25 July 2013

BEER!... and a Wedding [Australia]

While motivation levels are still relatively high I thought I might as well write about my recent trip to Australia. The main reason for my visit was to celebrate a friends wedding. I met Paul while living in London and hadn't caught up with him, or any of our mutual friends, since. So it was a perfect opportunity to catch up with him and the whole London crew all at once. And while I was at it I decided to take a couple of weeks off to drink VB, watch the footy and yell "'straya, c**t!" at random passer-bys / take a look around. Credit goes to my friends that took more photos than I did at the wedding etc, which I later stole off Facebook.

The wedding was held in Perth. While the weather in NZ wasn't bad, visiting Perth was like switching summer back on. The wedding itself was beautiful; the ceremony held in a Macedonian Orthodox church, and the reception in a function centre in Kings Park overlooking the city. Amazing food, lots of alcohol, dancing, traditional Macedonian dancing, making fools of ourselves dancing, and bunch of awesome people. A good time was had by all. True to form; we were still sinking beers while the cleaning crew was trying mop up around us, finally kicking us out at some ridiculous hour.

Unfortunately I had got the flu a couple of days before the trip. But having such a short visit meant I wasn't going to waste any time feeling sorry for myself. The day after the wedding a few of the ex-London crew; Fi, Rach, Gareth and I, joined a brewery tour in the Swan Valley. It was an awesome day out with plenty of beer and beautiful scenery. Things got a bit pear-shaped toward the end of the day when we switched from beer to this disgusting and extremely strong herbal liqueur. The tour leader was a bit of a character, a "true-blue" kinda guy with an endless supply of inappropriate jokes. Check out Top Gun Tours if you're ever in Perth.

While in Perth I also caught up with Dave, a mate from Auckland, and we took a drive a couple of hours south to do our own unofficial brewery tour. Again, perfect weather, beautiful scenery, and no shortage of beer. I really liked the boutique style micro-brewery 'culture'. It seems a lot of people are into more craft beers, and the industry has a lot of support in Australia. Compared with NZ where everyone just buys mainstream/big brand/mass produced. Some of the beer was f'n amazing! I definitely found a few favourites.

It sounds as though I spent most of my time in Perth drinking... and that's probably quite accurate. But I did manage to check out a bit of the city. Bron - one of the Melbourne posse - gave me a bit of a tour. And although I thought I would hate it, Perth is actually pretty cool. There are lots of open spaces in the city to chill out, good food, and awesome little side streets and hidden areas. And while it is a bit... sterile, business orientated etc, it's a cool city. I didn't actually take any photos, mainly because I'm hopeless. But I did manage to take a few of Scarborough beach (above).

After five days in Perth I moved on to Melbourne. I spent a week in the city, mainly catching up with friends and again, drinking. I stayed with Sarah, a friend I met in London, and her partner Mitch, who were amazingly hospitable. I caught up with Jax and Nic, also friends from London. I actually ended up staying with Nic in her amazing apartment in Elwood - a beautiful part of the city. I also saw Rach, a friend from Auckland, and Amy, another London compadre.

There's not too much for a tourist to "do" in Melbourne. I did check out Hosier Lane (AWESOME!), St Paul's Cathedral, and the Flinder St area, as well as the Royal Botanic Gardens, St Kilda and Docklands. But to be honest, most of my time was spent hanging out with friends, checking out cool coffee shops and obscure bars. Melbourne has lots of awesome, more... "alternative"... areas and suburbs, I spent a lot of time just wandering around and checking the place out.

Oh, and I can't forget the Great Beer SpecTAPular - a beer festival I managed to sneak in while visiting the city.

And finally I spent a few days in Sydney catching up with my brother, Dan, and checking out the sites. I really liked Sydney, probably helped by the glorious weather! I spent a whole day at Bondi Beach just lapping up the sun. There is a really beautiful coastal walk which goes all the way down to Coogee Beach. I didn't walk the entire track, but the parts I did see were stunning.

I hit all the standard Sydney tourist hot-spots, including a climb up the bridge pillar, had a good wander around the waterfront/opera house, Hyde Park, The Royal Botanic Gardens, Manly Beach etc. I quickly came to the conclusion that Sydney is a very cool city. There's lots to see and do, and it's just so damn pretty!

I was lucky enough to catch the Vivid festival while I was visiting. It's basically a festival of lights, where images are projected onto the buildings around The Rocks and Darling Harbour. The displays are extremely impressive, but very hard to catch on camera. I got a few OK shots below and a quick video, but it really does not do it justice.

Dan, Ange and I caught a ferry out to Cockatoo Island (an old prison and ship building yard) to take a look around. To be honest it was rather boring and I wouldn't recommend it. There were all these tents set up, which I thought was weird. It looks like people go out there to camp. I couldn't imaging spending more than an hour or two there to be honest...

All in all it was an epic trip. I got to catch up with a bunch of awesome old friends, made a few new ones, drunk and ate way too much, got to play tourist again which was fun after a 12 month+ break. Unfortunately when I got home it had decided to get all cold and wintery. Not ideal.

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