It freaks you out the first time you see it! Poo goes the other way!! THE OTHER WAY!!!
08.09.2008 - 18.09.2008 12 °C
So after our second long haul flight of the trip so far (where once again my tv wasnt working! What are the odds?) we safely touched down in Sydney around 6 in the morning or so.....and by Jebus was it cold! We were coming from 30 degrees heat in Asia to the beginning of the Australian spring and hadn't anticipated just how cold it would be. We were in the queue for the taxi freezing in shorts and tshirts watching everyone else strutt by in their hats and scarves.
It really was the strangest feeling arriving in Sydney. We had not given Australia a moments thought while we were in Asia. However once we arrived nothing could prepare us for the cold. It took us days to adjust to the weather - it was the first time we had stopped sweating in 3 months ha ha.. We had pitcicles - translated means icicles hanging from our Armpits...
We eventually arrived in our hostel in Newtown to find we'd booked the wrong arrival date, but at least our room was ready so we didnt have to hang around for too long. We must have spent the majority of the next 2 days in that room trying to heat up and get over the jetlag, it would take us nearly a week really before we got back on track sleepwise. But hey we had arrived in Oz, it was time to get our tourist on and check out the sights!
Lorraine and the Sydney Opera house
After a good nights sleep we were both really excited to go exploring in central Sydney. We got the train into the city - the trains are two storeys high - i thought it was really cool (im very easily impressed obviously). As soon as we left the station we were dumbstruck by the beauty of Sydney Harbour. We had our first glimpse of the Sydney Harbour Bridge & the Opera House both of which totally dominate the skyline. It really felt surreal as we walked around with an aborigine playing the didgiredoo in the background. We spent most of our time just walking around taking it all in.
Sydney Harbour Bridge
We visited the famous Rocks area of town which is the oldest part of Sydney & looked at all the old buildings & architecture & then we made our way to Darling Harbour which is stunning with its large Yaughts & boats paraded along the edge of the water & really magnificent views across the city. It really is a beautiful city.
In Darling harbour we popped into Sydney Wildlife World to check out some of the local animals of Oz and learned a very important lesson - pretty much everything in this country can kill you! From the most poisonous snakes and spiders in the world to crocodiles to even the cassowry (like a cross between an emu and a velocorapter!)....it's dangerous going in this place!
Darling Harbour at night
We had spent only a measly 2 nights in our hostel trying to get back to our normal selves when we were unceremoniously booted out on the 3rd morning - despite having booked and paid for 3 nights! Lets put that all down to miscommunication with the hostel staff and our booking! Anyway we figured we might as well get going up the coast to Byron bay so we popped into town to get our bus ticket. This was when the vastness of Oz hit us for the first time. I mean Byron only looks about a centimetre up the coast on a map - we didnt reckon it'd take 12 hours to get there on a bus! So we got our first (of many) night buses in Oz that night to the surfer town of Byron bay. You could ask Lorraine what she thought of the town as we drove in, but she was whacked up on sleeping tablets and cant remember arriving!
By the beach in Byron
Ok so as Rob said i was pretty out of it so i dont remember much about arriving in Byron Bay (thanks again Nana for the sleeping/happy pills )
Byron Bay is a lovely coastal town approx 12 hours north of Sydney. It is a pretty cool place with a real surf/hippie vibe.. The town itself is quite small with low rise colourful buildings & as we walked by the houses i actually felt like we were walking on the set of Ramsay Street at one stage! Although the town is quite small it has a pretty active nightlife & it was here that we had our first real session in Australia. It involved the infamous home brew known to the Auzzies as Goon. Goon is basically a really large carton of cheap wine which is notorious for giving leathal hangovers which myself & Rob can vouch for
Surfer in Byron Bay
On our first day there myself & Rob thought it was high time for me to conquer my fear & get back on the saddle so we hired bikes from the hostel & went to do a bit of exploring. We zoomed through the streets at an impressive 5 or maybe even 6 miles per hour barely blowing a strand of hair at times. However we made it to the town & back safely so i guess you can consider my fear conquerred/ish
We had spent a few days relaxing in Byron when we decided to go out to a nearby town called Nimbin for a night. We'd heard alot about this town so jumped on a bus and made the hour long trip out. Our driver on the way was really cool and was telling us all about the town and countryside on the way out - basically Nimbin is a town populated by hippies and famous for its attitudes towards marijuana and its campaign to have it legalised. There was a huge festival there in the 70's called the Aquarius festival that attracted thousands of hippies, alot of whom just decided to stay and live in communes and found an alternative community!
The place is just awesome!
Nimbin main street
The main street buildings are all decorated in colourful murals, there's a hemp museum, a hemp embassy and loads of shops selling cannabis paraphenalia - not to mention the people selling the wacky tobaccy on the streets! The atmosphere is amazing and laid back and our hostel was just as cool. We strolled in to a cloud of smoke from the friendly gang in the communal area! We soon booked ourselves in for a second night!
We had to make the trip down the hill from our hostel to the village to pick up some beers for the nightly poker game that was happening in the hostel. It was dark as we were walking back up the country lanes and we had a little torch to guide the way. Lorraine was on the lookout for snakes and spiders the whole way driving me crazy!
"There's a snake! Oh no sorry its a stick. No wait, shit, there's a snake there!"
"Lorraine thats not a snake its just another stick. Will ya stop imagining things and come on. Oh wait, that stick is moving. That stick taking up the whole road is moving. Ok maybe we should just let that 6 foot long stick move out of the way before we walk on!"
A big freakin snake
We spent 2 really cool days in and around Nimbin driving out one afternoon with the gang from the hostel to a swimming hole in the bush with a 30 foot swing. I wasn't man enough to jump off this one though! One of the lads did and nearly killed himself! Common sense prevailed for once.
Anybody see a cow??
On our last day in Nimbin we went on a one hour tour with the same bus driver and he took us to all these alternative energy and farming places, it was pretty interesting - educational yet fun! Then he dropped us back to Byron to get our connection onwards up the East coast to Brisbane. Oh and we played a game of bowls with the locals before we left Nimbin! It was great craic. Lorraine beat me 10-9 literally on the last bowl. The ruler was out and everything it was that close! I still havent been let forget it!
Lorraine (aka the shark) playing bowls
We spent our last evening in Byron down at the beach watching the surfers in action while some hippies played guitar behind us against their Volkswagen hippie vans as the sun set over the sea.. It definitely left a beautiful image of Byron Bay in my mind.
I was really excited about Brisbane. Rob challenged me to making up an itinerary of what to do... Most people dont really like Brisbane too much but bare in mind i had done my research. We stayed in a hostel right in the center of the city.. location wise this hostel couldnt be beaten. We initially strolled through the central business district & just walked around gazing at all the massive sky scapers - they were really impressive. We then made our way to riverside to get the city cat boat around the brisbane river.
Brisbane skyline from boat
The views were lovely from the boat but we had to get off at some stage so following my itinerary we jumped off at South Bank which is kind of like the cultural area of the city with really pretty parklands, museums, live bands & everything. It really is a cool part of the city.
South Bank, Brisbane
As we were feeling pretty cultural at this stage we decided to head to the national museum - & by george we loved it! There were loads of different exhibitions ranging from dinosaurs, Aborigini & national heritage. We had a great laugh checking them all out - mainly because they were interactive (i.e. for kids). I think we spent over 3 hours in there. Next door to the national museum was the Museum of Modern Art which just so happened to be our next stop. Some of the art is pretty weird & basic looking - myself & Rob could definitely give it a good shot. We spent most of our time joking around but we did see a couple of lovely pieces before we were kicked out at 5pm. It was rush hour when we left so we decided it would be quickest to walk back to the hostel.
It was a really nice stroll back because the sun was setting as we made our way over the Victoria Bridge directly into the main shopping district of Queen Street Mall. God i could have gone nuts shopping (if Rob had let me ) The shopping area is really well laid out & there are tonnes of bars & restaurants. There really is a cool buzz about the place. Unfortunately we could not stay in Brisbane longer than 2 nights but we definitely enjoyed the city & made the most of our time there.