One Whole Month

One Whole Month

Okay so I lied, I’m currently two days short of it being one whole month since I left home to embark on this adventure of mine. But it’s basically a month, and how fast has that gone?! It’s been two weeks since my last blog update here too, so I thought I was definitely due another one. The last post if you missed it can be found here and it concluded with a beach day and the beginning of my lectures, so I’ll pick up where I left off but with less chronological order. Or any recognisable order at all, actually.

I’m finding my criminology unit to be quite interesting, looking at a lot of examples and case studies which are helpful to illustrate the content of the unit a little further. I submitted the first assignment over a week prior to the deadline, which was a 400 word self assessment of my knowledge of criminology and why I wanted to study the unit. We’re being encouraged to think critically which is something that will help me with me studies back at Bangor, but also something I didn’t find too difficult when it came to discussing my knowledge on the subject of Australian criminology. I actually also had my first intensive session of my year abroad here at Deakin for my Media Relations unit, which I thought didn’t start until January, but turns out that started this week and I realised about 20 minutes after the earliest possible time I could get there. After strolling in very late and sitting myself down acting as if nothing was wrong, I really enjoyed the first session of that unit, even if it was 7 hours long. The first session looked at things such as social media and how easy it can be to get into big trouble on Twitter if you’re one of those ‘celebrity’ things that I don’t particularly understand, or a politician. It also looked at the very slight differences between media relations and public relations, another topic I found quite interesting, and I quite enjoyed the lecturer’s approach to the day, because 7 hours even for a lecturer must be quite a daunting prospect – trying to keep people largely around 19-21 years old interested in a topic must be a challenge, but he somehow managed to cope with that.

It hasn’t all been work though. Why should it be? From my bedroom window and the flat kitchen window, I can see one of Deakin’s futsal astroturf pitches that people living on res (such as myself) can help themselves to for no cost whenever they want. After days such as when I’ve had 7 hours of lectures, it’s quite nice to go and join whoever’s on there and play futsal for usually a few hours just to relax. For those who don’t know what futsal is, it’s essentially the same as football/soccer but traditionally played with a heavier ball to encourage keeping the ball on the ground to use skill, passing and teamwork to pass opponents. It’s played on a smaller pitch, which further encourages the aforementioned. It’s considered to be a large reason why Brazilians are so good at football – most Brazilians in the national team today playing in World Cups all played futsal when they were growing up. I’ve played a lot recently. Previously at home I’ve never had the confidence to try to be skilful on a pitch. In Britain, it feels as though it’s almost frowned upon at times. Everything has to be safe. With futsal, risk is encouraged. You’re supposed to take people on and go past them – something I’m becoming more accustomed to and with confidence, something I’m getting better at. But I’m very aware that no one came here to read about football, so before my view length drops too much – I’ll move on to more exciting things.

Let’s start with a picture.

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Sidney Mayer Music Bowl

This is a dodgy picture (you can click the pictures to enlarge them) of the Sidney Myer Music Bowl. Some major artists have played shows here- one of my favourites, Jack Johnson has played here and soon, another of my favourites – City and Colour is playing there in April. Perhaps more notably, Florence and the Machine played there just two weeks ago. Roughly. So perhaps I went to watch another big name artist perform there? No. Not quite. I went along with two Germans – Ben and Julia, to watch a free opera show. We took a six pack of ‘cheap’ beer and a large packet of Doritos crisps and a bottle of wine between the three of us.

We found some drunk Australians to take our picture on the way

We arrived and drank some of the beer, a little of the wine and ate all of the Doritos. Then we met up with some more Germans that we knew there and a Danish guy. They’d been left some unopened beers by some people who had left, so they were…. Nourishing. Following nourishment and the cultural enhancement of the opera, we visited a local bar type place where in a slightly surreal turn of events, I ended up meeting a Welshman from Cardiff. We visited the same bar – Section 8, (which is found down an alley near Chinatown and made largely from containers. The sort you find on the back of lorries or loaded on ships.) about a week later during Melbourne Music Week – where the city of Melbourne was celebrating all types of music all across the city, with bars and clubs giving free entry all week and events running throughout the city. We went there to treat our eardrums to the soothing tones of live reggae jungle drum and bass music. When I say soothing, I think I mean more…. energetic. Thoroughly enjoyable.

This is the beginning of the super exciting part with stunning pictures. Brace yourselves.

So a couple of Mondays back I went to Phillip Island with three Germans. We hired a care from Budget car rentals in Melbourne and let/forcefully volunteered Julia, who had never driven on the left side of the road before, to drive the whole way (about an hour and a half) to Phillip Island. We stopped at the Tourist Information Centre on the way in to the island to get our bearings and a map before then heading on to the Koala Conservation Centre, where they have 5 Koalas roaming a natural park area and a lot of informative boards in a room before you enter the park. We learnt that Koalas like to sleep a lot and hide well, but we did eventually see all 5 bears.

Following our visit to the Koala Conservation Centre, we went to grab some grub discovered locally at a burger restaurant situated precisely two buildings away from the fish and chip shop we were aiming for. It was shut. We then visited a farm, which would have been significantly more interesting had we been 15 years younger, interested in sheep shearing and never seen a horse before. They did however have some wallabies in an enclosure, but our time there largely consisted of us wanting to go to the beach. So we went to the beach. Cape Woolamai beach, to be more specific. This is a Natural Surfing Reserve and one of Victoria’s most popular surfing beaches, although it was quiet when we went. Probably because it was a Monday. The sand was perfect, the beach was incredibly beautiful and the water was freezing. Perfect. We walked part of the Cape Woolamai trail which takes you partially along the beach before heading up onto a track. A picture says a thousand words, so I’m going to take this opportunity to add a few thousand words onto my word count here and try something new with this carefully put together slideshow (choose some pictures with sand/rocks and water and hope for the best).

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On the return walk after some risqué scrambling up a slight cliff to get different angles of water and rocks, we bumped into a couple of wild wallabies alongside the path. P1050144After Julia tried to get closer to take a better picture and promptly disappearing into a hole in the ground, the wallabies thought better than to spend some more time with us and hopped off. We continued on to the Penguin Parade where picture taking was strictly prohibited – something to do with the penguins not being photogenic? Not entirely sure. After settling down to eat over priced fish and chips and bumping in to a couple more of our German friends (so many Germans…), after turning up at 7pm we’d got to the spectators area around 7:30pm and took up an unreserved space right at the front on the sandy beach (recommended to take a beach towel if anyone out there is planning this day for Cape Woolamai and the Penguin Parade). We sat on the right side (there’s two stands, the right one as you look towards the sea) on the sand and patiently waited. At just after 8:30pm the first couple of Little Penguins waddled up from the shore, up the beach and into the dunes behind the stands. For an hour or two after this, more and more Little Penguins followed their steps in larger groups braving the dangerous journey, as unlike when they’re in the water, the penguins are no longer camouflaged and so they’re at their most vulnerable when they go home. Watching them was quite amazing, but equally as amazing was how many stars there were up above – as the penguins wait for sunset so they have more cover. There is little to no light pollution on Phillip Island, so with a clear sky as it was that night, was truly something special.

From one beach, to another! It only took until Thursday until I’d found myself on another beach – Brighton Beach. Cape Woolamai was much better and I think I personally preferred St. Kilda to Brighton too, but we built an excellent sand castle and I somehow got sunburnt on my back for the first time in my life. Although to be fair, the chances were it was always going to happen at some point. The highlight of that trip out however was not the beach, but a phenomenal decision we had made to stop off at a frozen yoghurt shop an American girl had seen from the train on the way – Yo-Chi.

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I wasn’t going to include a picture of frozen yoghurt but here we are

Yo-Chi is a self serve frozen yoghurt bar type place. You pick your cup size, fill it with your choice of flavour or flavours of frozen yoghurt and top it with your choice from a selection of toppings. You pay by weight. I went for chocolate jaffa, passion-fruit and finally berry flavoured frozen yoghurt topped with caramel banana, oats and pretty much anything in between. It was good. So good that a few days later I’d gone to another one in a completely different corner of Melbourne.

This particular Yo-Chi visit was preceded by a street festival with a stage at one end of the street with a reggae singer performing, and a stage at the other end with two acoustic guitarists performing, and rows of food stalls and crowds of people in between.

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Street Festival

However, the main aim for the day was to visit the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV). The NGV houses over 70,000 items ranging from modern art to pottery that’s thousands of years old. I am an archaeology student. I am indeed interested in old, incomplete, damaged bits of vaguely formed clay. The gallery itself was actually quite interesting, although I would happily be the first to admit that I am not the most artistic person in the world, it was quickly realised that Ben wasn’t so that way inclined either, and so from that point (pretty much before we’d set foot in the building) the day became really rather funny.

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It’s been a good one for pictures, hasn’t it? The NGV was followed up by a trip to Melbourne’s Botanic Gardens – a peaceful park area with species from around the world. Including the WORLD FAMOUS Amadeus flower, according to Ben. Which we believed. Since then Ben hasn’t said a single word that I’ve believed, for example today he called me intelligent. What does he think I am, stupid?!

Since my last update I’ve had one more big day out that I haven’t yet mentioned, and that is a visit to the Healesville Sanctuary, which is basically like a zoo with optional touching for a fee. I visited with Julia, Ben and his Australian housemates – one of whom drove us. The sanctuary is about an hours drive from here, with $24 concession entry and an extra $12 for a magical moment. I was hoping to be able to have a magical moment with a Koala bear but they were fully booked for Koala magical moments. Ben and Julia went for a magical moment with the Kangaroos and got to feed and touch them, but ultimately, a Kangaroo isn’t a Koala, which was basically my reasoning behind not wanting to invest in a magical moment for myself. Wallabies, dingos, wombats, snakes, echidnas, platypuses, Tasmanian devils (locally called Tazzy devils) and various types of birds were all also found at the sanctuary.

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For lunch we left the sanctuary and drove into Healesville itself where we found a delightful café-type place and I had the most appreciated pie I think I’ve ever had – it had felt like an eternity since I last had pie. Pie’s great.

I think that’s enough to be getting on with for now. I already know that after tomorrow I’m going to have more to write about, and the weekend is filling up too! Feel free to comment below or wherever else to let me know what you think or if you have any questions about anything I’ve posted about so far, talk to me somewhere!