I thought I was getting over the farsickness

until I heard this.

Every time I hear it I yearn to be travelling again.

It was on the radio today when I was in the hairdresser. I had to fight back the tears as they would have wondered what on earth was wrong with me.

I first heard this on Australia Day 2012, on the way back to Perth after a day out to Margaret River. As we drove back into Perth the storm began. Thunder, lightening and rain, threatened to cancel the firework display. It rained in every city I visited in Australia. As we walked into the hostel, soaked to the skin, the guy on reception, who had told us a few days ago that there was no chance of rain in Perth this time of year, looked at me and my husband and said ‘Rainmakers’. We got caught up in 8 cyclones during our travels, and we are still not put off. We are no strangers to holiday disasters.

Margaret River Region

 

And now, whenver I hear Goyte singing ‘Someone That I Used to Know’, I travel right back to that day. And I know that I just have to be on the road again.

 

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Melbourne – Yarraville and Williamstown by train boat and plane

One of our days out while in Melbourne was a trip to Yarraville and Williamstown. The people we were house and dog sitting for had driven us out there and we were quite taken by the quirkyness of these two suburbs so decided to revisit them.

Flinders StreetNot brave enough to drive there (Melbourne drivers are scary and there are Hook Turns to scare you even more) we jumped on the train at Flinders Street. Got totally confused and went round in a loop to get off at Southern Cross.The wedding party

Across the platform I captured this group of people, and guessed they were off to a wedding.

As we got off the train in Yarraville we saw this.Birmingham Street

Our home town in England is Birmingham. And how cute, they have this at the station. Something we need to have at all stations, I think.Kiss and Ride

We had a stroll around the area and were quite convinced we could live here. That said up until then we were pretty sure we wanted to live in St Kilda. Time seems to have stood still in Yarraville and I would think it is a popular suburb for young families and commuters. The Sun TheatreThe Sun Theatre opened in 1938. It is a beautiful building and another reason to live in Yarraville. They even used to have baby room, so you could leave you baby while you watched a film. Given my experiences where parents take children far to young to see some films (see A guide to cinema etiquette) I think we need to introduce a crèche in cinemas in England today.

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The railway goes right across th main street and I love these crossing so yes, going to share. The town goes at a slower pace than most of the other suburbs we visited in Melbourne. No one was in a rush to do anything.

No standing

We jumped back on the train to Williamstown and saw this. Tempted to sit down imediately, it was getting very hot by then.

Drinking fountain Williamstown

Wilkinson Memorial Drinking Fountain 1875 Williamstown

This came in handy.

As did the ice cream.  There were so many to choose from. There were lots of ice cream shops in Williamstown.

We then decided that we may like to live in Williamstown. It had beaches and good places to eat, and we could commute like this.Sea Plane

Or like this.Wiliamstown Melbourne Ferry

 

With views like this.Melbourne skyline

We caught the ferry back and got chatting to a man on the boat who had moved from Sydney to Melbourne. After a long discussion about politics and advice as to where to get the best pies in Sydney, he then told us about the bridges we were travelling under. One not very pleasant story about this bridge (which I won’t share). 

And a funny story about this one.

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Apparently the concrete columns were put there to make people feel more confident using the bridge. Travelling on the bridge you would think they were supporting the bridge yet from the sea, you can see that they are not attached. Not my story his. Just telling it.

If you are going to Melbourne I would thoroughly recommend you visit both Yarraville and Williamstown. After the bustle and hustle of the busy city,mad drivers, trams and traffic jams, these are places to come to slow down and relax.

And get the ferry back as this is your welcome back to the city.

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We ended the day at the Young and Jackson, dining with Chloe and people watching from the window.

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I love Melbourne.

Melbourne for Free Part 2

We found Australia a very expensive country to visit. I posted while we were in Melbourne on our quest to find things that were free in Melbourne, here. We were house and dog sitting in Melbourne so our accommodation was free which saved us lots of money. Food and the cost of transport using Myki (think Oyster but complicated and expensive) really took a chunk out of our budget. We wanted to make the most of our time there, yet we needed to find free things to do and see. Fortunately my old uni friend, whose house and dogs we ‘sat’ for a month in Melbourne advised us to bring our National Trust card with us as we could use it in Australia.

And this is where we visited.

The Old Melbourne Gaol

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This would have normally cost $25 per adult if not for our trusty National Trust Card.

To visit the Gaol you need to book a timed tour. This is no ordinary tour as there is a lot of role play. We were taken into the police station, assigned names and had our charges read out to us. The police officer then accompanies you to the cells and divided up the men and women and then locked us up in separate cells. Even though you knew it was  all part of the ‘experience’ and fully participated in this, it was still very unnerving. I was glad to hear the key turning in the lock to set us free.

The most famous prisoner here was Ned Kelly who was hanged there in 1880. After the tour you are able to explore the rest of the gaol, and learn more about some of the prisoners held there. There are some very sad stories. While highly recommended, a visit to the Gaol comes with a health warning; you will probably leave with low spirits. I recommend that you line something up afterwards that is outside and cheers you up such as …

Polly Woodside

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As you enter the visitor centre you are assigned a role and then treated accordingly on the guided tour. We were the only ones on our tour, the upside was we got the guide to ourselves, the downside was that some of the role play was impossible with only two of us. This wasn’t the only time when visiting attractions that we had a guide to ourselves visiting Melbourne attractions. The Polly Woodside was built in Belfast and was sold to the National Trust for one cent in 1968. Great for families, children, big kids and history buffs alike. A good place to visit after the Gaol as it is in the open air and fun, and you can purchase a combined ticket with the Gaol for $30.

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Once more this is by guided tour only and according tp the web site:-

Como is not open to walk up visitors in the short term however, the site will continue to be available for bookings covering group tours of 10 or more people (a minimum of 20 people on weekends), as well as events and private functions.

We were lucky as we turned up on spec and joined the a small guided tour of just four. The house and gardens are beautiful, a real insight to how the privileged lifestyles of the rich. We thoroughly enjoyed our visit, it is a shame that they have limited opening now.

Rippon Lea House and Garden

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Our tour guide informed us that the family that built this house had made its fortune in Manchester. As there were only two of us on the tour (do you see a pattern emerging here?) I gently pointed out that most, if not all Brits, would think she was talking about the city in England. The guide was surprised to learn that it is only in Australia and New Zealand that bed linen and towels are referred to as ‘manchester’.

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Once we had cleared that little misunderstanding up, she went on to tell us that this house, amongst others mentioned in this post, had recently been used as a film set for Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries.

Labassa

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Labassa was closed when we visited. It was within walking distance of where we were staying, and is surrounded by residential properties.We did manage to get a few photos of the interiors. Stunning house and disappointed that we were unable to go inside.

Use them or lose them Melbourne folks

What struck me was how few visitors most of these really interesting places were getting. By far the most popular was Melbourne Old Gaol. At most of the other places we were often the only ones there. Why is this? Was it the time of year, mid December, just before the school holidays? Do visitors to the area not know or are not interested in this part of Australian history? In the UK most National Trust properties are full of visitors. There has to be timed entrances due to the volume of visitors. Yet these beautiful properties are struggling to remain open due to lack of visits.

The guides at Como and Rippon Lea were baffled, as to why people from England were interested in these houses, when we had much older and grander properties to visit in the UK. We explained that we knew very little about the history of Australia, I frankly had no idea that we would find properties to visit like this. My limited knowledge of Australia was that it was hot, had kangaroos, spiders that would kill me and sharks that would kill me. And what I had seen in Neighbours and Home and Away. I thought everyone would have swimming pools and that most people living there were descendents of criminals or £10 Poms. OK I may be over exaggerating just a bit, yet Australia was full of surprises for me, (rain, cold, bad tv, heritage properties) despite reading Down Under by Bill Bryson who writes:

‘It was as if I had privately discovered life on another planet, or a parallel universe where life was at once recognizably similar but entirely different. I can’t tell you how exciting it was. Insofar as I had accumulated my expectations of Australia at all in the intervening years, I had thought of it as a kind of alternative southern California, a place of constant sunshine and the cheerful vapidity of a beach lifestyle, but with a slightly British bent – a sort of Baywatch with cricket . . . ‘

Yes, he loves Australia as much as I do. The rich culture, the amazing food, the skyscrapers in the CBD and these beautiful properties to visit, all knocked me for six. I cannot wait to get back there and spend some more time in this beautiful country.

Have you been to or live in Melbourne? What would you recommend to a visitor?

And if you live in or are visiting Victoria, go visit these properties, while you can.

Melbourne Memories -St Kilda

The far sickness has kicked in big time today. I think it is because I have committed myself to a paid job, which means that the travelling plans are truly on the back burner. But that’s another post for another day….

Time to revisit some memories of a very happy time in Melbourne. IMG_4658

We loved St Kilda. We were there every week as we were volunteering at Lentil as Anything.

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After our shift we usually had a wander around. There was always something to see.IMG_4673

We loved this community garden.

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And the cakes.IMG_4657

And the record shop.IMG_4662

And of course Lunar Park.IMG_5967IMG_4738

Hope to see you soon St Kilda.IMG_4787

Books are the plane, and the train, and the journey.

travellingcoral

Today I visited the State Library of Victoria, Melbourne. It is stunning. We joined the guided tour of the dome. Again, like so many of the free things to do in this beautiful city it was just us and the guide.

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In recent years, Victoria invested a substantial sum of money to refurbish the beautiful building. Money well spent.

The quote is one of the many on the walls of the La Trobe reading room which is beautifully furnished, and is one of the quiet reading rooms.

Not that any of them are noisy as such, just full of people and life and free wifi and a chess room! And Ned Kellys’s armour.

Its archives include comic books

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Cartoons

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It holds over 1.5 million books too.

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I’m glad it was part of my journey.

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Melbourne for free

travellingcoral

As part of our round the world trip, we are house and dog sitting in Melbourne. After being on the road for a month and a bit, having a comfortable bed, our own shower room and a kitchen is fantastic. Beats a camper can, hands down.

We are very lucky to have essentially free accommodation for six weeks, which is a bonus. Another bonus is we get to live like Melburnians not tourists. Well mostly!

Other bits of this trip are going to take serious chunks out of our travel budget, so we are more than happy to look after a house and the dogs and be able to explore this great city, which is consistently voted one of the best place to live in the world.

What I hadn’t reckoned on was how big the place is. And that it’s divided up into mini towns, all so very different…

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Hostels: the good, the bad and the downright ugly

Recently stayed in a hotel in Malta that made some hostels luxurious in comparison, Neds Beds with knobs on 🙂

travellingcoral

Reading a post on OIK Strategy with tips about hostels by @About London Laura reminded me of the way standards in hostels (in Australia at least) can vary.

Until my RTW trip with my husband I hadn’t stayed in a hostel for nearly 40 years. Yet we were going on a RTW backpacking trip and hostels were part of the deal if we were to manage see more of this wonderful country.

The Good

This is possibly the best hostel in the world ever. Sydney Harbour YHA. It nestles in-between five star hotels and this was the view from our bedroom window.

IMG_7291The is our private double room.
IMG_7244The ensuite.
IMG_7243 On the terrace.IMG_7252IMG_7255 Just at the front of the hostel and we can see the Sydney Harbour Bridge.IMG_7261Barbeque night at Sydney Harbour YHAIMG_7293 I cannot see why anyone would check into an hotel in Sydney when you could stay…

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Hostels: the good, the bad and the downright ugly

Reading a post on OIK Strategy with tips about hostels by @About London Laura reminded me of the way standards in hostels (in Australia at least) can vary.

Until my RTW trip with my husband I hadn’t stayed in a hostel for nearly 40 years. Yet we were going on a RTW backpacking trip and hostels were part of the deal if we were to manage see more of this wonderful country.

The Good

This is possibly the best hostel in the world ever. Sydney Harbour YHA. It nestles in-between five star hotels and this was the view from our bedroom window.

IMG_7291The is our private double room.
IMG_7244The ensuite.
IMG_7243 On the terrace.IMG_7252 IMG_7255 Just at the front of the hostel and we can see the Sydney Harbour Bridge.IMG_7261 Barbeque night at Sydney Harbour YHAIMG_7293 I cannot see why anyone would check into an hotel in Sydney when you could stay here. There were all ages, families, backpackers and flashpackers. It most definitely not a party hostel. Except at New Years Eve of course. Can you imagine the views on NYE?

The kitchens were well equipped, a team of hardworking cleaners ensured that everywhere was spot less.

After previous hostels this was a good one. Previously we had stayed, as part of a tour group, in some absolutely dire ones. And also had to experience the dreaded dorm.

The not so good (yet compared to the next one it was not bad).

After a comfortable house sit in Melbourne we headed off along The Great Ocean Road to Adelaide. We were quite a big group and the guide called Pete admitted at the end that he had concerns about the dynamics. As it was we all really got on. Never a cross moment. Mixed ages, fitness levels and nationalities. 3 days on the road.

Our first hostel was Warrnambool Beach Backpackers. Tour guide Pete had advised us not to head into town where there was a carnival as it would be full of Bogans. Fortunately the town has one redeeming feature. Kermonds. The burgers here are amazing.

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Bellies full we checked in to a packed hostel and scrambled to find beds. I tried to get in a small dorm but a group of younger girls nabbed it declaring it to be a female only dorm, (they obviously had more experience in grabbing the best rooms)  so we were left with with another couple in a mixed dorm, 8 beds, which at first didn’t seem to be too bad. We had lockers  with keys and were only here one night. There was a group of scouts in another dorm. However it seemed we were the entrance room to a  much larger dorm of all young men who were going to join the bogans at the carnival. Result, no sleep. At all.

Pete the tour guide put me in charge of breakfast, he recognised my inner Monica of course, so I was up early and got a shower in before the hordes formed a queue in the corridor. It was clean, it was ok for a hostel, but large mixed dorms with smelly farty young men isn’t for me.

The next hostel was Neds Beds at Halls Gap.

Possibly the worst hostel ever.

The owner had an all night orgy in his jacuzzi.

I got bitten by bed bugs.

The only good thing was that I was in an all girls dorm.

The kangeroos were a bonus as was the ice cream parlour.

If a tour company lists this hostel on an itinery, don’t use the tour company. No really, don’t.

What hostels have you stayed in and would you recommend them?

Am I still travellingcoral?

I have spent the past few months sharing my photos from the round the world trip I took with my husband last year. In a few days we will have been back in the UK for a year. Which is why I sometimes wonder that to call this blog travellingcoral and to use that as my twitter name is wrong somehow.

Yet in my head, I am still travelling. I have written before that I still can’t get used to having actual wardrobes and live in nearly the same clothes I wore on the trip, I expected that to last a few weeks, but it has lasted 52 weeks. IMG_1322

I didn’t leave my heart in San Francisco. I left my soul in nearly every place we visited. I ache to be back in New Zealand, to spend more time in Bay of Islands and the Coromandel Peninsular, to visit friends in Wellington and see more of the South Island. And I wished we had gone to Yosemite when we were in California, spent more time in Santa Cruz and stayed longer at Pismo Beach.

We spent nearly two months in Australia yet only scratched the surface. Even though the cost of everything is migraine inducing and I have no idea where one buys underwear (no Marks and Spencers) I’d go back in a heartbeat. Melbourne got under my skin and I miss it so much.They have free BBQ‘s in public places, and trams, and seating like this.

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I follow some brilliant travel bloggers and when I read about what they are up to and places they have visited my heart literally aches. Yet these same bloggers were wonderfully helpful when planning the trip and continue to inspire future travelling plans. Thanks particular to these guys: http://whatsdavedoing.com/ http://www.ytravelblog.com/ and also look at this if you are even remotely interested in travelling http://nomadicsamuel.com/top100travelblogs

In a previous blog, https://travellingcoral.wordpress.com/2012/11/20/go-now-while-you-can/ I mentioned how Mom had encouraged Phil and me to take this trip. And now she has gone my one big tie to my adopted hometown has gone too. Ok I still have a house and a son and a husband here, but other than that….. well I don’t have a job, the kids are in their 20’s and I don’t really want to live here any more. And now one of my new friends is moving back to Sydney which will mean I will have nearly as many close friends in the Southern Hemisphere as I have in the UK.

My memories of SE Asia weren’t my fondest. We were travelling with G Adventures and of course in a group you can always expect there to be tension occasionally. I think this group was unique in that one individual managed to alienate everyone in the group within 24 hours. All of us tried to get along with her, some with more success than others. As we often had to travel for 5 hours plus on mini buses, it did become a sometimes comical but always a tactical manoeuvre to avoid being in the same bus this person was in.DSCN0313 If this sounds cruel, I am sorry, yet it is true. All of us on that trip would have had a better experience if this person had not been there.DSCN0282

We developed a penchant for singing Hollywood Musicals very loudly and discovered new versions of Doe a Deer (linked to beer and Saving Babies) and she was always offered the seat at the front with the driver. The tour guide sacrificed his single room and shared with a traveller so that no one else had to share a room with a person who despite having the biggest bag didn’t seem to wash or change clothes.The suitcase was full of food she had brought from Canada and she was still eating it 11 days later.

Pong, our wonderful guide in an effort to calm her, and give us respite,encouraged her listen to Buddhist Chanting. Can you imagine sharing a cable car with her? This is the impact it had on one of us.DSCN0741

Yet looking back at the photo of that trip with G Adventures brings back good memories, especially with Sean, Kelly, Jojo and Gemma. The hours we spent looking for this eh Sean!DSCN0442And I got to eat wonderful food, took part in karaoke (what happens in Krabi, stays in Krabi) and saved lots of babies and enjoy views like this.DSCN0853

So am I still travelling? While not having left the UK in the past 12 months Phil and I have had a number of mini breaks. Hay and Brecon for the food, scenery and the books; Winchester for the markets; London for the theatre, The Tate and London Calling to see Paul Simon in Hyde Park (all London visits are due to the generosity of my wonderful daughter and her partner). I am off to Malvern to visit the flea market and Carnival Records and browse the vinyl with my new friends and Holly the Australian Cattle dog who I met via Facebook (the friends not the dog, obviously). And drink tea and eat lots of cake probably.

And yes I am still travellingcoral. Travelling isn’t about visiting places and taking photos. It is is about how what happens and who you meet shape your life. The people I met on my trip are the lasting memories, strangers who became friends.The new friends in the UK, my mom’s illness and now her passing have and will continue to shape who I am. And may it never stop.

A totally locally Christmas

So it’s over. That was Christmas and I think it was a good one. Just the four of us yet for some reason I thought it necessary to cook beef, turkey and a goose. As ever Queen Delia rescued me, as her Christmas book covers all three, and with two ovens and a lot of juggling and a microwave that also functions as a convection oven I got there. Of course, it’s so much easier if you have men to cook the meat on a Weber, as per last year in Melbourne.

A few years back when I had a stressful, busy, corporate life I bought all the Christmas food from Marks and Spencer, all pre prepared. Then Aldi came into my life. I now have palpitations at the prices in any of the big supermarket chains. I need to say it now, it costs so much less and I do not compromise on quality.

The turkey and the goose were free range and English. The beef was British. All the veg was from the UK too. I made pickled red cabbage and bread sauce, glazed carrots, sprouts with pancetta and without and everything was bought on my local high street. And no petrol was used to procure these items. So I reckon it’s not just been a locally bought Christmas but a green one too. We did wheel the supermarket trolley home, as that was easier than dragging heavy bags. What we need is a Melbourne Market Jeep.

We all agree to buy presents from lists, so we get what we really want and need, instead of piles of tat that clutters our lives. This means we don’t get into debt by falling into the Christmas trap of spending for spending sake. I bought three hampers of homemade goodies from Maidens Fayre, again most ingredients were locally sourced and I’m supporting a local mumpreneur. We still get little surprises, such as keyring torches courtesy of corporate rebranding, Hobbit Related goodies from our lovely friends in New Zealand and a beautiful china tea set from a new friend who I met though the Four Week Shopping Locally Challenge. And this years Christmas crackers were cracking!

So despite my brother related meltdown moment on Christmas Eve, I’m pretty sure that my nearest and dearest had a good day. All rounded off with Dr Who.

Oh, and I got twitter earrings!

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