Opera and Parliament House

So what have I been up to these last few days? Well I arrived in Sydney after a very long train ride in which I learnt it’s really quite difficult to try and sleep on said trains seats, even if I have taken over two and are using them as a bed. Sydney is a very pretty city and the opera house is really quite beautiful, the sails are reflective and so it sparkles in the sunlight. The first morning I was there I had a coffee there and watched the over-friendly seagulls steal someone’s bacon sandwich and I watched boats pass underneath the harbour bridge. Later that afternoon, after checking into the very nice YHA Central, I climbed the bridge. It was fun and for the amount of time you spend with them, it was worth the £80 price, I think.

Christmas day was spent having a nice long walk from Coogee Beach to Bondi. It’s a great walk along the coast and you pass many interesting things from little coves to graveyards and hermits who live in the cliffs.

I’ve also been to Canberra for a couple of days, and despite it’s boring image, it’s a very interesting place to stay. It’s a bit of an odd place; it’s like someone got a park and just threw in a few buildings in there, but Parliament House is excellent and I spent almost three hours in there wandering about. Old Parliament House is also really worth a visit. Now a living museum, you wander in most rooms including the PM’s and cabinet rooms with the press gallery worth a particular mention. Those two places alone make the Australian capital city worth a visit.

I also wanted to have a look at the National Gallery, but didn’t have the time because I was enjoying my busman’s holiday too much. But it did have this sculpture outside it, which is rather cool:

And just as I was thinking Canberra is a mighty fine place, this goes and ruins it all:

I know the huntsman spiders are harmless, but they’re bloody huge! It’s about the size of my hand span. Not that I actually went up to it and measured it, mind. It made me feel a bit sick, but that’s because I’m a big wuss.

I’m back in Sydney today and so far I have done these things:

  • Have a very nice croissant and a coffee in a cafe in Kirribilli which got ruined by me having a massive nose bleed, but got better when two nice ladies gave me all the tissues they had in their pockets, which I promptly used up. (I’m fine now)
  • Went on the ferry boat called Charlotte. She was an awesome boat with an awesome name.
  • Bought a Sydney Time Out and pretended I was a local (I’ve actually read this Time Out, Dave!)
  • Went swimming in the Olympic Pool just underneath the Harbour Bridge. It’s cheap and I don’t have to worry about my belongings like I do on the beach. No other swimming pool comes close to it’s amazingness. Have a look at this photo for yourself:

Isn’t it sweet?

Right, I’m off to Manly for the rest of the afternoon. Oh and Ma, you’re right, I am looking forward to my own room! But mainly I’m looking forward to my own bathroom. I’ll give you more details about it later as I’m sure I’ll be on here before NYE. Maybe.

Melbourne

So for my last night in Melbourne and to celebrate my first week in Australia, I decided to splurge and eat a slap up dinner. I ate at Chocolate Buddha in Federation Square, a sort of classier version of Wagamamas. The dinner itself was quite cheap at about £10, but I had a cocktail, to make up for all the times I’ve not been down the pub. I had a Great seat looking out onto the city and witnessed all the skyscrapers and Christmas decorations light up for the night. I’ve also seen a huge downpour make it’s way towards me. It’s such a shame about the weather; it’s really hampered my exploration of the city. I’ll be a bit sad when I leave Melbourne tonight. It’s a great city and I’ve barely scratched the surface when it comes to all the sights ans things to do (and places to eat, it’s a foodies paradise here). Melbourne is big and bustling, but there’s and openness and friendliness here and there’s the feeling that there’s always something awesome tucked away behind a corner.

Take yesterday morning as an example. While walking the streets after breakfast, it started to rain *again* so I decided to walk in the park close by and as the trees were large and broadleaved and offered relative protection from the rain. While walking down a leafy avenue I stumbled upon a little cottage. What was interesting is that this cottage was the house Captain James Cook’s parents used to live in. Not a replica house, the actual building. Someone in 1930 something had decided to transport the entire cottage brick by brick from Yorkshire and rebuild it exactly as it was in Fitzroy gardens, Melbourne. Even cuttings of the ivy climbing the walls of the house were taken and regrown here. Quite astounding.

So tonight I’m off on my overnight train ride to Sydney. Sweet. Should be able to kep you up to date fairly regulary once I’m there (although I’m not sure about uploading my hundreds of photos) so I’ll see you all again very soon.

Great Ocean Road

In Melbourne now, it’s nice! Not that I’ve looked at the city yet. I’ve only got half an hour on this machine, so I’m just going to write the notes I’ve made. It’s a bit fragmented and most are just road and place name to remind me of where I went. One day I’ll write them up properly, but you’ll get the idea of what I did on those hectic three days. Thanks again for all your comments, they’re awesome and Rory, I shall send you an email soon.

Day 1.

Just as you start to go into the Adelaide Hills, there’s a sign warning drivers of koalas crossing the road.

Princes Highway

KEITH – Gateway to the South East (isn’t that a Peter Sellers joke?)

Bordertown. Halfway between Adelaide and Melbourne. Wildlife park, housing lots of white kangaroo

Hicksville, SA. Made our own Sandwiches in a tin pub.

The town of Gymbowen. Somewhere behind one of these tin houses is a speedboat.

Natimuck is a tidy town. Used to be the old railway here. Outlaws used to sit on a mountain nearby to watch out for trains to hijack them.

The Grampians. Just really, really beautiful.

I saw kangaroos! In the wild! And then I ate some at our BBQ. It was tasty.

Day 2.

Walk up to The Pinnacles. Very, very hard going, but worth it. Best walk I’ve done in years. Tramping over boulders and streams and walking through gorges.

Quick stop at the Aboriginal Culture Centre. Someone’s getting a boomerang for Christmas…

Bay of Islands

Bay of Martyrs

The Grotto

The Arch

London Bridge

Staying on a hostel right on the beach of Port Campbell.

Most brilliant evening. Had dinner and a beer sitting on the veranda of the hostel looking out to the sea and listening to Ella Fitzgerald. Travelled up to the 12 Apostles (really quite magnificent when you see them up close and personal – no photograph does them justice) and watched the sun set. The sky was a patchwork of clouds and we even had thunder and lighting and a rainbow. Mother Nature at her very best. One of the finest things I’ve ever witnessed. Then five minutes after sundown, about 70 penguins marched up the beach just as the rain came pouring down and soaked us all in about 10 seconds.

Day 3.

Got up at 6 again and looked at more coves and bays. The beauty of the place never wanes.

Went in a helicopter for a 8 minute ride. I giggled like a girl the whole time.

Rainforest Walk at Maits Rest.

Koala spotting. Stopped at a caravan park to watch the little critters munch the eucalyptus trees. They’re cute and make funny noises!

Last stop Torquay. Birth place to the major surfing companies and home to all their factory outlets and nothing else. Rather disappointing last stop of the tour. Rather like going round the most awesome museum and finishing up in a crappy gift shop.

Drive to Melbourne was long, due to traffic, but the view of the city from the bridge was great.

I’ve just discovered that my travel adaptor won’t fit my camera battery recharger. Arse.

A deer ate my dress

This jeg lag thing is a breeze. After feeling really rather tired after arriving on Saturday, I had a six hour sleep and and also slept well that evening too, so I’m really rather well adjusted to the times here. I do keep getting up at six in the morning, which is just weird for me.

Ma, it was a kookaburra I saw on Saturday! I learnt that from going to the zoo yesterday. They really are lovely birds aren’t they? The photo above is him. Also at the zoo were some very loud baboons, lots of wallabies and hundreds millions of families out for the day. I saw a koala too, although he decided to hide his cute little face from all the visitors wanting to gawp at him.  Tasmanian devils are awesome.  While in the contact area of the zoo, I said hello to a lovely little deer that came from India, but because I didn’t buy any feed for him, he decided to munch on my dress instead. It took me about five minutes to wrestle and pull the skirt from out of his mouth. I now have a dodgy brown stain on there.
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Speaking to one of the ladies in the tourist information booth, she suddenly because very concerned for me when she realised I was on my own. She gave me a piece of advise. “Don’t talk to any strange men” she said. “Talk to the nice looking boys, but not the strange men”
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When you sit out in the small back yard in the hostel having a morning coffee, if you look up, you can see parrots flying around. It beats pigeons by lots. And robins for that matter.

Glenelg is a seaside suburb and to get to it to have to take a tram. It’s a lovely area and the beach is beautiful, even if the wind there makes it really quite cold. It’s a vibrant area with lots of bars and restaurants. I ate fish and chips on the beach. No cod or haddock on the menu here though, it’s butterfish and whiting. The butterfish is tasty. I reccomend it.

Ju and Bec, this picture is for you. For some reason I thought you’d appreciate it.

I’ve uploaded a few photos onto flickr.

It’s very hot by the way. 29°C today. Amazingly I’m not sunburned and am still pasty white with the exception of one red mark along my neck next to where my dress strap was.

I’m leaving Adelaide tomorrow and it’ll be a shame to say goodbye. I like this city a lot. I might be off line for a few days, as I’m not entirely sure where I’m staying as I’m doing the Great Ocean Road tour, it should be fun and interesting and very tiring and am really excited about it, especially as I’ve arranged my pick up, so no worries any more.

Down Under

So I’ve made it. The flight was good and I arrived in Australia on time. The hostel’s good, it’s nice and small and the people are friendly. There’s so much to write about, but my brain’s so frazzled I can’t remember what exactly. In my head it’s about three in the morning, but it’s actually lunchtime. Here’s some notes.

There’s a shop down the road that seems to sell only mannequin legs.

The sounds of the pedestrian crossings are awesome. They beep constantly and when it’s time to cross they make a cool “pew! pew!” sound.

It’s really quite warm here. Sam from the hostel said today “is a cold day”

Nothing slaps you round the face and makes you realise you’re actually in Australia than a walk around Adelaide Botanic Gardens. God, it’s beautiful! It’s like a normal park, except the trees are bigger and more exotic and rather than pigeons running around, there’s big white woodpecker type birds instead. Which would make sense what with being in Oz and everything. You can’t but help just stopping and have a gawp every five seconds.

Right, rather than succumbing to sleep, I’m off to a market to stuff my face. Byeee!

Gosh.

I’m leaving work in an hour to go to Heathrow. An hour!

I’m slowly getting the realisiation this is actually happening. Very soon.

Oh. My. God.

Brian the Drag Mouse

This is Brian the Drag Mouse. He says hello. Brian here was given to me by my friend Phil a few years ago. Inspired by Amélie and Dave From Eastbourne, who has a poster in his bathroom with pictures of he and his wife in front of various landmarks from when they went travelling some years ago, Brain takes my place in-front of the camera whenever I’m somewhere new. Although not all the time admittedly, he’s been hiding under the bed for the past year, but it’s high time he went on his travels again and what better time than later on this week? Expect more shots of him in the coming weeks.