Sparky Travels

September 27, 2010

Settled Winter

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 3:08 pm

August is birthday time with me and Russell both celebrating our 28ths. We had broadly similar affairs going out on the drink on Chapel Street. Mine began with some whiskey from Helen, dinner in a dumpling restaurant and then the inappropriately named Temperance Hotel. At one point it was just me and a posse of girls before Marco and Andre increase the male quota and I increased the Sambuca quota.IMG_3949 (Large)

Melbourne really is a nice place to call home, even during winter. While not as cold as back home it can still get pretty nippy here so I finally relented and bought a (light) jacket after a year without.

After almost 9 months in Australia I finally saw some koalas. Melbourne zoo was the venue and we got a good view of a couple of these chubby wee rascals who woke up in good time for our photography pleasures.

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Me and Helen also went to our first AFL game. Its crazy how a whole sport can be based in pretty much one city and attract such huge crowds. Our chosen game between league leaders Collingwood traditional rivals Essendon was a one-sided affair with the Magpies winning by 98 points. The MCG is a pretty impressive stadium with the largest capacity in the southern hemisphere. We had probably the 100,000th best seat, right up in the gods with a third of the pitch obscured by a perspex facade. The sport itself is pretty primitive but well worth watching in the flesh as you get an idea of the scale and positional play.IMG_3928 (Large)

The weekend after my birthday we left the city for the first time in months to head to ‘Beautiful Ballarat’ in the Goldfields of Victoria. The focal point of the state’s goldrush in the 1850s it is a small town with a man made lake and some Victorian era architecture. Our motel was halfway along the longest Avenue of Honour in Australia. The chief attraction in town is Sovereign Hill, a recreation of an authentic mining town. Its almost flawlessly executed and if it wasn’t for the other tourists you could really believe you’d been transported back ‘Marty McFly-stylee’ to the 1860’s. One of the first areas you reach is the ‘Diggings’ where you can pan for real gold. After we’d found a small (tiny) fortune we made our way round the sizeable ‘township’.

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Most of the interiors of the building were fitted out and manned by staff in period dress. I couldn’t resist buying a little pan so that I can look for gold back in Scotland. Overall, though pricey and a little bit light on information it was an enjoyable attraction.

Free with our Sovereign Hill ticket was entrance to the adjacent Gold Museum which had a relatively interesting exhibit on Ned Kelly and an endless amount of real and replica gold nuggets. The surprise attraction of the weekend was the Ballarat Art Gallery which was an extremely varied and comprehensive collection of local and international art. A few hours at the gallery on Sunday and a trip to the lake at nearby Daylesford rounded off a great wee weekend away.

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