Western Far

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Tasmania disappeared on the horizon as I winged my way back to Melbourne on Friday, Jan 19. I had four days to say a final farewell to Melbourne before returning to Perth, work, and one last month in Australia. I caught up with Alex at his place, where he was kind enough to let me crash again. We were going to go out that night but Alex was still under the weather a bit from the night prior, so I met up with Andrew in St. Kilda and grabbed a few drinks and some food. Sunday was spent wandering around Melbourne, stopping, of course, at Stalactites for a souvlaki and to say hello to Paris, Nicole, and Vicky. I spent the next day home fixing up some of the very major problems that appeared when we moved FrankBlack.Net to a new server. In fact, I spent day and night doing that, which was a big pain, but it was a relief to finally have it working again and one less monkey on my back. Tuesday morning I met up with Melinda to go to the Australian Open tennis. She brought a full picnic once again from the Victoria markets and we watched several matches in the very reasonably priced outdoor. I’m not much of a tennis fan, but there were players there that even I recognized. Sharapova was playing in the much more pricey arena that night and Melinda and I managed to catch a game between the Williams sisters and some Chinese doubles. It was great to see these athletes so closely doing what they do better than almost anyone. I caught up with Catherine for a beer or two at Transport bar, once more with Andrew (I was trying to meet up with Ferg as well, but it just didn’t work out) and then I was off the next morning (Jan 23) back to Perth.

My first day back at work was Jan 27, the day after Australia Day. Daren picked me up at the airport, which was very good of him. I should mention that Alex also dropped me off at the airport in Melbourne, which was likewise very appreciated – it’s a pain getting very expensive shuttles really early in the morning to and from the airport. I had drinks with Daren and Janine that evening, spent the next day running around town getting some errands done (including immunizations for Asia!) and clothes cleaned, and Friday went into Matilda Bay for Adam’s farewell dinner. I probably – ok, I definitely – had a drink or two too many on an empty stomach. There was food, but it was all finger foods and as a result of one of my shots I hadn’t eaten anything all day except that. So it was that the next morning, Australia Day, I was in dire need of a greasy breakfast. Daren obliged in the traditional Australian fashion – a BBQ.

Meanwhile, it turned out that another friend from Saskatoon was in Perth, Brett Marcoux, and we had arranged to meet up at Daren’s Australia Day party and bring some Canadian camaraderie to this celebration of Australiana. It was a great day, and I was glad to not only be at Daren’s for it, but in Perth, where it’s probably the biggest holiday of the year. I caught Sydney’s New Years fireworks and I caught Perth’s Australia Day fireworks. Not to mention two BBQs of goodies, some great home brewed beer by Dazza, and various shenanigans on the foreshore of South Perth. Brett crashed at Daren’s and took the bus with me in the morning as I rode off to work. My first day back at work I was a little nervous about, but I really hadn’t forgotten as much as I was afraid I may have. And comically enough, the next day on the bus to work, who should be sitting there but Brett. The strangeness of this occurrence was a little overwhelming. When I got off the bus yesterday to transfer, he had stayed on. The girl behind us had heard us talking and discovered that we were both Canadians and Brett was looking for somewhere to stay that night. She invited him to tag along with her for the day (they were both Fremantle bound) and he wound up staying at her place, not far up the road from Daren’s, the next night. So it was that leaving her place that morning he was on the same bus line and at the same time as me.

I didn’t see much of anyone or anything but work until that Sunday when a day I had long been looking forward to finally arrived: Big Day Out. Yes, this landmark of Australian music festivals was bringing Arcade Fire, Spoon, Augie March, Paul Kelly, Rage Against The Machine, and more right to Perth, and I had a ticket. Brett had a ticket. Daren and Janine and their friends had tickets. Avram had a ticket. Friends from work all had tickets. It was going to be a great day. We arrived in style, Beno, one of Daz’s friends, drove us in nice and early and we beat the lines for tickets, drinks, and several small bands I was hoping to see. I met up with Brett and we saw Spoon and Arcade Fire together. Both were disappointing, but I feel that this is the nature of festivals. Like traveling, a festival is akin to a whirlwind tour of Europe. You see all the sights but don’t really experience the culture. Whereas an individual show is more like sitting at the cafĂ© and really absorbing one band.

Add to this that Arcade Fire’s sound and energy is lost on a grand plain with lots of people who know them only in name and weren’t really too excited and Spoon was relegated to a small stage that was largely forgotten and it explains why, I suppose. Don’t get me wrong, I quite enjoyed seeing them live, both were great, it just wasn’t what I was hoping for. The only band that really impressed me was Paul Kelly, and I think that was because he was up against Rage. I would’ve stuck around for Rage but I could neither see nor be close to them in any way, it was like everyone at the festival was there for them. So Paul Kelly’s fans were excited, ravenous, and, let’s face it, the man put on a great show. He reminds me a bit of FB&C’s, which is a good thing, and I am thoroughly happy I checked him out instead of hanging out so I could name-check Rage in my “bands I’ve seen – sort of” list.

After Big Day Out, there’s little to report. I’ve been working as much as possible to save up for Asia, I’ve discovered that I should get about half the tax I’ve paid back, I’m now (hopefully) immune to several unpleasant Asian afflictions, and I have my tickets booked. I fly to Denpasar (Bali) on Feb 25th, to Singapore (tentatively) on Mar 18th, and home from Beijing (subject to change) on Aug 5th. I also booked a whirlwind tour of the south west, the as yet only remaining area of Australia for me to explore. Well, sure, there are plenty of things I missed, like the Simpson desert and outback New South Wales for a start, but I feel like, with this done, I will have seen everything I wanted to here in Australia. Meanwhile, Brett has taken off to New Zealand, leaving on Friday Feb 8. We were supposed to go to Rottnest that day but it didn’t work out with his flight, so instead we grabbed lunch at Little Creatures Brewery – chili mussels and two pizzas. And many more beer. It was a great way to spend an afternoon, and a very Perth thing to do. We’ll hopefully meet up somewhere in Asia for a few days, it was great to catch up with him and I’m sure we’ll both have plenty more stories by then.

Daren likewise is gone, which means I’m looking after his place. It would be nice to have him around but he’s up north with Janine doing a little travel of his own, and it is also nice to have a place to myself. I haven’t really had much of that as you might imagine. Still, there are times I’d like to come home and have someone to have a drink with. I guess you can’t have it both ways. At this point I have two shifts left of work – Valentine’s Day and Sunday the 17th. I can’t believe how fast the end is coming to my year in Australia. I can’t believe how fast one year came and went since I left home on Jan 15th. A lot has happened at home and abroad since then including the passing of my pappou – my Greek grandfather – one year to the day after my departure from Canada. I discovered this when I made a payphone call from Lake St Clair in Tasmania to wish my mom a happy birthday on the 17th of Jan, which was the 16th back home. They’d been trying to get a hold of me and of course I was out of reception completely. I never did get to know him all that well as a result of my poor Greek and his poor English, and that’s probably what is most upsetting about it. But the world keeps spinning down here as up there and each day brings change. I will have to spend some time with my aunts and uncles when I get home to try and piece together some of that history so that it is not lost to me for good.

But looking back at my own history, in particular this last year and all the adventures I’ve undertaken across this great land, life has been good, it has been interesting, and it has been better than I could wish for. Perfect by no means, but perhaps better. I hope that everyone following along is likewise finding and doing things they enjoy in this grand adventure we have all of us embarked upon, and I look forward to our trails crossing in the future. Until then, my path will continue to be charted here as I finish in Australia and venture into the Asian unknown.

Australia Day Photos
Big Day Out Photos

No comments: