Published: May 31st 2011May 31st 2011
We were really excited about getting to Sydney because we were staying with friends Luke and Liz. It was so lovely to see some friendly faces and enjoy the luxury of staying in an actual home as opposed to guesthouses. Luke and Liz have a lovely flat with amazing views of the opera house and Sydney harbour bridge. If I lived there I think I would just sit and gaze out of the window all day! We had such a great time in Sydney which was mainly due to our lovely hosts who spoilt us rotten with alcohol, coffees out and delicious home cooked food. It was also handy to have someone to show us around the best bits of Sydney. The timing of our visit worked out well because we had two weekends in Sydney with a trip to Tasmania in between which meant we gave Luke and Liz a bit of space in the week while they were working. The first day we explored the city and in the evening we fought our way through the crowds to watch the impressive Mardi Gras Parade. The next day was lovely and sunny so we made our way over to Bondi
beach which we loved. It was full of people but because it is enormous it doesn’t feel over crowded. It also means there is always something or someone interesting to watch. For some reason (can’t think why) I love watching the life guards and surfers on Australian beaches.
After our first weekend in Sydney we flew over to Tasmania for five days. The main reason for the visit was to meet my great uncle Bill and his family. We spent a day and a night with them before renting a car and heading off to explore the rest of the island ourselves. Tasmania is beautiful and I loved driving there because the roads are empty. It reminded us very much of the UK and for the first time in 6 months we were actually cold so it really felt like home. We didn’t have long in Tasmania so we tried our best to see as much of the island as was physically possible. The weather wasn’t great but it didn’t really matter because the scenery was still amazing.
After our whistle stop tour of Tasmania we flew back to Sydney for our second weekend with Luke and Liz.
We were actually quite excited about getting back to their lovely flat having spent 3 nights in dorm rooms. That night we had tickets to see Carmen at the opera house. I am going to say something slightly controversial, in my opinion the Sydney Opera house is a bit of a let down. In all the pictures it looks amazing but in reality it is smaller than I expected and a kind of dull yellow colour. From a distance admittedly, it does look impressive but up close it is not what I expected. The inside was even more of a let down and looks like an unfinished multi story car park. The opera itself though was amazing and I think we all really enjoyed it. We were lucky enough to have free tickets to another opera the next night. It was an opera by Handel called Partenope. None of us had ever heard of it so had no idea what to expect. During the first act you could see both Dima and Luke getting restless and pulling faces. I think they hoped that we would hate it and want to leave at the interval, but Liz and I both loved
it and the poor boys were subjected to another 2 hours of it.
The next day we were up bright and early for our trip to the Blue Mountains. We caught the train out of Sydney and began our walk, which Dima quickly turned into a game of hunt the lizard. The views on the way were stunning if a little scary at times. We also got to see quite of lot of wildlife including what we think was a brown snake which are pretty deadly so we didn’t get too close.
We reluctantly left Sydney and flew up the east coast to a place called Coolangata on the Gold Coast. We didn’t really appreciate it at the time but it was probably one of the nicest places we stayed on our trip up the coast. The beach was amazing, the hostel was nice and clean and we met some lovely people there. We celebrated St Patricks day at the hostel. We had a delicious BBQ followed by far too much wine which resulted in us all deciding it was a good idea to go for a midnight swim in the sea. Looking back, it probably wasn’t the
most sensible idea given that the currents can be strong and there may have been sharks around! Luckily nothing bad happened and we all made it back safely. We ended up staying in Coolangata much longer than planned before backtracking on ourselves a little bit to spend a few days at Byron Bay.
Like a lot of places in Australia, Byron Bay would be lovely if you had plenty of cash to spend. There are lots of lovely shops, cafes and restaurants to mooch around but when you are on a tight budget like us it is slightly depressing that you can’t afford anything. We didn’t let it get us down though and we spent a lot of time body boarding at the beach which didn’t cost a thing and was really good fun. We spent hours in the water until Dima was stung really badly by a blue bottle jellyfish which some how wrapped itself around his arm leaving a nasty looking mark. I didn’t get back in the water for the rest of that day! While we were in Byron Bay we decided to book the rest of our trip up the East Coast because it worked
out to be a lot cheaper if we booked it all at once. We had planned to buy or hire a camper van but it was so expensive that we ruled that option out. So instead we were on the Greyhound buses all the way up to Cairns with various stops in between.
First stop after Byron Bay was the lovely Brisbane. I can’t really put my finger on why, but I absolutely loved the city. The free pizza on our first night was probably a big help! We only had two nights and one day there but I really enjoyed it and didn’t want to leave. The highlight was the art gallery which was without a doubt the best gallery I have ever been to. Even Dima, who is highly cynical of all modern art, loved it. We spent hours in there playing with the huge table of lego, choosing which wish ribbon we wanted and wandering around the other exhibitions. Brisbane was quite badly damaged by the recent floods so it wasn’t looking its best but it was still one of my favourite places.
It took us a while to get used to the dorm style
accommodation. All through Asia we had been able to afford our own rooms which were usually en-suite. That sort of thing would cost a small fortune in Australia so we had to get used to sharing. Being quite a nosy person I quite enjoy it because you get to see lots of amusing things and witness some very strange habits. By far the best was in Brisbane when we were sharing a room with a young German couple. Before bed they proceeded to sit on their bed and floss their teeth in unison for about half an hour. After brushing their teeth they squeezed into one of the single beds together rather than separating. I found this quite sweet but the next thing they did was just weird. They began to sing to each other and this went on for an hour or so. After the rather odd concert the girl spoke for a whole hour without stopping and he didn’t utter a word the entire time. I actually thought she was on the phone but Dima assured me that she wasn’t. I was fascinated by them and found it very amusing that they seemed oblivious to everyone else in
the dorm room.
From Brisbane we moved on up the coast to a place called Noosa. The town itself isn’t much to write home about but we spent most of our time in nearby Gagaju Bush Camp. When we booked the trip we had no idea what it involved so we were a little apprehensive. It turned out to be three nights camping out in the bush and the days were spent exploring the area in a Canadian canoe. We had a really lovely group of people and it was actually really good fun. The campsite was pretty basic and we had concerns that the guy who ran it was some sort of serial killer, but that all added to the amusement. The canoeing was really hard work and was made worse by the weather which was not kind to us. On the first day we were caught in a torrential downpour and were soaked through. Again though, it just added to the experience and we found ourselves singing at the top of our voices to keep going. We also got to see our first wild kangaroos which we were pleased about. We were worried that we were going
to go all the way up the east coast without seeing one. By the end of the three nights I was aching all over and had a nasty cold but it was still a really good experience and made a change from just hanging out at the beach.
There are more photos below