I will admit that I thought Australia would win the ashes. For the sole reason that England's Batsman would not be able to handle Warne and McGrath and while this may still be the case surely we are seeing the end of an era.
The signs that Australia were beginning to fade were evident in the test series against NZ. Sure they thrashed us in each test but their top order failed on a few occasions against a pretty average NZ attack, Gilchrist came to the rescue each time and order was restored.
ultimately this is very good for cricket. Australia will still probably be the best test team for the next year or two, but they are going to get beaten. The aura of invincibility is slowing fading away.
So this is not the end of the Australian era, it is just the end of the "Australia being untouchable" era.
As to who will win the ashes...... WHO KNOWS but it is the greatest test cricket I have witnessed