Where are we going...?
17.09.2008 - 21.09.2008
As we drove to Melbourne we both reflected on our year away and the many amazing sights we had seen. We arrived into Melbourne with a strong sense of ensuring that we make the most of our final trip in Australia's sporting and culture capital. These thoughts quickly evaporated as we hit the rush hour traffic. As we drove across town to see the street made famous by the television programme Neighbours, we both became extremely agitated! E-J was trying to avoid the city trams, negiociate the one way streets and some awful drivers, whilst Sam read out the directions and brewed with anger and frustration when E-J didn't understand them! After taking two hours to get through the traffic our reward was to find out that the street was being used for filming and we weren't able to access the street at all! Not the best start!
The uneventful evening past and after dropping off our hire car we were ready to take in the culture delights of Melbourne. We explored the iconic town hall buildings and the Victorian Flinders Street station.
However, we both felt unsure of where to start or what to see. We also felt slightly tired of arriving in a new city and having to see all the major attractions like we had done for the last year.
We therefore decided to split up for an hour, with E-J deciding to explore the shops, whilst Sam went to the iconic home of Australian cricket, The Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG).
Sam took a tour around the 95,000 seater stadium and listened with strong interest, whilst E-J enjoyed the various different fashion houses of Melbourne.
An early night was taken that evening as E-J went to bed with a terrible cold and Sam went to sleep listening to E-J doing her best Darth Vader impression.
Friday morning in St Kilda was spent looking lovingly at all the fine bakeries and enjoying the fresh croissants with a great cup of coffee, which is all part of the Melbourne cafe culture lifestyle. In the afternoon we took the local transport of a tram into the city and visited the National Art Museum of Victoria. Feeling slightly cultured out we met our good friends Bre and Mark in the city for a few drinks.
Mark and Bre were friends that we had met whilst doing the Inca trail almost a year ago and Bre, in her home town was an expert in the local bars of the city and she also managed to find us a fine Chinese restaurant. Having enjoyed a few pints, some cocktails, a couple of shots and two bottles of wine we were all feeling fine!
Surprisingly the night ended in a slight blur, in one of Melbourne's more glamourus bars. Perched atop of Melbourne’s beautiful city skyline, the staff at the Blue Diamond bar were relieved to shout the words "last orders" as four intoxicated people were the last to leave the penthouse bar, taking the lift back down the fifteen floors.
It would have been foolish for either of us to have made any plans for the Saturday morning as we both woke up feeling a bit under the weather, at around midday. So with are last full day in Melbourne we managed to enjoy a fantastic pizza and wander around the shops of St Kilda before E-J went off to meet her friend Tracy for a drink while Sam found himself back in a pub with Mark and Bre.
Having once again over induldged in far too many drinks and enjoyed our evening, conversing with many of Mark and Bre's good friends, we thought that sleep was a good idea before our early morning flight back to Sydney so we staggered back to our hostel just before four o'clock!
Amazingly at seven o'clock that morning we managed to wake up, grab all our belongings and make it to the airport in time, although are brains were still probably in the bars of Melbourne!
Sam's Comments: With fewer slot machines, tucked away pubs, green parks and vibrant music scene Melbourne felt almost like an English city.
E-J's Comments: Despite being absolutely freezing, Melbourne is a great place, with lots of great sights cultural things to do. We had an absoutley brilliant time with our firends seeing Melbourne by night too!
15.09.2008 - 18.09.2008 12 °C
The weekend before we set off on the Great Ocean Road, we had friends from New Zealand visiting us, who we had originally met in South America. The weekend had been an incredibly indulgent one with far too much rich food, over refreshing amounts of alcohol and plenty of competitive card games. So, on Monday, waking up at 5:30 am to catch our flight, we realised that perhaps the indulgence of the last three days had been a little excessive on our bodies!
We made it to the airport 45 minutes before departure and somehow found ourselves running for the plane. With Sam always insisting on being there at least an hour and half before departure, this early morning rush did not make him too happy!!
We arrived into Melbourne at 8:30 am to be greeted by a blast of strong wind and cold weather. Having collected the car and found out a bit about where we were going, we began our trip.
Our first stop was Torquay, which is known as the surf capital of Australia, and also home to the final scene of the iconic film, Point Break. Although on arrival, we were more concerned with finding somewhere to eat. Tired and both slightly irritable, we managed to find a small cafe on the high street. On entering the cafe, we couldn't understand why the waitresses and waiter were looking at Sam in a half fascinated, half peculiar way. As Sam ordered the breakfast, the cafe staff all huddled around the till, to then look rather disappointedly at Sam. Sam initially thought that perhaps scrambled egg and sausages was the wrong thing to order, but then was quickly informed that they had mistakenly thought he was a contestant from Australian Idol called "Wes"!! After finishing our breakfast, E-J and the celebrity got back in there Hyundi Getz and headed for Bells beach.
Despite the wind blowing with great force into the beach, we both were still able get a sense of how colourful and picturesque the beach could be. However, after a few minutes of enjoying the view, E-J found the cold and Sam's constant quotes from the film, Point Break too unbearable to stand and headed back to the car.
Driving west towards the border of South Australia, we arrived in the sleepy seaside town of Anglesea. Sam couldn't quite believe his luck when E-J said she wanted to go to the Anglesea Golf Club. It all became apparent why, when E-J became all excited when she saw a row kangaroos lying on the green at the first tee. Desperate to see some more, we drove around the back of the course and at the bottom of Birdy drive, E-J managed to sneak onto the golf course and see some wild kangaroos, lazing on the grass, taking cover from the terrible golfers.
Having both enjoyed the experience of kangaroos in the wild, we set off in search of koalas. Sadly, we were unable to locate them, but managed to enjoy a fine cup of tea at the Split Point lighthouse. By this stage in the day we were both totally exhausted, but felt proud we had achieved as much in the first day of our trip, so decided that Lorne would be our final stop that day.
We arrived into Lorne and quickly found a lovely bed and breakfast, where our large nosed host Neville, made us feel very welcome. After an hour of rest we drove up to Erskine Falls. It was lovely to appreciate the 30 metre waterfall all by ourselves, but sadly it was not as spectacular as the many other natural heritage sites we have experienced already along our trip.
After a brief and blustery lookout at the towns observation point called Teddy's lookout, we headed back into town for a light supper before retiring to our charming bed and breakfast. Out of the strong wind and thrashing rain we sat down in front of the log fire and enjoyed a good cup of tea and while having our usual argument over the television channel.
After having a brilliant frie-up, we thanked Neville and headed off with the intention of doing a long walk around the Sheoak Falls. With intermittent bursts of torential downfalls and blustery winds, E-J still insisted on doing a walk, so a compromise was made with a 30 minute walk to the falls. Reluctantly Sam agreed although he wasn't too impressed with the view!
Next stop was Grey River Road, just off Kennett River. This top tip was from our friendly host Neville, who claimed that this was a great stop for seeing Koala's. As we drove up the road we would spot the large furry animals sleeping in the trees, this delighted E-J who loved there soft, cute and cuddly toy-like appearance.
Our next stop was the Cape Otway lighthouse. The 18 metre lighthouse is an iconic feature, as it protecting the many various ships that tried to sail accross the tempestuous bass strait. It was also the first sight of Australia for many imigrating English families after three months at sea.
We climbed up to the top of the lighthouse and took in the view of the Otway region.
With a strong easterly wind and the waves crashing in against the coastline we gained a idea of how hard it must have been for the tall ships not to end up smashed against the jagged rocks.
With little else to see in the Otway area we drove on to Port Campbell. Our first stop in the area was the Gibson steps. Sadly the walkway down to the beach was partially closed, however we were still able to take in the ginormous limestone cliffs.
A further five kilometres up the road we arrived at the Port Campbell national park. This is home to a collection of natural limestone stacks standing just off the shore line known as the Twelve Apostles, although there are currently only eight apostles left.
We admired this popular tourist attraction for a good fifteen minutes before heading back to the car to warm up as it was freezing! The other reason for remaining in the car was due to E-J insisting on seeing the apostles at sunset, but with huge black clouds hogging the skyline and a bitter sea breeze, Sam became slightly impatient having to wait for a sunset that he was sure would never arrive!
With the sun finally down and no sunset, we headed off to Port Campbell to find a warm place to rest and sleep.
Awaking early on the Wednesday morning, we headed back to the Port Campbell National Park to view the other limestone gorges. Along a walk, we were able to get down to the beach and with the crashing waves coming in, we could really appreciate the enormous limestone caves and gorges and the power of the sea.
The rest of the morning was searching for the natural arch known as London Bridge. Sadly we never found it, and so headed off to Melbourne. We think the reason why we didn't see it was due to the fact that it collapsed in 1990!!
Sam's Comments: With the weather being so cold during the trip I can only take the positive that it is good training for the English winter!
E-J's Comments: I really enjoyed the beautiful landscape, despite battling the elements. I still can't believe how cute koalas are, I was so tempted to smuggle one home, but I don't think Sam would be able to put up with its smelliness and constant need to sleep and eat - sound familiar to anyone else...!
02.09.2008 - 08.09.2008 33 °C
After much deliberation as to whether to fly to an island such as Fiji or somewhere similar, we decided to go to the other side of Australia and booked a ticket to Broome. Broome is well renowned for pearl diving and at one stage provided 75% of the world's mother of pearl. Although the town is still one of the world's major suppliers for quality pearls, it is also a popular place for tourists.
The night before our departure, the ever excited E-J struggled to sleep and constantly enjoyed asking Sam various pointless questions throughout the early hours of the morning. Sam was not impressed with E-J asking him " Which plane breakfast are you going to have, cooked or continental?"
On Tuesday morning with an early start, we traveled to Perth. It was a smooth journey with one exception, E-J getting agitatedwith not having her own TV screen and then not having any sound through her headset, meaning that she may miss the inflight movie "Sex in the City". The experienced air hostess saw E-J's plane-rage temper growing to an alarming level, so quickly moved us before things boiled over.
Once in Perth we had a four hour wait until we finally caught our connection to Broome. E-J has now been to Perth 3 times, but never got further than the airport!
We arrived in Broome just before 7pm, to enjoy a most spectacular sunset on landing.
As soon as we set foot off the plane, we were immediately blasted with the heat and tropical feel of Broome and E-J knew we had come to the right place. Sam just complained that it was too hot!
Due to the expense of our flights, we decided to stay in a hostel, but we had planned it so that we stayed in one just by the Beach. We caught a taxi-bus to our hostel and prepared ourselves for the dorm that we had agreed to stay in and yes, it was primitive, with boys clothes, and food everywhere. E-J was just relieved not to find any insects and rodents joining in the party.
That night we relaxed at the hostel, exhausted from the long journey and with the two hour time difference we were in bed by 10pm.
The next day we were up early to find that the sky was overcast. E-J was a little disappointed by this, although it was still incredibly warm. Rather than immediately hit the beach, we decided to catch a bus into town. On the way in, we were immediately struck by the vivid colours, with the redness of the earth and the luscious green of the trees and piercing blues of the sea.
Having wandered around the town for a bit and looked in a few art galleries, we stopped at a cider bar and enjoyed a refreshing pint of home brewed Cider. We sat there for a while, enjoying the incredible views and the powerful colours of the landscape.
We then headed back to the hostel, grabbed our beach stuff and relaxed on the beautiful Cable Beach. Again, we were not disappointed by the sights.
We spent the rest of the day, lying on the beach, indulging in our books and soaking up the sun. It was paradise. Then, hearing so much about the famous sunsets, we sat and waited for it to arrive.
The sunset took quite a while and we started to become a little impatient and playful.
Finally, we sat there and enjoyed the beautiful colours.
That night, we went out to the only local bar. We enjoyed (as always) a good drink and a good meal and then headed to bed.
The next day was scorching hot, so E-J decided to head straight to the beach while Sam headed into town to do a few chores before meeting her.
We enjoyed a nutritious lunch of rice crackers, cheese and ham on the beach, and boiled in the 30 degree heat, with occasional ventures into the sea to cool off.
Again we waited on the beach until sunset and took in the beautiful views.
Broome is well known for the Boab tree. There trunks store water meaning that they can survive during a drought. We where fascinated by there size and shape.
There is a Boab tree that can be found in the Kimberleys, which was treated as a place to keep prisoners inside its trunk. It is an impressive 14 metres in diameter and is now a registered aboriginal site and is of cultural significance to local tribes.
Saturday was market day and E-J, always keen for local markets wanted to explore what crafts and trinkets there were to buy. She became mesmerised by all the pearls, which Sam had to steer her away from! With a few gifts we headed back to the beach for another intensive afternoon, battling the 30 degree heat whilst turning pages on our books.
The next day followed in the same routine as before, with an indulgent and relaxing day on the beach.
Then in the evening we moved over to the right side of the beach (which is also the nudist beach during the day) to watch the Camel rides against the sunset.
As the camel's would pass us, Sam would break into song "Camel Time" to the melody of M C Hammer's "Hammer Time!".
After E-J had taken a thousand pictures of the camels and Sam, had really had enough of these smelly creatures we headed up to the bar just above the beach to have a drink and enjoy the last of the sunset. The colours were incredible.
That night we followed our usual tradition of ending the evening with an good meal.
The last day was again spent on Cable Beach, which we decided was one of the five favourites of the trip. Buy now we had both got through three books and pleased with our tans (well, E-J anyway).
That evening we enjoyed the last of our beautiful sunsets together, with a couple of beers, in an isolated spot along the beach without another person in sight.
It was a fantastic way to finish the already amazing trip.
Sam's comments: A fantastic place, which only wants me to see more of the West Coast.
E-J' s comments: My favourite place in Australia. I've never seen such incredible colours and felt so happy and relaxed.
26.08.2008 - 30.08.2008 22 °C
After leaving Hervey Bay in the early hours of the morning we enjoyed a smooth trip down to Noosa. Noosa is seen as one of Australia's most desirable holiday destinations. With its calming sea, warm weather and next to a national park, it seemed a great place to relax. After a disappointing time in Hervey Bay we both felt fully qualified to test this!
E-J, determined not to get this one wrong, managed to negotiate a good deal with a motel on Hastings Street, which is full of restaurants, boutique shops and easy access to the beach.
Having found our accommodation easily, we decided to settle on the main beach. The calmness of the water and the blue skies meant that we were able to really enjoy this laid back, little town.
However, the ever impatient Sam decided that after an hour and a half's sunbathing he wanted to do a bit of exploring, so we decided to take a walk within the national park to the right of this main beach. The walk we chose hugged the coastal line of the park, which meant we were able to appreciate the views of the calm sea, little beaches and bays along the way.
Having walked for a good couple of hours we decided to reward ourselves with a refreshing drink when we got back and then ended the evening in a pleasant, little sushi place.
The following day we allowed ourselves a lazy morning having had really early starts from the beginning of our travels and had a quick breakfast on Hastings street before heading to the beach. After an hour or so on the beach, the weather started to cloud up a bit, so we decided to put the time into deciding on where to go next, using the internet. Though after an hour of excessive web surfing, E-J was still in her same, unmistakably, indecisive mood. Sam decided to take the present into his control and hired a car for the next two days to get us down to Bryon Bay and then back up to Brisbane. The rest of the day followed the same as before, with a walk in the National Park, stumbling a cross a little snake, which E-J made such a noise about and then ending the evening with a few drinks and a good meal.
The next day we were up early and after a quick coffee on the beach we set off to Bryon Bay, in our snazy, upgraded car, which made both of us feel very grown up.
After three trips to the same roundabout, we finally left Noosa thanks to E-J's less than helpful map reading and travelled down the Sunshine Coast. By 1:30 we decided to make a brief stop in Surfer's Paradise, just to see what it was all about. The stop lasted all of hour and truly Sam would have been happier with ten minutes.
The place was an array of sky scrapers and revolting flashing neon lights. The place looked as though it had been a rushed attempt to make a booming and busy city. There was also a level of Vegas gone terribly wrong and we were very happy to leave the place after a brief bite to eat.
We arrived in Bryon Bay around 4pm and after a quick and approving inspection of the beach, we decided to look into accommodation. We got as far as the beach front motel and the Main Beach Hotel and decided to push the budget once more and stay at the lovely Beach Hotel. This time we were not disappointed in our indulgence.
The room was massive and it had the most gorgeous little patio leading out onto the garden and from there you could see the sea. In love with our little haven we were quite tempted to spend the rest of the evening there, but managed to drag ourselves away from the delights of the place and explore the buzzing little town, full of shops, bars and restaurants.
After a cocktail and a delicious Thai meal (something that has become rather essential to our diets), we headed back to the bar by the beach front and watched a good Reggae band until it was time to call it a night.
The next day we walked along the beautiful beach, which E-J wanted to spend a lot longer on, but Sam obsessed by his schedule of beating the traffic, insisted on a brief walk before we drove round to the other beach below the lighthouse. Having parked up and surveyed the beach, Sam wanted to hop back in the car and make our way to Brisbane. This was when E-J put her foot down or rather stamped it down and insisted on taking a walk up to the lighthouse and appreciating the views around, rather then just driving from one place to the other, only to jump out of the car for a second for a quick postcard photo of the surroundings.
Sam, realising that E-J (as always) was not going to back down on this one, marched very promptly and quickly up the hill, leaving E-J to breathlessly try and catch up with him.
Once we were at the top, it was worth it, as the views were spectacular and we were even able to spot a whale splashing around in the sea having a "whale" of a time.
The drive to Brisbane was only memorable for an E-J tantrum. However by the time we reached the town we were both excited to see our friends Ben and Veronica, who we had originally met in the jungle of Bolivia and who lived in Brisbane.
Having pushed the boat out the previous night, we found the cheapest backpackers accommodation we could, which was right by the railway. The room literally shook and rattled each time the train went by, like in one of those old movies.
After a little exploring of Brisbane, we went to meet Ben and Veronica in a bar where Ben and his band were performing. The band played the Blues and they were incredible!
It was so great to be reunited with our friends once more, we spent the rest of the night reminiscing and drinking far too much!!.
E-J, a little out of practise had to call it a night at twelve, while Sam and the others battled on, well into the early hours of the morning.
The next day, Veronica met up with us for a late breakfast. After a much needed fry up, Veronica really kindly showed us around Brisbane, pointing out the different features and taking us to the top of a hill where you could get a good panoramic view of the entire city with the river meandering all the way through it.
We then walked around the botanic gardens, which were absolutely beautiful, with an abundance of trees, flowers, ponds and wildlife. We also all had a bit of a fright, when Sam almost stepped on a snake! E-J was the one to spot it and after shrieking "Snake, Snake!!!" it hissed venomously at Sam and then slivered into the cracks of a wall and lay there watching us until we had gone.
(if you look really carefully, you can see it's tail slivering into the rocks)
Veronica then dropped us off at the South bank and we said our goodbyes and then wandered along the rivers edge and around the art gallery until it was time to catch our flight.
It was so easy making our way to the airport, by the efficient transport of Brisbane (which is more than we can say for Sydney) and ended up arriving at the airport really early. To our luck we were put on an earlier flight and before we knew it we were back in Sydney.
Sam's comments: It was great to see Ben and Veronica although my head wasn't too great the next day
E-J's comments: We had a great time chilling out on the beaches, enjoying the walks and seeing our friends again. I'm a little disappointed with my poor stamina when it comes to alcohol, I guess I'll have to get some more practise in before we return to England.