A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: semaber

Melbourne a.ka. Melben

overcast 14 °C
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Our first evening in St. Kilda (the suburb we were staying in) was pretty chilled out, opting to find a local restuarant for dinner and finding a very nice chicken rissotto. The following day we took the tram into Melbourne city to check the place out. Now, we had been warned that the transport system was pretty mental, but this was just plain stupid. Three ticket types are available..and they really aren't what you'd think: 2 hour ticket (so, if you're very quick, then great), day saver (if you're really not so quick and very lazy) and then central (if you're even more lazy you can get the tram one street). No such thing as a simple single or return. Anyway, back to the city, instantly it could be seen and felt that it was completely different to Sydney. Less to see, more to feel. The city also seem far more spread out than the others. In fact, the main restaurant strip was at least a 20 minute walk out of the town centre. Although we did get a great dinner from a little Vietemnese place.

Our plan for Sunday was to check out the cult that is AFL. A sport which makes circular cricket pitches usual in the winter (well, I believe full stop) originating from a state that has more rain than Wales (maybe). Not knowing any of the rules, we found a pair who seemed to be walking rule books who filled us in on the basics..so long as we supported their team that is. Turns out the two teams were next to each other in the league table and this match pretty much decided who'd be in the finals so quite a lot rested on the outcome. Luckily for us, the team we adopted won.

Having little left in the Australia budget, we only had one day trip in Victoria, opting to go and check out the Great Ocean Road. Setting off bright and early, we hit all the famous spots on the 600km round trip and the road lived up to its name - the views were stunning. And as a bonus, we got to see wild koalas enroute.

Tuesday was a chores day with masses of clothes being taken to the laundry to be washed and dried before we made it to New Zealand. However that evening we did manage to take a stroll down St. Kilda Pier to check out the resident penguins. At dusk, or just after, they begin to return for the evening. Not long after we arrived there were loads of penguins - and they weren't shy either - squaking and waddling along the pier itself. Amazing.

Wednesday was our last day in Oz - how time flies. We had the magic idea to save on accommodation and head to their airport that night ready for our 4:30am check-in whilst trying to get some sleep. Little did we know they were doing building works through the night. What a crap night's sleep that was to be.

Posted by semaber 17:25 Archived in Australia Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

On the road to Melbourne

sunny 16 °C
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So the three days from Sydney to Melbourne were awesome. Taking us further than the direct 2000km, we experienced Canberra, Jindabyne and Wilsons Promontory.

First thing on Wednesday morning we met at the Oz Experience office ready to set off. Within a couple of hours we had reached the Australian Capitol Territory (ACT) border and the capitol city itself. Here we were able to have a tour around the new Parliament House checking out its political past and its ways. Turns out the place was dead what with everyone out campaigning about themselves. Looking at the Hall of Fame, there were a few interesting stories to tell. For instance, one of the previous PMs went out surfing one day (on a day he was told was a bit dangerous so should leave it) and never returned - got caught in a rip or something. I imagine that was embarressing for security to report back when it never reappeared.

By the evening we had re-entered New South Wales and arrived at our hostel in Jindabyne, a small ski town before you hit the Snowy Mountains. The next day's activity..snowboarding. Well, learning at least! A great opportunity and great fun. Never thought that'd be on my list of things to be doing in Australia. After lunch we were back on the road heading towards Melbourne once again.

That evening we were staying in the middle of nowhere in a town called Lakes Entrance (seriously). A mere stopover, we arrived in the dark and left in the dark so we never saw any lake or any entrance to it. Arriving at Wilsons Promontory at lunch, the area which is the most southerly on mainland Oz. One road in, one road out. Stopping to take a stroll through the area, we got to see a huge amount of wild emus and kangaroos. Back on to the extremely windy, cliff-edge road (at great speed) and we made it to Melbourne at tea time.

Posted by semaber 17:17 Archived in Australia Tagged bus Comments (0)

The bright lights of Sydney

sunny 19 °C
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Still playing catch up with these posts but seeing as we spent 8 days in Sydney, I should be able to get somewhere.

First thing after the surf camp, we were on our way to Sydney. A 9 hour journey, which got us in around tea time. After checking in to our hostel, we rejoined our bus friends at a local bar and joined in with the pub quiz going on there. Turns out we must have had a good variety of knowledge between us as we won the whole thing giving us a $100 bar tab to spend that night.

The following day, our first full day in the city, we headed to the famous aquarium. Apparently this is the place to go if you haven't seen the barrier reef yourself. During the many hours we managed to spend in the place, we got to see all sorts of Aussie marine life: penguins, rays, sharks, dugongs (sea cows to non-Australians) and sea snakes to name a few.

Feeling adventurous, on Thursday we took the ferry across the harbour to Manly. Two reasons for this. One, it's the best and cheapest way to see the two icons of Sydney (the Opera House and Harbour Bridge). Two, to walk the Manly Scenic Walk back to Sydney. This scenic walk really is scenic, a 9.5km walk around the bay itself over and under everything imaginable..well, nearly imaginable (it's not like there were icebergs or anything).

Friday we took a day trip to one of the local wine regions, Hunter Valley. This trip took us to three vineyards all who call them boutiques (basically, they're too small to export). Nevertheless, a good day to find out if Australian wine is liked, and if so, what type. The two main types of wine this area produces is the shiraz and the semillion. Findings? That chardonnay is horrible, semillion is alright if it's old and the two types which aren't their priority (verdelho and savignion blanc) are the best.

Another day tour was chosen for Saturday, this time exploring the dizzy heights of the Blue Mountains. These are given this name due to the euculyptus oil emitted by the trees. The day consisted of two walks separated by lunch. The morning's gander took us down to the bottom of one of the valleys to visit a famous waterfall (apparently the area was visited Charles Darwin many years ago). Then in the afternoon we took a walk down 1000 steps checking out the rainforest climate. Thankfully the return journey did not require dragging ourselves back up all the steps but rather a train journey back. Easy? Well, turns out the train track is famous for being the steepest in the world at a mega 58 degrees.

Sunday was a drastic change in pace and only consisted of two things: laundry and a film. For the first time this trip we upgraded our washing in the sink to a washing machine. Celebration. As for the film, we decided to experience the Sydney cinema and see Toy Story 3.

On Monday we finally managed to take a city tour and gain some historical knowledge of Sydney. The whole thing took a few hours and covered about 10km around the city centre. It took in the famous sights (Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge) and also some not so famous sights (for example, the site of the first execution in the country). Following all this information, the afternoon's activity was to follow up on this by visiting a museum to get a full run through of Australian/Sydney history.

Our last day in Sydney brought the horrible cold and rain - in fairness, we did very well only having sun and warmth until then. So we decided to seek cover in one of the city's musems - the Powerhouse museum (getting its name from utilising an old power station). The stuff inside is pretty much everything in all the London museums (bar the natural history stuff). Before we knew it, we'd spent 5 hours or so in the place.

So that is Sydney.

Posted by semaber 02:15 Archived in Australia Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Spot-X

sunny 23 °C
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First thing Monday morning (and really it was very early indeed) we left Byron for Spot-X, our surf camp and home for a day. Within an hour of arriving, we were learning the theory behind surfing. Shortly afterwards, I was wiping out on (huge) half foot waves..obviously very windy, you see. Practice and practice soon lead to a sort of successful 'surf'..if only soon to be corrected on my technique. Apparently it was a toddler trying to stand. Still, a couple of hours and going straight was achieved..so long as I was given a push when a wave was coming.

Posted by semaber 20:20 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Hello East Coast

(a.k.a. Byron Bay)

sunny 25 °C
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The next stop after Surfers was Bryon Bay. We arrived at tea time giving us enough time to find our hostel, meet the roommates then head off out again. The bus company set us up a table at the local backpackers pub/club where school dinner type meals were served for A$5..including a drink (so about 3 pounds).

The second day in Byron was due to kick off with a spot of sea kayaking with the girls from the dorm, unfortunately the weather seemed more British than Australian with gales and lots of clouds. So unfortunately for us, that was postponded until the following morning. Thus the afternoon's plans of walking to the famous lighthouse was subsequently moved forwards. What started off as a gentle stroll around the bay rapidly transformed itself into many near vertical climbs up lots of stairs and paths. However before we discovered that delight, we made it to one of the bay lookout points to try and spot the migrating whales. After half an hour of battling fierce head winds and no sign of any marine life, the quest for Moby and/or his friends was shelved. The highlight of the lighthouse walk, besides the building and views, is that it's also the most easterly point on mainland Oz. A quick photo opportunity and glimpse out to sea resulted in spotting water spouts from a few far away humpbacks - success. Continuing on our way, we eventually made it to the top where the lighthouse is, just minus a lot of energy. Even the walk back on the other side seemed to take us up further before we were granted the luxery of downwards steps.

The following morning, the weather was far better - the sun was shining, there was a brilliantly blue sky and most importantly, no wind. Sea kayaking was a go. The experience was great, we got to see more humpbacks (but the actualy whales themselves this time) within minutes of being on the water. This was not to be the last either. Many more appearances of the creature was seen combined with sights of pods of dolphins, some of which even ventured within a few metres of our group. An amazing opportunity.

Posted by semaber 20:10 Archived in Australia Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

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