Steak, Rugby & Farewell Australia!

Trip Start Jan 16, 2012
Trip End Aug 24, 2012

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Flag of Australia  , New South Wales,
Friday, March 30, 2012

After a quick read of the lonely planet we had found in a hostel further up the coast (which we discovered had all the major cities pages ripped out but was good for the journeys between them!), we stopped for the night in a little village called Nambucca. We parked next to the river and woke up to a lovely view of the park. That day we went to check out the famous V Wall they have there, which is a long wall of rocks which people can go and paint messages and pictures on. Inspired, I insisted we go and find some paints so we could paint our own rock, but we're only able to find supermarket brand kids paints, which would obviously wash off in the rain but were better than nothing. Typically, it started to pour with rain the minute we started heading back to the wall, so we went and bought a cooked chicken and waited for it to dry up. Eventually we were able to decorate a couple of big boulders. We then headed up to a lookout point which had amazing views of the town and all the different coloured areas of the surrounding sea. That afternoon we left and stopped off at Port Macquarie, which we had been told about purely because of the koala sanctuary there which was supposedly really interesting. The place was just closing as we arrived, but Snellers managed to commandeer one of the workers and we had our own personal tour around instead. It was an amazing place, and after hearing about all the volunteers made me feel bad that we had come away for so long without even thinking about volunteering for anything, and determined to look into something similar in south America for a couple of weeks. That same day, we left Port Macquarie in order to drive closer to Sydney, stopping off at Newcastle for the night, which was a very grey, boring city and it's only redeeming feature were the ocean baths, which was a walled off part of the sea that people swam in. In Newcastle, we also got in touch with the guy we met in Thailand who lives in Melbourne, as he had told us he could sort us out with some accommodation for Melbourne. 
Next day we drove the last little stretch down to Sydney, planning on stopping at Bondi beach a couple of days, then skipping through Sydney centre to go to melbourne, then dropping off the Jucy and going back up to Sydney to spend a few days there and catch our flight out.
Bondi beach was incredible, the busiest beach I have ever seen, and everyone there was so perfect! Everywhere you looked people were working out, either jogging the prom, surfing, swimming, there were even gyms in the parks that were free for the public and were constantly packed with people. I felt more than a little bit inadequate plodding along the prom after just having had pasta for tea! Rather than staying in Bondi the night and risking getting caught camping at the side of the road, we decided to park up at brew and tansell's flat in Sydney city centre then come back the following day. We spent a good while cruising the streets of Sydney looking for brewy standing outside his flat, but eventually found it and parked in their carpark. We would happily have stayed in the van, but tansell was away with work so there was a bunk going spare. That night me Snellers and brew went to a pub for a couple of drinks, brew showed us the harbour bridge and the opera house all lit up at night which was incredible, then we settled down in the spare bed, although it wasn't long before Snellers snoring woke everyone up and we were relegated to the living room floor. After an average nights sleep we went back to the beach with brew, Snellers delighted he had a wave buddy, then to a big shopping centre for a browse before us two headed off again to drop the van back in Melbourne. 

There were two routes from Sydney to Melbourne, the inland route which was around eight hours, and the coastal route which was around twelve. We were in no rush so decided to take the coastal route hoping the scenery would be worth it (although we spend the first half of our journey driving in the dark anyway!). We stopped in a rest stop on the way down and were in Melbourne the following evening. we called Andy to see if he still had somewhere for us to stay, but he couldn't meet up with us until the following day. We slept near a beach, then met Andy the next day, but it turned out he couldn't help us after all, and so we parked up next to the beach for the next couple of days. Having heard that melbourne was a much nicer city than Sydney, we had high hopes for it. However, the weather was dull and rainy which didn't give us a great first impression. That night we had planned on cooking a potato salad for tea, but the high winds and rain meant that Snellers had to stand outside the back of the camper holding a towel as a windshield, for around an hour while the spuds cooked, it was hilarious.  
The next morning, on our last day with the camper, we decided to do the first section of the Great Ocean Road, as we had heard it was lovely scenery and there were even some wild koalas there (and we were yet to see any wild animals on the road bar road kill even though Snellers still claims he saw a "kangaroo" when driving at night down to Melbourne). We drove about two hours into the trip, stopped at a little cove, then, running low on time and petrol, made our way back. 
The next day we found the Jucy rental shop and handed back our home, both having become quite attached to it and so were pretty gutted, plus it was just do convenient having everything in the car rather than having to carry around our huge backpacks. Having planned to stay in Melbourne an extra four days as we thought we had somewhere to sleep, we weren't banking on having to trek round with our bags on trying to find an inexpensive hostel. just as Snellers was getting fed up of my whining, we found an abandoned shopping trolley and dumped our stuff in that, pushing it the rest of the way to the main street. The first hostel quoted us 35dollars per person per night, which is outrageous, despite wanting to put our stuff down somewhere, we moved on and eventually found a place for 28 each, which is still expensive for a hostel (especially this hostel, which was so dirty and noisy). We went and got some stuff for tea, then watched tv in the tv room for a while, soon realising that we were possibly the only people staying there that weren't irish! We had heard that there was a massive Irish population in Sydney and Melbourne but it was still crazy to find ourselves in a hostel surrounded by them in Australia! That night it was so difficult to sleep because our room was right at the front of the hostel which meant we heard all the noise from the drunks, the shouting and singing, as some sort of farewell party was going on. The bed was pretty comfy though, and after an emotional day we were tired enough to get at least a few hours of sleep. 
The following day we took the train (it was so weird not having transport!) into the city centre and did a bit of window shopping. I found a bookshop selling recent books for five dollars each and was literally in heaven while Snellers trooped round after me until he was finally distracted by the sports autobiography aisles. We needed to decide how we were getting back up to Sydney, and having heard a little bit about campervan relocations, did some googling and found some phone numbers to call. We had  visions of the two of us chilling out in some massive Winnebago, but most places had nothing and when we eventually found a vehicle it was a 4x4 with a tent provided! The deal was to pay 5 dollars a day for us to drive it up to Sydney for them, and they also gave us a pretty generous petrol allowance as well. We picked up our truck the following day, after a wild goose chase miles outside the city to find the rental place, and were back on the road up to Sydney.
This time we decided to take the inland route, as we didn't want to go too much over our petrol allowance to keep the whole thing cheap. And the coastal route hadn't exactly been spectacular anyway. A few hours into the trip, we realised we had made the right choice, as the Great Alpine Road as it was called, was really picturesque. We drove past big green hills, lots of farms, lots of huge forests, sadly still no live kangaroos though! We only drove a few kilometres out of Melbourne before stopping at a rest stop to pitch our tent, as we had four days to do the journey when it was doable in a day. We had tried to figure out a way of sleeping in the car, but the seats didn't recline far enough and there was too much junk in the back seat . The rest stop was already quite busy when we arrived, and we made a new friend in an old Australian man travelling up north when he saw us struggling and offered help putting the tent up! We ended up sitting outside his trailer with him watching the final of My Kitchen Rules, and he told us about some other great places in central and western Australia we could see on future trips. He also mentioned a place called the Blue Mountains, which were just outside of Sydney, in the direction we were heading. We decided we would take a bit of a detour in the next couple of days to see the mountains, as we had days to fill and the place sounded amazing. 
The next day we continued up to Sydney, stopping for an hour or so at a small town called Glenrowan we spotted by chance, which happened to be the site of Ned Kelly's last stand. Snellers told me some story about a school play he was in and insisted we go for a look, and the town was actually really interesting. There was a walk through of the final battle that took place, along with carved wooden figures of the police men and the baddies, and the town was really beautiful as well. We stayed that night at another nice rest stop in a place called Yass, after picking up some local beers and doing a bit of a BBQ. 
On our final day travelling up, we detoured a few km to the blue mountains, which were definitely worth the extra drive. They are on the outskirts of a little village, where you walk to the edge of the platform and all you can see are trees, it's like a massive canyon full of trees. The drop was massive and the trees stretched as far as you could see. The blue in the name comes from the eucalyptus oil that the trees give off, which gives the air a blue tinge. It was beautiful. Towards the left of the canyon stood the three sisters, which are three similar looking rocks, for which there was a legend that they were once three sisters that were turned into stone to stop men from looking at them. We were able to take a walking track down to see the sisters up close, which involved a very steep staircase in flip flops! We got a ridiculous number of photos that day, the view was just so spectacular, I didn't want to leave it! We agreed it was Possibly the most breathtaking thing we had seen so far on the trip. 
We were already pretty close to Sydney, so that night we drove a few more kilometres to the next rest stop and put up the tent one last time. As soon as we had eaten dinner, the loudest thunder and lightning storm I've ever heard started up. The rain pounded down as we sheltered in the tent, eventually even that started to leak a bit in the middle! It was difficult to sleep, but eventually we just huddled up in a corner under all the blankets we had and waited for the storm to go off. 
In the morning we awoke to a dog obedience school going on right outside our tent on the grass, which provided us with some entertainment during breakfast. Soon after we packed our stuff into the 4x4 and made the last little drive into Sydney. After dropping the car back at the airport, we tried to get in touch with Snellers grampas cousin, an ex australian rugby league player called Keith Barnes, as he was hopefully going to meet up with us in Sydney. When Snellers got off the phone, he had managed to get us four free tickets to a rugby league game on the Sunday afternoon (for us two, brew and tansell) and had arranged to meet up with Keith a day or so after. After being so overloaded with stuff that we smashed a beer all over the station floor, we made our way to the city centre to hopefully get in touch with brew and head to their flat again. In the city we sat around for ages while no one picked up the phone, until we eventually got hold of someone and got a cab to theirs. When we arrived, a mattress had already been set up on the balcony for us, and we gratefully slept there the night. Next day we pretty much just chilled out, Snellers catching up with his mates and me making use of the wifi on tap, then went to Bondi beach with tansell while brew had to work and met Up with some other people the guys in the flat knew. On the way back from Bondi we stopped at a supermarket and picked up some boxes of goon for that night, started drinking and then ended up heading out to a few bars. We walked home and ended up getting back pretty late/early, so on the Sunday morning just chilled out watching tv until we went to the rugby game in the afternoon. Having only just (not quite) got the hang of rugby union, rugby league went right over my head, but it was still good fun and you can't argue with free tickets! 
On the Monday everyone had to work, so me and Snellers went for a wander over Darling Harbour, which is quite a posh area of Sydney and really beautiful to walk through, then on to the city centre where we went to a few shops and wandered right out to the circular quay where the opera house and harbour bridge are. Both were such impressive sights and it was a gorgeous day which made them look even better! We went to the contemporary art museum which was strange but interesting although Snellers was less than impressed with a box of lightbulbs or a video of a face. They did have a really good exhibit where someone had made a film compilation of time, every minute of the day came from a different movie scene and the film ran over 24 hours. We stayed about twenty minutes as we were short on time but some people seemed like they were there for the duration! We much preferred Sydney to Melbourne, there is so much more to do and see and the weather seemed better too! That evening Keith and his wife Robyn took us out for a massive steak at a local restaurant, Snellers was finally able to question the man to death about his rugby career, and they then took us on a bit of a drive around Sydney to show us some of the sights which we really enjoyed. 
When we got back the guys told us that their landlord had been around wondering why there was a bed on the balcony, as the flat was only meant to sleep 8. We didn't want to get them into any trouble so decided to check into a hostel for our final two days in Sydney, where it would be nice to get a decent night sleep in a proper bed anyway. The hostel was very central, and not a bad place although we saw a few cockroaches in the kitchen. We planned to go to Manly beach that day, but by the time we had checked in and bought some bits to eat, it was later in the day so we decided to spend our last full day doing that instead. That evening we made a terrible spag Bol which was more onions than anything else, and got an early night. On Tuesday we left relatively early and went to the post office to try and send some unwanted clothing and souvenirs back home, however after they quoted us almost sixty quid we decided to leave it and see if it was any cheaper in NZ. We caught the ferry to Manly which gave us a great view of the opera house and bridge. Manly beach was an alright beach, nothing special after the rest of the east coast, and Snellers hopes of one last sea swim were thwarted when strong currents and a shark spotting meant the beach was closed for swimming. I was happy enough lying reading, but after he had been and bought three new beer coolers and a Boost, Snellers was bored so we left the beach and went for a wander around manly. We wanted to stay until it got dark so we could sail back past the opera house and the bridge at night, which was also well worth doing. back at the hostel we went out for a seven dollar steak to celebrate our last night in Oz, had a couple of beers in the bar in case brew etc wanted to join, then went to bed as we had to set our alarm for four a.m to get to the airport for five! 
The airport run went surprising smoothly and before we knew it we were noshing down a Maccas breakfast and boarding the flight to Christchurch to meet up with Gore and start our next adventure. Australia was an incredible country, we loved every second and it was so varied with lots to do. There were nowhere near as many threatened attacks from snakes/bugs/sharks as I had anticipated, I wasn't sure I would leave alive at the start. The heat took a bit of getting used to so we were definitely looking forward to not being so hot and sweaty throughout NZ, as well as having a bit of company/a mediator in Jonathan Gore! 
After having sat through a mammoth 2.5hr blog session in the campervan ( while the boys watched 300 ) at Fox Glacier, NZ, hoping the next blog isn't as long but it more than likely will be as NZ has been non stop! Will hopefully take up some of the 12 hour plane journey to south america we have to look forward to tomorrow!

Wilso, Snellers and Gore x
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Snellers Senior on

Great blog Wils, so much information, Aus sounded great, can't wait for NZ

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