Day 10: Visit to University of Wollongong
I enjoyed this visit. First, I took a lovely train ride from Sydney to Wollongong (about an hour). The scenery was gorgeous – the train goes along the coast, through beautiful, lush areas. I love riding on trains, too. So relaxing. I almost missed the train, because I couldn’t figure out what platform to go to, and that wasn’t so relaxing, but once I boarded (about a minute before it left!), all was well! Also, in the morning, I stopped for coffee at a shop a block away from my hotel on the way to the train station, and the guy who made my coffee asked me where I was from, and when I said MN, he revealed that he was born there! Craziness. Of course, he could have been pulling my leg, but he knew stuff about the MN accent, like “Dontcha know,” and about small towns that I would guess most people wouldn’t know. So I think he was being serious.
Anyway, back to Wollongong. It was originally (and still is) a steel works town, so its origins are very blue collar and down to earth. I like that. But now, the University has replaced the steel industry as the town’s biggest employer, so there’s also that college town/academic vibe as well. The staff were, of course, super nice and friendly, and I was happy to hear Wollongong has a formal volunteering program, which is somewhat unusual in Oz, but something my students are always asking me about.
I took the train back to Sydney after the visit, once again arriving in town after dark. But that was okay; I didn’t plan to do any sightseeing that night—I had a ticket to Mary Poppins: The Musical, which was playing at a theater right across the street from my hotel. I was very excited about that. The performance was great… at least the first 30 minutes. After that, there was some kind of technical difficulty with the set (it broke somehow and wouldn’t turn, so they couldn’t change scenes), so the show had to be cancelled. ☹ Bummer! I got a refund, of course, but still, it was sad.
Day 11: University of Melbourne visit
I got up and caught an early flight to Melbourne, found my hotel, then headed to the University for my afternoon visit. Great visit: awesome staff, nice campus and city, etc. I got to visit one of the residential colleges (dorms) that is in a recently-refurbished historic building. Very cool! After my visit, I did some sightseeing, but most of the sightseeing was during my free day, Saturday.
Flinders Street Station