Melbourne - Round 2 - Friday, October 25, 2002

Since we didn't get much time to check out Melbourne 1st time around, we have given ourselves 5 days here before heading to NZ. We checked out the Melbourne Zoo yesterday in order to see a Cassowary, Platypus, Wombat and all the poisonous snakes we missed (Oz has 8 out of 10 of the most deadly in the world) before leaving the country. Though we did get to see all these neat creatures, our resolve to have kids went by the wayside when we encountered every elementary student in Victoria on School Field Trip Day. Exhausting!

The rest of our time in Melbourne has been spent planning the flights for the rest of our trip, researching Eurail options, and determining the right time of year to visit certain places & continents. It is quite a relief to finally have the majority of our trip sorted out. We were suprised at how long it actually took to get this worked out (3-4 days of continuous instense discussions).

We were lucky enough to have a few visitors during our last few days in Melbourne. Our last night in Melbourne was spent in luxury at the Sheraton Towers with M's maid of honor Lory. We moved our flight out a couple of days and she moved her flight to Australia in so we could hang out for 24 hours. What fun! It was REALLY great to catch up. It's funny how when you are with your best friend with a glass of wine in hand, it just feels like home no matter where you are in the world. Also, we had fun catching up for a few hours before our flight to Auckland with the Canadian couple we met on Fraser Island (Sean & Sherry). Check out their funny "Survivor" version of the trip to Fraser Island. Our very long account of that trip seems to have been lost in cyberspace. If anyone by chance, printed that info out...PLEASE SAVE IT...so we can retype it in... THANKS

 It's been a year..... - Tuesday, October 22, 2002

Dave and I decided not to be too decadent on our 1st wedding anniversary...being backpackers on a budget and all. With the help of a parental donation to the cause (thanks J&C), we spent a few days in the mountains NE of Melbourne determined not to take in too many sights, read our books and make out. It turns out that in an answer to many an Aussie prayer, endless rainshowers and hail pounded the entire drought-stricken state of Victoria the entire time we were there. Not that we minded. It was REALLY cold outside and we just hung out by the fire, except for a few sight seeing trips around the area to keep us from having cabin fever.

It turns out that the cabin we decided to rent is owned by a WWOOF host. Meaning...he was open to us doing a bit of work for a reduced rate on the cabin. It's also the offseason combined with the fact that his wife gave birth to their 1st child a few days previously. The only work we had to do was chop a bit of wood (dave) and fill up the wood stock for the other 5 cabins. Pretty easy work for a 1/2 price rate. And get this...we were NOT treated like WWOOFers. A warm, freshly baked loaf of bread was at our doorstep each morning. Actually, this is not a good thing. Dave and I are quite bloated from eating almost 2 huge loaves of bread!! All in all, we had a very relaxing anniversary and can't quite believe that it's been an entire year since we said "I do"!

 The Great Ocean Road - Sunday, October 20, 2002

after a short two hour drive from the Grampians, we made our way along "The Great Ocean Road", ~ 5 hour windy drive similar to the PCH from Santa Barbara to Monterey. The difference being some shoreline with amazing rock formations not unlike the Oregon Coast. We stayed at a couple of really nice little beach towns during the trip, enjoyed uncrowded hostels, and had relatively good weather for viewing the coastline.

Most of the photos are from the Twelve Apostles area. Too bad we only had our little point and shoot 35mm camera.

 The Grampians - Friday, October 18, 2002

After our stop in Ballarat we continued towards the Grampian Mountains . The National Park is about 2.5 hours from Melbourne on the way to Adelaide. The drive takes you through some beautiful wine country, rolling hills, farmland and finally to the abrupt hills and cliffs of the Grampians.

Our hostel was on the edge of a small town called Halls Gap which is the main town for exploring the region. The hostel was only 2 years old and didn't show any of the signs of age of most of the hostels we have stayed in. It even had matching sets of new dishes, clean fridges, new matching couches not from the '70's, wood fire places and no mold or dirt to be found. From here we set out on a couple of day trips to see some of the sights.

 Melbourne - Round #1 - Tuesday, October 15, 2002

Our arrival in Melbourne was during a shocking time for the country. The tragic bombing in Bali has been major news here in Australia, it feels somewhat like September 11th coverage back home. As Bali is such a popular tourist destination for Australians, the deaths of these mostly young Australians really rocked the entire country to its core. EVERYONE has vacationed in Bali and knew of the Sari night club. In addition, a few days later, a crazed student shot up his university classroom and killed 2 students. This doesn't happen much here in Australia. So, it's been a weird few weeks to say the least. The news sounds more and more like the US every day. too bad..

Listening to the news is pretty interesting here. We've realized just how filtered our news is in the US. I already knew this from my time in Israel over 10 years ago, but it is just so apparent now how little international news and info Americans actually receive from the media. More later...

We spent a very short time in Melbourne in order to pick up a cheap rental car, arrange a few nights in hostels for the coming week in the Grampian Mountains and on the Great Ocean Road. What we did see of the place, we really liked! Dinner in Little Italy didn't kill the budget and made us crave Italian food every night for the next week. YUM!! We also had lunch in in Chinatown. We enjoyed hanging out in a big city.. Loved the energy and look forward to spending more time here in a few weeks.

 Sovereign Hill - Ballarat, Vic -

After spending much of the first 1.5 months in tropical Queensland, we were ready for a change of pace. Knowing that NZ is a bit colder especially since our arrival is during the end of Spring, traveling around the state of Victoria will expose us to some cooler weather. On the way to our first stop, we took a side trip to the town of Ballarat and the historic gold rush theme park called "Sovereign Hill". It wasn't as cheesy as it sounds or seems by looking at the web page. Victoria has many areas that gold was discovered and several sites created a "Gold Rush" frenzy much like California and Alaska. The museum and displays were suprisingly interesting and the recreated township put in past as the buildings, displays, shops and people were all "living" in the 1850's.

Highlights included a trip down into a mineshaft to learn about the biggest gold nugget ever found (until recent history), candle & candy making, blacksmithing, and wagon making.

Sidenote - Marisa forced me into taking one of those staged old time photographs where they dress you up in period clothing and take a black & white photo. This is supposed to be great fun and you will put the photo on the wall forever. Check out our photo of Dave "The Miner" & Marisa "The Good Homemaker" - - this is from our digital camera so we would have a color photo of these ridiculous outfits. The outfit colors are specifically chosen to be represented well in a B&W photo -- UGLY.

It was OK, the highlight was I got to hold a gun and wear shitkickers (cowboy boots for those who don't know).

 Our Last Relaxing Week in Noosa... - Monday, October 07, 2002

Enough lacrosse already!! The tourney is over. We are off today to lovely Noosa where we will spend the next couple of days scanning in 15 years worth of lacrosse paraphernalia for Ray so he can post it on his Paradise Lacrosse web site. Scanning, scanning and more scanning is what the next few days will be filled with. We will be hanging out at Ray's office with his kooky staff- fun! This is the closest thing we've done to work in 8 months. Ick!! Dave is feeling MUCH better.

Noosa has incredible beaches and is more upscale than most towns we've been to thus far. Over the past few weeks, we've been out for chow at the local surf club, spent many days walking the dogs on the beach, Dave took a surfing lesson, and we enjoyed a few long hikes on the beach and in the hills after Dave's back recovered.. GREAT TIME!!!! Thanks Ray!

On Monday, we leave the warm beaches and sunshine for the city of Melbourne. The weather is going to be quite a change. More to come....

 Oy, my aching back!! - Sunday, October 06, 2002

Returned to Dr. Olympia today since I awoke and couldn't move much. He cracked the hell out of my back again and then Marisa had a go. Her neck sounded like a bowl of Rice Krispies (she blames Dell of course!). I'm feeling much better and may return on Monday for some more pain on our way back to Noosa or wherever we decide to go....

The rest of the action for the day revolved around taking tournament photos and heading the Turf Club (Aussie for the horse track). Ray's horse was running again today, so we've become pretty cultured in the ways of the old aussie ritual of attending the races. All the lacrosse people shined like a beacon at the races, wearing our safety orange tourny shirts (color choice courtesy of Ray, must be color blind!). Fun, Fun, Fun.

The rest of the afternoon and early evening has been spent dealing with Ray's website and adding to our journals and photo page. I'm sure the sitting is reversing much of the good work from Dr. Olympia.

 Dr. Olympia - The Osteopath - Friday, October 04, 2002

A little while later, Marisa and I called up an Osteopath (combo Naturopath, Massage, Chiropractor type) who's credentials looked impressive as a former Olympian for Australia. He took one look at me and said I was a mess and out of shape (somewhat true since we started traveling). This comes from a 60+ year old Masters Games participant in Discus, Shot Put, Sculling (crew) and weightlifting. Also he competes in barbershop quartets. So imagine a hulking, 6'4" 220 lbs doctor, singing, barefoot, and not looking a day over about 50 proclaiming that I was out of shape and needing some adjusting.

Having never been to a Chiropractor, the experience was quite interesting. They gave me a short massage to loosen up the bad back before the cracking began. Let's say it seemed like my body was one big knuckle needing a good crackin' because all I heard was snap, crackle, pop! I'm not going to proclaim a miracle cure for back problems, but I could stand straight and walk which wasn't happening before entering his office.

So much for contributing to the games and taking part in the fun socializing afterwards. My prescription includes - lots of water, walking, sea salt (supposed to be good for the muscles??), swimming, slow jogging (?) and laying flat on my back. No more lacrosse, standing still (no time socializing at the club as I'd wear a path in the carpet doing laps of the joint), slouching, sitting on the couch (doh!), and surfing (for the time being). We're also kind of wondering how we're going to do farm work (planned for next week, now on hold) and extensive backpacking and trekking in NZ starting in Nov (M can't carry two backpacks!).

Hmm... so we drowned our sorrows in a few beers in the Miami like surrounds of Surfers Paradise. Think positive thoughts, my back needs the energy.

 Surfer's Paradise - LAX Tourney -

On Thursday morning we drove about 3 hrs from Noosa down the coast to the Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast (south of Brisbane). We made the trip to help Ray Trevaskis with his annual Paradise Lacrosse Tournament , which I attended in '99 with a team of Americans called the Crease Monkeys (a US wide team that travels to major tournaments around the world). In '99, the tournament hosted about 150 players at the same the same venue. This year, Ray is only expecting about 50 players tops due to many of the typical Aussie Paradise players attending the World Lacrosse Games which were held in Perth during June this year (hadn't been in Australia in over 10 yrs).

Marisa and I were just planning to help out with organizing stuff and helping take pics and make pages for the tourney website which we helped out with during registration & social Thursday evening. Even less people showed up than expected disappointing both Ray and the players who made the trip. Most of the teams are very small, only have 1 or 2 substitutes.

I was watching the pathetic attempts of the teams to field a full squad (i.e. - players who are usually on offense were playing defense or goalie!) and decided to play since I was able-bodied and not busy with tournament duties. So I scraped together some extra gear, completely going against my superstition of only using my equipment. I was worried that my chi would become mis-aligned and boy was I ever right. My back became mis-aligned after about 10 minutes of lively play. Here's the sad truth revealed.... I didn't even get hurt playing! It was as simple as chasing a ball out of bounds and deciding to leap a waist high fence to retrieve it. Now normally jumping a waist high fence presents little trouble for me, but after putting my back through the paces during my grueling surfing lesson earlier this week my back screamed "Uncle" and gave out. I pretty much couldn't even walk and my back felt like a corkscrew looks...

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