So as you may know, we recently took a road trip from Brisbane to Sydney and we decided that we would make a video blog of the trip, just to shake things up a bit Enjoy!
Category Archives: Australia1
Just a quick heads up, today we are driving a station wagon (yes, you heard right-our camper got cancelled) down the coast and will eventually end up in Sydney on Saturday morning. We hope! We plan to stop in Coffs Harbour tonight, or possibly in Grafton, and then in Newcastle tomorrow night, leaving just a couple more hours drive to Sydney on Saturday morning. Hold thumbs we find a few (really) cheap places to stay down there, so that we don’t end up sleeping in our station wagon!
A BIG thank you to Robs and Dean for looking after us so well, we had a fantastic time with you guys!
So until we find our next free wifi spot, chat soon!
D & T x
Yesterday we got in to the city before lunch to try and see as much of the city as we could. The plan was to go on a free walking tour of the city, which leaves daily from King George Square at 11am. However, as we arrived on the square at 11:05am and clearly missed the tour…we decided to go it on our own and do a bit of a walking tour ourselves. Here is a glimpse of what we saw, let the pictures speak for themselves (Click on the picture to enlarge it).
We’ve been in Australia for 20 days already, time flies when you’re having fun. And since some of the folks back at home have been pestering us for a blog post, and the rain is coming down in bucket-loads this morning in Brisbane… putting pay to any cycling plans I had, I’ve decided to jot down some ideas and experiences that Australia has offered up for us!
The difference between Melbourne and Sydney is quite stark, quite apart from the weather difference the local vibe is different too. Melbournians, we’ve noticed, tend to be the more relaxed types and in fact reminded us quite a lot of Cape Town. But on the other side of the coin, everybody is up and go in Sydney and instead of cozying up in their local coffee shop they’re out and about going for a run or enjoying a day out in the park.
The day was spent wandering Sydney and taking photos in the glorious weather that the city put on for us, it certainly didn’t disappoint.
It was another ‘pinch yourself’ moment when we found ourselves perched on the edge of Circular Quay, peering up at the famous shells of Sydney Opera House. It didn’t stop there either when we walked around the Botanical Gardens and up to Mrs MacQuarie’s chair only to see the impressive skyline as the backdrop to the ferry port and opera house once again. One quickly realizes why everyone is taking advantage of time to get out for some exercise, because it is a stunning place.
Initially Dom and I had a plan in the making to fly to Sydney and then to relocate a camper van to Brisbane for one of the companies who hire them out here. This is a great option (in theory) for backpackers on a budget as the rental is only a very small fraction of normal rates, often only $1 per day, and some guys even throw in a free tank of fuel to sweeten the deal. This is all well and good when there is availability though, and there was up until the time came that we wanted to make a reservation, at which point it seemed that an army of gremlins had sabotaged our plans and all of the available campers had disappeared! So it was off to Sydney with no way of getting up to Robs and Dean in Brisbane… this unplanned approach is becoming a bit of a trend. Jeanne and Edwin, Dom’s extended family, took us in for the two nights in Sydney though and made sure we were well fed and slept!
Manly beach got the nod over Bondi on the day though and we took the ferry out for the afternoon and sampled strawberry and chocolate ice cream as we strolled down the beach, such a hard life! It has been one of our missions to try to visit the less touristed places on this trip and rather see the place from a local’s perspective so the trip out and away from the city to one of the nearby small resort towns afforded us this opportunity. Another thing is that the daily travel passes include ferry trips from Circular Quay (not the high speed ones), that are a great change from sitting on metro trains or busses all the time.
And as they say, that was Sydney, onwards to Brisbane and by this stage we had a flight booked, luckily! An early start saw us up at 04:30 and off to catch the train to the airport, not ideal but at least we got to Brisbane early enough.
Brisbane is located on the Brisbane River that winds its way down to the sea from the Brisbane Range, no prizes for originality here! So after settling in a bit we headed down to Kangaroo Point on the South bank of the river near to the city for some lunch and a long overdue catch up with my cousin Robyn who has moved here with her husband Dean. Turns out they’re Camera and Mac addicts like us, so staying with them is like living inside an apple store, its AMAZING!!!!! And, even better, Dean is an avid cyclist too so finally I have been able to get on a bike, this is my happy place.
We took a great trip out to O’Riellys
in the Lamington National Park, and took the less traveled track up Duck Creek Road. We decided to do the shorter walk… however said short walk turned into quite a trek and Dean and I finally found our way up to the lookout point
that was originally planned as their wedding venue, a vista worth the walk for sure. Coffee and Lamingtons ensued and another short tour over O’Reilly’s treetop suspension bridges that even take you up one of the huge strangler figs to look out over the valley from a Kookaburra’s perspective.
I’m now totally finished with writing for today and we really should head out so that today is not completely lost… tune in for some more tales next post!
Ciao for now!
This week was our second week in Melbourne and what a great week it was. We attempted to stick to our budget this week (for a change) and found things to do that didn’t cost an enormous amount. It didn’t quite work out for us, but here are some cheap (and not so cheap) things to do in Melbourne!
1. The Melbourne Museum
-Cost: $10 Adults, FREE for students (ISIC cards not accepted, but apparently 2010 CPUT cards are…so as long as it says University on it somewhere, you’re good!)
The museum is really fun and interactive. There are five main galleries in the museum, each with a different focus. The forest gallery is a tribute to the forestry and wildlife of Melbourne and there is also a section here about the forest fires which are a big part of Melbourne’s history. The Mind and Body gallery is especially interesting as it gives a history of the theories of the brain and the body throughout time. At each station there are things to interest adults and children alike. Downstairs you will find a great Augmented Reality gallery of stuffed animals in the Science and Life
gallery. Information screens are situated around the room and you move them to see the animal you want to know more about, click on the animal and up comes everything you need to know about it.
Then there are a few mandatory dinosaur skeletons in the centre of the gallery and a large collection of bugs (and massive spiders) as well! The Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre takes a look at the lives of the Aboriginal people through interviews played on screens and speakers throughout the room. Lastly, the Melbourne Gallery is packed full of history like Phar Lap, Australia’s most famous racehorse (yes the actual stuffed horse is there!), and a look at Melbourne’s transport history. A wonderful museum really, there is so much to see, it is a full day outing in fact.
2. Melbourne Cricket Grounds tour and National Sports Museum
- Cost: Adults $30 for tour and entry to museum, Students pay $16 for the tour and get into the Museum for free. We paid $11 each with ISIC cards just to get into the museum because the tours were finished for the day.
With a free audio guide and a large display of sports parafanalia, a trip to this museum could take most of the day. We were rushing through as we only had two hours before the museum closed, and had to skip some bits. There is a fantastic history of the Olympics from war times to present, with the Australian teams kit in the display boxes to go with the history. There is a dedicated gallery and hall of fame for the Aussies Football heroes and a very detailed history of the game too. Museum-goers can spot the heroes of their favourite sport on the Australian Wall of Fame, showcasing competitors, commentators, trainers, coaches of every sport and more. A small gallery of racing displays a horses skeleton and a presentation showing how the skeleton moves as the horse increases its gait, very interesting if you’re into horses like me Lastly, a lush and extravagant room at the end of the museum displays everything there is to know about cricket and its heroes. From trophies to cricket bats signed by all of the greats in cricket, it is all there on display. As we were leaving, we caught a glimpse of the inside of the stadium, I would say its definitely worth going there between 10am and 3pm to get a tour of the ‘G’, as they say!
3. Laneways and Arcades
-Cost: FREE, (unless you do some shopping in one of these beautiful boutiques)
These graffiti filled lanes and old character-filled arcades and worth a visit if you’re hanging around the city. Many of them are filled with little cafes or boutique shops that sell everything from vintage to funky new clothing and jewelry. Best part of all, they are free to wander through all day, so go wild
4. Albert Park
A highlight if you’re a Formula One fan and quite pretty too if you’re not into racing, Albert park is the home of Melbourne’s Formula One pit lane and also a beautiful park with a lake and swans. There is also a sports ground on every corner, from cricket to bowls to an indoor swimming centre, but the highlight for us was to see the tyre tracks of the formula 1 cars skidded through the pit lanes. Pretty cool, huh?
6. Dandenongs – Grant’s Picnic Grounds
-Cost: FREE (maybe a finger or two if you’re not careful;))
If you’re anywhere near Melbourne, its worth the drive to head into the Dandenong hills just to see the beautiful scenery and forests around this area. We were lucky enough to go twice this weekend and both times we were amazed at the views, both night and day. Up in these hills you will find a menagerie of birds of all shapes and sizes, ready to be fed and to sit on your shoulder. We went up to Grant’s Picnic Area, near Kallista, a very beautiful forested area. We started with a nice long walk in the muddy forest, being serenaded by birds along the way, and eventually realised we were a bit far off the path but stopped for coffee at a cute little shop in any case before making the trek back to our car. When we got back there we decided to feed the birds some of the seed we had brought with us. If you like birds, big birds the size of your head, then go ahead. If not, maybe keep the seed for another time Watch the new video on our URT Videos page or click here to see what happened when we decided to feed the birds!
7. Sky High Mount Dandenong
-Cost: $5 per car
Another great find in the Dandenongs is the Sky High restaurant and gardens. The views from up here, day and night, are spectacular. The gardens are beautifully manicured, with activities for everyone from a nice braai (BBQ) area to a giant chair, a maze and a secret garden, there is endless fun to be had up here.
8. Melbourne Zoo
-Cost: Adults $25, Students (with ISIC) $20, [Not cheap, but worth it!]
The Melbourne Zoo is just like any other zoo in that it is full of beautiful and interesting animals that fascinate and enchant you. Where it is not like any other zoo, is in that the enclosures are massive, and exactly right for the animal that lives inside it. The orangutans have a maze of ropes and hammocks, the emus have open sandy pens to wander around in, the gorillas have a mini-forest and great trees to climb and the elephants have a wide open space with a water hole to wallow in. Each enclosure has bee specifically made so that the animal is perfectly at home and happy. And the best part of all, the animals are happy…so many of them we saw were playing around the front area, showing off to the people and enjoying the attention.
All-in-all, there are definitely some things you can do in Melbourne that aren’t too expensive but sometimes you have to blow your budget to see the things that you can’t miss. But thats life, right?
Just a quick message to say today we are 90 days down and 90 days to go! We can’t believe how fast the time has gone, it feels as if we only just left! On Wednesday we are flying up to Sydney and then relocating a campervan to Brisbane to visit Tristans cousins, Robyn and Dean, for a little bit and then relocating a campervan back to Sydney and flying back to Melbourne. Then on the 31st we are leaving Australia and heading for the USA! Wow, how time flies!
Looking forward to the drive up to Brisbane and seeing a bit of the East Coast of Australia. But first, look out for a post sometime this week on the rest of our time in Melbourne!
When we arrived in Melbourne at 8:30 on Tuesday morning, we were met with permanent air conditioning at about 12 degrees Celsius. It was a
welcome change and we stuck on our jackets and scarves and enjoyed not sweating for a change! Were picked up at the airport by my aunt Lee and cousin Glen, and made the 85km drive back to their house in Cranbourne East. The funny thing is that they live on the city limits, which means that the city is about 90km in diameter! Crazy, considering that the whole of the city of Cape Town is just 60km in diameter.
As soon as we arrived at my family’s house in Cranbourne, we felt at home. It has been great to have a bit of space to unpack our backpacks and have a kitchen to make some food if we feel like it. We spent the rest of the day on Tuesday relaxing on the couch, cuddled up in a blanket, watching movies…divine! It is certainly different to have a hot home-cooked meal ready for you every night.
On Wednesday we thought we would take a walk to the local shopping centre and orientate ourselves with the area. We didn’t have a map, so we check out the directions on Google Maps. Unfortunately, we didn’t pay enough attention to those, and ended up walking in the wrong direction. The problem was, once we got onto the main road, we turned left (the correct way) but then doubted ourselves and turned around and walked the other way. We walked for ages and ages and eventually decided we must have gone the wrong way and had to make our way back to where we had started. After about 2 hours and much giggling, we eventually found the right road, just a little further from where we had turned back in the first place. Ridiculous! Anyway, it was a good walk, and we had definitely orientated ourselves by this stage. I was exhausted by the time we eventually got to the shopping centre. We spent maybe half an hour wandering around the centre, just looking at all of the different shops and prices, and then we made the trek back home. Once we had found our way, the walk back was quick, figures!
On Thursday we decided it was time to go into the city. We bought a daily card for A$11 each and took the bus and then the train into the city. We got off at Parliament and took a slow walk past the gardens, St Patricks cathedral and the National Treasury building. The feeling I got from the city is a mix between Washington DC, probably because of the cold weather, and a European city like Paris.
There are lots of old buildings mixed in with the new ones, and the old trams run around the city on the same tracks as the new trams. Our first stop was to Flinder’s Street to the tourist centre where we collected all of the pamphlets we needed to read up on Melbourne. Armed with a map and a better sense of direction, we made our way over the Yarra River to the South Bank to walk around the gardens. By this time it was time to stop for lunch so we settled down on the grass next to the river and watched the kids learning to row while we ate our packed sandwiches
It was a slow day, we were not in any hurry to get anywhere in particular, so we ambled along in the direction of the Shrine of Remembrance, which looked like a good place to visit. We passed the Sidney Myers Music Bowl, where they have regular concerts apparently, and a few monuments to this person and that. The gardens themselves are beautifully tended and the flowers make this city garden feel more like a botanical garden like Kirstenbosch in Cape Town. We made it to the Shrine of Remembrance just in time for the daily ceremony. We crowded around the Shrine, and took a moment of silence for the soldiers of war as a ray of light moved across the plaque in the centre of the room, which states: ‘Greater Love Hath No Man.’ It was a moving ceremony, although lasting just a few minutes. It really shows you how much the Australians care about their soldiers and all of the soldiers of war in general.
We took the tram back up to Flinders Street from the Shrine, and took a wander around the laneways. They are so quaint and pretty, I enjoyed looking at all of the boutique shops and cafes. Unfortunately, it was all window shopping and no buying. We decided to go for a drink before heading back to Cranbourne but no where grabbed us. As we were heading back to the station however, we were approached by a local guy who had obviously seen us fumbling along and told us that if we wanted to see a real Melbourne landmark, we should go to Young and Jacksons bar and head upstairs for a drink and to see Chloe, an elegant nude painting dating back hundreds of years. So we did, and it was great. Chloe did not disappoint, and neither did the beer and cider after a long day of walking
The weekend was spent with the family, Claire came home from her placement in Bairnsdale for the weekend where she is practicing physio and we caught up until all hours of the morning. We made another trip into the city to see Luke and Lucy in St Kilda before they headed on their ultimate road trip around Australia (so epic guys!!). We had A$5.50 pizza’s at Baanff on Fitzroy Road (well done Lucy for that find!) and then walked for a bit around St Kilda. Its a lovely area, and I’m keen to go back there, but maybe when its a bit warmer, and not raining!
Saturday we watched Kyle play rugby at his club and then spent the afternoon watching the Tri-Nations, so all round a rugby day – and even watched a little bit of Aussie rules footie too. Thats an interesting game if ever there was one! In the evening Claire had a friend’s 21st so I went along and crashed the party! So much fun we had, dancing all night and even learnt the Nutbush-a very interesting Aussie dance which brings everyone into a flashmob on the dancefloor and jumping around like a couple of crazies. Fun!
Sunday evening we all piled into (two) cars and headed to the Lysterfield Lake Park to see if we could spot some Kangaroos and Wallabies out in the park. It was a lovely walk around the park and we saw loads of roos and wallabies hopping about in their natural habitats. It was fantastic!
All in all, its been a great week with a little bit of everything and a lot of nothing! Just how I like it
Don’t worry we havn’t forgotten about our blog It has been an absolutely wonderful weekend with our friends Karen and Ronan in Singapore, and we’re sad to be leaving this evening. But…we’re heading to Melbourne and we’re really looking forward to seeing my family, the Salters! There will definitely be a post on the Singapore trip as soon as we have a moment. For now though, we’re off to the botanical gardens to make the most of our last day in Singapore!