A Travellerspoint blog

The most traumatic day of our lives



Today we lost a true friend. A stalwart performer in the arenas of beauty and grace. Yes today was the day we had to wave goodbye to Yvonne.

She had been in the fixer on and off for about three weeks and it reached the point where she was becoming a little dangerous to drive. There was one notable occasion where Rach was driving her through the busy streets of Fitzroy at night when everything cut out. And everything means everything; the engine, the brake lights, the headlights, the hazard lights, even the clock. Luckily Alex was right behind her in another vehicle so there was no chance of a pile up. Sadly two days ago we had to make a heart wrenching choice and decided that there was very little point in wasting good money, attempting to fix her and decided to throw in the towel. This was sad on two levels as not only have we had to say goodbye to a loving companion it also means that we’ve gotten rid of our transport for travelling in Australia and so will have to very quickly find another way to do it.

So today, with heavy hearts, we wheeled her out onto the road and dialled the scrappers number. We watched with tears heavy in our eyes as she was strapped to the truck and as she was pulled off, her wheels turning for one last time we said a couple of words;

May your spark plugs forever ignite the fiery passion of your heart,
May your wheels spin forevermore on the smooth black roads of eternity,
May your fuel gauge never hit empty as you patrol the glistening tar of heaven,
May your headlights twinkle like stars in the night sky, providing illumination for others,
May your oil never leak, you windscreen wipers always swish and your fan never stop,
You have lived a wonderful long life and you will be missed,
But in the face of it all we shall endeavour to remember the good times we had with you,
May you rest in peace.

In her memory here is a few pictures of the short time we shared with her.


Rex’s Rules of the Road

  • There will never be another car as special as Yvonne.
  • Cars are people too!

Posted by rexontheroad 13:10 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Everybody needs good neighbours

End of work, Neighbours tour and Libby Kennedy


It’s been four days since Rach retired from her job and she still hasn’t quite recovered. Back to sitting round the house, with only books and freezing temperatures to keep her company it’s been a hard few days. Thursday was her last day at work due to the incredibly annoying restrictions of the Australian Working Holiday Visa only allowing you to work for one company for a total of six months. It was a very busy day as it was her last day with her replacement, and her final chance to pass on as much knowledge as she could. Rach had already had her goodbye meal earlier in the week with everyone in the office but they had a few last surprises for her final day. There was a surprise afternoon tea where everyone gathered round for drinks and cake. The staff were really nice and got her some leaving presents; a USB stick (which she’d requested for her travels), a travel-guide to South-East Asia and best of all, tickets for the Neighbours tour! She was absolutely delighted as this was a set she had always wanted to visit as Neighbours was a favourite programme in her family household.

Today was the lucky day and it was everything that she hoped. We arrived in the city centre early as the tour started at 8.30am and we met our Irish tour guide called Jerry. It was a forty-five minute drive out to the set but he was the perfect host, regaling us with Neighbours stories all the way and we found out many secrets and funny facts. Our first stop was the outdoor sets where structures such as Grease-monkeys, the mechanics and the bus-stop are. He let us in on one of the filming techniques used to utlise the space by pointing out doors that had stickers on to represent the school, and the doors about ten metres to the left that had other stickers to represent the hospital. All of a sudden it hit us just how much TV shows trick us. It’s all lies!

Next stop was Ramsay Street itself. It is actually a lot smaller then it looks in real life but no less glorious. Rach excitedly ran from house to house saying “This is where the Sculley’s lived”, and “This is the Kennedy house.” Jerry provided us with Ramsay Street signs to pose with as surprisingly the real-life street isn’t actually called this. It took a while for Jerry to gather us all back in the mini-bus and he only managed it by dropping the name of the star we would be meeting today; Libby Kennedy!


We were driven back to the Neighbours tour base when Libby came walking through the door. In person she looks incredibly different from her character as she’s actually left the programme now so could finally cut off her Libby hair. She happily answered lots of questions, revealed quite a bit about her personal life (odd) and then posed for pics and gave us her autograph. Unfortunately despite all Rach’s wishing Karl Kennedy didn’t appear and so after saying goodbye to the lovely Libby we headed off for some souvenir shopping. Rach couldn’t have asked for a better goodbye gift.


Rex’s Rules of the Road

  • That pesky Australian Working Holiday Visa means you’ll only be able to work for the same company for six months so don’t get too attached.
  • For any neighbours fan doing a set tour is fantastic. There are two options; the first is to meet a star, the second is to go around the indoor sets. For us meeting the star was the preferable (and cheaper) option.
  • The real Ramsay street now has twenty-four security following some streakers and some climbing enthusiasts who managed to get on top of Harold's house so don’t get any funny ideas.
  • Read Rach's review of the Neighbours tour here.

Posted by rexontheroad 20:25 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

I predict an earthquake

Shakes, stuffed animals and a painful experience


So Rach managed to brave her way through a 5.3 Richter earthquake and come out the other side unscathed! In reality what this meant was that when she was at home the house windows suddenly shook and the floor vibrated; the after-tremors of an earthquake in Victoria. Alex didn’t have to go through this as he was playing rugby at the time and was completely oblivious to any earthquake, probably because there was enough ground movement already with all the overweight men running around. Still we thought we’d put it in because how often do you get to experience an earthquake?

Two days ago, with thoughts of natural disaster far from our minds, we found ourselves in the lobby of the Melbourne Museum for the third time, having already been inside once previously and only completed one quarter of it. The second visit was when we came across the screaming kids (What a state this library is in!) and decided to turn away. So we thought we would wait until we visited again and combine the two proper visits into one blog.

On our first visit we only managed to complete one exhibition hall, or around one quarter of the total museum space. The part we did manage to finish was the natural history hall and it was incredible. It covered every aspect of the globes formation, the creatures living on it and the processes and changes everything goes through as the world spins on. There were massive dinosaur skeletons, a giant squid, jellyfish, fish, every kind of creature that was in some way interesting, interactive displays, a whole room of model/stuffed animals, a 3D experience, quizzes and a whole lot more. We were keen to try out some more of the museum once we had finished making our way through this bit, however we decided to go on a tour of the museum and get a professional view on some of the displays.

So we hung around in the lobby and just as the tour was five minutes past due a lovely gentleman came over and asked if we were looking to do the tour. After this initial display of confidence however things took a sharp downhill turn. For starters we were the only people on the tour and it soon became obvious that it was either his first tour or he wasn’t very good, or quite possibly both. We felt really embarrassed for him as he was fumbling around a lot, mucking up with his notes and misreading signs. So much so that we stuck it out for nearly two hours till he had finished, even getting ourselves through a mortifying experience when he dropped his cheat sheets on the floor and had to scrabble around picking them up. We had both internally debated helping him out at this point but we decided to feign polite ignorance so as to make him think we had missed it entirely. At the ends our hearts sank as he asked us what we thought of the tour and neither of us had the courage to tell him the truth about his many mistakes or awful leading style so we went with the standard cover-up phrase; “Yeah it was alright.”

Sadly this tour and our unwillingness to leave him to it meant that the rest of our time had been used up in the museum and so we had to come back again. So two days ago we re-entered the vast, information filled halls and dived straight in. We ran straight up the stairs to the human section which dealt with biological, psychological, evolutionary and social issues. It was really interesting and once again all the displays were incredible. We then decided to give the gardens a go as we had briefly touched on them in our disastrous tour and they looked good. We spent a little while going from plaque to plaque amidst the rain forest ooing and ahhing at the turtles and fish before moving on to the History of Melbourne section. This was a great place that had loads of info about the development of Melbourne and even some true scale buildings from when it was first created. There were interactive cinemas and even a 3D display detailing the growth of the urban area. Best of all though was the section of coursework in various disciplines by VCE students (seventeen and eighteen year olds). There was art, film, design, photography, architecture, textiles, product development and all of it was first class. We had a brilliant time and spent so long here that it was probably a lucky thing that the last exhibition hall was closed as there was no way we could have included this into our trip as well. Sadly it won’t be open during our time in Oz and so this was our last trip to the great Melbourne Museum.


Rex’s Rules of the Road

  • Melbourne Museum is brilliant, aside from the tours, we couldn’t recommend it more.
  • As you may have already gathered from the fact that it took us two visits to cover there is a huge amount on display at the museum and if we’d wanted to we could have even had another visit to go through everything thoroughly.
  • It isn't just snakes and spiders you have to worry about in Oz, they have earthquakes too! Some can be very dangerous but for the most part all it will be is a little ground movement and window shaking.
  • Check out Rach's tripadvisor review of Melbourne Museum here.

Posted by rexontheroad 22:38 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

What a state this library is in!

Failed attempts, history of the written word and lots of books


On a quick side note we were just looking over our blog views because, to be honest, we're a bit vain. But anyway we noticed that the blog Penguin porn has become a true rising star shooting to number three on our most viewed blogs. What have you dirty buggers been googling?!

Well today started off as a bit of an epic fail. After having made our way into Melbourne city centre we ambled along to Melbourne museum, hoping to spend the day there, only to swivel on our heels on sighting the huge queue winding its way out of the front doors. Turned out we’d picked a school holiday to go on. Strike one. Neither of us fancied the prospect of being surrounded by screaming kids for an entire day so we set off for another on our to-do list the Victoria Police Museum. It took us a while to find it and the bumbling about; not knowing where we were going, was just the prelude, setting us up for failure number two. This was because it turns out that the Victoria Police Museum, in its infinite wisdom, is only open during working hours during the week. Strike two.

Luckily our to-do list still remains quite lengthy and so we were able to pick a third and hopefully final selection, if not we’d agreed to head home. On arriving at the entrance to the State Library of Victoria the adage, third time lucky, proved to be the one to follow as it was open. More than this there were several exhibitions going on and so we delved straight in. It was eerily quiet for the number of people there but then it was a library so only to be expected. We checked out some of the permanent art exhibitions that they have on display on the first floor that we weren’t too impressed with and after quickly breezing through this part we then moved on to the more impressive main reading room. It is a massive octagon that stretches up five stories surrounded on all sides by book-shelved balconies. The floor plan was nice too with long rows of old fashioned desks stretching out from the central hub toward each of the eight corners of the room. And to top it all off was the magnificent dome crowning the entire room letting the light stream in. Hopefully the picture below gives some idea of what it was like.


We then made our way up to some of the temporary exhibitions on the second floor where we quickly perused a section called “The Changing Face of Victoria”. Quick mainly because it was a rehash of what we had already seen in the old gaol (A day in the cells) and other historical places that we’d visited in Melbourne. After this brief glance we then made our way into an exhibition titled “The Journey of the Book”. It was a brilliant exhibition detailing the use of books throughout the history of the written word and their evolution alongside the needs of men both in intellectual environments and for entertainment. We had a great time strolling along the balconies, with the views of the main reading room to one side and the exhibition the other.

There was so much information to take in that by the end of the exhibition both of us had sadly stopped our usual museum technique of reading everything in sight and were instead only speed reading and stopping only on those bits that we found interesting. It still went on and by the end none of it was interesting as our brains were crammed and eventually we had to call it a day and make our way home, our craniums fit to burst. It was still a really good place to go and best of all free. The exhibition would have been good to spread across two days and now we’re sat at home, slightly recovered, we regret not having called it quits earlier and gone back another day.

Rex’s Rules of the Road

  • There is so much to do in Melbourne, so never fear if your original plans go awry, you can ad lib your way through the day if necessary.
  • State Library of Victoria is a great place to spend an afternoon, or if you check out the exhibitions before hand, maybe even an entire day.
  • Watch out for school holidays to ensure you don’t get mobbed by an amorphous, screaming mass of kids.
  • Check out Rach's Tripadvisor review here.

Posted by rexontheroad 22:02 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Check out the ringing on these waves

Bells beach, double wetties and a great day out


Today Rach took Alex on a surprise day out. He had absolutely no idea what was going to happen as it had all been organised by Rach in secret. So, early in the morning we got into Yvonne and headed out. Not knowing where he was going Alex was surprised to find himself being sent by Rach in the direction of the Great Ocean Road and so started to expect another excursion to one of the many activity parks along the route. However this was not to be the case, indeed it was to be something much better than this. Rach directed Alex to a place called Bells Beach, one of the most famous surfing beaches in the Australia, if not the world. She had secretly been in contact with some board hire places in the area and arranged the hire of two boards and two wetsuits. Amazing!

So we kitted up and headed off to the beach excited to hit the waves, Rach for the very first time. However before we could rush in Alex had to give Rach the basics of surfing and a little practise on the beach, an embarrassing procedure that every surfing initiate has to go through to learn the proper techniques. We ran headlong into the water upon seeing the waves rolling in and it was a good few seconds before the cold really made itself noticed. When we say cold what we really mean is ball-achingly, nipple-raisingly freezing. Still we persevered and before long Rach was kneeling up on some waves heading for the beach and Alex was out back, catching a couple and pulling some moves.


We eventually succumbed to the ache in our stomachs and took a short break for lunch before gritting out teeth and heading back into the cold. Although not before Alex donned a second suit so as to ward off the worst of the cold. We edged our way into the sea a little more tentatively this time, as though that would somehow make it a little warmer. Nope. Still just as cold as before. And to add to this Rach did really well as the waves were now incredibly powerful and she had a couple of dunkings and was washing machined on more than one occasion, but still managed to stand up. We lasted a good hour and half before admitting defeat to the cold that had by now penetrated our bones and so shivering and blue faced we ran back to the shop to get changed back into our warm clothes and head off back home with the setting sun accompanying us.

Rex’s Rules of the Road

  • The cheapest and best place to hire boards in the area was Go Ride A Wave.
  • Anywhere along the coast is a good place to surf although Bells Beach has the prestige factor associated with it.
  • If you can, hire a winter weight wetsuit during the winter months, or generally anytime you are in the Southern waters. Don’t forget; most of the water makes its way over straight from the Antarctic.

Posted by rexontheroad 21:11 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

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