With http://www.zoochat.com/19/chlidonias-goes-asia-part-3-2013-a-328982/ now finished, or perhaps just on hiatus, I thought I may as well start a new thread for Australia. It probably won't be very long. But I'll be seeing some birds and some zoos. I thought the new KLIA2 airport outside Kuala Lumpur was confusing when I arrived there from Borneo but it was even more confusing when I returned there two days later for my flight out to Melbourne. There are various teething troubles with it being new as well, but they are really issues which shouldn't have been there at all, like having enormously long queues at immigration but only half the desks manned. At the McDonalds counter (because everywhere else was either still closed or too expensive to eat at) there was a never-diminishing queue about thirty people long, and only one person serving! I arrived in Melbourne at 11pm and discovered they have a new “smart card” system where Australians and New Zealanders (as “honourary Australian citizens”) scan their passport and get an electronic card which they use to go through a special gate bypassing the immigration desks completely, then you collect your bag from the luggage carousel and walk straight out of the airport with no x-raying of bags or even a passport stamp (the guy at the exit just takes the card, says “smart card, just go straight through mate” and you're out) – it did not feel right somehow! I had not eaten anything since late morning, so it was back to McDonalds. They had bbq beef burgers for $2 each so I got three of those. They were literally the worst burgers I have ever eaten, and that includes the one I found lying on a toilet floor in China which I got half-way through eating before realising that it wasn't a burger at all. And that it wasn't dead yet. The bus to the city costs $18 and terminates at the Southern Cross bus-train station, which is just near most of the cheap backpacker hostels. I had looked for a cheap place on the internet when in Melaka and found the Melbourne Connection which was only $15 for a dorm bed if staying for a week or more. However they required full payment in advance and had a no-refund policy. That wasn't suspicious at all. I had a look on Tripadvisor and found pages of one-star reviews with titles like “worst hostel ever!” – well worth checking them out for a laugh, or a scare! The Melbourne Connection: See 51 Reviews and 12 Photos - TripAdvisor Funnily enough, there was also the occasional four or five star review from someone with only one review saying something like “best hostel ever, never stayed somewhere so clean”. Very believable. The place I settled on was the King St Backpackers, directly opposite the Melbourne Connection as it happens, which is $26 for a dorm. I was very impressed with it and will make it my regular Melbourne backpackers from now on. It has free internet, free unlimited breakfast (toast, cereals, etc), free pancakes on Sunday (from 11am), free unlimited Big Breakfast (baked beans, sausages, bacon) on Tuesday morning, free pasta night on Wednesday. I saved a lot of money on food while staying there!! I didn't even have to pay for lunches because I just made sandwiches from the breakfast bread and took them away with me. Then there's the free food shelf which meant I got dinner for free most nights as well. (For people not familiar with hostels, there is always a free food shelf in the kitchen area, and when people check out they leave any unwanted food-stuffs there for others to use; often they are packaged goods like pasta or rice and canned goods). On the first night I had a look and found some rice, a couple of potatoes, an apple, a lemon, and some tomato sauce: I can make something out of that no sweat. It was just like Top Chef and the result was the best dinner since …. well, the last dinner was the sewer burgers from the airport McDonalds so not much competition! I was at the backpackers for eight nights and spent a grand total of AU$15.60 on food (including the McDonalds burgers). There are the usual backpacker types here, including the ones who sit on the computers watching movies or playing games while other people want to use them for more important things, the ones who cannot speak at a volume lower than “too loud” (those are mainly the English girls), and of course the lone guy who homes in on every single girl there with the same line (“hey, how are you – oh, you know what, I thought you were someone else. I know someone who looks just like you and I thought you were her, that's why I came over to talk to you. So... where are you from?”). Now, I know what you're thinking: how do I find time to do any outside birding when I'm so busy with indoor birding, but in fact it isn't me. It's somebody else. Honest. If it was me the line would be “you must be a parking ticket, because you've got “fine” written all over you” The next morning I walked to Botanic Gardens (not far away) where I stayed for most of the day and saw various common birds, adding 22 species to my year list. Oddly the only ducks I could find there were Pacific black ducks (grey ducks to NZers) – no wood ducks or white-eyed ducks or anything else. I didn't have an Australian field guide with me of course, so it was good I could still remember all the birds – although rainbow lorikeets and coots aren't exactly challenging to ID! There are unfortunately no longer grey-headed fruit bats in the gardens because they were “encouraged to move elsewhere” due to damage to the roosting trees. Zooboy28 was leaving for America the next day so in the afternoon I took the train over to his place and borrowed one of his field guides.