Sunday, January 31, 2010
Well if you’ve been following my blog the past week, then you will know that for me the answer is obvious, an Australian spider is far scarier than being winched up 400ft and left to admire the view for 45 seconds before plummeting to earth like a stone giving 6 seconds of pure freefall and a G-force of 5.5 upon hitting the rides magnetic breaks!
Had a great day out at Dreamworld theme park from crazy rollercoasters to an impressive Tiger show, and a wildlife section with koalas, kangaroos and a hungry looking croc!
Had the morning in Byron Bay before catching a lunchtime bus to Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast, the Bus took an hour and a half but due to an hours time difference we arrived only half an hour after leaving Byron.
After the hostel in Byron, I was looking forward to an air-conditioned hotel room that I had treated myself to for the next 3 nights, it was cheap at $72 (£38 per night) so was only expecting a basic budget room, so was amazing when I walked in my room and found it was actually 2 huge rooms, with an open plan kitchen, and living area complete with comftable couches & and a LCD cable TV and a huge separate bedroom with en-suite , was the perfect place to stay and cool off!
Went out for a shortish 16km bike ride, rode down past so of the stunning coastline and back alongside some of the inland waterways which was very scenic, like this pic with the skyscrapers in the background.
Stopped at a supermarket to buy myself ingredients for a nice pasta meal and a bottle of wine and had a quite evening in the comfort of my apartment hotel
I did not think much of my hostel in Byron bay, my room had 10 people in it with no air conditioning, now when 10 people are paying $34 each that’s $340 or about £185 for the room, now you would think when there receiving as much money per room as most 5 star hotels in a major city that they could afford to put in air-con, obviously when your travelling on a budget you cant always expect too many frills but in a place where for much of the year it’s hot & humid and they pack you in 10 to a room I would have expected Air-con as a bare minimum!
On the plus side however the staff were friendly and helpful and after a crap nights sleep, I got up and ended up bumping into Michael who I had met at Townsend Lodge in Perth way back in August! At times this huge country can seem small after all, we arranged to meet up that evening and I went off to finally get my Bike fixed 7th bike shop lucky, 2 in Newcastle, 3 in Port Macquarie were closed and the first one I tried in Byron was too busy.
Pleased to have a good working bike again I cycled upto the most Easterly point in Australia, Cape Byron. It was a very tough climb but I made it and not only was I riding at the most easterly point possible in this huge country, the 360 degree views were incredible, I stayed up there for quite some time before enjoying the downhill ride down, I then lazed about by one of Byron Bays amazing beaches before going for another ride early evening.
That evening treated myself to a huge steak and met up with Michael for a few beers, It was great to catch up and talk about our travels and some of the great times over in Perth!
Saturday, January 30, 2010
After the previous few days bad luck and overcast weather it was great to wake up to bright sunshine and in a lovely little town surrounded by ocean on 2 sides with a river cutting through the middle and mountains in the distance, Sadly I only had 3 hours to take a look around, I was so tempted to stay on longer but due to it being peak season I had all my future accommodation booked up so decided I had to stick with my plans of moving on despite also being temped with a chance to fly a seaplane for only about £45.
Reluctantly I boarded the 2pm bus for an 8 hour journey North to Byron Bay, Was a nice journey as we passed though many more lovely little towns and I wished I had time to stop off at more of them, we also went through some spectacular storms as we headed into subtropical Australia thorough the region which grows many of Australia’s Bananas, they were even selling for 99cents a kilo, compare that to the $7 a kilo that was driving me bananas a few months ago in Perth!
We arrived in Byron bay at 10pm and were greeted by a few hippie nutters, as I tried to assemble my bike asap.
After the previous night nightmares and poor sleep I ended up oversleeping by half an hour which wa enough to miss by ferry by I had planned on taking to the nearest greyhound bus stop by just 2 minuets, decided I had to pedal like crazy instead to make it I then had a spoke snap on my rear wheel, meaning I had no chance of getting the bus. Fortunately I was able to eventually put the bike on a local bus to get back to Newcastle, but go there well after the bus departed and after 12 noon by which time all the bike shops had closed on a Saturday. I then had hours to wait till the next greyhound which sporting this appropriate registration plate turned up at 10pm meaning that rather than arriving at my destination Port Macquarie at 2pm it would be 2am when I arrived which wasn’t very nice trying to guide a broken bike through the streets to find my accommodation.
Friday, January 29, 2010
Today started with me going to get my leg, that would later be diagnosed as a spider bite looked at, I took some pics of the bite but have decided against posting that as my photo of the day as it’s too squeamish!
The weather was still cloudy though a little better, and the doctor told me cycling would do my bite wounds good as it keeps the blood flowing so went out for a bit of a cycle around the area, this pic was taken by the beach with miles and miles of huge sand dunes.
After the relief about hearing my bite wasn’t too poisonous and my leg would survive I needed a few beers so had a good evening eating and drinking around the hostel, however when going to bed a roommate noticed a huge Spider above my bed, and given what had happened I let out a bit of a yell and demanded the roommate to kill it, which he did a good job of with his size 11’s!
I couldn’t sleep much that night however and kept waking up jumping up in my bed after having nightmares about spiders hanging by a thread over my face.
I hope this blog isn’t putting off people visiting Australia, it’s pretty rare to get spider troubles, I’ve spent a combined total of over a year in Australia over 3 trips now and this is the first time I’ve known anyone to be bitten by one it just had to happen to me before I did know anyone else to get bitten didn’t it! And indeed it was also the first time I’ve noticed one in my room anywhere.
Was a lousy overcast drizzly day so lazed around all morning doing nothing, then had a new roommate turn up who had a rental car so he suggested going for a drive which got us out, it also allowed us to do plenty of shopping and we stocked up on bbq food and beer for the next couple of nights.
Had a nice bbq in the evening and ended up playing trivial pursuit for hours it was the 1984 Australian expert edition so most of the questions were impossible to answer correctly and I don’t think anyone got more than 2 right!
Due to the weather didn’t get any pics today, so as this is supposed to be Koala country (except I didn’t see one) here is a pic of me with a Koala taken the previous week at a wildlife park on the way to the Blue Mountains.
Started off by Cycling 20km to the nearest station again in scorching heat above 35 degrees, got the train back to Newcastle and after a lunch break there got a ferry to the other side of the estuary and cycled another 45km to Port Stephens thankfully it had cooled down a lot in the afternoon and had become very overcast but it did not rain, Port Stephens has a large population of Koalas, so one of the most common signs in the area is this one that I parked my bike against. Arrived at my hostel around 4pm a wilderness beach bungalow style place where I would spend the next 3 nights.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Today was probably the toughest bike ride I have ever done, it was certainly the hottest! I got the train from Newcastle to a town called Maitland, from which it was 38km to the hostel I was staying at in the Hunter Valley wine region, arriving at Maitland around 11:30 am the temperature gauge there read 37 degrees, apparently 1 and a half hours later as I was sweating my way up a hill the temperature peaked at 40 degrees which is well over 100 degrees F, I stopped off at a few wineries, but only at one of them tried any wine, the rest were just to refill my water bottle, the Hunter Valley fudge factory certainly provide a much needed sugar boost! Somehow I made it to most hostel and that evening was even crazy enough to cycle another 12km to see a few sights and go grocery shopping, although it had cooled down a bit by then. Later on that evening when I went to get a shower I noticed 2 pin pricks of blood on my shin, didn’t think much of it at the time, but a few days later I found out that I had been bit by a spider albeit a not too dangerous one, anyway I am now officially arachnophobic!
Today it was time to leave Sydney and at the crack of dawn, I was up at 5:30am after only sleeping for about 3 hours due to a battle of the air conditioning with a room mate he kept tuning it off complaining he was too cold, while everyone else was scorching hot (Use you bloody duvet) Anyway somehow made it up at 5:30 and make it to the coach stop in time for a 7am bus to Newcastle, arriving there by 9:30, The first thing I had to do was to get a new bicycle chain, then it was off on the bike for a day exploring the town and the many beaches it had, it was an overcast but humid day and this pic was taken at a rest stop after quite a climb.
Took a train 90km South of Sydney to Wollongong, the train journey is one of the most spectacular in Australia as for about 20kms of the journey it runs on the edge of a cliff with mountains on one side and the ocean down below on the other!
Once in Woolongone had a little cycle around it before heading north and cycling 35km alongside the stunning coastal and mountain scenery.
The end of my cycle was cycling across an amazing bridge built out away from the cliffs over the Pacific ocean, built a few years ago as the old road became to dangerous due to falling rocks from the cliffs!
Unfortunately just after crossing this bridge and only 1km away from the station where I was going to catch a train back to Sydney my chain snapped. A nice Chinese couple along with the mans visiting father, that I had asked directions from just moments before, stopped and offered me a lift to the station, they had a 4 wheel drive with plenty of room for the bike, once arriving at the station and finding out it was 45 minuets till the next train, they offered to carry on and give me a lift to a nearer station that had more frequent services, then upon finding out I was staying near the Sydney harbor bridge, offered me a lift all the way back to the hostel as his father wanted to have a drive over the harbor bridge! It was a fantastic bit of luck to have after having the bad luck of my chain snapping!
Sunday, January 24, 2010
Jan 9th - Captain Cooks Landing spot, the perfect Beach, and a Sydney Pub Crawl finishing up at 3am in MacDonald’s with a hot apple pie and ice crea
Took a train an hour South of Sydney today to Cronulla from which I cycled about 9km each way to Botany Bay National Park where the actual sport where Captain Cook landed in 1770 is.
The landing place is marked by 2 monuments, a small stone on the rock amongst the sand and sea where the first step was taken and a larger monument on the mainland, amazingly despite being such a histrionic sight there are no tourists as it’s not promoted that much and most cant be bothered to make the 1 hour train journey and 20 min bus or 30 min cycle to get there, not only is it a historic site but the whole national park is very nice too so is well worth a visit.
In the afternoon got the train back towards Sydney and got off at a station just South of the airport and cycled to Brighton le sands and what a beach, which is situated alongside the airports main runway, you can get so close to the taxing and taking off planes the you feel you can almost touch their wingtips, I was lucky enough to see 3 Of the Airbus A380 planes up close, but for the photo of the day here is a BA Boeing 747 starting it’s long journey home to England, with people watching up close by the fence while others just enjoy the beach, next time I come back to Sydney I really must spend a few days here rather than just a few hours!
That evening had my first and only night out in Sydney, I had decided to do a pub crawl of some of my favorite bars from my previous times in Sydney, my first stop had planned to be the Irish bar called Scruffy Murphy’s where I spent my 25th Birthday up until I was rudely chucked out of the bar by bouncers at 4am for tripping down a step, and despite my claims that I hadn’t drunk much and blaming it on my new shoes, they still chucked me out and I was escorted back to the hostel by a Canadian guy where the drinking continued till sunrise! (Now I can’t have been that drunk due to the fact that I still remember that 5 and a half years on!)
Anyway back to the present, in the end this time I didn’t even make it through the door at Scruffy Murphysl due to the fact that they were charging $10 entry, and the fact that I only wanted 1 pint there that would make it a very expensive pint so it was there loss as I moved on and had a great night by visiting 4 different bars.
I ended up at a MacDonald’s at 3am and really am not a fan of big macs so decided to order a 3ams feast of Hot Apple pie and Ice cream which after a long day and a nice pub crawl actually went down very well before getting a taxi back to my hostel!
My bike which I had transported from Perth by road had turned up the previous afternoon, but I didn’t have time to unpack it till this morning, while assembling it back together noticed the outer gear cog had been damaged In transit, as I was wondering how I was going to get it fixed a Japanese’s cyclist appeared it was perfect timing as he had good bicycle mechanic knowledge and got it fixed for me in 10 minuets, we had a little chat and I found out that his bike was at the hostel also having arrived from Perth, but instead of it having been transported in the back of a truck he had ridden it the 4000km across the Australian Outback from Perth to Sydney and in the heat of the summer, crazy but what an achievement!
Once my bike was ready to go I took it on the ferry to the coastal suburb called Manley, and did some cycling around the area, it was tough going as it was very hilly and was 33 degrees, but was rewarded with some amazing lookouts both over the Pacific Ocean and the edge of Sydney Harbour.
Took the ferry back to Sydney at sunset which was very scenic, made moreso by 2 huge cruise ships heading out towards the ocean, then after a short break did something I’ve wanted to do for ages, ride a bike over the famous harbour bridge! It is so high up that it is rather a huge hill to get up but was an amazing ride to cycle over such a famous icon at night with the city of Sydney and, opera house all lit up! Sorry for yet another bridge pic of the day, but it’s such a stunning bridge I guess it’s worthy of being featured 3 days in a row!
Went Jetboating in Sydney Harbor and out to Bondi Beach, which was great fun, then in the evening went on a tour of Sydney observatory that I had booked earlier in the day as all the weather forecasts promised us the overcast skies would clear and it would be a fine evening – They were wrong and it was as cloudy as most English evenings meaning the only stars we were able to look at through the telescopes was a star on the Australian flag high on top of the harbour bridge, it was still an interesting tour though and I got this nice shot from the observatories gardens.
Saturday, January 23, 2010
Took a day trip to the Blue Mountains, they are called such because of the amount of Ecupuliptus trees there which really do give out a blue haze.
We stopped off at a wildlife park on the way there, which had virtually every type of aussie animal from croc to kangaroos and koalas
Then we toured round some of the stunning scenery of the blue mountains, stopping off at various viewpoints including this one which is called the 3 sisters, then after lunch we took a cablecar ride to the valley floor and had a walk through the forests below even spotting a wild koala, before boarding the worlds steepest railway incline for the journey back to the top.
We then drove to wentworth falls and had a walk down around 250 steps for some stunning views of the waterfals which was worth the walk.
On the way back to Sydney we stopped at Sydney's Olympic park for half an hour and had a look at the Olympic stadium before boarding a cruse the rest of the way back to the city arriving by going under the stunning harbor bridge.
Was a great day with loads packed into it so had a quite evening at the hostel on the fantastic rooftop terrace.
Had a walk around Sydney harbor including under the bridge, and round the opera house, then took a ferry to the other harbor, Darling harbor and had a walk around there for a while.
In the evening sat on the rooftop terrace and watched this huge cruise ship the Diamond princess depart Sydney harbour you could see it for miles as it headed out into the Pacific Ocean.
Friday, January 15, 2010
Ater a week of treating myself to some pretty nice hotels it was time to go back to staying in Backpacker Hostels again else my money would have run out within a few weeks staying at Holiday Inns!
I moved to a brand new Hostel right on the harbour itself with an amazing roof terrace overlooking the bridge and opera house, all for a fraction of the price of hotels.
After a pretty crazy full on time over Christmas and New Year, I just relaxed around my hotel all day today, I had treated myself to a Holiday Inn airport hotel for a couple of nights and it had some great views over the airport, heres a nice shot at sunset with a Qantas A380’s tail visible in the hanger.
Ok I have fell so far behind with my original photoblog that I am starting a new one from 1st Jan 2010, I still indent to get my other one upto date eventually and hopefully |I will find time to keep this one more uptodate!
On New Years Eve 2009 I went on an Antarctic Sightseeing flight from Melbourne onboard a Qantas Airbus A380.
About 3 hours into the flight excitement rose as we saw the first icebergs, an hour later we were over the continent of Antarctica and descended to 10000ft which was just 2000ft above some of the mountains, The scenery was just stunning.
Then at Midnight was the big moment of celebrating new year and indeed a new decade with a glass of champagne while dancing in the aisles of the worlds biggest plane over with Antarctica shining brightly in the midnight sun just below while the band on board played Old Lang Syne it was just incredible the most amazing new year ever!
From young to old (I was sitting next to a lively 85 year old for half the flight) everyone had an amazing time. After 4 hours of flying over Antarctica it was time to leave the frozen world and head back to Melbourne, once we landed there had 90 mins or so before carrying onto Sydney and I got a chance to have a good walk around the plane including the cockpit!
Then it was time for a short 1-hour flight from Melbourne to Sydney with probably less than 100 passengers left onboard such a huge plane it felt more like a private jet and what an impressive takeoff as an aircraft designed to fly full for upto 15 hours was so light that we climbed like a rocket!
I had flown into Sydney airport twice before and both times had approached from the opposite end to the famous bridge & opera house so I was hoping it to be 3rd time lucky and get a stunning view of Sydney as we came in but alas the winds were wrong yet again and we approached from the opposite end once again, oh well I got enough stunning views on this flight so the Sydney view will have to wait!