I have family in and around Melbourne, although this first trip was paid for by a karate group I would be teaching, so not much time to socialising.  I did of course meet up with my cousins and Aunties whilst there, but was also wholly reliant on my host for transportation and accommodation. I stayed at my cousins’ house and over-did the hot tub a bit.

So, in 1997, one year after the solo trip to Siberia, I left the UK to head for Melbourne in Australia, a 23 hour journey with one stop off at Kuala Lumpur.  I was staying with my host and family.  He ran a group of clubs and I was essentially going to teach the students everything I knew, which at the time was a lot but also not much because my karate career had begun in 1990 at attainment of black belt.

I also managed a trip down to the coast to visit another karate group where we stayed overnight with Paul and his wife.  We went to the National Park and got a few photos just before it hammered down with rain.  It wasn’t unusual to have four types of weather in one day!

The trip to Foster took 4 hours and was tedious to say the least, simply because the roads were so boring and the speed limit 56 even on the “motorway-esque” roads. The police were known to hide behind bushes and signs and catch unwary speeders, such as Paul who had been gathering an array of tickets during his trips up to the city.

The daily sessions were great and there was time to see the sites, including the famous railway station and the trams. Also (driving past it) the cricket stadium where the Ashes are played.

The two weeks soon went and I had to go home to deal with my own club’s problems. Our club had a grading on the weekend of my return and while in Australia my wife told me she’d had a phone call from the guest instructor I’d booked to say he couldn’t come due to another booking!  

ABOVE: PAUL and myself posing in his club training hall.

BELOW: My host after training his students

In 1998 I returned to Melbourne, this time with my wife and no agenda except to see the sites, meet family, and perhaps take my 4th Dan grade!  Of course I was available for teaching in both groups; including two trips down to Foster, the return trip of the last time was when I managed to get a speeding ticket in the middle of the night and the middle of nowhere!

ABOVE: the grading instructors for my 4th Dan black belt taken during the 1998 trip to Melbourne.