After my little Ballarat adventure I opted for a return to Melbourne in anticipation of the upcoming conference. Being one of my main reasons for coming to this part of the country, I was pretty excited. This in addition to finalizing a job and confirming my presence with a company for work. On the positive end of things I’ll be able to partake in a variety of different work, from climbing, to consulting to research. If things go well, I may even get some instruction in though we’ll make sure I can do in the blistering hot Australian sun.
Wednesday night encompassed an open air concert as part of the Sydney Meyer Concert Series put on by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. Yes, Sydney has an opera house, but most people only get to appreciate the outside of the building. This open air concert was an opportunity to appreciate a quality group that would normally play inside an opera house. I’d like to think the symphony realized I was coming and that the only way to get me to come was to play the show outside, and, to make it a free one. Fortunately for them though, myself and 6000 others were interested in the event and managed to show up and stay awake through the whole thing, despite the fact that the music (or tunage in 20th century terms) was as relaxing as a back massage next to a waterfall on a spring day. How’s that for imagery?
Anyway, the conference begins tomorrow, I’m tired and excited. Hope it goes well. Signing off.
Okay, so we're well overdue here, but really, who’s surprised at me procrastinating? As usual I’ve allowed myself to be caught up with the myriad adventures that have come my way. The people I have met in the hostels have been incredible and although I was surprised that I was so shy the first week in the country, now I get comments from new friends about how outgoing I am. So with that, I am brought to my first post about my purpose here: trees. Oh light of my life, world of my world, etc etc! Last week I took the day to get out of the city for the first time since my arrival. Although I have been determined to find work, I began to realize how uneasy I was getting spending so much time in the city.
After a one hour train ride outside of Melbourne I arrived in a small suburb known as Belgrave. This area is well known for it’s connection to logging history. Lucky for me they didn’t cut all the trees down, and actually preserved them in what is known as Dandenong ranges national park. These parks are different than what we have in Canada. A lot of picnic areas here, but the idea of backcountry camping seems a bit confusing to many Aussies I come across. The look I get whenever I enquire as to the possibility of sleeping outside is one of suspicion or concern. Like I’m some sort of transient looking to live on the outskirts in an attempt to carry out some nefarious deeds – which as many of you know is only a half truth. You never can trust those people that like sleeping in fresh air, basking in sunlight, and frolicking through the bush… that sort of stuff does things to your head after all. Before you know it, you’ll be filled with dangerous ideas…
I digress. DRNP has some great walking tracks and picnic areas, and some massive, massive trees. I don’t say this flippantly either. If I saw 500 trees as I walked through the park, I can confidently say I saw the 500 largest trees of my life. They are consistently huge. In Canada, we have many trees, they’re certainly abundant, but they are not this big. Mind you, I’ve never had the opportunity to visit the west coast (yet), but I can say with confidence that the largest tree’s I’ve seen and climbed in Ontario, do not hold a candle to this forest. Taking pictures is difficult because it’s impossible to show scale because they’re all huge. The ferns are even massive. Instead of having low lying ground covering ferns, this forest has tree ferns, ancient ancestors to palms that can be upwards of 15ft high.
Any foray into a national park is incomplete without the most modern of invasive species: tourists and the things that attract them. This includes roads, busses, giftshops and their overpriced novelty items, and finally, relatively tame wildlife. After a brief discussion with the staff at the giftshop I have walk over to the Cockatoo feeding area ('you just have to try feeding them, it's so fun!'). So I purchase the seed for the wild birds and trade stories with the woman handing out the seed. As usual she's happy to talk to a Canadian (who isn't really?) and is keen to give me insight into the birds. They're smart, she insists, almost as smart as children.
In fact, she says they're as smart as five year olds. So I walk out with the seed to get mobbed by friendly and eager birds, flying to my shoulders, landing on the bowl etc. As usual I manage to feel sorry for the one in the corner that is too nervous to fly to my bowl. So I bend down to let him approach my hand, and like that evil five year old that takes advantage of any apparent weakness, the little bugger bites my hand, piercing my thumb and causing me to drop all the seed in my hand in front of it. Visions of the hellish post-apocalyptic Hitchcock film fill my mind. Unbeknownst to me there is blood everywhere. The Chinese tourists are aghast, loud and panicked Mandarin surrounds me where there was once cockatoos with their iconic yet unpleasant screech. As I make my way back to the helpful Aussie for a bandaid and some field surgery I realize that part of the panic was over my halfpint of blood in the feeding area, and the subsequent spooking of the birds -oops-. After a quick patch up I return to ring with the last of my bowl of seed. The usual suspects are only too keen to fly on my arm, but I have an agenda now: make amends with my apparent attacker. The Lord did preach forgiveness after all. So I take a handful in my non wounded hand, and allow my nemesis to approach. She takes a good look in the king’s ransom of seed in my hand and goes straight for thumb number two. Clever girl.
A wee bit late as I've been in Australia for a week already, but now is as good a time to start as any. Apologies for the lack of pictures and content, that's gonna take some time to get taken care of.
The flight was okay, and I must say, the food was surprisingly good. For some weird reason I actually look forward to airline food. It's the greatest non-life threatening gamble I get a thrill out of (second being jaywalking in Toronto). The flight itself was a long, tiring and overall successful war against gravity. 24 hours to cross the planet. Incredible.
In the 8 days I've been here it's been a bit of a whirlwind. I've realized how much I value work in it's absence, and have gotten right down to getting myself settled domestically. Bank account, job interviews and apartments once reaching Melbourne. I've certainly rested, and adventured to a degree, but haven't gotten into the country side, which is my first love and my main goal.
First week in Sydney was interesting as it felt so much like Toronto I was nonplussed. The opera house and the harbour bridge were certainly covered, but since I'm not much of a tourist I ended up spending 4 of my 6 days exclusively in the Royal Botanic Gardens. This is far more exciting as it sounds as I took the time to learn the tree names in Latin, and made a point of having mid-day naps under at least three different genus' (Ficus, Aucaria, and Eucalyptus). All this and nobody charged me rooming fees under the canopy! I couldn't believe it! Quite surprising as everything else in Sydney seems to cost something.
Anyway, took the night train from Sydney to Melbourne and experienced the glory of Australian rail. What an experience! Have to keep that fun story for later.