SXSW 2007

This is my travel blog. It started as a way for people to keep up with my trip to Australia to watch the 2006/7 Ashes series, and continued with my trip to SXSW 2007 in Austin, Texas, and Las Vegas in March '07.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

England’s ineptitude at the MCG has given us a few extra days to explore Melbourne and it’s surroundings. Yesterday Moz went out to the Dandenong Mountains for a trip on the Puffing Billy steam train, and I went to Williamstown to have a wander around and visit the railway museum there. (The more observant of you may notice a bit of theme in my museum visits). Williamstown was the original port for Melbourne but was superseded by the current port in Melbourne itself. It’s now a chi-chi sort of resort for Melburnians to visit the seaside at. In the evening we both went to the cinema, Moz to see the new Bond one, Casino Royale, and I to see a film that Kerry O’Keefe recommended to Aggers on the ABC radio commentary. It was an Australian film, low budget mockumentary about a guy who works for a Portaloo hire company. Quite comedic, but also rather touching in places as well. In all a good little film, much better than the usual Hollywood crap, although it did make me feel rather nauseous towards the end due to the jerky camera work!
Today Moz went on his wine tour to the Yarra valley. (His verdict - very good indeed. I’ll leave you to decide what that means……..). I decided to get the train up to Bendigo which was the largest goldfield in Victoria. There is an old mine there that you can go underground at and see how the gold was mined. It closed in about 1954 but was opened up for tourists in the 80’s. The main shaft is very deep - apparently you could fit the tallest building in Melbourne (the 55 storey Rialto tower) in the shaft twice! The tour only goes down to the 2nd level down of about 17, about 60m underground. You have to wear hard hats and miners lamps though. They have fitted a larger hoist to take the tours down, as the main shaft is only about 4 foot square. Everything had to go into or come out of the mine via that small hole. If the winding gear failed it would take 3 hours for the men to climb the ladders back to the surface. After the tour down the mine I looked round the museum which was very interesting - the winding gear is steam driven by the original engine and is still operational. You can also pan for gold. They have some ore from the mine which you can crush and swill around a panning dish and hopefully find a few tiny grains of gold. Unfortunately all I found was iron Pyrites - better known as Fools Gold!
After the mine I took a trip on the Bendigo tram which was saved from closure in the early 1970’s by some very forward sighted citizens and now operates as a tourist attraction along the main street from one end of town to the other. They have the original 1903 tram depot still working and a collection of electric trams from around the world. There must be something about the State of Victoria that loves trams as Melbourne never got rid of it’s trams either. It definitely adds character to a place.
Anyway it’s goodbye Melbourne tomorrow and off to Sydney for the last leg of our trip. The NYE boat cruise round the harbour will be one highlight, and I hope an improved England performance will be the other. Last time they managed to avoid the dreaded 5-0 scoreline with a face saving win, in fact possibly the last time Australia lost at home. Lets hope they can repeat it this time as well.


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