Wednesday, August 28, 2013

I booked time in an Australian jail - my trip must be going well !!!

Well some of you may or may not know that I keep a 'Bucket List,' a list of over 100 things I want to do before I die, and I truly try and do as many as I can. Well what is NOT on the list is booking time in an Australian jail....or more specifically watch house. Well that is exactly what I did end up doing... at the Old Melbourne Gaol.

Alright, so that my grandma doesn't have a heart attack... I'll drop the facade. I went to the Old Melbourne Gaol on a tour, and I did actually book time because part of the tour includes getting a fake ID and as you pass through the jail, they treat you like a prisoner, yelling at you, locking you up, etc. Why would I put myself in that situation, some of you may ask? Cause it was fun!!

 This jail just closed in 1994, after opening its doors in 1845. It was the site of 133 hangings, and held men, women, and children within its cell blocks. It was also the famous place were Australian legend Ned Kelly was hung (never heard of him?: ). It was eerie being in a place that is supposedly haunted and closed its doors within my lifetime. Rightfully so; the jail guard said that on her first day giving a tour, a man participated, and during the time when she yells at you and "checks you for weapons," he freaked out and started harassing her and getting pissed off. Come to find out he was somebody who had spent time on the inside of this jail, and was NOT happy about the feeling coming back to him, and he was taking out his emotions on this lady by nearly attacking her. Sounds like nightmare material to me. 

The place itself is very interesting; one of the most interesting parts was the heads.

These heads were casts made out of the just-hung heads of the prisoners. There were used to study phrenology; measuring craniums and such to understand criminal behavior. It was an eerie but interesting sight. What do you think of them?
From the outside, courtyard
The main cell block
Getting locked up!

The tour was interesting indeed, definitely worth checking out. The gems of Melbourne continue to come out.....

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Just a "normal" day in Australia!!!!


I just spent one of my most amazing spring breaks in the remote rainforest of Australia. What is Kristin Melody's idea of an amazing spring break, you ask? No it is not a drunken crawl through Cancun or catching up on the TV show "Teen Mom"; it was surrounded by natural beauty, zip lining through the Daintree rainforest canopy, being surrounded by toxic plants and animals, lovely hippies, lovely hippie parties and live music, having no cell reception or internet, beer, laying on the pristine beaches of Australia, seeing my best friend, and experiencing the overwhelming beauty of the great barrier reef.

Australia is big, as in virtually the size of the contiguous United States. If all you think of when you think of Australia is Sydney and the Outback, than you are sorely missing some highlights. That would be like only knowing the states for Los Angeles and The Rockies. This spring break gave me an opportunity to go explore some other parts of Australia besides Melbourne because my best friend is coincidentally here and working in Australia at the same time.

Where 2% of Australia's population lives: map by e8odie on Reddit
I headed up to the northeastern state of Queensland, towards the northern most tip of Australia (Cape York). After arriving to Cairns, which is a very popular vacation destination for Aussies, and having the best fish n' chips I've ever had (below) and watching an amazing sunset... I met up with Julie, my best friend since the 4th grade.

Let my vacation within my vacation begin

Friends another country...again.

After cruising around Cairns, we began our road trip up to Cape Tribulation. On the way we were graced with absolutely gorgeous views of the coastline, friendly faces, and stops of absolutely beautiful beaches (like Palm Cove and Coconut Beach). It felt amazing to have the sun beating down on me, and perfect 75 degree weather after nearly two months in chilly and windy Melbourne. On the trip, you must cross the fairy to get to Cape Tribulation, and once you do it becomes another world because it is the Daintree National Rainforest. Cape Tribulation is a very small secluded town in the middle of this rainforest (the 2006 census showed a population of 101); this is where Julie lives and works at Jungle Surfing canopy tours and Ocean Safari reef trips.

Where I got to stay for 10 days.... living THE LIFE!

Looks horrible, right? Gosh it was rough.

We stayed at this closed down house/cafe/restaurant/art gallery that we were watching for a friend. The rainforest is all around you, the sounds of it are louder than you think but soothing all the same. With those sounds comes all sorts of critters and insects (yes, all of you that asked me about spiders, this is where they are). In my time in Cape Trib, I saw: large creepy spiders (!), black snake (about half of black snakes are poisonous), pythons, kangaroos, tree kangaroo (only about 300 left in the world), goana lizard (lace monitor), the famous cassowary (an emu like creature, about 1,200 left in the world), countless smaller lizards, cockatoos, cane toad (a slight poisonous and invasive toad), sea eagle (not that is not a joke...and no I do not mean seagull), countless other birds, and probably many more things that I didn't even realize I was seeing.

Just a normal day in Queensland, Australia
This spider was larger in length than my entire hand

That is a mould killer bottle....nothing is safe up here!

The invasive, destructive, and highly reproductive cane toad

That is a bug....not a yes it is a stick bug

This was the kangaroo that had an affection for scratching his balls

So yes, Australia is full of these kinds of things, but you just kind of get used to it after awhile....after awhile you don't even continue to worry about it because if you leave them alone, they leave you alone. I was lucky enough to come in this "winter" month (read: dry, non-muggy month) and have spectacular weather with clear skies and hot weather. I was also fortunate enough to miss the marine dangers that are usually present. At this time of year, there are no deadly box jellyfish in the water, the crocodiles are keeping themselves, and the sting rays aren't too bad, and lucky enough, the beach here is absolutely beautiful. So I laid on the beach every day for either 20 minutes or 2 hours. I had to be careful though because, you know, I'm white, and you know I burn, and Australia has a damaged ozone so the sun is much much stronger here.

This was only part of my trip there in Cape Tribulation. My next blog will be a detailed description of my zip lining, canopy experience, and the great barrier reef..... until next time, CHEERS!

If anybody can guess what kind of burger this is, I will send them a postcard.


Saturday, August 3, 2013

One month in, and the flair of Oz is coming out

Possum's Plastering : "Get plastered with us"

Earlier this week, I passed my 1 month anniversary here in Australia. What a nonstop whirlwind it has been, full of something to do everyday and every night. I'm finally feeling like I know where I am, have my bearings, and have gotten so used to things that I sometimes forget I'm in Australia. But some things keep you grounded here, remind you that you are down unda.   

I was walking around Camberwell, and found this..... um, that baby toy has no head. Does that classify as recycling?

Australia: The land where they drive on the left side, line dry their clothes and dishes, constantly say 'no worries,' vegemite and nutella are indeed everywhere, they don't drink Fosters, they almost never call each other by their first name, and they are genuinely nice people.

"Sagittarius: Cheerful, Enthusiastic, Generous"

Australia: Where everything is abbreviated like breakfast is brekkie, arvo is afternoon, and chocolate is choco. They add a 'u' into labor, color, neighbour and tons of other words. They call you Sheila and Mate all the time,

Australia: A place with great names for places like Warnnambool, Gippsland, Dandenong, Geelong, Great Otway, Ningaloo, Woolloomooloo, Lilly Pilly Gully Circuit. (Thanks Holly)

This is a perfectly acceptable city name.