G'day, mates!

I'm writing this on Friday morning, my last day in Australia. I arrived in Melbourne late the night before last, so I only have yesterday and today to see the city. Not much time at all, but I'm doing well. I hooked up with my friend Lisa, who I originally met when we both landed in the same hostel in Salzburg. She toured me around through rain and wind to show me the sites. Tucked in corners of most neighborhoods are tiny (only one story) little brick Victorian rowhouses - which are darling! We also saw some much larger houses in the wealthy neighborhoods. Unlike Perth, the mansions here (usually) have a great sense of style.

I rode the Ghan from Alice to Melbourne, approximately a 30 hour train ride. It was very enjoyable, in part because I went first class. Athens Rally
Athens Rally
I had my own cabin, just slightly bigger than a coffin. On the first leg I spent much time in the lounge car with a boisterous group of Aussies up from Sydney. At other times I retired to my cabin and listened to all the music I've bought on a Discman I checked out from the lounge. It was very relaxing, and I wished the trip had gone longer.

Most of my week was in the Alice. I sampled local foods. Barrimundi, a local fish, is fantastic. I've also had a lot of camel. I want to stop right here and dispel the rumors that kangaroo tastes like chicken. That is just not true. It tastes like Wallaby.

I went out one night with some Germans who were in my hostel. We agreed that the beer in Australia is not to our taste (heck, I was happy when it had any taste at all), so I usually stuck to wine. To be fair, I have no idea which beers to order, so I may well have passed over the ones for me. In any case, we ended up at Bojangles, a mix of local pub and tourist saloon. We were befriended by some local biker dudes. The more they drank, the chattier they got. I was stuck translating into German, though I could only hear every few words over the soft rock cover band. The good news, is that the German woman was able to pick up swing dancing on the fly, so I was able to get a couple dances in. They are anxious for me to visit in Bavaria, so I am already saving my pennies...

Athens Rally
I went on a sunset camel ride, which was a hoot. They sound exactly like Chewbacca when they are fussy. Mine was named Greyhound, as he was a flunked out race camel. It was fabulous! After a less than stellar experience riding horses several years ago (wherein my guide ended up breaking her leg), I was not sure about climbing on another beast. I'm glad I did! They are very friendly, and very comfortable. Athens Rally

Speaking of friendly, the Kangaroos outside my window greeted me most mornings by peering in, hoping I had food. We would get nose to nose against the screen and check each other out. As soon as they realized I had no snacks, though, their interest waned.

Last night I went dancing in Melbourne. What a great scene!!! The energy was fantastic. We don't need to discuss the bit about my jumping into a woman's birthday jam as a follow and then slipping in front of everyone. She was a good sport, but I'm a weak follow to begin with, and the disco lights kept me dizzy throughout!

This evening I visit the local Getty Images office and see what life is like for them over here. They will be celebrating the departure of a couple of employees, so I am showing up just in time for drinks. Doesn't sound too different from Fremont, actually!

My professional life also came into play at Alice's internet cafe, which was having printer problems. I did my Tech support thing and exposed a security hole in their system in the process.

I'm running out of time, and have barely touched the surface. I didn't even mention playing the digeridoo, the fabulous landscapes of Palm Valley and King's Canyon, or driving my 4WD through the desert (note to parents: 140 km/h is about 35 mph - really!), so you'll just have to catch me when I'm back. Which is Saturday, by the way.

See you all soon!