A Travellerspoint blog

Day 42- 44 - Wildlife, Worry & Whitsunday!


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14 January 2020- Wildlife
After a hectic few days on Fraser we took the day fairly easy; starting off by rearranging our bags and charging devices, this has now become common practice on check out day. Once satisfied we headed to check out Noosa National Park in search of the Fairy Pools and keeping our fingers crossed for Koalas!

Our wildlife hunt started well with us spotting a school of dolphins mere minutes into our walk. This was the first time either of us could recall seeing these in the wild. There were between 6-8 dolphins swimming not too far from shore and we tracked their progress as we trekked along the coastline. Well this was until a large group of people starring at a tree distracted us. Matt (our Fraser guide) had told us this was a popular spot for kaola spotting so we got excited. After about 10 minutes glaring at the tree tops without seeing anything I noticed a pair of fluffy ears poking out into the skyline. It was a little napping kaola!! I couldn't believe it. We had heard that it was rare to see kaolas in the wild and after all the bush fires and the fact we were not going into the forrest we kind of resigned ourselves to the fact we wouldn't see one outside a sanctuary. But here he was! I've no idea how the first person saw him as he was so well camouflaged into the trees but I was so happy to see his little outline and we stopped for around 25 minutes to just gawk at him. Feeling chuffed we gave up our prime viewing spot to locate the Fairy Pools.

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The weather was really random with rain spells interrupting a really sunny and hot day. We stumbled across the pools during one of these rainy spells. While I'm sure the weather didn't help we were pretty underwhelmed by the pools. They were basically just two small rock pools filled with overflowing sea water. The backdrop of uninterrupted sea was cool and made them like infinity pools but we weren't feeling a dunk.

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Instead we went to try some more koala hunting. Although this proved to be a little hazardous as looking up at trees meant you weren't looking for rocks that were lurching to trip you up! Unfortunately we didn't manage to spot any other ones but the good thing was that the one we saw earlier was still in the same location and had moved down a little. After getting some cool photos he then had a little stretch and clambered down the tree for some food. It was magical watching him. And I feel sure he knew everyone was watching and was just showing off! He really was cute and we could have watched him all day but we needed to get back for our bus... Which we had already left the timing fairly fine resulting in a brisk walk back! How does this airways happen!

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Loaded up it was time for another overnight bus to Airlie Beach in preparation for our Whitsundays trip. The four 18 year olds we had adopted on Fraser were also on the same bus which provided some laughs and extra conversation. As with all the bus rides we've had it was fairly uneventful. Well that was until we got to one of the service station stops, where out the corner of my eye while awaiting the toilet I noticed an odd movement. It was not a natural looking movement or anything I'd seen before and peering through the darkness without my glasses on I could not be sure what I had seen. Well not until the movement happened again and I overheard someone whisper that there was a kangaroo there! Grabbing Iz we both looked out waiting for it to move again. Which sure enough it did and appeared under the street lamps next to a busy road with a baby Joey in toe. It was not something we expected, especially against the back drop of a petrol station, and it was like nothing we had ever seen! It was wonderful and really topped off a great wildlife spotting day! 3 stereotypically Australian animals in the wild ticked off in one day... Not bad!

Stepping off the bus at 9.30am at Airlie was like stepping into a sauna! The heat just encompassed you and made us instantly begrudge the walk to the hostel we knew was coming. A hostel representative had come down to lead the way. Although this was bittersweet. As on the one hand it meant we wouldn't get lost and would take the most direct route... Yet on the other hand it meant we would not be able to set our own pace. Dripping in sweat (much like now as I write this) and in a fair degree of pain we ploughed forward to the hostel.

15 January 2020- Worry

When we arrived feeling disgusting we were told we that we couldn't check in until 2pm. Although fairly common it's still annoying. Despite this we thought we would try our luck as sometimes rooms are available a little early. And boy were we in luck! She did let us check in and upgraded us to a private room!! Things like this do not happen to us and we were revelling in it. The room was a large four bed family room with a double bed, air con, a fridge and it's own bathroom! Now this may not sound like much but when you are used to staring a room with around 6 other people and often a bathroom with a greater amount this was luxury! Plus it was nice just to be able to spread out and walk around without clothes which in this heat was a dream! After a shower to freshen up and cool down we headed to explore the town and grab lunch.

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Lunch was a huge tasty pizza that was large enough to have the leftovers for lunch. We also had a chat to the pizza chef and things were all going well. Obviously with us this was about to come crashing down. The hostel was massive and beautiful with two pools we headed to one, again in an attempt to cool down. This was futile though as the pool water must have been about 18 degrees, so it felt like a warm bath! Back at the room looking to book our flight our flight into Japan was when disaster struck! We couldn't find the debit card! We had taken it to reception earlier as they had wrongly charged us for the upgrade sand we needed to reverse it. But neither of us could remember when we last had it. After a mad panic looking everywhere we resided ourselves to the fact it was gone, but hoping it would have been handed in when checking in the morning. It really put a dampener on things. Which was a shame as everything had been going so well. Crestfallen we packed a bag for our trip the next day and headed to bed.

16 January- Whitsundays

After checking at reception and still no sign of the card we put it to the back of our minds ready to enjoy our day trip. Once measured for a wet suit and after signed our lives away in disclosures we were on the boat. It was another scorcher of a day and we were pleased for the breeze as the speedboat bounced over the sea. It was a ridiculously calm day on the water, so much so the surface looked like a mirror.

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We reached our first snorkel spot and wow it was incredible. By far the best place either of us have ever snorkeled. There were fish everywhere and they were so brightly coloured. Although it is really difficult to see on the camera. You could get so close to them! Our big ambition was to a turtle, however we didn't get so lucky. Back in the boat it was off to the next snorkel spot. The diversity of fish at this stop was lesser but here they were permitted to feed the fish meaning there were just streams of fish everywhere. When the food hit the water if you were close you would literally be caught in a fish tunnel. It's experiences like this that are so hard to actually describe and the reason you need to travel and experience these things first hand.

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With a lunch in our bellies and on a little high it was time to stop at Hill Inlet and view the famous Whitehaven beach! This has to be the most beautiful beach you will ever see! It looks like it has been made on a computer and no photo does it's beauty justice. Something else special about this beach is that it looks completely different every day, as the sand swirls in different ways. So only the people that visited on the same day as us will have the unique photos we have of this location. It is difficult to comprehend that nature has made this place. It honestly looked like everyone's perception of paradise. Another interesting fact is that the sand here is the purest and finest in the world! It is 98.9% pure silica sand. In comparison the sand at Lake McKenzie is around 60% and this place has the second purest silica sand in the world! As at Lake McKenzie the sand was great for exfoliating your body, washing your hair and buffing up any gold jewellery. The below photos are not enhanced in any way, yet they still don't capture what you saw. Seriously stunning!

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Although it was great to view the sand and sea from above it was so hot we just wanted to run down and get in the water. Yet again though the water wasn't really as cool as you'd like yet still refreshing. It really was a brilliant day and along with Fraser up there with the best things we have done in Australia.

Next stop an overnight bus to Cairns!

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Posted by Bears on Tour 02:41 Archived in Australia Tagged fish water koala paradise snorkeling speedboat whitsundays airlie_beach thunder_cats kanageroo Comments (0)

Day 39- 41- FRASER!!

Our paradise Island adventure


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One of the things we love about traveling is meeting people whose life you would never normally cross paths with. From all warps of life. So, this upcoming trip we expected to meet quite a few.. and we definitely did. The night before leaving for Fraser Island was spent ‘mingling’ with our future camp mates, the free alcohol definitely helped ease this process! We joined a bunch of Germans playing an interesting version of drinking snap. We drank a lot and talked a lot, while fully aware of our 5.30am alarm we made sure we got tucked up in bed early enough.

10 January 2020- Day 1
The next morning was rough, unbelievably hot, dizzy from skipping dinner and headache from too much alcohol, I could barely stand up. Scoffing breakfast bars and as much water as I could to cool down, to no avail. We got packed up and on the bus and started to feel a little better in the air conditioned bus with chance of an extra snooze.

We were all put in to cars; although the group we wanted to be with all got split up we ended up in a pretty good car. Unfortunately, they have quite strict rules for who can drive- you have to be over 21 and been driving for 2 years. That left 7 people out of 3 that could get behind the wheel and unfortunately ruled us out! We didn’t realise we were getting old until about 90% of the trip was under 21! We were in the car with a group of three English girls and a boy who are all working in schools in NZ for a year before uni, the guide and a very quiet German girl.

It was a well organized trip with four 4x4s all driving in convoy. Our first stop was for essential supplies; booze, ice and a lot of super cold water! Then lunch! The way it was divided was Car 1 (our car) did breakfast both mornings, Car 4 did lunch both days and Car 2 & 3 had a rock, paper, scissor contest to decide who did dinner first night and the loser did dinner the second night. Full up on cheese, ham and salad sandwiches we made our way to the crossing for the island.

An hour of beach driving and we made it to our first destination, Lake Wobby. Unfortunately, it was a 30 minute hike up hill to get there, through sand and mangled tree roots. Due to the heat, everyone had been advised to wear trainers as the sand would burn your feet- annoyingly Andy and I trying to be savvy bought trainers that work as water shoes too. These are great but one downside is they are full of holes, meant to let water out but actually meant they also let sand in, which meant an uncomfortable 30 minute walk with shoes full of sand. An opening came in to view and drenched in sweat I got excited we were there... nope, we’re were just at some sand dunes which was even harder to walk on, and the guide was right, burning hot. Eventually, the lake came into view, an incredible pool of water in a valley surrounded by tremendously high sand dunes one side and green rainforest on the other.

As we were walking/ falling down the sand dunes and I was exclaiming how excited I was to get in the water and cool off, a girl around me mumbled ‘yeah, but you have to climb back up this at the end’. In that moment I didn’t care, stripping as fast as I could I ran into the water and submerged myself, finally feeling the cool corse through me. Andy faffed around for ages before finally joining the rest of the group. The water was so refreshing! The freshwater green lake is slowly disappearing due to the sand blow and will eventually seize to exist. Most people sat there for about 40 minutes letting tiny fish nibble at them. This idea didn't appeal to me.

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Walking back up the sand dune was hell; all the cooling off you’d done in the water forgotten within minutes of starting off up the hill. We made our way to camp and all got settled in. Car 3 having won Rock Paper Scissors had opted to cook the first night, which turned out to be sausage and vegetables with the added bonus of corn on the cob! #win. We ended up playing a game called Irish Snaps while we waited, a drinking game imparted on us by the teenagers, urgh, why are we the oldest people on this trip!

After dinner the drinking games continued until the guide started a game of ‘bite the box’, where everyone stood around in a circle and took it in turn to bend down and pick up a box with only your teeth and no hands or other body parts on the floor. Once every round is complete they cut the box in half again. Andy and I were both out before round 3 had ended... Our old age clearly impairing our flexibility. However the game somehow continued for another hour until the box was dug into a hole about a foot and a half in the sand and two girls remained just bending down as if it was nothing to pick it yup- evidentially the world's most flexible pair. In the end the tie break was decided, resulting in a card being placed on the floor and seeing who could pick it up quickest.

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11 January 2020- Day 2 on the island
Being on breakfast duty meant a nice early 5.30am wake up for us while the rest got a slight lie in. Having gone to bed late and a night of storms waking us up we were all pretty tired. We did our duties and made pancakes and toast which were much appreciated by the rest of the group emerging from their tents.

Our first stop of the day was to Eli Creek. However this is where we encountered first hand how changeable the island could be as a high tide had created a lake of deep water tight where we had to drive through. The water was so high it was coming up past the doors. In case one we got through without too much issue, although our guide was anxious about it, it was fun for us to be in. To avoid damage to the cars the guide drove all of them through one by one. The second car, however, got stuck in the water and the water was pouring in from the doors all the way up to the seats causing a few wet bottoms. After about 10 minutes he finally got it going again and we were on our way again.

Eli Creek is a fresh water stream, the water (apparently) purer than any bottle water- minus all the leaves. We can both certify that the water was pretty good and clean. We started at the top of the stream with a group photo in the refreshing water before floating down the river lazily. It was so refreshing. Our natural shower for the day! Being on an island with no electricity or running water meant it genuinely was our shower for the day.

A game of volley ball between two tour groups commenced and after insisting Andy stopped to put sun cream on twenty times I gave in and joined the game. Having been up since half 5 it felt like it was about 2pm when in reality it was only 11am! Everyone agreed it was time for an early lunch. Getting out of the sun Andys back was bright pink! No sympathy was deserved.

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The guide mixed up the car loads so we were i a different group which was a nice change, the radio blasting some banging hits and jokes flowing.
We spent the rest of the day with the other tour group which wasn’t as fun- none of the guests really interacted with any of our group and their tour guide was a 60 year old man who thought he was still in his 20’s, needed to be the center of attention, with a thick smokers laugh and some terrible jokes (although I do love some terrible jokes and will definitely repeat them).

Champagne pools was next stop, some amazing natural small pools next to the ocean which the waves spill over the top off, creating bubbles in the pools; hence the name. Weather wise, it was a strange day- intense heat in the morning, pouring down rain when we got to the pools, within an hour bright sunshine again. Andy and I both love water so this is the perfect kind of day for us- water hopping.

A short hike up Indian Head gave an incredible view of the ocean and some of the bays of the island. The reason for the name is not due to the hill resembeling an Indian headdress as some believe but instead named by Captain Cook upon his arrival and seeing the whole hill full of abroigonals. Again, torrential rain began and it was time to run back to the cars. Although by this point we were used to getting wet and just drying off so we aren't too bothered.

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Back at camp for the evening, Car 2 started on pasta bolognese and garlic bread for dinner. We ended up in a drinking game of Uno with some Germans , I love this part of travelling, learning about different cultures, languages and traditions. Dinner was as good as it smelt and after more drinking and games it was time to head to bed!

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12 January 2019
Final day on the island, another early morning on breakfast duties, we had to pack up all our stuff up as we wouldn’t be returning to camp once we’d left. We made our way to Lake McKenzie which was about an hour drive on the sand beaches again which was so much fun. The heat downpour had made the tracks a little tricky. Andy and I would’ve loved to have been able to drive too but it was still fun being a passenger.

Lake McKenzie was beautiful, a humongous lake surrounded by forest, it felt like your own private lake. The water is so pure that only three species of fish can survive in the lake, we were literally in paradise! The guide explained the sand was the second purest in the world, you could run it through your hair as conditioner. Since he was a bit of a prankster non of us believed him. He scrubbed sand in to his hair and washed it out and made everyone feel is hair. He was right, cue all 31 people proceeding to scrub sand in their hair, faces and bodies. It was crazy how soft everything felt after.

Andy went in search of turtles but came back disheartened. The lake was so deep looking down all you could see was pitch black, quite disconcerting. Making my way back to shallower water, treading water is so exhausting, we started playing a few games. Up first was taking it in turns to try and stand on each other’s shoulders to flip them off backwards, it resulted in a lot of side splitting laughter, especially from two of the Germans. I then suggested shoulder wars; initially I was on Andy's shoulders and we had a degree of success but this game seemed to gain traction and soon it was carnage. Everyone was on someone’s shoulder pushing and barging others around, definitely a fun way to end the trip together.

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Unfortunately, you’re only allowed to spend two hours here or risk a fine so we had to move on. On the single track back we came across a stuck 4x4, with another car already helping our guide got all of us to get out the cars to help push. This poor family stuck were suddenly surrounded by 31 people trying to push and dig their car out. The problem was the more the wheels spun the more sand they dug them selves in to. Some of the guys from our tour got right under the car to try and dig the sand out and in the end another car came to the rescue and pulled the car out. We made our way to the lunch spot, there was a bakery with huge doughnuts so we headed over only to be let down by pretty rubbish looking pastries. The trip started to wrap up with everyone pretty exhausted it was time to head for the ferry.

The constant on off rain had made the sand really difficult to drive and the car windscreen was steaming up, we had to leave the windows down and I ended up drenched! The guide couldn’t see anything out the window and had to keep putting his head out the window to see where he was going. It made the drive back very hard and slow, taking longer than normal with a number of breakdowns. This meant we ended up crossing quite late and getting back to the hostel a few hours later than expected but with nothing to be back for it wasn’t an issue for anyone.

Since all the guests of the trip were staying in the hostel they put on a special for burgers (best burger I’ve had in years!) and drinks. With everyone all showered, in clean clothes and good spirits it was a fun way to end the trip! It was a relief to finally get the sand out all those awkward places it gets in to. Everyone was drinking and dancing with all their new friends.

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Posted by Bears on Tour 22:47 Archived in Australia Tagged fraser_island Comments (0)

Day 36- 38- Life's a Beach!!

Bondi Beach, Byron Bay & Surfer's Paradise!


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After spending the morning catching up on our laundry (the boring yet essential part of traveling) we headed to the famous Bondi Beach! Although the clouds took a little while to lift it was still a lovely warm day and perfect for the beach and chance to try out our new sand resistant beach towels! Bondi was as expected lovely soft white sand and pretty busy. Although still quiet in comparison to an English beach on a hot bank holiday. It was good to have a bit of a relax and not to worry about the time too much or where we had to be for a while.

Iz does love a beach. Me ... I get a little bored after a while. To appease me and to cool down we jumped in the sea and while singing Waves by Mr Probz we tackled each huge wave that came our way ???? (in honesty I think the sea won. But we would be ready for round 2!). After a little more crisping we checked out a few shops before back to the hostel for food and to grab our bags for our next overnight bus!

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The next destination on our stop was Byron Bay, where we would spend one night. The bus ride was a lot less dramatic than the first with the only notable mention was a 5am stop at a service station with a McDonald's... We got nuggets despite not even really being hungry (we have a problem!). We arrived into Byron around 9.30 and dropped our bags off at our hostel (Aquarius). This looked one of the best hostels yet. A lovely bar, pool table, table tennis table, swimming pool and even a PS4 with FIFA! The whole place seemed to have a good vibe too, so we were happy. It is always a bit of a roulette with picking hostels; as even if you read the reviews different people want different things. This one was the most expensive one so far but there wasn't an awful lot here and two main perks were it was close to the beach and the bus stop. Something we were very grateful for when lugging our 20kg bags plus luggage in the 28 degree heat.

This was by far the hottest place we had been so far and the whole place looked like a holiday resort. After ambling around a few shops mainly looking at swimwear we weren't going to buy and toying with the idea of getting another decoration it was to to the beach. Even though it wasn’t massively different to Bondi, I liked it more. Maybe as there were more families and it brought back good memories of summer holidays as a kid.

We basically repeated yesterday's activities, appreciating that we were sat on a beach the other side world while friends and family would be about to embark on another day at work. Everything was going so well until Iz screamed and started panicking saying that it felt like her arm had a strong electrical current running through it coupled with painful shocks. Not knowing what it was we headed out the sea, trying to get the pain to go away. Everything went through our heads from could it be a stroke or was it just a jellyfish. I was quite worried and didn't know what to do. Iz was being really brave and it seemed to be subsiding a bit. But red lasertation like whip marks and little bubbles likely the kind you get after touching stinging nettled appeared on her skin confirming (after a Google) it must have been a jellyfish. We went to see if the lifeguard would have anything to help and it became apparent Izzy wasn't the only victim of these bluebottle jellyfish. One guy had way worse stings all over his back. They were handing out ice in bags and didn't appear too worried which put our minds at ease. He told us that to hold the ice on the stings and the pain and marks should subside in hours. Sure enough he was right and now it looks nothing more than light scratch marks on Izzy's arm. I wish I took a photo at the time but my mind was elsewhere. I guess this is just one of the dangers of swimming in Australia and it seemed something that was fairly common. Least it wasn't a type that can seriously hurt or kill.

Being a sucker for a market we wondered around the one near the beach before the sun got too much and we went to officially check in the hostel. Our room lived up to expectation although a little stuffy. After booking our great barrier reef scuba dive we got a few drinks and played some table tennis before lining up for some promised free food. It may have only been pasta but it was good and free!

We were then just going to head to the room and watch Netflix or something but I suggested a walk instead. With the warm evening, why not. This turned out to be a great idea! The streets were alive with people of all ages and live music could be heard everywhere, again a bit like a holiday resort but a cool one. We assumed the music was coming from pubs but as we walked realised that most were just buskers. But unlike London these buskers were good and attracting huge crowds that were spilling into the road. But again unlike England instead of the cars beeping horns and getting angry they just slowly drove past or also wound down the window to listen. It was such an odd but lovely vibe. We stopped to listen to one guy with a gravely voice that looked like the lead singer from Nickelback, joining in the cover songs. Then headed to the next guy located on a little bit of grass. Everyone was just sitting, drinking and listening to his original songs. It felt like we were at Glastonbury! Yet it didn't seem organised and there was no advertising for it. We started to wish we were there for more than one night as we both started to fall a little bit in love with Byron Bay and enjoyed this little evening together.

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Next day was time for another bus and another place; destination Surfers Paradise in the Gold Coast. The bus was an hour late arriving but with the our new location also being an hour behind Byron we didn't lose anything #timezonesaving! We only had an afternoon here so couldn't really get up to too much. Although the plan was to spend another day checking out another beach when we saw the hostel pool we decided to save our legs! There wasn't many hostels this close to the beach and bus stop but we chose well. This is probably the best hostel we have stayed in (Bunk). It has similar facilities to the last one but just on an improved scale. Everything looks modern, clean and new. Again it's a shame we only have one night here but had 3 in the Melbourne one!

Once dry after the pool we had a mini explore and bought a few gifts (send help!) before a chilled night at our hostel. Well when it's this good... Why leave ????.

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Posted by Bears on Tour 19:10 Comments (0)

Day 34-35 Sydney Arrival and Singing in the Opera House!!


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Apologies for the lengthy delay between entries we have just got back from 3 days camping on Fraser Island. But you'll have to wait for that tale... For now Sydney!

We arrived into Sydney at 10am after our long coach ride that felt like a dream... Or should I say nightmare! The whole drive felt really post apocalyptic; barely anyone on the roads, driving through thick smoke and seeing flickering patches of light you thought were small towns until you realised they were fires! I'm really surprised the roads stayed open as there were parts of it whereby the fires were raging around 800metres from the road edge. The road we were driving on! The air was thick, causing people on the bus to cough and you could smell the wood burning. A smell that is so often associated with good times and feelings of comfort now filled you with dread knowing what was going on across the whole of Australia. These thoughts coupled with the inability to get comfortable on the coach due to the freezing Aircon kept us up through most of the journey. It really was and still is a sobering thought. This country is so beautiful, although we have only really seen one city so far, and it is devastating what is happening. The fact we are out here and can see and feel the affects makes it hit home even harder than simply sympathising with the news. The clip below is what Canberra, the Australian capital, looked like although my phone doesn't really show how bad the smoke was.

So it's fair to say we didn't arrive in this famous city in the best shape. But we loaded ourselves up and trotted to our hostel hoping it was better than the one we just left. We knew check in wasn't until 3pm but our plan was to dump the bags and go explore a little. Which is exactly what we did. I'm pleased to say the hostel met our expectations, although we hadn't seen the room yet. We grabbed some lunch and sat in a park reliving the journey and what is happening to the world. Although depressing it made us realise again why we are doing this trip and how lucky we are to see some of these sights that unfortunately for one reason or another may not be here for future generations.

After Iz had a mini nap we met up with the free walking tour. Our tour guide was lovely albeit she had a slightly annoying Aussie accent. She showed us around the city telling us all about Australia's brief architectural history, how this once penal colony developed as well as about the Aboriginals that came before the British criminals.However I always find these tours are a good way to orientate yourself and get a quick overview of the city you are in. Her grand finale was to show us Circular Quay and the two imposing structures that reside on it; of course I mean the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge. Both were impressive in their own right and it was a little odd standing opposite such iconic structures. However as is the case with most landmarks it was a little underwhelming as you have definitely seen better pictures of it. As we are going on a tour around the Opera House tomorrow I won't say anymore about it now.

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Having then checked into our room we went for a treat dinner... McDonald's!! McDonald's here has a few massive perks over home one of those we found was that after 10pm you can get 24 Nuggets for around £4.50!!! Why is this not a thing in England! Then it was back to the hostel for a Netflix binge and an early night!

Managing to have a long lie in was definitely needed after the lack of sleep on the bus! We’d booked a tour around the Opera House, we’d seen it from afar the day before so it was time to get up close. A morning spent sorting out blog and other trips we would be interested in (need to get a trip to see those koalas and kangaroos !!! Especially while we can, who knows how many will be left in the next few years ????).

As always, we ended up being late and having to power walk so we didn’t miss our tour- I don’t know how we always manage to be late when we’ve been doing nothing. The SOH are impressive buildings, I didn’t actually know it was two separate massive buildings and a smaller one. We learnt about the competition run for the design, the architectural design and the uses of each of the spaces. We got to see both the main halls, one being set up for Lizzo and the other set up for the opera. Unfortunately due to copyright reasons we couldn't take pictures in the halls. They are such incredible spaces, the design as aerodynamic as possible to make the sound flow perfectly without the need for microphones or speakers. We tested out the acoustics with our own rendition of twinkle twinkle little star... Yes we have sung in the Sydney Opera House and what?!

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When in Sydney you have to get the iconic photo of the opera house and Sydney Harbour bridge so we took a stroll through the botanical gardens. It’s a huge area with so much wild wildlife, there was a flock (or pandemonium) of Cockatoos flying around, they definitely sound like pandemonium! There was loads of fish jumping about in the pond catching food. There was even a couple of Kookaburra playing around a tree. It was a lovely walk to the right spot for the photo, just a shame it was a pretty cloudy day.

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We decided to make our way to some markets we’d walked passed the day before on the tour but being early evening time we were too late and it had been all packed away, it started to rain so our only option was to get in to a pub quick! Wet our pallets instead of our feet, only option we had really.

Although it’s the 6th January, Australia is way more festive than New Zealand, a lot closer to UK. The pub we were sitting in had thick green garlands covered in baubles and several wreaths dotted around the place. Deciding the brave the rain, only for another pub, obviously! We couldn’t decide on which beer to try so got a tasting platter, always the best way.

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There was a light show on at the Opera House which we stood in the rain for, luckily it was only 7 minutes long. It was impressive but nothing really on par with the Disneyland one. Making our way in to the Opera House to use the restroom and waste half an hour before the next ‘chapter’ of the light show, we managed to hear quite a bit of the Lizzo concert which was a free bonus.

Time for home and bed! But first, dinner. Kirsty had told us Dominos do pizza for $5 here... whhhaaaattt?!? Obviously we have to check this out! Stuffed with pizza and chicken bits we waddled back to the hostel.

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Posted by Bears on Tour 18:44 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Day 30 to 33- New Year New Country!

Australia- First stop = Melbourne.

1st Jan- 4th Jan

And just like that the New Zealand part of our journey was over. We both thoroughly enjoyed our NZ experience and meeting up with so many familiar faces was a gentle introduction into our trip and has kept any homesick feelings at bay for now. Again we would like to thank all the friends and family that have taken care of us and helped us explore this wonderful country.

One of those generous individuals, Shane, did his last good deed and gave us a lift to the airport. With Iz feeling a little fragile from the night before this was greatly appreciated! We were unsure if we would get any food on our fairly short 4.5 hour flight so we grabbed a quick Maccies before heading to our gate. The fact we were then eligible for some lemon chicken came as an extra treat! On our approach into Australia the pilot pointed out the fires that you could see burning over the whole country. Being in the middle seats we couldn't see for ourselves but it did make us a little sad, while also selfishly hoping it wouldn't limit too much of what we wanted to do here.

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Melbourne is our initial Aussie stop and first impressions were very good; getting through security and finding our hostel with ease. Iz kind of jinxed this by saying that all seemed far too pain-free for us. I stated that a some kind of hiccup wouldn't be far away. And sure enough when we got to our hostel room this premonition came true.

While the reception and bar areas seemed ideal the room wasn't really as expected. Now we are not hostel snobs, far from it, but there certain things we have come to expect from even a basic hostel. Yet at this one a number of these were missing:

  • There were no lockers to put your bags in; instead there were only small ones but even most of these were hanging off the hinges
  • No charge points by the beds is a real pain
  • The rooms were messy which largely seems to be as at least two people are staying in the room long term
  • A number of the toilets and showers were broken
  • The kitchen was tiny and fairly dirty

Feeling a little disheartened we secured our bags best we could and went in search of something to cook for dinner. We selected a pie and chips as we were informed the was an oven. Although upon our return we realised this was a microwave oven... Resulting in rather soggy and undercooked food just adding to our misery. We know and accept there will be tests like this while traveling so decided to put on a brave face and head to the bar. Shortly after sitting down we got chatting to a guy from Virginia and played a bit of pool before heading to bed to complete one of our four nights in this hostel.

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We got up early to head down for the promised free pancakes the hostel offered, hoping this would help us re-evaluate this place. Yet as we were informed the batter had run out meaning no pancakes it probably just made it worse. Getting on with it we starting researching what we wanted to do in our 3 weeks here. During this process one of the hostel staff came over and gave us a hand, which was appreciated and meant we managed to book all of our transport for Australia and a 5 day trip to Fraser Island. Our schedule is tight but we should manage to fit all we want in, courtesy of a few overnight buses. But you know we save on hostels!

Feeling happier now we had a defined plan we shot out to St Kilda for some lovely fish and chips, a relax on the small beach and a wander up the pier while watching the wind surfers. It was a beautiful little spot and good for people watching. We met up with Mark (a uni friend who now lives here) for a drink and some food before you know some more drinks. It was good fun catching up and reliving some of our experiences so far.

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Next morning we finally got some pancakes and had a bit of a trip admin morning; finalising our travel plans for Australia and tracking our NZ spend (we are already over budget but that is to be expected considering it was the first place and we knew it would be one of the more expensive places!). Once up to date we went for a bit of a walk around Melbourne and it's vast, beautiful and peaceful botanical gardens... well if you could ignore the constant annoyance from the flies that seem to be everywhere here! Learning from our mistake yesterday we cooked chilli for dinner before grabbing an $14 bottle of wine and shooting some pool.

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We now had to decide to head to Sydney a day earlier, despite already having paid for the night at this hostel. This meant at 10.00pm this evening we would be on a 12 hour bus up the east coast to Sydney... well if it is running. Rumours of high winds today made everyone fearful of a quicker spread of the bush fires! Trying to put that our our minds for now we doubled up on pancakes and headed to Queens Street Market. We spent around 4 hours here just smooching around; testing the famous coffee, the odd beer and picking up a few light gifts for people back home. Our Melbourne stay, like the locals, had been pretty relaxed and gave us time to just enjoy being away. Our last activity in Melbourne was a 2 hour walk around the city viewing all of the street art. Like all art we loved some and disliked others; baby Yoda and Elton being a personal favourite! It was a fun way to see a bit more of Melbourne and its boroughs.

Loaded up with our bags again we headed to the coach station and said goodbye to Melbourne ready for our next stop!

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Posted by Bears on Tour 17:18 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

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