolfed the delicious food down, we hot footed it back to the river to resume our platypus hunt. One hour later …. we had seen so many ripples, an abundance of bubbles, we could even hear movement …. but we DID NOT see one duck bill platypus. 😟 Gutted!!!

Stepping back in time – travelling through Queenstown

Wednesday 24th January 2018

We were up and out by 9.00am, leaving our city residence to drive along the winding mountain roads once again. A beautiful sun shining day – tree filled mountains and the tallest of trees – you just feel enveloped in luxurious shades of green. The lakes and rivers glimmer and solo canoeists paddle their path … it’s so blissful.

After a few hours of driving, the terrain took a dramatic change – dead trees lined the road … and then we reached the lookout point into Queenstown – it looks like moonscape, so eery. Queenstown, once the world’s richest mining town has been left barren. It’s rich and rugged mining history includes gold, silver, copper and zinc … it also had smelting works, brick works and sawmills. It is said that the combination of tree removal for use in smelters + smelter fumes + fires stripped the mountains and left the area in this deserted state. The town and community still remain and has a real Wild West appeal – fascinating. We took the sprialling road down from the lookout point into the town … think we stood out like a sore thumb!!

After Queenstown it was head down until we reached our destination – Strahan. We couldn’t remember why we had chosen Strahan or who had recommended it …. but it is just perfect – it was our favourite stopover in Tasmania. It is just a small town on the West Coast but it has so much character, beautiful harbour, beaches, rainforest, interesting shops and cafes – a little ‘step back in time’ feel too … but magical.

We stayed on a holiday park – had a cute 2 bedroom lodge, very comfy and the staff super friendly and accomodating. They recommended that we go and watch the local play – a daily performance starting at 5.30pm. We went along not knowing what to expect … dreading the whole interaction thing …. but it was absolutely brilliant and we all got into it wholeheartedly. It was called “The Ship that never was” and was a fabulous story about a group of convicts who escaped prison in Tasmania by building a boat and sailing to South America. It was hilarious, with amazing props and packed with interaction … only Greg got picked on from our group.

We had a mooch around after the play and then opted for dinner in a local pub restaurant. We were shown to our table by a charming young American waiter and were told the waitress would be with us in due course. Unfortunately we experienced a couple of ‘customer service’ issues during the evening (as you do)!! First off, Steve went to the bar and asked for two glasses of prosecco – the barmaid’s response was a vacant look and a “uh?” – Steve repeated his request and received the same stimulating response …. after one more attempt Steve resorted to “two glasses of white wine please.” Clearly this popular bubbly has not reached Western Tasmania yet. We had got through a fair few drinks before the waitress finally arrived to take our food order – she did apologise – so Greg cleverly suggested that we have a free round of drinks as compensation – our wish was granted and we felt very smug!!

Earlier in the day we had made enquiries about sightings of duck bill platypus and were told that if we looked in certain parts of the river at dusk we were guaranteed to see some – I was so excited. So, on the way back from the restaurant, we set off on our wildlife hunt ….. we’d probably left it a wee bit late as darkness had set in. Decided we’d sleep on it and return tomorrow…. it was guaranteed after all!! 😉

‘Things to do’ in Hobart

Tuesday 23rd January 2018

It’s hard to choose what to do when you have limited time on trips away and there’s so much to do, but for today we all agreed on a visit to MONA (Museum of Old and New Art). It’s located within the Moorilla winery on the Berriedale peninsula – it is the largest privately funded museum in Australia. We opted to take the Mona Roma to get there – a fast ferry departing from Hobart pier.

For some obscure reason it is of ‘camouflage’ design – not sure what it’s blending in with but it looks arty! It has a bar on board though … and models of sheep and cows for photographic opportunities.

The current temporary exhibition is called ‘The Museum of Everything’ and is described as ‘the world’s first wandering institution for the untrained, unintentional, undiscovered and unclassifiable artists of the 19th, 20th and 21st century’ – such a fascinating collection. We all separated to explore with use of audio and gathered at lunchtime to exchange stories of appreciation, fascination and outright shock!! The audio equipment even flashed up a warning when you were about to enter a room with art of a sexual nature, and which some people might consider ‘rude!!!’ I was so engrossed with everything – from dinosaurs made from collected rubbish and kittens’ tea party to toothy Madonnas – loved hearing all about the artists … a great representation from artists with autism, visual impairment and mental health issues. Fascinating to learn a little more about the use of ‘art therapy’ – got me thinking about some retirement training when I get home. (I think this gap year is helping me to find myself)!!!

This is a photo of the entrance – makes us look taller and slimmer!!

So we lunched on lamb and chickpea wraps as we ‘talked art’ and listened to some live music playing in the grounds – oh so cultured.

When we got back to Hobart, Kaye and Greg travelled out by bus to meet up with an aunt of Kaye’s that they had not seen for many years. A heartwarming reunion by all accounts.

Steve and I decided to use the time to drive up to the top of Mount Wellington, elevation of 1,271m – a closed eyes job from time to time – mine not Steve’s as he was driving! The views from the top made the scariness worthwhile – beautiful …. and so funny to see the places we had been during the day in miniature.

Took a steady drive down, watching for sharp corners … and of course passed the usual nutty runners and cyclists – crazy people!!

In the evening we met up with Kaye and Greg in the Hope and Anchor, Australia’s oldest pub. India joined us for a drink later too – a lovely evening exchanging more stories. Had a final drink in the area called Salamanca before retiring home to bed.

Goodbye for now India – hopefully see you in the summer 😊

From country residence to city, via Port Arthur

Monday 22nd January 2018

What a view to wake up to … and what a noise too – all those lovely farmyard noises!! The cock-a-doodle-doo from early doors, the cows mooing in surrounding fields … and then the hundreds of sheep arrived outside the bedroom window!! SO rustic!!

So up we got nice and early, true country style. We didn’t offer to stay and shear the sheep but headed out on our journey to Hobart instead. Getting out was a giggle – as we opened the farm gate a sheep escaped, so Steve impressively herded him/her back in whilst trying to stop others achieving the same escape plan!! Thought at one point we were going to be there all day!

The road trip was truly stunning – real chocolate box stuff. I would recommend everyone put Tasmania on their bucket list. It’s so green and mountainous with the most scenic of rivers and lakes. It’s impossible not to be amazed everywhere you look. As always we were looking out for wildlife – got to see wallabies and echidnas … but no Tasmanian Devils or Tasmanian Tigers!

En route we stopped off at Port Arthur which had been highly recommended – it was a place full of history – many of them sad stories – but incredibly beautiful surroundings. Port Arthur penal station was established in 1830 as a timber-getting camp, using convict labour – it was a punishment station for repeat offenders from all the Australian colonies. Of course, some of the original crimes were so menial e.g. stealing a loaf of bread, sodomy (being gay), adultery – for these acts they were transported from the UK to the other side of the world. We took the guided tour, including the harbour cruise – this provided information on the penitentiary, the ‘separate prison’ (solitary), the asylum, the dockyard, the Boys’ prison (boys as young as 9 were sent there) and the Isle of the Dead. In stark contrast Port Arthur was also a community for military and free men – some of the stylish colonial style houses remain and the beautiful gardens and church. The guide informed us that this perfect setting was to entice British officers to move there with their families, they aimed to make it feel like home.

The day had started off cool but got hotter and hotter, so we were relieved to get back to an air-conditioned car. And we drove on to our next airbnb destination – in Sandy Bay, Hobart. The apartment was great – so central to the main areas of the city – we were able to walk everywhere – a tastefully designed apartment with stunning views over the city, the sea and the majestic Mount Wellington.

We settled ourselves into our new 2 night abode … then it was time to get ready for our night out with India. Had such a lovely evening – started off with a drink in The Glass House on Hobart’s waterfront, looking over Sullivan’s cove. And then on to a superb Tasmanian restaurant where we ate fine food and drank fine wine … and of course chatted away about home and our travels and the good times in Australia. India absolutely loves her life in Tasmania and has become quite the country girl – she looks incredibly healthy and content. Her travel stories were great too – there is no doubt that travelling is character building!

With plans to meet up with India again tomorrow, we said our goodbyes and, being the ageing rockers that we are, went home to bed!! 😴

Famous four hit Tasmania

Sunday 21st January

A bleary-eyed foursome (Steve, me, Kaye and Greg) were up at 4.00am and on our way to the airport by 4.30am. Flew Jetstar to Launceston, Tasmania – a no frills airline but OK. Arrivals busy but we made our way merrily through the throng of holiday crowds – a little drama as we waited at the baggage reclaim – Greg was approached by the airport security hound and his handler … and was found to have two bananas about his person – it was a fair cop!! Hope that beagle enjoyed his bananas.

Smoothly picked up our hire car and set off to our first destination – Hobart. It was a fair old drive so after a couple of hours we stopped off in Campbell town for refreshments – coffee and pies (the Australians do make a good pie you know). Tasmania is absolutely stunning – you can never tire of the scenery – mountainous and green, long stretches of vineyards and olive groves … and this part of the journey along the East Coast was breathtaking. Between tired yawns and swerving the roadkill, we made our way along the bendy mountain roads – took another little stop at Coles Bay.

After much discussion we made the decision to pay the money to enter the National Park and take the walk up the mountain in order to view Wineglass Bay – a much recommended attraction. It was pretty hot as we made our way up the dusty climb – a pretty climb though with constant views of the bays, interesting geology and vegetation. About half way up, Kaye and I had stopped to catch our breath, when I heard “Oh my God, Deirdre” – it was India Goodlake. (We had planned to meet up with India – Warren’s daughter – the following evening – she has been living in Tasmania for two years now … but to meet her half way up a mountain was such a coincidence). So, after some big hugs and introductions to her two friends, we all made our way on up to the top with non-stop nattering. And, oh boy, the climb was worth it … spectacular view of Wineglass Bay – took your breath away in more ways than one!

Then it was goodbyes (for now) and we continued on our journey to our airbnb destination – we were staying on a farm in Kellevie, just short of Hobart. Our faithful GPS continued to talk us through each step of the way …. and why would you question that!!? Greg had taken over the driving by this time, and his 4 wheel driving skills came in handy as we found ourselves on a ‘offroad’ track …. that went on and on and got steeper and steeper, with huge drops at the side!! My nerves began to jangle but I was comforted in being informed that this was an adventure!! It would seem that the GPS had taken us on an ‘alternative’ route, but we eventually found our farmyard cottage, out in the middle of nowhere. We had chickens and a cockerel in the garden and the views over the fields and mountains were to die for. The house itself was ‘a little tired’ – reminiscent of our grandparents’ homes – from the dark furniture, musty smells, old family photos and clanging pipes when you turned the tap on … but exquisite location. As we were settling in, Mark the farmer came to say hello, bearing gifts of cherries from his orchard and some delicious cherry wine. He asked us if we minded if he brought the sheep into the garden in the morning …. well what could we say!?

Steve opted to stay and watch the one day cricket on TV while Kaye, Greg and I embarked on a ‘very steep’ walk to the top of the farm … we were well rewarded with the views. The sheep came too – the higher we walked, the higher they ran – all following each other.

We found ourselves a little off-track as Greg had taken us exploring, and so making our way down the hill we found ourselves amongst some grass that was longer than we would have liked it to be! And yes, guess what, I stumbled across my first snake!! After weeks and months of dreading this, it happened so quickly – it slithered, inches away from me, into the long grass and disappeared – I froze, then called out to Kaye and Greg … but it was gone. Luckily, it was a smaller variety of snake, a white-lipped snake (or whip snake) but the farmer informed us that they are venomous.

After this trauma, I hot-footed it back onto the path and was down that hill in pretty quick time.

We had dinner in, washed down with wine … naturally! Our first night in Tasmania. Enjoyed the amazing views and farm animals surrounding us – sheep, cows, horses, chickens … we even had a visit from a kookaburra.

And so we had an early night (after our early start) – that is except Steve who stayed up to watch the cricket whilst slowly tucking into the cherry wine. At midnight he woke me out of my deep sleep to come and see the stars – they were quite incredible I must admit … but very soon I was tucked back up into my oh so comfy bed and the Zs resumed.

Tomorrow we are heading back to city life …. Hobart x

Sweltering heat in Melbourne 🌞

I know it’s summer here but Melbourne is not renowned for the hotter temperatures that we’ve experienced this week – it’s been up to 42 degrees. Fortunately these few days are between trips – so it was sorting out after our return from Anglesea and preparing for our week in Tasmania, therefore we had no plans for long days outside in these cruel temperatures!! AND we’re at severe fire risk – are you all feeling sorry for us now!!? 😉

Steve and I did just about manage an hour on the beach at Hampton but I spent most of the time in the sea – you could feel the sand burning you through the beach mat … and it was impossible to walk on. When we were walking back to the car we saw two eejits running along the promenade – why!!!?

On one of the very hot days we had made plans to meet Alice B (Butler) in the city for lunch. Alice has been travelling since last summer and is currently based in Eildon, country Victoria. We decided to train it in so that we could have a beer or two. Luckily the trains are air conditioned so all was comfortable – they just have to run slower on these hot days however as they are affected by the extreme heats, sometimes apparently they have to stop them altogether. Alice, bless her, had to drive for an hour and a half and then take a hour’s train ride as well – we felt so honoured that she wanted to travel up to see us. So we met at Southern Cross and after big hellos and hugs we took a scorching walk along the river to The Boat Builders bar. We had a delicious lunch, a few beers and a great catch up. Alice has had some great adventures in South East Asia and is now living and working in Eildon … and she’s loving it. It was fabulous to listen to her stories and to share in her enthusiasm for Aussie life.


Apart from that, these few days have been spent washing, ironing, booking airbnbs, manicures, pedicures … you know how it is!! Steve continued running of course but for me, heat stopped play!!

We had a lovely evening out with Kaye, Greg, Shirley and Mark – went to a new Chinese restaurant in Highett and enjoyed one of their splendid banquets. Afterwards we went to yet another quirky bar where they had live music – it’s called the Naked Racer – it had the most incredible collection of motor bikes and other weird and wonderful items – a man cave with a bar attached! Men do love to collect, don’t they!!?

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And I had to post up another sign spotted – hilarious!

Next stop – Tasmania xx

Further activities in Anglesea

While Steve journeyed back into the city for the one-day cricket, Kaye, Greg and I decided on a much more leisurely afternoon altogether. On recommendation, we took a drive out to a local winery (well I say local, an hour’s drive each way is nothing to an Australian) – literally in the middle of nowhere, for an afternoon of wine-tasting and live music. There were only 4 other people there when we arrived so we began to have second thoughts … but we had come so far!! Greg persuaded us to give it a go so we started off with a bit of wine-tasting. It was a beautiful setting, beside a billabong (🎶 waltzing matilda) and stunning weather.


Within an hour the place was rocking with music and singing and dancing – ska Caribbean music … we had such a brilliant afternoon. And Kaye and Greg got to ‘rockabilly’ – they won a prize for their dancing but there was some mention of Greg’s ‘happy pants’ and ‘moustache style’ being a contributory factor.

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We went on a road trip on the way home along the long dusty roads – we felt like Thelma and Louise + Greg came too!!  (We hadn’t killed anyone though I might add!!)

On the Monday weather was not so good so we headed out on a drive along the Great Ocean Road.  Did a bit of koala and kangaroo spotting – but hit a blank!!  Had a beautiful walk around Erskine falls – a spot of hill climbing and plenty of steps – reminiscent of the South West Coastal Path!

Visited the pretty town of Lorne on the way back and of dipped in for afternoon tea at the Bowling Club.  Home made fruit bread with gorgonzola – yum.  Steve and Greg browsed through the albums and we enjoyed listening to some music on an old record player.  We had the place to ourselves and Kaye and Greg even got to ‘rockabilly.’  It was like stepping back in time.

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On Tuesday the sunshine reappeared so back to the beach we went – some good surf and a chance to top up the tan.  Love Anglesea beach.

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Certainly had lots of great eating opportunities whilst in Anglesea – the whole range – from posh – to fish & chips from the paper, dinner, breakfast and lunch.

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Posh dinner out at the Anglesea Lifesaving Club restaurant – Captain Moonlight. Fabulous meal overlooking the sea.

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Fish & chips from the local Anglesea chippie – eaten fresh at the park bench

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An extremely healthy breakfast at a nearby nursery – all things organic! Steve looks asleep but was actually awake!!!

Sadly our lovely seaside holiday came to an end – we cleaned up the house, packed up the car and set off.  Kaye had a great idea for the journey home – we drove to Queenscliff and caught the ferry to Sorrento – the drove back to Melbourne from there – a fabulous end to a fabulous week.

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Having a giggle on the ferry x

We packed in so many fun things and fun times into our week in Anglesea – as well as all the things I’ve posted we played many board games too (dealt with a few disappointments, particularly in Triv), had some movie time, watched the Australian Open … never a dull moment.  So back to Melbourne for a few days before heading out on our next trip … to Tasmania.

I said maybe you’re gonna be the one that saves me ……. and after all you’re my Jason Roy….

Doesn’t quite rhyme I know but let’s not spoil a good line!

Today, the normal gang of between four and nine was reduced to the bare minimum….JUST ME when the opportunity came up of watching England play Australia in a one day international.

I’d purchased 2 tickets for the day/night game at the MCG over Christmas, since when enthusiasm for Australia’s national game has waned considerably, Deirdre decided fairly quickly that she wasn’t going (probably the sight of Steve Smith batting again). No worries though as our resident Aussie host Greg would surely jump at the chance of a day out … not so!

Very clever planning meant that we were actually staying away from the city when the game was being played, so getting back home after the game would not be possible, meaning a stay in the city overnight with the game finishing at 10pm, the last train is 7.30 😂

At this point I should mention that public transport in Australia is brilliant bearing in mind the size of the place! The return journey from Anglesea to MCG being of some two plus hours costing less than £10, whilst entry to the game cost £25. Try comparing this with a game at Lords where travel would probably cost in excess of £30 and the match ticket something above £75!!

So with just myself staying I booked an airbnb in central Melbourne, 345 Swanson Street to be more precise, and quite pleased to get an overnight for £50, reasonably priced. We’ve had some good experiences with airbnb over the last few months however you always arrive at the place with slight trepidation and not knowing what to expect, today was no different.

Swanson Street is a long road and Google maps got me close, hence a phone call to the host ‘Nick’ was necessary because I could not see anything like an apartment block or number 345 but no worries as I then received the following text messages:-

I took this picture just outside of 345 which I’m pretty sure is the Unversity Halls of Residence and my room key was not conclusive?

All ‘mod cons’ required for a ‘Barmy Army’ travelling supporter were provided, couldn’t find the Old Spice though (kids … ask your Dad).

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It turns out though with the game finishing after 10pm and Melbourne trains in meltdown, an easy tram ride was all that was needed for my return to ‘Halls’. Very pleased that I had decided to stay in the city for the night.

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And then there’s the cricket….

I’ve now been to ‘the G’ on four occasions:-

1. A day visitor tour behind the scenes which was very good, but no cricket.

2. The Boxing Day Test Match was a great experience but please refer to my previous comments about watching Steve Smith batting, which is very tedious and every time the stadium PA refers to him as ‘Your Captain Steve Smith’ yuk yuk!!!

3. December 28th I saw Alistair Cook score a double century which was absolutely stunning and a brilliant atmosphere.

4. This game ……..

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Finding my seat in the Barmy Army section, row C in the full sun of 30+ degrees which I managed for a couple of hours before moving back a few rows. The stewards and police at grounds here really don’t worry where you sit or stand, so much better than stadiums in the U.K.!

Australia batting first lost a couple of early wickets which brings Steve Smith to the crease but today we only had a brief glimpse of ‘your captain’ before his early departure! However the Aussie’s posted a good looking total of 304 from their 50 overs. Leaving England the honour should they beat this, of it being the highest ever run chase in a one day game at the MCG.

There then followed a batting master class from Joe Root with 80, although the star of the show with 180 was Jason Roy, a stunning performance against the best bowling attack in the world. Careful defence but also some quite staggering boundaries and I have to say one of the best performances I’ve ever seen!

So after seeing quite a lot of Pom bashing the last few weeks, it was a delight to see the tables turned for once and now look forward to the rest of the one day series, although these will be watched on the TV as we resume our travels next week to Tasmania and New Zealand.

Finally a few points about the majestic MCG, what a ground, what a place, what an atmosphere even with a 40000 attendance yesterday when the capacity is some 100,000. A shame more Aussie’s don’t take up the chance of watching international cricket in such a fine stadium!

Fun times back in Victoria

As I said in the last blog, coming back to Melbourne felt like coming home … we can’t believe we’ve been with Kaye and Greg less than a month … it feels like we’ve emigrated – totally settled into the Australian way of life. So post Christmas and New Year we were full of good intentions to detox, up the exercise regime etc. We got straight back into the running, walking, personal training sessions (well one!) and healthy eating…. the old wine bottle still seems to creep out most evenings at 6pm however – can’t do everything at once!! We enjoyed a few relaxed days in Highett before the four of us hit the road for Anglesea – Victoria’s famous Great Ocean Road. Gary and Rita (friends of Kaye and Greg’s) kindly gave us the use of their holiday home in Anglesea for a week, a beautiful seaside retreat. So Wednesday morning, bright and bushy tailed, we loaded the car and set off to find our beachside home. In less than 2 hours we were there – such a beautiful house – we settled in quickly and set out to explore the local beach and area.

It was most definitely prosecco time for Kaye and I when we got back … and after we had polished off a bottle, we left our men to fire up the BBQ while we boldly went to explore the bush for wildlife. In true Attenborough style, I spotted the first kangaroo just 5 minutes around the corner – so many cockatoos too.

Had a great beach day on the Thursday – incredible weather, perfect waves for bodyboarding (without being too ferocious and rib-damaging) – a day of relaxation, picnic, reading, swimming …. bliss! And Greg made homemade pizzas for dinner – on the BBQ – far out!! Tucked in till we were bursting – they were magnificent. Before dinner we had taken a walk to the local shops and, lo and behold, found a kangaroo grazing literally behind our garden fence – we were half expecting him to be joining us for the BBQ on our return! Since found out that he is a regular visitor and is affectionately known as ‘George.’

After dinner we went out for a drive and spotted a mob of kangaroos on the local golf course, amazing creatures – could watch them for hours.

Love getting to see the wildlife here – lots of interesting bird life particularly … cockatoos, galahs, laurakeets, rosellas, wagtails, Australian magpies, kookaburras … all so interesting. Have done a few bush walks and marvelled at the birdsong … it’s made us laugh though realising how your interests change as you get older – being a ‘spotter’ would have seemed so naff when we were young!! And not that I want to tempt fate but, despite signage, no snake spotted as yet. Why do so many things look like snakes though!? – tree roots, fallen branches, twigs, even hoses!! I’m constantly jumping out of my skin.

Can’t believe I’ve been brave enough to walk through these bush areas (and in some wet and windy weathers too) – I’m not quite Steve Irwin yet but feel my bravery deserves some recognition!! Hoping to see some koalas or platypus … still searching ..

Steve is heading back to Melbourne for a one day international cricket event … he’ll be blogging on that shortly!!….