17 Nov 2009
"A beer and some convo"
Righto finally I get to the main bits of the trip. I’ve decided not to bother with a day by day account of it all as there’s going to be too much to write. And as you can see I’ve not had a vast amount of time to get writing.
I decided to split the thing up into Tasmania and the rest. Tas comes last as it was the main thing I wanted to do over in Aus.
But anyway, what happened after the MJC.
Photos of the whole post-MJC trip here (some will be linked to directly in the post as well).
Nice zoo type place where my first roo was seen. They had a few shows on and I managed to catch a couple with birds. The first was native parrots, the second, birds of prey. They did a decent job of showing different birds and their behaviours. The irritating bit was some of the kids running wild and trashing the show amphitheatre and not seeing their parents do a damn thing about it. Scum.
After the bird shows there was an aborigine who did a boomerang throwing show. He was quite an old bloke who turned out to be only half aborigine. The other half was, oddly enough, Scottish.
At the end of the visit I managed to stroke a roo but sadly not a koala as such a thing is banned in the state of Victoria. Harumph.
Home of lots of penguins and very very windy. I ate a picnic near to the bridge and met a few very greedy silvergulls including one particularly persistent pair of hangers-on. One was a bully fighting for everything, the other was a one-footed bird who just kept avoiding the first gull and being quieter about wanting food. He got fed. The bully didn’t.
Once on the island there were opportunities for photos of wind resisting and huge numbers of gulls.
The main tourist thing is the penguin viewing place. Sadly they milk this horribly. The prices were staggering so the decision was made – stuff that! A shame but there was no way those prices were worth it.
I’d heard a lot about this park. There’d been some bloody awful bush fires in Victoria back in Feb this year and “the Prom” hadn’t escaped the carnage. The scars were still clearly there both in the landscape and when talking to locals.
But it’s an extremely beautiful place. An ace place for walking and I managed to get me up a mountain. Ok it was a little one and the walk wasn’t too hard but it was still a mountain.
There were quite a few beaches of note. The one that stuck out was “Squeaky Beach”. When dry the sand squeaks when you walk on it. Very odd.
Quite a nice city. The day me and Tan were there was the AFL Grand Final Day. Now this match happens at the Melbourne Cricket Ground so it was proper big for the locals. Walking around Federation Square in town there were people in team colours everywhere and then I noticed a vast telly screen. It was showing a panel discussion rather like “Football Focus” in the UK. It took me a while to realise that the people on this huge telly were actually sitting below it. The whole show was being shown live and the presenters and guests were sitting out in the square. It was really quite cold (so much that local shops and cafes had signs like this in their windows). The presenters really were working for their money.
There were lots of fans milling about and finding their seats to watch the game on the telly. Apparently the winning team were going to come to the square after the match too. So a big day of fun for one set of fans. The teams were St Kilda (local Melbournites) and Geelong (industrial city a short drive away) so no real travel problems stopping huge numbers coming into town.
We ended up watching the show from a bar at the port (waiting for the Tas ferry). It’s a fun experience watching the most passionately followed sport in the country in a pub full of obsessed supporters.
I should say that I still have no idea what the hell the rules of the sport are. But, for a brawl, it seems to take up an awful lot of space.
During my time in Aus there was a bit of a scandal about one player. Guy called Brendan Fevola got off his skull on booze at the big end of season awards thing (here and here). Apparently he has form. It was a huge news story at the time. Flintoff after the Ashes was nothing compared this bloke.
Away from sport I saw a fantastic museum called ACMI where I saw Mad Max’s car among other things and I ate burek at the Queen Victoria market (ace place).
Coming back from Tasmania, Geelong was the first stop before getting to the Great Ocean Road. We were there early and nothing was open. But the weather was clear but there were some very strange skies that morning.
They were big on bollards there too. There were rather a lot of them done up in odd styles, some were pirates or policemen. One notable group were bathing beauties. Not the nicest statues but certainly diverting.
It’s a very winding road along the coast. Very pretty and twisty and there are loads of accidents here. Most of these come from foreigners not remembering to drive on the left, or by those looking at the views rather than the road.
A way down the road you get to the 12 Apostles. Well 8. Actually 7. In fact I have no clue how many there are as some have collapsed. I was told one fell whilst I was in Australia.
This is also where I saw an echidna. Cute!
One of the unexpected highlights. I’d never heard of the Aussie Grampians but had a lovely time here.
Started with walks and climbs with magic views and scary sheer drops and continued with huge waterfalls and animals galore. One waterfall managed to flow without any sign of a pool at its bottom. I’ve never seen anything like it before.
At the town we saw a huge number of roos including a very large group of females with 2 males fighting for dominance. They’re very odd looking critters. Even more so when fighting. Two big fellows standing on their tails so they could kick each other. This went on for an age. The ladies just carried on munching the grass (all this happened on a cricket pitch).
The place was also the site of one of the more memorable events of the trip. I’d occasionally phoned R on the trip but the time difference was a major pain. A good time for her is around 8pm. This translated to 5am Aus time. At the hostel there was a public phone but it was on the corridor where all the rooms were. So I couldn’t really use this phone as I’d be waking everyone up with conversation that I’m sure they’d not really wanted to listen to anyway.
Luckily there was a public phone about 5 mins walk into town. So at 5am I was walking down a dark road in the very cold to find me the phone.
It wasn’t too far but I was damn cold. In fact it was near the cricket field with the roos on. But it dark enough for me not to be able to see them at this point.
In the middle of the phone call I turned around to see about a dozen kangaroos bounce past me down the road about 2m away from where I was standing. I was also battling the dawn chorus during the call. I’m used to this being sparrows and starlings and tits and the like. There’s a distinctly different feel to the chorus when the majority of the birds making the thing are parrots or some such.
The final bit of this early morning cake was when I got back to the hostel to discover that my key card didn’t open the front door. There was a key pad thing but no-one had mentioned this to me so I had no clue what the number was. It was about an hour before the reception opened up too. So I was banging on the door for a while. My toes were really very nippy by the time I was finally let in.
Adelaide is a lovely city. Small enough to get around easily but big enough to have lots of things to do. And big enough for bits of it to feel slightly seedy.
Some great museums and galleries too.
The hostel was notable for a couple of things too. One was a german man shaving in the bathroom. He was making awfy orgasmic noises during the process. Very odd.
Second was I saw the man with possibly the acest job ever. As I left the hostel there was a tour bus parked up and the driver got out to let his passengers out. He was about 40 and dressed in full-on Ocker Aussie outdoorsy type clothes. His passengers were 18-30 year old women. All of them. He got a hug from all of them too. Nice job if you can get it.
I’d only picked Sydney to visit as I was in Aus anyway and I thought I shouldn’t really miss Sydney out. I sort of wish I had now. I wasn’t really that impressed.
I think my view may well have been different if I’d been with someone who knows the place rather than on my own. It’s too big to get a handle on in 36 hours or so.
Sure the bridge is a bridge and the Opera House looks like it does on every tourist info blurb re Aus you’ve ever seen (apart from it not actually being white). But once you’ve seen those then there’s nothing else there that really separates it from other big and rich cities.
A bay? Tick. Lots of museums? Tick. Lots of tourists? Tick.
Sydney was the first place I met English folk out and about. There were none in Adelaide, nor in Melbourne (except Dave at the MJC), nor in Tasmania. It was nice to go so far and seem far away. Sydney felt just too familiar even to the extent of me getting annoyed with 2 english women on the bus gossiping about one of their “friends”.
Not as god-awful, smelly, rude, expensive, obnoxious, self-satisfied, self-deluded, over-hyped and generally shitty as Paris though. But that’s hardly a recommendation. I really can’t see much of a reason to visit Sydney. It’s a city; if you like that sort of thing then go for it.
Oh yes and this bridge business. Ok so you copied the Tyne Bridge well done you. Now how about NOT charging $160 to climb the thing and then banning climbers from even taking a camera with them just so you can screw more cash out of them by charging for photos once they’re up there?
NB I really do like the Opera House. Was just a shame there wasn’t anything on that I wanted to see when I was there.
Australia then. Has some amazing bits and some cities. I know which bits I’d go to again. Actually if I ever do get that far again I doubt I’d go to the same places. I imagine I’d do the middle and the far north instead.
A couple of things from the local rag’s letters page.
First was a random love letter. Someone (whose name they did actually print) wrote in apologising to someone (unnamed) for doing something, the worst thing she’s ever done (apparently).
And this was not only considered for publication but actually published. Very odd indeed. Wonder if the letters page is being opened for all correspondence re affairs of the heart.
Next was this message about allergies.
“Do any readers have an allergy to fragrance, and if so, how do they cope with it, and also has anyone has found a cure?”
Maybe you’re not asking the right people. Try the medics.
After some more rubbish about “how doctors know nothing” she goes on to:
“I have been having homeopathy treatment for two years, combined with anti-migraine tablets at night, and now I just have headache and depressive/flu-like symptoms for three days, instead of three days in bed with violent migraine.”
Is this the marvellous “I take strong migraine tablets but it’s the homeopathy that helps” line of reasoning? I wonder if the homeopathy is the water she swallows the migraine tablets with?
And to finish:
“I am unemployable”
You don’t say.
So then after a further 8 hour flight (complete with 160mph tail wind at one point – whee!) I made it to Melbourne and after a long trek through their quarantine section was spat out onto the streets.
Got me a bus into the city and then went to find my first hostel.
First impressions of Melbourne? “Meh, it’s a city”.
My immediate task on getting into my room was to check my ankles out. When I had my shower at Singapore airport I’d discovered that my ankles had swollen quite dramatically. This had me buying a pair of those sexy flight socks for the second leg (geddit eh eh?) of the journey.
It turned out that very little had changed. Still swollen and pitting horribly. Is this normal? Or am I just an undiscovered cardiac patient? Fingers (but not legs) crossed.
I wasn’t actually too worried but then I went to the loo and had horrible chest pain. Crumbs. I slept that night with my feet on a pillow. Wee’ed loads the next morning – I’m pretty sure not weeing on the flight much was the problem. No worries after that anyway.
I’d got to Aus at about 7pm their time and was tired so I actually managed to drop into their time easily just by staying awake until 10ish and then going to bed for a good while. I thought that would have been more difficult. Nice.
Oh yes, crappy iPod news! The bloody home button didn’t work on flight 2. Then did the next day, then didn’t the day after etc… I took it into an Apple shop only to be told they’d need to send it off and this would take 2-3 weeks. Nice. Still not working properly. Internetting it seems to suggest that it’s a dodgy piece of design and/or manufacture. So as well as not playing stuff with my file format of choice it also has the XBox360 habit of breaking if someone looks at it wrong. If it wasn’t for the opinions of people whose opinions I trust then I’d have to assume that they sell over-priced, sub-quality tat.
Anyway. The MJC then.
After waking up with synchronised me and Aus time (yay) it was a swift gather up of stuff and then back to the central station to get a train to Collingwood.
After arriving to the college I realised that I didn’t have enough cash to pay to get in.
They let me leave my stuff behind the desk and pointed me at ATMs. Annoyingly Australia is way behind us with regard to placing cash points all over the place; they’re rare beasts over there. Got to the first one to find it wasn’t dishing out any cash. Arse. 10 mins walk later I found another one – not dishing out cash either. Another 15 min walk further there was a 3rd ATM – no dice. Bloody hell! I’d been walking for ages, it started raining – I had about £20 worth of Aus cash on me so nowhere near enough to get a room, or buy much food or drink over the weekend. There were no banks around for me to drop into (and no exchange places neither). The best I could find was a Western Union place that wouldn’t let me use my credit card to buy money. They did let me know that someone could send me cash from abroad. In other words, phone your folks and get them to send you some. Err no.
Eventually I found yet another cash point. This one didn’t give me any cash but did at least let me know why. My bank had blocked the card thinking someone had nicked it. Great. So it’s Saturday afternoon here, early Sunday morning at home, nothing open and no-one to phone for hours. Magic.
So I soggily wandered back to the MJC and luckily the rather lovely Christian let me in by leaving my credit card details. He also lent me his phone to call a hostel. They would accept payment by card too. Sigh. Still didn’t look good for food tho.
So after all that I then had to take all my kit to the hostel which was a further 20min walk through streets I didn’t know dragging all my stuff.
A few zeds later I was heading back yet again to actually meet some jugglers.
Wandering around the place some bloke wanders up and says “I recognise you” and turns out to be some Londoner called Dave. He was at a few UK cons that I was at too. So we had some chatting and then he introduced me to Mr Cheetham (nee Popstar Dave). Another thoroughly lovely chap.
I went to one passing workshop which sounded interesting but turned out to be lots of wandering and figuring out how to do the wandering. Meh, not interested. In one of the halls I met a couple of guys passing and joined in with them for a bit (hello Ash and ?Christophe).
But my lack of juggling for some months soon told and my patterns just went to pot, mainly I think because I just didn’t have the stamina.
At this point I wandered into the canteen to have nice and cheap food from some folk by the name of “Lentil as Anything”. After lots of chatting with new pals and “ah”ing at Hannah’s ?broken wrist I ended up being taught some very bizarre twisted passing pattern.
Incidentally some moron told Hannah that he’d healed her by holding on to her wrist for a while. She said “no it still hurts” so he pressed it harder. Idiot. Anyway on enquiring more she’d had numbness and some pretty decent swelling of the hand – I suggested she get it x-rayed.
Regardless the passing didn’t last too long as the show was kicking off soon. Just before this point my bank phoned me up to tell me that they thought someone had stolen my card. After being grumpy with them for a bit they agreed to let me access my money again and that episode was thankfully brought to a happy end.
To the show: Most of this was really bloody good. The comperes were excellent and the majority of acts had something decent to offer. And it was probably the longest show I’ve seen for a good while.
Highlights for me:
Olivia: a girl doing a wind-up doll routine – smooth moves and ace choreography.
The diabolo kid who came 3rd in Australia Has Talent (corrected for grammar).
2 Antipodean acts – first did parasols very delicately and the second was a very zippy, if brief, 2 person thing where one was the object – very speedy and, if they didn’t need to be brought so far, I’d say bring ‘em for a BJC. Make ‘em do some workshops to bump up their value and that’d maybe do. They were called something like “Feet 2 Feet”.
Another acro thing with 2 blokes and a woman – they did the slightly cliched fighting over the woman thing but their twist was that the 2 blokes ended up together.
Matt Hall justified his entry by impressing with his tennis can routine as well as a 3-7 ball sequence.
There were a couple of acts that didn’t move me much.
Some woman did a hat act that lived up to pretty much every hat act I’ve ever seen. There was a hugely over-angsty meteor act that started on the floor and never really took off. And some bloke did an air guitar act. Yup an air guitar act. Admittedly he did rip off one Umbilical Brothers act as well (complete with wooden screen – yes that Umbilical Brothers act) but that didn’t rescue it for me.
And that was it. A generally very high quality show. I have to admit to being surprised but then I realised that the Aussies only have 2 events each year so they get the good stuff at each of them. The performers want to perform and there’s not much opportunity to do so at JugCons. So fewer, better quality shows maybe. Not such a bad deal.
But then the show was over and so was Saturday. At the moment that everyone should have been all up and excited and trying stuff they’d seen the site was closed and we all had to go our respective ways. If there was one criticism of the event it’s this lack of a 24 hour space. I was told that previous international guests had mentioned the same before. It was really a shock to not have it available. Weird. Definitely the only really noticable big thing to sort for future years.
The next morning I was back for more of the chatting thing. It turned out that Hannah had indeed broken her wrist yesterday and was now all plastered. That’s unicycling for you. Xray showed a full thickness, undisplaced fracture through her radius. Ow.
We were sat watching them set up for volleyclub at one point. This was apparently reasonably new to Australia. I mentioned it was quite popular in Germany and this elicited a “Oh the girl who started it here is from Germany” from someone. Sure enough a german voice echoed through the hall announcing a volleyclub workshop. Oh and she got the rules wrong.
In the evening was the second Renegade (I’d missed the first as it was on the night I’d arrived in Melbourne).
Matt Hall progressed his Scissor – Paper – Stone – Look Over There thing further by introducing the 3 person variant which entertained the room thoroughly when he got everyone playing.
Some guy impressed with unicycling on a slack rope whilst doing a 3 ball cascade, whilst significantly drunk – nice.
They were the stand-outs for me. Until the intermission.
Things got fun here. We were in a school gym. So lots of toys! Someone set up a vaulting horse and springboard which led at first to people vaulting over higher and higher squashy foam obstacles. Then someone had the idea of joggle 3 then do 1 up, do a somersault and then land back into a 3 ball cascade. One kid did it twice to rapturous, well deserved, applause.
And then the problem with not having 24 hours space came in again. They had to finish the Renegade before midnight so they had to stop the vaulting fun (fun for spectators as well as the participants) to get through the remaining acts. Such a shame. If we could have stayed later we could have had both without having to prematurely halt one of them.
Anyway that was Sunday.
Monday was the last day and there were fewer people aroundand I caught up on a bit of sleep as well so just went there to say hi and bye and thanks and nice to meet yous etc.
So then an MJC. Very good indeed. Ace acts, lovely folk. Shame about the enforced home times. Ah well. Doubt I’ll get there again for some considerable time but I do hope a few of the folk I met manage to get across to Europe for a few cons. Would be nice to meet them again.
Major thanks to Christian for letting me in with no money and lending me his phone. Cheers too to Iain, Hannah and plenty more of their pals whose names I forget. I am so crap with names, sorry. And ta as well to Dave and Dave for company and conversation.
Photos here (no show pics tho).
I really am going to get round to typing some more about my trip soon. I really have been awfy busy since I’ve been back what with stuff going on in Leicester and Derby as well as catching up with work stuff galore.
Hopefully the MJC stuff at least will be up later this evening.
Then maybe I can get to the news stuff I want to talk about as well.