Posts Categorized: Australia 2010

Nov 10 2010
2

Great Ocean Road Day 1

With regards to our Australia trip back in April, my last post was about Sunday of our first week. On Monday we would embark on an adventure to my favourite place in the world – the Great Ocean Road.

With the Great Ocean Road, I have camped (as in bush camping – no showers or anything!), stayed in fancy self contained units, hotels, cabins… but never before at the lighthouse. I wanted to give Bill some ‘one off’ opportunities on this trip so I organized accommodation at the Cape Otway Lightstation. What an experience.

First… lets start off with the trip to the lighthouse. The plan was to drop into Warbo’s in Geelong and catch up for some morning tea (aka sausage rolls/vanilla slices etc!) so we did that. I wanted to stop in Lorne for some fish and chips for lunch so just a snack to tide us over basically. We caught up with Warbo and his mum and then got back on the road. I drove Bill around the beach area at Torquay and then we went up to Bells Beach. The place never changes.

Here we are at Bells Beach –

At Bells Beach

Is there anything more Australian than a ute at the beach?

Ute!

Is there anything more Australian than a pair of speedos thrown on a branch? Ewww!

Speedos on a branch..

I can taste the salt air on my lips just looking at this photo –

Great Ocean Road

I stopped by Anglesea Golf Club because you can nearly always see stacks of kangaroos. We saw none. But we did see magpies. You MUST listen to this video that Bill made of the beautiful magpie warble. We have listened to this so many times. This is the sound that I grew up with hearing in the morning!

Bill loved some of the signs we saw along the way. Here is a selection –

Great Ocean Road Anglesea Great Ocean Road Great Ocean Road

This is my favourite – how the Little River Band got their name –

On the way back to Melbourne

We drove leisurely along to Lorne and when we got there, we got ourselves a table at the fish and chip shop – grilled flake, potato cakes and steamed dimmies. Yum Yum Yum! It was while I was there that I got a text message from Shannyn saying “Carl Williams has died!” Whaaaaaaaa??! (I am not going to try to explain Carl Williams in this post… click here instead.) We were just talking about him this morning because the Herald-Sun had a cover story about him and now… dead?! With that, my phone went into overload. I turned around and said to the guy cooking the fish… “Hey – Carl Williams is dead!” and it was all the same reaction… what?! You would be hard pressed to find someone in Melbourne who didn’t know who Carl Williams was. Luckily, Bill had an understanding of the whole deal due to my constant chatter so he was just as fascinated by the news as well.

There was another disaster brewing though. Leaving Lorne and as we’d drive on, our radio coverage in the car would start to turn to static. The news addict in me panicked – I could not be without access to news on this, one of the biggest news days in Melbourne in a long time. We were able to get bits and pieces of ABC radio and between that and in clearing areas where I could get 3AW we were able to follow the news as it unfolded.

So while we were listening we were taking in scenes like this –

Great Ocean Road

And this –

Great Ocean Road

We stopped at Stevensons Falls as there are usually lots of koalas, but like our earlier search for kangaroos, there was none. The Falls were pretty much non-existent too, due to lack of rain –

Great Ocean Road - Stevensons Fall

We had to be at the Cape Otway at 5pm as that is when the gates close. It was while at the falls that I realized that I was going to have to floor it to get us there at time. So this meant no stop at Apollo Bay – we drove straight through and made it to the lighthouse with ten minutes to spare!

To get to the lighthouse you actually turn off the Great Ocean Road and drive through Otway National Park. There is some random farmland before the lighthouse and I took one of the best photos I have ever taken in my life.

Cape Otway

I. LOVE. THIS. PHOTO. SO. MUCH. In high res, it is amazing – I’ve even had it as my desktop wallpaper. The light, everything was perfect.

Now, back to our adventures. The lighthouse. Wow – we were in total seclusion. We were locked in to the lighthouse property by a gate that we had to open and lock if we left the property and there would be one caretaker who would be staying on a smaller property nearby if we needed anything or there was an emergency. Beside that it was just us and the… darkness. No road lighting here. No radio coverage of any station. No television. No internet access. No cell phone coverage. No land line telephone. NOTHING. I cannot tell you how strange this feels to be totally cut off from the outside world. It was the closest we could ever experience at being stranded on an island survivor style. It was a weird feeling. But also sent me into a panic on the day when access to breaking news was imperative. So I got to really tune out and it was amazing.

Let me take you on a tour of our little Lightkeepers cottage!

Cape Otway Lightstation

The walk from the cottage to the lighthouse –

Cape Otway Lightstation

You know the Bureau of Meteorology readings from Cape Otway? They come from here!

Cape Otway Lightstation Cape Otway Lightstation

The door to the lighthouse –

Cape Otway Lightstation

Peaceful and serene amongst rugged cliffs –

Cape Otway Lightstation Cape Otway Lightstation

It was getting dark while we were out exploring –

Cape Otway Lightstation

Inside the cottage, it was definitely no frills but it also felt truly Australian and again, so quiet –

Cape Otway Lightstation Cape Otway Lightstation Cape Otway Lightstation

Our breakfast was left for us to prepare the next morning –

Cape Otway Lightstation Cape Otway Lightstation

That night we had dinner at the Aire Valley Restaurant and Guest House. During our first week in Melbourne, Bill found it mentioned in a New York Times article (!) about farm to table restaurants. Then, I remember that Victoria (my gorgeous friend who did the Great Ocean Walk) had been there. I asked her about it and she said it was just magnificent. So Bill emailed and got us a reservation. Driving there was to be an adventure in itself. There was no moonlight, just a million stars in the sky. There were no lights along the road and the trees in the Otways are just plain scary at night. What should have been a ten minute drive took us nearly forty minutes. Yes, there were kangaroos jumping out in front of us. It was petrifying. Especially when I would stop the car so we could look in the upper reaches of the trees around us to see if there were any koalas. We would wind the windows down and it was just eerie silence… or the rustling of bushes that would have me screaming and driving off.

The Aire Valley restaurant is a beautiful homestead on the top of a hill – we stepped in and were ushered into the dining room. It was wonderful basically being in someones house but getting a restaurant experience. You can read more about the produce and the restaurant here.

Here we are in settling in for dinner –

Aire Valley Restaurant and Guest House

The bread (baked in a mini loaf tin) was SO good –

Aire Valley Restaurant and Guest House

Prawns to start… with salad from the garden!

Aire Valley Restaurant and Guest House

Our main meals –

Aire Valley Restaurant and Guest House Aire Valley Restaurant and Guest House

It was so relaxing and a lovely way to end a long day of driving. We headed back, along the same spooky route to the lighthouse. The next day would bring more Great Ocean Road adventures so we had to be up early!

Jun 28 2010
2

Sunday in Melbourne

We had originally planned to head up to Ballarat on Sunday to go to Sovereign Hill and hopefully catch up with Steph. But Bill needed a decent rest day having only just got over his jetlag and we were all somewhat weary after our fleeting visit to Tasmania.. So instead, mum and I saw this as the perfect chance to have some time together so we left at 8am for our old routine of going to the Flemington Market to look at the crafts, get an egg and bacon roll and cross things off our lists! Confession – I also needed a new pair of moccasins and I love the ones from Flemington.

The crowd was a lot more wandering-friendly that at Salamanca market.

We bought back Passionfruit Sponge for afternoon tea and relaxed for the rest of the afternoon.

That night, Bill and I headed out with Nadine and Chris to Taco Bill. Taco Bill is an old haunt of ours and of course, Bill needed to see a Taco Bill instead of Taco Bell. The Taco Bill we go to is a really really good one (for as good as Aussie Mexican can be!) especially compared to the one in the CBD! So we had a lovely time catching up over their super sweet pineapple margaritas and piping hot nachos!

Here is Bill out the front of his namesake restaurant –

Nadine and I –

Jun 28 2010
0

Back in Melbourne and to the G! GO PIES!

Flying back from Hobart, we got home at around 4pm. I had a couple of hours to relax before getting in my footy clothes and heading to the G for Collingwood Vs Hawthorn. To say I was jumping out of my skin would be an understatement. I left Bill at home with mum and dad while I went off to do my thing. I was waiting down at the station for my train and it was surreal – going to the footy just like I had never left! I was on a packed carriage with people listening to the pre-game broadcast on their radios and talking rubbish. It was heaven!

When I got to my seat, it was like nothing had changed. My seat was still there. Sandra was sitting beside me. All the usual suspects were sitting in front, behind and to the side. Even the pre-match music was the same. It was beautiful to smell the hot chips, the pies and the old beer. Just perfect!

Here are some photos from my seat –

Nothing better than this –

At half time I caught up with Caz who I hadn’t seen for a couple of years. We used to go to the Cricketers Arms pre and post match and I remember the time when we were both studying and we met up to watch the guys train with our dogs at Vic Park. She is now married to Foxy (a fellow Pies faithful!) and expecting and he will be born before the finals! Hopefully he’ll bring us some September luck. Here we are at half time –

I love THIS all SO MUCH. The siren went. We won convincingly and just like old times I was walking through the MCG carpark in the dark, dodging footballs to make my way to the train. I made my way to the end of the platform to get to the last carriage (where I always go because you ALWAYS get a seat after the game if you go to the last carriage) and I was on my way home. It was like I had never left. GO PIES!

Jun 28 2010
1

Hobart

If you remember back, we didn’t arrive into Hobart until late Friday night. We were staying on a rural property so we had no idea what the surrounds even looked like. On Saturday morning we awoke to the most amazing sight – we were surrounded by beautiful farmland on a beautiful homestead and it was wonderful wandering around and taking in the sights of this once working farm in the early morning sunlight. The cottage we were in was once the farm managers cottage and we even had the old original windows to look out from – it had been restored so well!

We had a feast for breakfast that the owners left in the fridge for us and before we knew it we were all checked out and ready to head back into Hobart for the Salamanca Market.

The market was awesome – but expensive. If some of the stall owners were to drop their prices a tad I am sure they would make a lot more sales. There were a lot people looking but not many buying.

We all split up and decided to meet back at the car at 12 – enough time to take a quick drive around and then head back to the airport.

I managed to see the whole market and I wanted something nice to take back with me but again, it was all very overpriced. At the top of the hill I came across a jewelry stand where it wasn’t that expensive and the pieces were lovely. I didn’t want to buy the necklace that I saw until I saw all the other vendors. In walking back down the hill I bumped into mum and we both basically said the same thing at the same time.. “There is the nicest jewelry on the top of the hill and I found the best necklace” You guessed it – same place, same necklace. We went back up and I got that one – just as another lady was looking at it! Sally recommended we make a purchase from the Federation Chocolate stall and I definitely trust Sally’s chocolate recommendations – she knows her stuff! We bought some big freckles and rocky road we were not disappointed!

Check out the second hand Tupperware stall – so very very dangerous I just had to turn away and not go back in that direction!

We had another drive around some of the scenic parts of Hobart and then made our way to the airport – our whirlwind trip around Tassie was at its end! Here is Bill about the board the plane… I got a tsk tsk from a security guard for taking this.. pfft! Bill was absolutely horrified at the shorts the guy in front of us was wearing. His New England sensibilities really come out at times…!

Jun 27 2010
2

Getting really down under!

I have decided to get back to our Australian trip blog posts because otherwise it will be Christmas before I get them done.

We last left the trip in Launceston after a very very full day flying from Melbourne and seeing the sights.

We woke up and left Ashton Gate early in the morning for our drive to Southern Tasmania. We had to be at Port Arthur by 1.30 to start our eco cruise with Tasman Island Cruises and wanted to stop for lunch along the way so we decided to take it easy on the way there.

We stopped in Ross for what was meant to be 5 minutes but it ended up being closer to an hour. I found the town I could live FOREVER. It was just beautiful! Dad was on the phone for work so mum and I started walking and before we knew it, we had walked to the other end of town. It was so quiet so we thought dad and Bill would’ve come looking for us. But they didn’t.. and we couldn’t get through because Dad was still gossiping to Dave on the phone. Ummm… problem. Mum and I ended up at the Ross Bridge just waiting for the guys to realize we were uh.. missing?

Here are some photos from Ross –

The Ross Bridge which was constructed by convict labour and is the third oldest bridge still in use in Australia.

Great little town o’ Ross –

Before long, dad and Bill came up to meet us and we quickly set out on our way to Port Arthur. We were now way behind schedule so we raced to get there – no time to stop for lunch or anything. We were also reminded of how much of a hurry we were in when a month later a speeding fine arrived in the mail for dad. Ouch!

Believe it or not, we made it to Port Arthur with time to spare. We checked in and then headed to the general store next door for some lunch. It consisted of my favourite Aussie fare – a bain marie full of fried goodness! Potato cakes, chiko rolls, dim sims… I was set. There was a battered hamburger and I told Bill to try it, even though I had never eaten one. With a packet of chips, a chocolate milk and all this healthy food, we gobbled down lunch sitting beside a petrol pump waiting for the bus to pick us all up to head to the boat.

Oh yum yum yum. Chiko Roll = Best Meal EVER!

Of course, eating that kind of food before heading out to rough rough seas would never be a good idea – but we were starving and that was all the general store had. Really!

We were on the boat and the crew were fantastic. They told us that up the front would be the roughest… so where did dad and Bill go? Straight up the front! Argh! Mum and I were behind them, gritting our teeth. Bonus of this position was that our view was of the ocean before us. We were all given ginger tablets to help remedy any sea sickness and we set out. Fast. Out into the ocean. It was amazing.

Now we seriously took hundreds of photos and have lots of video but I cannot describe what we saw – it was so natural, beautiful and unspoiled. Birds were feeding off the water, seals were sleeping on rocks and we were quietly moving through their habitats. The rockface along this area of coastline is like nothing I have ever seen. Mum and I were still hanging on for dear life for most of the trip when the guide let us know there are about ten days a year where the water is just wonderful and smooth and this was one of them. SMOOTH!?!?!? Arghhhh! Seriously – I have a new appreciation for all those sailors that sail around the world… it is insane what they must go through. Here are some photos from on the water –

The last 45 minutes were insane – the waves would have been about 6ft and we were on top of them and then smashing back down. It was absolutely exhausting. The wind was brutal and hanging on and trying to not imagine myself getting thrown out of the boat and floating to Antarctica was extremely difficult. In all of this, it was still amazing to be where we were. It was also at this time I was beginning to regret eating the chiko roll, potato cakes and cornjack for lunch. Even WORSE was the hamburger smell that was coming from Bill’s direction. POOR BILL – that awful hamburger had been repeating on him the WHOLE TIME. It was cracking mum and I up and this continued for the next few hours. Every so often I’d say “Well there is Bill’s hamburger again!” and I’d get a grimacing look from Burpy Bill.

The whole eco cruise experience was one of the best travel experiences I have ever had. For Bill, it was the highlight of his time in Australia. Tasman Island Cruises are really good – and I recommend them if you are ever heading to Tassie. Just skip the batter fried hamburger beforehand.

When we docked, they gave us all a Tim Tam each which was much appreciated! We were weary and we now had the drive back to Hobart to find our accommodation and we had dinner booked. I would’ve been happy to sleep in the car at the petrol station but dad was a real trooper driving back into Hobart and with us all screaming about the best way to get to the accommodation it was a real Griswold experience.

We checked in to the private home we were staying and then headed in to Hobart for dinner at one of THE places in Hobart, Da Angelo’s in Battery Point. I could live in that area VERY easily. Dinner was great considering how tired we were – it was a noisy place and every table was full until late. We were all so tired we scoffed down our dinner and quickly got up to leave. The manager actually came to the front of the restaurant to find us thinking there was something wrong with our meal! We ended up chatting about our amazing day and why we were so tired – I would have have liked to say that it was the overload of Carlton memorabilia around the restaurant that made us want to leave instead.

We drove back to our cottage and just collapsed into bed – another busy travel day lay ahead of us on Saturday and Tasmania had not disappointed us one bit!

May 27 2010
2

Launceston

On Thursday we were at the airport at 7am to head over to Tasmania. Our plane landed safely at Launceston and we got in our hire car (which was way too small for what we hired… boo Europcar!) and we headed into the Launceston town centre. As we had some time to spare we walked around the waterfront area of Launceston and it was so quiet and peaceful there. As is normal dad tradition (this happens on ANY trip dad has taken us on) we had to drive around and look at football grounds. Dad took us to York Park and we found an open gate and were able to check out the footy ground that is home to Hawthorn when they play in Tasmania.

We then headed to the Boags Brewery for a tour of the facility that mum had organized. It was a great tour and quite historical – Boags has been produced in Launceston since 1883. My favourite part was the beer bottling and labeling part of the brewery – it was amazing seeing thousands of bottles being filled and shipped along the conveyor belts. At the end of the tour they had a beer and cheese tasting that mum, dad and Bill enjoyed immensely and it was interesting to hear about the different beers even though I didn’t taste any! We couldn’t take photos on the tour but here is Bill with the big Boags can and also with our tour protective gear on –

Dad then drove us around Launceston and we headed out to the Woolmers Estate for a lunch and tour. Now this place was amazing! It has a great history (way too long to recreate in a blog post) but basically everything has been left as is at the estate – no restoration work or anything. It is a real insight into home interiors back in the day but also the scandalous past that many prominent families had.

After Woolmers we then drove back into Launceston and to the Cataract Gorge where we were the lucky last passengers to hop on the chairlift. I have the funniest video from the chairlift that I will post tomorrow!

Mum and dad ahead of us on the lift –

We had a little bushwalk through the Cataract Gorge park and walked across a very wobbly suspension bridge.

Wildlife on the way –

View from the top of our walk –

At the lookout –

On the suspension bridge –

It was so strange seeing a swimming pool in such a natural area…

We then headed back in to town to check in to our accommodation. Mum organized us to stay at the Ashton Gate Guest House. It was just beautiful! They have stayed their a couple of times – and we got the William room! Awww!

Milk bar near the guest house.. I LOVE milk bars –

Outside Ashton Gate –

The William Room –

We had a little rest and then freshened up and got ready for dinner at a popular chinese restaurant in Launceston called, Me Wah.

We seriously fell into the deepest sleep at about 9.30 – it was a huge day and we managed to see everything on the itinerary that mum planned! She does know how to organize… thanks mum!

May 26 2010
1

Puffing Billy and dinner with my gals

On Wednesday morning we got up early to get to Nadine’s as we had a big day out at Puffing Billy!

James had company in the back seat with Bill beside him so he managed to get this cute photo!

We boarded Puffing Billy and did the whole trip from Belgrave to Emerald where Jill met us. We took a beautiful walk around Emerald Lake Park and then through the back streets back to Jill’s place. It is amazing to hear Puffing Billy choo-chooing out the back of the house! We had a lovely relaxing lunch and it was beautiful to relax and catch up. Here are some photos of the adventure –

Jill waving at the Puffing Billy. Everyone waves when Puffing Billy goes past. Workmen, kids… everyone!


Emerald Lake –

Gorgeous photo of James and Nadine –

Bill got some great photos of the flowers in Jill’s garden and even spotted a kookaburra.

On the way back, Nadine drove through Cardina Reservoir where Bill was able to see some kangaroos in their natural surrounds.

As soon as we got back to Nadine’s we had to get in the car and drive around the corner to Bernadette and Luke’s as it was time to catch up with high school pals for dinner. Bill still hadn’t slept properly since the flight so he had a quick nap there before everyone arrived and as usual we talked and talked and talked and… talked. Bernie made a big dish of spaghetti bolognaise and we all sat around in the lounge room chatting and catching up.

The time came to say goodbye and it was awful – I miss these girls so much and I knew it would be ages before I’d ever see any of them again. Goodbyes are awful, we all know that, but any time I go anywhere it seems I am saying goodbye and you know what? It is tiring and emotionally draining and really almost gets me quite angry because you get fed up with those sad emotions all the time. I wish I could be in two places at once, I wish I could still meet up with the girls for dinner on Swan Street for Greek food where we’d be talking until closing time. I just wish I didn’t have to be so far away. I love that when we do get together it is not like we have spent any time apart at all. In fact, it is like we are back in year 12 sitting on the verandah at school and listening to music (cassette mix tapes!) through shared headphones at school. But it really does hurt being so far apart – and that is why my eyes are all blotchy in this photo. I love all of them so much! 🙁

May 25 2010
1

Trams, Trains, Jail, Parliament and a trip to the dentist.

On Tuesday morning after the clean up we were up early to get the train into the city for our first touristy day.

We did my old usual routine for going to the station and Bill got to finally experience Melbourne’s public transport system. He has had to put up with my complaints about it all the time even though I don’t even travel on it any more. This is absolute proof you have been a Melbourne public transport dependent person, you are scarred for life.

Here I am just so overjoyed that I am on the same platform where I stood for half of my life –

Bill was obviously fascinated by the speed humps in our area as I found this when I downloaded our pictures –

We hopped off at Flinders Street and quickly took some pictures on Princes Bridge before getting on a tram to head up to the Old Melbourne Gaol.

Bill on his first tram ride!

While the Old Melbourne Gaol was ok and it has been well preserved and all but I felt it was not worth the $21 each entrance fee. This may have been fine back in the day when international tourists would get a bargain travelling to Australia but when the Australian dollar is nearly equal to the US – you have to have a good reason to justify the costs. As I witnessed back in January – prices have skyrocketed in Australia and as now an outsider looking in especially in tourism and travel – the standards especially when it comes to accommodation leave a lot to be desired in the big cities. At least we can say we have seen it!

Bill channeling his inner Ned Kelly –

Disheveled Bill channeling his inner Chopper Read at the City Watch house –

Padded cell at the old City Watch house. This was still in use up to the mid-90s –

The gallows where Ned Kelly was hanged –

Dad in a cell –

We wandered around the Old Melbourne Gaol site and then went and grabbed an early lunch. We were actually going to Parliament for lunch but we knew that there is no time to actually ‘eat’ when you are talking so much. I gave Bill quick tour of the Queens Hall, the Library (sob!) and Legislative Council chamber because as it was a sitting day there was no big public tours happening. We caught up with everyone at Sessions cafe and then headed down for Question Time! Here is Bill’s coffee in a Parliament cup –

Bill got to witness politicians behaving badly first hand as we sat in the Speakers Gallery and here is the Hansard from the day we were there.

I had to quickly leave Question Time early as I had a dentists appointment (the thing you do on holiday!) and I was happy to hear that the excess corn syrup in everything here has not rotted my teeth to the core – I was really worried about it. So I met back up with mum, dad and Bill. Bill and I went off to have a look around St Patrick’s Cathedral as I also wanted to take him on the Brunswick Street Tram home.

Bill at my old tram stop –

We loved this plaque inside the Cathedral –

Seagull action shot in the grounds of the Cathedral –

One thing I loved was I was still able to calculate the time it would take for the tram to get to the end of the line so mum could pick us up right off the top of my head – just as I had done years before! My still at memorizing timetables was still able to be put to use and Bill was able to see just how tragically daggy I am. Yeah!

May 24 2010
1

Monday 12 April AP (After Party)

Getting back to the Australia holiday posts –

Monday came about very slowly and we woke up thinking “Wow… did that party really happen?” and with that it was time to get down to cleaning. Wow. One minute I am swanning around New York and the next I am in my PJ’s down in the garage, emptying beer dregs into a bucket, picking up cigarette butts and cleaning up pig fat leftovers. Welcome home Jenelle and… welcome to life with the Cleary’s Bill! The hire company came to dismantle the marquee and after a few hours of team work, the backyard and dads lovely lawn was back to looking somewhat normal.

Monday came and went and we settled in for a small nap before we were up and getting ready for the neighbours to come over for a prawn feast dinner – we didn’t get the chance to put the prawns out for everyone to eat at the party and so we cooked them all up using one of the best Coconut Prawn Recipes… one that I found in an Oprah Magazine long ago and is one we have used over and over again!

This was the last ‘rest’ day for a long time… coming up next Tuesday on Puffing Billy!

May 23 2010
0

From NY to Melbourne…

Skipping back it is time to catch up on posts from our time in Australia. We’re starting with our flight – NY – Melbourne. Because they deserve it, I will review the plane meals in the next post.

On the day of our flight I left work at 1pm and picked up some Pret A Manger for us to have for a quick lunch. Car service was booked at 3. We would hopefully be checked in by 4. And then straight to the lounge to chill out.

We quickly set up house in the tv room of the BA lounge. We had a big screen tv, remote and snacks. No-one came in the tv room the whole time we were there so it was like we had our own little hotel room for 3 hours! It was fantastic and a lovely way to relax before the flights.

When we got on the actual plane, I ate dinner and watched It’s Complicated. I loved it! Exhausted from the lead up, I promptly fell asleep once the movie ended thus, breaking my rules for not sleeping on JFK – LAX. We were late leaving JFK and got to LAX just slightly late. We had enough time to hang out in the LAX lounge for another little while before reboarding. By this time it was about 2am NY time. We were sitting on the plane for a while when the captain announced that they had to get an ill passenger checked out before they could take ok. Fair enough right? After about 30 minutes we ended up leaving the gate, doing a taxi of the runway and then stopped again. They were turning back to take off the passenger and then of course, we had to wait for their bags to be taken off. Absolute mystery as to why they would even let the passenger check in, let alone board the plane in that state. So we ended up leaving at about 4am New York time. Argh!

I ate dinner, took a Simply Sleep tablet and fell asleep again!

I woke up and proceeded to get ready and freshen up before breakfast. Bill hadn’t slept for the whole flight but I was on another planet! In that delirious spot where you are looking at the flight map, thinking that when you open your eyes you only have 2 hours to go – except when you look, it is actually 7 hours.

After breakfast I was watching random TV shows when people started queueing down the aisle for the bathrooms. This guys backside was right near my face and I leant over and whispered to Bill “Oh dear god his bum STINKS!” I put my nose into Bill’s shirt to get rid of the smell. Nothing would! Bill tried to explain to me that he thought someone had been sick but I was definite – it was this guys bum and it was right in my face! Ugh! Before long, a steward came racing down the aisle. Bill was right. This poor little kid had thrown up all over the back of the plane. It was disgusting and people wouldn’t even move out of the way for the stewards. Like hello – let them do their job!!!! So they sprinkled this stuff on the ground like the sawdust they’d use at primary school and just threw a blanket down over it. What was particulary disgusting was that people kept walking down to go to the bathroom in their socks and BARE FEET and walking straight over the soggy blanket on the floor!! Arghghghhghg!! It was a nightmare. And the poor little sick boy proceeded to throw up all over the bathroom too and about 30 mins later his poor dad just carried him down the plane while he was all listless and grey. Bless all airline staff for what they have to deal with on those flights – they really are amazing!

The rest of the flight went to plan and we landed in Melbourne smoothly. I used the new ‘ticketing’ system for e-passports but honestly, it makes entering the country a bit of a non-event. It is no different to buying a metrocard – but it is very quick and you can basically skip lining up with lots of annoying people. Unfortunately, due to our delay the customs hall resembled a crazy house with a plethora of people with luggage going all over the place. While we had food declare we were ushered through without incidence. There was a whole flight from Asia that had just landed and it looked like would be stuck in customs for hours as the customs staff were going through each piece of luggage for each passenger. We walked through those big metal doors to find Ev and Mark waiting for us with a “Welcome Home” balloon and a big grin on their faces. Mum and dad were missing! Well they were in the airport but… at the currency exchange. Argh! I feel truly horrible because I think the first thing I said to Ev was “WHERE IS MUM AND DAD??!?” Ooops!! I was somewhat delirious when Ev proceeded to show me his new Blackberry – which I really thought was a crazy joke because he is my Apple brother!!! Within a couple of minutes mum and dad were there and we headed to the car – it was so strange to have Bill with me at Tullamarine.. just too strange!

By 11.30am mum had us down at Thornbury at the Psarakos Fruit Market to start picking up the fresh supplies for the party. This has become somewhat of an after flight routine and it is just wonderful (!) to be wandering around Thornbury after 22 hours of flying. But at this stage – you do just about anything to stay awake!

We also dropped in to see nana and then stopped at our favourite bakery and mum came out with steamed dim sims and a big M – GOOD TIMES HAD BEGUN!! Bill had his first dim sim sitting in a supermarket car park and I proceeded to burn my tongue and spill soy sauce over my pink top. Not cool!

By the time we got home, Bill really was out of his tree after not sleeping at all for what seems like four days so he got an hour or so of a nap while mum and I got a roast ready for dinner. It was just fantastic. Matthew came around for the roast as well and it was the best way to prepare for the party the next day. Before I knew it, it was 8.30 and I was tucked up in bed. Bill was already fast asleep (only to wake up at midnight!) but I happened to sleep right through and wake up at 7am ready to start cooking for the party. So that is twice now I have had a perfect night after landing in Melbourne so I think I have finally worked out how to deal with jet lag.