That'd be a good start.
Use basic idea of:
to write to all the registers with the default SPI settings. Be sure to have decoupling caps on the MAX7221.
D10 must be an output, even if you use a different pin for SS to the MAX part.
I also use direct port manipulation to go even faster:
PORTD = PORTD & B11111011; // example to clear bit 2
PORTD = PORTD | B00000100; // set bit 2
MAX7219 will work the same way and are less expensive, $1.25 at www.taydaelectronics.com
with inexpensive shipping (to the US anyway).
Boffin1 is also in SA, you could PM him to see if he has shipping experience with them.
I think they have displays also (smaller units) while futurlec over in Australia have larger ones available.
Make sure you get common cathode 7-segment displays.
8x8 matrix you can use either common anode or common cathode, they are the same matrix with different pin orientations that you can work around.