A Short Trip to Melbourne

Of all the places that I’ve heard about and know of in Australia, time and time again there’s one location that people say is the must see place to visit. There’s one location which I’m told is the liveliest, the busiest, does the best food, does the best coffee, has the best bars, has the best clubs, and has the ‘coolest’ people. There’s one location that when I tell people I haven’t visited, they ask me in a shocked tone, “You haven’t been there yet?” Of course it’s Melbourne.

Having lived in Australia for over 6 months now, you might expect that I would have visited already, but for one reason or another, I just haven’t got around to it. This week however, I rectified that by flying over there to meet my family who are currently on a road trip around South East Australia.

Two days before my departure I booked the cheapest flights I could find, which happened to be with Tiger Air. I’ve been told that they are extremely unreliable and that I should steer clear of them, but the other airlines were a lot more expensive, so what the hell!

A short bumpy flight and I’m in Melbourne. I quickly exit the airport and board the Skybus which takes me directly in to the city, dropping me off at Southern Cross station. My family is waiting for me at Flinders Street station however, and it’s only a few minutes until I’m supposed to meet them. Oh dear. I walk and run as quickly as Melbourne’s traffic lights will let me, but I end up getting to them 10 minutes late. Whoops. They’re happy to see me though and we quickly get down to business and start exploring Melbourne.

First things first, lunch. I haven’t eaten since I left home, and I am Hank Marvin (starving)! We start exploring Melbourne’s side streets and back alleys and quickly find somewhere to eat. Being in Melbourne, and being vego, I feel obliged to go for the smashed avocado. It definitely doesn’t let me down.

Once our stomachs are filled we head to the first tourist stop of the day, the Eureka Tower. It’s located on the South Bank of the Yarra River and it’s 88 levels to the viewing floor. When you step out of the lift you’re just completely blown away by the view. On a clear day you can see the entire city and beyond. We were completely transfixed and spent well over an hour looking around all 360 degrees of the view.

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Once we finish gazing over the city we head down to our next stop. The National Gallery of Victoria is home to a large collection of modern, contemporary, and fine art, and has some excellent temporary exhibitions. The current exhibition is on the Japanese artist Hokusai, and the preceding one was on Van Gogh. Awesome. As well as some amazing exhibitions and collections, the building is spectacular, with some brilliant water features at the front. People who know me know that I’m a particular fan of water features, and this was one of the best I’ve seen. The design coupled with the fact that they use all recycled rainwater means it gets a high score from me. 9/10.

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After spending a couple of hours in the gallery we decide to go and explore the streets that are covered in street art, Hosier lane and AC/DC lane. They’re pretty crazy but our legs are getting tired after a day consisting of a lot of walking so we head to a bar on Federation Square to have a well deserved drink before moving onto Lygon Street for an Italian dinner!

The following morning we get going fairly quickly as I need to get to the airport by 3:30. The hotel is near the Queen Victoria Market so we go for a quick wander around after breakfast. It’s big and has some cool stalls, and if you have a lot of time to kill you could spend a good few hours wandering around, but we have to get going.

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We head down to Flinders Lane to meet my dad’s cousin’s wife. I can’t remember the last time I saw her so it’s nice to have a coffee and chat for a while. Unfortunately I didn’t get to see my dad’s cousin and the rest of their family, but that just means I’ll have to return soon!

Now for the final stop before heading back to the airport. The Melbourne Cricket Ground, or MCG as it’s more commonly known. This stadium is somewhere I’ve wanted to come for a while now. It’s one of the top stadiums in the world, with a capacity of over 100,000. We take a guided tour, and it’s brilliant. The enormity of it is staggering, and I can only imagine what it’s like when it’s full of fans for a big game. It has an interesting history as well; one of the more interesting facts being that it was used as a makeshift military base during the Second World War.

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With the tour coming to an end I realise I need to get a move on if I want to get back to the airport on time, so I say a quick goodbye and set off for the bus stop.

A few hours later I’m back in Adelaide, and driving home thinking about how fantastic Melbourne was. I cannot wait to get back there and explore the city even more, and I’m sure it won’t be too long before I do. It definitely lived up to the hype!

Why do I love aviation?

Many of us have flown in an aeroplane at some point in our lives. Whether it’s a family holiday, a drunken getaway with friends, or maybe a trip to see long lost relatives, it’s a necessary tool that takes us from one place to another. And that is exactly how most of us see aeroplanes and aviation, a tool to get us from A to B.

You wake up at an ungodly hour and drag yourself out of bed, excited for your holiday but dreading the hassle of navigating your way through the airport. You send your belongings off in a suitcase, not knowing where they’re going, or if you’ll find them at the other end. You wait for what seems like hours in the airport. You apprehensively board the plane, knowing that you have to sit in a metal tube full of other people for several hours before you finally get to where you want to be. The only relief being when you step out of the airport at the other end into that warm sunshine that you’ve been looking forward to for so long.

Ok, so that was a bit over the top, but my point is that it’s not very exciting or enjoyable for most.

For me however, and many other people, it’s not just a tool to get from one place to another, aviation is a passion and it quickly became a big part of my life.

Growing up I was lucky enough to go on a lot of family holidays and see many places around the world, and that of course meant flying! I had a rocky start because I used to suffer from travel sickness, and most of the flights were spent holding onto a sick bag waiting for it to be over. As I grew older though, I slowly grew out of that and I began to appreciate the whole experience.

I would wake up on the morning of a trip, thinking less about the destination and more about the flight. I would relish navigating my way through the airport, knowing that I would soon be able to board the plane. I found take off completely enthralling, and for some reason I looked forward to turbulence.

After a while it became more than just enjoyment, I started reading about aircraft; how they’re built, how they fly, learning to identify different aircraft, learning to identify different airlines. It became something that I was passionate about and that passion hasn’t stopped growing since.

My family certainly helped increase my interest. My uncle, who takes an interest in aviation himself, would take my cousin and I to airshows like the Royal International Air Tattoo and Farnborough International Airshow. The latter being the first time I saw an Airbus A380. For my 16th birthday some of my family bought me a trial flying lesson with a flight school, and after that encouraged me to take more lessons and actually learn to fly.

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So why am I, and many others, so captivated by something that most people take for granted? Why do I want to build a career in this particular industry?

I think for me it is all about the engineering accomplishment and innovation of the aviation industry. The fact that we are able to make a big metal object lift off the ground and fly is mind boggling to me. Something that has a mass of hundreds of thousands of kilograms, we are able to essentially make weightless using mathematic and physical principles. On top of that, the politics, business, and logistics of the aviation industry are incredibly complex and intricate.

For me, these reasons are enough to make me want to have a career in aviation, and I can’t imagine myself doing anything else. There are so many other reasons for getting into the industry as well. I have only mentioned a few. Of course, the main one is because flying is awesome!

More on aviation to come!

Robe: A Fleeting Visit

Thursday afternoon. 4:30pm. I’m sat at my desk reading about the TCAS (traffic alert and collision avoidance system) of an Airbus A320, debating whether I should go out and buy a coffee, or just make one myself. The argument I’m having with myself comes to an abrupt halt when my partner Kelsey walks through the door, arriving home from work.

“We’re going to Robe for the weekend” she says without even so much as a ‘hello’. The coffee argument is now an afterthought as my mind is flooded with the idea of going on a trip! Within minutes we’re sat down planning everything that we want to do and see, in and around Robe.

Come Friday afternoon, the bags are packed, the car is loaded, and we set off on the long drive south. Less than half an hour in and we’re already going wrong. We miss a turn and without realising, end up heading 20 minutes in the opposite direction. Great start… Eventually however, we find our way, and after an almost non-stop 4-hour drive through pouring rain, we arrive in Robe.

We’ve booked a little cabin at a lakeside campsite. Very small. Very cold. We don’t want to spend too much time here and it’s only 9pm, so we drop off our things and head to the local pub for a drink.

We go to the Caledonian Inn after a recommendation from a friend. To my utter delight, we find that there are no pokies (fruit machines), there is a grand fire-place with a lovely smoldering heat filling the room, and it feels like a proper pub; something I’ve struggled to find since being here in Australia. And as an added bonus, they serve Guinness! Fantastic. We sit at the bar and have a couple of drinks before heading back to the cabin to sleep. Continue reading “Robe: A Fleeting Visit”

A Brief Insight into Victor Harbor

God’s waiting room. Retirement village. Viccy Harbs. “South Australia’s premier coastal city”. Whatever people choose to call it, Victor Harbor is the place I’ll be calling home for the foreseeable future, and a place that you should probably visit if you’ve been bold enough to make your way to South Australia.

Located on the eastern side of the Fleurieu Peninsula about 85km south of Adelaide, it’s very much a seasonal town that gets filled with campers and caravanners during the school holidays who are looking for a retreat from their busy city lives. For the rest of the year it’s a fairly uneventful place, sometimes even described as peaceful. That is until the local golfers decide to hoon around in their golf caddies under the influence of alcohol. Those lunatics.

It was discovered in 1802 by British explorer Captain Matthew Flinders when he bumped into French explorer Captain Nicolas Baudin at nearby Goolwa. They took shelter in the calm waters of the bay here and named it ‘Encounter Bay’. Although their countries were at war, they were on scientific missions and so they worked with each other, comparing notes and having a cheeky beer or two. I like to think the latter is true anyway. Continue reading “A Brief Insight into Victor Harbor”

Australia: The Heat From a Whinging Poms Perspective

Let’s talk about hot weather. Some people relish the heat. They live their life waiting for those days when they can sit out in the sun, soak up the rays, get a tan, and drink an ice-cold beer. I on the other hand, am the opposite. I’m very much a cold weather man. I like wearing fluffy jumpers and thick coats, sitting in front of a fire on a cold winter evening, drinking a nice warm cup of tea. I wouldn’t blame you then, for thinking me crazy moving to Australia. I do too.

So I leave the UK in the middle of winter, when the average temperature is hovering around the zero degrees Celsius mark. Two days later I arrive in Australia at the height of summer, and there is a heat wave, with the temperature regularly hitting the high 40’s.

I struggle.

Don’t get me wrong; I appreciate a bit of warmth now and again, but there are some occasions during said heat wave when I feel like Icarus flying too close to the sun, or Gollum falling in to the fiery pits of Mount Doom. It is uncomfortable to say the least, and going out for dinner when it’s 47 degrees is never going to go well. I’m sweating buckets. And let me tell you, there is no ice-cold beer in the world that can help that. Continue reading “Australia: The Heat From a Whinging Poms Perspective”

The Journey to Australia

It’s over 4 months since I arrived in Australia, and it’s taken me a while to get around to starting this blog. I did however start doing a bit of writing on the journey over here, so the following is what I wrote while I was waiting for a flight at Melbourne airport.

Thirty-five hours and three flights later, and I’m sat in an Irish pub at Melbourne International airport drinking a Guinness. A well deserved treat after a long journey. I’m sitting here watching aircraft, with an 8-hour wait until my connecting flight to Adelaide. I suppose this would be a good opportunity to write my first post, so I’ll start by telling you about my journey.

Yesterday didn’t start out great. When I tried to check in online, I found out that the first flight of my trip had been cancelled. Somehow I hadn’t been notified by the airline. Shit. But having called Royal Brunei Airlines they informed me that I had been put onto a replacement Emirates flight. Once that was sorted a few friends and family stopped by to say a final goodbye before my parents and I set off for Heathrow Airport. Continue reading “The Journey to Australia”