…and by all accounts it’s been good fun. Here’s a quick run down of some of the highlights:

  • Good flight from Cairns: Twas really smooth and went rather quickly through spending most of it chatting to a woman sitting next to me about all sorts – and watching Wild Hogs (she’d seen it on other Quantas flights 3 times already, much to both of our amusement when our flight’s film was announced).
  • Saturday evening drinks with Jonny (the Irish fella from Western Exposure) and his mates: Due to not having drunk any alcohol for almost a week, I was a little tipsy rather quickly, but that didn’t stop me enjoying “the Craic” until late on Sunday evening
  • Sunday lunchtime Chinese food with Sam (from Sydney) and his friends: We went to Chinatown into a place called Dim Sum, which served, in fact, Dim Sum – a tapas-style Chinese meal. I enjoyed the often delicious and always rather different tastes of such things as shown below:
    Dim Sum!

    Whilst I was chatting with Sam’s mates and struggling to get to grips with my chop sticks, Sam tucked into some rather, er, interesting delicacies:
    Sam Enjoying A Delicious... Chicken Foot.  Mmm.
    I was also rather excited to find that, having just been chatting about where Sam should go in London when he visits next year, we stumbled across a place I’d only just recommended:

  • Sunday evening drinks with Kate (who I’d met in Cairns ages ago): being the classy travelers that we were, this evening started by going down to the offy, grabbing a 4 litre box of “goon” (shit, shit wine) for just over $10AUD and necking some from a sprite bottle as we walked to the pub. The goon was also used to, er, “spice up” drinks in the pub:
    Kate Enjoying Some Delicious... Goon. Nice.
    Despite early intentions, this evening was quite a short one for me as I started to feel a bit ill (probably the goon, methinks) so called it quits at about 9pm, which was a shame… but meant I was feeling good and awake for the next day:

  • Monday afternoon visit to Taronga Zoo with Sam and Co.: A nice ferry ride across the harbour took us to Taronga Zoo and despite nearly passing out when asked to pay over $30AUD each to get in, we got into the cable car (oh yes) for the ride to the zoo entrance:

    I was really surprised by the size of the zoo, actually. I’d expected it to be rather on the small side, mais non! It was rather sizeable, with various shows throughout the day. Alas we were there late on so only got to see the bird show, but that was rather impressive – especially given that this dude flew around the audience for a while:
    Big Bird
    After seeing that we wandered around checking out the animals, as you do in a zoo where, say, the purpose of visiting is to, say, see animals… but of course spent some time being very normal and mature too:

    Yes, there certainly was some “monkeying around”… I swore the zookeepers were going to go “ape” at one point. Ahem:
    Group Shot!

  • Monday evening in Manly: Again with Sam and the crew, we spent the evening relaxing in Manly, enjoying some wood fired pizza and then some awesomely rich and evil chocolate in Max Benner (he was rather accommodating, given how many of us there were. Aha. Ha ha. Ha. Ahem).
  • Tuesday evening drinks with Kate + her mates Dave and Paul: Similar to Monday, but without the leaving early… and with less goon… alas with some rather drunk dancing in Scruffy Murphy’s bar towards the end… and the feeling that Thursday wasn’t going to be a great deal of fun.
  • Wednesday morning trip to Canberra: Oooh how glad I was to have been drinking lots the night before. Oh, no, wait… the 3 hour Greyhound bus journey to Canberra, devoid as it was of any films was rather a) dull and b) “touch and go”. Not in the sense of late-90s cheesy requesting-a-night-of-sex based dance song “Would You?”, but more in the “trying not to be sick” sense. Luckily I managed to hold it down… just. Getting to Canberra made it all worth it though, what with the slightly basildon-esque town centre and great sights like this to enjoy:
    I mean, what. The. Hell?

  • Wednesday afternoon walk up Mount Ainslie: I’d decided the best way to get myself feeling better was to walk the hangover out of me. So after checking into the (really rather tasty) Canberra YHA, I walked up the 200 metre climb of Mount Ainslie to check out the views:

    And say hi to the locals:

  • Wednesday evening Cinema visit: To Transformers? Shrek 3? Pirates 3? Nope, I went to an alternative cinema (although I’d assumed it was mainstream til I’d got there and thought I’d accidentally been in a beer-induced coma for a year, missing all the films I’d heard of) to watch the (excellent) German film The Lives Of Others. I recommend a watch of it, if you can ever get hold of it.
  • Thursday trip to Parliament House: This was a highlight from Canberra, what with it being rather damned impressive. I wont bore you with the details, but let’s just say it’s a cool looking building, built into an existing hill, with loads of impressive artwork around it (donated by various nations), a “roof top” lawn with views of the city… and impressive looking senate house/house of reps rooms:
    Scullion In The Great Hall! Arthur Boyd Painting The Great Hall Tapestry's Based On
    Big Flag Pole(s) Parliament House Foyer
    Senate House
    Some great history to be told about it, which is why I’m glad I went on a (free) guided tour. I would relay the information to you but, well, I’d just bore you and (no doubt) have forgotten the facts already :-)

  • Thursday afternoon walk… and being soaked by the spray of a MASSIVE JET OF WATER: If you go to Canberra and see the following sight:

    Do not, under any circumstances, think it’ll be fine to walk along the path that is in the path of that massive water jet’s “steam”. It is NOT like walking through drizzle, or even a shower. It is like having half of your body dunked in a bath:

    I also visited the war memorial, which was pretty impressive:

  • Friday souvenir buying: Not really a highlight as, well, I’m a bloke and, well, it’s shopping, but I did see some rather amusing sights:
    A squeezy stress relief can. Check out the description:

    Some, er, Kangaroo hands and, er, ball bags:

    It’s a strange world we live in.

  • Friday drinks with James (from Heading Bush): Following a Pizza Hut all-you-can-eat (I’m vowing not to have any more of these this year *), we headed to the 3 Wise Monkeys pub and drank lots of Carlton Draft (by far the best Aussie Beer – well, that an Toohey’s Extra Dry), watching a great live band and chatting with a lovely (aren’t they all) Kiwi couple.
  • Saturday chilling: Despite the beers I’ve not been hungover today and have just chilled out, meeting Sam et al for lunch and then spending the afternoon grabbing a couple of extra souvenirs, packing my bags (all done now, wooh), uploading photos and… writing this.

(* Whilst in Australia)

So there it ends. My last week in Oz. It’s been a good one to go out on. I was thinking of writing a “Wow, it’s the end, here’s a review of the trip and how I feel about it all and where I am now” blog entry, but I’m going to save that for when I get back home and am not paying per hour to blog. In summary, though: this has been the best experience of my life. I’m so glad I’ve done it. I’m happier than I’ve been for so long and really excited about where my life’s going to be going now. :-)

Really looking forward to going home, but to be honest the 9.5 hour flight, 2.5 hour wait in Hong Kong airport and 13 hour flight to Heathrow aren’t exactly causing me a great deal of excitiment.

Oh well. Hopefully they’ll have a good set of movies on the plane. I’m looking forward to seeing Norbit again.

Take care y’all, all the best from me and Squage (Yeah, all the best from over ‘ere :-) – Squage) and I’ll see you back in the UK!

Farewell from Australia,

Pat (and Squage) :-)

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