Done and done
Trip Start Nov 13, 2006
36Trip End Mar 13, 2007
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New Years Eve was a lot of fun in Melbourne. I didn't have any plans and didn't really know anyone, so I went down to the bar in my hostel that evening to try to meet people to hang out with. I started chatting with a girl and her boyfriend, Ami and Lach, who were actually locals staying in the hostel for the night. They ended up inviting me to dinner with their friends. It turned out to be a pretty big group and dinner was pretty tasty. After dinner a few of us walked up to the river to see the fireworks. We hung out there for a couple hours and watched the fireworks at midnight. It was very pretty and I even called Sam in Florida and woke him up. ;) After the fireworks we went to a party at their friends house and finished the evening there
The next day I went and saw the tiny fairy penguins on Phillip Island and they were sooo cute. They all come out of the ocean once theh sun goes down and then they run across the beach to get to their burrows. It was really funny. I also did a day tour to the Yarra Valley wine region and tasted some yummy wines. Too bad none of them sell in the US. I spent one more day just wandering around Melbourne and then got back on the bus to head to Sydney.
The bus took us down to the southern most point of Australia and then east to the Snowy Mountains. We stayed at a Tibetan monastary and had a mediation class after dinner. It was pretty cool. We also drove along the Snowy River and saw "Jack's Point" where The Man from Snowy River supposedly leapt down into the valley on his horse. After that we went to Lake Jindabyne which is up near the ski resorts. We went for a hike along the river and then swam at the lake for a while. On the last day we drove through Canberra and visited the Parliament Building and learned a bit about Australian politics. The group I was with was pretty fun and for once I wasn't the only American (there were 2 girls from San Diego). Every morning our guide would play a song called "G'day G'day" to start the day and we all got it stuck in our heads and sang it during the whole trip
On my first day in Sydney I mostly just wandered around a bit and went to a wildlife photography exhibit because it was cloudy and I didn't want to go to the big sights until the weather was better. On Tuesday I took the train to the Blue mountains, about 2 hours from Sydney, and went hiking around in the canyons. The next day I went on a tour to the Jenolan Caves nearby and they were really amazing. I only got to see one of about 15 caverns but it was very pretty. I was back in Sydney on Thursday and did all the main attractions like the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. The harbour was very beautiful and after hearing it compared to San Francisco so much I would say that it is similar. I think Sydney harbour is more scenic than the SF Bay, but the Golden Gate Bridge is way nicer than the Harbour Bridge. ;) On my last day I went to the beach in Manly and had a pretty lazy day.
I got back on the bus for the last time on Saturday, Jan 14, to head back to Brisbane. On the way we went to Barington NP and hung out at a hostel/camp ground in the middle of the forest. They made us as much wood fired pizza as we could eat and attacked us with soot as a practical joke. We were filthy! The next day we went to Surf Camp and had our first lesson in the afternoon
My group from Sydeny to Byron was my best group so far and it sucked that I couldn't hang out with them longer. It was nice to finish Oz on a good note though and my last week was definitely one of my favorites. I took one more bus back to Brisbane where I stayed with Martijn and Courtney again and went to the Australia Zoo (Steve Irwin's zoo). It was great to see them again before I left and we spent a couple of nights just hanging out and chatting. Courtney took me to the airport on my last day and I hopped on the plane to New Zealand. Time for more adventures!