Get the Flash Player to see the slideshow.

New Year’s Eve Down Under

The $120 all-you-can-drink and free appetizers with 2,500 of your closest friends at a swanky hotel was never convincing enough. Enjoying time with friends where the prerequisite for a conversation does not include screaming and rubbing up against sweaty strangers is more our style. Thankfully, we were able to arrange a gathering of like minds in Melbourne to ring in Twenty-Ten. 

Imposing Stingers at St. KildaWhile we are accustomed to dawning our heaviest winter coat, gloves, hat, boots, and wishing taxis were available on frigid December 31st nights in Chicago or Wisconsin, Melbourne couldn’t have been more different. Imagine wearing all of the above then rolling around in a bathtub of honey. That is how sticky and sweltering Melbourne felt just before 2010 was ushered in with pomp and circumstance. Carolyn and Holly met us at the Miami Hostel and we met Army Andy at Federation Square before taking the trolley to St. Kilda Beach. With the 100+ degree Fahrenheit temperature coupled with immense humidity, our world was inside a toaster oven. Arriving at the beach, it was a race to see who would enter the refreshing saltwater first. But the competition’s starting gun failed to fire when it became apparent that thousands of stingers (what Aussies call jellyfish) had crashed the NYE day at the beach. If they had not yet washed up on the beach, they were lurking in three feet of water. Carefully, the five of us enjoyed the now dangerous waters with an occasional yelp of “watch out!” Having risked our well being long enough, we grabbed a bite to eat and some drinks in the charming street-scape near St. Kilda Beach. Some Aussies were certainly getting after it early as evidenced by one disruptive drifter who randomly grabbed a girl’s glass next to us, spit in it, placed it back on the table, then knocked it off with a sweeping hand motion. He was gone in a jiff after the glass shattered on the stone sidewalk. Rude. With that, it was time to manufacture NYE plans other than avoiding the drunkest man in the Southern Hemisphere.

Miami Hostel DigsThe terminating trolley stop from St. Kilda Beach dropped us at Federation Square along the Yarra River. A hip looking bar had an advertisement for their party that evening so I ran across the tracks to have a look. $20 for appetizers, one drink, and cover charge. It seemed reasonable considering how expensive the Land Down Under can be. Our plan was hatched and Army Andy went back to his modern hotel while the three gals and I went back to our private hostel room. Surprisingly, three girls got showered and ready in record time considering the tight confines of our room featuring a steel bunk bed. The girls looked dazzling in their colorful dresses and tall heels. Me? Not so much. The dressiest shirt I had was designed explicitly for fisherman and my shoes for wilderness hikers. Three perfect tens and one trekking angler walked out of the Miami Hostel.

NYE 2010 Pretty Ladies 3D Glasses are Cool, Right?

Sweating again, we waited patiently in line, paid our $20, and crowded around the kitchen exit. We were starving and ate anything and everything that penetrated the swinging doors. Sushi, bite sized sandwiches, and mini burgers were inhaled. We were quite proud of our frugality considering a beer is $7 and we each ate well over $20 in food. We set up shop near the window line with a view of the Yarra River as families laid blankets along its banks in anticipation of the midnight fireworks. We felt badly when a massive thunderstorm rolled through sending thousands of people running for shelter. Enjoying the lightning lightshow, the five of us sipped drinks and mingled. I secretly brought our Avatar 3D glasses from a viewing two days prior and we took turns looking like the biggest nerds in eastern Australia. Carolyn returned from a mission to obtain a sparkly hat with a silly looking balloon human, much to everyone’s enjoyment. Balloon boy was passed around like a first grandchild, each of us checking his blue diaper or combing his rubber blond hair. My favorite New Year’s Eve past time is the “fake countdown” where I start counting 10…9…8… well before midnight. It worked twice, but then the clever Aussies caught on to my simple American brain. Then the real thing came and we shared hugs, kisses, and camaraderie with one another as fireworks reverberated off Melbourne’s skyline. Next it was time to dance to some awful techno with four middle-eastern men providing ample amounts champagne. Last call sounded and we joined other jubilant merrymakers on the streets of Melbourne en route back to the hostel via the trolley. But not before indulging in some delicious Indian lamb kebabs. Ash and I climbed into the bottom bunk while Holly and Carolyn snuggled above us, all dreaming about a prosperous 2010.

Ash and Carolyn Getting All 3D in Fed Square Balloon Boy Midnight Smooch Take Two

Ash and I talk often about how we might spend each holiday next time back in America with dear friends and family. But that is what makes each Thanksgiving, Groundhog Day, Christmas, New Year’s, Flag Day, etc. special while traveling the world. Each one is unforgettable.

- Greg and Ash

Learn From Our Footsteps:

  1. The trolleys in Melbourne are expensive and the fare system is confusing, even to the grizzled traveler. We spent two days trying to make correct change and guessing how much we owed. That was until Carolyn and Holly pointed out that less than 5% of riders actually pay to ride and they never heard of anyone being caught and fined. Thereafter, we rode the trolleys with ease for free.
  2. No matter what city in which you are celebrating New Year’s Eve, there are countless options. We have found the expensive all inclusive packages to be a waste while the cheaper options turn out to be more fun and worthwhile. We lucked out in Melbourne by only paying $20 while neighboring establishments were asking $80+ just for entry.

  • micheledw

    (aussies call them jellyfish) that's funny. Americans call them Jellyfish also. Never heard of Stingers.

    Florida beach resident.

  • http://gmyh.blogspot.com/ GMYH

    Don't Australians celebrate New Years on July 1?

  • fofs

    No matter what you call them, Stingers or Jellyfish, these menacing creatures of the sea can be a rude surprise. When snorkeling or diving the warm waters of the Great Barrier Reef, we had to wear full body Stinger Suits to avoid an emergency room visit!

    Thanks for reading,
    Greg and Ashley

  • fofs

    Andrew – I did some research on your comment and discovered that Australia does in fact follow the Gregorian Calendar, much like the rest of the civilized world. However, Australia's fiscal year begins on July 1st. Australians love to party, so it would not be hard to imagine Aussies staying up for midnight on June 30th to celebrate the beginning of a new tax season!

    - Greg

  • fofs

    No matter what you call them, Stingers or Jellyfish, these menacing creatures of the sea can be a rude surprise. When snorkeling or diving the warm waters of the Great Barrier Reef, we had to wear full body Stinger Suits to avoid an emergency room visit!

    Thanks for reading,
    Greg and Ashley

  • fofs

    Andrew – I did some research on your comment and discovered that Australia does in fact follow the Gregorian Calendar, much like the rest of the civilized world. However, Australia's fiscal year begins on July 1st. Australians love to party, so it would not be hard to imagine Aussies staying up for midnight on June 30th to celebrate the beginning of a new tax season!

    - Greg

Powered by Wordpress | Designed by Elegant Themes