Published: January 13th 2010January 13th 2010
wooo, weee, ahhh , wooo
Now, this is a long one, so if you don’t have half a day to waste you might want to try reading it later on.
Off we go...........
A big welcome to our newest subscriber, Martin's mum and a big hello to all his friends and family. It's quite a long read but it gives everyone a little insight to all we get up to and the storys we forget when you are on the phone.
So how was your Christmas? Please do let us know by sending us a message, thank you to those of you who already have its great to know what’s going on in your lives too.
Well we had a cold, wet and windy one from start to finish over Christmas. We headed down to Bondi beach to spend our “alternative” Christmas on the sand and in the water (rain & sea). When we got down to Bondi about 11:00am to find a mass of people wearing Santa hats, police horses wearing Rudolph antlers and 1000’s of people on the beach and in the water. The car park was totally full already so we didn’t hold out much hope of getting
a space close to the beach, but we tried our luck and drove right along the beach front just in case. As Harry has an eye for a parking space he actually managed to get us into the best space in the house, right on the beach front in the middle. I reversed Harry in and opened the back to begin our Christmas celebrations. As some of you know, when your spending Christmas abroad in a hotter climate it does not really feel very “Christmassy”, so in order to help get in the Christmas spirit we played our only two Christmas songs on the Ipod, which if anyone is interest they are, Aled Jones - The Snowman and John Lennon - Happy Xmas (War is over).
So after humming “Another year over, a new one just begun, and so it is Christmas, and what have you……….” for a little while it was time for the main event. A beach BBQ (in the rain) but a beach BBQ all the same. But, to our surprise, you were not allowed a BBQ on the beach. Really? It’s Christmas in Australia and your not allowed a BBQ on the beach? Yes that’s
CD in the van cooking lunch!
right. So instead of having it on the beach, we opted to place our disposable BBQ onto Harry’s two hobs and have it in the van. I decided to take on the roll of Chef for the day, so I opened the vents in Harry’s hi-top, kept the boot slightly ajar and lit the BBQ. All was going very well, my sue chef Kate had pre cooked the corn on the cob and potatoes so we just needed to start cooking the rest. After about 20 minutes the flames on the BBQ had begun to dye down and the ash had stopped flying everywhere so I started to unwrapped our starter dish: Jumbo Tiger prawns, in Chilli and garlic with a splash of lemon. Just as I was about to put the first one on I saw a lady sat in the car next to me jump out and try to look in the van, she looked concerned and then her husband moved there car away from Harry like he had the plague or something. I was actually apparent that she thought we were on fire and the van was going to exploded. With that, the vans health and safety
officer (Kate) jumped out to put this ladies concerns at rest, and it was “all under control”. Well she really thought we were about to explode and kills ourselves and innocent children and was not pleased. We had no intention of killing children on Christmas day so we thought we had better put it out using a damp cloth and just cook the dinner in the more traditional style, just in the van on a frying pan (see pics).
After dinner we had to do Aussie thing and go from a swim on Christmas day. We put on the gear and ran down the beach and straight into the water (on route I handed the camera to a Japanese chap to take pics). It was not as cold as you would have expected in the weather and it felt good to be in the water on Christmas day, it was a first. After that we retired to the van to view the Gavin and Stacey Christmas Special and Home Alone 1 & 2. In the evening we headed back to the Campsite where we spent the evening with a mix of nationalities, 4 Dutch, 2 Brits and 2 German.
10 people in Harry was a bit of a squeeze, 4 on each side of the benches, 1 camp chair in the kitchen area and 1 camp chair outside the boot but it was great fun hosting a party in the van! The next morning we went to a watch the boats go out of Sydney in the Sydney to Hobart boat race from Clovelly beach just outside the city centre.
The next few days we went into Sydney city centre and checked out all the touristy things. It was great. We climbed the tower at the side of the Bridge (Pylon Lookout) and saw all over Sydney, we walked around the Opera house, shopping malls and streets. We tried to go up the huge tower but despite wearing a shirt and carrying around shoes all day we were then told men also had to wear trousers! So unfortunately that didn’t happen. Our next focus was the big event, NYE. Now for those of you who know Kate and I you will realise that we are pretty organised when it comes to most things and “getting the best spot possible” for new years eve was no different. Obviously when
fill her up!
in Rome and all that, so we just had to get the premier view of the Sydney harbour bridge and opera house. So with a few days to go we wanted to find the best spot. We had already agreed to spend NYE with Tom and Carole (Fraser island gang) so we organised to meet up for a pre-NYE lunch to set a plan. Before we met with Tom and Carole, Kate and I had already been around most of the view points around the city (that’s quite a few) and decided that the “numero uno” spot was in the Botanical gardens. Tom and Carole agreed with this, so we enjoyed Thai lunch together with specials of Champagne for only $3.50! Woo bargain!
On New Year Eve morning we set off with Tom and Carol at 6am to get to the front of the queue for the Botanical gardens as they only allow a certain number of people in and we did not want to be disappointed!! We were also hoping for front row seats, but unbelievably when we got there, a further 2000 had been even more keen than us and were already sat in the queue! People
more organised than us! Does Kate have to stop calling herself Monica??!!! We queued until 12noon when we were allowed in, but it went surprisingly quickly, we met another couple (hello Lindsey and Martin) and it was Lindsey’s birthday so happy birthday was sang several times throughout the day!! We had made a picnic so we were eating and seeking shelter from the rain (yes it was still raining on NYE in Sydney!) under Matt’s parasol! We were all loving it that day! When we got in we then managed to get into another smaller patch with limited numbers and the best view!! We were so pleased!! We also managed to smuggle in 6 litres of wine, vodka and black sambucca due to Matt and Tom’s expert alcohol hiding techniques put to use to prevent it being taken off us as we walked in! No BYO on NYE that’s ridiculous!! So we felt like the cats that got the cream, amazing view and all our picnic and alcohol in! To pass some time at about 4.30pm when everyone was getting a little lethargic we pulled out the beach ball and kicked it around the whole crowd in our area (about
one more, these journeys are really long!
1000 people). Everyone got really involved, men almost dropping babies so keen to “keep it up”, an American guy adopting a volleyball technique to get it to the top of the hill!! The crowd were loving it, counting as each person hit it, it may sound sad but it united the crowd (you can probably tell this is Kate writing at the mo)! There were a few events to keep the crowd going and then the main things were fireworks at 9pm and then the main event at 12pm. A special thanks to Terri for the leaving pressie to us we enjoyed champers and toasted you. The fireworks were phenomenal!! They lasted for ages and were just beautiful. We have some photos so check them out. At this point our camera broke so from 9pm onwards until now all photos are courtesy of Tom and Carol and Martin (thanks photographers!!)
New Years day we said goodbye to Tom and Carol who are now off to Singapore and Asia. We spent a couple of days chilling with Claris and Nicola (the French couple)and then we met up with Martin (a friend of Gareth’s from Torquay), and decided we would do
the next leg of the trip all together the three of us in Harry.
On 3rd Jan we picked Martin up and headed to the Blue Mountains. It was a bit overcast but we didn’t really think much of it, until we started to climb up the mountain (Harry doing a great job, and not really noticing he had an extra passenger on board up front) and we noticed the mist was increasing!!! We looked around the shops to work out what we could buy to make a third bed in the van. Martin spotted a fitness mat and decided that would make a lovely bed over the top of the front seats laid down and moving down the van using the esky and body boards to extend to almost 6 foot long!! We found a free camp spot high up in middle of the blue mountains and set down for the first night with Martin (see pics of martins bed set up), it was actually a great spot in the mountains, however it did have the 2nd worst toilet that we have come across in Oz so far, I won‘t go into detail. The next morning we awoke
and saw the mist was still there, we didn’t let this dampen our spirits though, we were still hopeful it would clear by the time we made it to the viewpoint at the Three Sisters Lookout…it didn’t though unfortunately so we had the obligatory photo anyway but it just looks like we are in the clouds!!
We then had a big decision to make, drive in land to Melbourne via Canberra or drive around on the coast road……..what do you think we did? …………what would have you done? Well we opted for the coast road, primarily because that meant we could have beach showers every day en route, but we had also been told that Canberra was a bit of a one horse town . The next 4 days we made our way around the coast line stopping at various small towns on the way (see pictures of small towns), we often called them “hill-billy towns” and all three of us often burst into a chorus of “Hill billy rock, hill billy roll” when we get into a town or when we see a local that looks somewhat hill billy like. On a funny note, Martin is very health
conscious and loves to eat healthy (hopefully it will rub off one Kate and I) (or more me) so we were in a small town, in a supermarket and Martin was desperately wanting some sushi. He walked over to the guy who stacked the fruit and veg and asked him if they sold any sushi in the store. The guy, in a strong country ozzy accent replies, “sorry sir, we aint on of those trendy safeways that sell sushi” and with that Martin walked away empty handed with a smirk on his face. We must have relayed that line about 100 times that day. After a non sushi lunch we headed to a little place called Jervis Bay, which was a stunning white sand beach within a aboriginal community. We jumped into the water and it was FREEZING, Martin and I played “skim ball” in the water and Kate sunbathed and later on Kate and I snorkelled around the rock and saw a few fish swimming around.
That evening we headed to a little town called Moroya (yes we couldn’t pronounce it either) and set up camp for the night. We found a picturesque spot next to a river
lunch at Aldi....does life get any better!!!
for the three of us to have a much talked about BBQ, I put Harry in a great spot under a tree on the rivers edge (see pic). We had a feast fit for a king, large steaks, kebabs, sweet corn, sweet potatos etc. We had a great time eating and drinking and decided to stay there for the night. Whilst packing up the BBQ things Martin and I heard Kate talking from the front of the van, we thought Kate was on the phone or something until we heard the words “Guys, there is the biggest spider ever on Harry’s windscreen”. So, being brave I pushed Martin to the front of the van and told him to have a look, and yes it was a big, hairy, scary looking spider. On our way down the coast Kate and I had learnt that the only time people generally get bitten by snakes and spiders is when you antagonise them by either stepping on/near them or taking photos of them, so remembering what they had said Martin grabbed his camera and started to take a number of “close ups” (not that close as it was pretty big). Luckily Harry isn’t that
keep that BBQ going
scared of spiders and he grew up around them in Western Australia so he didn’t react but he certainly sense all three of us were a little frightened by the way we all jumped inside the van, even jumping if we felt anything touch us on the leg or arm. The spider was on the edge of Harry’s windscreen so martin got some good shots (see pics). After 10 or so minutes of “that is the biggest spider I have ever seen” and “what are we going to do” we realised that the fantastic picturesque spot that I choose earlier under the big tree probably housed more large spiders. We put a master minded plan together which basically consisted of me jumping in the drivers seat (Martin’s bed was made so his head would have been literally only just 2inches away through the glass if we slept there), Kate and Martin cowering in the rear and driving with the spider over to the closest car park. So in I jumped in the hot seat hoping none of his friends were in the foot well, started the engine hoping the spider didn’t move as then we wouldn’t know whether it was
1st place tourist!
still on/in the van or not and proceeded over the bumpy grass into the car park. Half way across the grass the spider decided to run on Harry’s high top roof. When I pulled up I jumped out the van, and just as I was about to shut my door the spider darted over the top and down my door and stop just inside the door. What to do now? Do I slam the door and kill an innocent spider or do I leave it alone and hope he jumps out? What would you do? Let us know at the end.. Whilst deciding what to do Kate was screaming in the van as she could here Martin and I jumping around outside as it ran over the top. Eventually Kate made it out into the safety of the car park. I thought about it for a minute, not taking my eye off the spider of course and decided to get my old friend out of the van, the parasol. So armed with the bottom of the parasol I poked the spider off the step and onto the floor, it scurried around for a while before coming to rest near Harry’s
1st place geeks!
back wheel. At this point Kate wanted to squash it with our rather large hard back camping book, but looking at the size of it we thought it may throw it back at us so we continued to use the parasol technique. Eventually after much poking of the spider it ran into the middle of the car park and so we moved to the other side of the car park under a street light so we could check the top of the van for more little hairy friends (see martin climbing the lamp post).
After a sleepless night we awoke all in one piece and spider free. Hurray!!! After relaying the spider story several times to each other over breakfast we decided to hit the road in a big way, so Kate adopted her new position between Marty and me and we drove for about 400k to Orbost and upon arrival we started to sing “hill billy………” as it was well worthy. We had a little BBQ and found a free camp spot for the night, then realised the camp spot was full of “real” travellers, you know what I mean when I say real travellers don’t you? Not
like us, more like gypsies so we decided to find our own little camp spot no where near just in case.
After Orboost we headed to Phillip Island. For those Moto GP fans you will recognise the name as it has one of the circuits used in the season based there. Not being up to speed on my Moto GP knowledge I didn’t know this, but Marty did and ordered us to head straight for the track. We had a bit of a look around and then I was ordered by Kate to drive us to the penguin parade (I’ll walk into a chauffeurs job when I get home after all the experience I’m getting). The PP is basically an evening event on the island where lots of penguins come in from the sea to find their beds for the night. After that we went to Smiths beach, aptly named after Martin to find our bedroom for the night (beach front car park with all the facilities one would want). When we got there we decided to check out the beach and it didn’t disappoint, the sand was soft the water was warm (ish) and the sun was setting.
Phillip Island. Penguin point
Whilst there we decided to take some pictures and asked a man to take one of the three of us. He duly obliged and we got chatting to him and luck have it (for Martin and me) there was a custom car show on the island that very weekend we where there. The next morning we awoke to hot weather and blue skies and hit the beach. Kate sun bathed while Marty and I jumped in the sea. Now, I don’t know if I have mentioned previously that we were given a second body board from our French friends, it’s not the best board in the world, well in fact it’s a child’s board and Martin being fairly large it is quite funny to watch, especially when most kids have bigger boards than him. Kate came into join us for a while and even got over her seaweed fear by facing it head on and walking right through the middle of it. After a shower (just to clarify, most of the showers we have are in public with sometimes 100’s of people watching you, the showers are generally used to wash off the salt water so when the 3 of
us turn up with shampoo and conditioner we get a few strange looks, particularly if Kate begins to shave her legs!) we headed to a chocolate factory where we did a tour. So in we went, greeted by a child handing out chocolates, we then went through the rest of the tour and it was to be honest somewhat disappointing. I’m not sure whether the disappointment came from the lack of tasters or whether it was that it only took about 10 minutes, I guess it was the lack of tasters!!! So we left there but not before finding that small child again for another sample and then we headed to the other side of the island, Cowes. Now it seem to us the Phillip Island has some kind of link with the Isle of White (Orchy) due to all the town names.
Anyway, this is getting pretty long and Martins battery has just died on his computer so I will speed it up a bit. Went to Cowes and saw some of the custom cars parked up which was cool, Martin turned into a Japanese tourist and could not turn the camera off. We were told that there
street racing over the other side of the island, so not being ones to miss illegal street racing we headed over to check it out. Well, loads more custom cars and loads more hill billies, we loved it!! There was live country music in the side of a large truck and everyone seemed to be dressed in 1960’s outfits, but I don’t think it was fancy dress !! That evening we headed back to the hotel, Smiths Beach and settle in for the night. In the morning we decided to head to Melbourne.
Martin has already been to Melbourne previously on his trip so he was now our official tour guide and photographer) he showed us all the main site’s you wouldn’t want to miss. We went to a large casino where we were the big rollers, 1cent slot machine, $1 would last quite a while on those and Kate won big, $3.60 on one roll!!!! I played the roulette and lost $20 but as we were about to walk out my addictive gambling personality dragged us all back in and I played roulette again and fortunately won $36 to enable us to walk away on $5 down after
CD (Christmas day)
a few hours of fun.! Over the next few days we explored the city which was really interesting, it was a mix of new and old, Kate has told me to say she felt “an instant good vibe” whilst being there. Whilst in Melbourne Martin really wanted to do the much anticipated Neighbours tour (tv show, Neighbours), well actually it was surprise, surprise, Kate who wanted to do the tour so we did our own tour, budget version of course. Our own tour basically entailed the three of us driving to Ramsey Street, taking photos of all the houses, Kate informing other neighbours fans of who lives at which house and also taking photos of other groups. The highlight for me was when Kate took a picture of 4 Irish girls and shouted “after 3, all say Harold Bishop”, well Martin and I turned around and walked straight back to the van slightly embarrassed.
After Ramsey street we headed to the beach as it was the hottest day of the year, it was a mere 43 degrees. For those who have read the blog previously or if you know me well I’m not really one for the hot weather
dinner is served
so when we got to the beach car park I jumped out, left Kate and Martin to deal with the Pay & Display and ran to the water. To cut a long story short I ended up dropping my flip flops over the edge of a rubbish collection point in the sea (basically the current takes all the rubbish into a inlet kind of thing), I tried to swim around to grab them but not being the best swimmer my “walk/Swim” technique was used which at this time was a disaster. The current also brings very big jelly fish in and yes I stepped on a massive one, my foot slid from the outside surface of the jellyfish to the inside of it! well I thought “sod the flip flops” and amazingly I turned into some kind of Olympic swimmer. I jumped out of the water to meet Martin and Kate on the sand, I then could not walk on the sand as it was burning so I ran up to the tarmac, again that was burning, so then to some decking, even hotter, so I went to the outside beach shower to cool down. Martin managed to walk bare
foot but soon was also feeling the heat so we both ran back to Harry for the comfort of the lino. Kate being so wise took her flip flops to start with and didn’t lose them en route.
We chilled in the van until late afternoon when we all showered for the “big night”. Oh yeah, I forgot, the big night was the Neighbours quiz night in a local pub which is held by, Dr Karl Kennedy, Libby Kennedy and Dylan Timmons (Screen names). Well, when we got to the Quiz Kate was off the Richter scale with excitement, and when the theme tune for Neighbours came on, the excitement was unlike anything I have ever seen. Martin on the other hand didn’t seem to be in the same spirits, however over the course of the night Martin was “loving it”, especially when Libby Kennedy came out and when he had his picture with Libby he was pretty happy (the vodka was also flowing). Kate took part in a singing contest and lost, you know Kate is wonderful at pretty much everything, but I think she (and most of you) will agree that she is not the best
Bondi CD very windy
singer in world. We do have it on video but I have been banned from putting it on the internet due to health and safety reasons.
We all got pictures with the “stars” and didn’t win the quiz but at the end of the night Dr Karl K played for a couple of hours with his band “waiting room” which was actually pretty good see pic of Marty, again loving it. We all finished the night with a Kebab (Martins first ever Kebab as he is so healthy) and went back to the van to sleep, well not really sleep as the outside temp was 34 degrees and in the van must have been 40degrees + so we generally rolled around saying “this is ridiculous” and “I hope it doesn’t stay this hot tomorrow”. We got a couple of hours sleep and left early to find me some flip flops and head toward the Great Ocean road. We stopped at Aldi for lunch (Classy) in the car park and then arrived at Torquay (Banj, see photo).
So that’s it really, I have probably missed some detail here and there just because I’m so far behind, but the bulk
of it is there. I’ll try not to leave it so long next time but the internet in Australia is officially rubbish. A small example of this: Kate and I walk into a caravan park and booked in. I said to the lady behind the desk “oh, one more thing, do you have WIFI?” She replies “sorry love? WIFI?” I reply “Yes, you know, wireless internet” she says “uuuhhhh, no darling, we only just got dial up”…..sorry dial up? It’s 2010 and your on dial up. So anyway, that’s basically why it’s taking forever, so sorry.
I hope everyone has not got any post Christmas blues and your all enjoying the cold snap and snow at home. To be honest when it’s 43 degrees we would be loving it in that temp!!!
Until the next time we come across a non dial up internet connection take care.
Matt - Obsessive van cleaner
Kate - On board entertainment
Martin - Van Chef/Fly squatter
There are more photos below