Welcome to our Blog!

We hope you enjoy our first attempts at blogging! This is to prevent you from receiving long boring messages that arrive on your screen when you're not ready to sit back, relax and read about our life. This way, you can come into our blog on your time, when you want and check up on us.

We hope you like our stories! See you soon.
Gail and Rick

Thursday, April 29, 2010


On Thursday April 15th, we arrived at 8:00 AM in Adelaide from our holiday in Vietnam. Since the next school term didn’t start until Monday, April 19th, we still had four days of holiday time left. To quote Gail, “We only have 52 weekends in one year, so we need to make our time count!” In true adventurous spirit, we left our Vietnam luggage with a Kadina teaching colleague, packed a weekend bag, took a shower at the Adelaide airport, and booked a plane for Melbourne leaving Thursday, 12:30 PM and returning Sunday evening, April 18th.

Melbourne, pronounced “Mel-bun” by Australians, is a large metropolis with a population over 3 million. In lots of aspects we enjoyed our visit to Melbourne more than Sydney (see earlier blog titled “Hello from Sydney”). We think that this is because we were not rushing anywhere to see the next tourist attraction. Rather we took our time in Melbourne and elected to not see the Zoo, Aquarium or other tourist sites. We simply enjoyed the downtown core or CBD. All Australian downtowns are called the CBD or Central Business District. Our tastebuds savoured many kinds of different foods at eclectic restaurants, we sat at the occasional coffee bar watching people go by, and took in the sites and sounds of the city. While sitting at one coffee bar, we must have counted four or five rowing clubs out for an afternoon of exercise sculling along the Yarra River, which is the city’s main water feature. The setting was very peaceful and idyllic. Does it sound to you like we were in need of a little more stimulus than Kadina has to offer? Don’t get us wrong, we enjoy living in Kadina and all that this small town has to offer; it is just nice some times to also embrace the ambience of a large city.

How can you not help but relax on a blue sky day watching the sculls and tourist boats travel up and down the Yarra River?

One of the many possums that come out at night to forage for fruits and nuts in the city parks

Melbourne has a great inner city transportation system. A free tram travels around the CBD every ten minutes picking up and dropping off passengers at a number of destinations. It was not long before we became quite adapt at taking the tram, and knowing where we were within the CBD. For example, we took the tram to COSTCO. Melbourne has the first, and at this moment, the only COSTCO in Australia. It is reported that on opening day at COSTCO, the company raked in over a million dollars. We found it funny to be visiting a COSTCO while on holidays! It was also comforting to walk into the building and see that the layout was exactly the same as the stores in Canada. We felt quite at home as we wandered the store. Gail commented that it was probably the first time we have gone into a COSTCO and not spent a penny. We know that some of you will find this particularly hard to believe.

Tram lines put into service in the mid 1930’s

Gail couldn’t help but rejoice when we saw a Costco!

Melbourne has a great central market and is a must see for tourists. Probably the closest comparison we have to it in Canada is the ByTown Market in Ottawa. On another level it is comparable to the Strathcona Market in Edmonton only about a million times larger. We know that this is a SLIGHT exaggeration, but we think that you get the idea. The market is filled with rows and rows of stalls selling wares ranging from tourist trinkets to daily household staples like fruit and vegetables.

Melbourne’s Central Market

Without a doubt, our best experience, and hence most memorable was our outing to an Australian Rules football game. We are not sure if “Footy” as it is lovingly referred to by the Aussies has any rules at all, but we do know that they are as devoted to this game equally as much as Canadians are to hockey. The game appears to be an offshoot between rugby, soccer, and American Football. The athleticism and physical conditioning needed to play the game at a professional level is incredible. Two teams each with a stable of 18 players, battle it out on an oval field that is approximately 150 meters in length along the major axis of the oval. The objective of the game is for each team to kick a football sized and shaped ball between upright goal posts positioned at either end of the field. The players cannot run with the ball more than about 10 meters without bouncing it. To give you an idea of the athleticism, try bouncing a football running at full speed so that it springs back into your hands. To move the ball forward, the players have three options: (i) run and bounce the ball, (ii) punch the ball to a teammate, (iii) kick the ball to their teammate. While all this is going on the players, who do not wear any protective equipment other than a mouth guard and perhaps a jock strap (although we will never know) are permitted to gang tackle any opponent holding the ball. Teams will play either a man to man or zone defence in an attempt to not allow the other team to score.

Just as exciting as the game, was the setting. The game was held at the “MCG” or the Melbourne Cricket Grounds. The stadium was built for the 1956 Olympic Games which were hosted by Melbourne. Today the MCG is the site of the annual “Grand Final” for Footy which would be the equivalent of the Super Bowl in American football. From a Canadian perspective going to the MCG would be like going to the Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto or the old Forum in Montreal. The Footy Game that we went to was a competition between two Melbourne Teams – the Callingwood Magpies and the Hawthrone Hawks. Given that both teams reside in Melbourne, they have a long standing rivalry. It would be like us watching a Calgary (boo!) versus Edmonton (YEAAAA!!!!) hockey game. The attendance at the game was just under 68,000 people. Naturally watching the rabid fans in the stadium was equally as much fun as the game. We found it interesting to see periodic messages flash on the stadium billboard advising that if you were being harassed by a fan, you were to text message your seat number and the police would come and escort the fan away. In true Aussie fashion, we also had to have a beer and meat pie while at the game. Rick's beer was $6.20 and Gail’s Smirnoff Vodka Cooler was a mere $9.20. It just goes to show that it doesn’t matter where you are or what stadium you go to, the alcohol prices are always a rip.

Callingwood Magpies coming onto the Field at the start of the game

Players in the heat of the game under the lights at the MCG

A friendly reminder in the event you are being harassed by fans

As we left Melbourne to return to Kadina we were a little sad as our first term school holiday had finally come to a close. However, as we looked back on the holiday, we felt satisfied that we had crammed in as much travel as we conceivably could have hoped for. One of our goals of the teacher exchange to Australia was to travel as much as possible so that we could absorb and experience the many cultural customs and differences between Canada, Australia and Australia’s neighbouring Asian countries. We are certainly satisfied that our first term school holiday went a long ways towards attaining our goal.

No comments:

Post a Comment