I left for Melbourne Australia on New Year's Eve. I got to the airport around 4pm Phoenix time. The trip to Las Angeles happened without any excitement. Then things started to get interesting. The flight to Fiji (my layover on the way to Australia) had technical difficulties. After about an hour of delay and attempts to fix the plain, they announced that it would not be flying until the next morning at the earliest which would have put me in late for the fieldweek. I called Orbitz (where I got my original ticket) and waited in line with Fiji Airlines to see what they could do to get me to Melbourne. In the end, they kindly transferred me over to Quantas Airline for a flight that night to Sydney then a connection to Melbourne. As it turns out, I made it in to Melbourne 7 hours before my originally scheduled flight, but I missed a 13 hour layover in Fiji. Hopefully I will be able to catch Fiji on the way home so that I can explore the island a little bit.
The Phoenix Airport was lacking in sustainable options, but they did have this very nice water bottle filler after security which I took advantage of.
The flight is fairly direct from Las Angeles to Australia. Fiji is a logical stop along the way, but without it, it is a 14 hour flight. It really was not bad because it is dark most of the way. I slept (on and off) for about nine hours and then worked on some papers for about five hours on my new Asus Tablet. Sadly, I missed New Year's Day. After I woke up, we had crossed the international dateline, so I adjusted my clock and it was already January 2nd. Melbourne is 16 hours ahead of Terre Haute.
The only kangaroos that I have seen so far are on the tail fins of the airplanes. The kangaroo is the symbol for Quantas air. The flight was good, although we had mild turbulence the entire way so it was a pretty bumpy ride.
At the Sydney airport, they have recycling pretty much like at home. Once I checked into the hostel (Urban Central) they had a lot of signs in the bathrooms about drought in Victoria and conserving water (especially in showers).
Flying in to Sydney, it reminded me a lot of the Pacific Northwest (much like Seattle). It was very lush green and integrated with the sea shore. I had four hours at the airport, but did not get out and explore. Instead, I had some lunch and charged my many electronic devises from the long flight. When I was flying in to the city, I kept wondering if there was fog or smog over the city, then our first close up view of the land showed an extensive oil refinery. I also saw a second one right in with the city before we landed. I think Sydney was covered in smog when we flew in.
The Melbourne area is much more like southern California. We are in peak summer here, so the grass is brown. Much of the area is grassland with occasional trees throughout the area.
Melbourne is a nice city. They have many posters up announcing their awards for one of the best cities in the world. Driving in, I found it to be fairly industrial. They do have a large permanent Fares Wheel, like the one in London.
Melbourne has developed their riverfront and this is where WorldDendro is going to take place. I came down to explore a little bit so that I know my way around for the conference, and this is a beautiful setting. I think that we will have a great conference in this venue.