Wednesday, December 31, 2008

World Heritage: 2008 in Review

Well, as predicted last year, I broke my streak of visiting 5 world heritage sites per year. Unfortunately, it was in the wrong direction, as I only visited 4.

  1. Istanbul in April.
  2. Nancy, France in October.
  3. Naracoorte Caves in Australia in November.
  4. Royal Exhibition Building in Melbourne in December.

The list is now up to 878. Sadly, none of the sites inscribed in 2008 were ones I could claim retroactively, so my total is now 44 out of 878, or 5.0%.

2009 is not particularly promising. I could hit sites in the US and UK again, perhaps. I have a trip planned to Cologne. Although I've already seen the cathedral, there is a site in the outskirts that I could add. My Asia trip is to Tokyo, but my preliminary scouting indicates no sites right around the city. Of course, I never know what the year will bring...



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Thursday, December 25, 2008

Tiny Penguins

Merry Christmas, and please enjoy these pictures of our last evening in Australia. We drove to Phillip Island, a couple of hours south of Melbourne to see the Penguin Parade. On the way, we stopped for dinner. We were just looking for a quick fish & chips meal, but we ended up at a relatively fancy restaurant with a nice view of the ocean. Too bad we had to eat and run, but the weak Australian dollar made it a reasonably priced experience.

We then headed to the Nobbies Centre, which was closed, despite what they had told me over the phone. The one bright spot was the ability to photograph any stray penguins, which was forbidden at the penguin parade itself.

The penguin parade itself happens at sunset when the tiny penguins come back to the beach to rest for the evening. I am not usually a sucker for cute animals, but there are few things more adorable than a foot-tall penguin waddling up the beach, being bowled over by a foot-and-a-half-tall wave, and struggling to its feet to waddle some more.



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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Melbourne Aquarium

The conference dinner was at the Melbourne Aquarium. Once again, still pictures did not quite do justice, so I present for you this video:

The aquarium seemed OK, but also seemed to fall into the category of "you've seen one aquarium, you've seen them all."

Monday, December 22, 2008

National Gallery of Victoria Waterfall Window

The National Gallery of Victoria, where we saw the Gursky exhibit, had a neat waterfall window. A picture didn't really do it justice, so I shot this short video.

I didn't notice the anatomically correct statue until later.

Friday, December 19, 2008


I was pleased to find out that there was an Andreas Gursky exhibition in Melbourne while we were there. I first encountered Gursky's work in 2000 at the Tate Modern. According to Wikipedia, Gursky is "a German photographer known for his enormous architecture and landscape color photographs, often employing a high point of view." That seems pretty accurate.

One of the neat things about his work is that you can't really appreciate the art without going to the gallery and seeing the "originals". The sheer scope and detail of the work is impressive in a way that can't be reproduced online.

I've now seen around 25 of his works, out of a total of around 100 in his career, so this was a good chance to appreciate the breadth of his career.

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Sunday in Melbourne

We had some free time on Sunday before the opening of my conference, so we walked from our hotel to the Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens. The Building and Gardens are a world heritage site because they, "as the main extant survivors of a Palace of Industry and its setting, together reflect the global influence of the international exhibition movement of the 19th and early 20th centuries." OK, it's not Stonehenge, but it goes on the list -- I'll be posting my year-end World Heritage review soon. We also visited the Melbourne Museum, which has a nice aboriginal collection (no pictures). They also have Phar Lap -- or at least his skin. The rest of him is in Canberra (heart) and New Zealand (skeleton). We bought tram tickets and headed back to the hotel. The tram proved to be a fairly convenient way of getting around the central area of Melbourne, although it made life challenging when driving.

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Monday, December 15, 2008

Giant Koala

For our drive back from Adelaide to Melbourne, we took the direct, non-coastal route so that we could make it in a day. The trip is much less exciting, but we found a few things of interest. One of these was the Giant Koala, our second and final "big" item of this trip (we found more last time). We don't recommend the hot dogs there, by the way.
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Sunday, December 14, 2008

Ned Kelly

While looking over our pictures, I realized I left out one establishment from my "Dining Out in Adelaide" post. On our last night there, we went to "Ned Kelly's Restaurant" in North Adelaide.

I think that the US and Australia may be more like each other than they are like any other countries. They're both big, new, wild countries -- the main difference is that Australia is emptier and newer. One of the similarities is the propensity to turn outlaws into heroes.

Ned Kelly is a 19th century Australian outlaw, whose most amusing feature is that he prepared for his last stand by donning a set of homemade armor. Thus, "Ned Kelly's Restaurant" is a cheesy testament to Australiana. Think Outback, but based on Australians' idea of Australia, rather than Americans'.

I had the kangaroo, emu and camel. Christina passed on the camel; wise choice. But the kangaroo was tasty. Too bad they were out of wallaby.

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Friday, December 12, 2008

Dining Out in Adelaide

Well, we're back in the US. "Only" a five hour flight left. Here are some pictures of places we ate in Adelaide. We went to Coopers Brewhouse. Coopers is the local South Australia ale, which I enjoyed a lot that week. The brewhouse served good food, too. We also enjoyed sandwiches at Vili's, our old friend Sushi Train, and the Adelaide Central Market.




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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Day at the Beach

As we sit waiting for them to call our flight out of Melbourne, please enjoy these pictures from Wednesday (last week), our beach day. It was colder than I expected (yeah, I should have done more research), so we didn't spend as much time at the beach as I thought we would. Still, we headed south of Adelaide to Noaralunga. It's amazing to me that you can have a nice day like that, a beautiful beach, and the only large group of people were kids on a field trip. Australian kids get the best field trips!

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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Cleland Conservation Park

Last Tuesday, we went to Cleland Conservation Park, outside Adelaide. It was a nice opportunity to interact with native Australian wildlife, in a semi-natural setting. We got our picture taken with a koala, but I'm going to have to wait until we get back to scan that.

Echidnas are strange animals.

Here is Christina feeding a wallaby. I think -- since the animals roam relatively free, it's not always easy to figure out which is which.

Here she is feeding a kangaroo.

Here's the Tasmanian devil. I think this was my favorite.

See! I feed things too!

I defy you to look at this picture and not wander around for a while saying, "Maybe a dingo ate your baby."

We bought two bags of feed, which at first seemed like too much, but the waterfowl seemed grateful when we needed to get rid of it at the end of our visit.

Around Adelaide

OK, now I'm more than a week behind, but here's a few images from Sunday (Nov. 30) and Monday (Dec. 1) in Adelaide. We really enjoyed the week we spent there.

They had a number of interesting memorials and statues; here is one.

We did some shopping at the Sunday Rundle Street Market.

One of our favorite places to eat in Adelaide was Sushi Train and its sister establishment, Sushi Train Express.

The South Australian Musuem had a quite nice collection, but it was interesting seeing them trying to reconcile their century and a half of collection history with modern standards of what is culturally appropriate.
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Thursday, December 04, 2008

Saturday Drive

Here are some pictures from our Saturday drive. As predicted previously, I'm hopelessly behind -- I've just gotten to posting the pictures just before we got to Adelaide, and we only have a day and a half left of our week here before heading back to Melbourne. Anyway, I think the highlight of the day was Naracoorte Caves National Park, an Australian fossil site and part of a World Heritage Site. We saw some animatronic reconstructions of prehistoric Australian mammals (I should post a video so you can hear the grunting) and toured a couple of caves. On the road, we took a look at a number of site affected by Australia's decade-long drought. We came across the first one by accident...we were looking for a resting point, and wondered what had happened to the lake promised on the sign.



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Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Friday Night in Mt. Gambier

At the rate I'm going, I'm not going to catch up on our travels before we leave Australia. Here are some pictures from the place we stayed the second night of our drive from Melbourne to Adelaide. It's called Clarendon Chalets, and it's just outside Mt. Gambier. It was basically a little cottage on a farm. After we got in, we got some groceries, Christina made dinner and a fire (in my defense, I had done the day's driving), and we watched The African Queen.



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Monday, December 01, 2008

Friday Drive


We took a picture at our B&B before hitting the road on Friday. We saw various natural rock formations off the Great Ocean Road.


The Twelve Apostles.


London Bridge, which became London Arch in 1990 when the part connecting to land collapsed.

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Bay of Islands.