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I am reposting this from a warm and humid Nova Scotia, but it is wintry in Melbourne. It is too bad I didn’t insert the pics into the text when i wrote this. Check out “Great Ocean Road” on the Flickr site to get a sense of what this spectacular route looks like.

Down Under

I have not yet managed to pinpoint the problem, but Noel and Australia just don’t go together. It won’t be the first place I’ve lived sans snow or ice during the festive period of Christmas, but the holiday marketing here is completely at odds with my Christmas sensibility. There were recent newspaper articles about summer reading and topless sunbathing. How does that get you in the mood for Christmas? What next, Christmas pudding at the beach? Yuletide barbies?

Fortunately, the arrival of two friends from Florida bounced me out of my grinch-like mood. They have been planning their trip for quite some time, and part of their whirlwind tour of Sydney, Tasmania, New Zealand and Melbourne involved me. They wanted to take in the Great Ocean Road. For me, it was an opportunity to revisit a spectacularly beautiful area that had I had seen once before, on our first trip…

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It turns out I did this ride only once during our Australian sojourn, but it was a memorable adventure. This post from the past covers it well.

Down Under

As I try to remember where I packed my earplugs, a symphony of snoring saturates the air. The sound comes at me from all directions, a vast swamp of bullfrogs. I am sleeping (not sleeping) with three and a half thousand strangers. They are from all walks of life, all corners of Australia and a handful of foreign lands. I have, by chance, set up my tent among older males who seem to prefer sleeping on their backs. Nodding off is out of the question. In desperation, I flick on my audio player and listen to a chapter of “Dark Star Safari” by Paul Theroux. Just another sleepless evening on the Great Victorian Bike Ride.

This annual event has been run for 23 years now and Bicycle Victoria has fine-tuned it into a well-run organism, a virtual village on wheels. Numbers have fluctuated considerably over the years, from 1900 riders…

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The references are way out of date, but Canberra itself has probably not changed all that much since I penned this post.

Down Under

There is a joke making the rounds about our beloved president at a power breakfast. With his inimitable ability to mangle language, he shocks the White House kitchen staff with his mispronunciation of the word “quiche.” It is merely French, after all.

My use of the word has nothing to do with either Bush or the previous occupant of the White House. It refers to the duration of our recent stay in Canberra in comparison to the actual amount of time it took to get there.

The point of the jaunt was an academic conference. When I suggested driving, I didn’t really consider the ramifications of my offer. For me, it was an excuse to see a bit of the nation’s capital and do a bit of cycling on my own bike. Canberra is a very cycle friendly city. It is, however, some 400 miles from Melbourne.

The Hume highway…

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