OK, for all those who don't know what the odyssey is (other than the ancient Greek one): The Odyssey is a 2 week trip down the east coast of Australia. All the year 11 students at O'loughlin Collage can go but it costs 2 grand (that comes with all meals, accommodation and flights).
Our first stop was the Gold Coast Sports Super Center (where we stayed). It was a nice place, had a heated pool, served good food and had a basketball court. We stayed in Brisbane for 2 or three days, while we were there we visited Dreamworld (!!) and Dracula's, a theater restaurant (!!!) both of which were awesome.
We also visited Mt Tambourine. For those who haven't been there it is full of shops, quite a few of the selling chocolate or fudge... or chocolate fudge. We spent a few hours there and I bought a ridiculously expensive sausage roll, which turned out to the worth it. A few people bought fudge and I stole some off of them, the we go on the bus and drove to Harbour Town (a massive Direct Factory Outlet place with heaps of shops). That was cool and we moved on to Dracula's.
Dracula's is a theatre restaurant, they serve you food and entertain you at the same time. I had 'Furnace of Fish' which was 'Mouth watering seasonal fresh fish fillet baked and served with lemon saffron Beurre' Blanc.' It was fish covered in a lemon butter sauce. Very nice. The performance was half play half stand up comedy show, great but I can't tell you anything else, I have been sworn to secrecy. The Dracula's performance was on of the three highlights of the trip, the others were the snow and Origin. More about them later.
The next day we drove over to Dreamworld!
While I was at Dreamworld I went of the Tower of Terror (one of the three main attractions (the other two are the Claw, which was broken, and the Giant Drop, which I didn't get time to do).
Dreamworld also has a new attraction - AVPX or Alien vs Predator vs You. It is basically a huge laser tag arena (Like Zone 3 for those who know it) but there are a few different game types. There is the normal game, just two teams which fight it out, Infection where you can convert the other team and multi team, where there is 4 teams instead of two.
Oh and did I mention the arena fights back... Yep that's right, the arena has movement sensing lasers that can target and 'kill' you. You can disable these 'enemies' by hitting small targets near the lasers.
After we moved on from Gold Coast we went down to Surfers Paradise for a few hours, yes it was nice, but no, none of us went into the water. I mean come on, give us a break, it would have been like 3 degrees (Celsius that is, 37.4 F or 276 K). anyway, we looked around and most of the group ended up at a shopping center, it had an arcade, 10-pin bowling etc.
And then me and a couple of friends found the firing range..
One of the group I was hanging around with does cadets (air force, so he can also fly planes.) so he's like 'Oh yeah!' and we went to see what their prices were. It turns out that one of the guns they had was the same as ones he uses in practise. So we spent half an hour watching him shoot at targets, he did pretty well actually, every shot inside the 7 ring.
Then we went back to the SSC and slept.***
OK.. next stop Taree. At Taree we stayed the night and ate a a Chinese restaurant, for those who don't know me I'm not a big fan of Asian food but they did some really nice lemon chicken and fish of some kind.
From there we made the voyage down to Sydney. One of the first things we did at Syd was to go and see an NRL game; Panthers vs Bulldogs. Bulldogs won. The next day we caught the ferry across the harbour to the city centre. On our way past we say the Oprah house and the Harbour Bridge. when we reached the city we spend about 2 hours wandering around by ourselves* After that we walked over to St. Mary's Cathedral, went for a closer look at the Oprah house and rush back to the ferry as it started raining (it was stupid prissy southern rain, but it was cold).
On the next day (we are up to day 7 here - Sunday 21st) we went to mass at Dee Why (a suburb in Syd); then on to the Taronga Zoo. The zoo was pretty big, with lots of stuff to do and shows every hour or so. We got there about 9 or 10 and one of the first things we did was go to the bird show. they had a bunch of really cool birds; a few falcons, a condor** and, to finish off, a galah. Now it may seem a bit... Meh. after a bunch of falcons but the zoo bird person explained that they were actually quite intelligent. She got a person in the crowd to stand up and hold a gold coin in their hand. the bird flew to them, took the coin, flew back and put the coin into its keepers pocket. She like "as you can see they are quite smart, I think she has something to give you back." and then it flew her a ring. The guy next to her got a mic and popped the question.
That was pretty much the highlight of the visit but we saw Lions, Tigers, Bears..
And on to Canberra!
Our first stop while in Canberra was Parliament House. It was big.^ We went and saw some of question time then got lead to a room and acted out our own political debate. *boring*. Anyway, the member for Solomon (that's where we come from) came and said Hi, we said Hi and he chatted for a while and left.
From there we went to our accommodation (a Carotel, don't ask). 8 person rooms, 2 heaters a bathroom per room (good deal so far). An then.. we found out.. that a student had been murdered just a few rooms down a while back. OK.. that was supposed to be scary but it didn't quite work... anyone know why?
Next we have THE SNOW!
Sorry if this seems like I'm making a big deal of it.... BUT IT IS!
For most of us on the trip it was the first time we'd seen *real* snow. I've been on a fake slope before but this was even better. We had snowball fights, made snowmen, the usual stuff. Went inside the complex and had pizza, went back out again. Had another snowball fight.
Eventually, tired and wet, we struggled back to the train that would take us back down the mountain, well through the mountain really. !! I almost forgot the mini donuts !! There was a shop that sold mini donuts, $5 for a dozen, they were the best donuts I have ever tasted, even on par with Krispy Kremes. Add to that the guy who owned the place. He was obviously a good businessman because we all went and got some. Probably because he would give you a few extra with each order. Thank You Donut Man!!
The next day we went to Old Parliament House and Questacon.
OPH was Meh, but we didn't stay that long and then QUESTACON! Questacon is an awesome science uuhh... not quite sure what the word is.. it's a science thing. It has hands-on stuff, mechanical dinosaurs and a tame lightning striker; everything you need to keep a bunch of school children entertained. The highlights included an enclosed roller coaster pod on a hydraulic system with a big screen at the front, so it didn't go anywhere but it felt like it was; A sort of giant centrifuge; a person sits at each on of a bar and it rotates around a central point, the people have to try to throw balls to each other^^ and, as I have already mentioned a lightning generator witch would strike for about 10 seconds every half hour or so.
After that we moved on to State of Origin. State of Origin is a rugby series between Qld and NSW, there are 3 games, one in Melbourne, one in Brisbane and one in Sydney (<- the one we saw). I don't particularly like rugby but Origin was soo much fun. The atmosphere was great and, well, you kinda had to be there. At one point we had a mexican wave going and it managed to get around the stadium 3 times before it died, pretty good if I do say so myself. The game ended at about 10pm and we had a 3 and a half hour drive back to Canberra so we all fell asleep on the bus.
The next day we went to the National museum (where they keep Phar Lap's heart) and cruised past the AIS and all the embassies, stopped for lunch and went the ANZAC parade. The Parade is a memorial to all the locations and times in which Australia has gone to war. The we moved on to the War memorial, pretty much the same thing but larger and with exhibits. It also contains the wall. The wall lists every Australian soldier killed in war. There is too many people on that wall. Lest we forget.
One the 12th day of the trip we had a full day of the bus, from Canberra to Melbourne. Not much to say about that really. We got to our (very budget) accommodation and slept. The last three days we could do pretty much whatever we wanted, there was The Queen Victoria market about 15 mins up the road and a DFO about the same distance in the other direction. Not much happened on those three days other than Wicked (The Broadway musical).
Wicked tells the story of the Witches of OZ, both good and bad.# It was pretty good, better than I expected. Almost everyone got reasonably dressed up to see it and when it finished we went over the the Crown Plaza Complex.## The CPC has heaps of shops, a cinema and some fire shows out the front (pretty cool) as well as a water feature inside which shoots streams of water into the air in time with the music playing (again, pretty cool).
Finally, it was time to end the trip we went to the airport and the group discovered that, since they had got there too early they couldn't check their bags in for another 1 1/2 hours. I, on the other hand, could. Unlike them, I was going to Adelaide instead of back to Darwin and my flight was considerably earlier. So about two hours before them I boarded a plane and was whisked off to MissE and my Grandma.
But that my friends, is another post.
I may do another post with photos / highlights in more detail, but then again I might not.
* In groups of 3 or more. Invariably everyone ignored this at one point or another and wandered off by themselves.
** For those who don't know a condor can have a wingspan of up to 5 meters.
*** Just to show we did sleep and it wasn't all running around.
^ I just like stating the obvious.
^^ In all modesty me and my partner were the best, we were on there for like 5 mins and the guy controlling it is like 'yeah, sorry guys, this is as fast as it goes.'
# Well, not so much bad, just seriously misunderstood.
## Which, yes, houses the Crown Casino, but as we were all minors, no one could go in.