Opera houses, Aussie Rules and Nuns

Trip Start Apr 09, 2010
Trip End Sep 07, 2010

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Flag of Australia  , Victoria,
Thursday, July 22, 2010

We caught a 12 hour bus ride down the coast to Sydney and wandered into one of the best hostels we have stayed at - Wake Up! It was central and more like a hotel really - plus we had some brilliant people in our room who were long stayers and proved helpful for where to go out and what to do.

We did a long walking tour round the city - which is just awesome it is modern, clean and choc full of art, massive sculptures and bold architecture. Afterwards, owing to the sandy demise of Jen's camera at Rainbow beach, we went on the hunt for a new camera. With a kind loan from her lovely parents she bought a new little Canon and a super reinforced case to counteract her clumsiness. We then embarked on a snap happy trip around the Sydney Opera House with a million Japanese tourists which was great fun and despite the fact that you already know exactly what it looks like before you go there it doesn't fail to impress! That night, after some coercion by James, we went out on Sydney's Party Bus and we were pretty unsure about the forced-fun feel, not helped by one of the passengers feeling the need to show us his rapping skills over the mic at 8pm before we even got to the first bar! But nevertheless it turned out to be a really fun night and we got a good look round a lot of fun night spots in the city  - the bus journeys took us back to Uni Karni days, I think James may have shed a little tear reminiscing! 

The next day included hangover no.1 and then a trip out to Paddy's market (which has everything) and then to Manly via the Manly ferry which took us on a great route past the Opera House on the water and Sydney Harbour Bridge. Manly was really lovely, we had some prize winning fish and chips and watched probably the fittest people in the world doing life guard training which involved constant running/swimming/paddling on surfboards etc. for the whole 40mins we sat there in the freezing cold! We hightailed it back to the city and did a spot of window shopping - we were very restrained as the shopping there was amazing! (mum you would have been proud!)

We had a night out with our room mates that evening which took us to the Kings Cross area of the city which used to be a bit dodgy but is now full of really cool bars and little clubs, we ended up in what looked like a house but was a really quirky and cool bar with stripy walls and lounge chairs etc. We had a fun night out ending up in an Irish pub near the hostel...

We woke up the next day with hangover no.2 - but we figured we are only here once so was worth making the most of the nights as well as the days! We headed out to an area of Sydney called Glebe in hunt of their famed market, after an interesting monorail trip (good to see London isn't the only city with its share of weirdos) and a fair amount of wondering round we found ourselves at Glebe market. It had a lot of vintage, quirky and arty bits and bobs.. we spent hours rooting through all the treasures, Jen bought a really cool leather satchel handbag and we both had to stop ourselves buying lots more. After some brilliant Indian food there we returned back in to the city and with sad hearts left Sydney after an excellent few days.

We arrived horribly early on Sunday into Melbourne and went to our hostel called The Nunnery. Whilst Wake Up! was a good hostel The Nunnery was 100% our favourite. It is converted from a huge Victorian Nunnery and has leather sofas, a cat (!!!), real fires and the building is really stunning. It was the nicest and most homely place we stayed and we would recommend it to anyone visiting Melbourne. We went for an excellent breakfast in the Fitzroy area of the city that we were staying in - it is the oldest part and had lots of character, something we noticed the majority of Australian towns lacked a bit. We then got ready and headed on foot to go and watch Aussie Rules with Melbourne playing host to the Sydney Swans at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. We found ourselves sat amongst the Sydney fans and decided it best to support their side. AFL is mental - there seem to be about 100 people on the round pitch and the umpires take the throw ins, apparently it is affectionately known to some of the locals as aerial ping-pong. Sydney took an absolute thrashing. The woman sitting next to us couldn't contain her anger and after the 3rd quarter burst into angry tears after yelling profanities at her team for the previous hour and half and upped and stormed out - followed by her chuckling husband. So although we picked to back the losers we had a brilliant time watching such a funny and chaotic game. To me, (Jen) it seemed like a cross between football, Rugby and Quidditch!

The next couple of days we spent in Melbourne we did a lots of exploring on foot, we took the free city hop-on hop-off tour bus and trams about and really enjoyed the chilled out vibe Melbourne has. We were hoping to bump in to Dannii Minogue and her new baby - but sadly it didn't happen, funny that she doesn't hang out in the tourist areas. That afternoon we went to the Museum of the Moving Image where there was a Tim Burton exhibition, which was excellent. We also got to play with some cool bits of technology - follow the link for a video of James doing a bit of a Matrix style leap http://www.acmi.net.au/timeslice/Timeslice.htm?file=ts-20100726-0c3da2bb121e70231250210356bc89f0.flv. We decided to treat ourselves and have a nice meal out and few drinks on our last night in the Nunnery before hiring a car to drive the Great Ocean Road over our last couple of days in Oz.

Next morning James went to collect our rather swishy blue rental car and we headed off to the Great Ocean Road south of Melbourne for the next two days. This coastal drive had been much hyped by the majority of travellers we had met in Oz and so we had high expectations, and true to its reputation the trip was full of stunning views across cliffs and beaches and drives through luscious rainforest areas. We saw the famous twelve apostles (rocks sticking up out of the sea) and to our total surprise and delight over 100 wild koalas in the trees on a random side road we chanced to turn down. We had a very close encounter with a particularly dozy koala whom we had to stop for as he was sat in the middle of the road - to say they are dopey doesn't even cover it! We gather that we were particularly lucky to see even one let alone so many all at once (it seemed that they were in every eucalyptus tree on this little road!) we met a couple of Australians who said they had never ever seen one in the wild in their whole lives.

Finally after 5 great weeks the time had come to move onwards and southwards, we flew out of Melbourne and said farewell to Australia! Bring on New Zealand...
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