First I have to introduce my Australian friends. I only have two, so it'll be a short introduction ;) I met Selina and Michaela at the Bank of Queensland, when I opened my bank account there. They both work as bank tellers and they are absolute dolls - we meet up on Fridays for drinks and catch up. It's so nice to have friends outside of work (not that I really have friends at work anyways...), and these girls are a lot of fun.
Selina's family owns property out in the bush, about 45 min outside Geelong. There is a building on the property that they call "The Block". It has a kitchen nook, dining area, small bathroom and a big living room area full of beds and couches. Basically it's a great getaway from civilization, a cabin in the woods (or here, bush). The cabin is located in a clearing and is surrounded by a dense network of gum trees. Gum tree groves are the ideal habitat for koalas, and I'm told that in years past there have been a lot of koalas seen out by The Block, but I wasn't lucky enough to see one when I visited.
|I was on a koala hunt for the entire weekend!|
This past weekend was the footy final - basically the Superbowl of Aussie rules football. Every year Selina and her family have a footy-final-weekend-extravaganza out at The Block, and she was kind enough to invite me along for the festivities. Footy is a really big deal in Australia, particularly in Victoria. The Australian Football League actually began as the Victorian Football League back in 1896, so footy is deeply rooted into Victorian culture. It's just like American football in the states in that everyone has a team that they root for, and nearly EVERYONE watches the footy final. Geelong has their own team, the Cats, but unfortunately they didn't make it to the final. Which is too bad, because I would have enjoyed cheering for the home team, and such an appropriate mascot too (just like K-State).
|Geelong Cats posters are all over town and work cubicles|
The game was very entertaining to watch. Selina's family had all the couches centered around a large screen, and the game was projected onto the screen complete with a great sound system.
|Settling in for the game|
Everyone crowded around for the start of the game, and then once it was underway it was more come-and-go. There were a bunch of kids present, ranging from about age 9-14, and they all had motorbikes out at The Block. The game was really entertaining but it wasn't enough to keep the attention of all the kids. They would pop in to check the score every so often and then head back out to ride around on the property.
American football is so stop-and-go but Aussie football is very dynamic and there's action all the time. It's like a crazy version of rugby, with tackling and jumping in the air, but strict rules about how many meters you can carry the ball and then you had to spike it out of your own hand like a volleyball. The game was very entertaining to watch and of course I also enjoyed chatting with everyone during the game.
In the end, Hawthorn won 77-62. It was a close game, with goals being worth 6 points and then small goals worth 1 point. I half-heartedly picked Fremantle as my team to go for, but I was a lot more disappointed than I expected to be when Freo lost. Michaela (my other friend from the bank) is a close follower of Aussie rules football, and she was lucky enough to score tickets to attend the game in Melbourne. I can only imagine how excited she was when her team won :)
After the game came the BBQ and party. It was a really Aussie BBQ complete with a variety of meats and plenty of beer.
Selina's family was very welcoming and I had a great evening with them. A big bonfire was started and the stereo was turned on for a dance party. I hadn't yet a chance to really let loose and have fun in Australia, so I took advantage of the weekend and had a great time.
|Bonfire out in the bush|
There were tents set up all over the living room inside and campers surrounding the building, so everyone snuck off to bed as the evening drew on. I'm told there was still a small party going on at 5am but I was way too tired to last that long. When I finally went off to bed I found a friend:
Captain, a sweet pit bull who belonged to a family member, was making the rounds. He would pick someone's bed to sleep on and stay there til he was kicked off. He was a real sweetie pie, but my bed wasn't big enough for the both of us. He was really enjoyable to have around because I don't get a lot of dog interaction lately. Made me miss my dog back home a bit :(
All in all, it was a very successful and fun weekend, though it took me two days to catch up on sleep/rest. The Block was a great vacation, and I hope to be able to visit again sometime in the future!!!