Saturday, May 27, 2006

New Zealand Pics

Will be uploaded real soon!

Routeburn Track

Able Tasman Track, a walk on the beach.

Sandfly Point at the end of the Milford Track, "Finally, a sunny day".

Click here to see the pictures in yahoo photos.

Exit Oz

My flight back to L.A. after almost a year in Melbourne.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Easter in the Snowy Mountains

The travel brochure always show Australia as sunny beach or hot desert outback. They never ever mention snow, which was farthest from my mind when I went on a backpacking trip in the Snowy Mountains (aka of `The Man From` fame) 6 hours northeast of Melbourne.

Sunny day quickly turned forboding as soon as we started off. Well that's Melbourne weather for ya.

We had rain worthy of New Zealand. It never let up for 16 hours. I was dreading not bringing a book. In the morning, it had turned to snow.

The above was taken at Mount Kosciuszko, the highest point in Oz at 2262 metres.

Wild animals of the kind you don't expect here, horses. They tend to go to the toilet all over the place so you have to be careful where you set you tent.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Candy is dandy

Candy is dandy but liquor is quicker.

Australian for Beer

I've been here for close to a year and I have never, ever seen Fosters being sold anywhere, let alone seeing someone drink it. Unfortunately it is the only beer available at the Grand Prix as they are the title sponsor (beer and car racing, good mix). Thankfully there's no sign of Paul Hogan anywhere.

Commonwealth Games

I got back to Melbourne in time for the tail end of the Commonwealth Games at the end of March. These games are a chance for ex-colonies of the British Empire to kick the Mother Country's arse, not that's all that difficult this day and age (but really it's just for countries that normally don't win anything at the Olympics a chance for some glory). The Australians, taking this way too seriously, cleaned up at the medals.

Along with the sporting events, the city had an Arts and Cultural festival in conjunction with the games. The most talked about was the series metal fish scupltures moored in the river.

Every night the fish puts on a Vegas-like show by sprouting water and changing colours. People line the bank of the river hours before the start of the show.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Volvo Race Around the World

The boats from the Volvo Race Around the World stopped over in Melbourne on March 11. No they don't race Volvos but carbonfibre yachts including an entry sponsored by Disney (now you know where your bonuses went). They will be at sea for seven months starting in Spain and finishing in Sweden.

Here are some pictures of their stopover in Melbourne. Next stop, Wellington.

The boat Disney built, the Black Pearl. Roy is below getting seasick.

A week later I was in Wellington, New Zealand. They happen to be stopping over for a couple of days there before heading off to Rio de Janerio, 6700 miles and three weeks away.

Race leader from the Netherlands and the Black Pearl leaving Wellington Harbour.

The boats heading to the Cook's Strait (in background) as seen from the deck of James and Son's palatial Seatoun home.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Its 42C in the shade

The daytime temperature on New Years eve was 42 degrees Celsius, a hot day even if you are in Las Vegas. When the midnight came around, it was still around 30C but an estimated half a million people still turned up for the fireworks.

We parked ourselves on a small hill and by serendipity, was able to see all five fireworks from different part of the city, like 5-channel home theatre fireworks.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Oklahoma Downunder

I came across a softball game on a lazy Sunday afternoon. If the name of the baseball diamond wasn't so poetic, I would have swore I was somewhere in the midwest.

Camping over Xmas

Christmas is a strange time in Australia. While the commerical and religious overtones are evident everywhere, it is also the official start of the summer holidays with the kids being off for the next two months. Like the May Two-Four weekend in Ontario, everyone can't wait to get the hell out of the city, with camping being the main activity. So when in Rome...

We went to a national park strangely named Wilson's Promontory. It is the southern most point in continental Australia and one of the most popular spot for Melbournian caravan set. Thankfully we decided to hike in overnight than to assemble in the trailer park reminisent of a tent city you see in a disaster zone.

We did a walking loop starting on the 23rd, camping at three hike-in only beaches. On the way we braved brilliant sunshine, 70km wind gusts, swarms of flies, cold steely rain, balls-clenching cold water, and a pack that increasing got heavily as Shirley's gradually got lighter.

Our first night was at the Sealer's Cove campground, a former outpost for seal hunters. If there are see seals around, so they say, get outta the water because there's probably a couple of sharks lurking around.

Christmas dinner (and lunch and all other meals for that matter) consists of tuna in a pouch and instant pasta. I did manage to pack in some turkey salami, but an overzealous crow made of with it while I was not looking.

Our holiday home away from home, complete with a kitchen with a view and a pet crow that loves salami.

The view from the trail between Sealer's Cove and Refuge Cove, one of the nicest trail I've been on.

Hiking above Refuge Cove, probably the best campsite we never stayed at.

Instead of bears, campers have to worry about wombats, which are like raccoons on steroids and likes to check out tent for hidden caches of food.

Waterloo Bay, another one of the hiker campground. The sand is of brilliant white. Too bad the sky was a matching grey. This was out last campsite before we head inland and back to the car.

Did I say we braved swarms of flies? I'm not kidding. Apparently there are 40 billions flies in the country. They like places that are warm, dark and moist, like your nostrils and mouth.

For more pictures click here:Christmas in Wilson Prom

34 degrees Xmas Day

Well the weather is hot, school's out, everyone is off on their summer holidays. It must be Christmas time. It is 34 degrees Celcius (over 100F). People are out Christmas shopping and I'm wearing shorts and sandals. Last thing on my mind is shopping. (I hear it's a snowy winter in the northern hemisphere this year).

Cubist Cow

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Melbourne Cup Day

The first weekend of November is the Melbourne Cup, a four-day public holiday in celebration of a horse race of all things. It is a huge event here, kinda like Thanksgiving meet the Kentucky Derby.

We went to an off-track betting shop where I learn the difference between fillies and turkeys. In the end I did win $20 bucks which I promply blew on a round of beers.

Meet the Gramps

We went on a camping trip in the Grampians, famous for their unusual rock formations. We had a surprisingly sunny weekend (rare for Melbourne). We car camped and went on various day hikes in the area.

It is nice to see that the Park Services still allows dumb tourists to venture out into dangerous situations just to pose for a photo to show folks back home.

This is called the Disappearing Falls. We thought it meant it disappears if it is not raining at the time. In an unexplainable trick of alchemy, the water is turned not into wine but into a pile of rocks.

Kangaroos are like deer back home, meaning they are quite common and can be seen in most rural areas. We turn this curious guy into breakfast sausage and 'roo steaks the next morning.

Picnic at Hanging Rock

We went to the Hanging Rock one sunny afternoon. You may have heard of it because of the Peter Weir film in the 70's in which a bunch of school girl mysteriously disappeared during a picnic outing. Many people here still thinks the film depicted real events but was really a work of fiction, or so the ranger told us. Note the gremlin looking rock formation eyeing Shirley. Unfortunately the infamous "Hanging Rock" look none too threatening.

Aussie Rule Footy Final

This state is totally footy mad, so when the team formerly known as the South Melbourne Swans won the AFL championship, our whole neighbourhood was coloured red and white. No one seemed to mentioned that the team had moved to Sydney over fifteen years ago.