Port Maquairie - Melborne

Trip Start Oct 24, 2005
Trip End Oct 20, 2006

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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Well it has been quite a while since we updated you so there is lots to tell you...

We left Port Macqaurie the day after the last entry and headed off down the coast towards Sydney. There were lots of little seaside towns which we stopped in at, which as they were by the sea Spencer adored. The prettiest I thought was Nelson Bay which was quite small but reminded me very much of Portugal which I love. We didn't hang around long and headed off to Newcastle.
Newcastle is a big city and is very different to anywhere we had been in Oz before as it actually had some Industry there, you could actually see where people worked. Most people don't like Newcastle but we both really enjoyed our time there, it has parts that are nothing more than dumps but other parts that are up and coming. Anyway we decided to stay at a place just outside Newcastle called Stockton. It is a really quiet little town by the sea and the quickest way to get into the city is by Ferry which was quite cool. We went into the city and had the obligatory look around the shops and in the museum, but the best bit was that we booked to go on a wine tour the next day.
The next morning we left the van in Stockton and got the ferry over to be picked up at 9 o'clock. There were 6 others on the trip and they were all really nice. And so we headed off to the Hunter Valley Wine Region. We were really looking forward to it and it didn't disapoint. We had a cracking day, we went to all in all about 6 wineries, a chocolate factory and a cheese factory. We both got more and more drunk throughout the afternoon and we ended up spending a fortune, buying far too much wine from each winery. Spencer was so funny- he was even trying to chat up the women behind the counter so he could get bigger tasters!!!
Anyway after a sleep on the way home we decided to carry on our day with 2 of the English girls from the tour- Ellie and Rachel. We ended up in the dockside bar until about 11 that night and then carried on till the early hours when we eventually staggered onto the ferry and off again in Stockton. All in all a lovely day (from what we remember) and the Hunter Valley is definatley worth a visit as it is beautiful (very green it reminded us of parts of England).
After waking up with banging heads the next day we decided to say goodbye to Newcastle and get going.
Again we took the coast road on our way to Sydney and drove through a few nice places, but we really did want to get some miles under our belt so we pressed on and made it to the Sydney suburbs. We decided to have a drive around the Sydney beaches and we drove through Mona Vale which was nice, but by far the nicest was Palm Beach. We had a drive around and a wander on the beach and both decided this is where you must live if you are a millionaire. The houses were gorgeous and so expensive (in fact everything was expensive) but it was a great place to visit.
The next day we drove on to another beach town called Manly.We decided to park the van and catch the ferry into Sydney. It was a really lovely trip. As you pulled into the harbour you had the bridge on one side and the Opera House on the other. It was really beautiful and everything looked so pretty in the sunshine and I think we both knew that we were going to enjoy Sydney.
We did so much during our time there - shopped and spent far too much money, drank and ate far too much but we did also walk further than I have ever walked before. We also did all the touristy things- going to the aquarium, going to the opera house,visited china town, walking through the Botanic gardens, going to Darling Harbour, going to Bondi beach (not all its cracked up to be) and loads more which we filled our days with.
However while we were driving around Sydney (a scary experience in itself) we also had a bit of a disaster.
One morning we were right in the centre of it all and the clutch broke on the campervan!! We had stopped bang in the middle of the street and we couldn't get it to move it really was a nightmare!! Eventually we saw a parking space had come free so Spencer had to push the van while I tried to steer it into the space- this would have been fine except that I was in so much of a dither by this time that I forgot which pedal was my brake and was millimetres from crashing into a brand new Mercedes. That would have been expensive!!!! We found a panel beaters workshop not far away and luckily he was a really nice chap and he arranged a tow truck to come and pick us up and take us to a nearby garage. They said that it could be 3 days before they could get it fixed and during that time we would be without a home- our poor poor Trouty!!!!
Upset at leaving our poorley baby van we ended up finding a cheap hotel in Kings Cross. Now I have never been to Soho in London but Spencer assured me that Kings Cross was worse. Our hotel was the worst ever and Kings Cross was a real eye opener. Walking around that night finding somewhere for dinner, my hand was squeezing Spencers hand tighter by the minute!! On every corner there was a strip club or porn shop with a seedy big fat bouncer trying to get you to go in and on every other corner there was a prostitute giving Spencer the eye!!!! I am so glad I wasn't on my own!! Not so sure about Spencer!
Luckily our van was fixed the next day so we didn't stay there long but it was fun to have one night there and see what it was all about!!!
We also spent Christmas in Sydney. We decided to treat ourselves and we booked into a gorgeous apartment for 2 days. It was lovely - we were so pleased especially as we got it for such a bargain. We checked in on Christmas Eve and it was heaven to not only have a bath tub but to have a hairdryer (I danced and sang around the room when I saw it). We didn't make the most of the apartment on Christmas eve as we met up with Ellie and Rachel (the girls from the winery tour) and once again a quick drink turned into a very drunken night!!
But on Christmas day we really made the most of it. We both had hangovers and so just slobbed in the apartment all day. It was lovely. I cooked a proper English roast for dinner and the only hiccup was realising we had no mint sauce and Spencer had to run around Sydney trying to get some (dramas dramas!!). We had a lovely Christmas and the only thing missing for both of us was family and friends.
On boxing day we had to check out and so we decided to go and visit the Blue Mountains which is about 100 kms inland from Sydney. When we arrived we drove into Katoomba where we camped the night and were amazed at how blue the mountains look. We had a walk down to the 3 Sisters rocks and found out the blue is due to the mist given off by the eucalyptus trees. It really was lovely.
The next day there we decided to visit the Jenolan Caves. There are loads of caves to go around but we booked a tour around the Orient cave which we were told was the prettiest. It really was nice and it was nice to get underground out of the heat (especially as the flies and heat were getting to Spencer)
The following day we decided to go to Wenworth Falls for a look. We did a 45 min walk and then realised it was the wrong walk to see the waterfall so then had to trudge back up the steps to find it!! When we eventually did it was really pretty but we were expecting to see a 300m drop but it was more 300m of a trickle!!! It was still really beautiful and was worth the walk.
We decided to head back towards Sydney as we wanted to spend New Years Eve there, and so rather than go back into the centre as we had a few more days to kill we drove to a beach town called Coogee which is the next beach along from Bondi and is far better.
It is a sweet seaside town, with a lovely beach with rocks on either side. We spent 2 days here just making the most of the beach and the sea (however there were lots of blue jellyfish in the sea and so you had to be careful, lots of people were getting stung). The thing that we enjoyed most about being back by the sea was sitting out on the seafront at night, eating dinner and drinking wine ( I have converted Spencer into a Rose drinker and have resorted to buying by the carton load as we like it that much!)
We left Coogee and went back into the city for New Years Eve, Again we met Ellie and Rachel for a few drinks but had to say goodbye this time as they were soon to be leaving Oz. We decided to spend the night on the harbour and we got a perfect spot in between the Opera House and the bridge. We sat quite happily drinking and playing cards and had a lovely night. The fireworks were amazing- the best either of us have ever seen. After it was all over it was chaos walking back towards the van- there were thousands and thousands of people lining the street and everyone spilled over onto the road. We decided to stop for a very late night Chinese on the way home to soak up some of the booze. We are glad we experienced a Sydney New Year.
On New Years Day we decided to head off again and drove down the coast to a beach town about 40kms out of Sydney called Wollongong. Well it was the boiling. They say it is the hottest New Years Day they have ever had and it reached 44 degrees. Spencer went for a swim to try and cool down but it was so funny watching him run back as the sand was so hot it burned his feet- I have never seen him run so fast!!! In the end we found an RSL club with air conditioning and sat in there all day to keep cool- it was a scorcher!!!
Fortunatlety that was just a one off and the next day was freezing!! We headed off again and drove to a town called Kiama. This place has the largest blowhole in Oz- it was quite cool but not impressive enough to keep us there so we drove on that night to Jervis Bay where there was a fair on so hook a duck and candy floss kept me entertained for the rest of the night.
Next stop was Nowra where we got our radio fixed (Spencer could't cope with my singing any longer) and then on through Ulladulla, eventually resting for the night in a place called Bawley where we re-started our little tradition of walking on the beach and across the rocks at night.
I had read about a beach where wild kangaroos live and they come out and you can stroke and feed them so that was the next place to visit. It is called Pebbly Beach and after driving for about 10kms down a tiny dirt track which Trouty did not like at all we arrived. It was a cloudy day so I decided to sunbathe without any sun cream on my bum and ending up in a right state. Spencer couldn't stop laughing- he had never seen anything like it (it was bad). After only seeing one kangaroo and a walk along the beach and rocks we decided to drive on to Batemans Bay for the night.
Unfortunately I decided to cook that night and poor Spence woke up in the middle of the night in terrible pain- I had given the poor thing food poisoning ( I think it was the food mixed with the snowballs cocktails we had that night)!!! I was not popular. He was a lot better when he got up the next day and after much groveling we had a wander around Batemans Bay. It was nice but it was a rainy day so we headed off again and settled for a tiny tiny place called Mossy Point. It was by the sea and was really quite sweet so we settled there for the night.
Next day we drove on again and got to a place called Narooma. We really didn't expect much from this place as it is quite small but it has turned out to be Spencers favourite place so far on the trip. It really was beautiful.
It is a seaside town but its drop back is beautiful mountains in the distance. As well as beaches it also has a nice Pier and estuary. As soon as we got there we started fishing, and didn't catch anything, but then all of a sudden a HUGE stingray swam past us. Spencer decided to go for a snorkel and had a lovely time. We saw a guy spear fishing on the pier and went over and had a look. The next thing we knew he had lost his gun and Spence jumped in to get it for him- everyone thought he was crackers. We got talking to the guy Gav and he seemed REALLY interested in going snorkeling with Spence the next day, so they arranged to meet and then afterwards we twigged- he was gay and he liked Spencer. It was so funny I couldn't stop winding him up all night!!
Well sure enough the next morning Gav was there bright and early to meet Spencer. They decided to go in at one end of the estuary and let the current take them to the down stream and I would drive and meet them. However they got the tides wrong and Gav couldn't make it and it ended up taking Spence 2 hours swimming against the current all the way! He was so tired, but he really enjoyed it.
We spent the rest of the day fishing and drinking with our new pal, it turned out however he wasn't gay and he had a girlfriend. I think he was just very feminine!!!
Still in Narooma the next day Spence went snorkeling and saw a huge octopus along with lots of other stuff. We then went to the nearby beach for the rest of the day and at night had a fish and a wander. Narooma really is a lovely place and I think Spencer would have loved to have stayed a bit longer but we decided to make tracks the next day.
We drove the Saphire Coast route rather than the highway and drove through lots more lovely seaside towns- Bermagui, Tathra and after a long day driving we settled in Merimbula for the night which was also lovely.
We drove on to Eden the next day. At first neither of us thought much to the place but we soon found out it was pretty cool. One day we went to the killer whale museum which sounds naff but was good. But the highlight of eden for Spencer was going in the sea.
He had seen some mussels so decided to go snorkeling and get a load for dinner. He did just that and as we were walking back to the van a man came over and asked if Spencer had seen any lobsters. Spencer said no and the man told him to go with him and he would show him some. They didn't see any of those but what they did get were even better. They found lots of clam fish called Abalonie on the rocks and between them they got a bag load of them. As the chap had to carry his gear back to the van he asked if I could carry them so off I trotted with a big bag of abalonie. When we got to the van a police car drove by- we were shocked by the man who helped us catch them as he suddenly darted off. The police just turned around and went and it was only then when he came back we realised something fishy (ha ha) was going on. He then told us it is illegal to take more than 2 as they sell for a lot of money and you could get a big fine for poaching them!!!! And there I was standing with a bag full as the police drove by!! We soon said goodbye to him and just kept a couple of abalonie for ourselves. We had them and the mussels for tea that night- it was yummy!
Before we left Eden I decided I was bored with just watching Spencer fish and I wanted to give it a go myself so we found a bright pink rod and reel for a bargain price. It is lovely but I think Spencer gets a bit embarrassed walking next to me when I have got it!!
Next we drove on to Wonboyn which is off the coast but is surrounded by a lake. This is where I began to out fish Spencer. I caught my very first fish all by myself and it was a huge snapper!! I was so pleased but we decided not to eat it and threw it back instead. There wasn't much at Wonboyn so we drove on towards Melbourne and got to a place called Lakes Entrance. We had a look around and it was nice but we drove on a little further there was a place called Metung which had a lovely Marina and so we stayed there the night.
Bairnsdale was the next town along so we stayed there a night on the banks of a river but again there were prettier places so we pressed on after one night.
We decided to go and have a look at the famous 90 mile beach so we drove to a place called Seaspray. We were so dissapointed when we got there it was really really bad (think Skegness but worse). There was nothing there apart from a campsite- no pubs or restaurants or shops. The beach was nice and we had a walk along it but there were far too many dead jellyfish for me so we headed off again.
This time we went inland to a place called Sale where we wandered around and had the best noodles we have ever had! Next day was timer to press on to Melbourne and once again as we did with Sydney once we got close we drove to the seaside suburbs. We drove through various places, Hastings, Brighton etc. But we settled in a place called Mornington.
It was a really lovely beach and as soon as we got there we had some Kodak moments and a BBQ in the park. At night we took to walking on the beach and feeding the seagulls!!!
While we were in Mornington we also found a small tv which we can plug into the van so we bought that- we really have exhausted all card games going so it is nice to have a tv to chill out to at night.
St Kilda is the Kings Cross of Melbourne so that was where we went next. It has a lovely beach and we had a good look around, although it didn't look anywhere near as bad in the day as it would at night. We also went to Luna Park while we were there which is a really old naff fun park.
St Kilda is only about 8kms out of the city so we decided to drive into Melbourne that day. We were really lucky, we found a car park near to the Crowne Casino which we adopted as our home. We went for a swim everyday in the local swimming baths followed by raisen toast and coffee.
Melbourne is just as nice as Sydney if not nicer. It is still set on water so is pretty and there seems much more to do.
While we have been here we have ridden on the city trams, been to the docklands, been to the Jail (where Ned Kelly was killed), walked through the Botanic Gardens, been shopping, been to china town and lots more.
We have also had a boozy night at the Casino where we came out only $5 down.
As well as night time shinnaigans one day we went to the Telstra Dome and watched a cricket match- it was Australia vs South Africa and the Aussies won. It was a really good atmosphere and a good day- Spencer really enjoyed it.
Again we decided to treat ourselves by booking into a hotel for 2 nights and while it wasn't as lovely as the apartment it was nice to have a camper free couple of nights.
While here we have also met Spencers mums aunty Sylvia and looked after Spencers cousin Peter for the night (he had us cracking up with laughter as he threw a cricket he found on the floor onto a girls back!).
So here we are still in Melbourne it has been really hot while we have been here and today is another boiling day (41c). We have loved our trip so far and both love Melbourne. We are planning to go to Melbourne Zoo tomorrow and then head off taking the beautiful drive along the Great Ocean Road.
Its so exciting to think I don't know where I will be writing to you from next time............
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