A Travellerspoint blog

Melbourne’s got the X Factor

Good auditions, bad auditions and a memorial for MND


This weekend was special for Rach for two reasons. The first being that she got to attend live auditions for the X Factor and the second that she’d gotten to attend a memorial by the MND association, an organisation close to her heart. Weeks ago Rach had applied for tickets for the Melbourne auditions, not holding out much hope. It was to her great surprise then when she received an email confirming that she had two tickets for the Saturday afternoon auditions. Saturday came racing round and before Alex knew it he was stood in a queue in Hisense Arena surrounded by teenage girls.

We’d gotten there an hour early so when the call came to take our seats we managed to get some great ones, slightly raised and right behind the judges. Rach had previously been to the Birmingham live auditions back in England so she was an old hand at this whereas Alex was new to the acting scene. That’s right folks, believe it or not, not everything on reality tv is real. Before any of the auditionees came out or even the judges, our MC had us practicing shocked, angry and surprised expressions for the cameras (unfortunately neither of us were particularly good so don’t expect to see us on tv).


After almost half an hours wait the show was finally on the road and the judges came out. The judge that we were most excited about seeing was Mel B, having grown up in the Spice Girls era. She certainly didn’t disappoint as she was funny, feisty and very opinionated. We flew through the auditionees with barely any pause between them and most were good, a few were terrible and a couple were incredible and deserved the standing ovations they received. We had brilliant time and can’t wait to watch it when it hits the screens.


Today was another fantastic day but for different reasons. Rach’s Grandpa died of Motor Neurone Disease and her family help at MND association events as often as they can, to raise money and awareness for the charity. Whilst over here Rach has looked at events the Australian branch of the association are holding to see if there’s anything she could go along to and last week found the perfect one. It was a memorial service for those who are suffering from the disease and the families who have lost someone to it. Signing both of us up to it she also saw that they were asking volunteers to light a candle and say a few words and so, she put herself forward.

When we got there we were immediately given nametags and whisked to the tea, coffee and cake area. Sufficiently supplied we sat down at a table and chatted to other families there. We listened to some fantastic speeches from; a nurse who cared for patients of MND, the president of the MND association and MND research scientists. We were first up for the candle lighting and Alex placed it in the stand whilst Rach dedicated it to all the people currently living with MND. It really was a wonderful ceremony made even more special by the pocket gardens they gave us at the end so that we can grow the blue cornflower at home, the symbol of the Australian MND association.


Rex’s Rules of the Road

  • For the chance to see your favourite shows live apply for tickets at the applausestore
  • If the MND association is special to you the Australian branch have lots of great events all over Australia.

Posted by rexontheroad 17:03 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

The whistling murderer and other tales

Another repeat, musk sticks and goodbyes


Two days ago we got up early and took Yvonne out for her longest ever spin to the Great Ocean Road with Sam and Maddy. The day was an amazingly sunny (if slightly windy) day and we made the most of it. We repeated almost exactly what we’d done with Rach’s parents (The great, the ocean and the road) after all why spoil a recipe for success. Perhaps one of the major changes was diet. We pioneered the use of pickle, cheese and bun on the go and not only this but we also sampled the delights of musk flavoured sticks. As one wise and truly brilliant man said upon their being tasted, “It’s like an old ladies underwear drawer shoved in your mouth.” If you can possibly imagine such a thing.


It was a great day, although we did almost take off in the wind at the Twelve Apostles which made it a little more interesting than last time. Sadly though Maddy’s last day with us drew to a close and it was hard watching her walk off to the train station, onward to Singapore.

So with just the three of us remaining, we three musketeers planned our last adventure before Sam had to travel on too. We decided to head out to the Mornington Peninsula and check out the forts and scenery around the East tip of Phillip Bay. We got there a bit later than expected and so dived straight in to exploring the area starting off with a site that had at various times been an immigration centre, quarantine area, holding point and army officer training academy. It felt a bit empty as we were the only ones there and whilst it was interesting wandering through the buildings, it did feel a bit surreal feeling the abandoned spaces all around.


We headed back out and after a very late lunch set out for Fort Nepean on the tip of the peninsula. The walk took longer than expected and so it was dark by the time we arrived at the first buildings. Not only was it dark, it was also a little creepy and we were even more spooked when a bird flew at us from the dark as we made our way up to a gun emplacement. More than a little freaked out we decided to continue onwards anyway and so arrived at the main fort to find that, thankfully, it was lit on the inside. As we set foot inside though an eerie whistling pierced the silence. The girls told Alex to stop pulling a practical joke and quit the whistling. The only problem was though that it wasn’t him. Alex shouted out several times but had no response, just the disembodied whistling. By this time the girls had legged it leaving Alex with no choice but to follow as we practically sprinted the 1 ¾ miles back to the car, each step thinking there was a psychopathic murderer on our tails. We didn’t let out a sigh of relief until the doors of Yvonne were firmly locked and we were well on our way.


This morning before a sad goodbye to Sam, she phoned the Mornington Peninsula tourist info centre and asked about the whistling. Turned out it was an automated feature after all.

Rex’s Rules of the Road

  • If you do hear whistling at Fort Nepean, no worries, it’s supposed to be there.
  • Great Ocean Road is good enough to do twice, it hadn’t lost any of its magic.
  • Get to Mornington Peninsula as early as you can as it’s shit scary once the sun goes down.
  • Read Rach's review of Mornington Peninsula here

Posted by rexontheroad 22:55 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Aye aye sailor!

Memorials, AFL and a selection of pale ales


It’s ANZAC day today, the date which marks the anniversary of which the Australian and New Zealand combined force first landed on Gallipoli in 1915. This date is now a national holiday and with Rach having the day off work, the four of us decided to head in to town and attend some of the official events. None of us were brave enough to attend the dawn service as it would have meant us getting up at at least four o’clock to get in to the city for six. Instead we decided to attend the midday parade of war veterans and serving personnel.

We arrived in the city at the exact time we’d planned to see the last part of the parade by the train station. We were surprised then to see only the stragglers of the parade making their way through, with the main ceremonies having already taken place. Undeterred we headed on to the Shrine of Remembrance to see the last parts of a speech and a few war veterans. So much for attending the events! Whilst there we did manage to show Sam and Maddy inside the Shrine and the ‘Greater Love Hath No Man’ plaque (Oh we do like to be beside the Shrine).


We couldn’t decided what to do with the rest of our day and as all of us have been craving a real pub we set out in search of one. Australia’s major flaw is that it doesn’t have English-style, homely, wooden, proper beer pubs. Its ‘pubs’ are more glorified bars and we were sorely in need of a pint. We eventually came across one, The James Squire Brewhouse, and Alex drowned the other pub patrons in his saliva as he looked over the range of draught beer that was on offer. We settled down with our various ales and noticed an AFL game playing on the big screen. It was Essendon vs Collingwood and Rach had a bet on at work that Essendon would win. We got sucked in by the game and even Sam and Maddy were cheering Essendon. It was the most tense final few minutes with each side alternating with a one point lead. Devastatingly though Collingwood piped Essendon to the post.

Nursing our sorrows we were soon cheered up when a bunch of sailors who, slightly worse for wear, invited us over to play pool with them. They spent a while trying to teach us pool tricks and letting us wear their hats and Alex and Sam had a great time playing pool with them. As the night wore on we decided we’d had enough and headed on home.


Rex’s Rules of the Road

  • There’s a number of services and ceremonies on ANZAC day through the city but from what we saw, the Shrine of Remembrance’s are fantastic.

Posted by rexontheroad 21:45 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Penguin porn

Gold moments, penguins and a visit from home


This first section is nothing really to do with the title but still just as exciting as yesterday one of Alex’s uni flatmates arrived. Sam and Maddy came in from Southern Cross station laden with their massive rucksacks and no doubt the spitting image of what we will look like in three months time. It was great to finally have a face from home back in our lives. Sam and Maddy had been travelling through Asia prior to Oz and so had plenty of stories to tell us and adventures to fill us in on.

The following day Rach had work so Alex led the girls off into the city for a day of touristy exploration. We tried to do what we’d done before and get into the Immigration museum as students but the officious receptionist foiled our plan so we went off to try the same at Melbourne museum only for it to happen again so we made our way instead to Parliament house. We’ve already covered this place in another blog (Parliamentary my dear Watson) so we’ll instead tell you about the Treasury building which we went to after. It wasn’t great, although it wasn’t that it was a bad museum or gave across a bad impression of the formation of the Treasury- it just wasn’t good and was often boring. We ended up having to produce our own entertainment to make up for the lack of any there.


To try and rescue the day, Rach met with the trio after work and we took them to see the penguins at St Kilda. They are the same kind of penguins as on Phillip Island (P-p-p-penguins on Phillip Island) but actually in Melbourne and best of all free! This is the third time we’d been to see them, going once as a couple, once with Rach’s parents, and now so we were old hands. This was by far and away the best time we’ve seen them though.

We made our way to the rocks at the end of St Kilda pier, wrapped up warm and just before dusk the penguin volunteer came out for a short talk explaining a bit about the penguins and before long out they came. As before no flashes were allowed as it might kill the blighters, however the volunteer guides do provide red torchlight for photos. As we said tonight was by far the best we’d seen it with the cuties even waddling right past us on the pier, some seemingly posing for pictures, on the way to their rocky homes. It was after this the noises started, indicating that the penguins had got their loving on. The noise increased as more and more couples joined in, until we eventually laid eyes on one of the more daring couples who were fornicating in full view of public eye. It felt like we were in the middle of “Porkin’ Penguins 4” and after some intriguing questions from children we think that many of them had ‘the talk’ that night. Still we had a brilliant time and managed to get a few good snaps of the ‘guins.


Rex’s Rules of the Road

  • St. Kilda is an amazing place to see the penguins although if you don’t get a good result first time round; try, try, try again.
  • Wrap up warm, it is colder than you think even on those summer nights.
  • No flash, please don’t be one of those people who goes ahead and thinks that they are better then everyone around them and that for some reason feel that they specifically deserve a picture taken with flash. Not cool.
  • The Treasury building is a good hour or two of distraction but don’t expect anything too great.
  • Check out Rach's Tripadvisor review of the Treasury building here.

Posted by rexontheroad 23:09 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Alex.Finds.Love (in the game)

Geelong, Hawthorn and lots of rain


Although this blog entry will primarily cover the AFL game we saw this afternoon, Rach couldn’t allow our trip to the cinema on Saturday go unnoted. Partly from being a girl and partly from being a history nerd, the film Titanic has always been a favourite of hers. Although she’s seen it a billion times, after finding out it was being released in 3D there was no question of her not going. And that meant poor old Alex was going to be dragged along too. Secretly he enjoyed it too as the 3D took it to an entire different level. The sinking scenes were amazing and it’s hard to imagine going back to the normal 2D version again.

Anyway enough of the soppy drivel, back to the more important men’s stuff. We’ve been gradually introduced to the sport of AFL (Australian Football League), more commonly known as Aussie rules and we’ve seen a few matches on the TV and Rach has been taking part in a league competition at work. Our next door neighbours are season ticket holders for Geelong and as they couldn’t make it to the Easter Monday game, offered us their tickets.

Monday afternoon rolled around and we kitted up in our warmest gear as it was chucking it down and the coldest day of the year so far. After a quick train journey there, we followed the stream of scarf wearing supporters to the stadium. We had a little bit of excitement getting into the grounds as Rach had to get in on an ‘Under 16’ ticket and either the clever ploy of tying her hair in pigtails fooled the guard, or she just simply didn’t give a crap. Either way we made it to our seats successfully, just in time for the players to come out onto the pitch for warm-up. Once the game had commenced we settled into our seats for the long haul. An AFL game is made up four twenty minute quarters, meaning that, including stoppage and breaks we were there for well over two hours. Luckily we were under a cover although some poor sods out next to the pitch got absolutely drenched by rain in the first ten minutes and then had to sit the rest of the match in a biting chilly wind. We did still feel the chill though and in the end succumbed to temptation and bought (the world’s most disgusting) hot chocolate to keep our hands warm. Rach managed to keep hers going for well over half an hour.

Back to the game itself; we hadn’t been too sure what to expect as our brief research still hadn’t brought us up to scratch on the rules. It is however a relatively simple game to pick up as you’re watching, in fact probably a lot easier than us trying to describe the rules, so we won’t try. As a loose description imagine, rugby and Gaelic football combined in a gruelling, vicious game. Whilst the game is often aggressive the atmosphere (unlike that of English football) is not. It was truly fantastic and all the fans got on and had a good time at every stage of the game. We reckon it’s probably due to the higher number of scores put on the board meaning that there is less chance for frustration to build up at near misses and a constant struggle to get just one point.


We had a truly brilliant time, with a nail-biting finish just to top it all off. The lead switched between the teams several times in the last ten minutes and we cheered ourselves hoarse for the Geelong Cats and as the final horn blew they came away victorious by two points! All in all a great day out, made all the sweeter by the lucky fact that it was free!

Rex’s Rules of the Road

  • Hot chocolate can keep cold hands warm for a long time if necessary.
  • AFL is absolutely huge over here and when the season starts it is all anyone talks about. Well worth heading out for a game.

Posted by rexontheroad 21:07 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

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