A Travellerspoint blog

Flower Of Scotland

sunny 17 °C

Well it was perhaps more in hope than expectation that I rose at 5.30am in New Zealand this morning to watch Scotland take on Italy, but a rousing rendition of Flower Of Scotland (lyrics below) woke me up and fired a belief in my heart that the lads could do it. Barry Ferguson looked like his breath had been taken away from the crowd rendition of the classic Corries song, adopted as a national anthem. The song was led by Ronnie Corrie himself, sung with a gusto and passion that almost brought a tear to my eye.

Something else that almost brought a tear to my eye was the shocking start made by Scotland's defence who were caught ball watching as Italy sped to a 1-0 lead within 2 minutes. That lead nearly doubled a few minutes later as Scotland struggled to hold on to the ball and the Italians seemed at ease with the big match occassion. It took until midway through the first half for Scotland to exert any pressure on the visitors goal and a succession of corners saw Alan Hutton go close. Just towards half-time David Weir had a header cleared off the line as the Italians seemed unable to cope with high balls into the box.

I predicted a change at half-time, but Alex McLeish stuck by his first eleven and after a shaky start he was rewarded by a goal from Barry Ferguson from a James McFadden free-kick. The free-kick was a result of a surging run by Alan Hutton who was arguably Scotland's best player on the day, he was certainly excellent in the second half. The goal naturally gave Scotland a new hope and a new belief. The Tartan Army shook Hampden with a famous roar and cheered the team on with dreams of summer holidays in Austria next year. The belief sparked a Scottish surge and McFadden went through on goal after an excellent display of Scottish passing in the build up. Alas he chose to shoot rather than curve it across goal towards onrushing Scottish support. Minutes later McFadden had an even better chance to put Scotland ahead, sliding in Gascoigne-esque from Euro 96 and putting it past the post when it looked easier to score.

To be fair it was harder than it looked initially and it's difficult to criticise James McFadden as he has had a great campaign for Scotland and at only 24 his best is yet to come.

Just as I was wondering if NZ satellite would show the Ukraine v France game on Wednesday night Italy pushed forward. The ball went to their right wing and Alan Hutton raced across to clear. An Italian shoulder charged him as Hutton cleared the ball and Hutton was sent flying. Free-kick to Scotland, or a good old fashioned shoulder-charge? The replay seemed to indicate a free-kick to Scotland and the commentator agreed with my opinion, or did I agree with his? Anyway, that is irrelevant as the next minute it appeared that Italy had the ball and were taking a free-kick down near the corner flag where the incident had occurred. As I rubbed my eyes in disbelief and listened to the commentator say 'this would be really cruel if Italy were to score from this' the ball was floated in and Italy scored, ending any hope of Scotland invading Austria next summer.

To say that the referee will never be welcome in Scotland again is an understatement. What a complete and utter tosser. I hope McLeish and the SFA submit an official complaint to UEFA about this guy and is unconceivable decision. To lose against Italy is by no means a disgrace but to lose in that way after playing so well against a team who we ran off the park was an injustice that I am finding hard to swallow.

So to cheer me up and any Scottish supporters reading this, check out the following YouTube links.

- McFadden magic against France with commentary to make you smile. There are several versions of this with great links to BBC and Sky commentary but check this one out, the TV has been overdubbed with Radio Clyde commentary.

- ha ha the Tartan Army are in full cry and one lucky fan captures them exploding with joy at McFadden's wonder goal.

O Flower of Scotland,
When will we see
Your like again,
That fought and died for,
Your wee bit Hill and Glen,
And stood against him,
Proud Edward's Army,
And sent him homeward,
Tae think again.

The Hills are bare now,
And Autumn leaves
lie thick and still,
O'er land that is lost now,
Which those so dearly held,
That stood against him,
Proud Edward's Army,
And sent him homeward,
Tae think again.

Those days are past now,
And in the past
they must remain,
But we can still rise now,
And be the nation again,
That stood against him,
Proud Edward's Army,
And sent him homeward,
Tae think again.

0 Flower of Scotland,
When will we see
your like again,
That fought and died for,
Your wee bit Hill and Glen,
And stood against him,
Proud Edward's Army,
And sent him homeward,
Tae think again.

Posted by murray2701 13:45 Archived in New Zealand Tagged round_the_world Comments (1)

Sydney Bridge Climb, Blue Mountains and New Zealand

sunny 24 °C

'When you hear the noise of the tartan army boys we'll be coming down the road' - Scotland's Tartan Army

I'm writing this at 9.50am NZ time on Saturday 17th November, Scotland's date with destiny, or at the very least a date with the world champions Italy at Hampden Park. The game will actually be on at 6am tomorrow morning so I'll be getting up to watch it. Can Scotland do it? We'll certainly give it our best shot. COME ON SCOTLAND.

As I try to pre-occupy my thoughts with something other than football, here is an update on what we have been up to since I last wrote. We arrived in New Zealand yesterday so read on for details...

Monday November 12th
We got up at 8am and phoned Lynn's Mum to check on her flight times to New Zealand. Lynn's folks are coming out to meet us for a couple of weeks for Lynn's Dad's 60th. After that we booked some internal flights in New Zealand to get from the North Island to the South and also a couple of campervans to get around in. Should be good.

We then got the bus to Bondi Beach and had brunch there before hitting the beach. The waves (surf) were incredible and there were loads of Aussie's surfing and bodyboarding. Lynn and I made do with jumping in and out of the sea and being knocked over by the huge waves that crashed in to the shore. At one point I swallowed most of a wave and ended up being sick, lovely!

After a few hours of lying on the beach and jumping in and out the sea, we went for a shower and caught the 3pm bus back into town to make sure we had enough time to get to Sydney Harbour Bridge for our 5.15pm bridge climb. We were booked in on the last day climb at 5.05pm, after that there are dusk and night time climbs. We had a safety briefing, got changed into Ghostbuster style suits. were breathalysed and harnessed up. Our group consisted of 2 Aussie couples, an American Mum and daughter, an Englisg guy and two other Europeans. It was a good group and our guide was pleased that we were all up for a laugh.

We left the office and change area and climbed into the bridge, up through some beams and on to the arch closest to the Opera House. The climb was surprisingly easy and we stopped regularly to take in the views, listen to our guide and ask questions. Sydney Harbour is absolutely beautiful and with the sun high in the sky we took it all in. The whole experience lasted over 3 hours, so despite moaning about the cost we both felt that it was excellent value for money. You were not rushed and you had plenty of time to take in the scenery. The view of the Opera House was spectacular and we got some official photos taken. If the bridge climb was good value I have to say that the photos were a bit of a rip off as we were charged $65AUS for getting 4 photos on to a cd. You're not allowed to take your own camera up so we were left with no choice but to buy the official photos. You'll be able to view them at www.flickr.com/photos/murrayandlynn very shortly.

By the time we were changed and out it was after 8.30pm. We walked 100 yards along the road to the Glenmore Hotel and went up to the rooftop bar for some pub grub and a couple of beers. The prices were surprisingly reasonable considering the view of the Opera House from the top. Sadly our photos just don't do it justice, but it didn;t stop us taking a few. We then walked along George Street to our backpackers hostel, 790 George Street, recently refurnished and with good quality double rooms at only $76AUS per night.

Tuesday 13th November
Got up at 8am after a good sleep and walked the short distance to Central Station to catch the 8.55am train to the Blue Mountains. A 2 hour scenic rail journey from Sydney. Our train tickets were only $25 for the pair of us, pretty good. We walked to our backpackers, Central Blue Mountains and checked into our room. Central BP's is a boutique backpackers and it was $96AUS a night, but it did mean that we had our own bathroom and shower for the first time in Australia. We decided to book in for 2 nights so we could take our time seeing the sights and enjoy some of the many walks on offer.

We dumped our bags and headed to the trolley shop in town and booked a couple of two day passes. We then hopped on the trolley(bus) to Scenic World, caught the Skyway over the valley and had lunch at the Cafe overlooking Katoomba Falls and the 3 Sisters. After lunch we got the Scenic Railway down to the valley floor, quite a steep ride and it played the Indiana Jones them tune on the way, and had a good walk around the boardwalks, about 4km. We then got the Cablecar back up and walked along to Echo Point to marvel at the view across the valley and the Blue Mountains, so called as the Eucalptus Trees give of a blue haze in the sun. We then got the trolley back into town for a much needed shower, only stopping for Belgium Waffles on the way. We went out for dinner to a Thai restaurant, bought some food for breakfast and lunch the next day and headed for an early night.

Wednesday 14th November
Got up at 9am and had breakfast and made a packed lunch as we intended to do a fair bit of trekking (which we did). We got the trolley bus back to Scenic World and walked to Katoomba Falls, then along to Echo Point and the 3 Sisters. It was then quite a trek to the Leura Cascades and we were both quite tired at the end of it. It was steep at parts but very enjoyable and we both felt all the better for it. We'd walked for over 3 hours with only a few 10 minute stops on route so we were quite tired, due to the distance and the sun. We caught the trolley back to Katoomba and had a shower before catching another trolley to the next village - Leura. By this point it had started to rain quite heavily, so we didn't spend long in Leura, deciding to head back to The Edge cinema in Katoomba to see the Robert Redford film 'Lions For Lambs'. The Edge has one of the biggest cinema screens in Australia! The film was excellent, featuring superb performance from Redford, Meryll Streep and Tom Cruise. It's well worth going to see. After that we got a takeaway pizza and a couple of beers and went back to the hostel to eat and drink and play pool.

Thursday November 15th
Our last day in Australia. We got up and had breakfast and caught the 10.26am train back to Sydney. We checked back into 790 George Street and had an hours kip before heading down to Sydney Harbour via a walk along Pitt Street. We sat at one of the bars near the Opera House and had a few beers in the sunshine, taking in the magnificent views for the last time (at least for now). We then wandered round to the rocks area and found a German Bar. We ordered food and I had an outstanding leg of lamb with mashed potatoes, gravy and cabbage. Yummy! With our stomachs suitably lined we headed along George Street to a venue called Metro to watch a band I like called Cut Copy www.myspace.com/cutcopy

The venue was pretty cool, although we both felt a little old as the place was swarming with supercool and trendy Aussie teens. With one eye on the clock (we knew we would have to get up at 4.30am the next day for our flight to Auckland) we watched the band from near the back of the venue on raised steps and limited our beer intake. The gig didn't finish until 11.30pm so by the time we got to bed it was midnight.

Friday November 16th
The alarm went off at 4.30am and we rolled bleary eyed out of bed and stumbled to the shower. We checked out precisely 15 minutes later and walked to Central to catch the train to the airport. We quickly checked in and had some breakfast and by 7.35am we were speeding towards Auckland, both of us sound asleep.

We woke about 20 minutes before landing and after picking up our bags we were met by my cousin Peter Oxley. It's always nice to be met by someone you know at an airport, we experienced the same feeling when we saw Ken and Gwen in the PhilLipines. We headed off in Pete's retro car, complete with spiders web to visit my oldest living relative, my Great Aunt Betty who is 92!

She was in top form and I felt quite emotional at meeting her. As Betty herself says 'The doctor says I still have all my marbles, but my body's getting on a bit!' It was great to see my Mum's, Dad's sister and listen to her chat about everything under the sun, including David Beackham and Posh Spice. She is very up to date with the latest celebrity news!

It was then a short drive to Peter's Mum Jennifer's house. We crashed for an hour or so and then got up to find that Jennifer was having a big BBQ in our honour. She had invited some of her close friends and we had quite a feast. Great Aunt Betty came along and we had a great chat about World War 2, Hamilton Accies, St Andrews and family history. Peter has been researching the family tree and has some great stuff tracking our family back to the early 1800's.

After watching New Zealand beat Jamacia at netball, the world championships are being held in Auckland, to set up a final against Australia, we headed to bed.

Lynn's folks arrive on Sunday and it will be good to see them. We fly down to the South Island on the 23rd where we will also meet an old school friend of mine, Chris Chung.

I'll update the blog soon. COME ON SCOTLAND!

All the best
Murray and Lynn

Posted by murray2701 12:50 Archived in Australia Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Chill Island, Melbourne & Sydney

sunny 25 °C

'From little things, big things grow' Little Things by Paul Kelly

G'day again folks

We are back in Sydney for a few days ahead of flying to New Zealand on the 16th. We've just had a crisis budget meeting and have been shocked at how much we have spent since arriving in Australia, but it's all good. At the end of the day we have had an amazing time in a beautiful big country, we may not be back for a while so we might as well make the most of it.

So read on to find where our money has been going......

Monday November 5th
After updating the blog we headed into Melbourne and watched the Cup Parade in the City Centre ahead of the big race on Tuesday. We then headed to the trendy and funky Brunswick Street in the Fitzroy area and amazed ourselves by not buying anything despite going into umpteen shops selling vintage and retro gear. We did have a nice couple of beers in a pub called The Provincial, a grand old building looking like it's in need of some serious love and attention on the outside, but inside it's cool and modern with a touch of old grandeur about it.

We then walked back into town and got a train back out to Surrey Hills where Meg picked us up at the station in time for dinner. Meg cooked a lovely chicken and mushroom risotto and we watched TV. We then packed up our stuff for a trip to Phillip Island for the Chill Island music festival tomorrow.

Tuesday November 6th
A beautiful sunny day, music, beer, fresh air, gorgeous scenery, a tiny island and sunshine. I know I'd mentioned that already but it is kind of important and certainly helps create the right atmosphere for a music festival.

We got up at 7.30am and were on the road to Phillip Island by 8.30am. After one wrong turn we were back on track and it was a very pleasant drive down to Phillip Island taking around 1.5 hours. We checked into our campsite for the night, a 45 minute walk from the festival site. We had originally booked a cabin but as we couldn't check in until 2pm we decided just to pitch our tent and go for some breakfast. We had bacon and egg rolls at a funky wee surfers cafe, went back to ditch the car and walked to the festival site.

The Chill Island festival is on Churchill Island, a tiny wee island reached by a one-lane bridge just off of Phillip Island, which is a slightly larger island reached by a two-lane bridge just off a massive island called Australia. That may sound confusing but it's really simple if you look at a map. Only Churchill Island is so small that it's not on most maps. You will find Phillip Island though!

Anyway, we walked to the site and got a lift for the last half mile off a passing jeep. We hopped in the back with another couple only to discover one of them was originally from Scotland. We parked and walked up to the site. It was held on a farm and we soon discovered that the festival was very aptly named. The atmosphere was incredibly relaxed. The stage was set at the bottom of a hill, a natural arena, with the sea in the background. There was only one stage, some beer stalls, food stalls and funky little clothes stalls. The opening act were just finishing as we got in around 12.30pm. We bought our first beer of the day and headed down to the front to watch the second band of the day called Tin Pan Orange, a trio featuring a lovely female singer, acoustic guitarist and electric guitarist/violinist. They were really good and we quickly moved on to our second beer of the day and our first garlic pork hotdog. We then grabbed a 3rd beer in time for the next band who really got the crowd going - Tumbarumba. They are a percussion band and played a mix of latino, funk and samba. The sun had now burnt all the clouds from the sky and young and old danced in time, or sometimes slightly out of time, to the funky rythms and beats provided by the band. The singer was really cool and she sported what the Happy Mondays would refer to as a kinky afro.

The next band were called Hot Little Hands and are being touted as the next young Australian hope. They had some decent tunes but lacked choruses in too many of them. They have potential though. The festival was being curated by Clare Bowditch and she was on next with the majority of the crowd moving forward or rising to their feet to greet her. She played a great set and enjoyed bringing on her new son to greet the crowd.

Next up was an Australian legend called Paul Kelly. Innes and Maureen's son Andrew had been to see him the week before, and ended up backstage drinking with him, and he gave him a rave review so we were looking forward to him. He didn;t disappoint and was the hit of the day by a country mile. He came on stage himself and launched into a tune with the refrain 'From little things, big things grow' and had the crowd eating out of the palm of his hand. His bass player joined him, followed by two guitarists and a drummer. His set was excellent. He's very influenced by Bob Dylan, so that went down well with me. Almost as well as the Carlton Draught!

The sun set and the last act of the day was ARIA award winning artist Goyte with his band. He was pretty good, but a bit of a letdown after Paul Kelly and the glorious sunshine. A lot of the older festival goers left before he started and we only stayed for 5 songs. He is talented but a bit too Radioheady. He wasn't really in tune with the way we were feeling. Or maybe we were too drunk to appreciate him!

We wandered out to the car-park looking for a bus back, then decided to walk, then I stuck my thumb out and we hitched a lift with 3 young guys in a camper van. Ideal! Australians are very friendly.

I do enjoy camping but that night we were kept awake thanks to the sounds of various birds and frogs!

Wednesday November 7th
We checked out at 9am, a little tired and groggy after a bad nights sleep and quite a few beers the day before. We headed into the centre of Phillip Islands biggest town, Cowes and got some sandwiches and fruit juice to perk us up. We nearly got attacked by seagulls when we attempted to eat it down by the harbour so we got in the car and drove to a beach to eat the rest of it.

After a quick visit to the Penguin Park we headed back to Melbourne where we had to hand our car back. The depot was a bit out of town so by the time we had dropped it and got back into town we decided to get a quick bite to eat and head back to Ian's for a quiet night. Ian cooked another lovely meal of pork and chicken salad with thai corn cakes and we hit the sack for an early night.

Thursday 8th November
We slept soundly and didn't rise until 10am. We did a bit of washing and chilled out until 12.30pm when Ian came to pick us up to take us to the Healesville Nature Sanctuary. Ian had taken a half day and was in a great mood as he contemplated his soon to arrive retirement. The nature park was set in the hills surrounding Melbourne and the highlight of our few hours there was undoubtedly the birds of prey exhibition featuring an eagle.

We then drove round to Mount Dandenong where you could gaze out to Melbourne and the bay with superb panormaic views. We also passed the site where Ian and Felicity used to live years ago. Ian had built the hosue himself and had received word that it had burnt to the ground. Sadly that was true and Ian was quite emotional at sight of it. We saw some pictures back at his house and it looked amazing. Set among trees and in the hills.

We got back to the house and headed into town with Meg to see 'Control' a film about Joy Division and in particular Ian Curtis. The film was really good and very true to the book written by Ian's widow, that it is based on. It didn't glamourise Ian or Joy Division in any way and captured their humour and talent.

Friday November 9yh
Got up at 9am and caught the 10.30am train into town and wandered up to Victoria Market. Lynn bought some nice hairclips and I bought some boxer shorts - essentials! We got a bite to eat and then wandered into town and caught the tram to St Kilda. We wandered round some shops and along the pier and then had a couple of beers at the Vineyard and then the Espy before going back for dinner and another couple of drinks with Ian and Felicity.

We bought Ian the new Eric Clapton book and some flowers for Felicity as a thank you for their hospitality.

Saturday November 10th
Had a lazy morning and packed our bags ahead of an early flight to Sydney the following day. We got the 1.30pm train into town and had lunch and a beer in the funky Flinders Lane. I bought a couple of shirts out a cool shop as I was badly in need of some new clobber. You do get fed up wearing the same stuff. We then walked along the river to the Botanical Gardens and had a couple of beers by a lake in the glorious sunshine.

We then lost track of time and hotfooted it back into town to get to the big football game (soccer) Melbourne Victory v Sydney. The game was in an amazing 100,000 seater stadium but only 40,000 turned up. The atmosphere was good, the quality alright and the game ended 0-0. The highlight was the last 20 minutes when former Boro and Celtic star Juninho came on for Sydney and nearly scored a couple. He was by far the best player on the pitch.

We did enjoy the game though and it was good to see a live football game again, despite the fact it finished goal-less.

Sunday 11th November
We're back in Sydney after getting a 7.15am flight. The flight was only $10aus more than a train and the bus was the most expensive method of transport of the lot. After spending so much time with family and friends, not to mention camping, it was a bit of a shock to book into our hostel - 790 George Street, at $76aus per night. Still that is one of the cheapest places and it's recently been redecorated and our room is nice.

We had breakfast in Darling Harbour and we went on an afternoon tour of the Opera House. It's as spectacular inside as it is out and we have contemplated going to see a classical show there. We changed our mind when we found out the cost and decided to say 'what the hell' and book on to the Sydney Harbour Bridge climb tomorrow instead! It's expensive, but like I said before, when will we be here again? We don;t want to get back to Scotland with any regrets and so far we don't.

We had a nice cheap meal in Chinatown tonight and no beers. Tomorrow we'll get up bright and breezy and head to Bondi Beach and Manly before our sunset climb up the bridge.

Tune in on Nov 17th for an update. COME ON SCOTLAND.

Murray and Lynn

Posted by murray2701 01:59 Archived in Australia Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Adelaide, Great Ocean Road and Melbourne

sunny 20 °C

[b]'Life is just a precious minute baby'
'Open up your eyes and see it baby'
'Give yourself a better chance or time will pass you, right on by' - Time Will Pass You By, Tobi Legend

We're in Melbourne, the city that many onsider to be the coolest in Australia. It's too early for me to confirm or deny that, or offer my opinion, but I should be in a position to do that by next week. So how did we arrive in Melbourne I hear you ask, well let me tell you a little story...

Tuesday 30th October
We woke up in Amy and Simon's at 7am as we had a taxi booked for 7.30am to take us to the airport for our 9.10am flight to Adelaide. We said goodbye to our wonderful hosts and jumped in the cab. Our journey nto Perth by bus had been eventful and our journey out towards the airport started in that manner as well. We had gone about 20 yards from the house when the driver stopped and in an Eastern European voice said 'excuse me, I stop the car to vomiting'. Lynn and I looked at each other and rubbed our eyes as the woman driver ran to the side of the road and vomited. She got back in a few minutes later and said, in the same Eastern European voice 'I am pregnant'. Aaawwww. She was a little embarrassed but Lynn and I assured her that we did not mind and that she should take her time. As long as we made our flight!

We both slept a little on the flight and arrived in Adelaide at 1.30pm, they are 1.5 hours ahead of Perth. We phoned Lynn's old neighbours from 20 years ago to see if we could head to their house for a couple of nights, Lynn's Mum had assured us this would be OK as they had been in Scotland very recently and caught up with Winnie and Les. Our luck was in as Innes and Maureen picked up the phone to say they had just arrived back from their 6 week European holiday 1 hour previously.

We double checked that it was OK to stay and hailed a taxi to their house. Thankfully the driver didn't vomit, although he did have to use satellite navigation to get us there. Innes and Maureen stay in a lovely house a 20 minute tra ride from the city centrre. We had a good chat in their back garden while eating toast and cheese and drinking nice cups of tea. Their daughter Julie and her boyfriend Andrew popped in on their way to their running club and gave us a lift to the beach so we could have a walk for an hour. We then went back and had a nice dinner and a few glasses of wine. Dinner was chicken in a curry sauce with rice and veg. Mmmmmmmmmm.

Wednesday 31st October
We had a lazy morning and caught the 12pm tram into town. The weather wasn't great and there was a bit of a drizzle so we headed straight to the Central Market, stopping off at a vintage clothes store on the way where Lynn bought two jackets as she couldn't decide between them. We then headed for the South Australia museum and ended up spending about 3 hours in there as they have a fantastic Aboriginal art collection and some amazing old films of Aborginal life from the 1920's and 1930's. We also tried our hand at painting in an Aborginal art form and failed spectacularly.

We went back to the house for a good old Scottish dinner of haggis, neeps and tatties! Julie and Andrew came around as well as Julie's brother Andrew. Dinner was lovely and we all had a great chat. Innes and Maureen were brilliant hosts and good laughs, I can easily see why they are still good friends with Lynn's family after so long in Oz.

Thursday 1st November
We got up at 8am to say goodbye to Andrew who had stayed the night before. Innes gave us a lift to Apollo car rentals as we had booked a car and camping equipment for a week. It worked out around $400 AUS cheaper than a campervan for the week as Adelaide seemed to be incredibly short of campervans.

It was raining quite heavily as we set off from Adelaidem but we plugged in our IPOD connector the stereo and listened to some good tunes as we made our way south to McLaren Vale. We stopped in a small town of Scotish descent called Strathalbyn, bought some sandwiches from a bakery and sat in the lovely bandstand in the town centre park. We then drove to Wellington and got the ferry over the Murray River and headed towards Robe, our base for the night thanks to Innes' recommendation.

We checked into our camp site and set up the dome tent in no time at all. The camp site was part of the Big4 chain, all very reputable sites and it had a swimming pool so we went for a swim for just under an hour. Lynn then drove the short distance into town as she didn't fancy a beer or wine. Innes had recommended checking out an ancient Scottish pub called The Caledonian, built in 1859. The pub was full of character and local characters! We took a table by the open fire and had a lovely meal. Lynn had kanagaroo steak and I had swordfish, washed down with a couple of pints. We went for a short walk along the beach after dinner but the rain came on so we went back into the pub and Lynn had a cup of tea and I had another pint. We went back to the tent and slept well.

Friday 2nd November
We had packed the tent and were on our way by 8.30am. Today would take us to the Great Ocean Road. We drove for a couple of hours and stopped in a small fishing village called Nelson for toasties for brunch. We then drove to Port Fairy and on to Portland. Around 15km from Portland the petrol light came on, but we made it to a petrol station in time. We then drove to Port Campbell and stopped to geta sandwich and some info leafets for the attractions on the Great Ocean Road.

We hit the Great Ocean Road at 1.30pm and we didn;t get very far for the next 4 hours as we kept stopping to marvel at sights like the Bay of Islands, the Bay of Martyrs, London Bridge, the Arch, Loch Ard Gorge, the blowhole and Thunder Cave. We then stopped at the 12 Apostles and marvelled at the rock fomrations jutting out of the water. I don't know if our photos will do it justice. Check http://www.greatoceanroad.org

We headed off towards Apollo Bay, our designated camp site of choice for the night. The camp site was by a river and close enough the the beach to hear the sea roar as dozed off to sleep. Before that we went into town for some fish 'n' chips that were very tasty indeed.

Saturday 3rd November
Woke at 7am as it had started to rain. We had a shower and quickly packed up the wet tent and were on our way by 7.30am, intending to head to Phillip Island for the Chill Island Music Festival the next day. The next section of the Great Ocean Road was specacular, a drivers dream. Winding roads cut into cliffs with dramatic scenry unfolding before your eyes at every turn.

We stopped in Torquay for breakfast/brunch at a great wee surfers cafe and had bacon, paoched eggs and toast. We picked up a local paper to find out that the Chill Island festival had been postponed until Tuesday due to a weather forecast of driving rain and possible lightning storms!

So it was a quick change of pland and I phoned my Mum's cousin Ian Johnston to see if we could stay with him for a few nights, earlier than expected. Ian was more than happy for us to arrive that night so we headed off to Melbourne, arriving at Ian and Felicity's fantastic house in the Surrey Hills area (not a million miles from Kylie's Mum and Dad's house) at 1.30pm. I had to reset my watch again as there was a 30 minute time difference.

Everyone was out apart from Ian and Felicty's daughter Meg, who Lynn and I had both met before back in 2004 when she came to Scotland. Lynn and Meg had enjoyed a day out in the sunshine in Glasgow's beautiful West End at a free Belle & Sebastian gig in the Botanic Gardens while I stayed in the flat layed up with torn ankle ligaments!

Ian arrived back from the golf and Felicity arrived back from her Pilates and we caught up over some Pad Thai and drinks. I ended up staying up to watch the Arsenal v Manchestre United game that kicked off at 12.45pm UK time, 11.45pm Melbourne time. It finished 2-2 with Arsenal snatching an equaliser in injury time. A draw was probably a fair result, though Fergie will be cursing the fact that United didn't take 3 points up the road. Both teams played attractive football and it was a good game to watch, my first in a while due to time differences.

Sunday 4th November
The predicted thunder and lightning storm arrived in the middle of the night and some spectacular lightning lit up our room. So the organisers of Chill Island were probably right to postpone it. Not a decision they would have taken lighly as Tuesday is Melbourne Cup Day.

We slept well and late, getting up at 11am for a breakfast of toast, poached eggs and spinach. We booked flights to Sydney with Virgin Blue for only $89 AUS each, cheaper than the bus. So we head back to Sydney on Nov 11th before heading on to Auckland on Nov 16th.

Ian drove us into town and we wandered around the National Victoria Gallery. There were some fantastic works of art from the 18th century onwards, inclusing a Picasso and a Monet. Sadly the Jackson Pollock was in a gallery that was being prepared for an exhibition so I couldn't see it.

We had tea and coffee in Fed Square, put on a few bets for the Melbourne Cup and drove around town in the rain. It was a very miserable day. We went back and Felicty was making a roast for dinner. Meg's sisetr Lucy and her husband joined us for a lovely dinner and drinks and I spoke to my Mum on the phone who sounded more than a little rough after a Saturday night wedding reception!

Monday 5th November
It's 10am exactly and the sun is shining. Good news for the music festival tomorrow. Lynn and I are about to head into town for a day of exploring shops, cafes, pubs, galleries and all that Melbourne has to offer.

I'll tell you all about it in the next blog, probably to be writte on Saturday before we head to Sydney.

Live it like you love it
Murray and Lynn

Posted by murray2701 14:16 Archived in Australia Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Western Australia - Wicked!

sunny 20 °C

'While we're living, the dreams we had as children fade away' - Fade Away, Oasis

G'day blog fans, sorry for the long delay since the last blog, we've been travelling down the South West of Australia in a campervan, check out www.wickedcampers.com for a look at the amazing selection of individually spray-painted campers they have on offer.

We had a fab week and it reminded me of being younger and travelling down south on holiday with our caravan. Memories and dreams of old came flooding back and when the classic old Oasis tune 'Fade Away' came on our camper stereo I couldn't help but pick up on the lyric above. Travelling lifts a huge weight off your shoulders, no mortages, bills, deadlines, this, that and the other. It gives you time to think and dream, reminisce and make plans.

Anyway, enough hippy talk, we've got a lot of catching up to do so here goes....

Thursday 18th -Sunday 21st October
We had a very lazy time during this period, staying at Lynn's friends Amy and Simon's place 6km from the centre of Perth. We caught up with a load of washing, booked a campervan for 22nd-29th October, I cooked dinner one night, we went out one night and Lynn got her first haircut in 4 months!

We visited the Perth Royal Mint museum and it was really cool to watch a gold bar being made right before our eyes. The moulten gold was poured into a mould, cooled for only 30 seconds, and then a solid gold bar had formed. It was beautiful! While Lynn was visiting the hairdressers I also bought some old Northern Soul compilations to play in the campervan we had booked.

Monday 22nd October
David Taylor's 32nd birthday.

After catching up on some sleep and chilling out for a few days it was time to hit the road in our fab Wicked Campervan. We picked it up around 12pm and after getting some shopping for the Eski (coolbox) we hit the highway to Albany. We cruised down long straight roads, passed by National Parks and wineries and arrived in Albany just as the sun was setting. We decided to get most of the driving over with on the first day so we could take our time cruising back up the coast to Perth over the next week.

We checked the van into a campsite just outside Albany and headed into the small town for some noodles, which we ate in the back of the van. Very romantic! We headed back to the site and read some local brochures before having an early night.

Tuesday 23rd October
Ross Lang Easton's 29th birthday - enjoy your last year in your twenties!

We both slept well and woke at 7am, had breakfast and checked out just before 9am. We then drove 20km out of Albany to Two Peoples Bay. It was appropriately named as for a while we were the only two people there! We then went on a 3km coastal walk around to a little beach named, oddly enough, 'Little Beach'. It was stunning. Pure white sands, some rocks for climbing on and crystal clear water. I did go for a dip but didn't last long as the water was freezing. The West Coast is decididly cooler than the East.

We walked back to the van and drove to Emu Point and Middleton Beach. Lynn then took over driving duties and we drove the coastal route to Albany, bought some food for lunch and dinner and then stopped on the coast for lunch, looking out at the ocean.

It was back on the road to a lovely little town called Denmark, 50km west of Albany. Denmark is a lovely little place that I would recommend to anyone visiting Western Oz. Indeed South West Oz is full of quaint little towns and villages, beaches, rivers, national parks and wineries. It's beautiful. Western Australia is 5 times the size of Texas and only 2 million people live there, with over 1 million living in an around Perth. As a result the South West (and North although we'll need to come back to do that) are beautiful, undeveloped and stunning. Clean air, clean water, millions of hectares of protected park, it's lovely.

We drove out of Denmark after a walk round town and headed to Green Pools and Elephant Rocks and enjoyed an hour or so clambering about. I went for another quick dip but didn't last long as the water was very fresh! We headed to the Valley Of The Giants and booked into a campsite for only $16aus per night. I cooked Pasta using a gas stove but the gas ran out before I could stir fry the onions, peppers and sauce!

Wednesday 24th October
Woke up at 7am but didn't roll out of the campervan until 8am for a shower and breakfast. It was only a 6km drive to the Valley Of The Giants national park and the tree top walk. I'll stick some photos on the flickr site but check out www.valleyofthegiants.com.au

The tree top walk is 600 metres long and costs $8aus per person. It was well worth it and we ended up going round twice, no need to pay the second time. At the highest point the walkway is 40 metres above the forest floor. The scenery and giant trees were stunning. After that we did the Ancient Empire walk through the massive red tingle trees and took a few photos at the foot of massive trunks.

We then drove the shorr distance to a town called Walpole and had a picnic lunch before heading on to Pemberton to climb the Gloucester Tree - 61 metres high and not for the faint or weak hearted! I'll stick some photos on flickr but check http://www.pembertontourist.com.au/pages.asp?code=130 for a great photo of the climb. The Gloucester Tree lookout was built in days gone by so locals could look out across the land to spot bush fires. The view from the top was breathtaking, in more ways than one!

We decided to drive to Augusta to save time the next day and we bought a 3-cd collection of Johny Cash songs for the trip at a gas station. Towards 7pm the sun was setting and it went a marvellous shade of pink, red and orange. It was gorgeous, although it was hard to drive in at times, blinding.

We arrived in Austa just after 7pm and had fish'n'chips at a local cafe. The campsite on the outskirts of town was closed and after driving around we decided just to park in a public carpark for the night with toilets nearby! Lucky Lynn is a cheap date!

Thursday 25th October
We woke up at 6.45am after a good nights sleep in the carpark. We packed the van and headed to Cape Leeuwin where the Southern and Indian Oceans meet. We had breakfast looking out at the crashing waves and then had a paddle at a nearby beach before heading to the lighthouse. The lighhthouse had one of those signs that tells you the distances to various places in the world and it was roughly the same distance to Sydney as it was to the South Pole.

We headed back into Augusta and out the Caves Road towards Margaret River, stopping off to visit the 3 mains caves - Jewel, Lake and Mammoth. http://www.australiassouthwest.com/en/Natural+Wonders/Caves/default.htm

The caves were fascinating. Our muscles were sore from climbing down and into them after the Gloucester Tree climb the day before. I think we'll need to book into a gym at some point.

We then drove along the coast to Margaret River, one of Australia's main wine regions. We arrived at 3.30pm and booked into the Riverview Caravan Park who also arrange wine tours. We booked on to one for the following day and got a $15aus discount as we were staying there - ideal.

As we had stayed in a carpark the night before we immediately made use of the shower facilities! We went into town for a beer at the excellent Settlers Tavern before having Pizza and a bottle of wine at Goodfellas restaurant.

Friday 26th October
It rained last night! I'd forgotten what rain was like. It was quite cold during the night and we were glad of our sleeping bags. We've used them quite a lot on the trips we've being doing in Oz and it justifies us carrying them around SE Asia for 3 months.

After breakfast and a bit of reading we headed down to the BBQ area to meet the rest of the people going on the wine tour with us. We had a BBQ lunch and the tour guide told us the best way to taste wine. Pour a little into your glass, swirl it around for a bit to let the scents come flooding out and then smell it. Repeat this two or three times and depending on the wine you might spot a different smell each time. When tasting wine you don't need to swallow it, the taste comes from allowing the wine to rest in your mouth, however if you want to get drunk then swallow.

After lunch and the all important advice we headed by bus to some wineries, a cheese factory, a chocolate factory, a venison farm and a brewery - not a bad day for $50aus each!

At the first winery - Zanadu we tasted 4 whites and 3 reds before heading on to Redgate winery for 3 whites, 2 reds, 2 rosies and 2 ports. Our group mainly consisted of 'older' people in their 50's or 60's. SW Australia is full of retired Australians travelling round in amazing campervans or caravans (some have satellite dishes) 'spending our kids inheritance'. Good one them, we met loads of nice people walking around towns, in camp sites and on the winery tour.

Due to the fact that some people were getting a little tipsy it was probably a wise decision to visit the cheese factory and the venison farm next. We bought some cheese, sausages and pate for the campervan. Next stop was the chocolate factory and it was fab, a kids dream. Chocolate buttons were free and after several handfuls I could feel a sugar rush coming on. We bought milk chocolate and white chocolate to satisfy our cravings.

The last winery was my favourite and was called Woody Book, a boutique winery. A winery is considered boutique if it produces less than 250,000 tonnes of grapes each year. The Woody Brook is run by an English couple and we were very lucky to have one of them as our host. She told us about all the awards they had recently received and that due to the fact they only produce 50,000 tonnes of grapes per year, they are very boutique. The wines were lovely and our hostess was charming and friendly. On the way home we stopped at a brewery but Lynn and I both agreed that Aussies should stick to wine, Toohey's New excepted.

We had toast, beans and venison sausages for dinner and talked to a nice old guy in the kitchen who was touring round Western Oz with his wife for 4 months. The couple across from us in the park had sold their house, bought a caravan and were travelling around Australia for 4 or 5 years! It is incredibly easy to get work out here.

Saturday 27th October
It was cold and wet last night and there was even a clap of thunder during the middle of the night. We got up at 8am and checked out by 10am, heading to Prevally Point where the Margaret River meets the ocean and there is some of the best surf in the world. The waves crashed into the shore and it would have been nice to have stayed a week to see a surfing competition, but on we went.

We drove up to Busselton to visit the longest wooden jetty in the southern hemisphere http://www.busseltonjetty.com.au/

It was really windy and we were glad to reach the end of the jetty, 1.8km from shore, and get into the warmth of the underwater observatory. The jetty is so long as the ocean is so shallow at Busselton. It's only 8 metres deep 1.8km out to sea. Ships now dock at Bunbury so Busselton Jetty was unused for a while before being restored and an underwater observatory put in at the jetty head. We went down into the obsevatory to look at the spectacular fishes and coral that have made the jetty home.

We then braved the wind to get back to the shore where we had lunch and then decided to drive to Bunbury and Busselton didn't look very lively for a Saturday, although it is a lovely town.

Bunbury didn't look incredibly lively either so we decided to drive to Freemantle. As we didn't arrive until late we again had to use a carpark as our home for the night. We got a Thai takeaway and a couple of beers and parked down by the beach.

Sunday 28th October
The clocks went forward and we woke up at 7am. As we were practically on the beach we got out and went for a nice walk along the beach. We then checked into a camp-site, had a shower and got a bus into Freemantle. Freemantle is a lovely old town, full of old style buildings and heaps of cafes and pubs. We had lunch and a beer at the 'Sail & Anchor', walked around the market and walked around town for a while.

As it was a sunny day we decided to go back to the campsite and get some beer and food to sit outside. It was very relaxing sitting outside our campervan with a beer and the Sunday papers. I think we might buy one when we get home!

Monday 29th October
We had a nice relaxing night, checked out at 8am and headed 20km up the coast to Perth to hand back our home for the last week. We've had a brilliant week and campervans are a great way to get around Australia and see as much as possible. It would have been nice to have had the time to go up north-west but time is marching on and tomorrow we fly to Adelaide where we will probably stay the night before hiring a campervan to drive to the Great Ocean Road and then along that to Melbourne over 2 or 3 days.

We're now back at Amy and Simon's catching up on some washing and gossip. I'm about to doa bit of research into campervans and also a music festival being held this Saturday on Phillip Island, 120km out of Melbourne. www.chillisland.org

Hope all is well wherever you are.

Lots of love and lemonade
Murray and Lynn

Posted by murray2701 19:29 Archived in Australia Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

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