Sunday, February 26, 2012

Death Cab for Cutie

Carl texted me some weeks ago asking about getting tickets to see Death Cab For Cutie for their second Melbourne gig, and although I have just one of their many albums, I am always up for being a gig buddy and discovering new music!

I met him and his mate Simon in Fed Square, before we walked down to the Carlton Club for drinks on their balcony, after a walk through the graffiti art on Hosier Lane. I also introduced Carlos to the institution that is dumplings in Chinatown in Melbourne, at Shanghai Dumplings. Always good!

We got to the Palace just as Dappled Cities had started, having seen them at Harvest and being keen to see them again live. They played a fun set of their indie rock, although didn't seen to quite capture the crowd as much as they did at Harvest from our vantage point.

Death Cab For Cutie arrived on stage without much fanfare, and launched into their set filled with songs from all seven albums, much to the delight of Carl!

Having a bra thrown at him as he started the second song of the evening, Gibbard was an engaging lead, chatting and held the crowd's attention throughout the evening. Switching between guitar and roaming around the front of the stage, to the commanding position behind the piano at the back of the stage, he led each song throughout the 2 hour set.

A long intro into I Will Possess Your Heart and the epic Transatlanticism at the end of the encore and night, were set highlights, and this performance and Carl's musical commentary, I will certainly have to check out more of their albums! It's pretty cool to see a band with someone who is so into them!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Cockatoo Island and the Island Bar

Last Sunday in Sydney was a glorious sunny day, perfect for a Sunday Session overlooking the Harbour. Some research by Jessie found the Island Bar, located out on Cockatoo Island.

So after a touristy brunch along Darling Harbour, we caught a ferry out to the island, and walked through the buildings and sites showing the history of the convict prison and working shipping docks of the island. Once back to the city side of the island, we spotted Belinda arriving from a ferry from the rocks above, and so we headed to the Island Bar as it was opening at 12.30pm.

The 7 of us took a table in the shade, and we looked out to the Harbour with the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney skyline laid out in front of us. With sailboats gliding around in the water, and the bar filling, this place is gorgeous!

As the rest of the crew needed to make the dash to the airport for an earlier flight, B and I took up a couple of deckchairs under an umbrella and savoured the view, the sunshine and this amazing spot for a drink for the rest of the afternoon.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Zumbo Treats

Over our weekend we set out to visit the Zumbo Patisserie a couple of times, to sample the much coveted treats of Adriano Zumbo. Having The Star within walking distance from our hotel made this all together possible!

Trying to ignore the fact that we were frequenting a casino, our first visit to the Cafe Court was like walking into a wonderland, with all the sparkle of the decor and the beautiful foods on display. Having lunch, we savoured the trip to the end of the Court, and to Zumbo, for last.

Peeking into the window at the desserts on display in the science-lab like pedestals, and then venturing inside to marvel at the "In Case Of Emergency Break Glass" cases of Zumborons in all their colour and flavour combinations was enough to make our little group of six "grown-ups" act like 5 year olds in a candy store. I mean, that's the point, right!?

While the others each deliberated over a super crazy dessert choice, my focus was on the Zumborons, as I had never had any before! Careful selections of flavours was needed, although at just $2.50 each I am sure I could have grabbed all I could carry! So reasonable!

On that first visit, as I watched the others struggle to consume such a massive sugar-hit in one sitting, I sampled the Watermelon with Orange ganache, and the Musk Stick Zumboron macarons.

Belinda and I returned on Sunday as I was preparing to dash to the airport and home, and I picked up a Raspberry Caramel and the Lime and Mint Mojito, and B added the Milo to the sampled selections. I haven't yet heard how the Milo was, but the Mojito was lovely and a very different confectionery treat flavour combination, but my favourite was the Musk Stick, which was a taste explosion just like it's namesake! Yum!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


On Saturday night in Sydney we went and experienced one of the meal of our lives. We totally splashed out, and dined at Est.

Our aim was to soak up the experience of a three hatted restaurant, and with the popularity of Masterchef over the last few years, we have a better knowledge of some of these places and the chefs behind them. Confirming our booking during the day, we were reminded that we had booked back in October - our anticipation had been building since then!

All dressed up, we took a taxi and arrived at the Establishment building, before being transported upstairs by the lift and door greeter. On arrival to Level 1, the six of us were shown to our table, with a sweeping view of the room for half of us, and a mirrored version for the other side of the table.

The head waiter gave us an overview of the menu, even though we had been pouring over it for weeks and had discussed at length our choice of the Tasting Menu, and the sommelier fussed over pre-dinner drinks.

Once our order was taken, with the matched wine option confirmed, we were served our Dom PĂ©rignon to match our entree of Tartare Scallop with Preserved Lemon and Nasturtium Soup. The arrival of the dish to the table had a procession of 6 waiters, all perfectly choreographed to place a plate at each place, and then pour the soup. Magical!

Our next entrees included Lobster Claw, with green peas, mini radish, and black truffle vinaigrette, followed then by Ocean Trout with shaved abalone and ginger, presented perfectly. Upon landing, each dish was facing the same around the table, with the tiny eatable and decorative viola with the claw, the eye-catching detail. Then the Roasted Duck Foie Gras, which I hadn't had before, which was delicious with the flavour combinations on the plate!

I chose the Pan Roasted Lamb Rib Eye, with fresh ricotta and pickled lamb’s tripe - another culinary first for me! I was a bit nervous about the tripe, and wondered about my choice as most others picked the Venison, but was happy with my decision in the end.

The room was filled, and then with some turn over, there was just the right amount of smooth hustle around the tables. Surely there were regulars to this amazing type of dining, whilst the six of us tried to contain our wide eyed excitement and delight throughout the night!

Rhubarb Sorbet, with cucumber and Hendricks gin gel was served as the palate cleanser, before Jessie and I had selected the Passionfruit Souffle over the Cannoli for dessert, much to the menu envy of the rest of the table! This fluffy, melt-in-your-mouth dish of heaven was to die for! We were pretty pleased with our choice!

After coffees and tea, and little chocolates to finish, we marveled at the wines that were carefully selected, presented and explained at the start of each of the 7 courses, and loved the feeling of attention from the staff all night. They certainly made this decadent night even more special.

At the end of our 5 hour feast, we glided out of the restaurant on a high. Encountering two people in the lift coming down from the cocktail bar above, they smelled of booze, which seemed so very far away from the experience we had just had. Spat out of the lift on the ground floor was an assault with the pumping music and rowdy drinking Saturday night - definitely not a match for our evening, so we walked back to our hotel marveling at the meal of our lives!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


Seeing Roxette live has been a dream of my sisters and I for many, many years. I think this is a band that binds us, across our 7 year age span, as the band that most brings us together for impromptu singalongs, and memories of car trips and video clips on Rage as kids. So when their first Australian concert date in some 17 years was announced for Sydney back in October, a massive weekend was planned around this very opportunity! And what a weekend, and gig, it was!

The anticipation built all day, as it had all week really, and we made our way to Tokio Hotel along Cockle Bay Wharf for per-concert drinks. The four sisters, plus Heath, Hemant, Kelly and Belinda all endured the tunes of this bar before requesting a Roxette song, and loved that half the bar squealed in delight!

Once we got to the Sydney Entertainment Centre, we were informed that the support act, 1927, had finished, having started at the time we assumed was for doors. Oops! And after listening to their tracks on You Tube and discovering that we knew quite a few!

As we took our floor seats, the atmosphere was buzzing inside the venue. When the group behind us sat down we joked with them about whether they were ready for a night of dancing...and were not convinced that they were. But we certainly were, given we had flown up for this show and waited for years for our chance to see them in action!

As the room darkened and then Marie and Per entered the stage, the crowd went wild! Opening with Dressed For Success was a huge start, being a favourite of...well, of everyone's, right?

To be honest, the vocal sound for this opening number was not strong, and I am not sure if the sound guys let Marie down, or whether she took a few bars to warm up, but the crowd carried the song for the start of it, as a room filled with voices who knew every word. Which was pretty amazing!

Hit after hit was then delivered for the next 2 hours, with songs like Sleeping In My Car, and The Big L interspersed with a couple of new tracks. Taking us back 25 years, and to Hollywood, Marie introduced the massive It Must Have Been Love, which again had the whole room singing.

After that initial shaky start, Marie and her amazing voice did not look back, and put in a brilliant performance for the night. She was engaging with the crowd, and her and Per looked like there were seriously having a great time throughout the show. I kept thinking what an absolute inspiration it is to have her even here with us, doing what she does, given her battle with a brain tumour and subsequent treatment and recovery for all those years. So incredible!

The second half of the show seemed to just throw down massive song after massive song, with Fading Like A Flower, Crash! Boom! Bang!, How Do You Do, Dangerous and Joyride all in a row, making this such a fun all dancing, all singing show! We had such a great time! Ha!

The first encore featured Spending My Time and Listen To Your Heart, as the crowd erupted with appreciation of this Swedish duo and their amazing band.

The second encore felt like a thank you and farewell, with a very energetic The Look and then the Church Of Your Heart to finish. Wow, what a night!

(Additional photos here)

Monday, February 20, 2012

Harry Potter: The Exhibition

Part of my amazing Sydney weekend was a visit to Harry Potter: The Exhibition at The Powerhouse Museum, and wander into the magic of the props of the movies that bought these books to the screen.

I had invited myself to this outing with Jess and little Evie, with Nan and Heather and her little one, but thanks to a cancelled flight up to Sydney the night before, I arrived at the Powerhouse as they had finished their visit. But nonetheless, I got to see Jess for a quick hi, and then wandered in under Mr Weasley's enchanted flying car in the foyer to the check out the exhibit.

Ushered in to the dark entryway, and held until there was a group, we were taken into the first room where a live announcer was pacing in costume to introduce what was ahead for us. Our witch also then asked for a volunteer, and one timid kiddie in the group got to sit under the Sorting Hat and be nominated into a Hogwarts House. Once this was demonstrated, and Gryffindor was the choice for the brave, a few more kids were happy to volunteer for such an activity!

The next room gave you a reminder through film-grabs of the journey of Harry and his mates at Hogwarts, plus all the amazing and the scary people he encounters through his schooling, before you reached the room with all the movie artifacts.

This is really well set up, as you walk through early school days at Hogwarts and Harry's school uniform, his and Ron's beds, and then a spattering of teachers and their signature items and outfits.

One of the most amazing parts of this experience for me was the comparison of the outfits Harry, Ron and Hermione wore in the first films, with the grown up sizes for the more recent chapters - we have certainly watched these 3 actors grow up from little school kids, to adults, through these movies!

You can pull up a screaming Mandrake in Herbology class, and throw a Quaffle in the Quiddich area. Plus, you get to walk into Hagrid's hut, complete with a quivering dragon egg on the table. But the little details from the books and movies are the special treats of this walk through the exhibit - takes you back to your vision from your first read!

There are boxes of Skivving Snackboxes, Ron's Howler from his Mum, the moving and animated picture frames along some of the walls, and Dobby is there, as well as pieces from Wizard Chess. The costumes of the Dementor and Voldemort's faces are pretty fear inducing, even still, so be warned! The Great Hall and the floating candles are there, but not as magical as that scene in the movie - my favourite part!

There is timed entry on each ticket, and runs for another month, with off-peak prices during the weekday making it more accessible. Plus, the last part of the exhibit was the merch shop where kids were getting wands and House scarves. Totally worth a visit if you are in Sydney, and a Harry Potter fan!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Australian Ex-Prisoners of War Memorial

The Ballarat Botanical Gardens is the home of The Australian Ex-Prisoners of War Memorial, which catches my eye every time I walk around Lake Wendouree.

The memorial is 170 meters long, and the wall has almost 35,000 names listed, commemorating those Australian servicemen and women who have been a Prisoner of War in conflicts from the Boer War to the World Wars, to the Korean War. These names were complied by the Ballarat RSL and volunteers in the region, growing out of a group of survivors who met on a regular basis wanting to mark the hardship and sacrifice their fallen brothers and sisters made in conflicts around the world.

In place here since 2004, according to the Ballarat Accommodation and Tourism Directory site:
The POW monuments' design uses the basic idea of a journey through and an experience of time and place. The start of the pathway is long and straight heading off into the shape of railway sleepers, a reference to the Burma Railway. Running parallel to the pathway is a polished black granite wall, 130m long etched with the names of all the Australian POW's. Standing in a reflective pool are huge basalt obelisks up to 4.5m high will the names of the POW camps. The columns are out of reach and across the water symbolizing that all the POW camps were away from Australian shores. Further on there is another wall with the words Lest we Forget engraved, allowing for an area of contemplation and reflection after the "journey".

The mere volume of names, spanning the length of the Memorial, is overwhelming. It also includes a section on the wall for the addition of further names, as details are located, researched and confirmed.

Walking along the Memorial without many people around, the design feels meaningful, and so I had to look it up! The reverence with the placement, layout and design is impressive, to incorporate so much significance, and has made this section of the Gardens an important memorial for all of Australia.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Lantern At Belfast Town Hall

A gorgeous lantern around the outside fence of the beautiful Belfast Town Hall. I have been reminded by the date that this time last year I was on my week long trip to Ireland for a wedding, which included my day trip to Belfast.

The Belfast Town Hall is an impressive building, and these lanterns are lit as the light or weather get gloomy, as it was on my visit.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

My A to Z of Travel

My itching feet and aching wanderlust has me reading a lot of travel blogs at the moment, and so I have been reading many, many versions of the ABC of Travel meme. I first read it here, and thought I too would delve into my travel back catalogue, for a post.

A: Age you made your first international trip
When I was in high school, Mum took the whole family on our first overseas trip, being a visit to the USA, to go to Disneyland! So I was just 14! We went to the touristy things in LA, like the Rodeo Drive city tour, Universal Studios, and a couple of days at Disneyland, but we also made a day trip down to Tijuana, Mexico, which was a real eye-opener for us all.

B: Best (foreign) beer you’ve had and where
You cannot really beat Guinness from the tap, poured within range of the brewery, and I was taken to Mulligan’s in Dublin by some (amazing) locals. They says it’s the pub with the best tap Guinness anywhere, and who am I to argue with their extensive research!

C: Cuisine (Favourite)
My favourite food from all around the world, and the one I have out-of-the-blue cravings for, is the Fish Amok in Cambodia. Made in such different ways around the country, this curry fish dish baked and served in a banana leaf is the goodness of the ‘bodge!

I have recently found a recipe posted online, which sounds pretty spot on. Although I would rather just go to Phnom Penh again, and have it there again!

D: Destinations. Favourite. Least Favourite. Why.
My favourite (Top 5) city destinations have included New York City, Tokyo, Rome, London and Phnom Penh. NYC, Tokyo and London for all the amazing things a big, big city has to offer - so much going on, all the time, so many different neighbourhoods to explore. Rome for the history, and the big city elements. Hard not to love a place with the Colosseum! And then Phnom Penh will always have my heart, after living and working there for 6 months.
These 5 will most likely always have repeat visits for me, whenever I can include them in a trip.

My favourite little town destination is Luang Prabang, in Laos. This is where I would be if I ever wanted to run away and disappear from the world! Such a lovely little tucked away place!

I guess Ho Chi Minh would rank as my least favourite place, if I had to choose one, only because it was just a larger, busier, dirtier version of Phnom Pehn when I lived there, and crossed the border for a weekend visit.

E: Event you experienced that made you say ‘Wow’
The ANZAC Dawn Service at Gallipoli comes to mind immediately here. Such a reverent experience to be part of, and mark the spirit and loss of those fallen soldiers at Gallipoli, but to also mark the contribution of Aussie Defence personnel in all battles, past and present.

F: Favourite mode of transportation
It’s hard to beat train travel in all forms, including the tube in London and the various Metros across Europe. Of course, the ultimate trip was the train across Russia, Mongolia and into China on the Vodka Train. The changing scenes out the windows, the people met and fun had onboard, the stops along the way. This is really one of those life experiences to be savored! But then even the simplest pleasure of a sunrise in the mountains on a train also makes this mode magical. Train, hands down!

G: Greatest feeling while travelling
I love the feeling of freedom, and the knowledge that I can work out how to get around within any culture on my own, that travel gives you. This was highlighted to me in my recent trip to Sri Lanka, and figuring out how to get back to Colombo from Galle all on my own - after a long time off the travel trails! Reminded me of all the things I love about travel, and experiencing real life out there in a different country.

H: Hottest place I’ve travelled to
Sri Lanka wins for this question as well. The hottest I have ever been is sitting in the stands in the sun at the Sinhalese Sports Club Ground in Colombo in 2004 for the test match between Sri Lanka and Australia. So, so hot! The only saving grace was the service of beers in our seats, by the Lion Man with a keg on his back.

I: Incredible service you’ve experienced and where
Having pina coladas delivered to us while we were swimming in the ocean at Playa Ancon, in Trinidad de Cuba will always be the most amazing hospitality service I have ever experienced. Loved it!

J: Journey that took you the longest
The train from Russia to China took us 3 weeks, albeit with many stops along the way. The longest single journey would be my flight over the top of the world, from Bangkok to New York City, being 17 and a half hours.

K: Keepsake from your travels
I started buying an ugly, sticky-out magnet from the places I visited in my early days of travel, as a bit of a piss-take gift for Mum. Now this trend has really taken off with my sisters and I, and Mum now has a fridge full of amazing, hideous magnets from all corners of the globe. The bigger, most sticky-outy, and uglier, the better! I think Mum has not cottoned on to the aim of this little gift purchase now, and takes it all with a grain of salt. But now I think it's actually a bit of a work of art!

I also buy the occasional art or artifact or replica piece from different places, if it catches my eye, with the vision that when I grow up I will have a house filled with amazing things from my travels. My plate from Turkey is one such thing.

L: Let down sight. Why and where?
I think there is certainly something I have seen and thought "is that it?", but totally can't think of anything specific...

M: Moment where you fell in love with travel
I think despite all my trips beforehand, to the USA mainly, my 6 months in Cambodia definitely ignited my wanderlust. The experience of emerging yourself in a city, a culture, a language (although, not very well!), and spending time with locals from such different life experiences was a real turning point for me in terms of a wish to see and do so much more.

N: Nicest hotel you’ve stayed in
I splashed out on a hotel in Bangkok after a month of travel. I don't recall offhand what it was called, but was a 5 star with all the trimming. This was a treat for the last night, before heading home. But with all the poshness of it, I arrived into the lobby a filthy, bedraggled backpacker after a day of hard travel.

I had left the beach of Sihanoukville in Cambodia that morning on the back of a moto to the Thai border. During this ride the sky opened up, delivering a torrential downpour that soaked me to the skin. Which included my passport in my back pocket. Once the rain stopped, the sun returned to bake me for the last little bit before the border crossing, and then I took a local bus for the rest of the journey to Bangkok.

I remember being horrified that a porter was going to carry my dusty, soggy backpack for me after check in, that I insisted on carrying it myself up to my room. I am far from a 5-star traveller! I did enjoy the rooftop pool, though, and the full breakfast buffet!

O: Obsession. What are you obsessed with taking pictures of while travelling?
Looking through all my photos from my years of travelling, it seems light fixtures, lamps and lanterns feature heavily. I will usually use them as a frame to capture the place I am exploring, and go out of my way to have them in the photo. I had done this fairly unconsciously, although it has amassed a pretty amazing collection!

This one is taken along the canals of Venice, on our weekend trip from London, back in 2006. So pretty!

P: Passport stamps. How many and from where?
Being an Aussie means you get a chance to work on filling your passport pages with a new stamp almost everytime you leave the country; I guess a reward for the distance you usually have to travel to get anywhere!

So, those are the stamps from my second passport ever. In my current one I have 10 stamps.

Q: Quirkiest attraction you’ve visited and where
Weird, political or topical, art, is something I seek out when I travel. The Aussie Big Things on roadtrips here in Australia has been become a bit of a quest, and then our trek to see all the art installations in Prague.

This is the Big Oyster, from our Nullarbor roadtrip, which is located in Ceduna, South Australia.

R: Recommended sight, event, or experience
A White Xmas! So, so magical, for someone from the Southern Hemisphere. Our visit to Sweden, and that falling snow on Xmas Day will always be one of the most amazing travel moments for me!

S: Splurge. Something you have no problem forking over for while travelling
I will always try and cram in all the things I want to see in a trip, and will pay accordingly to not skip somewhere just cos of the cost. I remember making a splash in my budget to include the Plain of Jars on my 10 day trip to Laos. We also laid out a bit of cash to see the Terracotta Warriors in China...a point of ridicule now, given that we missed the train that would get us there, by 3 minutes!

T: Touristy thing you’ve done
I do them all, as many as I can manage. I don't really understand going somewhere and not seeing or experiencing that place's claim to fame. Would the ball drop on NYE in NYC count as the MOST touristy?

U: Unforgettable travel memory
Seeing in the Millennium in New Orleans was one of the greatest NYEs ever!

V: Visas. How many of them and for where
Well, in the photo collage above of my old, expired and full passport I have my J1 Working Holiday vise from the USA, several entry and exit visas before the actual Multiple Entry Visa that let me work in Cambodia for 6 months, a couple of full page entry visas into Vietnam, and then my UK 2 year Working Holiday.

In my crisp, new little blue book, I have full page visas for Russia, Mongolia and China, after the Vodka Train. So 12 all up!

W: Wine, best glass while travelling and where
I like wine, and I like to drink it, but I am no expert. I would have to say the South African wines in the Stellenbosch region here, but to be fair our winery tour was a very big day, and I certainly could name any wines or rank any for your recommendations! Great day though, with some spectacular views!

X: eXcellent view and from where
I don't think you can beat the view of the Melbourne skyline coming into view through an airline window, after a long trip away. Will always be home to matter how far, nor for how long I roam!

Y: Years spent travelling
I would say 12 years here, since I set off on my working holiday to Nashville during our Summer of 1999-2000.

Z: Zealous sports fans and where
Despite being a massive sports fan myself, and spending a lot of time with a bunch of like-minded sports fans all around the world, I think the Barmy Army has to get the vote for the most zealous and most impressive sports fans. Their humour, their tenacity regardless of how the English team are going on the field, is to be admired.

Wow, those are some great memories!

Saturday, February 04, 2012


On Wednesday night, Jessie and I went along to the beautiful Palais Theatre to see Feist in her Laneway Sideshow, and her first live show for the year (as she told us during the set).

We had dinner at the relocated and revamped Soul Mama, before taking our front row Lounge seats for the support act. Soul Mama's has changed it's concept from amazing veggie buffet thali-style meal selection, to a regular menu - so we chose a couple of dishes from the Starters menu in order to recapture what was great about this place. Our choices were very good, so the taste hasn't left the building, even if the original concept has!

Mountain Man was the opening act, a three part all-girl harmonising folk band from the US. With soaring voices, and enchanting lyrics and chatter between songs, this band captured the attention of the people who had got there early. Opening lines of Wuthering Heights

Leslie Feist come out with her 3 part band, and the Mountain Man girls as her backing vocals. The details created on stage were pretty impressive, in addition to Feist's effortless vocal range, plus the use of lighting on the stage totally added to the music played.

Opening with a cluster of songs from her 2011 release, Metals, including How Come You Never Go There and the violin-sounds of A Commotion, she then dipped into her earlier material, before giving us one of my favourites, The Circle Married The Line.

A set delivering awe in vocals, it did seem to lack some energy before the turning point of the night during My Moon My Man. Two people at the front of the stage jumped up and started dancing, before being asked to move along and sit back down again by the over-zealous ushers. Leslie saw this, and moved to the front of the stage, without missing a beat on her guitar, to dance with and encourage them. This lifted the energy in the vast room perceptibly, with many more standing and dancing down on the floor. I Feel It All was then a much more powerful number than it would have been, if it were not for those brave punters at the front.

The beautiful The Bad In Each Other was just before Honey, Honey, tapping into the 2007 album release. The haunting Comfort Me was done solo, and thus the crowd pitched in with the 'oh oh oh, oh' parts, which was such a lovely moment.

Coming back out for an encore, Cicadas and Gulls with the 3 Mountain Man girls was amazing, before the cover of Sealion.

Coming out for a second encore, the anticipation for Feist's biggest song was high, but she gave us Intuition instead. This floaty track was lovely, and the crowd again joining in a whispered 'did I, did I' was magical...but left us with that longing feeling for 1234 as we walked down the stairs and out of the venue at the end.

Friday, February 03, 2012

Australia Day

On Australia Day this year I did not don the flag, nor the green and gold, because I just don’t know what to think or feel about Australia Day anymore. I feel such conflict about the day, and the vibe about the day around the nation. I mean, what is it that we are celebrating?

It has seemed to have evolved into a day where bogans get their bogan on, by draping themselves with the flag, cape style. People, who I suspect also had reindeer antlers on their cars in the lead up to Xmas, have two flags positioned on their car windows.

What is Happy Australia Day really saying?

I don’t for a second consider myself unpatriotic. I’m anything but! I go to great lengths, and spend a lot of time and money, to support our cricket team and tennis players, and our musical talents, around the world and at home. I go out of my way to see Aussie movies, the good and the bad. I love all the amazing things that being Australian means: freedom to be who you want to be, the opportunities, the freedom to travel, the access to education, clean drinking water to wash our cars, and the possibility to work at owning a house and all that.

But I am constantly disappointed by the ‘Us v Them’ theme that continues in this country, throughout the generations. The “We’re Full” sentiments, the anti-asylum seekers and immigrants theme that fills people's dialogue and the press pages, the racial tensions and hatreds, the ignorance of each other in our community. The neglect and bigotry towards our Indigenous population. The blatant absence of tolerance.

Celebrating Australia Day, in it’s current form, seems to snub our multicultural richness, which is one of the elements that makes our country so great. But it also disregards the presence of our Indigenous brothers and sisters in such a bold and heartless manner. The day commemorates white settlers arrival on Australian soil, heralded as the birth of our nation. An annual stab in the chest for the millions of years of Indigenous culture and habitation upon the very same land. We are celebrating the Invasion Day, as it is often referred to.

I actually think this dilemma, rather than any issues with the monarchy or Queen Lizzie, et al, should be the antecedent for us to become a republic. To become our own nation, our own identity, as a whole nation, a whole people. We need to work through all this racial angst and identity crisis, this multi-culturalism mishmash and segregation, and the undercurrent of hate and distrust for anyone not deemed “Australian”. But we also need to do this to once and for all accept our Indigenous history, and our Indigenous people. Acceptance, unity.

Until this disgraceful blight on our integrated culture is mended, it will be Hottest 100 Day for me.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Radelaide Test '12

The Adelaide test match every summer is always an amazing trip, probably due to the fact that so many interstate cricket fans converge on the City of Churches for a crazy week away. It's a great catch up test, with so many of the crew from Waving The Flag and it's many past tours running amuck!

Being our destination for our roadtrip, we were well warmed up to check into Sheila HQ, at the Oaks Embassy on North Terrace. Jess, B and I went to get supplies on the first night, and in the heat and the blocks of walking required, sampled a few pubs and beers, between our grocery shopping. Having our shopping trolley nicked when we were in having a beer meant we needed a taxi for the last leg...oops!

Day 1 at the beautiful Adelaide Oval had us parked on the Clem Hill, in the shade for the first session. One of the world's pretty venues to watch cricket, this test may indeed have been the last year the Oval will get this title, with major redevelopment ahead for the ground to transform it back into an AFL venue. Shame.

Taking advantage of Member's Tickets for the middle session, B, Jess and I fled from the sun and heat, and took shelter behind the stands at the Pimm's tent area. Watching the middle order continue some great form for the Summer, Punter and Clarke finished the day seeking 150s each, and we headed for a night of drinking at the Queen's Head in North Adelaide.

Chick Pink Day on Day 2 saw the Hill peppered with Flagger Sheilas in their shirts, and allowed us to see Aussie Captain and former Captain clock 150 and then 200 each, in two stellar innings.

Having stood for both double centuries, with Lunch dividing them, we then once again sought the shade of the Member's and refreshing jugs of Pimm's. Radelaide is so hot, and last week was no exception! As the shade crept back over the Hill, we returned again for the last half of the final session as India was sent in to bat after an Aussie declaration at 7/604.

Australia Day fell on Day 3, and with a much bigger crowd, we have Kim to thank for ensuring we all had a little spot on the Hill for the day. We arrived just in time for the Indian anthem, being their Republic Day, and then the Australian anthem, before the start of play.

With the radio playing Triple J's Hottest 100 in my ear, 2 early wickets took away the option of it being Tendulkar's Day. Another very hot day, once the shade disappeared from our patch of grass I escaped to the shade of the Member's stand to see Kohli get his maiden century, Siddle bag a 5 wicket haul, and to hear two back-to-back Boy and Bear songs in the countdown. What a great day!

This night was the Blender Party back at Sheila HQ, and our little apartment was filled in ebbs and flows of people, as the blender produced technicolor alcoholic concoctions all night. With the tennis on the TV, and then final songs of the countdown, it was a big night as always.

So much so that I took a rest day for Day 4, and listened to bits and pieces on the radio, willing it not to end on the day I was incapacitated! I seem to always need a day off for a test match these days!

As luck would have it, Day 5 started with Australia needing just 4 wickets to claim the series against India in a whitewash. This too just under an hour, with 10,000 people there to watch the Aussie's affirm their return to form.

We ended the day with a tram trip down to Glenelg for celebration drinks and lunch at a pub along the beach. Radelaide put on the gorgeous weather for a walk down along the water, before we headed back into town. A great 5 days, as always, and a sensational 289 run victory for Australia.
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