September 1, 1999 - Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Rather a dull day with a rather nice end. We spent the day travelling from Canberra to Melbourne.

The day began relatively early when the breakfast we had ordered the night previously arrived at just before 8. I grumbled a lot, pulled myself out of bed, ate my eggs on toast with bacon and then returned to bed for another hour before we finally got under way.

I was getting a bit paranoid about the hotel I had booked which is right beside where the convention is to be held in Melbourne so I called them from a gas station while mother filled the car. I had them confirm our room (I vowed after a lot of travel to and from the convention last year in the states that I would stay at the 'convention hotel' which would be a lot easier).

We travelled out of Canberra the same way we had entered: through the north, travelling along a wonderful new dual-carriageway up to a free-way that travels between Sydney and Melbourne (about 900 kilometres apart). The trip was relatively uneventful as we passed north of many of the parks we travelled through (in the opposite direction) earlier in this trip.

We pulled off the free-way into a small town called Gundagai in New South Wales, a small town like many we have passed through on this trip, stopping at a local café (run by some people from Greece, evidently settled for quite some time in the area – there was a picture of the café in the 1920s). It was really interesting to see the interior of the café much as it must have been in the 50s, with the rows of candy on the wood counter with glass and small booths. The toilets were outside, down some stairs and in the back of the restaurant (clean though).

As we sat and ate a number of regulars came in, just like one big family as they talked and joked with the staff. It was quite an experience. We walked around briefly before we returned to the car and continued on our journey.

We passed by no animals but the obligatory parrots and cockatiels were everywhere. There were lots of signs for koalas, kangaroos, and wombats but no signs of the creatures themselves.

We stopped briefly about 200 kilometres away from Melbourne for a bit of gas where we had to drive a few kilometres off the road. We pulled into another small town where there was exactly one petrol pump (cash only) that the lady operating the general store operated for us, chatting quite a bit about how the weather there was quite hot and humid in the summer, much hotter than further south on the coast or even in Melbourne. She said it got up to about 42 or 43 in the summer and last summer the heat was also in conjunction with high humidity though this is unusual. Mother had walked down the street to the toilets which were at the local town hall (!), in the back.

We continued on to Melbourne, arriving into the city just as it got dark, facing a traffic jam just as soon as we arrived. Our luck was good though as we made our way as we though we needed to do into the centre of the city towards the hotel. We did stop after taking quite some time to find a phone booth on our side of the street to call the hotel and ensure we correctly got to the hotel since our hotel is attached to the convention centre, right on the Yarra, which runs right through the city. We eventually pulled up, handing the keys over to the valet and checked into our wonderful room overlooking the river. Quite a view even if only from the 4th floor.

The Yarra

We headed out to find that the convention had closed it's doors for registration today so we will have to do so tomorrow, but we headed off to the south side of the river where there are a series of cafes and restaurants in a rather nice area of the town. Eventually we stopped and had a small bite to eat for dinner at a bagel shop (mother had a piece of carrot cake – quite a light dinner if you ask me, but she has not been eating a lot, I suppose she does not need to…).

Well, tomorrow the whole reason for coming to the other side of the world starts…Should be…interesting.

⇒ Continue to September 2, 1999 - Melbourne, Victoria, Australia