A Travellerspoint blog

Melbourne

Cool city, tennis and Visa headaches

sunny 27 °C
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Yes everyone we are still here. It's not always easy or cheap to get on the internet so we've not been able to update the blog recently.

Melbourne is without doubt our favourite place in Australia so far. There's culture, friendly people, sport, great climate a great public transport system..... The list goes on.

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The only thing which has been annoying is the difficulties we had getting our Indian Visa. We had to hang around here a lot longer than initially planned. However in such a nice city it's not too bad. There's plenty to do.
We had a really great time here.

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We we're lucky enough to get some tickets for the first round of the Australian Open Tennis here. We didn't see any of the really top players, but we saw some really good matches. Federer's first game we saw on a giant screen, right next to the big centre court stadium, Rod Laver. So we could hear the crowd noise. We also watched lots of the other games on a big screen in one of the public squares to feel the crowd atmosphere.

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Our hostel was right near a really cool area of the city, Chapel Street. There are bars, places to eat and nice shops. We also explored another popular area around Brunswick Street in the Fitzroy area. There was a great atmosphere down there. People really seem to enjoy meeting up in Cafe's and bars for food and a few drinks and socialising. It seems to have a similar feel to San Fransisco.

We saw various museums and parks and enjoyed them all, but Melbourne was ultimately like a home from home that we instantly liked.

For anyone visiting Melbourne we can really recommend the Zoo!

A long trek out was Pin Oak Street, or Ramsay street to us.

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Posted by blytonrtw 21:50 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Blue Mountains

A home from home

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We got the train from Sydney, which took two hours. Don't be tempted to buy the three day pass unless you really hate walking. We saved loads by getting single tickets.

We found a real home from home at the Flying Fox backpackers. It was such a great place to chill after the hectic time in Sydney. The free breakfast was a bonus.

We had a nice walk on from Echo point to Scenic World and back, and were really glad that we did. We managed to escape all of the tourist crowds, and soak up the atmosphere. We were amazed by the change in the scenery from thick fog in the morning to crystal clear skies later in the day. Such a contrast.
We were so glad that we decided to take this trip out during our journey.

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Posted by blytonrtw 04:57 Archived in Australia Comments (3)

Sydney

Magnificent buildings, fireworks, parks and so much more

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We arrived into Sydney with only a few hours to settle in before our long day out to see the fireworks. We headed to Lady Macquarie's Point at lunchtime and joined the long queues to get in.

We got a reasonable spot to spend a hot and sticky afternoon, to eat our picnic and have a couple of drinks.
It all got started at 9pm with the children's fireworks, which were impressive enough.

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Around 10pm we moved to the front of the point and were lucky enough to find a spot at the barrier with prime views of the harbour, bridge and opera house. Wow, it was fantastic! It was worth all of the waiting. The atmosphere was really good, everyone in high spirits. The best New Year we've ever had!

As to other things we've seen, there's so much it's hard to summarise. We have had a tour of the Opera House. A bit pricey but interesting.
We had a night tour at the observatory and saw Mars through the telescope. We would really recommend this to everyone coming to Sydney. Ever since seeing the stars at the Great Barrier Reef we've been fascinated by the night sky here in Australia.
We went to Luna Park at night and got great photos across the harbour. The Royal Botanical Gardens are also great, with wild fruit bats hanging in the trees, making a real racket.

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We took the ferry to Manly, however because of the Cyclones northwards the beaches were closed. Still it was a nice day out.
We also spent nearly a full day in the Australian Museum. This is really worth visiting from the Indigenous exhibition and performance to the wildlife exhibits. We also visited a couple of galleries that were free, so great for us.

Currently it is Sydney Festival and we managed to see Brian Wilson (of the Beach Boys) for free. A really great performance.

Other musical hightlights were seeing a couple of people playing the Digeridoo. After having a go we realise how difficult this actually is. These guts can actually creat animal noises using the instrument.

A waste of money was the Sky tower. This wasn't worth the money that we spent. I'd advise anyone else to think twice if they are short on cash. They really sell the audiovisual OZtrek, but we thought it was rubbish. All good in hindsight. You get good views, but all through glass, so the photos aren't the best.

We headed to the Blue Mountains after this for a few quiet days to chill out.

Posted by blytonrtw 00:18 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Port Macquarie

Chilling out and seeing sick koala's

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We arrived into Port Macquaire and were really pleasantly surprised by our accommodation. We had booked into the Sundowner holiday park, which has some dorm beds. We were surrounded by Aussies on their summer holidays, which was a really refreshing change after standard backpacker places.
Mark tried his hand at a bit of BBQ and looked quite at home, alongside all of the other holiday makers.

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Port Macquarie is the place where the re-offending convicts were sent, so there is a lot of history there. Nowadays it's a holiday place with nice beaches, and Australia's oldest Koala hospital. We went on a free tour there and heard about the work they so rehabilitating burned, ill and injured koalas. There are some permanent residents who are too old to make it in the wild, or are blind so wouldn't survive.
I loved it there and will be adopting a Koala as soon as I can afford the fee.

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We thoroughly enjoyed our stay in this town, and set off feeling relaxed ready for the New Years celebrations.

Posted by blytonrtw 02:30 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Byron Bay

Christmas on the beach, surfing, sunburn (Ouch) and annoying hostel guests

sunny 32 °C
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We arrived into Byron Bay two days before Christmas, in time to buy food and rent a surfboard and bodyboard before everywhere closed for the big day.

The town is really nice, but because of the holiday packed with tourists and backpackers.
The beach is gorgeous, with great surf. Perfect for celebrating the holidays, that is if you can get any sleep with the all night party revellers. This has dampened our spirits a lot, but not completely.

We headed to the beach on Christmas day, with seafood sandwiches to eat on the beach. We got a good spot and settled in for the day. It was really strange seeing people in bikinis/shorts wakling past with santa hats on. Whole families pile down for the day and have BBQ outside for their lunch.
Christmas doesn't seem to be as big over here as in Europe, they celebrate the day and then back to normal. We both prefer the experience back home, even though it is cold.

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We did a bit of surfing, and I think with the salt water got a bit sun burnt. The sun is unbelievably strong.
Then, after grabbing some pasta back at the hostel we escaped the noisy people and found a spot of our own near the beach to drink our bottle of wine. We were like poor people as we had no glasses, and had to drink out of mugs.
We were entertained by the drunk locals we got chatting to, before finishing our phone calls home. It was great to talk to all of our family and share Christmas wishes.

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Today we tried a bit more surfing, but the weather was a bit rough, with powerful waves a bit out of our comfort zone. So we gave up and had a walk to the lighthouse. This sits on Cape Byron, which has the most easterly point on mainland Australia. It was a hot and sticky trek, but gave good views around the point. We had been looking up at the lighthouse every day, so it was good to see it up close. It is still operational so every evening you can see the light turning.

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This is just one of many areas along this cost that was named by Captain James Cook when he first discovered Australia in 1770. There is a town further north also called 1770.

Tomorrow we head south again to a small town called Port Macqaurie where we relax for a couple of days before hitting Sydney for the New Years celebrations. Every person we have met seems to be headed there so it is going to be really busy.

Posted by blytonrtw 00:59 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

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