Australia: being a tourist in Melbourne and Sydney!

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July 18th 2014
Published: July 23rd 2014
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I have now been sat in sunny Lincolnshire for a week and a half but I am only just getting around to writing about my lovely holiday in Australia! So here goes....

The Friday was the last day at school and after vowing I was going home to pack, I actually went out for dinner and drinks with the girls. This was the last time I would see many of these people for a while (they are leaving Korea for good) so after stuffing our faces and having a few alcoholic beverages, things got emotional. I eventually left, after putting it off for a few hours, and went home to pack around 10pm. I finished around 2am and went to bed, then getting up at 4.20am to leave at 5.20am to catch the airport bus. After another "oh we're late!" quick walk to the gate we were on our way. I was passed out before take off and did not wake up for landing in Kuala Lumpur. We then had 7 hours to kill in KL airport (we ate, drank tea and slept in the incredibly comfortable chairs) before moving onto the next flight, where I passed out again all the way to Melbourne! Air Asia may not be particularly comfy and rip you off wherever they can, but at least you can just sleep as they never disturb you to give you meals! We landed at 8am so catching up on sleep was a good idea 😊

We took the airport bus to the hostel, dropped off our bags and found somewhere to get a cup of English Breakfast tea and a lovely toastie! We then met Katharine's cousin and went to sit down by the river in the rain for lunch. It felt remarkably like England - cold, wet and everybody trying to pretend it was warm enough to sit outside! After that we went and passed out in our hostel room, which we nicknamed 'the prison cell', for 3 hours before going out for a quick 'pie face' (an excellent pie retailer all over Australia!) and a swift drink.

After a good sleep we were more alive on the Monday. We had breakfast at the same place as we did on Sunday (creatures of habit!) and headed off to the aquarium. Katharine was very excited about the enormous crocodile and I was very excited about the gigantic 'flat fish' (my name for a sting ray!) as well as the penguins and the sharks. We then went and booked ourselves onto the 'Neighbours' tour for later in the week (more to come on that!) and had a hot chocolate in the same bar we had lunch in on the Sunday (creatures of habit again!) We then decided to have dinner whilst we were still out - I had a delicious lamb salad - and then headed for some drinks at a rooftop bar and a bar with old train carriages in. Then we were lame and had an early night as we were still suffering from all the flying!

On Tuesday we had breakfast at the same place again, checked out of the hostel and went to find a hire car! After I got over the problems of having to drive an automatic and we were safely loaded in the car we started our journey down the Great Ocean Road! We headed out on the motorway, which was exactly the same as driving down an English motorway - same coloured signs, same side of the road and almost the same speed limit- and made our way to Torquay where you can find the start of the official Great Ocean Road. We then went through Angelsea and made our first stop at Airley's Inlet where there is a cute little lighthouse. We had a cup of tea and a cake, bought some postcards and magnets (we are a retailer's dream people!) and then took a selfie with a wooden owl statue, before heading onto Lourne where we saw a beautiful waterfall, and Apollo Bay where I had a saveloy and chips! We then went on our last stint of driving to make our way to Port Campbell, which turned out to be further than we thought. It got dark as we drove, and the roads got more and more steep and winding, but eventually we made it without creating any road kill, or becoming road kill ourselves! Port Campbell seemed like a bit of a ghost town, and when Katharine went into the pub to find out where our hostel was she got glared out because she obviously wasn't 'local'. Then when we found our hostel the man couldn't believe how cheap we had got it for on the Internet and moaned at us, but we didn't offer to pay any more considering it was a room with 2 bunk beds basically in his house. We were quite relieved when another lady turned up to stay in the room next door to us! Katharine wanted us to put on our pyjamas, until we realised it was 6.30pm so we decided to see if we could find a drink anywhere that wasn't the 'local' pub and found a restaurant where we could get a nice bottle of wine. We sat drinking it looking at all of the people around us making up stories about how they were going to kill us and eat us! We were convinced we wouldn't make it out alive. We ended up in bed at about 10pm, hoping we would wake up in the morning!

We did (obviously - I'm writing this!) and we had a very quick breakfast before setting off on our way again. Our main aim was to see some kangaroos and koalas in the wild as we saw signs for them all along the road but hadn't managed to spot any yet, and Katharine was getting annoyed. Our first stop however was 'The 12 Apostles', of which there are not, and never have been 12, but they are still very beautiful rocks in the sea. The photos genuinely don't do it justice - it was a sight to see! We then headed to Princetown where we had been informed there could be some kangaroos. We popped into the general store and ate a pie each (we did get a bit addicted to pies on this holiday) whilst asking the owner where we could find kangaroos. Her answer was "Well, there'll be some out the back," and proceeded to point down the hill to where they were grazing (do kangaroos graze?) So we drove down as close as we could get, climbed over a barbed wire fence and stalked some kangaroos! They got a bit angsty as we got closer to them and started twitching their ears - I thought Katharine was going to get attacked - then they all started hopping about, and I have to admit, it was worth stalking them to see them moving about in the wild. They were really cool! After picking up the car from where we had abandoned it we drove onto Cape Otway, where we had been assured we would see koalas in the trees! Katharine was on 'spotting' duty as I drove down, but then I couldn't resist taking a peek and managed to spot one whilst driving along. After a quick reverse and another 'abandoning the car in the middle of the road' moment, we could see a koala just chilling in the tree! He was so cute! We then headed down to the lighthouse at Cape Otway, managed to blag our way in for free as we only wanted a quick photo (it definitely is not worth paying the money for, if you ever find yourself there!) and then headed back up to the main road. Now we had seen both of the typical Australian animals in the wild, we thought it was OK to go to a wildlife park, so we popped into the one we were driving past! We were total tourists - buying the food to feed the wallabies and any other animals that wanted to steal it, getting excited at the kangaroos with their joeys, running away from emus and I even got excited to see a cat! We then started on the long journey back to Melbourne to get the car back in time; we inevitably got lost on the way back into the city but eventually found our way in with half an hour to spare! Katharine's Uncle came to pick us up as we would be staying with them for the next few days, and we were treated to a lamb roast dinner and wine! What a welcome! 😊

On Thursday Katharine's family took us to another wildlife park. This one was much larger and had loads and loads of different animals. We got really close to koalas, wombats, tasmanian devils, wallabies, dingoes and kangaroos! We also saw a great bird show with some cockatoos, parrots and eagles. For lunch we had pie(!) and chips and a cup of tea - perfect! The wildlife park was out into the countryside a bit more so it was really nice to go out and see the mountains and the valleys where they have lots of wineries. That evening we were treated yet again to tacos, more wine, and an evening of good conversation!

Friday was the day we had been waiting for - Neighbours tour day! We took the train into the city and went to the Neighbours office and got on the Neighbours bus (yes they do both exist!) Our tour guide was a hilarious Irish guy, whose basic premise for the tour was that Neighbours tells us many lies! He said he had moved to Melbourne thinking it was sunny all the time (it was currently winter with quite a lot of rain and it was about 10 degrees!) and thinking that everybody was always happy, even when they'd been shot 3 times (Paul Robinson!) Anyway, he had an awesome knowledge of Neighbours and kept us very amused all of the way out to the studios. We went into the studios as they weren't currently filming and saw 'Grease Monkeys' and the garage. We also drove into 'Lassiters' even though he isn't meant to, and saw the lake with the bridge and all that! We then headed to 'Ramsay Street', which isn't called that at all, and had a load of photos with the 'Ramsay Street' signs that he had brought along in the bus. We met the security guard (they have 24 hours security in the street) and learnt that each person who owns a house gets paid $28,000 a year, and all they have to do is keep it looking tidy and occasionally close their blinds! I want to live there! We then went back to the Neighbours office and met 'Stingray'! Remember him? It was a little bit awkward but we helped get rid of the tension by making him do Korean poses with us in our photo! 😊 I would definitely recommend the Neighbours tour if you ever find yourself in Melbourne - our tour guide definitely made it a better day, but even without him I would suggest it as an activity (I haven't watched Neighbours for about 8 years and still had a great time!) We then went for lunch - I had fish and chips (not pie!) and did a little bit of shopping before heading off back home. We walked the dogs and then ate a wonderful curry (spoilt yet again!) before heading to bed.

Saturday was our last day in Melbourne, which started off with a lie in and a chill. We then headed off to Rickett's Sanctuary, which is a forest area where William Rickett carved statues out of stone and moulded them to the natural rocks. The statues are all about 'being at one with nature' and are inspired by the time he spent living with the Aboriginal people. Although it was raining and very misty, it was a really cool place to walk around. After our visit we then didn't have long before we needed to head off to the airport for our flight to Sydney. Yet again we ended up rushing for the flight and pushing in at the front of the queue to check in! However early we leave / organised we are, we always seem to have to run at the end! But we made it and landed safely in Sydney, heading to the home of Katharine's friend Michelle in Coogee. Michelle had booked us into a hostel, which we went to check in to as we arrived. There was nobody to check us in so they told us the code to get in and we collected the keys before going to the room. We went to the room we had been put in only to find out that we were sharing with 6 boys, who it looked like (and smelled like) all lived there! Michelle offered for us to stay at hers that night and we could try to move rooms the next day, so we headed back to hers for a few drinks and nibbles before heading off into the city for a night out. We returned after a few drinks, to have a 3am McDonald's before going to bed!

Sunday was a dark morning, as we were what you could call 'hungover'. We took a while to get going, finally having breakfast at about 1pm, and then managing to make it to the travel agents to book ourselves on a tour later in the week. We also made it down to the harbour bridge and the opera house for a spot of sightseeing, then walked around to Darling Harbour, which was really pretty. We then went out for some thai food for dinner and then finally headed to the hostel to sort out our room! We got moved to a slightly less skanky room and settled into our bunk beds for an early night!

On Monday we had a great Irish breakfast (all the trimmings) and then did the Coogee to Bondi beach walk. It was absolutely stunning! The sun was shining, the sea was sparkling and the coastline was gorgeous! We were tempted to get into the sea but hadn't brought our swimming gear along with us unfortunately! We had a couple of drinks when we got to Bondi beach and then headed over to 'Hurricanes' for a plate of ribs! They were delicious! A little over priced as restaurants go, but they get away with it because they're quite famous for their meat! We then had another drink then got a taxi back to Coogee before hitting our bunks for a ridiculously early night (as in 9pm kind of early!), although we were getting up rather early the next day....

As in 5.30am! Too early! We got picked up at 6.20am by our tour company just up the road to go on our 'Blue Mountains' tour. Adam was our coach driver for the 'hotel pick up service' and he gave us the 'unseen Sydney' tour on the way, before anybody else got on. We got to know all about the darker side of was hilarious! We then got dropped off at the 'AAT Kings' area to swop onto our tour bus where our tour guide David was waiting. We had been sold this tour as the 'old persons' Blue Mountains tour as it didn't involve any hiking - just as we wanted it! So we started off by acting like old people and had a nap on the way out of Sydney. David had one of those great voices that you could sleep through, but then when you actually listened to him he was really interesting. We arrived at the Blue Mountains centre, watched an Aboriginal dance show and took our tourist shots with 'The 3 sisters' - 3 rocks in front of the blue mountains. Legend has it that they are 3 sisters who were turned to stone by their Dad to stop a monster getting them, but then the Dad turned himself into a lyrebird to save himself, dropped his magic wand, and has never been able to find it again to turn himself and his daughters back into humans! We then bought postcards of the blue mountains and freddo's to eat before getting back onto the bus and finding out that the blue mountains are blue because of the eucalyptus in the air (David had lots of great facts!) We moved onto 'scenic world' where we went on a number of different cable cars to see the blue mountains from all angles, and went on the world's steepest railway. After that it was time for our free lunch, which we ate, and then we went and had a second lunch at a different cafe so we could have a cup of tea (by this time we both had given in to the fact we were eating everything!) David then gave us all permission to have a nap (it really was the old peoples tour) as we headed to a wildlife park (yes, another one!) We soon woke up when we got there as we were told we could touch koalas and feed kangaroos, which got us very excited. And we did just that! This was the best wildlife park of the trip, as you could really get close to more of the animals and I saw some wombats that were awake, and some wallaroos (a cross between a wallaby and a kangaroo!) Just great! Then, to top off the day, we got a free ferry ride back into the centre of Sydney, after a whistlestop tour of the Olympic park (because David said we had a spare 10 minutes!). We said goodbye to David and had a photo with him, then watched the sunset as we sailed back into the city. Beautiful! After a great 3 course Italian meal in Darling Harbour for $30, we headed back to the hostel for another early night 😊 I highly recommend this tour and AAT Kings to anybody who finds themselves in Sydney - it was great!

On Wednesday we left the hostel (yay!) and upgraded to a hotel right next to the harbour bridge. First we had another Irish breakfast (creatures of habit yet again!) and had a drink in the city harbour before checking in. We had a little lie down in the bed, just because it was nice and not a bunk bed, then headed off to get a ferry to Manly, which is another area of Sydney where many of the expats live. If you live there and work in the city the quickest commute is on the ferry that we rode on! All we did at Manly was go to Mc Donald's, visit a tat shop (yes we bought more tat!) and went to the beach. We then got the ferry back and watched the sunset before heading back to the room for a chill. It took all of our effort and a glass of wine for us to get the energy to leave the room, but we were glad we did as we had a great pizza and a salad for dinner, and then went to the Shangri-La hotel for cocktails! They have a bar at the top of the hotel, which has a grew view of the city, and the drinks aren't even that over priced! It was really cool 😊 Then we went back to our lovely room and our lovely bed.

Thursday was our final day in Sydney and after a yummy breakfast we headed to climb the Sydney Harbour bridge! After signing our lives away, being breathalysed, lectured and having a practise on the ladders, we were all set to go! We walked underneath the bridge at first and then climbed up to the top where it was ridiculously windy and had a number of photos and a video. We didn't know what to say and came across as a right pair! Ha ha! The view was amazing - Sydney really is a beautiful city! Then we headed back down with our tour guide Albert, got duped into buying photos and went to chill at our hotel. We decided to do a little bit of shopping before we left and had an early tea so we could spend the evening in our bed watching TV (we were very excited to have access to good TV channels for the first time in a while!) We randomly had a free bottle of wine delivered to the room (still no idea why!), which topped off the evening as we could watch TV with a glass of wine in our hand! Perfect!

So, Friday brought the end of my adventure, and the next step of Katharine's! She headed off to Cairns with Michelle, whilst I got on a flight back to Seoul! That ended up being slightly eventful, with a stay over in a hotel in KL but I eventually made it back, with 20 hours to spare before I had to be back at the airport for my flight to England! And I made it here safely too 😊

What an exciting adventure! If you ever have the opportunity, Melbourne and Sydney are both certainly worth a visit!

Claire 😊

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