G’day mates and happy new year! I hope everyone is having a great start to their new year. So far it is shaping up to be an adventuresome one for Curtis and I. In light of all the 2012 year end lists I have been catching up on (top songs, albums, books, news stories, Q interviews, TED talks….), here are a few of our “top” moments thus far:
5. Successfully renting a car; driving a car; not dying in a car as we constantly shoulder check the wrong way and wash our windshield while meaning to signal.
4. Spending Christmas on a white sandy beach in Coolangatta, on the south side of the Gold Coast. Curtis celebrating under a beach umbrella, me under the watchful gaze of the Australian sun. Either way, sun screen now has its own column in the monthly budget.
3. “Roll on, deep and dark blue ocean, roll.” I wonder if Lord Byron ever experienced Cape Byron for himself, seeing as Byron Bay was named after his grandfather. As the most easterly point of mainland Australia, rolling ocean is certainly all that you see from the lighthouse. To reach the summit however, we wended past countless surfers, a surprising number of brush turkeys (yes, turkeys!) and lush ferns in Cape Byron Conservation Park. (And a fun brain nugget about Lord Byron: his daughter, Ada Lovelace, is thought to be the first computer programmer….Stephen Fry told me that today! QI is a fantastic show FYI.)
2. Hinterland. A word I would use to describe everything slightly inland from the coast line, somewhere between ocean and outback. More specifically, the Gold Coast Hinterland is crammed full with thick forested valley and rural vineyards. It was too much to see in one day, so we chose to explore the World Heritage listed Border Ranges National Park. Once upon a time this was part of the rainforest-clad super-continent Gondwana. Today it still grows Antarctic Beech trees, Red Cedar and anything with a frond. It was stunning and easily the greenest place either of us had ever been! Unfortunately we got caught under a funnel-cloud looking storm and left sooner than we wanted. But I guess that’s a good excuse to go back.
1. Snorkeling! In the warm azure Coral Sea! Sea turtles, sting rays, lustrous coral, tropical fish, even a leopard shark. We’re looking into diving classes so we can be ready for the Great Barrier Reef….even though the ocean still kind of terrifies me. It doesn’t mess around!
8. I was hoping our train ride from Sydney to Melbourne would have been a little more “Murder on the Orient Express”. Not that I wanted someone to get murdered mind you! I was just hoping for people in hats, drinking English Breakfast tea, or at the very least a fastidious man with an ultra-waxed moustache. Alas, Poirot was not on our train. We did get fresh scones and cream though, and hours of excellent audio docs.
7. Oh, the architecture! Melbourne is a fantastic mix of ornate Victorian design, corrugated tin roofing, industrial brick buildings plastered with posters and contemporary design with organic shapes. Not to mention some of the best graffiti I have seen. No ugly, poorly spelled tags here! Just entire brick alley-ways filled with beautiful larrikin designs. It is very apparent that this is a city brimming with culture and ideas.
6. We experienced a few days of the “heat wave” so prevalent in Aussie news. Let me tell you, if an Australian thinks it’s hot outside then it really really is. So, since Mr. Golden Sun was acting more like Mr. Oppressive Death Star we spent a few afternoons in air conditioned museums. All of which were really neat! The Immigration Museum brought light to Australia’s somewhat dark past which eerily mirrored Canada’s immigrant history. The Melbourne museum had innovative psychology and evolution exhibits (!!!), so that was pretty much a day right there. Science is okay.
5. Victoria Square Market: how many pairs of Uggs does one need? Or cell phone cases? Magic kits? City blocks worth, obviously. A fun market though. We ate candy right after it was made in front of us! There’s a talent I would like to have.
4. Head down to the St. Kilda pier at sunset and you’re guaranteed to find a rookery of penguins. (Curtis insisted I use this ridiculous collective noun. Seriously, rookery? I would probably like it more if it sounded bad ass like these: http://wondermark.com/566/) Anyway, so there’s a “rookery’ which is really neat as they swim into the break water every night at dusk to attend to their penguin business. Dusting, egg sitting, business suit dry cleaning…etc. Just be wary of the Penguin Patrol Volunteers who will yell at you for, anything really.
3. Apparently Melbourne has to make up for its lack of Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge by being the foodie mecca of Australia. We got more “you have to go here” suggestions then we could make it to and still our satiated tummies couldn’t agree more.
2. For serious cinephiles the best place to find yourself in 45 degree heat is the Australian Centre for Moving Images (ACMI). Pop yourself into a 360 degree “bullet time” camera room, make your own flip book, have your mind expand while watching a twenty four frame per second zeotrope. Then head downstairs to consider our culture’s mass media saturation before watching a full length film about Wonder Woman. Totally rad.
1. Hawksley Workman is the man. Northcote Social Club is the place. Best concert we have been to in a while is the result. And we only had to travel across continents and a few oceans to hear one of our favourite Canadian artists. (Did I mention I’m seeing Neil Young with Crazy Horse in a vineyard in March?! Australia is the place for Canadian musical icons I guess! Well, our Canadian musical icons anyway.)
Our top list for Sydney is on its way, but we’re posting some photos anyway 🙂