Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Straya in a week

It's getting close to the time where I pack it in from Australia for a fairly extended period. A while ago, I got a Jetstar credit card, which entitled me to a free one way flight within Australia. I connected some deals, and had myself a bit of a tour around Australia, a whirlwind one at that but the basic plan was:

Canberra>Sydney>Hobart>Melbourne>Canberra>Sydney>Hamilton Island>Airlie Beach>Brisbane>Sydney>Canberra.

I think it was maybe 9 days in total I took off for that, but it was a pretty good time all around. Pretty well everywhere I had been before, but they were just places I had a good time in, but wanted to visit again.

My trip kicked off with a bus trip, then I met my friend Kelly for beers in Sydney. I had an early flight so I couldn't have a real rager.

Yesterday I got up really early in Sydney, and then walked to the airport. Everyone has been really shocked that I did this, however, it’s only 6km, which is about the distance from my house to the city, which I walk all the time.
I was up pretty early, I decided to cut down on costs and walk to the airport. I was already staying in the city, and it's only 6km to the airport, a distance I regularly walk. Though my 6km track normally takes me along the bottom of Mt Ainslie, my main companions being kangaroos...this trip took me through the highlights of Redfern...

No troubles though, and I got to the airport and straight on the plane. It wasn't too long and I was contemplating walking to the airport in Hobart. There was a big ad saying YHA members got half price on the bus, so I jumped on that opportunity.

This is where I’m staying. A pretty good room at a very good price (zero)

I went in to the YHA. It is a very quiet season, so there was actually nobody there when I went. I headed down the road and got some lunch, then wandered a bit more, and end up playing footbag for about an hour down by the wharf. Once I came back there was someone to check me in, and I pretty well had the entire place to myself.

I was doing Sticky's Target 168 Challenge and that day was the last day to do it. At that stage I hadn't started, so I got a wriggle on, printed off some pictures and headed for Officeworks. Except I walked about 3km in the wrong direction...

The cutting, pasting, folding, sending process took a bit longer than I expected, and entries need to be at the Post Office by 5pm. At 4:59pm I had my postmark, I was in business, I had the night to explore.

The first thing I wanted to check if the TV worked. This is not really something I would normally do, I don't even have a working TV at home. However, the Raiders had a rare channel nine appearance, which was being shown on delay at midnight.

After checking that I headed down to the wharf where I had been kicking earlier. I was meeting with Jeremy, another Footbag player as well as his girlfriend. I first met Jeremy back in 2002, when we had a "NSW Championships" at Homebake. Radio Birdman played that too, it was a pretty awesome day actually.

Anyway, I met him for a beer. We started at a trendy bar which was not really our scene at all, so we quickly moved on from there. For dinner we stopped by a fish and chips place, which was not really better or worse than most other fish and chip places, nothing to write home about.

We headed to another bar a few blocks back from the wharf, where another friend of his was having a farewell do. They also sold pints of Bluetongue for $5. I was sold on that.

I got talking to a guy in a Lagwagon shirt who was pretty excited about the Propagandhi show that night. I admitted that I had kinda come to Hobart for that, but I didn't buy a ticket. Maaaaatttttteee was his original reaction, he was some kind of tradie, I think a plumber. We got talking about punk rock and adventures and after a few more Bluetongues we walked up to the show together. I didn't really have a plan, but he told me there was a front bar and I guessed I would be at least able to hear from there, and I was going to see them in Canberra a few days later anyway.

So we wandered up to this bar, The Brisbane Hotel in Hobart. It was a pretty good pub actually, I liked it, if I was back in Hobart I'd probably pop in there for a few pints, maybe a few less than I had that night.

When it came time for Propagandhi to take the stage, I had myself a nice perch, just outside the band room, but in direct line of sight and hearing of the band. I had no troubles in watching, and midway through the set they just opened up the doors. So that all worked itself out very well.

The show finished just before midnight, so I dashed back to the hostel to catch the Raiders match, where they finally won a game. That was great to see, I was yelling and screaming as if I was at the match, but from the comfort of a nice bed.

The next day I woke up with a fairly severe hangover. I had agreed to have a kick with Jeremy and Lotus, another veteran of Australian footbag. The play and busk at Salamanca Markets every Saturday.

We played for a few hours, and had some people interested in the kicking but the guys said they usually do better. I hit some good tricks, but struggled to keep up the fitness levels. This can be heavily attributed to the large number of pints of Cascade Pale Ale the evening before.

We had a quick beer after the kick, but I definitely wasn't in the mood for anymore, or even so much for the first one. By the water the day before I had seen something about riding a bike to MONA, the Museum of Old and New Art. So I decided to do that. The guy gave me a bit of a weird look and told me I would be only able to go one way.

It was about a 15km ride, mainly flat, though I did take a ride over the Tasman Bridge (oops). This was a good opportunity to see a little bit more of Hobart, as the ride to the gallery in itself is not really all that interesting (mainly flat through industrial areas and suburbia).

I got to MONA about an hour and a half before closing time. Obviously this wasn't going to be enough time to see everything, but even the setup there is impressive. The basic concept is that it a super rich guy's own private museum, so he can show anything he wants. There are some things that are a bit, I guess you might say eye-opening, but the big thing is the variety, and the quality of the content.

There are no displays on the walls, so you use an IPhone like device to navigate your way around, and there are a few different options about what you want to read. To go into the museum you actually descend into a giant staircase, the building is actually carved into the cliff.

To come back, I jumped on the ferry. I only had a t-shirt on, but I really wasn't too cold. I had another early flight, so it was time to take it easy. I just grabbed a pizza for dinner, then had an early night.

Next stop was Melbourne, I was there by about 10am the next day. After my feats of walking in Sydney, I was thinking about a repeat. After consulting Google maps I realised I wouldn't have to walk down the motorway, so there must be a chance for me to get into the city.

Gloom with a view, Melbourne.  Was going to the old trick of walking from the airport, then everybody would say I was crazy. It’s about 3x as far as Sydney, so they may be onto something. I walked to Airport West, which is not as close to the airport as it sounds, then it started pouring with rain so I got on a tram.

I could see the city a long way off in the distance, but the weather was not looking up. After walking for a fair while, I had reached Airport West, and the clouds opened up. Time to seek an alternative, a tram came by soon after and it was definitely the right move to get on that.

I stayed with my friend Chris, who I went to school with. Since my first visit back in 2005 when I came down for Nationals, I have stayed with him a huge number of times. So many that his pet bird actually treats me as if I live there.

I didn't really have too much planned for my stay in Melbourne, it was more of just a transition to get me to the next place. The first night I think we played a whole heap of NBA Jam on the PS3, that was a lot of fun, we were both right into it and improved a lot over the course of the night.

The next day I got to catch up with a few friends, but it was all pretty low key, and I was home by midnight. It wouldn't be too long til I would be visiting Melbourne again, so it wasn't a big deal. Thinking of it now, we spent a lot of the night playing darts. Old men...

Tuesday was my day to leave and I left the apartment with my bag packed, thinking there was a good chance I was going to walk to the airport. My first stop was the Vic Markets to get myself a couple of bargain Borek, then I had a walk through Carlton and Fitzroy, checking out some bookstores. I didn't really want to carry anything more, so I didn't but any books. I continued along my way up through North Fitzroy, then I decided to follow the Merri Creek trail for a while. This trail starts at Dights Falls, where I actually used to spend a bit of time when I lived in Melbourne, that was some moons ago now too.

Once I got to Coburg I got off the trail and started making my across. And across, and across. All up I think I walked for about 30km, but I got to the airport, and my flight hadn't left yet, and I hadn't paid any money to get there.

I saw a couple of friends in the queue at the airport which got things going a bit faster. The Tiger flight was changed to a 6:15 takeoff instead of 5:45. I think when they're not running too late, they just change the time, rather than admitting they are late. The rest of the boards flashed up "cancelled", "delayed" so it was good to get on the plane.

It was just after the last bus, so I took a taxi into the city. Met my dear wife for some dinner, left my bag at work and wandered over to the Propagandhi show.

I Exist were on first and I hadn't seen them for ages, they were in great form, with their new album just about to come out. The long walk was taking its toll on me though, I spent a lot of the night having a strong desire to sit down somewhere. Propagandhi were great again, funnily enough I was probably further away from the action than I was at the Hobart show!

The next day we were up early, more travels were on the way. By the end of the day we would be kicking back in Airlie Beach, but there was a lot to do before getting there. First we had to drive to Sydney. We parked at Kelly's place then took a taxi to the airport, ate some food and jumped on the plane to Hamilton Island. I was glad to notice that things were running smoothly with the flights, booking a whole heap of cheap ones can lead to disaster when things go wrong. There were a number of crying babies and annoying kids on the flight, but it wasn't too big a deal.

Once we got to Hamilton Island, we just had to wait a short while, then we were on a ferry into the town of Airlie Beach itself. I spent about 6 weeks working up there over Christmas/New Year at the end of 09, so it was good to go back there in a non-work capacity.

The Origin was on that night. I was first looking for a place to watch it, but after having a good time watching the game by myself on the previous occasion, I thought that sounded pretty good, so we got some beer and I turned it on in the room. The Blues went down, but only just, a typical Queensland late minute Billy Slater try sealing the deal.

The next day we were off on Ocean Rafting. We had done this before when we were both up there, so we knew what to expect, but it was still a lot of fun.

Hill Inlet Lookout, with Whitehaven Beach in the background. Below is a picture of us on a previous visit...

On Ocean Rafting you get to snorkel, have a good feed, take a bushwalk on Whitsunday Island, then hang out on the beach for a while. We took the south trip, though I think the north trip is better, as you get a second snorkel instead of staying at the beach longer.

It was a fairly quiet night that night we returned to the Down Under Bar, who had a good deal involving a pint of beer and a steak for $10, can barely go past that, then we just hung around the hostel. Before dinner I did play some footbag, and had some good runs. I had returned to my little spot by the lagoon where I put in a lot of hours, and an incredible amount of sweat over those six weeks I was staying in Airlie Beach.

From Airlie we took a bus to Proserpine, and we were accompanied by these most annoying of American girls. Just shut up, hey. It was a pleasure to get off the bus and not hear them anymore.

We had a while to wait for the flight, so I was going through my routine a bit, it was starting to come together a bit more. The Proserpine airport is one of the worst, and it was actually under renovation, so only half the things there were available.

I had a window seat for a great view over the coastline. Last time I flew, the guy sitting in the window seat was snoring away instead of admiring the view.

Brisbane was the next stop, we took a fairly long walk around the city, and we came across a freestyle football player in the Gardens near QUT. Francisca noticed him, and she said to me "I saw that guy taking his pants off, he must be a footbag player or something". Luckily he was not some kind of weird pervert, and we had a kick of the ball. I have a lot to learn in freestyle football, but I have a few tricks up my sleeve.

That night we went and saw Fires Of Waco, who were playing a free show at Fat Louie's. I also got to meet Crispy, who made the Rock'n'Raider zine, one of my favourites ever. We've been talking online for about 4 years so it was good to meet him. The worst thing about that venue though, was these crazy queues for beer. I was pretty keen to have a bit of a loose night, but the idea of the queue just really put a dampener on that one.

The trip was coming to a close, with just a couple more days remaining. The next day my friend Josh cooked up a storm, we went over to his new place, it's pretty awesome, but a bit close to the train line. They invited us to a party later on, and I have been to Brisbane so many times, that I knew most of the people at the party too.

The next day we finally had a flight delay, it had to be on the last one didn't it....but we got back to Sydney, then from there it was a long drive home back to Canberra, then back to work the next day.

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Daniel is now living in Santiago de Chile. You can find some more writing at I Love Chile

Recent Issues of Capital Eyes zine:

Issue 12- Sticky's Target 168: Russia
Issue 11- Yoko Oh No, Elysian
Issue 10- Break Even, Alexisonfire (reprints)
Issue 9- Jerkstore, Ruiner, To The North
Issue 8- 4 Dead, Dangers
Issue 7- Polar Bear Club, Jungle Fever