A fond fairwell to Australia & fireworks in Sydney on New Years EveJanuary 3, 2012
So we’ve finally landed in Fiji, currently sat in an air-conditioned 9 bed dorm (free upgrade, WIN!) in Fiji – View on a map! We’re ready to set off on our all singing, all dancing “Ultimate lei” Island hopping tour, departing at 7am tomorrow morning (Ugh, another early start!), but wanted to drop in one last blog post to conclude our amazing 2 months in Australia.
The last time we posted was following our trip to the Great Barrier Reef, and since then we’ve really had to pack things in, what with Christmas and New Years celebrations taking up the majority of our final few weeks in Oz.
After getting back to Melbourne we got to booking the final few trips we wanted to do before leaving, first up was Tam’s personal favorite, a visit to Phillip Island to watch the little Penguin parade (Formally the Fairy Penguin parade but apparently that name was upsetting the gays who found it offensive). We took a tour bus which drove for a few hours out of Melbourne, stopping at some mediocre spots on the way, time fillers until we arrived at Phillip Island for sunset, when the Little Penguins arrive back on the shore following a days fishing for their chicks. We arrived at about 8pm, we purchased a couple of coffees (splashing out ;-)) and grabbed our rucksacks which contained our gourmet meal – two tins of canned tuna and a couple of bread rolls and picked a comfortable spot on the Phillip Island beach, and waited patiently for the sun to set and the Little Penguins to come in from the Sea. As the sun went down and the clock turned 9.14pm, the first of the Little Penguins poked their heads out of the shallow waters, cautiously running out a few steps onto the beach, and then back to the safety of the sea once again. As more gathered, no doubt feeling protected with a larger group, they made a dash across the beach right in front of us for their nests and hungry chicks on the banks behind us.
Next on our agenda was the ultimate Australia stop for the nerdy British backpacker-the Neighbours tour. Apparently nobody in Australia watches Neighbours (or admits it) but Ben and I were loving it. After nearly missing the tour altogether because we got on the wrong train, we nonchalantly sat down on our tour bus 30 minutes late, the air thick with irritated stares and happily watched some reruns of old Neighbours episodes on the bus’s tv. A particular favourite episode was the one where Toadie drives off the cliff with his oh so recent Bride (who was far too hot for him) and lands in the sea to lose Dee forever. Tragic.
We were amazed at how one building is used for everything from the police station to the hospital, funeral home and school hall. Our Neighbours trip’s highlight had to be visiting the actual street that the ‘neighbours’ live. Its actually called Pin Oak Crescent and the tour leader came complete with Ramsay Street road sign. The street is real, with real people living there and there is even a security guard there 24 hours a day to protect the residents from particularly over-enthusiastic Neighbours fans (oooohh scary!)
The following day we had a slap up meal at a posh restaurant on the beach…”Hang on a minute, this doesn’t sound like backpacking!” i hear you all shout. Well we didn’t actually have to pay for it, as I (Ben) won a facebook competition, top prize was $120 worth of vouchers to use at the restaurant… Bam! And my winning streak continues… Bring on Vegas! (I’m taking contributions to my Gambling pot for anyone who’s feeling lucky ;-)).
Without slowing down, a few days later and it was Christmas, we were invited over to Mick’s (the Ozzie guy who put us up in Melbourne) Moms house, for a Christmas buffet of cold meats and salad and a couple of glasses of wine… funny story actually, we stopped on the way to Mick’s moms and popped into an off licence to buy said wine, i went into the shop and un be-known to me, Mick and Tam had moved the car into the car park, and whilst i was in the shop, another guy with an identical car had pulled up into their space.. of course, being the dilatory human being that i am, walked out of the shop and straight into the back of a very startled guy’s car, the worst part is i even said hi to him, i didn’t realize i was in the wrong car until i looked over and saw the new born baby in the back seat next to me… needless to say, i got out and backed away from the car slowly…
Following lunch with Mick’s mom and family, we drove over to his Dad’s house for dinner and a few more beers, we were welcomed and well fed, and then promptly told that Pommes had to wash up, a fair trade for a good meal and plenty of boose, we graciously obliged. We exchanged a few gifts, Tam receiving a road atlas of Australia and some wine and me receiving a create of Boose (Win!), Tam played some piano for everyone before we said our goodbyes and headed home to jump on Skype, just in time to catch the start of the British Christmas day.
After a few days of rest and a quick trip into Melbourne to catch the city at night (Beautiful by the way), we boarded an overnight greyhound coach destined for Sydney. Cheap as chips and it only took us 12 hours (Tam didn’t share my enthusiasm!).
We arrived at 8am the next day and hopped on a local bus from Sydney Central to our accommodation for the next 4 nights, a private room this time, unfortunately the owner was a heroine addict and the accommodation was a crack den… Mom it’s ok, I’m joking, it wasn’t that bad, but it wasn’t the nicest place we’ve ever stayed either. We went to sleep for a few hours before forcing ourselves to get up and head into town, where we quickly found the harbour, and saw the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera house, we stopped for lunch and then took a walk over the bridge on foot. On the otherside we found a quiet piece of grass which looked out over the harbour, the Bridge and the Opera house so naturally we bought a cheap bottle of Champagne from the local bottle shop and toasted to the beautiful views.
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The following day (New Years Eve) we met up with another friend from Camp America, Sarah and her partner Sasha, and the drove us on a full day exploration of the stunning blue mountains, where we visited the famous Three Sisters rock formation and took a ride on the worlds steepest railway.
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Then we all drove back to Sarah and Sasha’s flat complete with a balcony and harbour view, where we met a few of their friends, had a few drinks, ate some Sushi, ate tonnes of cheese and rang in the New Year whilst watching the fireworks transcend over the harbour. Truly amazing.
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The following day we took it easy, went into town and pottered around a little, had a Wagamammas (who’s idea could that have been??) then headed back to our crack den, cough, sorry i mean room. The following day Sarah and Sasha came and picked us up again, this time taking us on a tour of the beautiful beaches and bays located around Sydney, we spent a few hours on Long Beach, playing in the waves before we were ordered out of the water as their was a Shark nearby.. it was all very Jaws! Did i mention this was the beach on which they film Home & Away?? Tick! Finally we drove back towards the city, but not before stopping off for a quick look at the world famous Bondi beach, no spinning dance floors at this one (That’s for the Leeds people who might be reading). We then headed back for one final sleep before leaving Australia.
I just asked Tam if she wanted to add anything else and she said (and i quote) “We watched Predator” – Yes we did watch the Arnie classic.. it really is a great film, highly recommended. “I don’t have time to Bleed”.