Thursday, December 28, 2006

Boxing Day Test

Early Tuesday morning, Melissa, Clinton, Jessica and I set off from Ballarat for Melbourne ready for the Boxing Day Test at the MCG. My first time back in Melbourne since being back, and the test was set with the intrigue of Warne's 700th test wicket on the cards.

Drissle delayed play, and eventually saw the anthems abondoned, before play started. Seeing S.K.'s 700th...well, being there at least, was very special - especially given his announcement of his retirement. I say being there - at the crucial moment Clinton had something very important to say, apparently, and I missed the actual ball...dorks!

A few very dirty reds at the cricket (very dirty! Eww!), and then drinks after play at the Kingston in Richmond for a catch up with some of the Waving The Flag crew, the Ruygs and the Reids.

Day 2 saw the weather better, a little, but some slow cricket to weather some mild hangovers. Catching up with Ash from the lunch break, and then finally Hayden and Symonds got started - and the cricket was all good again. Drinks at the Transport Bar at Fed Square, which was very busy, but quite fun.

Today we have watched The Smashes kick on, with an Ashes match all over in 3 days. Quite sad seeing Warne, and McGrath saying goodbye to the crowd...and maybe a few more of that team today also.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Home For Christmas

Merry Christmas!

I have spent my day today home with the family, with two very large and yummy meals. Up for breakfast and the family gift exchange, and then lunch. We popped out to our Aunt and Uncle's for afternoon tea, to catch up with the extended nfamily - with grown boys and a new baby. Dinner at home with the six of us.

It seems many people have been writing to Santa for rain here in Victoria, with rain on and off for most of the last few days, and hail today. It's actually very cold, and we have had the heater on! It may have been the same temperature here as in London after all!

The week leading up to Xmas has been rest and recovery for me. Trivia at The Bended Elbow with Katie and Clarkie, which turned into a large night...

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Winning The Smashes

One night stop on the final leg of the roadtrip, and a very early driving start, and we made it to Perth and the WACA for the first ball for the others who had tickets for that day. I took our 4WD back, and then made my out to meet Charmaine, who is staying in Perth at the moment and sweet enough to let me stay with her.

Charmas and I caught up for the day, having not seen each other for around 2 years, with a late lunch in Leederville, and then drinks and the view of the city from King's Park as the sun was setting behind us. I met Pascal, and we then drove back home via the beach for a view of the sun sinking into the sea.

Thursday being Day Two, and one of the days I had tickets for, I headed into town on the train, and then rode the free bus service in Perth, which took me to the WACA. This is the first time I have been to the WACA, and with the match looking interesting after a shaky day for the Aussies the day before, I set myself up on the East hill for the day's play. At the tea breck, I meet Miss Laura's dad, who took me into the Member's Enclosure for the final session, and a few heavies. Out to Cottesloe and the Ocean Beach Hotel after the day's play for drinks and a late dinner, with another great sunset over the beach.

The next day, Day 3 was a day I also did not have tickets for, however with the traveling group a pass was found through Matty J. Was great to see him, and sit with him for the day in the Member's Enclosure, on a VIP Guest Pass of Mr Breett Lee's. Whilst I was under the shade for the day, the players and the rest of the crowd baked in a 41C day - however it turned out to be an exciting day of cricket, with centries from Hussey, Clarke, and the second fastest century ever by Gilchrist. After play, a group of us walked down along the river Swan and a late dinner, before a quiet drink at the Barmy Army HQ, The Lucky Shag. We had made the bold statement that this would be out last dinner before we won the Ashes...

Charmaine joined me and the Chicks on Tour girls, and Dave, on Day 4 for a rather slow days' play. Certainly not the day we had anticipated, the Poms dug in, and held on till the last hour...and then several wickets fell in quick succession to set the final day up for our win.

And what a win! Labelled The Smashes early on, the Aussies managed to win back The Ashes yesterday, 3-0. A very exciting day, and one that seems to have righted the world again! Celebratory drinks at The Royal was had by a rather large group of Waving The Flag travelers.

Several of us were then driven out to the airport (thanks Charmas and Pascal!) to get respective red eye flights home. I arrived into Melbourne at 6.30am this morning, feeling a little worse for wear. I have managed to have a job interview and stay awake so for, but am in for some much needed rest before we do it all again!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Monkey Magic

After getting ready to set off yesterday, amongst tired and sore heads, we eventually discovered that the 4WD was not going to start. Several calls later, and a full battery recharge, and we were finally on our way again after a few hours layover.

Further driving down Highway One, we drove through the Tropic of Capricorn around 1pm, and then reached the western most town in Australia, Denham, in the late afternoon. We then made our way our to beautiful Monkey Mia, checked into our campsite, and headed to the Monkey Bar for much craved beers and dinner, upon a backdrop of sunset and blue and pretty Sharks Bay.

This morning we amazingly rose early to head down to the interaction area to view and feed the dolphins. The pod of dolphins that came in this morning included a week and a half old baby with it's mother, and we had the treat of watching them swim around, and the little guy frollick about in the shallow water.

Two feeds we watched, and I was picked at random to hand feed one of the dolphins in the second session. These sessions are completely dolpin led, with their regular arrival the key to the event. In the space of an hour we saw the first swim and feed, and then saw the pod return with mother and baby shortly after for another. So beautiful.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Highway 1, 12 Hour Drive

After picking up our Britz 4WD with all it's gear for our trip, we hit the road early out of Broome, onto Highway 1 and a long drive ahead. Headed to Karinjini National Park as our first stop on this road trip, born for me at a backyard BBQ in Tooting, London, Tom, Dave, Belinda and I absorbed the desert landscape for many hours as the kilometers passed us by.

We arrived at our campsite on the outskirts of the National Park just before sunset, which gave us time to figure out how the rooftop tent worked, and cook up a BBQ for dinner. Beneath more stars than I have ever seen, we spent our first night here.

Up and packed up early again, we entered the Karinjini National Park and arrived at the Vistors Centre at opening time. We walked through this centre, with the Aboriginal story behind the land around us, before heading to Orer Lookout, where Karinjini's three gorges converge. Beautiful site, with the red slate, green in the trees, and blue sky above.

We made the climb down into Hancock's Gorge, for one of the most beautiful and breathtaking swims I have ever experienced. Just spectacular.

Later we drove around to the Fortescue Falls, for another swim in the lagoon at the base of the falls, before heading to make up camp before sunset again. Another BBQ, a camp visit by a green snake, who slithered through, before I night of gazing at the spectacular view of the sky and the network of stars hanging above. No light, no sounds around in this basic camp, the show was on in the sky.

Yesterday, we drove the 6 hours out of the park, with a stop at Tom Price for refueling and a long awaited bathroom stop (!!), before hitting the unsealed road out of the Kimberley area. Around 5pm we reached gorgeous Coral Bay, for a hard earned swim.

Drinks at last, after several dry days, we had a beer and dinner night at the Ningaloo Reef Resort. Today we have had a lie in, and spent the day at the beach - me baking, and the lads catching tonight's dinner!

We have been without phone coverage for these last few days, and out of contact with much of the world too....mission accomplished! Amazing!

Thursday, December 07, 2006


Our smallish plane touched down at Broome airport early on Wednesday evening, and walking off the plane onto the tarmac, we were met with the blanket of humidity instantly! We walked to our accommodation, the Kimberley Klub, and checked in.

We headed across to Cable Beach and the Sunset Bar to enjoy beers while watching the sun melt into the sea....very pretty! Palm tress, white stretch of beach, and the bar on the hilltop overseeing it all. A few camel trains walked past us as we had dinner, under the stars.

Today we have had a lie in, before exploring the one street raging metropolis that is central Broome. A beer to replace some of the liquid lost in that half hour walk, we stoped at the "Roe" on the main street, before finding our way to the Matso's Broome Brewery for drinks and an amazing lunch. Overlooking the blue, blue sea of Roebuck Bay, we sampled the beer on tap, and the local fish offerings.

A swim at our hotel pool, and then just hanging about in hammocks was the call for this afternoon, before heading out to Cable Beach again in time for a walk along the edge of the Indian Ocean.

Drinks and dinner enblazed by the sunset, we planned the next days drive...we set off tomorrow morning!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Greatest Win Ever

How good was the win yesterday!!?? I am still reeling, just thinking about it! The drama, the Fat Man working his magic, and then Hussey batting like a superstar!! Was so awesome, and amaing to be there at the Adelaide Oval yesterday.

Monday, being Day Four of the Adelaide test, was the day Charles and I didn't have tickets for...but that was solved swiftly by Bumbles, and we were set. Another day in the sun on the hill. The scene was set for a most likely draw.

Yesterday, we had actually contemplated going down to the Barossa for a wine tour instead of the cricket, given the likelihood of a drawn match...lucky for us, that plan was not acted upon! A breakfast at one of the pubs near the YHA also provided a lift to the ground, and we settled in for Day Five on the hill, and for a bumper day of cricket.

Warne was in brilliant form, the beer flowed, the suncreen was slathered on at a continuous rate...and the hope for the English innings to be over just in time for Tea was granted! And it was game on.

The run chase was exciting from the first boundary from Alfie, and the Australian mood, and determination to get the tally of 168, was shown. Punter and Hussey were the men of the hour, clinching the match.

The group was aloft on the hill, with the greatest win bringing the Ashes to a 2-0 lead...and the urn that much closer to coming back to it's rightful home.

Needless to say, a boozy celebration in a pub in Adelaide city ensued, to mark the victory.

Dave, Tom, Belinda and I have amazingly made our first flight of two today, and are recovering in Perth airport on a four hour layover. Tired, and feeling a little seedy, it was all very, very worth it!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Adelaide Oval

Arriving in Adelaide late on Thursday night on a full flight, with only about four females on board, there were early indications of a huge week's play here. A taxi into town to find the Adelaide Central YHA, I caught up with Tom. Interrupted sleep with the lads coming in at all hours, again, the signs were there on the first night!

Day One at the pretty Adelaide Oval for the second installment of the Ashes battle, Dave, Belinda, Tom, Charles and I set up camp on the hill....for a slow, dull day of English batting. Drinks at the end of play to cure a dull day, at the Woolshed, with the girls from the Waving the Flag tours, and several of that crew.

Saturday saw another slow day of cricket, on the hill drinking half strength XXXX, and England batting. Collingwood's double century and KP in good knock put England on top.....but in boring, boring fashion.

After a power nap, Charles took us to the Grace Emily pub after some great Thai, for a gig. We saw Anthony Atkinson, over many Coopers Red. He was great, and the night turned into a rather large one for the four of us.

Today, amazingly, I made it to the cricket for the first ball, unlike the rest of the crew. However, I did manage to sleep for most of the first session, sitting up only to watch the replays of the wickets falling. The English lads around me helpfully let me know it wasn't actually worth that much effort! Not the best session for the Aussies, nor for me! I did make it there, though!

The hangover cleared, and I settled in to watch Punter score another respectable, but clearly disappointing for him, total, and Hussey also to bat well, for the day. Although playing for a draw is never as good as the real deal!

This evening I have managed to have a thirst quenching stop on the way back from the cricket with Dave, and then dinner at the much raved Italian place on Hinkley Street. The pasta was very good, and also the wine. We ended up dining on the table across from Pigeon and Bing, who must eat there every night when in Adelaide. Binga looked very good!! But perhaps McGrath needs to cut down on the bruchetta consumption!!
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