Down Under

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Well, here we are, I arrived in Down Under (Australia’s nickname), where I am about to spend at least 3 years for my PhD with Deakin University near Melbourne. During this time, I will work on the foraging ecology of different species of seabirds – shags and penguins. I’ll spend a lot of time in the field, so keep in mind that if you wanna contact me, I might not be able to answer right away. I hope to share with you through this part of my blog my new life, with my impressions, my rants, my favorites, pieces of advice for travellers or expats who will chose or have chosen Melbourne, my fieldwork and research in general! Feel free to leave comments and contact me with questions and suggestions. Enjoy!

Byron and Noosa

In April, Pip and I went to Byron Bay, where a pretty big blues and roots festival – the Bluesfest - occurs every year. Unfortunately, the van died on us right after we had made it out of the city so we had to suck it up and pay extra to fly over but we finally made it ! Pip had hooked us us with a volunteer position to help set up the festival in order to get our free 5-day passes. We had to work 25 hours, during which we had been given a wide range of tasks: scaffolding, painting the stages, cleaning the camping grounds, setting up signs, stocking fridges, registering campers… Quite a lot of work but the atmosphere was great! Pip’s mum and step dad hosted us on their beautiful property in Mullumbimby during the festival and we got to spend some time grilling marshallows in bonfires with the family during Easter even though both Pip and I still had a lot of uni work to do and could not spend as much time with them as we wanted ! The weather was pretty nice and we mostly escaped the rain that sometimes makes the festival a bit less enjoyable around that time of year!  

Even though it was the 25th anniversary of the festival, the prog was apparently not as great as it had been in the past, but we still really enjoyed it, especially with Michael Franti who was on fire and did several laps amongst the public, with the evergreen Wailers, with KT Tunstall and her awesome version of Seven Nation Army. Jack Johnson, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, and Playing for Change also were amongst our favorites!  

After a bit more than a week spent in Byron, we flew north to Noosa, Queensland, where Pip’s dad and step mum live. It’s a beautiful place with impressive beaches full of surfers! Unfortunately, the amount of work we had to do forced us to go out less we would have liked but we still took a nice walk in Noosa National Park where we must have just missed koalas that had been sighted nearby. As you’ll see on the photos, the vegetation there is amazing and lush thanks to the nice climat. I loved the banksia ! We also went on a walk to the beautiful Alexandria Bay before having to suck it up and stay in front of our laptops! But I won’t say no more, here are a few photos !

byron bay bluesfest kt tunstall

KT Tunstall at the Bluesfest 

byron bay bluesfest michael franti and spearhead

Michael Franti and the Spearhead at the Bluesfest 

noosa sunshine beach

Sunshine Beach, Noosa, QD

noosa walk to alexandria bay

Walk to Alexandria Bay, QD

Tennis, tennis, tennis

Because it is now the end of the field season, I’ve had a bit of free time that allowed me to go see the Aussie Open live ! I’ve actually been twice, with day passes before the prices went up (ie before the quarter finals). On the first day, I spent time watching what was happening on the show courts outside (the only reason I sucked it up and stayed in the heat was because I wanted to see the Frenchies play – it was indeed during the pretty strong heatwave we’ve had recently !) and I also went to the Rod Laver Arena. Li was playing Bencic, and Djokovic vs Mayer, amongst others.  As far as the Frenchies go, I have witnessed the victory of Gasquet against Davydenko and the defeat of Benneteau against Robredo.

The second time I went, the day began splendidly with the legends’ double Noah/Santoro against Cash/Wilander. Everybody was laughing so hard thanks to Noah and Santoro who were acting out – and they won, too ! They were joking, faking to pay the empires, faking to leave during the ball boys’ changeover and came back after exchanging their shirts with a couple of them; they were playing with people in the crowd that had caught a racquet they had thrown at them ; they played in a silly way, hitting the ball behind from their backs, in-between their legs… Anyway, it was way funnier live than described with my own words… Just to see that, it was worth going to the tennis again that day ! In the Hisense Arena later, Pip and I then watched Halep doing pretty well against a moody Jankovic and then a mixed double (Barty and Peers, two Aussies, who lost against Srebotnik et Bopanna). Finally we watched the second last French player still in the race : Stephane Robert. Unfortunately, he did not do too well, especially during the first two sets and Murray ended up beating him in 4 sets. Despite that, it was a match with a lot of suspense and Stephane still fought pretty well, with the crowd mostly against him…. And then the day got worse for the Frenchies and Tsonga lost against Federer, ending the presence of the French on the courts of the Aussie Open (for singles anyway).I would still have loved to see that match live but the night sessions were out of my price range ! All in all it was really nice getting out from in front of the TV and seeing the stars in real life, as well as cheering and witnessing the ambiance on the courts!

Match Gasquet vs Davydenko

Match Gasquet vs Davydenko on the outside show courts 

Hisense Arena

The Hisense Arena 

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