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MELBOURNE - BUZZY'S RECCIE PART 2!!!

MELBOURNE - BUZZY'S RECCIE PART 2!!!

Old Dec 13th 2006, 8:12 am
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Smile MELBOURNE - BUZZY'S RECCIE PART 2!!!

This is part 2 of my reccie report to Brisbane and Melbourne. I hope you enjoy the report and photos. I’ll be happy to answer any questions anyone has about the areas to the best of my knowledge.

Couple of Caveats –

1. Everything in here is my opinions and observations. I apologise if these don’t agree with others opinions.
2. We were exceptionally lucky with the weather which definitely positively coloured our opinions of Melbourne. Or maybe it’s like that all the time….
3. You may find this report more touristy than the Brisbane one, on account of the fact that we hadn't been to Melbourne before. However, just for Badge, there are still no dolphins, although an Echidna did slip in to the narrative....
4. It’s best if you click “New Reply” at bottom left to respond to this post rather than “Reply” at bottom right. This will ensure you don’t quote my entire post in your reply!

Day 8 continued - 23rd November – arrival in Melbourne

After arriving at Tullamarine airport, Melbourne I took the Skybus to Spencer Street railway station. The Skybus is a great way to get from the airport to central Melbourne and costs $15 one way. You can book it online. I met up with BE poster thebears outside a coffee shop, which seemed the natural place to meet in Melbourne, and we went up the Rialto tower and looked at the fantastic wide-reaching views over the city and out to the Bellarine and Mornington Peninsulas.

Click to see a picture of the view from the Rialto tower

We had a great lunch up there, and then while thebears returned to work I walked up Collins Street to explore the CBD. I found Melbourne to be very cosmopolitan; the shopping looks amazing – Tiffany, Escada, all the expensive stores are represented there. People were dining out at pavement cafes

Click to see a picture of pavement diners

while the trams “ding-dinged” past.

Click to see a picture of trams in Collins Street.

I just loved the sound of the trams - it made me feel like I was in a very exotic foreign location. Then I realised I was in a very exotic foreign location, it was only the fact that people were speaking English that fooled me otherwise. I watched cars doing hook turns at junctions which was an education. I people-watched for ages, and then found the beautiful gardens of Fitzroy Park and walked round admiring the plants and exotic looking trees.

Click to see a picture of Fitzroy gardens

I was astounded to come across Captain Cook’s cottage – a piece of Lincolnshire in Melbourne which looked most out of place – a bit like “Last of the Summer Wine” had been accidentally dumped in Australia.

Click to see a picture of Captain Cook’s Cottage

I walked past the government buildings and back down Bourke Street. While waiting for thebears in a coffee bar and had a delicious skinny decaf latte for $2.50.

Thebears drove me back to his house via their daughter’s nursery. They live in the lovely leafy area of Malvern with nice older houses. Had a nice dinner and a chat with them that evening.

Day 9 - 24th November – Melbourne CBD

I took the tram from Malvern into CBD and got off at Flinders Street. Travelling by tram is quite relaxing but rather slower than the train. It’s a bit like riding a bus in London rather than the tube, if you get my meaning.

Click to see a picture of the inside of a tram.

I then crossed the Yarra River into Alexandra gardens and made some business phone calls to employment agents. It was a stunningly beautiful day, and seated in my “office” by the banks of the river, looking over the CBD, was really special.

Click to see a picture of the CBD from the South Bank of the Yarra.

Luckily I had my wireless laptop with me, so I then walked up into the CBD, to “Australia on Collins”, which is a shopping centre that has completely free wireless internet access, so I was able to follow up some of my phone calls with emails. I walked all around the CBD, and had lunch at Chinatown in a food court where you can get every single sort of Asian cuisine.

Click to see a picture of Chinatown.

I had really yummy Korean food for $7 for 3 dishes and rice. After walking further round the CBD, I went for a meeting with an employment agent. It was a very good meeting over coffee. The agent was very encouraging although we didn’t discuss specific jobs. I then walked to the park next to Parliament house and sat for a bit in the sun.

Click to see a picture of Parliament House.

I then walked to an English Pub “The Elephant and Wheelbarrow”. I was to meet here a man who is very influential in my industry in Melbourne, together with the BE poster who was introducing us. We had a very good meeting there over a few beers, although we were rather distracted by England getting thrashed in the first test in the background. I was also lucky enough to be introduced to another chap who worked for a large employer in Melbourne so business cards were exchanged all round.

After rather too many beers I strolled down to the Greek quarter, to a restaurant called “Elements on Lonsdale” where I was having a meal with Posters Roadrunner, CasG, thebears, johnsyweb, thribble, and Hels. The whitebait and Calamari went down very well, topped off with my favourite rough peasant wine in the world – Retsina, and the company was very convivial, it was great to meet everyone. Thebears will tell you that I passed out in the car on the way home babbling about Brisbane and chipmunks. What a great evening in all!

Day 10 - 25th November – Diving Mornington Pier

In the morning I went to the local Coles and noticed their bananas were now down to $7.90. That’s still about 50p a banana so I was looking for further reductions before my trip was over! I bought some shopping, casually observing that cat food and cat litter were significantly cheaper here than in Sainsbury’s.

Thebears provided takeaway coffees, croissants and pain au chocolates for breakfast – yum!!!

After breakfast we went shopping in Malvern briefly and then I boarded the train to Frankston. The fare was $7 Malvern – Frankston and the journey took about 45 mins.

Click to see a picture of the inside of the train.

The train journey was very like my London tube journey – frequent stops every few minutes. There was lots of graffiti, and rubbish etc on the train tracks. I was amused by the advertisement on the train aimed at fare dodgers which said – “Fare evaders – please thank the person next to you who has paid for your ride. Perhaps you could offer to mow their lawn.”

I left the train at Frankston, I had to, it was the end of the line. BE poster Rob Cowan met me off the train and we drove to his house where his wife, bless her, had yummy bacon sandwiches waiting for us. We collected the tank and weights from local dive store Harbour Dive and continued to Mornington Pier, where we met with BE poster Dirk Diggler who would be diving with us, and his wife Caroline G who was to be onshore support! The three of us dived Mornington Pier, and I have to say it was an absolutely fantastic dive. For those of you interested in diving, the maximum depth was 8.3m, viz 8m+, temperature 18 degrees, bottom time 65 mins. We saw some great fish, big stingrays and a seahorse, which was an animal I had never seen before!

Click to see a picture of a large stingray off Mornington Pier

After diving thebears picked me up from the Pier and we went on a tour of the local area, returning via the M1 and Toorak. Lamb chops were served for dinner, their purchase price was less than the UK and the quality was better.

Day 11 - 26th November – Williamstown and the Mornington Peninsula

After breakfast thebears drove me across the Westgate Bridge to Williamstown where we looked at the boats and the view of the CBD,

Click to see a picture of the CBD from Williamstown

walked along the pier, and saw the Williamstown motorbike club’s incredible collection of motorbikes.

We then crossed the Bridge again and drove out to Frankston and looked at the beach by Kananook creek, trying to find where the Frankston meet was going to be the following Saturday. It turned out that we got it completely wrong…. We then drove down to Mt Eliza and Mt Martha, my brain overloading on the sights all the way! We had lunch at a great restaurant in Mount Martha which makes the most amazing home made pies, and then headed to Safety beach so thebears daughter could play on the sand. Safety Beach is stunning, gorgeous turquoise sand – very empty of people. I could have easily been fooled into thinking I was on a Caribbean or Pacific Island. I was so enamoured with Safety Beach that I resolved to bring the Buzzettes to play on it when they arrived.

Click to see a picture of Safety Beach

We returned to Malvern via St Kilda and Chapel St, then in the evening thebears drove me out to the airport to collect my hire car, a 7-seater Kia Carnival.

Day 12 - 27th November – Melbourne CBD and reunion with the Buzzettes

In the morning I had another agency interview in Queen Street. This one was most depressing, the agent was full of doom and gloom, not about the job market, but about how there was no work/life balance in Oz and you were always contracted to work 10 hours a day. This was at odds to what the other agent had said and I have come to the conclusion it very much depends on the employer. Opinions from those working already would be welcome!

The rest of the day was spent in the car. I drove out to Frankston Big4 and dropped off my stuff, spending 5 seconds in the unit before driving back to the airport to collect the Buzzy family.

Driving on the Melbourne main roads and motorways is better than in the SE of England, the roads are wider and smoother with less road works although the traffic can be just as bad. I haven’t experienced too much of the poor driving people speak of, however I tend to fit in to the driving wherever I am by adapting my driving style. I have great memories of circling the Arc de Triomph in Paris dodging French drivers, shaking my fist and shouting “Salaud!”, “Espece de Con!” etc, Melbourne is just as much fun as everywhere else.

Upon arrival at the airport I was rather surprised to find that the parking fees there were more expensive than at Heathrow! I therefore hatched a cunning plan – I went and parked in Mcdonalds car park, politely purchased and ate a Zonker with Cheese or whatever they are called and then returned to the airport car park with minutes to spare. Hah! You won’t catch Buzzy napping. I had an emotional reunion with Mrs Buzzy, the Buzzettes and Mrs Buzzy’s mother (Nan to the Buzzettes) and then drove the 90k’s back to the Big4 Holiday Park. Mrs Buzzy was most impressed by the views of the CBD from the motorway. Mrs Buzzy senior was most unimpressed – “it’s a city, it has buildings and traffic”. Such is the opinion of the rural New Zealand farmer.

Day 13 - 28th November – relaxing on the Peninsula

Frankston Big4 does what it says on the tin. It’s a campsite with holiday cabins that provide basic accommodation.

Click to see a picture of our unit at Frankston Big4.

We fed the Buzzettes their breakfast –

Click to see a picture of the inside of Frankston Big4 unit

and set off exploring.

Today was to be a “day off” serious reccieing, to allow the Buzzy family time to get over their flight from New Zealand. So after collecting some shopping for the week, we returned to Safety Beach where the Buzzettes had a great time on the beach, in the sea and at the playground.

On the way back to Mount Martha we were privileged enough to see an Echidna crossing the road. These look like a big hedgehog and are one of the only two mammals in the world to lay eggs (the other being the Duck Billed Platypus). I carefully stopped to allow this remarkable creature time to cross and put my hazard warning lights on to alert any hoons behind me that there was wildlife on the road.

Click to see a picture of an Echidna crossing the road.

We had lunch at the same pie restaurant at Mt Martha I had been to previously (it turned out the owner was from Bromley), then drove round Mornington,

Click to see a picture of Mornington beach

Mt Eliza,

Click to see a picture of a beach in Mount Eliza

Frankston and Seaford. We returned to the Big4 and explored their facilities. The place is great for kids, there is a jumping pillow, which you can’t use in the heat of the day as it gets too hot on the feet, and a swimming pool which we made full use of. I cooked a BBQ in the evening at the free BBQs there. I was most impressed, in fact, to find completely free BBQs at every park and every beach.

Day 14 - 29th November – exploring West Melbourne

Nan was looking after the Buzzettes today so that Mrs Buzzy and I could go off exploring.

We first drove to Point Cook to the house of BE poster “Fraser”. There was very heavy traffic on M1 on the way there. Fraser gave us the tour of his new house, and then we all drove to Point Cook Beach. Fraser described it as a winter beach, and I could see what he meant as it was wild and windswept.

Click to see a picture of Point Cook beach.

We had a brief look round Sanctuary Lakes, which is an estate that seems to be a bit more spacious than the ones in Brisbane, and then drove to Altona through Altona Meadows. Altona has a very good looking beach.

Click to see a picture of Altona beach

Fraser took us on a guided tour of Coles supermarket for the benefit of Mrs Buzzy. We then drove on to Werribbee and had a fantastic Vietnamese meal at one of Fraser’s favourite restaurants for $7 each, which was truly excellent. After lunch we continued on to Werribbee South beach, which was very quiet and rural.

Click to see a picture of Werribbee South.

Fraser told us, however that this peace and quiet would soon be shattered by a big marina being built there. We returned to Frasers house and looked round some Metricon display homes which were open near his street. We also tried to look round Clarendon display homes but for some reason these were closed. This turned out to be a common theme for Clarendon on other estates too. We didn’t really like the layout of the display homes (which of course can be changed) and also found the build quality very average. More about that later.

We took the Buzzettes swimming again when we got back to the Big4.

Day 15 - 30th November – The Dandenongs

Today we were headed to the Dandenongs, and on the way were stopping at Ferntree Gully Nissan to test drive a Nissan Pathfinder Ti, which was the car I wanted to buy when we arrive permanently. Nan and the Buzzettes decided they wanted to come too, so I was very pleased to find the Nissan dealership had a play area for the girls to keep them amused while Mum and Dad talked boring stuff like litres per 100k and side curtain airbags.

Now the difference between the Dandenongs and other areas we were reccieing was that they are of course not near the sea, however there are some reasonably sizeable lakes in the vicinity, such as Lysterfield lake, which when we visited was deserted and very beautiful.

Click to see a picture of Lysterfield Lake

Leaving the lake, we drove round the Dandenong areas of Belgrave, Sassafras and Olinda. We found them to be lovely little hill villages, with gorgeous older houses on big plots of land.

We had a picnic lunch at a lovely park in Belgrave.

Click to see a picture of park in Belgrave.

There were Kookaburas, Sulphur Crested Cockatoos and Galah Cocaktoos flying around the park and the whole feeling was of being in a very wild, greener place than down by the sea. There was a well-provided play park for the girls and even the public toilets were camouflaged.

Click to see a picture of camouflaged toilets in Belgrave.

Public toilets in Australia are generally plentiful and clean, with toilet paper etc, although for some reason soap seems to be pretty rare, obviously to make all the English visitors feel more at home.

We then drove round the nearby areas of Upwey, Tacoma, and Upper Ferntree Gully. These were more urban than Sassefras and Olinda and less to our taste. We finished off the afternoon by calling in on BE poster The Crow and her family who live in a lovely old house in The Basin on 1000m2 section. Their garden includes a garage about as big as my entire house in the UK, which they were still trying to work out how to make best use of.

We stopped off at some more display homes on the way back. I have to say that while the design of these homes is amazing, the quality of the build is dreadful. I opened the patio doors at one display home and they bent in my hand like Rolf Harris’s wobble board!

Upon returning to the Big4 I barbied sausages for dinner. Now Australian sausages are of a different composition to UK sausages and have a tendency when you are cooking them to become the shape of bananas. If anyone can advise me how to cook the inside curve of the sausage I would be most grateful.

Day 16 - 1st December – Melbourne CBD

This morning I had another agency interview, and decided to treat it as if I was actually going to work that day, and to experience the commute from Frankston. So I left the Big4 (with Mrs Buzzy who was coming along for sightseeing) at 6.50am, intending to catch the 7.20am train from Frankston to the CBD. I parked the car at Frankston station and looked around frantically for a machine to buy a parking ticket. A friendly Australian informed me that the parking was in fact free, which was simply marvellous. I actually made it in time to take the 7.05am, which is an express train, not stopping at every station. In fact it doesn’t miss out that many stations, and takes 50 mins to the first CBD station, which is Parliament. Trains in Melbourne don’t seem to go under or over roads like they do in England, there are level crossings everywhere and it made me feel terribly important seeing queues of cars waiting at every crossing while we sailed past, the crossing gates sounding their “ding ding ding” warning which I was quite taken by. It was rather like being in an Agatha Christie novel.

One thing to bear in mind if you are planning to commute to Melbourne CBD is that the CBD train stations are in a loop. So on the Frankston line the train passes through Parliament first, and on through Central, Southern Cross etc and ends at Flinders Street. This needs to be borne in mind when working out your length of commute. Parliament to Flinders Street is almost 15 minutes and it may be quicker to walk from Parliament.

Today, we left the train at Parliament and walked down Collins Street to where my interview was. The interview was good today and we discussed some specific employers that might be interested in my talents. Mrs Buzzy explored some of the CBD while I was engaged, then we went together to Victoria market. This is an amazing big market area in the CBD, where you can buy everything – Meat, veg, clothes, puppies, pigeons, anything.

Click to see a picture of Victoria Market.

I then showed Mrs Buzzy some more of the CBD and we took a very slow pleasant stroll back to Flinders St Station, taking in parks, gardens,

Click to see a picture of gardens in Melbourne.

the Ethnic areas, the South Bank, the design museum,

Click to see a picture of the Design Museum

St Pauls Cathedral etc. Melbourne really has a lovely CBD which seems to combine the best bits of London, New York, Asian cities and European cities. We took the train back to Frankston, returned to the unit to rescue Nan from the Buzzettes and drove to Frankston’s Bayside shopping centre. Mrs Buzzy wanted to look at the shopping centre and she was suitably impressed by its size and variety of shops.

Click to see a picture of Bayside Shopping Centre

In the evening I went with BE poster JonD and his wife to a pub in Mornington which looked over Port Philip Bay, a lovely setting to have a drink.

Day 17 - 2nd December – Frankston Beach meet-up.

In the morning Mrs Buzzy and I decided to have a look round the back blocks of South Frankston and Mt Eliza, looking at streets and houses. We were suitably reassured that we could afford a reasonable property here should we choose. Then we went back to the Big4, picked up the family and drove down to Frankston beach for the meet. It was great to meet up with so many people on such a lovely warm sunny day and I drank far too much beer and had a great time. The playground there is incredibly well equipped for everyone’s needs. Again I was most impressed with free parking, free BBQ’s (although BE poster thribble found these to be not very hot ones!) and even a swing for disabled people!

Click to see a picture of the Frankston Beach Meet.

We returned to the Big4 and took the Buzzettes for a drunken push round the holiday park. That is, I was drunk, not them, they’re only 18 months old for goodness sake!

Day 18 – 3rd December – Frankston beach again and leaving for the airport.

We decided to return to Frankston beach and have a good look round it, as we had been so busy chatting to fellow expats at the meet we hadn’t had a chance to really explore. We walked across the bridge over Kananook creek

Click to see a picture of Kananook Creek Bridge

and along the pier.

Click to see a picture of Frankston Pier

We then strolled all along the boardwalks towards Oliver’s Hill which the Buzzettes absolutely loved although getting them to go in the same direction was a bit like herding fish.

Click to see a picture of Frankston beach boardwalks

After a good sleep in the afternoon we headed for Tullamarine airport and our midnight flight back to London.

So, I know you are dying to know, dear reader, what made us so definitely and unequivocally choose Melbourne? So here are the reasons –

1. The CBD. With its trams, parks, restaurants, cafes, museums, it is truly cosmopolitan and unlike everywhere else I have been in Oz.
2. The beaches. Melbourne’s beaches are stunning. I can’t wait to spend time on them, whether it be swimming in summer or walking the dog in winter.
3. The surrounding countryside. Although we didn’t get much chance to visit this, the parts we saw impressed us. Camping and hiking will be great.
4. The food and drink. Melbourne seems to be a gastronome’s heaven.
5. It just felt right for us. I can’t explain that. It just did.

We can’t wait to return next year!



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Old Dec 13th 2006, 8:20 am
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Default Re: Melbourne - Buzzy's Reccie Part 2!!!

you are a beauty
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Old Dec 13th 2006, 8:21 am
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Default Re: MELBOURNE - BUZZY'S RECCIE PART 2!!!

Excellent post again Buzzy.

Sounds like you had a wonderful time on your reccie.
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Old Dec 13th 2006, 8:29 am
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Default Re: MELBOURNE - BUZZY'S RECCIE PART 2!!!

truely stunning post Buzzy

Melbourne looks good for us as well then
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Old Dec 13th 2006, 8:30 am
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Default Re: MELBOURNE - BUZZY'S RECCIE PART 2!!!

Great post and pleased to see you made it to Williamstown!

Your view was taken from just about the same spot as this (a few months ago in winter):



(and on the same spot, looking the other way):



Thanks again for such a good report and piccies.

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Old Dec 13th 2006, 8:39 am
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Default Re: MELBOURNE - BUZZY'S RECCIE PART 2!!!

Superb post.
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Old Dec 13th 2006, 8:43 am
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Default Re: MELBOURNE - BUZZY'S RECCIE PART 2!!!

What a fab reccie report. Sounds like you had a brilliant time.
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Old Dec 13th 2006, 8:50 am
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Default Re: MELBOURNE - BUZZY'S RECCIE PART 2!!!

It's strange to see places I walk regularly posted as someone else's holiday! I have to agree though - from the minute I arrived in Melbourne it just felt right. I loved the Vic markets, the trams (and I'm pretty sure Johnsyweb wants to be a tram, the number of times he says, "ding ding"), the attitude of the people...

My only regret (and it's a very very tiny one) is that we rented a flat the other side of Albert Park to the beaches. It's either a very long walk (we have to go half way round the lake and then across) or at least two trams. Still, it is a very small regret, and if we were desperate there's always St Kilda!

See you next year, Buzzy
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Old Dec 13th 2006, 8:58 am
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Default Re: MELBOURNE - BUZZY'S RECCIE PART 2!!!

Superb post

We are both glad that you liked the area and look forward to seeing you here next year.

We are sorry that we missed the Frankston meet, by the way who is the big fella sitting down in the photo who looks like Chopper Reid :scared:
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Old Dec 13th 2006, 9:17 am
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Default Re: MELBOURNE - BUZZY'S RECCIE PART 2!!!

Cool! great post, although, i think our heart is still hankering after Brisbane!
On the whole, comparing property food etc, are they both pretty equal in prices?
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Old Dec 13th 2006, 9:26 am
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Default Re: MELBOURNE - BUZZY'S RECCIE PART 2!!!

I HATE YOU!!!!!!! - No seriously thanks for a great post - reminds me of our reccie trip in July
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Old Dec 13th 2006, 9:34 am
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Smile Re: MELBOURNE - BUZZY'S RECCIE PART 2!!!

Originally Posted by yolandacharm
Cool! great post, although, i think our heart is still hankering after Brisbane!
On the whole, comparing property food etc, are they both pretty equal in prices?
I think the main difference you will find as far as cost of living goes is the level of wages. Depends on your profession.



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Old Dec 13th 2006, 9:46 am
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Default Re: MELBOURNE - BUZZY'S RECCIE PART 2!!!

Cracking post, cant wait to see for ourselves next year.

Thanks for taking the time to write.

Joex
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Old Dec 13th 2006, 9:47 am
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Default Re: MELBOURNE - BUZZY'S RECCIE PART 2!!!

Would love to go to Mel when the weather is nice, every time I have been the weather has been rubish and that can have a negative impact on any city.
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Old Dec 13th 2006, 9:56 am
  #15  
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Default Re: MELBOURNE - BUZZY'S RECCIE PART 2!!!

Originally Posted by Buzzy--Bee
This is part 2 of my reccie report to Brisbane and Melbourne. I hope you enjoy the report and photos. I’ll be happy to answer any questions anyone has about the areas to the best of my knowledge.

We can’t wait to return next year!



Buzzy

Thanks for taking time and posting all the pics, brings back many happy memories of our time in Aus. Can't wait to get back out there, been 2 years and will probably be yet another 2 , but will get there eventually
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