Reflections on a Month Gone By

I’m not going to lie, the first few days being home were probably the hardest. I’ve read blogs, talked to people, came back with with pretty low expectations but it was still hard… A feeling of being completely lost and that you’re not meant to be there… Unable to identify with the general, random, day to day conversation…. You’ve been away… Not heard of the things being spoken of… You’re unable to relate, unable to join in… You feel like you are watching the conversation rather than partaking in it. Your mind is still on a beach somewhere in the sunshine… The change to being somewhere familiar certainly takes a little while to get used to…

You’ve done so much and things are so different, it’s hard not to say “in Australia…” over and over without seeming dismissive. It’s not. It’s trying to relate. To compare and reconfigure in your head… Generic, general questions which are an easy opener for the asker feel a complete brain teaser as you search your brain, zipping through all the memories; trying hard to remember the many places you’ve visited and what they were like and working out if there is an answer to that question and what it might be. Then in that moment remembering the story attached to the question… “Where was your favourite place?” “What was your favourite thing?” The word ‘favourite’ hard to explain… The complicated layers ‘favourite’ unfolds. Many favourites. Many different reasons… Then when you finally start to feel settled, know that you’re not going anywhere for a wee while and have the time to talk, you can start to tell some of the many stories you have to tell… 🙂

Sharing much, I feel like I only scratched the surface with all my Australia tales. Somebody also managed to steal my thunder ;-). One friend wanted to see all my photos! I warned her there are quite a few thousand of them! Where to begin ;-). It was so nice to settle right back into where I had been with my mates before I left. So good to see my besties. It’s been a busy schedule though! Two weddings, birthday celebrations, making sure to visit my sister’s new house, fitting in some of the Edinburgh Festival and catching up with as many people as possible, I have done very well with making use of my time in Scotland :-). Revisiting some places I’ve not been for a long time, Gullane Beach and North Berwick captured me for a day; new places of Banbury and Stratford Upon Avon let me learn about Shakespeare and catch up with Australian friend and travel companion Sarah and reunite with the real George! My visit also involved finding Yoda on the Royal Mile, sword fighting at weddings, Hitler singing Frank Sinatra (not the best festival show…!), ice bucket challenges, hen parties, new babies and nearly due babies, two pizza suppers, becoming a tourist in my home city and managing to spend a lot of time with my family.

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With much laughter, many drinks, much food eaten (have to have gained about a stone!), it is a big big thank you to all those that made my time at home so enjoyable :-). A sorry if I didn’t manage to quite catch you… Hopefully at Christmas :-). My flight back to Australia coming around very very quickly, compared to how I felt initially after I got home, I was more than a little bit sad to get on a plane! The timing perhaps then just right, as well as the sunshine (Scotland has been colder than expected!), I am looking forward to seeing what the next chapter holds :-).

Sunshine, Sushi and Easter Fireworks

Latest realisations:

  • I really really want to eat my dad's homemade curry and a roast beef dinner. Perhaps not at the same time though…
  • That I am now calling trousers 'pants'… A little worrying for what I might say in error when I get home…
  • That apparently speaking English in a native English speaking country does not help people understand you…
  • That it's a bad ratio when your umbrella gets used more than your sunscreen…
  • I now click Australia as my home for anything I book online…
  • How much I love sunshine… 5 whole days of uninterrupted sunshine… Thank you Sydney. It has been most nice to have a break from the rain!!
  • I chose the wrong month to temp in the public sector… Two public holidays for Easter plus one for Anzac Day does not a full week of work make…

Yes Easter public holidays. Holidays that everyone who is working looks forward to and anyone working on a temporary basis wants to work… Gaining a higher base wage here as a temp in contrast to back home, here there is no holiday accrual. Back home, I had holiday accrual but a low wage… Obviously wanting to be working as many days as possible, by the time Thursday rolled round I was actually quite thankful I had a day off!!!

Making good use of these days off, throwing myself into exploring the city, spending more time with Sarah, we tried out a sushi restaurant called Kura Kura. With iPads on hand to aid the ordering process, I did my best to introduce Sarah to sushi and sashimi. Sushi a hit, sashimi not so much… A dangerous process of just tapping what you want, it was very speedy and efficient. I know for sure my sister would like the button that said 'request bill' :-). Ending our night with frozen yoghurt, I tried sweet potato yoghurt for the first time… Not too bad at all…

The sun appearing as if by magic, Sarah suggested a scenic walk that runs from Manly beach in the north to middle harbour near harbour bridge. Taking the ferry from circular quay, it was nice to appreciate Sydney's skyline in the sunshine :-). Powering up on lunch beside the sea, we were welcomed onto the 9km walk by a penguin… ;-). The walk curving along the Coast, we watched families out enjoying themselves, many people walking the track (albeit in the opposite direction which we later realised was because William and Kate were heading to Manly that afternoon!) and lots and lots of water and blue sky.

The signs causing no end of banter, we noted that we were prohibited from playing golf on the first section, then nude bathing on the second (presumably meaning we could have at the first?!) and a sign informing we that we shouldn't swim after a lot of heavy rain as it washes pollution to the shore… Fair enough. Our tired legs finishing the walk, we rewarded ourselves with a pint of cider in the Edinburgh Castle Hotel bar. Fittingly of course with missing George's, we recorded him a video. This still makes me laugh when I watch it back :-). Sarah unfortunately leaving the next day, wishing her well with her onward journey up the east coast, I think we really enjoyed each other's company :-). It was awesome to spend time with someone who you can properly talk to beyond the usual polite 'how long have you been in Australia' chat… I am very much looking forward to the Sarah, George and Jane renunion in the UK…


On a recommendation from my colleagues, I ventured to the royal Easter show with a friend from my hostel. Tickets costing $38.50 including transport to and from the regenerated Olympic Park we made sure to get our money's worth… Especially after Granma's kitchen charged us $5 for a 450ml bottle of coke… $5… Actual madness. Many agricultural stalls, food, animals and fayre rides, there were also shows on throughout the day. We both got very involved in the Australia vs New Zealand wood chopping relay… Very competitive and strangely compelling!!! Wow.

Enjoying a rodeo and a celebration of 'Australia', we were treated to a more than life size Dame Edna, Vegemite dancing to Kylie, some awesome moto tricks, an uplifting standing ovation for Olympic gold medalist swimmer Dawn Fraser and Ned Kelly dressed as Sidney Nolan. Yes really! Finishing the night with some awesome fireworks, having been not sure whether to go at all, I am really glad I did. It was an awesome way to spend Easter.

Banter of course, here are just some of the things we noted during the 9 hours we spent there:

  • There are some very pretty looking chickens. There are also some unfortunately not so pretty, very scary looking ones… One genuinely looked like predator!
  • That a man trying to fish in a tank of water filled with barramundi probably has a pretty big chance of catching a fish…
  • Parents really do need to watch their children at all times. We watched a child in the sheep pen pick up a chain and put it round his neck… Hmmm.
  • Lots of ducks and lots of hay in their cages I asked Zak what ducks ate… His response? Bread…
  • New South Wales farmers apparently produce the highest proportion of eggs in Australia
  • Cows apparently get haircuts…
  • Corn is very popular at the Easter show. Lots of corn on the cob and corn dogs, I will really have to try a corn dog some point…
  • New South Wales apparently has drinking measures called a schmiddy (halfway between middy and schooner (half pint and 3/4 pint to those back home!)) and a pony (140ml). We wondered if anybody ever genuinely walks into a bar and asks for a pony…
  • They make most of their money on soft drinks… $5 for a 450ml bottle of coke. About £3.50 my friends… I still remember the days of 79p bottles and two for £1…
  • Olympic Park holds spotless stadium. Its name, not an adjective of its condition…
  • Despite watching for an hour we still have absolutely no idea how the scores of a rodeo work…

My weekend not done quite yet, I also managed Sydney's Westfield tower. Meeting a friend I met working at the roadhouse and her sister, we looked out over Sydney's bounds. Not quite as impressive as Melbourne's eureka tower, I don't think we were high enough to see beyond the realms of Sydney's suburbs. It is a very vast, sprawling city. Always good to view a city from many perspectives though my heads up for this attraction is to book it online… You can save up to $8 off general admission and $14 for a skywalk.

Also enjoying book reading, firing through books at many a pace here (heavy, I am determined to read all the ones I've been carrying and revert to kindle), opening my next choice, 'A fortune teller told me', a very nice message on the inside cover made me smile.

Messages of travels...

I really really like that this book has a story attached… It reminds of my own unforgettable adventures. I really hope that their paths did cross again.

Post weekend, experiencing some pretty ridiculous mood shifts, feeling a bit in limbo and momentarily stuck I was nearly tempted to just get on a plane to Broome. Crying proper huge silent tears on Tuesday, just wanting to lie in bed and feel sorry for myself, I walked into my dorm to find the loveliest Irish lass who in the space of 5 minutes turned me from flying out of Sydney the next day to happy and contended again :-). Bonding bizarrely over shared experiences with powdery mildew, I actually love this girl. We’ve just clicked :-). Between her and some other awesome hostel friends, they have made me content to spend another couple of weeks here and and to find new work before I move. Finding words on a blog called 'Yoga to be kidding' they reminded that at times it is important to be still on your journey… That it is important not to be overwhelmed… Exactly how I felt when I arrived back into Sydney… A different, slower pace is sometimes important, facilitating the achievement of different goals. Achieving book reading, lightening my load, making new friends, catching up with old ones and also immersing myself in city culture, Sydney certainly has offered a different experience… It is though, still getting pretty close to needing to move on… Soon…

Til next time… 😉

George Finds Himself in an Outback Horror Movie

        OUTBACK BINGO

  • Get beeped at by a road train
  • Sarah needs to get someone to take off an item of clothing
  • Get 10 people to acknowledge us by waving or lifting a finger
  • In a roadhouse one of has to ask one of the staff what they would do if they were stuck in a lift with some cheese, a baguette and an angry badger
  • In a fuel stop we have to play tag whilst fuelling the car
  • We have to make up a story of where we are from
  • All day fashion of poll to see if we’re the only ones who haven’t heard what the irishman the night before was talking about!
  • We have to ask someone how far it is to Vienna and make them believe that we think we’re in Austria

Above, the list of things Sarah and I arrive at for our road trip back to Perth from Esperance the next morning. We also include writing predictions for each other’s 2014 and counting road trains, roadhouses and how many times the radio plays Bruno Mars! A suggestion from a friend is that we play the first person to see a camel, aeroplane, emu and a black swan in order to make the other do something. We genuinely do not see any of these items at any point on our journey…!

We choose to go via the middle road back to Perth to find wave rock, a tourist attraction just eastwards of Perth on the way. I take the first turn, beginning the 726km to Perth. Not far to go eh?! The first excitement occurs at 10.15am when we are stopped by roadworks and are acknowledged by a man wearing his hair in plaits! Another man holding a stop sign genuinely then bows in gratitude at my acknowledgement of his services! We next reach Ravensthorpe and play the first round of fuel tag :-). Running around the car it is most fun and we don’t care if people think we’re stupid :-). Quite handily a road train pulls up to which I ask for a beep ;-). He kindly gets in on the banter and obliges :-). I snap George and Sarah with a traffic cone then we find a crazy scarecrow on a motorbike! We encounter a wave hello sign which of course needs waved at! The same road train passes us and we get another beep :-). Then get stuck behind it…! We drive past a truck hanging off a mound of sand! Spied by Sarah, I genuinely miss this and have to do a u turn to go back and take a picture! Not quite sure how it got there… Maybe placed just to make the drive more interesting! We play guess the colour of the next car but have to wait quite a while! Sarah is much better at this game than I am!

We reach Hyden, the home of wave rock and of course stop to take a picture of the ‘wave rock’ sign. We are just enjoying the banter when a car pulls up on the other side of the road… Instinct goes into overdrive with it on the ‘not good’ end of the scale… This man offers to take our picture… I can’t work out if he’s thinking of stealing the camera or the car… He wants us to hold hands as he argues everyone waves… We decide we’ll join the masses and wave! I extrapolate myself quickly and get in the car, shortly followed by Sarah… We reach Wave Rock and see him eating lunch. He had been driving the other way five minutes previously…! I guide Sarah the other way and then encounter mannequins and a lace exhibition…! Of course you find that in the outback… This room freakily reminds me of the changing heads scene in Return to Oz! It genuinely feels like the beginnings of a horror movie… I actually ask Sarah if we are in one?! Sitting eating lunch on a picnic bench she decides that you don’t usually see picnic scenes in horror movies so hopefully we should be safe…!

Our feet find the wave rock walking loop. We reach steps with a wear sensible shoes sign! After laughing at people yesterday in thongs, Sarah is in thongs! We walk the rock and I capture my feet. Sarah manages to fashion a cartwheel. We are led to an attraction called the hippo’s yawn a kilometre away from the wave. Walking through cobwebs, we know we’re the first people in the day to attempt this walking… We eventually get there and are a little underwhelmed. Fine to see because we’re there but I imagine disappointing on a day trip from Perth… Back in the car, we phone the actual George and leave him a voicemail to share the banter :-).

Safely leaving without encountering act two of the horror movie, on the drive back through Hyden, we find metal figurines. We turn one on a bike into George!! We then get to see Kulin because of a road train accident closing the main road. I hope all involved are ok. Sarah’s tablet providing musical entertainment, we rotate between R&B, hip hop and 1930s music. Phantom of the opera being blasted out in the outback makes me smile then Lady Gaga’s poker face plays next :-). All the banter :-). We stop in Brookton and get more fuel. I get ice cream and encourage Sarah to ask the girl behind the counter the badger story. We have to make it an echidna instead as she does not know what a badger is! This girl responds that she would climb out the top of the lift and doesn’t say anything about the bread or cheese. Asking another friend he tells me he would feed the baguette to the echidna so it would stay away from him and he hopes the cheese is a big enough block to stand on and climb out the top! Sarah tells me this is her favourite answer in years of asking this question! I am bemused by the amount of people rushing to get out of the lift. My own answer is that I would eat the bread and cheese and put up with the badger until someone rescues me :-). I’m just patient me :-). What would you do? And more importantly, what would George do? We reach the outskirts of the city just as the sun is fading. We end the road train count at 19.38. It ends on 67. It took us nine and a half hours to get ten waves! And yes we were waving first :-). We drop the car and find a McDonalds. We didn’t quite manage everything on our list but we had a lot of good fun trying! It was awesome fun :-). I can’t wait to exchange our predictions in December next year and see what actually happened :-).

George Explores Esperance

We awake to a different background than the night previously. Darkness and stars are replaced with blue skies, water and waves. The beach literally just across the road from the hostel, Esperance's coastline stretches on for miles. Following the road east out of Esperance, we reach Cape Le Grande National Park. For an area covered in outback terrain some pretty impressive contrast is apparent. Frenchman's Peak, a 262m steep rocky climb was the first task of the day! Walking boot prepared, I put George in my bag and we begin. A warning of its steepness at the bottom, we were pretty surprised to pass girls wearing thongs! The Australian definition of thongs that is! Definitely burning off the calories from breakfast and stopping a fair few times (pretending to be checking the view of course), the hard slog to the top was definitely worth it :-). I think George got it easy ;-). We see the outback laid out in front of us, the coast surrounding it and roads winding their way through it. The girls in thongs not quite making it to the top, fair play to them for giving it a try! I enjoy a timtam and think of a certain French friend whilst at the top of a Frenchman's peak and do some more yoga ;-). Sarah, a bit more adventurous, climbs on top of a rock! George just enjoys being carried everywhere :-).

Our morning exercise completed, we drive further into the park and reach Hellfire Bay. It is a pretty windy day but Sarah is determined she's swimming! Her enthusiasm makes me smile but it now takes quite a warm temperature to get me into the water… In the back of my head I have Ray's 37 degree rule and it is definitely not that warm! I try my feet in the water. Freezing, I dare Sarah to get in! Bless her she tries hard bouncing away but it is a bit cold and choppy and unfortunately not going to happen! We move onto Thistle Cove and find another beach, a whistling rock and some good chat :-). My favourite beach is the one we reach next – Lucky Bay. Beautiful turquoise and dark blue waters merge, surrounded by rocks with only four other people enjoying the beach :-). We enjoy a subway lunch then find two kangaroos just waiting around the corner for us! Not too shabby a stop for lunch at all!

Very much a coastal town, Esperance, of course, has a tourist ocean drive. Similar to Victoria's Great Ocean Road between Melbourne and Adelaide, this one is named the Great Ocean Drive. There are many beaches to find. Too many after so many days landscape sightseeing! It helps to have George and know I will be able to distinguish in years to come! He jumps out at Blue Haven and Twilight Beach (no vampires or werewolves were found…) and we let him see the south west coast being battered by the ocean! A pretty impressive coastline I have to say. We find another western Australian pink lake, though not quite as pink or as nice as the last one I saw and take George to Wiseman St. He is a very wise man you know ;-). Back in the hostel, I sit and chill in the lounge area where some hostel residents are watching Woody Allen's 'Midnight in Paris'. This movie always makes me think of the actual George :-). It being the last night of our road trip we decide to celebrate and take George for dinner. We enjoy a very tasty meal even if it does take a long time to arrive. Stopping in at the pub on the way back, I try a new kind of beer (the legacy of the drinking challenge lives on) and Sarah and I are left in shock with the brazenness of an Irishman talking about girls. The night ends with us formulating an outback bingo game of things to do on the drive back to Perth the next day :-).

 

George Does Albany to Esperance

Free pancakes start the next day. We go driving. We take George up Mt Melville and revisit the Brig Amity in daylight. We explore the buildings nearby and learn more of Albany’s history. Until 1897 and the opening of Fremantle as a port, Albany was Western Australia’s only deep water port. It nearly became modern day Western Australia’s major port. It lost out due to the routing of mail from Albany to Perth. We learn the water surrounding Albany is called King George Sound, so named by George Vancouver. It was good to learn of its history. We take George up Mt Adelaide and load him into a cannon and have some cannon fun ourselves. On a recommendation from the visitor centre we go to Two People’s Bay. We find Little Beach for lunch. Pristine and peaceful, we sit and enjoy the moment. Buying chips and dip for lunch, neither me or Sarah can get it open. I have to enlist the help of another man on the beach with the whitest teeth and skinniest of legs! A man walks past us smiling away to himself. We wonder why he looks so happy. He disappears behind a rock. We then see a flash of pink run into the water… Is he naked we ask each other?! I walk the water’s edge. I enjoy the peaceful moment near the water. The man then emerges from the water. I can confirm he was most definitely naked! He then appears to put on swimmers after swimming?! Madness. This situation is made funnier by Sarah telling me she has a habit of random men getting naked around her!

We take George back on the road to Esperance, with me behind the wheel. The road is the same for a long part of the way but George finds a boxing kangaroo (I am still regretting that I did not stop to take a picture of this), a kangaroo sign and passes through the Fitzgerald biosphere. We pass a cyclist! Carrying a heavy load, this is not a journey I would wish to undertake on a pedal bike! George becomes a soldier in Jerramungup. A given in the outback, we have the radio for company. The words ‘premature ejaculation’ and ‘dissolves on your tongue’ provide for a lengthy giggling fit and no end of banter. We apparently venture into a radio black hole. The only station we can find is 88fm. BibleFM! George finds Jesus! We wonder how many people find Jesus on this drive! Nothing wrong with having a bible channel but when it’s the only one you can pick up… This situation lets us realise we have an mp3 socket in the car! :-). I drive most of the 480km from Albany to Esperance. I’ve travelled through the outback before but I’ve never driven it. The landscape totally blows me away. The way it changes; the way it goes on the same for so long; the vastness; the open road :-); the trees – being above them then beside them. You really do feel like you’re the only people in it :-). Sometimes you are! There is something very liberating about the open road. It is an awesome feeling :-). Definitely preferable driving than being driven :-).

We show George his first sunset. The blue skies that have followed us since Albany are replaced with stars. I love being under the stars. We reach Esperance. We rock up to our hostel a little bit tired and hungry. We are met with a pretty rude woman who seems to not know where to put us. She tells us we’re in a 24 bed dorm. I was 99% sure we had booked either a 4 or a 6. She ends up putting us in a 3 bed dorm which we have to ourselves. We are made to read the house rules and learn there is a 3 hour window for drinking. We are informed it is $10 to hire a bag of plates and cutlery and on safe return we will receive $5 back, termed refund bond on the sheet. We agree this is buying rather than hiring and on principle decide not to give this hostel our money. We have plastic cutlery and can always eat out of pots and pans. I’ve had to hire them before but in a year of travelling never paid money for them. We find this situation ridiculous and try out the local pub. We take unimpressed faces with free knives and forks. We discuss what the actual George would have done in that situation. I am pretty sure we both have the same image in our heads! We both know he wouldn’t have been happy :-). We both laugh a lot. The night ends with us hearing a boy playing jingle bells on the guitar :-). It is without a doubt one of my favourite days in Australia :-).

George Sightsees From Augusta to Albany

Back on the road the next day Sarah directs me and George to Beedlup Falls, where George ends up behind bars. They are not the most exciting waterfalls I've ever seen… We then swing through the steeply hilled Pemberton and pass through the many national parks filled with forests that cover the south west of Australia. We learn that parts of it have their own radio station! 100fm that provides information about the forest. We try to tune in but it is not the best quality… We head for the Gloucester Tree tourist attraction, a 61m large Karri tree in the Gloucester National Park. Surrounding its trunk, metal pins form a winding ladder enabling you to climb to the top. I share with Sarah that it is most definitely a good place to find a hot man with a good butt above you! George spends the nerve racking climb to the top in my back pocket. I fear he or my camera will not make it to the top! Negotiating a trunk sticking out then a nearly vertical ladder I reach the top. It is genuinely like something out of the tree canopy scene in Jurassic park 2. Wow. It is amazing above the trees. The climb down is much harder. Especially so with little legs! My 2 foot 2 rung approach up turns into a 2 foot one rung down whilst holding onto the bar above all the way back down. Legs a little bit shaky, we then drive through Jane National Park! A moment to be captured on film if ever I saw one :-). I climb on a sign and George and I become immortalised. George then needs some first aid with some tape!

Onward venturing, we reach Walpole and decide to stay. We get upgraded to a twin room for the same price as a dorm room :-). We head off to explore the area. Hilltop lookout shows us Coalmine beach. We get to Tingle Tree, one of Walpole's attractions. So named due to the type of tree rather than what happens when you touch it ;-). We find many very big trees. Many hollow. I say we have to get in the trees. Sarah notes that she keeps getting in, on and under things with George ;-). The sign for the tingle tree walking loop informs us it takes 20 mins at a brisk pace. Having not had much luck in previous days re walking tracks, I note it is 16.50 and say we're suing them if it takes any longer. It doesn't. We wander round the well laid out and signed pathways reading the info and take many pictures. We find a tree called hollowbutt. George gets snapped. Obviously. I then get Sarah's butt and George on my butt! Then do some yoga in a tree. We learn about peripatus – a living link between worms and insects. We eventually find tingle tree. The base is massive. I make George tingle by rubbing him against it. We walk back discussing the merits of lookouts and paths. Got a lookout? Nope. Got a pathway? Nope. Team building in Walpole will show you how to do it :-). On the drive back we stop at Delaney lookout. The view shows us Nornalup inlet – a large lake, on the south coast. The view is awesome. A definite worthy stop on a SW road trip. It might just be one of my favourites :-). George then feels the sand beneath his shoulders on Coalmine beach :-). We return and take George by the YHA 'Tingle all the way' sign :-). We drink some Margaret River wine agreeing that most definitely did not buy enough…!

The next day, the theme of trees continues with the first thing on the agenda a tree top walk called the Valley of the Giants. George finds a bouncy bridge. We comment they should name the trees to make it a bit more interactive then stumble across one called Grandma Tingle. Whilst me and Sarah are a bit underwhelmed, George is proud of his tree top walk and buys himself a hat and a 'I walked above Giants' sign. Back on the road, on the South Coast highway, George becomes Conspicuous George at the beautiful Conspicuous Cliffs. We then go in search of elephant rocks and a green pool in William Bay. We walk down to the beach. The rocks are slippery and I fall and graze my arm. Luckily George and camera stay safe. We diverge from the highway, following the scenic drive on McLeod Road in order to find a cheese factory. We find one that enables us to taste some :-). Very tasty! The next town we reach is called Denmark. We are not sure if the actual George has been to Denmark, but he has now! He's gone global! Denmark has a quirky, peaceful, easy feeling and some of the nicest public toilets I have found in Australia. I like it :-).

Torndirrup National Park just further south from Albany and on Sarah’s list, we take a scenic detour. We mind the gap (a ferocious battering of the coastline by the sea between two tall rocks) and find a rocky natural bridge. George finds another lighthouse on Cable Beach and then some blowholes that don't blow… He traverses the world finding Vancouver lookout then becomes French in Frenchman's Bay. Filled with bricks, it makes for some interesting photos. The main road into Albany taking us along the waterfront, it lets us see Albany from afar. Built up into the hills, sprawling sidewards, with water in front, it very much reminds of Hobart in Tasmania. With a chill in the air as we wander through it, it very much feels like I'm actually back there! We climb aboard the Brig Amity boat. Now settled in Albany, it brought the first European settlers to Australia. We get on the cannon, steer the wheel and take an amazingly unplanned photo of George on top of Sarah's body! Much banter occurs. We take George to the pub and relax listening to the sounds of a band called Southern Exposure and watch a man dancing on the dance floor. Back in the hostel, the night ends with me left dumbfounded when a man asks some French hostel residents singing quite happily along to Edith Piaf to switch it off whilst someone is drilling in the kitchen… I know what I would rather listen to…! It has been an awesome introduction. Albany has a very good feel about it. I like it a lot. I think I could quite happily live there :-).