Australia: The End :((((

Trip Start Jun 01, 2009
Trip End Feb 16, 2010

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Sunday, October 18, 2009


Sorry - I know, its been a while since we have written anything, but we are in Bali at the moment and internet is not always as readily available here as we were used to! Anyway, we still owe you a bit of a write up on what we were up to after spotting a few of them big whales in Hervey Bay, so here we go ...

After leaving Hervey Bay, we decided to enjoy one last day of sunshine, aussie sea and beach, which turned out to be a good choice as below Brisbane the weather isn't too good (sorry New South Wales, Queensland deffo beats you there!). So we headed first to check out Surfers Paradise. How much concrete can you put on a slab of land next to the beach! For us Europeans it reminds us of Benidorm, with more and higher (but much newer and admittedly nicer) concrete, but the atmosphere was quite fun. However, as 3 out of the 4 of us are already over 30 years of age, we decided to skip the surf scene after a delicious milkshake at McDonalds. Talking about McCafe, Ivo and I had not been to the Mac since Buenos Aires (of all places), but now we were travelling with Ivo's parents, we went there at least 10 times in these 3 weeks! Don't know how that happened ... To be fair, it was mostly for the coffee, which, admittedly, is not half bad!

Any way, we headed a few kilometres further south and found a perfect beach with some awesome waves and an even more awesome 35C degrees temperature! The sea is a bit colder and less clear than we were used to in Queensland (again: sorry NSW...), but it was actually very refreshing.

Now having topped up our tans as much as we could, we had to get ourselves on the move, as we were headed for a day of wine tasting in Hunter Valley (oh, the joys of not having a driver's licence...!) and then a few days in the Blue Mountains. As we were travelling we had nowhere picked up that it was Labour Day weekend and basically all 20 million of Australians (apart from those living in Perth) all flocked to the Gold Coast and we could hardly find anywhere to stay! Only after getting a McChicken in one of the rural villages and using the Mac's free wireless internet we found a place 100km further south. So we drove on and at the end of the evening we found ourselves at the bar of a little but very neat motel run by an elderly couple. The owner was also the receptionist, bar tender and later during the night a bouncer (there was a very loud drunken chap in the room next to Ivo's parents). 

Once arriving in Hunter Valley, we were quite delighted with the nice wines on taste. We bought a few bottles at every vineyard we visited and although it was a big effort, we just about managed to finish them all before arriving in Sydney. ;) For those of you who are interested, we particularly liked the Chardonnay from Brokenwood and somehow I forgot the names of the other vineyards. One was an organic enterprise, and we think organic wines are the way to go - it was superb!

Properly boozed up and equipped with some more, we then drove on to the Blue Mountains. And there it was - after driving almost 4,000k through Australia we were taken off the road by the police and fined for driving 16k too fast! Well, if you want a reaosn to stop complaining about speeding tickets in Holland or the UK, here is a reason: we got fined A$197!!! Anyway, the cop was kind enough to explain straight away that we had 2 options: pay at some point in time or not pay at all, but not be allowed back into the country. So Ivo decided the last days in Sydney would be extra special ... 

The place we had booked at the Blue Mountains turned out to be a gigantic villa right on the spot of Echo Point, offering great views of the valley and the famous Three Sisters (although I had never heard of them before I came to Australia). The villa was decorated in a way my grand parents would have done 60 years ago, but all was very comfortable. We did however wonder about Australia sometimes, because traveling through it, we saw so many places with the little lace curtains, flowery bedspreads, little white lacey thingies under silk flower pots etc. We thought all this stuff had already vanished in Europe (although my granny managed to hold on to some of these items), but apparently most of it was all secretly shipped to Australia! Awesome place!

After 2 nights in the Blue Mountains, it was time to head for our final destination (in Ivo's case: Final Destination) in Australia: Beautiful Sydney! Again, NSW weather let us down terribly with quite a few showers that could have drenched a rain forest, but there were some nice spells in between, where we explored the city. We checked out some bars around Darling Harbour, the ladies got permission to spend some time and cash at the great department stores (all that money I am saving by not being able to fit a pair of the latest Jimmy Choos or Pradas in my backpack!), did all the tourist sights and I ate my weight in sushi. We all really enjoyed the great food scene. In particular the fish market was an amazing sight, with mountains of the nicest and freshest fish and huge families devouring humongous portions at the same time. Needless to say we did our fair share to fit in ;)

Then on Saturday it was time for the last breakfast and saying goodbye to Ivo's parents. It was really nice to travel with them for a few weeks and we will miss them! 

However, after shedding a few tears, Ivo quickly got engrossed in the rest of the Saturday program, as Holland was playing the Socceroos and we had tickets! I was actually a little bit p'd off with the whole football thing, as I think that even $5 is too much to pay for seeing a couple of spoilt brats playing a game I am told I do not understand ... Anyway, I am a Dutch citizen and a married woman, so it is my duty to support anything orange and my husbands taste in entertainment. We went with a couple of friends to the stadium and after we had queued up for 45mins to get a German bratwurst that did nothing much to still my hunger, it started pouring down big time, so imagine how I felt about the whole 'being supportive' thing. I had to put on my light blue rain jacket, so I was not even showing off my specially purchased orange polo t-shirt! Anyway, just before the Dutch national anthem (Wilhelmus van Nassaue - try and pronounce that!) the rain dried up, probably in reverence to the brilliant orange soccer squad. So we wiped off our seats, got cold in our orange gear but actually had a pretty good time! Even by soccer standards the match was pretty boring (the score says all - 0-0), but the atmosphere was awesome and we were very close to the pitch, which meant I could really check out all these fit, well trained and uuhmm technically gifted soccer players ..

When we got to the airport afterwards, Ivo was strangely enough approached by 2 guys in light blue track suits and insisted that they go on a picture with him. Ivo is now a bit used to being chased around by the paparazzi since Chile, so of course he obliged. Maybe any of you recognize these guys on the picture?  

Overall we had a blast in Australia, with the outstanding highlight being diving the Great Barrier Reef and secondly our adventures in Kakadu National Park. Of course we also thoroughly enjoyed the laid back Aussie lifestyle and friendly people, the picknick places with free BBQs (where Ivo BBQed like he has never BBQed before), the great sea food, the excellent Aussie wines (it is heaps better here than the average bottle you get in the UK supermarket) and the lovely weather (apart from NSW). The only thing we hated were the flies trying to have a feast in our noses, ears and (if you talk) your mouth, but they were mainly in the Northern Territory. Maybe that's why people are a bit grumpy over there ...   

Anyway, after spending quite a few hours on different flights, we arrived in Bali The Beatutiful Paradise Island. Will tell you more about Bali and Lombok once we have consumed a few rijsttafels and dived another site or two (or three) (or ten) and checked on some of them white sandy beaches (and maybe even take a surfing lesson!)!

Take it easy!
Ivo & Annemieke 
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