Greetings from Australia!

Greetings from Australia! I’ve been here for something like four days (I say “something like” because the time travel thing that happens when you cross the International Date Line is still confusing me), and I just love it.

Anne and I are in Melbourne, which I’ve found to be an absoulutely wonderful city. My sample size is very small, but every Australian I’ve encountered since I’ve been here has been friendly, kind, and generally awesome. The food is fantastic, and the city itself is beautiful.

When I’m not rehearsing for Thursday’s performance at the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Anne and I have been exploring the city. Yesterday, we made music by dancing around in front of a giant theremin, walked up and down about a dozen alleys (I think they call them “laneways” or something like that, here) that were covered with all sorts of gorgeous street art, and ate a pizza that was covered with nutella, strawberries, and slivered almonds. If you’d told me three days ago that I would eat that on purpose, I would have told you that you were crazy. If you’d bet me a million dollars that I’d actually enjoy it, I’d now be in your debt for the rest of my life.

So, yanno, build the time machine, meet me in Melbourne last Sunday, and start planning to make enough money from me to fund the construction of your time machine.

Hey, did I ever tell you about the time I helped build that time machine?

Restaurants I’ve fallen in love with: Cookie in the central business district, and The Local Taphouse in St. Kilda. Food I’ve fallen in love with: all of it, especially baked beans on toast for breakfast. And even though Anne wants to kill Vegemite with fire, I’m starting to like a thin smear of it on toast with honey or marmalade.

In case you’re here in Melbourne: come to the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra on Thursday for Video Games Unplugged: Symphony of Legends. It’s going to be amazing. Then, come to Supanova this weekend!

The weather has been nasty and cold, but it’s supposed to start turning around today, just in time for us to go to Brisbane on Monday. I’m super excited to have a few days to myself on the Gold Coast before Supanova happens there, a week from Saturday.

… I just realized that I haven’t yet listened to Men At Work or INXS in the original Australian, so I think I should go do that before I go to rehearsal.

Question for Locals (in Melbourne and Gold Coast): Can you suggest a “must see”, “must do” and warn me off of “not worth your time” activities? Anne and I like to get away from touristy things and find places that locals enjoy.

123 thoughts on “Greetings from Australia!”

  1. I’ll have to agree with watching some Footy (slang term for Aussie Rules Football). I’ve only watched it on TV, but it is thoroughly entertaining Sportsball to see. Then again, I’ve never been lucky enough to go to Australia yet :(

  2. Where to start…
    +1 for Vegemite and Avocado! It’s AWESOME!
    What to do in (and around) SE Qld.
    I don’t like the Gold Coast much – as noted by others it is a tourist trap – sort of a cross between Orlando, Miami & Las Vegas, but there are some things worth seeing/doing.
    Go to the beach for an early morning swim – you don’t need to (and shouldn’t!) go in very deep, but as long as you get your head under at some stage it’s the best way to start the day!
    Also, go to one of the wildlife sanctuary’s – either Currumbin, Lone Pine or Australia Zoo (Nth of Brisbane).
    Byron Bay is a nice little drive – check out the light house for a great view!
    Eating out.
    I second Tukka in Brisbane’s West End – it’s a must do as they have both the animals on our National coat of arms (Emu and Kangaroo), as well as Crocodile on the menu. I seem to remember that you don’t eat meat though??? I think you are allowed to while travelling -isn’t that one of the rules?
    If you do fancy a steak, you should try to get to the Breakfast Creek Hotel (lunch or dinner) for a feed! You have to order right at the kitchen and you can even select your own piece of meat (if you want to) as they are all displayed (under glass) in front of you. Very Carnivorous!
    At a minimum I say hire a car and get away from the GC if you can – either North or South you will have a good time either way. If you make it to Brisbane (and have time) the City Cat (River Ferry) is a must do! Let me know if you want a local guide as I’d be glad to come for a ferry ride – I’ve been promising the kids we’d do it again…
    I’d offer to be your guide for your entire stay but I’ve got a work trip myself starting Monday and I’m NOT prepared! 8^)

  3. Aw, man, I loved Melbourne! It’s been… phew! Ten years since I visited, while on a choir tour, and aren’t Australians the friendliest people?
    We learned so many things there. Like that the only thing nastier than Vegemite is Musk Flavored Life Savors. That Tim Tam Slams are awesome. That if you pour sugar into ginger beer, you get an interesting result. That “to root” has quite a different meaning to Aussies. That kangaroos are as much a nuisance to them as deer are to us. And that Aussies think living in a land full of poisonous bugs & other creatures isn’t as scary as living in Tornado Alley.
    I still have my kangaroo-leather hat…

  4. Welcome to Australia, Wil – it’s great to hear you’re enjoying it! I used to live in Melbourne and it’s awesome to “see” it for the first time again through your eyes.
    Must recommend Brunswick Street – Vegie Bar for the eats, Bimbo for drinks/eats (namely the lamb/rocket/pinenut pizza), and The Fitz (upstairs) + Little Creatures for drinks. ACMI at Fed Square is also an awesome little hang, especially if there’s an exhibition on.
    See you bright and early tomorrow morning at Supanova!! :-)

  5. Glad to hear you are loving Melbourne. You’d be running out of time now, but if you come back to Melbourne (which I hope you do), check out Hanging Rock, and even the Grampians. Lots of beautiful wildlife around.

  6. When your on the Gold Coast mate check out some of the theme parks here. Movieworld, Sea World and Dreamworld are the better ones, it’s a bit cold for the water themed ones.
    There’s some nice antique shops, “artsy” shops and what not, (if thats your thing..) up on Tambourine Mt.
    There’s also Timezone in Surfers paradise, it’s a big video games arcade with dodgem cars and lazer skirmish as well, Surfers itself is a bit of a tourist trap and getting to be a bit on the dodgy side in regards to night life and restaurants, Broadbeach near the convention centre has some fantastic places to eat and have a quite drink.
    If you do decide to come to Movieworld shoot me a tweet I’d be more than happy to show you around :D
    Have fun for the rest of you Aus trip :)

  7. Hi Wil,
    Hope you have an awesome time in Australia.A few suggestions for when you’re in BrisVegas:
    Mana Bar in Brunswick St Fortitude Valley.Owned by gaming critic Ben Yahtzee Croshaw(Zero Punctuation),it’s a gaming bar.You can drink beer AND play games.There’s also one in Melbourne.Nerd Nirvana!
    Shingle Inn.Used to be an historic eatery,now a licensed franchise.They still have awesome chocolate cake though.
    Mt Coot-tha: snuggle with Mrs Wheaton and look at the city lights.Very pretty.
    The Hinterland:the pretty bit between Brissie and Surfers.As said,avoid Surfers,it’s a tacky tourist trap.
    New Farm Park-gorgeous historic park with lots of flowers,greenery,old style pagodas and a coffee shop.
    The Old Windmill
    Brisbane’s oldest building,built in 1820.It’s got a pretty creepy past you might find interesting.
    Fortitude Valley Markets/Brisbane’s China Town-great food & you can pick up a bargain.
    Bulimba-lots of nice eateries on the Brisbane River.Take a Citycat ferry to get around the city.
    Southbank-collection of eateries/play areas/walkways on an artificial beach on Brisbane River.Was built on the remnants of the Expo 88 site.Nice place just to wander & watch the passing parade.
    Have a great time! I so wish I could go to Supernova this year!
    pps:Kraft make a Vegemite/cheese combo called Cheesybite.It’s awesome & milder than 100% pure Vegemite.
    Have you tried Tim Tams yet?

  8. If you want to see Brisbane, catch a CityCat (high speed ferry) and go for a run along the Brisbane river.
    There is also the Story Bridge Climb, and you can do a walk outside the M1 building on the Gold Coast (Look for the tallest building along the beach).
    If you can get to the Sunshine Coast (North of Brisbane) you can goto Australia Zoo (Steve Erwins place) and see how many things can kill you in Australia.

  9. While you were away, we christened this in Loudoun county, Virginia, where my last vote in office as an elected member of the board of supervisors was to approve it:

    The off-ramp leads to the offices of Orbital Sciences Corp., which is a very cool outfit. How cool? They asked for their road to get this name…

  10. And a little follow-up, maybe sufficiently related to justify it:

    The space shuttle “Discovery,” atop its carrier 747, with a T-38 escort, as it departs to the southwest having just flown over my house in Loudoun county, Virginia, minutes before its final landing at Dulles International Airport.

  11. Thank you so much for signing my copy of Happiest Days… it made the 10 hour drive to Melbourne so worth it! Well your reaction made it worth it the signing was icing on the cake!
    Thanks again
    B

  12. So, knowing your next stop involves Calgary, Alberta,Canada, there are many a cool things here too! Long ago my husband and I offered a friendly Guiness should you ever come to town, the offer still stands!

  13. Wil: do take in an AFL game if you can, and while you’re doing that I will be back here in Canada watching the Canucks thoroughly trample the Kings tonight.
    Anne: ‘Kill vegemite with fire’ just made you my new favorite person. That stuff is nasty!
    If we work together we can beat this evil.
    I simply need you to gather all the vegemite in Oz and I will swing by with a destroyer (or a flame thrower; technically I am in the Army, not Navy) and we can take care of this once and for all!

  14. Two weeks since an update. I have come to the conclusion that you were eaten by dingos.
    Rest in peace, Wil.
    Cue Great Circle music from Lion King or some such.

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