Our eight hour flight onto Cairns from Kuala Lumpur was spent sleeping but when we got back on the plane after it was refuelled in Darwin they had double booked our seats (Germans), they had to be moved elsewhere but thankfully not to first class.
Finally arrived in Cairns very tired. The hostel is basic but very adequate and very freindly. The first day we just went exploring getting ourbearings and some drinking water as it is in the mid 80's in the shade. Unfortunately Cairns does not have a beach so we still have not had our swimming cossies on.
Day four was the best day so far and one of the highlights of the whole trip, we went snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef (tick that of the list of "things to do before i die"). Woke in the morning to hear the rain falling outside and was a bit dissapointed but the staff assured us it was alright out on the reef so we had to trust them and boarded the boat not thinking that the sea would be choppy!!! I spent the trip with my head in a sick bag looking at the mornings breakfast. The staff were so helpful and im sure I wasnt there first person to be chucking there guts up on them. They kept telling me to look at the horizon and suck on ice cubes, was a bit scepticul at first but it helped (The ice cubes are supposed to keep your body temperature down and not make you feel as sick, it works trust me). In the mean time, I later found out Jema was doing the same inside the cabin and was being as well looked after as me.
They were also suggesting we get in the water as soon as we arrived at the platform which was not on my mind anymore. I was feeling dog rough and was begining to think this had ruined the whole day. After about five minutes on the platform I was putting on my snorkelling mask. At first when I got in the water it was a bit straing getting used to things but after a couple of minutes i was fine and swimming around alright.
We had about half an hour in the water and then went for our buffet lunch before meeting up with our instructor for a tour of the reef showing us all the coral, bringing up items for us to touch.
Tuesday we got on the coach up to Port Douglas, very nice town. We finally got the chance to to do some sun bathing on Four Mile beach, then having a wonder around the town ending up at the harbour admiring all the boats. On our walk back to the hostel Jema notice a sign saying "Beware of the crocodile" so our pace stepped up as we walked past the Mango fields. For the first time on this trip we had come across the dangers of Australia. That evening we headed into town for a few schooners of VB.
The next day it was back on the coach down to Cairns to catch our connecting coach down the coast to Cardwell. Well what a town, there was very little there and again our paths crossed with the local wildlife. My bed was infested with ants, Jema woke me in the night to say a lizard was crawling around the room (thanks Jema) and the toilets had a tree frog hanging around. Also in the morning when using the toilet there wasa cup turned upside down on the floor, no doubt hiding a spider!! Glad in a way we were only staying one night. We were lucky that night as the hostel was having a free pasta night so it gave us chance to talk with fellow travellers.
The next day we had a six hour coach journey down to Airlie Beach, arriving in the dark so as soon as we had unpacked it was of for some more VBr drinking. Here we spent our days down by the lagoon, they had a man made lagoon as you cant swim in the sea for the jelly fish (yet more horrors of Australia), topping up our tans. Here we where in shared dorm of six other lasses but they were all so miserable and in there beds by 9pm and we would stumble in just a little later than that!
We stayed here as a stop over before and after our trip to Great Kepple Island and didnt really see the town. Everbody who was staying at the hostel said it was nice but we didnt have the time to see anything unfortunately.
Great Kepple Island
I can only discribe this island as paradise, with its white sandy beaches and clear blue seas. The days where spent down on the beach working on our tan and swimming in the sea to cool off, god it was a hard life! On the first day walking down to the beach we had to stop in our tracks as two lizards walked across in front of us, they were massive more like dinasaurs. I had to do a double take to check that my eyes were not deceaving me. The night life on the island is quiet but can get lively down at the hotel resort. The sunsets on the island where magnificant and worth heading down to the beach at sunset to watch. We stayed at the YHA resort on the island which is a big tent village with very good facilities.
After a night stop over in Rockhampton we headed down to Hervey Bay which is where most travellers head out to the Whitsunday Islands or go to Frazer Island on a 2/3 day 4 x 4 safari. We managed to go to Frazer Island for the day, which is the worlds largest sand island. The main beach is also the main road on the island, looked great fun hooning around in 4wd's up and down the island.
We spent the first day exploring around the river and the city beach admiring the city's skyline. We visited Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary where we got to feed the Kangaroos and cuddle a koala. One day we headed down the coast to Surfers Paradise to hit the surf! Had a fantastic day on the beach getting battered by
the waves and freezing in the water. I liked Surfers, yet anouther place i would have liked to spend more time. We nearly had a bit of a disaster here, in the evening we went out for a meal in the town and left all our beach gear in lockers at the transit centre but on our return to pick it all up and get the last bus home the centre was all locked up. After a moments panick we wondered round the building and finally found a door to get in and retreave our stuff.
From Brissy we got an internal flight to Adelaide to save time on travelling by land.
Things were a bit cooler down here I even had to start wearing a jumper it was that cool (alright dont all start cheering, it got warm again!). During the 15 minutes taxi journey from the airport to the YHA in Adelaide the driver had run through places to go and visit and where things where, he was a really nice chappy. During our stay in Adelaide they were having there Christmas Parade through the town which attracts in thousands of people from around Australia, it was very impressive and alot of time and effort must go into the floats.
It didnt feel much like christmas with the sun beating down on our shoulders (well something like that, it wasnt to warm). I was sure i would cope with a warm christmas.
After a few days in Adelaide it was time to pick up our car for the journey along the Great Ocean Road, wish it had been a motorbike. Was feeling the need for speed!
The Great Ocean Road
This was an impressive three day journey from Adelaide through to Melbourne, not only was the road fantastic but the scenery was very impressive as well. Ive just got to come back one day and take a blast down that road on a motorbike (High on my list of must do things before i die). The first night on this journey we stayed at Port Fairy, bit of a ghost town but it was Sunday night . The hostel was cold and full of school kids keeping us up most of the night. The second night we stayed at Lorne where we dropped in with a bit of luck. We managed to get a free upgrade from a twin room into a cottage as they had double booked the room. In the room we had a TV and video so we hired a film from the local shop and had a relaxing night in our cottage.
The Great Ocean Road is one of the most spectacular scenic ocean drives in the world, with impressive natural formations such as the Loch Ard Gorge, London Bridge, and the famous Twelve Apostles taking the spotlight. The Great Ocean Road is second only to the City of Melbourne for being the most visited region in Victoria.
En route we passed through Angelsea and Torquay, having a break and heading down to Bells Beach where the final scene in the film Point Break was supposedly filmed. Torquay is also where the big names of the surf world all started off and have a big shopping centre on the highway as you head out of town, us being girls can not pass a shopping mall without spending some money! Well things where cheap.
Finally we cruised into Melbourne after three longs days driving down one of the best roads I have been on in the world, yes even better then the A683 to Kirkby Lonsdale and Devils Bridge.
After handing back our trusty stead to the car hire company we went on to explore Melbourne. Here we spent a day down at St. Kilda, place I liked very much and would like to head back there at some point, sunning ourselfs on the beach and drinking coffee in the cafes. We also went on a day tour of Phillip Island to see one of Australia's biggest tourist attraction, the penguin parade. As the sun fades in the sky, Little Penguins waddle up the beach to the safety of their homes in the sand dunes. I liked Melbourne with its olde world trams rattling around the streets.
From Melbourne we hopped back on the coach for the last time and headed for the bright lights of Sydney.
Where do I start with this fantastic city, after spending nearly two months in and around Sydney I fell in love with the city. Jema and I only had a week together in the big city before she had to fly home and leave me on my own. During that short time we crammed alot in, visiting the Opera House, a trip down to Bondi Beach, other attractions in the city and best of all climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Yes me with the fear of heights went up and over the bridge. Ive gotta say that has to be my best acheivment in life(more about that day later). Our first day in the city we took the bus through the city down to The Rocks which is the old part of town, on the bus journey down we got our first glance of the bridge. Wow was it big!! Looking back now the few days we had together in Sydney seemed to have merged together and everyday we seemed to look up at the bridge and say to ourselves we have to climb that thing! I was suprisingly looking forward to the challange. We took a tour inside The Opera House, a word of advice save your money and spend it on something else the Opera House is more impressive on the outside than inside. Maybe it would be different if you was there to see a performance but to go into empty halls was a bit boring, thats only my oppinion though. We also booked a tour to the Blue Mountains for a day, only wish we could have stayed longer there maybe even a few nights. Yes the Blue Mountains are blue, the gases from the Ucalyptas trees create the blue haze, it sooooo peaceful there even with all the tourists about. Everybody seemed to talk in whispers so as not to brake the calm of the place. Im sure if you shouted something you would be herd for miles.
The day of waking for the bridge climb my heart sank when i looked out of Sydney Central YHA to see the rain falling from the sky. Just our luck! If I remember rightly that morning we had a brew across the water at the Opera House and looked over at the bridge thinking we had to climb that in a few hours. There was no way of getting out of it now, not even because of the weather as they only stop climbs for electrical storms. We checked in for our climb around the middle of the day (which when we were booking the trip thought maybe it would be to warm huh yeah right). First of all you have to fill in the insurance disclaimers and take the breatherlizer test. So the night before we had to take it easy in the Scubar so we were not over the limit to climb. Next your lead through to anouther area to introduce yourself to the fellow climbers and be fitted with the very sexy suits you have to climb in. At this point a few weird things happended, one of the guys that was fiting us with the suits asked where abouts in the UK we where from. Anyway to cut this story short it turned out he was from our local town, small world or what. Then later on when we were doing the mock bridge climb and running through all the safety bits and pieces. A lad I recognised from my secondary school walked past working at the Bridge, how weird is that. Once we were clad in our waterproof outfits and hooked up with our radios it was off to the bridge we went. I was a little nervous at this point, I felt better when i ended up being at the front of the group right behind the guide. Im not going to bore you with everything on the climb but what I am going to say is it was well worth the £50 or so it cost. Even though it rained while we were on the bridge and didnt get the best pics on the bridge, it truly was a fantastic three hours of my life. It made me realise that my fear is not heights but of ladders, as we climbed up ladders and came down then I was very shakky but once on the walkways up and over the arch of the bridge I was alright. Im sure on a clear sunney day the views are fantastic and hope to maybe see them one day!
A few days after the bridge climb Jema flew back to the UK and back to work for her, leaving my on my own. It was only about three weeks before my brother and the rest of them came out though. I stayed at Sydney Central YHA for a few more nights spending my days in the shops of Sydney or sitting in the parks reading and drinking lots of coffee. What better place could you sit and have a coffe when you look one way there is the Sydney Harbour bridge and all the boats in the harbour and turn your head a little your looking at The Opera House or a little more and you can see the skyscrapers of the CBD. I LOVE SYDNEY. After a while the big city was getting to me a bit much and i needed to have some sand between my toes again so headed north up the coast to Collaroy, so that I could explore the northern suburbs of Sydney. The YHA in Collaroy was great, full of freindly people. I began to notice that the smaller hostels where more freindly than the big one's like Sydney Central. From Collaroy I had a day in Manly, which is very surfy which of course I liked or was it the sufers I liked hmmmmmm have to think about that one! Anouther day I went to Palm Beach......Some of you might know that is where they film Home and Away, admit it you have all watched the programme. It looks a little different from the TV programme but there are places i recognised i think the pictures say it all really.
Does it look familiar then?
After several days chilling by the beach and exploring the north coast, I headed of to see some relatives at Thornleigh. My mums cousins and I guess my half cousin. It was really great to stay with them getting to see a bit of real Australia away from the tourists and backpackers, I also got to visit my grans sister up on the central coast.
Time was flying fast now and my brother Tony, his girlfriend Claire, Claire's Sister Emma and boyfreind Paul had arrived in Australia and I had moved down to Cronulla to meet up with. Cronnulla's YHA was a great hostel, the people staying there I guess made the hostel. Having many a laugh sat round the TV with fellow backpackers watching cheesy Aussie TV.
The five of us had a night out down at Bondi beach, which is a night I dont think i will ever forget!! We went down to meet up with a freind of Claires that was also travelling at the time, heading to her flate for a few drinks before we went out. Wine doesnt half go to my head. Then heading down to a bar to drink several schooners of VB making me a little worse for ware. We had to head of to catch the last train back to Cronulla but unfortunately things went from bad to worse for me. I was caught short while waiting for the bus so nipped of to find some loos down at the pavillion on Bondi beach, unfortunately i decided to take a short cut and jump over a wall to get down to the pavillion. In my drunkeness I didnt realise how high the wall was and as i jumped over I realised it was a bit higher than expected, landing on my side in a bit of pain and wacking my head on the ground. ooooppps. I managed to get away with not hearting myself to badly, think the alcohol helped. Eventually I managed to make it back to the bus, feeling a bit worse for ware. But things got worse for me and the drink came back to see me whilst waiting for the train and all the way back on the train. Im sure there is a lesson to be learnt here, whether its not to jump of walls when drunk or whether not to drink as much I dont know!!
Before I knew it Christmas day was upon us and John and Jackie (Claire and Emmas Parents) had put up a christmas tree in the apartment making it feel like christmas. During the day we headed down the beach, even though there were bush fires going on around us. The air was filled with smoke but we still had a barbie on the beach and a game of cricket. It seems that its only the brits that gown down the beach on christmas. What the hell we had a good time.
Then it was time for the big event in Sydney, New Years Eve and the firework display on the bridge. We headed in to Sydney on the train and soon realised it was going to be a busy night with the train being packed out. As we stepped of the train into Circular Quay there were people everywhere, hardly having room to move. We wondered round enjoying the atmosphere of things that where going on in and around circular quay, enjoying a few tinnies. We took up our position very close to the bridge being able to see the fireworks. The fireworks were spectacular and very much a must do thing for anyone on New Years Eve. I LOVE SYDNEY.
It wasnt long before there time was up and mine was coming to an end in Australia. My thoughts had started turning to what I was to do when I get back home, a very scary thought at the time. I moved on leaving them with a few days to go and some great memories of the things we had done. I'd booked myself back into Sydney Central YHA for my last ten days in Australia. I thought these last ten days where going to be a bit lonely now all i had to look forward to was going home to cold and windy Britain and the big job hunt but thankfully I bumped into Kate who was in the same room as me when I checked into the YHA. Kate had only just arrived in Australia so was suffering a bit from jet lag but still wanted to go out for a drink that night. We didnt get out for that drink for a few nights as she was always asleep at night and awake early in the morning. When we finally got out for the drink we had several great nights out drinking mainly in the Scubar under the YHA, playing pool with the locals and having drinks on the house courtesy of the manager. I think we made an impression in Scubar!!!
I don't think I will forget those nights out either, cheers Kate.
Unfortunately the day of my departure had come and I was sorry to be leaving not only Kate and Sydney but Australia itself. I'd had three months having the time of my life in this wonderful country, meeting some great people along the way which I wish I had stayed in contact with and seeing some incredible fantastic places. I had a moment when I was sat at the airport thinking about staying but my visa was running out, I sent an email home to let them know I was coming home and maybe more to tell myself that i had to go home!
A big thank you goes out to Micheal, Judith and Racheal, John and Jackie for letting my stay with you folks, THANKS VERY MUCH
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