Melbourne Sea Life Aquarium

What to do on a rainy day? Me and Ash decided to pay Melbourne Sea Life Aquarium a visit. Before paying the admission fee we did a bit of research and seeing as we were probably going to visit some of the other Merlin attractions we purchased a Merlin annual pass.

Melbourne aquarium is the best aquarium I have been to. There is a large variety of things to see. Each enclosure/tank was very clean and well looked after. You could easily spend a full day there, as we did.

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The highlight for me was a massive saltwater crocodile called Pinjarra. This 50 year old MEGA croc measures over 5 metres long and weighs approx 750kg. He was originally found stranded in Queensland so was looked after and used for breeding purposes at Koorana crocodile farm. Now that he’s too old to breed with younger females the guys at Melbourne aquarium decided to look after the giant salty. He now has his own enclosure at the aquarium which is pretty impressive. You can view him from behind glass underwater and also above his enclosure. Crocodiles spend a lot of time submerged under water and very still. The first time we saw Pinjarra he didn’t move much at all apart from floating up to get some air. On one occasion he opened his mouth which is usually a sign of them cooling down. On another occasion he had a big scratch with his hind legs which I’ve never seen a croc do before. He was very impressive and one of the reasons we ended up visiting the aquarium 3-4 times.

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There was plenty of the usual marine life found in an aquarium fish, sharks, rays, octopus to name a few. The walk in aquarium was huge, the biggest I’ve seen. They also had a penguin enclosure with King and Gentoo Penguins. They were very playful swimming very fast chasing each other one minute, then flying out of the water and running along the snow the next.

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It was a fun day and we took plenty of photos. I liked the way throughout the aquarium they are trying to educate people how they can conserve the marine life. It seems that the Sea Life centres do a lot themselves to help conserve marine life and have various breeding, rescue and rehabilitation programmes which is always good to see.

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Goodbye Melbourne

“The story of life is quicker than the wink of an eye, the story of love is hello and goodbye…until we meet again”

Jimi Hendrix

Unfortunately time had come to say our goodbyes to Melbourne sooner than we had anticipated. We were sure that we were making the correct desicion for the long run. We wanted to be in Sydney for New Year and we needed to find work.

We were leaving behind our French buddy Antoine so seeing as it may be the last time we cross paths me and Ash arranged to meet him for fair-well drinks. We went out in Fitzroy with a few drinks to wet the palette in Little Creatures. We then headed to Naked For Satan a cool bar that I had previously read about on the Timeout and Urban Walkabout website. It was pretty busy and we soon found out why, when we stepped out onto the rooftop area with perfect views of Melbourne’s city scape. The bar area inside was also pretty cool and the walls of the corridor leading to the toilets were covered in posters of retro porn-like photos of scantily dressed men and women. We had a good laugh, so much so that one drink led to another and another… we still had to pack for tomorrow. We said our goodbyes to Antoine and started walking back to the city. We passed a bar called Black Cat and before you know it, the three of us had a drink in hand again!

We awoke the following morning hangover free and packed up the last of our bits. We had until 8pm to kill time before our Greyhound coach left for Syndey. We left our luggage at Space Hotel and hit the city. We went to the National Gallery of Victoria NGV. Ate a tasty burger at the much loved Grilld before watching Gravity at the cinema. I enjoyed the film, I liked the way suspense was built throughout. The film finished just in time for us to collect our luggage and to get our coach. We were both very disappointed to find that the coach had no WiFi as stated on the Greyhound website. It was going to be a long 12 hour journey. Predictably I couldn’t sleep at all.

Our big decision

Melbourne weather is very erratic and some say it has four season in one day but today was not the case, we found ourselves walking along the Yarra river in the intense heat. The day was beautiful and the sun was highlighting all of Melbourne’s amazing architecture, there is a real European vibe with the buildings and the vegetation as well as the people walking around and I think that’s why a lot of travellers love it as its a bit of home far away.

Along the river were some great views and as we reached south bank there was a tall ship and historical notes about what the area used to be. We succumbed to the heat and took a seat at a place called ‘Padlocks Ships’, we grabbed a couple of drinks and enjoyed the scenery of people gasping walking past us, wanting our tasty beverages. We sat talking for a while and it was here that we decided however much we love Melbourne we need to leave for Sydney as job opportunities here were not great and we needed work if we were going to stay in Australia till May.

We had decided that the weekend would be the best time, which may sound like a fast decision but if we were going to job hunt in Sydney we needed to be there now. So with that decision made we headed away from the cool shade and back in the heat.

We stopped off later for lunch and wisecracking our brains over what we fancied, every where we looked it was too factor too expensive but then it hit me….I want PANCAKES!!!!!! Sean agreed. We went to Pancake Parlour and the menu made my mouth water. They had basic buttermilk pancakes to double chocolate pancakes with cheer us and ice cream (drool). Once we had ordered we sat back and stuffed ourselves full until we couldn’t move again, this would be our last supper in Melbourne.

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[Travellers tip: if you haven’t found work move on elsewhere, time is a big factor with working holiday visas so contact the company find out if they received your resume and if you have a chance…be honest about your visa situation too]

Music Video Frenzy in Melbourne

ACMI Exhibition Centre

Whilst walking around enjoying the city life in Melbourne we both stumbled upon an exhibition center in Federation Square, ACMI (Australian Centre for the Moving Image), it looked pretty interesting as they were having an exhibition on called ‘The Spectacle – the music video exhibition’ and I have such a huge love for the imagination that goes in to making a music video.

They have a general section that is open to the public for FREE open everyday, that explores moving image, its history and the impact it has had on the world. There was so much to interact with from making your own sound effects to a video to creating visual effects using your body and anyone from children to adults would find themselves engaged for hours. Sean was excited about two things, the fact they had games consoles for the public to play (ps3 withdrawal) and the chance to recreate your own matrix bullet time moment – click here to see ours Video 1 and Video Two.

The most interesting thing we saw out of it all though had to be the frame by frame animation which if you can picture about 5 rows of plastic models and each model was lined up in a circle (30 replicas)but each model was positioned slightly different. Music plays and the whole piece spins around and it gets faster, at this point it’s all a blur until a strobe light comes on making everything appear slightly slower which gives the effect of the models jumping/running/dancing. It was really awesome to see it all come together.

Spectacle – the music video exhibition 26/09 – 23/02/14

I was really looking forward to this exhibition as this is what I enjoyed whilst studying media. The exhibition which is open daily cost us $15/$10 concession. We could take photos but weren’t allowed to film as the videos were copyrighted.

There were screens with headphones at every turn and each screen had a selection of videos although annoyingly enough you couldn’t choose a video you had to just watch in the order. First few videos were historical, first music videos recorded, animated films with music and innovative artists such as Bob Dylan, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones.

Music videos today are an art form of there own, they create a story that makes them like miniature movies and the cinematography creates beautiful effects that make videos just as or more enjoyable then the music itself. We saw how video artists used lights and shadows to create effects, how digital design and animation has become a style favoured by the likes of The White Stripes and Junior Senior to emote a fun, childlike feeling in us all.

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The future for music videos is bright and so many new ideas are becoming influential, artist such as Radiohead are jumping on board making videos that are interactive so the line between video director and the viewer is becoming blurred. Also with social media we saw a lot of parody videos in the exhibition that recreated an artist’s video but using own footage with a comical twist – watch ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic – Smells like Nirvana.

I was so excited to see some of Michel Gondrys work (The White Stripes, The Chemical Brothers and Daft Punk) as well as Spike Jonzes work (Bjork and Fatboy Slim). We also saw music videos we had not seen from artists we knew or didn’t know that made an impression such as Royksopp/The Knife‘s ‘What else is there?‘ and INXS ‘What you need‘ and some home grown talent from Australian artists – Gotye, INXS, The Temper Trap and Nick Cave..

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There was plenty of set designs around the exhibition – The Chemical Brothers – ‘Let Forever Be‘ featuring a repetitive mirror sequence (genius), The White Stripes Lego blocks as seating and A-has ‘Take On Me‘ animation inspired area which meant that visitors could impress their friends with their new Facebook profile pic…I did. Overall the exhibition was a real pleaser, we recommend it for not only music lovers but for something to do when you are bored due to the amount of fun you can have and we enjoyed every minute just a shame we couldn’t see all the videos we loved.

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Meeting the icons of Sydney

So we were in Sydney, it hardly seemed real as one minute we were in Perth The next in Melbourne and then boom…straight to Sydney with only a second thought.
This city is busy, streets filled with every culture you could imagine. It’s the first port of call for most travellers so expect a lot of backpackers which means expect hostels to be $$$ and fully booked. New year’s was pretty much impossible to get accommodation and we were concerned, had we made the right choice to come to Sydney at such a busy time?

To take the stress off that question we gathered ourselves and decided to jump headfirst in to Sydney life by checking out the harbours. We approached the busy metropolitan and squeezed through the crowds, of which were many.

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We had arrived and what we saw can only be described in one word, wow. The harbour bridge is only a bridge I know but we were taken aback by its sheer size and structure, it is such an icon of Sydney’s skyline and to be stood in front looking up at it was such a great feeling and I think it was then that I realised how far we had come and now we were here together.

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I couldn’t wait to get up close to her and take a zillion photographs although we had both decided I needed my own camera as Sean had his SLR and I only had my phone I really wanted this bridge all to myself and my HTC just wasn’t going to do the job.

Camera shopping = stressful

I had a few cameras to compare, Nikon, Canon and Lumix.

I looked around at a few shops in sydney and online, ending up at Ted’s Camera’s. To cut to the chase I ended up buying the Canon IXUS as it had WiFi, had a great range of effects for photography creativity, the picture quality and my mother who is a keen photographer uses Canon so like mother like daughter. The lumix apparently does not ha great results I was told and if your travelling you do not want to risk all these great memories. I ended up getting a good deal on my camera too paying $140 with a camera by thrown in.

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I now was snappy happy, taking photos of the bridge and of course the opera house. She was quite an impressive building and it looks quite different up close, from tv she just looks a plain white colour but up close you see her thousands of tiles and the iridescent/pearly colouring which was great to see. Her peculiar shape meant photographs came out very nicely with the sharp lines and arches. I couldn’t wait to see her at night and all lit up for new year.

St Kilda beach, The Nunnery, Fitzroy

Sadly Space Hotel was fully booked so we had to hunt down new accommodation. We booked some nights at The Nunnery, it was a bit further out than Space but only a 15 minute walk to CBD. It was a nice little hostel, we stayed in a 6 bed dorm ($34 each) but unfortunately apart from an American girl the other guys sharing the room were very annoying. Sleep was a blessing, as two nights in a row we were woken up numerous times. One of the guys from our dorm was a bit of a party animal and would come and wake us up in the middle of the night. “Come out!” He’d say “We’ve got goon! Come get some goon!” Another guy loved to walk in the room and turn all the lights on and then walk out leaving all the doors open. What a douche! Everyone was very clicky at the hostel so it was very hard to interact with them. At a free BBQ at the hostel we did manage to speak to a friendly guy from Argentina called Francisco.

That day we had a house to view not far from Carlton Park. We knocked on the door and Jess greeted us and let us in. My first impressions weren’t great, the room we walked into was her bedroom, mattress on the floor and clutter everywhere. She was a nice girl, a bit hippy looking wearing an oversized jumper and she had dreadlocks. Her friend was sporting a little pencil tash and to be honest seemed a bit high. His eyes were red and he spoke very scatty. The house overall was very cluttered, the bathroom had vines growing from outside, into the window and down the inside of the bathroom wall which did look cool but neither of us fancied sharing a shower with a load of spiders. After looking around the house we returned to Jess’s bedroom to find that tash-guy had the munchies. He found a bag of nuts amongst the clutter and began to munch away as Jess reminded him that he had a nut allergy. We sat there asking a few more questions and talking about Melbourne in general. Tash-guy stopped eating his nuts as he was feeling sick, which was our cue to leave.

During our stay at The Nunnery and in between the rain we had a nice day were it was 28°C so we went to St Kilda beach. It wasn’t the best of beaches but it was nice to be by the sea. Near the beach was Luna Park with a massive face as the entrance. We checked out some of the markets, walked in the sea and relaxed on the beach.

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We managed to book more nights in the much loved Space Hotel. For our last night at The Nunnery we avoided the noise and the two of us headed to Fitzroy. It was similar to Northbridge in Perth, plenty of quirky shops and bars and a few good graffiti spots. We found a Little Creatures bar which we had missed since leaving Fremantle, we chilled out with a few bottles of pale ale discussing our plans and future trips.

Settling into Melbourne life

So now we were in Melbourne it was time to try getting a job until we were ready to move on to Sydney. We were finding lots of jobs were going and lots were looking for casual Christmas staff so it was just a case of printing a tonne of resumes out and scattering them throughout the city like mad men.

Printing isn’t really that cheap but we found the library in Melbourne to be an easy place to do it and 15¢ wasn’t too bad but later we found a cheaper alternative was office works at 8¢ a page. We planned out where we were going to hand our resumes, like a strategic plan of attack. We tried the obvious shopping centers due to amount of stores they have inside. Westfield is a good one and Melbourne central, a glass dome building built in the 90s which has encased an old shot tower from the 1800s we got a few great pictures of this unique contrast in construction (to be added). Check out Melbourne central

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With our resumes we stuck to retail areas but I did try a few cafes and bars due to my experience in hospitality but a lot of the time they want minimum experience of 2-3 years and if the company sells alcohol or has any gambling machines then you need an RSA/RCG (responsible service of alcohol/responsible conduct of gambling) license and for this you have to have it within the state you work so if you had an RSA in WA you would need to get a new license in NSW and they vary in price but aren’t cheap being around the $80-100+ mark.

A lot of employer’s seemed ok with working holiday visa travellers but you should ways check before handing your CV in as it’s just a waste, we did bend the truth slightly to help us get more of a chance by saying we were staying for the 6 months but we really needed work for 2 months and then it’s Sydney for Christmas and New Year. This isn’t great and it probably does effect travellers reputations when looking for work as they are more likely to not hire but we were in need of work.

Enough of the job stress we took a break and headed over to Carlton Park where we went to Melbourne museum, they had outdoor rain forest area which was cool but very humid and a Skeleton of a blue whale – standing next to that made me realise just how small we are and especially me. I got in free for concession which was great as it wasn’t really worth the money Sean paid ($10) however they do have exhibitions on regular and I think they are (or have done by the time I write this) having a James Bond exhibition. Check out Melbourne museum.

After a long depressing day of job hunting we packed it in and snapped back in to holiday mode, we booked another 3 nights at space hotel since it was so good and we didn’t want to be moving just yet. We checked out the blue moon bar connected and they had a good vibe, cheap drinks and good food so we chilled out watching surfing on the big screen to further our taste for Australian life before heading back upstairs to our dorm to enjoy a great nights sleep..zzzzzzz