Back in the early 20th century,
was a nation which had, well, only just become a nation. There was one problem though - the two biggest cities in Australia were Sydney and Melbourne. The issue with that was that both cities wanted to be Australia 's "capital" city. This initially started out as a fairly small feud, but eventually grew out of control and lead to the biggest war that Australia had ever seen. Australia
The war was bleak and unrelenting - neither side backed down for well over a hundred years. The conflict led to such extreme tactics as Drop Bear assassin squads, suicide bomber kangaroos, and even dreaded Baby-eating Dingoes, that can still be found in parts of the Outback today.
There seemed to be no end to the war in sight. Eventually, after
Sydney's covert Tasmanian Tiger paradrop into 's parliamentary building ended in a boomerang-induced extinction of the species, a truce was called - both sides were on the verge of defeat. They were both evenly matched. Melbourne
The Australian political parties and general public decided that they would decide the position through a game of Knifey-spooney. But, on the day of the tussle, the all-important silverware had been stolen due to the rampant amount of convicts running around the country.
So, instead of, oh, I don't know, flipping a coin to decide the outcome, they instead decided to BUILD AN ENTIRELY NEW CITY to be our capital. It was called
or something, but nobody has ever really heard of it. Asking an Australian the question "What is the capital of Canberra ?" often leads to bouts of dramatic wartime flashbacks, followed by several hours of violent shaking fits, huddled over in a foetal position - so it is generally best not to ask. Australia
Besides, there's only like three people who live in
, and two of them are politicians anyways, so it's pretty much a non-city. Canberra
So where do I live that is so much better than this
place? I live in a city called Canberra . The locals call it Bris-vegas. Every time I hear that, I die a little on the inside. Brisbane
The truth of the matter is is that
isn't all that badder place - it just isn't great. It is a functional city that is a great place to raise kids. Plus, if you drive two hours in pretty much any direction *away* from Brisbane Brisbane, you come across something which is exponentially better than . Brisbane
Now because I'm an idiot and don't have my licence, I couldn't drive anywhere. So instead, it was with great joy that in late June, I got the chance to fly to both Melbourne and Sydney. This would be the ultimate test of which city was more awesome. My result? Read on to find out.
Friday, 18th of June 2010 - Wednesday, 23rd of June 2010:
Our adventure began bright and early with Emma, my partner, and I getting a lift to the airport from Emma's Mother. The domestic terminal was fairly busy for this early in the morning, although on the Friday before the start of School Holidays, this was to be expected.
We checked in with very little difficulties, and the ground staff were very polite and courteous. Emma and I made our way up to the foodcourt to kill some time before our flight.
Every time I catch a morning domestic flight, I visit the "Wok on Air" shop for a hearty (and expensive) breakfast. The bacon and eggs is always tasty from there, and the toast is strangely salty. For some reason that appeals to me... I must be lacking salt in my diet or something...
Unfortunately, the grand master dojo sensei chef dude took forever to make my breakfast, and as such, when I finally did get it, our flight was in it's "final boarding call" stage. This was not good. I scoffed down my ultrasalt toast and we bolted for our gate.
Upon arrival to the gate, we were at the end of a very large queue, so this meant that either they were just trying to get the plane filled early, or everyone really loves salty toast. My money is on the second one.
Qantas Flight QF 611
BNE - MEL
Aircraft: Boeing 737-800
Boarding Passes are fun.
I'm not sure if I like 737's yet. Sure, they'll get the job done as well as any other jet, but I feel really claustrophobic in them. Maybe it is because I'm a tall bastard, (as shown in the legroom shot below) but I generally prefer larger aircraft. I guess it is because you feel less like you're stuck in a tiny flying tube of people, and more like you're stuck in a slightly larger flying tube of people. Load was 100% on the flight, which certainly did no favours as to dispelling this feeling.
Emma once again graciously offered me the window seat, because she knows I love them so.
Pushback was on time, and then the safety video played. Now, I'm all for airline safety, and I genuinely think that it is a 100% necessity for air travel, but has anybody ever noticed the kid at the very start of the Qantas safety video who throws the paper aeroplane? Firstly, it has got to be the most limp-wristed throw I've ever seen. Seriously, couldn't they have gotten a better take than that? It looks like the kid trips and falls halfway through the throw! Secondly, what is that implying? That our plane is piloted by a kid who can't throw for shit? Qantas, as much as I enjoy flying with you, your safety video worries me, and for all the wrong reasons.
That gripe aside, we soon found ourselves taxiing out to takeoff. The 737's takeoff wasn't as powerful as a larger jets, but it certainly was as loud. I think that is my main problem with the 737 - it's a noisy bastard.
About 20 minutes into the flight, the Breakfast service was served. Out of all of Qantas' meals that I have had, breakfast is my favourite. That's probably because it is safe - just cereal, fruit, and a nice hot fruit bun. Can't complain about that.
The flight progressed quickly, and I watched the morning news on the overhead
. Before I knew it, we were descending into IFE . Melbourne
on the window... Crystals
Touchdown was fairly uneventful. The usual jolt and then roar of the engines as they slow us down to a more taxiway-friendly speed.
Air 777-300, Emirates 777-300ER. My next trip will be on the Qantas A380 to Singapore ! Los Angeles
Baggage Handler handling... my baggage!
After deplaning, we made our way through baggage collection, and waited outside for our lift. The first thing that hits you about
Melbourne is how freaking cold it is compared to ! I loved that. Every time the wind blew, it felt like your face was covered in a thin layer of listerine. Great stuff. Brisbane
One of Emma's Aunties, Jackie, soon arrived and gave us a lift to her house, where we would be staying for a couple of nights. Free accommodation is awesome. But, free accommodation with friendly and genuine people is even better. Having no family in
Sydney to speak of, I definitely felt that was a more personal experience - we felt less like tourists and more like citizens. Melbourne
After a highly delicious (and high calorie) lunch with Emma's Auntie, Emma and I took a train and headed out into
. Apparently Melbournites absolutely loathe their public transport - I fail to see how though. Compared to Melbourne 's, it is highly efficient, and cheap, too. Brisbane
Our first port of call was at Flinders Street Station - The churro shop. Seriously, whoever thought of donuts in stick form should be king. Here's a photo of me eating a churro:
Emma and I then headed across the road to ACMI - the Australian Centre for Moving Image. If you ever get the chance to have a look in here, do so. It is a great look back on the history and inner workings of
's Film and Television industry. They even have Academy awards there! Australia
Adam Elliot's Oscar - Best Animated Short "Harvie Krumpet" (2003)... One day I hope to have one of these myself...
Tv's sure have come a long way...
Playschool - Best kids show in the forever.
Aside from a nostalgic look back on the history of Australian film and television, the exhibition also had some awesome technology, and interesting ways of explaining basic concepts - The 3D section was particularly impressive. They had 3D TV's that didn't require glasses, a revolving animated-strobe effect diorama thing and star-wars like holographic projections into thin air.
One thing that I found disappointing though was the lack of documentation covering the Melbourne-Sydney war, but I guess that was too scarring to include in the exhibit.
After leaving the exhibit, we were confronted by THIS:
Now you can't tell from this picture, but that is a massive balloon. After several moments of confused looking, we decided to read the sign below it:
Apparently it was some big work of art. Apparently it only worked at night time. It sounded interesting, so we waited around until after dark.
Yes, that's right. It turns into the sun at night. That's pretty damn cool, if I might say so myself. What's more, you can control the patterns that appeared on it using your iPhone. Now that was awesomesauce.
Saturday, 19th June 2010
The next day was a meetup between all of Emma's family, to which we were the special guests. It was nice to see so much love in a family - something too rare these days.
That night, we headed out into
Melbourne again, and decided to have a look around . Now, the more avid readers may know that my last big adventure was to China Town . In Thailand , we discovered a drink called "Manao Soda". If you ever go to Thailand , try this drink. It is like liquid Jesus. Thailand
As we were looking around one of the shops in
Chinatown, we found something very similar to Manao Soda. I showed one of the shop assistants a picture of the drink, and he said that he usually stocks it, and that they've ran out. Tragedy! Emma and I then took it upon ourselves to try and find the drink in either Melbourne or Sydney. The search had begun.
The rest of the night was spent trying to find a nice asian place to have some food. We eventually settled on a nice Vietnamese joint. Most of the food was pretty average, but the Satay Chicken was incredible. I don't know what they did to it, but I have never tasted any Satay even close to that good in the past.
Sunday, 20th June 2010
Sunday was spent exploring two very iconic streets of
. The first, was Melbourne Fitzroy Street, and we explored it with Emma's Auntie, Kaarie. It was great fun. Emma got a new vintage hat, and I got a new... vintage... Pizza... for lunch. I did see a subwoofer which I was tempted to buy, but then I remembered how much speakers weigh and how large the magnets are in a subwoofer - both are very bad for flying.
New... Vintage... Pizza.
New Vintage Hat. Stylised by me. It reminds me of the Imperial Officer hats out of Star Wars, but don't tell Emma I said that...
That night, we moved to one of Emma's other Auntie's houses for the remainder of our stay in
. Robbie, Emma's Auntie is very fortunate, as she lives in the middle of St Kilda, one of Melbourne 's most expensive districts. She and her husband also have two adorable dogs, called Harry and Millie. They're awesome. Melbourne
Puppies charging their lazuhs!
The other street we explored was
Acland St. It is a very nice district with excellent clothes shopping (apparently), and has some really awesome cake shops. I'm surprised there weren't any signs saying "please do not drool on windows", as it sure was tempting.
Yes, everything was as tasty (and expensive) as it looks.
Emma and I had fish and chips for dinner that evening. Delicious, but
's "Fish Mongers" still takes the gold star for me. Byron Bay
Monday, 21st June 2010
Monday was spent exploring
Chapel St, one of 's other shopping streets. Emma spent lots of time in an antique shop along the street which was positively massive. I'd be lying if I said that most of the stuff in there interested me, but I preferred it to the likes of a chain clothing store, as at least there was thousands of interesting things to look at, as opposed to rows upon rows of boring clothes. Melbourne
Apparently, whilst we were blissfully browsing through this store, there was a crazed gunman with a shotgun only a few blocks away. Meh! I guess that ignorance can be a good thing?
We stopped at a Greek Bakery for some morning tea... I had a sausage roll, or though it was more about the size of a
log. Absolutely huge. lincoln
After morning tea, and another short browse through the local shops, we caught a Tram north to Victoria Parade. We had it on good authority that this street is famous for its Asian groceries, and that if we were to find Manao Soda anywhere, it'd be in this street. Two hours of searching later, we were unable to find it. Whenever we asked a shopkeep, we were met by puzzled looks, and that they had never heard of it. We'd have to search for it in
We then caught another tram into the middle of the city.
A nice photo of us taken near the
. Yarra River
, near National Gallery of Victoria Yarra River
From there, we went to the National Gallery of Victoria to have a look at what I like to call "The Art". You see, I will be the first to admit that I am not a very artistically inclined person (visually at least), although I do enjoy looking at pretty paintings and what have you. Emma, on the other hand, knows her shit. She works as an art technician. She lives art. She breathes art. I was in for an interesting visit...
So with my cultural awareness of a four year old, and Emma's encyclopaedic knowledge of every "ism" this side of cave paintings, we looked around National Gallery of Victoria's "European Masters" exhibit.
We saw works from Monet, Van Gogh and Picasso, among others. I found my favourite painting early on. Part of the painting was an old man, draped in a hooded cloak, starting out on a long journey, wooden staff in hand.
I made the mistake of telling Emma that I liked the picture. She enquired:
"Why do you like the picture?"
"I don't know, I just do..." I said.
"No, why do you like it? What about it? Is it the colours? The textures? The composition? The usage of Positive and Negative space? Th-"
"He looks like Gandalf."
"He looks like Gandalf. The guy, setting off on his journey. He looks like Gandalf."
I've never seen Emma facepalm until that moment. There's a first time for everything I guess...
Tuesday 22nd June, 2010
On Tuesday we went and visited Patsy, Emma's grandmother. She lives on the coast, about 40 mintues drive out of
. Seeing Patsy's house was an experience. Virtually every surface was covered in shades of Blue, Green, Pink or Purple. And Mermaids. Mermaids e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e. Still, for all of the visual busy-ness of the place, it was still a very nice house, and definitely one filled with fond memories. Melbourne
One thing that I admired about Patsy was that she kept quotes of all of her family members throughout the various stages of their lives. She read me some of the things Emma said when she was a child. It is nice to have such sweet memories transcribed for future generations to hear. When I have children, I will make sure that I do this.
After a nice sushi lunch with Patsy, we got on a train and went to Melbourne Zoo. By the time we got there, it was around 3pm, so we didn't have too many hours left before it closed. Emma and I had visited the zoo last time we were down in
, but this time we didn't go to see the animals - we went to hear them. Or, rather, I went to record them for my sound effects library. TAX DEDUCTION! Melbourne
I'll let the photos do the talking about the zoo:
Sad Pig is Sad.
Steve Irwin's worst nightmare.
Seal! (Not the singer)
Penguins - They used to be used as Tunnel Ninjas during the
Melbourne - war. Sydney
Otters! Caution: May self combust due to own cuteness.
Butterflies - Surprisingly not good for sound recording.
Emma, wanting a butterfly to land on her...
Emma... NOW WITH BUTTERFLY!
Me with a butterfly.
Red Pandas are the cutest things in the forever.
That night, we attended Emma's Grandfather's birthday celebration. We were leaving the next morning for
, so it was a nice way to see the rest of Emma's family one last time on the trip. Sydney
Wednesday, 23rd June, 2010
Wednesday was our last few hours in
. Emma and I started our day by making a mad dash to Melbourne Acland street - we needed to do a pie run. The Pecan and Macadamia pies from one of the cake shops were our pie-ority.
After several bad puns, and another mad dash back to Robbi's house, we were off to the Titanic exhibition that was on at the
. The only problem was that we had to take our luggage with us *to* the museum to be able to make the flight out of Melbourne Museum on time. The coatroom clerk looked like he was going to kill us. Melbourne
The exhibit itself was a very interesting, albeit incredibly busy affair. As we shuffled along, perpetually shunted forwards by the people behind us, we saw identical mock-ups of various sections of the Titanic, as well as actual artefacts from the sunken wreck of the ship. At the end of the exhibit, I bought a piece of coal recovered from the sea floor as a souvenir. I suppose that it's just coal, but it is the history attached to it that makes it interesting.
Overall, I thought that the exhibit swung wildly between fascinating and terribly sad. It's amazing that a ship of that size would have so ill-equipped lifeboats. Very sad that the human life wasn't as valued as the cost of a few more lifeboats...
After being death stared by the coatroom clerk upon picking up our luggage, we made a bee-line for the bumblebee tram. It took us to Southern Cross, where we boarded a bus to take us to the Airport. On the way to the Airport, they showed a short promotional video about the other things that are happening around
. Australia Queensland's video didn't have a single shot of Brisbane in it, proving once again how much of a hole is... Brisbane
Before we knew it, we were at the airport, through check-in, security, and were eating under-cooked onion rings at a sad-looking Hungry Jacks (Burger King). Being the plane geek that I am, I spent most of my time photographing various movements of the aircraft on the Tarmac:
Our Boeing 767-300, VH-ZXB, arriving.
Taxiing to our gate.
Qantas Boeing 747-400, VH-OJM, probably resting there until a long haul service to
later that night. London
Soon, we were boarding. This time, we proceeded to the gate in a timely manner, and found our seats with ease. Once again, Emma gave me the window seat.
Qantas Flight QF 438
MEL - SYD
Aircraft: Boeing 767-300/ER
Window shot. Another 767 (VH-OGQ), just chillin'
A short time after boarding, we taxied out to the runway. The same pathetic kid threw the same pathetic paper aeroplane during the safety video. Then, we were soon hurtling down the runway at a much more impressive speed than our last flight. I definitely prefer the 767 to the 737.
Qantas' 767's are significantly older than their fleet of 737's, but this means that they aren't nearly as cramped, as they weren't built during an age where every square inch of cabin space has to be taken up by a ticket-buying person.
Making a sharp turn, pointing us Sydney-bound.
767 Cabin shot. Slightly larger tube of people flying.
A refreshment was served during the flight. It was the sugariest cupcake to ever be sugarified. I think I almost contracted diabetes looking at the thing, let alone eating it. Complaints aside, it was quite tasty. Just very very sweet.
The rest of the flight was fairly uneventful. Emma fell asleep on my shoulder, even though it was quite a short flight.
High above a sea of clouds. I love photos like these...
Below that sea of clouds...
not looking its best... Rainy and dreary... Sydney
Touchdown was interesting... The flaps on the aircraft were fully extended, and after the wheels made contact with the tarmac, the thrust reversers were engaged. All of this was normal, until I noticed that the flap located behind the engine was flailing around wildly, as if it was only attached by some duct tape. I'm sure this is well within the design specifications of the aircraft, but boy does it not look good to a passenger!
After touchdown, we made our way through luggage collection quickly, and were soon on the train to our Hotel. We stayed at the Sebel Pier One, which is in The Rocks district. The hotel was fantastic. So fantastic that I forgot to take any pictures of it, except for the one shot of the view from our room:
Having had such an epic day, we spent the rest of the day in our room. We ordered Room Service, which was awesome, and watched Masterchef. That TV show is at least twice as enjoyable when you're eating good food.
Thursday, 24th June, 2010
Our day started quite serenely. We went down to the buffet for breakfast, sampled some delicious food, read the newspaper, looked at the view, drank tea, and discovered that our Prime Minister had been kicked out of a job by his underlings during the night!
Wow, it isn't every day that something like this happens! I mean, given the history of the Melbourne-Sydney war, we clearly are a rowdy job, but this was the first time that something this dramatic had ever happened in the history of Australian politics... Meh! Emma and I continued to eat our breakfast, unphased.
Our first port of call in
was to see Toy Story 3 on the IMAX screen. Apparently it is the world's biggest IMAX screen, therefore making it the world's biggest movie screen. And yes, it was big. Mind-bogglingly big. Gargantuan, Massive, inescapably huge. We were in the back row, and every frame of the picture seared itself into our skulls like the blinding light of a thousand suns. Sydney
Ok, so it wasn't that bad, but the screen was big, OK?
Emma eating popcorn in the theatre.
Toy Story 3 itself was brilliant. Totally encapsulating, emotive, and very well written. But then again, I expect no less from a Pixar film.
After our movie ended, we went for a walk around
. Darling Harbour
Emma down by the water.
After our brief stroll around
, we set out on our mission to find the legendary Manao Soda once again. So, we did what all savvy tourists do, and caught the Monorail to Darling Harbour Chinatown.
Remember that episode of The Simpsons wherein they build a Monorail as a viable form of public transport around the city? Remember how it turns out to be expensive, nasty and gimmicky? Well, that's how I felt about
's monorail. Somewhat pointless. Sure, it gets you places slighty quicker than walking, but it definitely felt like a tourist attraction and nothing particularly practical... Sydney
Still, it did it's job, and we were soon in
Chinatown, in search once again of the elusive Manao Soda...
Hatsune Miku. Posted for Peter!
After strolling around various asian stores, we decided to look in the supermarket strip for the Manao Soda. Alas, our endeavours were fruitless. Every store we went into, we were met with the same puzzled look. Emma and I ended our search, concluding that this legendary drink was only available in
Thailand, and was too awesome for . Australia
We then made our way to Circular Quay, where we took a ferry across to Mosman. This is definitely one thing that
Sydney has over . Melbourne 's harbour is fantastic. Everywhere you look, you're encapsulated by the amazing views. The views were so amazing that I forced Emma to do the typical touristy thing, and have her photo taken with various landmarks in the background: Sydney
Emma and I... Facebook photo!
A boat called Emma.
After de-boating, we went for a long walk through the incredibly opulent suburbs of
North Sydney. Our destination was a fantastic restaurant called The Bather's Pavillion. Along the way, we saw an awesome house, which Emma insisted that I buy her for a "holiday house". I begrudgingly agreed to, whenever I become a multi-millionaire.
The best house ever.
Shortly afterwards, my camera battery died. Rest assured though, the meals that Emma and I had at the Bather's Pavillion were fantastic. Especially my Cheesecake desert. The only thing that could've made my meal better was if it was served with a glass of Manao Soda *single tear*.
Wednesday, 23rd June, 2010
Our last day in
began quite late in the day - our late checkout of the Hotel was awesome. We spent most of the day exploring the shops around The Rocks district, and we actually found a decent souvenir shop! The store had many wooden and stone carvings of native wildlife, authentic indigenous products, and locally made jewellery. Everything was very expensive, but if I were a foreign tourist, that is where I would've gotten my Australian memorabilia from. Ironically, the store was run by an American lady. Go figure. Sydney
Emma and I also explored an auction which was being held in the overseas passenger terminal at Circular Quay. It appeared as if a very rich person's entire estate was under the hammer. The walls were lined with antique furniture, taxidermied animals, and various fine art works. It was very, VERY, upper class. I didn't hear a single item sell for less than $15,000. Emma and I decided to leave quickly and quietly, as we didn't want to accidentally be mistaken for a bidder.
We then took a ferry over to Neutral Bay, where we had hot chocolate at a local cafe.
The view from the cafe.
Seagulls at the cafe, eagerly eyeing off our hot chocolates...
We were hoping to actually eat food, but we had come too late in the day. Instead, we walked up the road and waited for a Thai restaurant to open for the dinner service so we could get take away food. To fill in the time, we watched WALL-E on my iPhone. God bless technology.
After getting our Thai food, we realised that we were running out of time before we needed to go to the airport for our flight home. So, with a certain sense of urgency, we fled back to the ferry, back to Circular Quay, and back to our Hotel to collect our bags. We then caught a taxi to the train station, and before I knew it, my time in
was drawing to an end. Sydney
Circular Quay Train Station
Upon arrival to the airport, the check-in desks were fairly busy. The process didn't take too long however, and we were soon safely through security and were FINALLY able to actually eat our Thai dinner we had bought. I then did some looking around the terminals, as Emma waited patiently for her plane geek boyfriend to return.
I found a bunch of Qantas model aircraft, from their old and new fleets alike.
After I returned to the waiting Emma, we made our way to the gate.
Our 767, VH-ZXB, waiting patiently to take us home.
Qantas Flight QF 552
SYD - BNE
Aircraft: Boeing 767-300
Obligatory boarding pass shot.
View From windo- Hey wait a second! That's the plane that took us to
! VH-VXH. clearly she gets around alot. Melbourne
We soon taxied out onto the runway. It was a long taxi. A veeeery long taxi. Seriously, I think we taxied half way to
before we took off. This lengthy roll was made all the more taxing by the large group of Irish football fans sitting directly behind us. These passengers certainly made for some entertaining eavesdropping, but on the whole, their ability to have a long running conversation about EVERYTHING THAT WAS GOING ON (including the piss-poor paper aeroplane throw of the boy in the safety video) proved tiresome. Then, because it was an evening flight, Qantas broke out the free alcohol. These Irish passengers certainly did their nation's stereotype proud. They drank all the free alcohol they were given. And as there was a particularly lax flight attendant serving them, it was a lot of free alcohol. Brisbane
Aside from the drunken rowdiness behind us, our flight progressed quickly. I didn't bother to take any window shots, as all you could see was darkness. I did manage one cabin shot though:
Cabin shot. Complete with blur and out-of-focusness.
Before long, we began to descend into
. Our touchdown was smooth, and no flailing wing flaps were observed. The Irish passengers behind us then proceeded to ask whether or not we were in a different time zone. After being told that they weren't, they insisted that they were, because Brisbane Brisbane is further east than . There was a collective smack amongst the passengers, as we all simultaneously facepalmed. Sydney
After a quick de-planing, I took one last photo of our plane, and one last photo of Emma, before we made our way to be picked up by my dad.
Our 767, safe and sound in
Emma, sick of me taking photos of planes. :P
So, this travel blog didn't really tell you which city is better, did it? Well, something to agree on first: They're both better than
. But which city is better? They both have their charms. Brisbane Melbourne has great people, amazing architecture, and seems like a more liveable place than . Sydney on the other hand is an amazing city with a fantastic harbour, great restaurants, and a very lively feel to it. From the other Brisbaneites I've spoken to about the two cities, the opinions are divided down the middle 50/50. As for my opinion though? I'd have to say that they're both even. I'll have to get a game of Knifey-Spooney going to decide my final opinion. But don't tell too many people that... I don't want to alert any drop-bear attack squads to my location... Sydney
Next up: David's Great American Adventure! Los Angeles! San Francisco! New York!