Thursday, February 27, 2014

Monday, February 24, 2014

White Night

Melbourne Saturday night was the place to be.  Packed full of hundreds of thousands of people, light shows on multiple iconic buildings, events all over town, street performers all over and just a good buzz going on.  It was probably the first time I was in a church at 3:30am and there was a wide assortment of people also exploring the naves.  The "duck duck goose" game taking over a city street with over 30 people was also pretty cool.  I was blown away by the light cone, which had numerous spotlights pointed upright, forming a cone of light, a sort of roof if you will.  Crazy to be underneath it looking up.  Check it out:

Looking up!
People enjoying the feeling of being in an UFO

Leaving and looking back at a trippy extraterrestrial light to it

We missed out on the synchronized swimming event, the purple rain event (apparently the rain was really purple, and there wasn't as much Prince as you would think) and some other cool things, but the overall atmosphere was amazing and I found it better to be out on the streets soaking it all in, as opposed to waiting in line for a long time to get into an event.

And after such an amazing night, I just remember that it all started with a free outdoor concert put on by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.  They performed Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto 3, the epic piece focused around the piano.  As the program stated, it became even more famous (famouser!) in 1996 with the movie, Shine.  Pretty sweet to see it live sitting in a grass amphitheater under blue skies.

Here are miscellaneous pictures from the night.  Good times for sure.

City lights and the Princes Bridge with the White Night sign

Light projections on building

Inside St. Pauls at 3:30am

Inside the State Library, all lit up inside with the DNA of polio (or some other disease they showed us)

Outside the State Library

Free outdoor classical music!

How the day all started, with 2000 people listening to Rachmaninoff

Madness in the streest

Thousands of people in any direction

Iconic Flinders St Station all lit up like a circus

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Road trip down south

What's that northern hemisphere?  It keeps snowing?  Not down here.  Summertime still in full effect.  On a recent day off, we took a road trip down to the Mornington Peninsula, one of Melbourne's best day/weekend trips.  Full of small, quaint towns, nature and beaches, it's a great spot to get away from the city and relax.  Couldn't have asked for a better day, as you can see from the blue skies.

The water was perfect, and pretty darn shallow, meaning you can go out for quite a ways and still stand up.  Snorkelers out there, although I couldn't see much.  Just relaxing vibes on nice sand beaches.  Melbourne city beaches are a bit dirtier and the sand isn't as nice, so this was a good change of pace.

We ate the famous vanilla slice in Sorrento, checked out some classy vintage shops with decent prices and had some amazing fish and chips.  Living large!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Random thoughts

It's been over two weeks now of life in Australia.  It is rocking down here.  Still quite warm, unlike most of the United States. I am 95% on top of knowing which way to look when crossing the street.  Here are a few notes of life down under:

I bought a single speed bike to get around town on.  Brand new, great price and fun to ride, although after 9 months of backpacking, my body has taken a few days to get used to being back in the saddle again.  It's all shiny black and making the girls say ooooohhh!!

Wherever you walk in Melbourne, there is amazing street art.  It's like a gallery out there on the streets, and a lot of it is actually quality art and will make you stop to enjoy it, or even think a bit.  Take for instance, this Aboriginal piece:

Or how about some crazy pink?

And then there is the history, such as with Ned Kelly (Wikipedia), the famous outlaw similar to Jesse James in the US.  Such an icon down here, that they've made two movies about him, starring Mick Jagger in the 70s and most recently, Heath Ledger.  He's famous for his final shootout, in which he built an iron suit of armor out of plow blades.  Here is the suit from the State Library:


And lastly of course there is the beach.  That's why we are all here isn't it?

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Beating the heat

With the weather turning the heat up once again, it was time to get out of the city to find a swimming hole and chill out.  A group of us headed one hour west to the Werribee Gorge State Park, full of hiking, eucalyptus, dust and wild koalas, as well as a small river with some nice swimming holes.  When Cam said that we might see wild koalas, it seemed like a joke, but right there camped out in a tree in the parking lot was a wild koala, just chilling.  Doing his dazed sleeping thing which koalas are known for.  He was right there towards the bottom where the two main branches met, wedged in so he wouldn't fall out, with his sharp claws dug in on both sides.  Giant claws.  Don't get too near, seriously.  He might seem out of it, and then boom!  Australian souvenir scar!

So we hiked in 20 minutes, past some busy swimming holes to get to the best spot at the back.  It wasn't always easy going with a scramble along a rock wall causing some difficulty for some of the group.  There were small places for your feet and a metal wire you needed to hold on to as to not fall.  Get that adventure going!

Finally we made it out there, to a spot with a nice little sandy beach and a perfect swimming hole.  With the sweat in full effect in the 40+ C degree weather, that water felt amazing.  Of course we found some rocks to jump off and then chilled out with a feast of a lunch, mixed in from 12 people.  Waited that proper 20 minutes of digestation, and then back to the water.  Amazing time out there, which is just what a super hot Saturday called for.