Published: October 26th 2006October 7th 2006
We landed in Melbourne at 5.30am (Tuesday 19th Sept). By the time that we had cleared customs the time of day was a little bit more respectful (but not much!) We headed into the City to our hostel. The room wasn't ready so we had to hang around the T.V. room (like dropouts), exhausted and looking like zombies - we'd travelled overnight and hadn't had much sleep! When the room was eventually ready, we were raring to explore so we went out instead. We walked around the city centre for a while and liked what we saw. Then we had to relent and go and catch up on the lack of sleep. When we woke, it was time to get ready and get a taxi to the airport to meet Steph. Steph is Karen's friend from Uni and she was coming to meet us for 3 weeks. So, we had an exciting reunion at the airport, dropped her bags at the hostel and went out for some Vietnamese food - yum!!!
The next day we were up early and sorting out our 'plan of action'. We wanted to do the Great Ocean Road and then drive upto Sydney so we
Steph and Karen very happy with the tour bus!
managed to book a campervan for the 3 of us (well it stated for "2 people, and 3 if your close friends" on the description of the van!!!) for 1 week - picking it up in a couple of days. We then met up with Sophie - who us 2 worked with at the Mermaid in Dampier (she's actually from Melbourne and was at home for a few days). It was great to see her again and she took us to a really cool place for lunch - on Brunswick Street which is a funky area. It had gorgeous pizzas for $4 - bargain!!! Then Karen was desperate for a haircut so Sophie recommended somewhere nearby and the rest of us carried on looking around Brunswick Street, while Karen was there. The lady doing her hair convinced her to go for a change. Karen was easily persuaded, despite the fact that shes been growing her hair, and came out with shorter hair - with a fringe and it was red!!! She wasn't happy with it at all (still isn't!!!) Afterwards, Sophie had to leave us so we went for a coffee, then headed back to the hostel and got an
early night - it was a big day tomorrow!
Thursday 21st Sept - Today we were up early and 'breakfasted' and standing ready on the corner to be picked up by - wait for it - the Neighbours Tour!!! This was something we had been waiting for and, boy, what a highlight it was! We were picked up and, much to our pleasure, the guide was very enthusiastic. He drove us out of the city towards 'Erinsborough' and played music clips of people from the show. It started with the most recent so they weren't too cringeworthy but we soon got to the Stefen Dennis clip (a.k.a Paul Robinson) "Gonna make you feel good"!!! Pure cheese and we loved it! The first stop on the tour was the Erinsborough High School. Its not really called that because, in real-life, its an English school. So, in true style, the tourguide, got the 'Erinsborough High School' sign off of the bus and put it up over the real one. We all take pictures and try and recognise areas of the school - not very easy!!! Next was the exciting part - a stop at Ramsay Street (actually Pin Oak Court). They
Ramsay Street In Action!!!
Paul Robinson is standing at the far right of the picture!!!
were filming so we couldn't actually get up the street. We just hung around at the bottom like 'groupies', watching them filming. The scene had Paul, Sky, Dillon and Janelle in so we saw them all in action! Next we were taken around the corner to the car park where they keep all the trailers so that we could meet one of the stars. It was no other than Harold Bishop - woohoo!!! He is my favourite character so I got a little excited (Karen) and was the first to 'volunteer' to have my picture taken with him! He was actually a really nice guy and stayed around talking with us all for quite a while - he's very funny! Stefen Dennis came out past us in a hurry and got his car. He apparently had to get to the studio quickly to film more scenes so he reversed back - quickly - and bumped right up the curb. Harold stood there 'ripping' it out of him and laughing in his face. He looked very embarrasd as he drove off!!! After all that excitement, the tour then drove us up the road and past the studios and showed us some
of the set. Then it was all over so we drove back to the City and watched THE classic episode on the way - Scott and Charlene's wedding - aaagh!!! Back in town we went for lunch and then met up with Fiona - who we had met on the Contiki Tour (she also lives in Melbourne). It was really good to see her (the tour feels like ages ago). We met her outside the Picasso exhibition that was on - we all went in to have a look. She spent the whole afternoon and evening with us which was great. After Picasso, we went for a drink down by the water and then Fiona took us on a driving tour of Melbourne - pointing out all the sights and different places. It was a good way of seeing it all. Then we all went to the Casino - again just to look! Outside they had all restaurants by the water so we went for a lovely dinner in one of them. Fiona then dropped us off at the hostel. A very busy but great day. Thanks Fi!!!
On the Friday morning we picked our campervan up and got
on the road - very excited!!! We spent the weekend on the Great Ocean Road and it was fab. On the Friday we drove on the back road to get to the other side of the Great Ocean Road and stayed in Warrnambool. Then we spent the Saturday and Sunday driving back towards Melbourne along the actual Great Ocean Road and taking in all the awesome sights. We stayed in Wye River on the Saturday night. It was great. The whole thing was a great experience and there was some phenomenal views, including the 12 Apostles. On the Sunday evening we arrived in Phillip Island and went to the Penguin Parade in the evening. That was great too - the penguins were so cute. They were really small though - smaller than we'd imagined - but you can still see them waddle up across the beach. There were loads of Seagulls though all threatening the penguins so it was funny to watch the penguins try and go and then run back the other way, towards the sea. It took some groups of penguins several attempts to get across the sand to the bushes. After seeing them on the beach we
Sights of Melbourne
Steph & Karen and the delightful Melbourne sights in the background!
thought that was it but, as you walk back across the boardwalk platform, they are all around you in the bushes - so you could get really close and see them much better. They were so lovely - you could watch them for ages! We then went for dinner and stayed on Phillip Island.
On the Monday we drove back to Melbourne and went to Fiona's house. Her and her mother had very kindly agreed that we could stay at their house for the night (as we were all going to the Neighbours Night together - more Neighbours!) We had lunch at the house and got ready and then the 4 of us went to St Kilda. St Kilda is also a really nice part of Melbourne - quite funky and has a good feel to it. We looked around and then went for an early dinner - ready to be at the pub for the Neighbours Night at 6pm. You all have to sit at tables and then 3 stars of the show come on and are interviewed. Our night was 'Toady', 'Dillon' and 'Janelle'. Then the stars each come round to your table so you have to
The MCG stadium where the AFL Grand Final (that we watched in Sydney) was played.
wait for them and they chat and you can have photos with them. It was good fun - they all seemed really nice and genuine. Next was a particular highlight of the evening as Karl Kennedy's band came on and entertained us all!!! Very amusing, and, he has a beard now!!! It was a great night. We then stayed at Fiona's. On the Tuesday we stayed at Fiona's until lunchtime and then it was time to leave Melbourne for good. We were starting the drive upto Sydney but taking a few days, and getting there on Friday.
We spent each day doing a few hours driving and then stopping at one of the town's along the way. We made a slight detour in order to see Canberra. It was quite a nice place - nothing too special. Although we did visit Parliament House and had a really interesting tour around the place and the 2 chambers. We also visited Eden which was a nice place. It was one of the main whaling places in Australia years ago and has a really interesting museum. They were unique because they used Killer Whales (like a pack of hunting dogs) to drive
Great Ocean Road
The start of the Great Ocean Road (me and Steph and our (intimate) campervan!!!)
the Humpback Whales into the Bay, so they could catch them. The main killer whale who helped them was called 'Old Tom' and his skeleton is preserved in the museum. We stopped off for some great fish n' chips too! Kiama was the last stop, before Sydney, and it was a really nice laid-back seaside town.
On the Friday (29th Sept) we drove from Kiama to Sydney and dropped the campervan off. It was great to have done it and to have had the campervan for independence but we weren't too sorry to see it go - 1 week with the 3 of us in it was just enough! It was getting a little cramped! So we were back in the City. We got to our hostel at teatime. We had a nice big room for the 3 of us - some space at last!!! We were staying just outside Kings Cross and it was central. We walked down to the Opera House and got tickets for the following Friday (a lovely birthday treat from Steph!) We had a drink by the Opera House - the weather was lovely and it was perfect - sitting there chilling, taking in
Great Ocean Road
Water crashing through a cave on the way!
the views! We then went for dinner and had an early night - another big day tomorrow!!!
Saturday 30th Sept - Karen's Birthday. We got up early and opened Karen's birthday cards and letters - courtesy of 'Steph Airmail'!!! It was great. Then we walked up the road to the Paddington Market. Its a really cool, funky little market. We got some nice street food for lunch there and also did a 'spot' of shopping. We had a drink in a nice little cafe and then walked back towards the centre where we found a pub to watch the big AFL Grand Final. It was the Sydney Swans V's the West Coast Eagles. We didn't have a clue what was going on but as everyone else was going mad for the game we thought we would - 'when in Rome do as the Romans do'!!! As we worked in Western Australia and the legendary Terry was an Eagles fan - we were supporting them. It turned out to be a great afternoon and a great match. We made friends with a guy from Singapore (Raymond) who had placed a $2000 bet on the Eagles to win. He liked us
Steph & Karen with the 12 Apostles.
because we were also supporting them! He was lovely and kept buying us drinks throughout the match and he was a good laugh. The Eagles won so it was really was good all round!!! We then headed back to the hostel to change into our 'party gear'. We were meeting a friend of Jamie's brother Jethros'. She (Jo) had met Jethro in london but was back home in Sydney now and wanted to meet us. We were meeting her at a bar at Circular Quay called Cruize bar. The bar was fab - it was dead opposite the Opera House so had an amzing view of it all lit up. We met Jo and her housemates - who were all lovely - and had a great night. We drank plenty of gorgeous cocktails and danced the night away!!! A great birthday!!!
On the Sunday we had a lie-in and then went for a walk around Darling Harbour. In the evening we did a Skype call home with a webcam (at last). Karen's was brilliant because lots of friends and family were there (for her birthday) as a surprise. So, it was great to see everyone.
The rest of
the week was action-packed sightseeing! We spent one day going to Bondi Beach and then walking around the coast there. One day we went to the Blue Mountains and saw the lovely scenery and sights. We also rode the scenic railway there again (we did it last time but couldn't resist another go!) This time though we caught the train back up, as well as down, which was scarier!!! We went to the Botanic Gardens and saw the great view of both the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge from there and we caught the ferry over to Manly another day. We also met up again with Jo, and her friend Marty, and had a really nice lunch together at Darling Harbour. On the Friday (our last day together) we went for an absolutely beautiful seafood meal - 'pushing the boat out'!!! We shared a seafood platter of crab, bugs, lobster, mussels, oysters, scallops, calamari, king prawns - everything seafood-like was on it! It was delicious. Then we went to the Opera House to watch Pirates of Penzance. It was brilliant - it was a comedy opera and really good. Afterwards, walking back to our hostel, we saw the ice
bar - Minus 5 - where everything is made out of ice! Steph was tired so went back but us 2 went it. It was brilliant - you have to dress in huge jackets, gloves and big Ugg boots that they give you and then you are only allowed in for 30 minutes because its so cold. You get a cocktail drink, included in your admisssion, which is served in an ice glass. All the sculptures are made out of ice and funky music is playing. It was really good - it was cold though, but a completely different exprience. You get buzzed, on a buzzer round your neck, when its time to leave!!!
Back at the hostel we packed up all our stuff. Our flight meant that we had an early start and we got picked up by the airport shuttle at 5am. We said a tearful farewell to Steph (she was flying home in the afternoon) and then went to the airport. It had been a great few last weeks in Australia and a perfect way to end the Oz part of our trip. Next we were off to New Zealand...................................................................................................................
There are more photos below