Go to the day by day view here...


 

Intro

Spring!Welcome to Nick's OZ trip Dairy

I'm off with Martin, a friend I met at the Broadband "Thorn in BT's side" drinking club I run.

"Aren't BT bastards? So you're off to Oz?"
"Can I come?"
"Yes - let's get organised - let's plan some ideas..."

The plan

Having an itinerary meant we could focus on the place of interest that needed "doing", but then we could promptly ignore chunks of it. So when the weather forecast for the first week looked grim, we ditched the coast hugging route and went inland, visiting the Blue Mountains, Canberra, Albury, Melbourne.

It snowed on the first Thursday, the first time in November in 100 years.

Click on next to go to the day by day view, or view the entire holiday by clicking Entire Holiday
 

Thursday, November 9, 2006

Heathrow

Good old Laura, Martin's partner, drives us to Heathrow. We're there at 17:30 - lots of time in hand.

It's not that we're the type of passenger that likes to clogs ups airports by turning up hours early. Fortunately both motorways, M1 and M25, were totally clear.

We grab a last real meal before the long flight. Chez Gérard at Heathrow offered an extensive ŕ la carte menu, that included "the best steak-frites this side of Paris."
 

flight map

Flight

Take off was delayed by half an hour. We're in the air at 22:00, with the pilot assuring us that we'll be at Hong Kong in good time.

The HCI of Virgin's entertainment system does my head in! Agreed, you do get a good choice of movies - so, yes, it does its job - but the way you have to navigate the menus!

The flight map was broken. For the entire flight we were at Heathrow. (Well the plane icon was.)

Friday, November 10, 2006

Short dayHong Kong

It's a short day. Today's only got 16 hours. We've lost 8 hours in advancing the time zone flying east.

We see daylight, but the terrain was unrecognizable. Either mountainous, or cloud covered.

The 12 hour flight lands at Hong Kong on time at 17:20.

Hong Kong OrchidsWe transfer to the terminal, and are frisked, and led a lounge to queue for the departure gate so we'd all be ready to back to the same aircraft and off to Sydney.

Sod that! Martin and I explore.

In theTerminalThere are shops selling memory for cameras. The prices are good.

I part with some money and buy some memory cards. (SanDisk 4GB ULTRA II and a SanDisk 1GB Memory Stick Pro Duo.)

As I write this (six weeks later, while chewing mince pies), I have just checked the prices on a internet site. I'm amused / aghast that the prices are now cheaper than the Hong Kong prices!

We find a restaurant, the "Taiwan Beef Noodle". The menu choice looks good. Anyway, it's busy with locals. That's a big clue - it must be good.

One clear chicken soup later and it's time to board the plane, cutting it fine with a few nanoseconds to spare. We're the last ones back on board. Late, yes - but not "late" late. (Well, I'm normally very good about punctuality.)

We soon back in the air, destination Sydney.

It's nighttime: the windows reveal nothing but blackness. It's time to sleep.

A nearby child wails at 85dBa; its inept parents provide no control and very little acoustic muffling.

There's no point sleeping. I fight the flight entertainment system and pick a movie. "The Queen", a farce on the People's Princess. The film is a good distraction. (Note to self: bring noise cancelling headphones next time.)

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Dawn Sydney

The second flight second seems so quick. Yes, eight hours is a long time to be confined, but it's four hours shorter than the first leg!

Crossing the equator was uneventful. (A bug in the simulator for the F-16 fighter aircraft caused it to flip over whenever it crossed the equator.)

We only skip 3 hours on this flight, landing at Sydney on time at 07:10.
 

 

Team work

There's a horrendous queue to get through quarantine. (Australia is not keen on any chance of contaminated food entering and killing their kangas.)

So we end up with several hundred passengers queuing for one quarantine gate. I stand in line, while Martin searches out another arrivals hall with an idle quarantine gate. We do the obvious thing.
 

Taxi Rank

My sleep deprived brain analyses the taxi rank system. It's blatantly wrong. There's a stream of taxis entering the rank. There's also a stream of passengers. So where's the bottleneck?

I guess a bit of passenger frustration doesn't appear on anyone's balance sheet

I'll have to do a parallel serialisation simulation...

Whinge over. I'm on holiday! (And we finally get a taxi!)
 

Mercure Hotel

The rooms are booked and will be ready by noon. We leave the luggage, and start exploring.

Our hotel is a 15 minute walk to Darling Harbour.

We revive ourselves at a burger joint across the road. It's full of Chinese students - all keen and student like.
 

Paddy's Market
We head off towards Paddy's Market - it's only a short walk away - and, wrongly,  we head south. (Remember that the sun in the southern hemisphere appears to the north: do not head south if you want to go north: you will not reach your destination if you do that.)

We turn around and we're soon at Paddy's Market. It's fascinating to poke around. Some aboriginal silk screened canvas prints took my eye. (And a smiling Oriental took my dollars.)

We walk through Chinatown. It's very familiar. We could be in Manchester or London.

Darling Harbour

Darling Harbour

Darling Harbour is new, very pleasant and touristy.

Late autumn has gone - it's now late spring. We enjoy café latte, sitting outside, soaking up the strong sunshine. Factor 30 sun cream is urgently needed!

Being nerds, we want to nose around gadget shops. The tourist information centre at Darling Harbour are very helpful. Techy shops don't exist in Darling Harbour. No, that's where you eat out and be seen. Armed with a map and a list of shops we head to old Sydney and the Queen Victoria Building.

Sydney

Martin is after a stack of video tapes, and he buys enough for the holiday at a good price.

I show interest in a fixed lens for my Canon (F1.4 30mm). The price drops rapidly as we talk.   The price starts at $800 dropping to $500. Maybe I should have struck the deal.

The exchange rate is around $2.5 = Ł1.  It's not too hard to convert: I mentally multiply by 4 then divide by 10.
 

MonorailShopping Centre: moving lightsWe ride the monorail. (The Simpsons cartoon episode comes to mind. "The monorail was the only folly the people of Springfield ever embarked upon.")

The monorail is actually a good way to get to know Sydney. The route covers Darling Harbour, Chinatown and the central shopping and business districts. 

Back at the hotel, our rooms are ready. They come complete with a CAT5 cable, DHCP and the Internet $5 per 1/2 hour.

Restored after a shower, we venture out to Chinatown and an evening meal.
 

Darling HarbourSydney Entertainment Centre LogoMartin was so sleep deprived - he thought the ground was quaking. I escort him back to the hotel to sleep.

I explore. Nearby is the Sydney Entertainment Centre where Kylie Minogue is performing her first come back.

There's lots of photographers lurking with interesting long lenses.

(Sydney Entertainment Centre - sounds like some dreadful 1970's hi-fi system.)

Now we should have been a bit more organised and got tickets to see Kylie, and Priscilla, the stage musical.

It's Saturday night - everybody is eating out. There's a lot of buzz.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

TomTomWe're awake!

Jet lag and sleep deprivation is no more. A good night's rest and a buffet breakfast - and all is well.

The TomTom Go struggles to find where it is - the last time it was powered up it was on the other side of the world. It just can't understand what happened After an hour of internal confusion I insert a staple up its reset chuff. That sorts it - we're at 151.20413°E, 33.88394°S.

This navigation tool - lobotomised with a new map for Australia, and enhanced with the latest operating system - proves to be invaluable over our holiday.
 

Water TaxiHarbour Cruise

Tip: When doing the Sydney Harbour Cruise may I suggest you go for a boat bigger than a water taxi.

Hiring a water taxi to "cruise" the harbour is not recommended. Hire a big boat. Bouncing around in a small boat isn't comfortable - and doesn't help photography. (You spend more time protecting your camera from salt water than looking at the sights.)

Get a big boat - they cost the same at $30.
 

Opera HouseHarbour BridgeThe Opera house is stylish, and, together with the Harbour Bridge, are a must see.

Martin videoing photographers. Astromonical ClockDarling Harbour

We wander around the harbour, with a final a good look around Paddy's Market. This is the place to buy bargain tourist souvenirs, and we know we'll be leaving Sydney tomorrow.


 

Darling HarbourDarling Harbour
We finish at a splendid Italian restaurant overlooking the harbour.

The bill came to $125 (Ł50.)  Pricy? No - not really. We'd agreed that for most meals during our holiday we'll slum it at KFC's and equivalent eateries, but to have missed out on these decent restaurants would have been criminal!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Hire Car

Goodbye Sydney - we're off!

V6We had made arrangements with an Internet broker to hire a car. Nothing unusual in that. But the middleman had screwed up the details. "Collect the car from the airport" - then giving Thrifty's downtown office address. Furthermore we would return the car to the non-existent "Sydney International Airport, Melbourne."

Next time we will deal directly with Thrifty - they soon had everything organised.

They had a car for us at their downtown office, and a bit better than the "mid range" we asked for.

It's a Mitsubishi 380, a 3.8 litre V6. Somewhat different to my Prius Hybrid.

Driving in Australia is so like America - I have the urge to drive on the right.  We concludes that it's the wider roads, and the different signs.

Petrol is $1.115 / litre. (45p)

Toll roads - avoid

The TomTom is programmed to take us to Manly beach. (It's configured to avoid toll roads - we're in no hurry, and we really can't be bothered to find out how you pay the tolls. [There are no toll booths on some roads! {And we really can't be bothered to find out how to make payments.<We are on holiday!>}])
 

Manly BeachManly Beach

We're soon at Manly Beach, bathed in sun, complete with "surfer dudes". Just like the guide books say.

 

Manly BeachSo what can you do?
 
RainThe glorious sunshine we've had until now turns to torrential rain - only to flip back to sunshine and blue sky an hour later. We'll have to get used to this rapidly changing Australian weather!

The forecast is for dire cold weather of 17°C by Thursday, returning to the 20's by the weekend.
 

A change of plan

The weather forecast for the week looks grim (In fact it did snow on the Thursday, the first time in 100 years it's snowed in November.)

There not much point visiting beaches if it's cold. We abort our initial plan, and decide on a cross country trek to Melbourne. The nice thing about a plan is that you can change your mind later!
 

Beaches

Beach BeachWe head north, intending to find a hotel.

There are fine beaches on the way, good surf - to my non expert eyes - perhaps I should say "lots of white foam and spray" I'll leave the surf descriptions to experts.

We end up at Palm Beach. All very unspoilt. (It's the exterior location of some Aussie soap opera.)
 

Periwinkle GuesthouseManly BeachWe conclude there are no hotels north of Manly!

Our guide book suggests the Periwinkle Guesthouse back at Manly. It has two rooms available. We're sorted for the night.

The Periwinkle has an informal friendly feel with bedrooms overlooking a central courtyard.

 

ManlyOne for JackI'd happily make a return visit to Manly: it's a great place to spend a week and switch off.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

A sunny morning in Manly

PinesCourtyardBreakfast at the Periwinkle has that relaxed youth hostel feel. Go to the kitchen and help yourself - people lend a hand (some are staff - some are other guests.)

Southern Hemisphere

MoonThe moon - a waning crescent - is inverted. And most of the stars are unfamiliar too - Orion is there, but it's to the north and upside down.

Waratah Park - Skippy's old home

Skippy's old homeWe head of to see Skippy's home, but he's out. In fact the actual animal is long gone. Waratah Park is famous as the location where Skippy (the Bush Kangaroo) was filmed.

We should have booked first!

OK - we'll hit the Blue Mountains - they shouldn't be closed.

 

Windsor

Colonial Style HouseVHF UHF TV aerialThe TomTom guides us around Sydney's suburbs. We grab a burger in Windsor - a pleasant enough place.

House prices seem to be around a fifth of those back home.

RooBlue Mountains

GlenBrook Tourist Information Centre is very good.

They suggest the Three Sisters Motel at Katoomba ($85) for tonight. It's a short walk from the popular visitor experience. "But see our kangaroos at Euroka Clearing before you go!"

It seems dusk is the best time to see kangaroos. They come out to graze, and seem quite unafraid.

OK - done Skippy - tick box. Next!

KatoombaKatoomba

We find the Three Sisters Motel, and check in. We're urged to go straight to the sisters and see them as the sun sets. We waste time unpacking - and the rapid sunset beats us. (Here the sun doesn't so much sink as plummet.)

There's a decant Italian / European restaurant in Katoomba. We each order a generous seafood pasta.

Nearby there are two tables with six-formers and accompanying  teachers. They are all happily playing with dough as they wait for their meals. (The cook collects, bakes and subsequently returns their models.)

Now try getting the teenagers I know to do this! "What mental torture is this?" This diversion would be viewed with derision, followed by models of fine anatomical detail.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Three Sisters

MotelThree SistersThe motel is a short walk from Echo Point where there's a viewing platform. We say hello to the Three Sisters: Meehni, Wimlah and Gunnedoo.

Three Sisters Three Sisters

Wentworth Falls

Wentworth FallsThere's a blue haze created by the eucalyptus oil in the air. That's why the Blue Mountains are called Blue Mountains!

Mt Piper Power Station

Coal fired power stationNo metersDelta's Energy Expo Centre offers hands on high-tech interactive exhibits (pcs) giving a clear insight into what electricity is, how it's made and how it is distributed.

The centre also had a renewable energy exhibit - currently off-line: somebody had walked off with the display indicators.

 

Panels

Oberon

InnOberon is the highest town in the Blue Mountains. And it feels it. The temperature is down to 5°C outside!

Accommodation for the night is at the Oberon Highlands Motor Inn, a short walk from the main drag. The owner suggests we try the RSL club for an evening meal.

At the RSL club, very much like a British Legion club, we sign each other in. (As you do!) Beer and food is served.

Snow fell - unusually rare for November.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Polution monitoring station

Oberon

The morning is cold and fresh - all the snow has gone.

 

Jenolan Caves

You must see the Jenolan Caves! We only saw the obvious ones from the road which are impressive.

There are nine show caves open to the public.

I've put this on my list of "do it properly". We could have easily spent a day here.

 

Unsealed Roads

No, Mr Thrifty, we didn't drive your nice motor on any unsealed roads. And if we did we would have had to drive really slowly, and then we would have to put the car through a car wash before we handed it back.

The cross country route we took to Canberra was, er, interesting.

The TomTom had no hand in it. It was in our bad books. Yesterday it tried to make us go down dirt tracks from the power station to Oberon. (The Aussie mapping database has a few wrinkles.)

No sat-nav technology today. We used the classic approach of reading from a printed road map and associating observations of the scenery from the moving vehicle. (I think this is how people used to navigate.)

PlaqueWe take the road marked on the map. The road is empty. After driving an hour and a half we actually see another driver. "Richlands" a town marked on the map has one house.

The woman at the petrol station at Taralga was delighted to see us. We were her first customers and "What about the snow!"

At Goulburn we join the Federal Highway and we're soon in Canberra.

Canberra

Motel Sign"Canberra is full - there's a golf tournament on!" we are reliably informed at the Tourist Information Centre. "The only accommodation you'll find is a some cabins or try Queanbeyan." 

So Queanbeyan it is, and we book the fine Best Western Central Motel.
 

Telstra Tower

Telstra TowerWarning SignTelstra Tower is about 5kms from Canberra city centre, built on top of a mountain.

What a contrast! We spent most of the day driving though deserted bush; now we're in a high tech building with swarms of visitors.

 

Information SignAn information sign suggests that thongs are minimum dress.

I suggest to the good woman at the ticket kiosk that it wouldn't be good for business if I wore a thong.

She agreed.

(Apparently thongs are beach footware.) 

The view of Canberra is fascinating.

 

Telstra TowerResturantThe Alto restaurant, below the observation deck, has a revolving floor. I timed the rotation of one of the 24 windows, and did the maths. It does a full rotation in 1hr 24 minutes.

We enjoy an fine evening meal. Yes it's a formal restaurant, but the waiter is happy to deal with us scruffy tourists.

Good old Martin drives - Merlot for me!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Canberra

SheepNew LibraryCanberra city centre isn't that big. It reminds me of the City of London - all geared up for office workers.

SushiGlobeI find a wondrously excellent sushi. (A bit different to Red Rooster or Hungry Jack.)
ParliamentFlagParliament House

Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex

Deep SpaceDish

Now if they sold souvenir chunks of Heliax they'd make a killing.

 

DishDishThe restaurant sells flap jacks.
Solar CollectorSolar PanelWell worth the visit, especially if you're into this sort of thing.

Albury

We head to Albury.

On reflection the four hour drive from Canberra to Albury was a bit excessive. Looks like we're racing around, ticking boxes as we go. This is supposed to be a holiday!

We book two rooms at the Commodore Motor Inn on the main street.

We're in a lively town on a Friday night. Seems the thing to do if you're a youngster with a car is to pose by driving up and down the main street.

Defective silencers help your image too.

At least one dude took things seriously - the Ken and Barbie song plays from his pride and joy.

We find a good Indian. (I have tikka - good sauce.)

We learn about the exhausts and kids. It's the state line...Victoria police would serve a ban on NSW cars...

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Dedication

BulldozerMotelI dedicate the image to the right to all inconsiderate buffoons around the globe.

He woke everybody up at 7:00 with his little bulldozer. (Every reverse manoeuvre accompanied with a series of bleeps.)

"A friend in need is a friend indeed"

Building Development

Developer signTimber FrameNear to Charles Sturt University there are new building plots for sale for rent - Hmmmmm.

FrameAlmost complete
FrameFrame

Street lights with solar panels

Street Light

Street LampThese are grid connected - so the energy collector and the lamp are separate systems.

Grid Tied Solar Lighting

 

University Buildings

Earth RoofSolarThe Charles Sturt University has a fine solar heated water  installation. One has an Earth insulated roof.

Info on Australia

Dunny

When requesting the location of a toilet, try uttering: "Where's the Dunny?"

Whirly-whirly

At the university we saw a small whirly-whirly, a mini tornado. A spiral of dust, with litter and carrier bags going right up into the sky. 

The Coriolis effect does not determine the direction in which bathtubs or toilets drain. (One direction in the Northern Hemisphere, and in the other direction in the Southern Hemisphere.) See Simpsons episode, Bart Vs. Australia.
 

Wodonga

Twin City Motor innPlonkTwinned with Albury is Wodonga. (Albury is in New South Wales, the Wodonga in Victoria.) As there is rivalry between Sydney and Melbourne, and the two states, so there is between the two towns.

 

Nick's favouriteMothsA pub, complete with drive through, provides beer and conversation.

...anyway kangaroos are vermin.

There's thousand of moths going berserk in the floodlights

Melbourne is busy this weekend - so no point rushing there. (G20 summit and the 50th anniversary of Olympics held there.)

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Seymour

Hume FreewaySteak - Beer - what more could you want?Yet more empty roads! In Australia if you want to get anywhere you fly.

The Tourist Information Centre suggests the Auto Lodge Motor Inn, and we're also recommended to try the steak house.

Vineyard tour

TreeTahbilkIt's 37°C - The car's air-con works!

Vineyard tours are not just where you get to taste and buy cases of wine. You can get a decent Sunday lunch too.

Tahbilk

tahbilkSwitches
Heat exchangerVineyardSome of this kit isn't just for show.
casksWetlands
LookoutLookout
Bush FireA bush fire seen from the lookout.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Phillip Island

CowesHeading down from Seymour we head for Phillip Island, skirting the Melbourne suburbs. The two lane dual carriageways are busy, more like the UK, the busiest we've seen.

Phillip Island seems to languish for the Isle of Wight with place names such as Cowes, Ventnor.
 

Nobbies

PV!The Nobbies

Visitor CentreFence

Penguins

GlassBirdsYou have to visit the penguins.

A bird will waddle along. Hesitate. join its fellows. wait. waddle on. (Who designed them?) Their bloated belly contains food for their partner and, typically, 2 chicks.

I have no picture to show you: the Little Penguin Police don't want any photos being taken. (Well it's pretty dark - and some idiot would fire a flash.)

 

Cowes

Isle of WightCowesWe enjoy a meal at an Italian Restaurant, the Isola di Capri, near Cowes pier.

Our motel is only a few minutes walk away.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Weather

The weather really changes during the day. Setting of from Cowes on Phillip Island it's bright and sunny 29°C. We cross the bridge to San Reno, and we're in thick mist at 19°C.

 

Old Friends

Robin and Robyn live in Mt Eliza, on the Mornington Peninsula, almost in the clutches of Melbourne. We have a good natter, salad, and sketch out an itinerary for our next few days.

We're in a sweltering 34°C in Mt Eliza.
 

Ferry

Car deckBeltWe take the Sorrento to Queenscliff Ferry that crosses the mouth of Port Phillip Bay.

This is the shortest time I've ever boarded and got underway on a ferry. We park and get out of the car - the boat has already left the dock. No hanging about!

 

FlagThe 16:00 sailing takes 40 minutes. The crossing is calm.

On the water the temperature falls - now it's 21°C.

Golden Chain

Proprietor's DamnMotelThe Golden Chain guide seems to come up trumps again.

My traveling companion, who is now a Gold Link Club member, is delighted with the motel stamps he's collecting - and the 10 % discounts!

I'm skeptical about such incentives, but concede that the motels are "not too bad" and you know what you're going to get.

The Bellbrae Motel is on the road out of Torquay almost in Anglesey. The proprietor bemoans the drought: her damn has dried up!
 

An oasis in the mundane

EveningFlamencoIt's evening, now there's a strong wind (30°C) blowing up the sand. Walking on the beach is not too comfortable.

Torquay is a non-descript place. "Suburbia by the sea" is how one guide book describes it.

Finding an appealing place to eat was difficult. Just as we were to give up, we stumble on a very good Spanish restaurant, the Flamenco Cafe Restaurant, an oasis in the mundane.

Overnight, strong gales blow the poor proprietor's roses bushes over. What with her dried up damn, she's not having a good time.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The Great Ocean Road

The Great Ocean Road follows the Victoria coast, offering stunning ocean views.

The road winds along the coast - you won't be breaking any speed limits. (And the road was empty!)
 

Anglesey

38°SAngleseyAnglesey for breakfast

 

Loch Ard Gorge

GorgeGorgeThe Loch Ard Gorge is part of Port Campbell National Park.

The sailing ship Loch Ard ran aground on 1 June, 1878.

 

The Twelve Eight Apostles

12?Honorable TouristsThe Twelve Apostles are a collection of eight natural limestone stacks standing just off shore.

Looking EastLooking west

Visitors' Centre

Rammed Earth WallsRammed Earth WallsThe visitors' centre uses what looks like rammed earth construction to me. (As seen at the CAT Information Centre.)

CentreArtI like the artwork!

Codrington Wind Farm

Wind FarmWind farmCodrington has 14 wind turbines with a combined capacity of 18.2MW

Portland

artOur hotel receptionist at the Richmond Henty was bemused, and perhaps slightly alarmed, that we'd done the Great Ocean Road in a day.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

PortlandMotel to Geelong.. we grab some food in Geelong...

 

Melbourne

Federation SquareFederation SquareWe book a hotel in St. Kilda, and explore Melbourne. Just remember tram number 26 and you can't get lost.

St PaulsChristams Tree in Summer seems oddA tourist tram circles downtown Melbourne. This is a great way to get the lay of the land.

St Kilda

pierwaxing crescent

Friday, November 24, 2006

Melbourne

InnBannerWe head north of the city to the Coburg Motor Inn on the Sydney Road.

Tram 19 stop 38

Melbourne Observation Deck

Observation DeckSpot the 55th floor55th floor  $14.50 gets you access to the 55th floor.

Yarra river
Glint

Yarra River cruise

Youth on scuptureCruise The tour boat pilot started:

"The authorities! Build an extension to your house and they're on to you! But they let any old thing float on the river - this old shoe box is a swine to steer."

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Sunbury

SunburyAt Sunbury the Old Courthouse Information centre directs us to a B&B- the "Blue Gum"

We're in a quiet suburb in a quiet town, north of Melbourne.

All very pleasant - we actually stay 2 nights!

Hanging Rock

Hanging RockHanging RockClosed! Check the opening times before you trek out.

Macedon Ranges

Mist / clouds flowing of the tops of the mountains.

Macedon Ranges Memorial Cross

Macedon Ranges Telecoms Tower

 

Next time we'll visit the Macedon Ranges Observatory

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Train

StationSouthern CrossThe train from Sunbury to Melbourne costs a mere $2.50 (Ł1) for an all day. (I must get round to validating my Metcard travel ticket.)

World Aid of Music at Federation Square

Williamstown

A pleasant ferry ride to Williamstown.

Bikes by the Bay 2006
YatchWedding

HMAS Castlemaine Minesweeper

Minesweeper

Monday, November 27, 2006

Melbourne Zoo

Our last day in Melbourne. We nose around the zoo in the morning before heading back to Sydney.

Melbourne Airport

9:15 PM for 10:35 PM arrival.

odometerEarly check in for Sydney flight. Thrifty are very efficient and organised. The drop off zone is easy to find. An attendant inspects the car. Checking the mileage, we have covered a mere 3120km. (1950 miles.)

The flight to Sydney is straightforward - using Virgin Blue. But there's another intermediary screwing up. We need to enter the "Record Locator" not the "Booking number" in the Internet booking queue. Thank you Fight Centre for the incorrect annotation!

Other than that - everything is spot on. And there's a decent seafood restaurant airside.
 

Sydney Hotel

Landing, a taxi, and we're at the Ibis hotel. We are obliged to remind them who the customers are. We were not given the best rooms: both are noisy, next to reception.

The receptionist can't change our rooms due to her inability to "drive" the "system" and utters a porky pie "All rooms are booked - we're full! We can't change your rooms!" (All this under the gaze of a picture of  Mr. Ibis, with an accompanying declaration of "customer is first" mantra.)

A call to a higher authority resolved matters. (The manager knew what buttons to press, and the order to press them in, and when to press them.)

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Travelling from Sydney to Hong Kong

SydneyA380A leisurely start - leaving the Hotel at 11:00.

There's an air of excitement - an Airbus A380 has landed.

Other than that - as a seasoned traveler there's not a lot to report.

I find a Sushi restaurant. A friendly waiter happily sorts out my fist full of random change.
 

Stormbreaker

Now it's bizarre to watch a film as you're being hurled across the South China Sea showing familiar scenes of home - Liverpool Street Station, Bishopsgate. And the Aviva Building transformed into the evil empire's HQ.

And when I'm not watching films I'm totally absorbed with a "Sudoku Xtreme" puzzle book. In fact the same one puzzle is yet to be completed. I'm not an expect player, and I'm arrogantly assuming that years of designing hardware with combinational logic will help.

It's a challenge.
 

Hong Kong Airport

... is all rather good!

Don Lau's Deluxe Van, an unregistered taxi, gets us to our hotel. (May be we should have queued for a regular taxi? May be we were ripped off?)
 

Metropark Hotel, Kowloon

Welcome to the Metropark Hotel Kowloon, Hong Kong, formerly known as "The Metropole Hotel". Add the last bit if you are tell a taxi where to go - there appears to be another Metropark....

Other than the duplicated name - it's fine!

We're soon enjoying our McPepper burgers at midnight, a few minute's walk from the hotel.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Victoria Peak

Victoria Peak

The hotel shuttle to Star Ferry terminal is, effectively, a tour of Mon Kok. Since my last visit in 1994, when the Ferry Building was new, everything now have a used grimy patina.

We planned on doing the tourist thing and visit Victoria Peak on Hong Hong island, but as we get to the ferry building we saw the peak was covered in mist. So we abort, and start looking for nerdy gadgets.
 

Swedish Ship Götheborg

The Swedish ship Göteborg, a full-scale replica of historic East Indianman merchant vessel Göteborg, enters Victoria Harbour just as we scurry off.

The ship is on a two-year international voyage aimed at promoting Swedish businesses and culture.

Computer Shops

The computer shops are on Nathan Road. There's none of the dubious bargains as there were last time I was last here. It's a good excuse to buy some new toys...

There's a Sony Vaio that takes my eye...the salesman knows his stuff...inspecting dead pixels. (The latest Vaio is Vista "Premium Ready" - but you install at your own risk!)

Hong Kong Airport

The new Airport is really well laid out.

We explore as we have 3 hours to kill. Lots to do...buying...eating.

London

It's dawn - Laura collects us... good old Laura...

Conclusion

Having overhead intense sunlight one day - and then being back in England where the sun barely rises is a bit rough!

We drove nearly 2000 miles between us; and we visited lots of places. More time doing nothing would have been good.

Another trip to Oz is most likely - there's still the rest of the continent to visit.

All images © N G Hubbard November 2006