Chk Chk Boom ‘Straya! I’m still alive!
Day 3,116 since October 10th 2013: 196 countries out of 203. No flight, no return home, min 24 hrs in each country and 1 pandemic!
(The opinions expressed on this site are my own, and do not reflect the position or policies of the Danish Red Cross which I represent as a Goodwill Ambassador).
Entering the third week in Aussieland
Saying farewell has been just as common as saying hello within this project. This week four became two.
Last week’s entry: Surviving another week in Australia! (Sydney)
My father, his wife, my ultra-wifey, and I, were all set up in Sydney’s Kings Cross neighbourhood. It’s a historical neighbourhood with many beautiful buildings and several charming streets. Good food is plentiful and it’s not hard to find a beer. Yet, it was the story of the Kings Cross Bogan (worth the seach) which first brought my attention to Kings Cross back in 2009. Hence the title of this entry ;)
Welcome everyone who found the Saga after watching Angelica Ladino (and Beau's) video interview with me. Angelica's first in English and she did amazing!!
Before my father and his wife returned home to Denmark, and ultra-wifey and I boarded a bus to Canberra, the four of us booked a tour to visit the Blue Mountains. On the way we made a stop at Featherdale Wildlife Park which was truly worthwhile. What a lot of strange animals Australia can pride itself of. Flora and fauna play a vital role within Australia and so does protecting it. Try entering Australia with muddy footwear and you’ll get a surprise. Meanwhile, once you’re inside Australia you can get your footwear as muddy as you please. My footwear just so happens to have been Salomon all the way.
My fathers wife and ultra-wifey greeting a Wallaby (not a big rat).
From Featherdale Wildlife Park in Blacktown we headed up into the mountains. We made a stop for lunch in Leura and then soon after we could take in the majestic views at Katoomba Falls. You wouldn’t be able to throw a stick anywhere in Australia without striking something which has significance to the aboriginals who have occupied the massive country/continent for more than 50,000 years. As such the mountains are also of significant importance. It’s hard to relate to for a complete outsider. But it seems quite evident that Australians are pretty busy apologizing for the past. There’s the locally famous “sorry speech” (3min - worth watching) and most of everything (events, emails, shows etc.) is accompanied by some variation of this text:
“We pay our respects to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander custodians of the country where we work, and to Elders, past, present and emerging.”
Well, as visitors from the other side of the planet we were simply in awe of the beauty which we saw. My dad, his wife, ultra-wifey, and I :)
It was really nice to spend time with my father and his wife after so much time apart. And it was important to me as well. A lifelong friend of my father, who was a great man I have known all my life, left this world this year. My father and his friend grew up together and were within a few years of age. One day he was here amongst us and now he is gone. While it is sad on its own account, to lose someone who has a place within my heart, it was also a sharp reminder that my parents will not be around forever. Both my parents are 74-years-old and will probably keep ticking for many years to come. But there are no guarantees. My father has told me not to return home for the funeral should his time come. He wants me to complete what I say out to do more than eight years ago. Then afterwards return home and visit his gravestone to say: “I did it”. Few can imagine what’s on my mind. While there are many good reasons to complete this long overdue project, I often wish that it was over already.
On our way from Sydney to Canberra. The landscape was beautiful.
A day before the senior half of our Danish party returned to the other side of the planet, ultra-wifey and I boarded a bus to Canberra. It is Australia’s capital and somewhere between the much larger cities of Sydney and Melbourne. Both Sydney and Melbourne boast more than five million beating hearts while the Great Kingdom of Denmark in the High North of Europe counts less than six million. Canberra is home to about 467,000 beating hearts.
Luke and ultra-wifey.
Ahead of our arrival we had been contacted by a friendly Canberran named Luke. Luke enticed us with a guided tour of the city on electric scooters. That offer was too good to pass up on. Ultra-wifey and I were looking forward to enjoying some time together in Canberra without a busy schedule. We have not been together since December 2021 and once she returns home next week we will not know when we will be together again. Uncertainty has accompanied Once Upon A Saga all along as many of you already know. Anyway, Luke seemed really kind and we simply did not want to pass up on his offer. That proved to be a great decision as he quickly conceptualized our motto: a stranger is a friend you’ve never met before. The day before we met Luke, ultra and I fulfilled a part of our internal tradition by filling up on sushi and watching a movie in a theatre. We watched “The Batman” which I thought was quite good and my better half thought was okay at best. The next day we met Luke.
Team electrical scooter! Solid team. Thanks for the tour :)
A fine local beer enjoyed in the sun.
While Canberra is the capital city it really feels a lot more like a town. The surroundings are beautiful and Canberra has a lot to offer. Traffic jams did not seem to be a problem at all. Most roads were wide and everything appeared quite calm and laidback. Luke met us with three electric scooters. His household had two and the third came from his neighbour. Solid! I had not been on an electric scooter since Trevor guided me around Modi’in (Israel) back in 2018. Ultra-wifey was also poorly experienced. But it is easy and we were soon making our way through Canberra like ducklings behind Luke.
It's easy to spot the Red Cross in Australia. I've seen plenty of thrift shops on route. And I hear Australia's Red Cross volunteers are next level! Keep on keeping on.
It's really easy to like Luke who’s a very sympathetic fellow with a big heart for his home city. We immediately liked him. He’s a father of two, works at the university, volunteers at Lifeline, likes motorcycles, does a bit of bee keeping (thanks for the honey), has travelled a lot, is easy to speak to, and shares a passion for meeting people. At one point I was comparing a historical building in Canberra to the architecture in Havana, and Luke saw what I meant as Cuba was among the many countries he had travelled through. Interesting fellow and a good guide. Canberra’s lake was a huge bonus which won ultra-wifey and I over. A brilliant part of the city surrounded by a lot of interesting elements and a great deal of history. A good place to have a beer too. We scootered past a bunch of stuff: Blundells Cottage, the ANZAC Parade Grounds, the National Carillon, the national Gallery of Australia, Old Parliament House, the Aboriginal Tent Embassy, The National Museum, and a lot more I’m sure.
A man was selling refreshments on top of Mount Ainslie. And we could pay by credit card. Brave new world. You can pay by a simple tap with your credit card nearly everywhere in Australia.
Canberra might have been a dead place a decade or two ago. But it is well worth a visit today. We certainly liked it and Luke was a fine representative. The three of us parted after lunch at the Grease Monkey. A workshop turned burger joint. Thanks for all the kindness, Luke. The following day ultra and I hiked up Mount Ainslie to take in the views across ‘Straya’s capital city. It was a nice little hike which sent my thoughts back to all the hiking and trail running Hong Kong had offered me. I hear that Hong Kong is now down to seven days of mandatory hotel quarantine for inbound travellers. Good on you Hong Kong. I miss my friends there. I miss Hong Kong. It was home for two years. Oh well, on with the show. We had really nice weather in Canberra and the view across the city from Mount Ainslie was really beautiful. I have found very few capital cities to be beautiful from above. Rome in Italy is one of my favourites. Canberra ranks really close.
A visually pleasing capital surrounded by nature and enriched with a lovely lake. Canberra as seen from Mount Ainslie.
A night bus brought us from Canberra to Melbourne. Long distance bus no. 1 million or so...
A night bus got us from Canberra to Melbourne. We left some really nice weather behind and arrived to grey skies and rain. No matter. Melbourne is a great city which I have visited several times before. Many people seem to think that this is my first visit to Australia when it is really my 6th. I had a life before Once Upon A Saga. I flew to Melbourne for a wedding back in 2013 before the Saga began. And in 2011 I flew to Melbourne just to attend a BBQ. Probably spent more time in airplanes than in Australia back in 2011. I’ve been to Alice Springs, Darwin, and Cairns. I have hiked in Northern Territories and I have dived on the Great Barrier Reef. I have even had the pleasure of riding on “The Ghan” from Alice Springs to Darwin. I know many people in Melbourne and I look forward to seeing as many as possible. But for now, my focus is on spending some quality time with ultra-wifey before she returns home.
The woman in red is ultra-wifey in Melbourne.
We paid our respects to Shane Warne at Melbourne Cricket Ground. A true legend I have learned. We will be watching Richmond vs Melbourne from the Shane Warne stand on Sunday. That's the Australian Football League (AFL) and not cricket. Should be interesting.
We were able to check into our hotel early in the morning after the bus arrived. Gold! After a few hours rest we headed into Melbourne’s streets to see what she had to offer. As it turned out Melbourne International Comedy Festival is currently on! What a thing to stumble upon. We caught a show with Tommy Little who’s a bit of an Aussie celebrity. Good stuff and surreal to attend a jam-packed Comedy Theatre after two years of social distancing in Hong Kong. While signs and announcements call for wearing masks in various places, most Aussies appear to take it lightly. We hardly saw anyone within the theatre wearing a mask. Keep in mind – it is hard to drink a beer while wearing a mask.
We were entertained by Tommy Little at the 1923 Comedy Theatre. We now hold tickets to see Ross Noble this weekend! Good stuff.
The Saga has brought the Saga some 2,500km (1,500mi) from Townsville to Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra, and Melbourne. While in Sydney my father noticed that there were very few people in the cityscape who were smoking. Good observation and it stayed true in Melbourne. Ultra noticed that Melbourne seemed to have more people wearing masks in the streets. That may be because Melbourne went through a heck of a lockdown. Most people are however not wearing masks and many don’t even bother in public transport. I quickly noticed a lot fewer people wearing broadbrimmed hats and felt a little singled out. Hats similar to my own have been quite common to see in the other cities. Yeah – those were some first day observations. The city is really cool and it is not hard to find sandwiches or Asian food. Public transportation works well and once again, much like in Sydney, it is common to find beautiful historical buildings among modern architecture.
Melbourne's China Town. Good food!
The rest of this entry will continue in photos with captions. I’m tired and need to get some sleep. Each week could amount to a book these days. Most people only see the tip of the iceberg with this project. I currently do not have a way to reach New Zealand or any of the other six remaining countries. I and others are however working on it. Bureaucracy and logistics as usual. My goodness it will be wonderful to have this project over and done with. Well, in the meanwhile: smile and wave. Just smile and wave.
Even in Australia people are just people.
Trying the beer at Moon Dog World. Not bad. And while I love ultra-wifey very much...I would rather have brought the nutcases from Hong Kong :)
Moon Dog World is a local brewery which is in fact a lot more than that! We caught the Wednesday pub quiz.
Dromana Beach. Australia's coastline is impressive.
A curry meat pie from a bakery in Frankston. Good stuff.
We spent a few hours at the very crowded, somewhat overpriced, but well designed Peninsula Hot Springs. Then we went looking for penguins on Phillip Island but saw none. We did spot a kangaroo though. Smile and wave. Just smile and wave.
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Mr. Torbjørn C. Pedersen (Thor) - seven countries from home.
"A stranger is a friend you've never met before"
Once Upon A Saga