Sunday, 28 February 2010

Melbourne, The Great Ocean Road, Adelaide and back to Sydney!

This is a bit of an epic, it's been a work in progress since the last post, we've both contributed to this one!

Our monster bus journey is over as we arrived in Melbourne a few days ago! Over 3000kms down the east coast on the Greyhound with three horrible night buses but we've made it! Only one of the buses we've had the pleasure of using has not broken down or had something fall to bits! This journey was no exception, although ridiculously we were stranded in Oz's BIGGEST city for 3 hours waiting for a new tyre, 3 hours! Luckily Tina Turner's concert dvd was on - the best of - so I was content (L - I was less keen)!

We had a glorious end to our stay in Sydney. We spent a gorgeous day exploring the city and botanical gardens behind the opera house! They are massive and really beautiful, we started our relaxing sun bathing session watching a man that looked like a mixture of the Hulk Hogan, Crocodile Dundee and the Hoff bully fitness freaks around the park! Running, press ups, sit ups, all in 35 degree heat!

We arrived in Melbourne late morning and looked for the correct tram to our hostel, a lovely Indian woman helped us to Flinders Street and we found our hostel easily after that! Our room wasn't available until 2pm so we decided to relax on a couch next to an Irish fella with our swollen feet up high, I joked to Louis that we should go on the city walking tour that was leaving then, I had no intention of leavin my comfy seat to walk around after hellish busy night bus. Then the Irish fella piped up, "You should go, that tour is really good!" We tried to get out of it saying we'd go on it tomorrow, "No, its once a week, you should do it!"

It was actually good way to see the city and find out some random facts about the architecture, and also have a free coffee in one of Melbourne's "iconic" alleys. Everything in Melbourne is iconic according to the guide, from clocks to skyscrapers to these magical alleyways. Some are less magical, they have bins in them and the like.

We checked in, pooped, but needed some grub and were delighted by the nearby Aldi. In a country as expensive as this, it was great to find a bargain! The host was in the suburb of St.Kilda, which was nice enough although we didn't really explore until the next day. We headed to the beach which is ok as beaches go, but Melbourne is in a bay so there are no waves, and it's fairly industrial so there were some interesting smells wafting over the sand. We wandered along the prom prom prom, and were taken by a sign saying - come and see 100 years of history, just 300 metres this way! Well, 100 years of history is quite a lot over here so they've got to be proud of any old-ish thing so we investigated.

It was at the end of the pier we came to the "old" building, a quaint looking teahouse type thing that would've looked at home in Brighton/Margate/Any old English seaside type place. We read the sign we proceeded to tell us of how the building was infact 5 years old, and a replica of what had been there before and burnt down in a fire. Is it wrong we felt a bit cheated!? Not only that, there was a quote from a local saying, "we could have built something new, grand and majestic like the opera house, but there's no need when we already had the magic right here". Hmm...we questioned his judgment but wandered on, where we saw part of the marina was a haven for penguins. We saw several babies in the rocks behind the 5 year old teashed, and found out that they came out at night so planned a return visit.

The next day we saw our friends in the evening, Emma from Leeds and her boyfriend James. We went to a rooftop cinema on the sea front to see 'Where The Wild Things Are' projected on a giant inflatable screen that looked like an old telly. Everyone slid down into their low lounging seats to watch and listen to two girls playing piano and cello and singing who were quite good, and watch the sun go down before the film started. It began, and I was unluckily behind the one chap who had the doubly bad luck (for me) of having a chair that was higher than the rest and (for him and me!) of having a huge head (no offense JP!). We weren't too sure about the film, it was really very very weird, and a bit of a kids film, but the setting was spectacular and we enjoyed it nonetheless, although in such a prone position, it got very cold very quickly once the sun went down, and the seagulls drifting overhead were a constant menace, the fear of a messy present from above kept us from talking too, no-one wants to be lying back with their mouth open ready for what may fall!

The next day, we headed for Frankston on the train to meet James who would pick us up and then take us past where he and Emma live, and on to her work before getting the ferry across the mouth of the bay at 7pm. We picked up supplies, and then had the best ferry ride ever, as dolphins appeared within minutes and surfed the wake of the ship for about ten minutes, jumping in and out of the water and putting on quite a show. On the other side, it was a short drive until we reached the sign proclaiming the Great Ocean Road, although it was quite dark so we wouldn't see some of the more spectacular parts until the next day.

We arrived at the cabin we were staying in for a couple of days, and got cozy, lighting the log burner. We tried for a while to get the gas connected to the cooker, failed, and so had ham and cheese sandwiches for dinner! Next day, we were able to appreciate where we were staying, the cabin had a deck overlooking the sea, and we were 2 minutes from the beach. We headed further along the road, admiring the views and stopping first at a rainforest walk, seeing some massive Australian redwoods and cooling off in the forest, before heading on to the 12 Apostles, some huge sandstone rock stacks jutting out of the sea. They were very impressive, and from the viewpoint we saw a lonely penguin on the beach, a local thought it looked unwell, but he seemed happy enough from our vantage point 100 metres or so up a cliff.

There's more to come....

Saturday, 13 February 2010

We're in Sydney!

Hello from Sydney! It's an amazing city, small enough to wander around and see all the sights but big enough to to feel a part of something. So many of the places we've seen have had so few people there it's been a bit of a joke!

Anyway, we've been round the harbour, took pictures of the bridge, opera house and techno Aboriginies, and then hopped on a ferry to Manly, mainly for the photos of the city from on the water. Manly itself was nice, with beaches in the harbour and onto the ocean - the surfers beach. We watched volleyball and surf types for a while which was cool, and then got some barrumundi and chips to take on the ferry back.

The ferry of our more ridiculous moments occued on the ferry back. Queuing up, we got there early and to the front so we could rab seats outside (of which there aren't many) at the front of the boat. The gate was opened and we raced on, heading to the front, and there we sat, front row central, still facing Manly but ready for the boat to turn around and head to Sydney central.

It didn't.

We went backwards for about ten minutes, both of us keeping each other's hopes up for the big turnaround that never came. It was only as the other ferry came past us, we realised that the boat was double-ended, like a train, and like a pair of buffoons we'd ran on to grab seats at the back of the boat! We sheepishly walked up the front to join the standing masses all snapping away as we once again passed the opera house and the harbour bridge. We're glad it happened because we laughed about it the whole way once we'd realised we were eejits.

That evening, we went to a place which served free pizza from 8pm, so being cheapo backpackers we popped in and had what turned out to be a good sized pizza! Then we went to meet Laura, a friend from university who's working here and some of her chums at a bar overlooking Darling harbour for some cheap cocktails. Apparently Prince Wills visited the very same bar recently. We might've even sat in his seat, who knows!

Yesterday we went to Bondi beach with Laura, for a glorious early afternoon and stormy evening. The waves weren't too crazy and the sea was perfectly clear, you could see your feet on the bottom even a chest height, and the sun was beating down - it was the hottest we've felt since we've been here. It was a case of swim, dry off, heat up in 60 seconds and swim again until the first clouds started to show up.

At first they were a welcome relief, shading us a bit and then letting the sun back out, but then things became much greyer as a storm rolled in. We watched the lightning fork out to sea which was incredible while we waited for the bus home.

Our plans to see the opera house at night were foiled as the rain came down in torrents, the streets flooded and the water running like a river down the middle of the roads. The storm lasted all night, although was at its worst just as Laura wanted to head home. She left, came back soaking and stayed until it had eased off hours later!

Today the plan is to avoid the rain and explore a bit more, and also have a look at some of the Chinese New Year celebrations which have started already. The official date is the 14th so hopefully there'll be some stuff going on - there's quite a large Asian population. We'll keep you posted...

ps. Loads more photos are up...

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

It's been too long!

Sorry one and all, it's been far too long since the last post! Right, here's what we've done!

Been to the Barrier Reef from Cairns and snorkeled there.

Sat at Mission Beach deciding that we didn't want to skydive after all - doing it in the rain left physical damage on some fellow travelers!

Stopped at Townsville to go to Magnetic Island where we saw an Achidna wandering about our hostel.

Stayed at Airlie Beach before going on a 2 night sailing adventure round the Whitsunday Islands and seeing the 2nd Best beach in the world, loads of little Nemo's, the odd turtle and assorted other fish types...

Headed to Rainbow beach, from where we went to Fraser Island on a 3 day camping 4x4 driving safari. I was the only one the got the car stuck in sand - I'm quite proud. A Dingo chased a German girl, and it pissed down with rain...

Stopped in Noosa to check out the surf dudes and dudettes...

And Now we're in Brisbane, finally in the sun. The recurring them so far has in fact been rain, with only 2 days before today where it hasn't rained. We're loving it here, although still missing Asia a little bit, but hopefully a bit more sun will see to that! Anyway, more will follow soon, although Australia doesn't have wifi everywhere and I'm too tight to pay. On that note, my 4 dollars is running out...until next time!