|The 8 and a half hour bus journey from Canberra to Melbourne wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be. The guy I met in the hostel was getting the same bus as me so we got lunch in town before walking to the bus station. We needn't have rushed though as not only was the bus late, but then it was delayed for 45 minutes as someone had blocked the toilet. So we left at 1.15pm rather than 12.30pm. A really boring film was shown on the first half of the journey so I read my book, listened to my music and did some sudoku. At about half 5-6 we stopped at Albury for a toilet break and to get food. As we were driving through Victoria, you could see the smoke from all the bushfires. They have signs up telling you the fire risk and the stage of water restrictions that they're on. We got into Melbourne about 9.55pm rather than the 8.45pm we were supposed to!
I phoned Laura and Richard who I was supposed to be staying with, I called them last week to let them know I would be in Melbourne this week. As it happens, I met Laura at the tram stop by Victoria market but was told I could only stay for a few nights, so I would have to find a hostel for over the Christmas period. I was a bit annoyed as Wendy had told me that when she had spoken to her brother he had said I could stay over Christmas, but never mind.
Anyway, Thursday was spent wandering around Melbourne city centre, getting acquainted with new streets etc. I also visted the Old Melbourne Gaol which is where Ned Kelly was imprisoned and hanged. It was very interesting, had been built in the gold rush and over the time it was in use there were over 130 executions. An interesting fact I remember is that the youngest prisoner was about 3 years old, held on the charge of vagrancy, a few months later his mother was also imprisoned on vagrancy charges.
Well, after the gaol I carried on looking around the shops, had some lunch then headed for Carlton Gardens, near where Laura and Richard live. As it was extremely hot, I was glad of the chance to sit down and eat an ice cream!
Thursday evening Laura had been invited to a Christmas party with her work friends, she asked them if I could come along, they said I could so I tagged along. It was really good, and as they work with disabled adults in share homes, I had something in common with them. Unfortunately we missed the last tram back so had to walk back home, but it wasn't too far.
Friday I went around the shops again, visited Victoria market and went on the hunt for hostels with spaces over Christmas, as all the ones on the internet had been booked out. Luckily I found one, City Scene Backpackers, near to the market which was only $23 a night. I also went to Backpackers World Travel to book the date of my Philip Island tour which I had booked open-dated back in the first week I was in Oz. So I'm off to Philip Island to see penguins and koalas on Christmas Eve, which should be exciting. I also booked a Neighbours tour for the 27th which includes meeting one of the actors! I also booked the ferry to Tasmania for the 28th. So although nothing is planned for Christmas day itself, I've got a pretty busy week, so hopefully won't be too busy missing all of you!
Today has consisted of me moving into the hostel and wandering around Victoria market again on the search for sunglasses as I broke my other pair. Mind you, considering when I've been on holiday the last few years I seem to always be buying a new pair, I've done very well to have lasted over 3 months before I needed some more, unlike the flip flops... mind you the sun hasn't really been out today, and rain is forecast on Christmas day :-( I guess it's because Melbourne's summer is actually closer to a British summer since it's about the same distance from the equator.
Well, Merry Christmas everyone and a Happy New Year.