We got the phone call from my brother as we were picking up our bags on arrival and he was waiting outside for us in the toasty Melbourne sun. Third time lucky it seems for Melbourne as I finally got to see the place in summer, having been there twice in winter previously..

Geelong is smaller than I’d expected – just a few main streets, surrounded by the typical sprawling Australian suburbia. My brother’s house was better than the pictures – a standard Australian bungalow deal, but comfortably spacious with a large garden and a decked verandah to sit on and sip iced drinks whilst waiting for the steaks to barbecue…

Lots of our parents’ furniture was dotted around the house – wooden tables, dressers and writing desks that added an instant homeliness for me. The spare room/Marnie’s home office where we stayed was carpeted, with a large, comfy bed and was the best thing I could’ve wished for after the sorry beds KL, Vietnam and Bangkok had offered. The best thing also for Emma, who was still feeling ropey from her tonsillitis and general travel weariness.

Xmas week was great – a chance to recharge and recuperate, my brother and Marnie were fantastic at looking after us and meeting Isobel was so nice – she’s a lovely child, happy and outgoing, with a gorgeous smile and always singing (even though the words rarely make sense).

The evenings were still definitely jumper temperature and, after a cloudy start to our first morning, we sat in the garden with my brother just after midday, relaxing in the sun while waiting to head out for the afternoon. 20 minutes later, we ducked in, out of the sun and hopped in the car.

That afternoon we went to a cool little koala rescue centre. Emma loved it – touching koalas, seeing wombats sleeping nose-to-balls and getting her hair munched by galahs. It was only when we got back to the house that we realised exactly how burned we’d got that morning!
Watch, bracelet and clothing marks on our wrists, now traced lines through reddened forearms, chests and knees, marking out invisible clothes on us, letting us know exactly where we were in the world and how we should NOT fuck with the Australian sun!

Xmas eve and we nipped off on our own to check out Geelong Gold Class. Suited ushers, taking drinks and food orders, plush reclining chairs with integrated footrests, a personal table (just the right size for a couple of double southern comforts) and definitely NO shitkickers, talking in cuntmouth accents, ringing mobile phones or general annoying behaviour.

I love gold class.

Unfortunate we only had Harry Potter to watch.. Last gold class five years ago, was harry potter – bit of a better film last time, but there’s not many films that could’ve really ruined the awesomeness of gold class šŸ™‚

Xmas day was a case of hiding from the sun and eating. Mark had organised the food – a sizeable whole red snapper, marinated and poached in the oven, BBQ’d chicken legs, lamb chops and beef steaks – all accompanied by salads, veggies, wine and beers. Fantastic!
Presents were opened, with Isobel the clear winner in terms of both quality and quantity. We also got to meet some of Marnie’s relatives – her mum and dad being great characters – warm and welcoming – proper Australian hospitality šŸ™‚

Boxing day was mostly sleeping – tummies a little to heavy to drag out of bed perhaps… In the afternoon we took a drive to the first bit of the Great Ocean Road. I’d never done it before and it was great to go see all the beautiful Coastal towns like Lorne and chill out in the afternoon sun (well covered of course..).

Mark and family were off after our visit for a holiday in Adelaide and kangaroo island, but the day before, we went to Ballarat, the mining town just outside Melbourne. Little bit of a tacky tourist attraction, but fun to wander around and wonder what life was like for people back then.. We took the tour down into the mines, accompanied by the loudest tour guide ever.. We stayed near the back of the group, protecting our ears from the information that was bellowed at us.

I would’ve been a shame to have Emma come all the way to Australia to see only my bro’s place and the surrounds, so we kinda felt that we needed an extra day in Melbourne to see some more of the city and do some touristy stuffs šŸ™‚

We had lunch in lanes, chilled out in St Kilda, stopping at a gorgeous little coffee shop for a break. It was so nice and relaxed down there – we stayed until the evening, watched the sun set amidst the screaming birds, grabbed some fish and chips and finished off with a super-chilled pint of bulmers cider each..

Our last full day in Australia, we jumped on a tour up to Puffing Billy and healesville, with a lunch stop at a winery for a glass of their produce and a full-on roast. Healesville was another chance to see koalas and other Australian wildlife. We missed the lyrebird unfortunately, but got lots more wombat and koala snaps. We also stopped at the bird car park place.. It’s basically a cafe a car park where loads of cockatoos, galahs and other parroty-type-things fly down and eat from your hand, head or anywhere else they think you’ve got food. Regular shrieks from people as they were landed upon šŸ™‚

..and that was Australia for this time.. Promises to return (as per usual) and the sincere hope that we keep them soon..