|Back to Diary||24th June 1988||OZ - 25th|
|The trip began months before we left; passports, visas, tickets, letters etc. Arrangements to take care of: animals, vehicles, equipment. Arrangements at work, homework for kids. I took a couple days off prior to departure to get everything organized and was doing that right up to the last minute.
THE NUMBER OF TIMES BEFORE AND DURING THE TRIP THAT I HAD TO RE-PACK!! We brought a minimum of clothing and just two suitcases, but...
Mary Benson fed us breakfast and Owen brought us to the airport at 5:45AM. It began with an Air New Zealand flight from Auckland to Melbourne. Departure tax now $10 (up from $2). We bought duty-free whiskey, Drambuie, Galiano triple set, film and $50 in stuffed kiwis to use as gifts.
Was a three hour flight leaving just enough time to watch Harrison Ford in Frantic, which is wasn't. (video)
Arrived at 9:40AM to 15°C. We really wanted to get to Adelaide but no flight there from Auckland, so we picked up a red Thrifty Holden Commodore rental ($75/day) at Melbourne airport and had our first encounter with the Australian version of road signs, as we went back and forth on the motorway trying to find the correct exit to a nearby shopping mall which had a KMART; after all, that is why we went to OZ. It was great after three years away from them - loaded up. Lunch at Westfield shopping mall (heated and we found it too warm) and had a Greek souvlaki - sort of a sausage-spring roll that was very good. Owner was happy to serve me and answer my questions even though he was very busy. David and I bought identical running shoes at $15. Our first impressions: the people were short (Greeks and Italians) and the place was so lively. There was a buzz - people were having a good time, enjoying life. Everyone was genuinely friendly. Another obvious thing was the sad condition of cars, bashed in and rusty, unlike NZ where the slightest imperfection is fixed immediately. We didn't ride on the iconic trams but David did get a patch. (video)
That first night was spent in townhouse D22, City Gardens Apartments, in a nice setting in North Melbourne. Underground parking, two bathrooms, dishwasher, garbage disposal and bedrooms upstairs - all for $106 (video). Water undrinkable. Real bismarks. Five TV channels.
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