I have finished my work on Friday evening. It was very interesting and informative conference but very tiring at the same time. Next year Sweden, hopefully! 🙂
In the evening Veronika and I decided to go see a rugby game on an enormous stadium near our hotel. I have never been in a stadium that big, it can accept 55.000 people, but during our visit “only” 48.000 people were present. The game on the other hand was interesting, I guess it would be more fun if we actually new the rules. It seems like some kind of mix between football and baseball.
On Saturday we spent whole day on the Ocean Road and in the evening we had to prepare for our departure. I was pleasantly surprised by the city and it’s citizens. Everyone was incredibly nice to us, the city is relatively clean for it’s size and the architecture in the city center is nice. I still haven’t gotten used to the left side driving yet, but hopefully will soon, we are planning to rent a car later on our trip.
We left for the airport on Sunday 7 AM and arrived in Sydney at noon.
Veronika has some relatives living in Suburbs of Sydney so we are staying at theirs place. The city is enormouse, it took us over 3h to drive from the airport to their house, and we never left the city.
Yesterday we took an opportunity to explore the city, but more on this later as we are already at tge airport again, preparing to go to Cairns in the north for almost 17 days. This time we are traveling extremely light, only 2 backpacks 6kg each. Hopefully we wont freeze up there since we didn’t have space for warm cOpera and Opera and bridve
On Friday evening I have finished with work, so yesterday we booked a whole day trip to the iconic Ocean Road to the south of the Melbourne. After an hour travelling through the suburbs of Melbourne we have finally reached the beginning of the road.
We were driving on a small bus alongside beautiful sandy beaches. There is not much to the south except open ocean and Tasmania. The waves were incredibly large compared to the ones around Mediterranean sea.
We made several stops along the way on the numerous beaches and small towns. In one of the locations there were some native Australian animals living around the trees – to be precise some wild koalas, Cockatoos and some parrots.
They must be used to people feeding them because as soon as we got close one of the birds actually flew directly on Veronika’s head. Haha she got so scared she almost broke her neck. We soon got used to them and it was fun petting them a bit as they landed on our hands and even head.
We continued our trip toward some kind of rain forest. I think you can’t say it was really tropical but it did have some large trees.
Our last destination was 12 apostles, probably the most iconic cliffs in the Australia. After seeing the enormous waves probably 5m+ it is easy to understand how this rock in the middle of sea have formed.
One of the main reasons, probably the only one, why I came to Australia at this time was the IJCAI conference. Again I was lucky enough to have had a paper accepted to one of the workshops that are included in the conference.
The workshops have started on Saturday this week and I’ve been going to lectures and presentations since. It’s quite rough, I usually have to wake up around 7 AM to be at the conference at around 8 AM and we don’t finish before 6 PM, sometimes even later. This was especially hard during the first few days when I had full effects of jet lag. I almost fell asleep few times during the afternoon and despite going to sleep early, I usually got really tired afternoon. For some unexplained reason I also woke up sometime in the middle of night for no apparent reason, luckily I was able to fall asleep soon after.
I had my first presentation on Sunday. I was presenting a paper my colleges wrote, but were unable to come here, JSI Sound – paper about sound classification.
During the Saturday and Sunday the conference was held at the University of Melbourne and wow, I haven’t seen more beautiful building yet. It can’t be more than 5 years old, it’s full of LEDs everywhere, strange shapes and stairways like Hogwarts. Must be really cool to study at such cool university.
On Monday we moved to the Melbourne convention center, that is just across the river from our hotel. In the afternoon I was presenting my paper Intelligent Assistant Carer for Active Ageing at BOOM workshop. Somehow we were lucky enough to have won: best paper award. It’s great thing and will look good in my CV, although I don’t think it will further my PhD research anytime soon.
In the evening we had reception at the cricket stadium nearby. It was without doubt my best day in Australia yet. We had some great food, drinks and native Aborigine playing didgeridoo. But the best part was … they brought some native Australian animals to the reception. This included koala, kangaroo, dingo, snake and some lizard. I was even more surprised when I was able to pet the dingo a bit, not only that but I was able to feed him some meat his trainer gave me. The evening only continue to get better as I was able to scratch baby kangaroo behind his ears. His fur was surprisingly soft, like touching a cloud.
Beside kangaroo there was also a Koala bear eating a bag of eucalyptus. Whole area smelt of it.
On Tuesday the real conference started. We started at 7.45 with introduction talk and welcome by some aboriginal representative. There are I would guess around 2 thousand attendees at the conference listening to around 600 papers that were submitted. Everything runs in parallel in 7-10 rooms and sadly every other presentation is done by some Chinese guy with almost impossible to understand accent. It is mentally exhausting trying to focus on problems they are presenting and the bad language doesn’t help at all. At the end of the day I can barely think or walk. Yesterday I fell asleep as soon as I came home, 8PM and slept until 7AM next day.
Just across the street of our hotel there is Melbourn Aquarium. Since it’s so close we decided to go by and take a look inside. Sadly the aquarium is much smaller than the one in Hong Kong, but it has some species that I haven’t seen before.
Soon after entering you get a chance to touch the egg of a shark. I didn’t even know they have eggs let alone that they look like some sea cucumber. 🙂
Soon after we had a chance to meet what laid out of this eggs.
The main aquarium was large with multiple species of sharks, a swordfish, sting rays and some gigantic fishes.
After we went by the exhibit of a gigantic crocodile. Sadly in the picture it doesn’t look as large, but his head must have been as big as a small cow. We asked about it and he was about 5m long and weighted 700kg.
Afterwards I, for the first time in my life, saw sea horses. Can you spot it?
We also spotted some weird nosed fishes.
And last but not least, we saw a pack of penguins. They seemed to be more lazy than the ones in Hong Kong since no-one was swimming. They actually have some wild penguins here that live on a island nearby of Melbourne, but sadly I don’t think we’ll have time to see them.
Melbourne, the second largest city in Australia, with 4.4M inhabitants is set to surpass Sydney as the largest city by the year 2030.
In the past few days we had several opportunities to walk around the city and get a feel for it. It’s a mix of old buildings being shadowed by high modern skyscrapers. I think I saw at least 3 skyscrapers over 70 floors that are being build at the moment. The city had an golden era during mid 19th century when gold has been found in the area around it. Since then it has competed with Sydney for the most influence city of Australia.
The city is relatively clean – for a big city, with lots of parks, trees and greenery. Sadly since it’s winter here most of the trees are leafless. It is winter here and the weather is quite weird. It is constantly changing in 1 hour it rained 2 times, there was a hail and sun with clear sky above the city showed for 2 times. The temperature currently are around 5-10 in the morning and can get up to 15 in the afternoon. When the sun is out it can be quite worm, if there is no wind, which is rarely. We really wish we would have brought more winter clothing with us.
The city also boasts the oldest china town in the world. And has tons largest, fastest, longest, biggest … in the southern hemisphere, which literary means Australia and New Zeland (well you have a bit of South America and Africa as well).
As said before, view from our hotel is surprisingly good, but even a 28th store building gets dwarfed by the tallest building in Melbourne – Eureka and it’s skydeck. Today we had a chance to go up there on a 88th floor. It’s incredible how large the metropolitan area is, you can barely see the edge of the city when the lights get up. It’s in the 25th largest cities in the world by the city area, despite only having 4.4M inhabitants.