Melbourne, Great Ocean Road & catching up with old friends in Sydney!

Feb 17, 2011 | by Neil

After initially relaxing in Melbourne and exploring the city, we ventured to the seaside suburb of St Kilda; a cosmopolitan area in the south of the city. It was our first sunny day in Australia (Whoop!) so we started the day by going for a walk on the pier and checking out the views of Port Phillip. It was really picturesque and we saw lots of seabirds as well as black swans and penguins on the breakwater hiding between the rocks. We then went for a stroll on a lovely street called Acland Street which has gorgeous delis, cake shops, boutiques and vintage stores. Unfortunately everything was really expensive so we opted for the cheapest meal we could find, fish & chips (they were okay!). The following day we were up bright and early to do a tour of the Great Ocean Road. We got picked up at 7am and then our adventure started. Our first stop was Bells Beach which is a favourite for surfers as the waves are huge! Every year Ripcurl hold a competition there to find the best surfer and we saw loads of surfers there riding the waves. We then drove to a lighthouse called the White Princess which is well known as a kids TV show called ‘Round the Twist’ was filmed there (Katy - remember we used to watch it?). We had a look round and then we had some photos taken jumping in front of the lighthouse (which is what the cast did at the end of the title sequence on the show). We continued along the coastal road with regular stops to check out the amazing views and wildlife; we saw kangaroos, a wild cat, a koala, a family of kookaburras and loads of parrots. We fed the parrots and at one point I had one on my hand, one on my back and one on each shoulder! Our next stop was Maits Rest in the Great Otway National Park. We walked through the rainforest and saw loads of giant eucalyptus trees and then we had a delicious picnic. From there we drove to the Twelve apostles, Razorback, Loch Ard Gorge and London Bridge, all of which are absolutely stunning rock formations. The tour was definitely one of our trip highlights. We got back to Melbourne at 8pm and then went to check-in to a hostel (our first of the trip) for our last night. It was minging so we’ve vetoed hostels for the remainder of our travels!

On our last day in Melbourne we went to the harbour and explored the city some more and in the afternoon we went to Carla & Rich’s (Jimmy’s family friends) lovely apartment for a drink & catch up. We then got a night bus to Sydney and after a sleepless twelve hours (which included a crazy woman crying and screaming for four hours), we arrived in Sydney at 8am on Friday 11th February. We are loving Sydney! We’re staying with our friend Donna (who I used to live with in Leeds eight years ago) and her lovely housemate Gemma and we’ve been having a great time. On our first night we went out for drinks in the city and we met Donna’s colleagues and friends and on Saturday night we went to a party at our friend Charlie’s house (another friend from Leeds who’s moved to Sydney) which was extremely drunkard & fun. On Sunday we nursed our hangovers and then this week we’ve been exploring Sydney and checking out the sights. We’ve visited the Rocks (Sydney’s first European settlement) where there are beautiful old buildings as well as loads of cafes and restaurants. We’ve checked out Harbour Bridge and the Opera House (which are both stunning), and Cockle Bay Wharf which is really picturesque but a bit touristy. We’ve explored the suburbs Darlinghurst (where Donna lives), Kings Cross and Surry Hills which all have a really nice vibe to them with loads of independent restaurants, cafes and shops. We went to Donna’s friend Lisa’s house for dinner which was lovely and she had an amazing view of the city from her balcony. We’ve also been to the Modern Contemporary Art museum which was cool but quite small.

Today is our last day in Sydney (although we’re coming back for another week at the beginning of March for Mardi Gras!) so we’re having a night out in Kings Cross this evening with Donna, Charlie & a few of their friends. Today is also the first day since we’ve been in Sydney that the sun’s come out! Tomorrow morning we’re picking up a camper van that we’ve hired for the next ten days and we’ll travel up the East Coast to Brisbane camping each night and then we fly back down to Sydney on 28th February for Mardi Gras! Hope everyone’s okay and sorry we’ve not been in touch much, hardly anywhere offers free WiFi in Australia which is majorly annoying.

P.S - Jimmy’s just got back from the hairdressers and he’s gone from light to dark! You’ll have to wait to check it out in the next blog update!