A Travellerspoint blog

To conclude my adventure :)

Sydney.... We will meet again :)

So I thought I really needed to conclude my story so I needed to reflect on my time in Sydney.
As you are aware we ended up getting a plane to Sydney due to the flooding of the roads etc so our first few days were wet.... Very wet! The first day we were there we decided to just walk round and explore. We were fortunate as our hostel (which was the only fortunate thing about that hostel) was only a short distance from the beautiful botanic gardens, the first port of call had to be Sydney harbour bridge and the Sydney opera house so we decided to take the scenic route and go via the gardens. The gardens themselves were stunning, one of my favourite parts reminded me of the gardens from Alice in Wonderland, with all the beautiful rose bushes, I half expected to see the queens of hearts to appear and shout 'off with there heads' ... Anyhows as we got nearer to the quayside you could see the tops of these iconic landmarks and I got very excited... And then we reached our destination and it felt surreal that I was there. The opera house is an amazing building, I believe it was designed by a Danish guy who placed a late entry into a competition. You would literally look one way to the opera house and look the other way and see the harbour bridge :) The quay was buzzing with people and had an amazing atmosphere, mostly people getting that winning token holiday snap. We then decided to explore more of Sydney by foot, all the grand buildings and monuments mostly taking there influence from England, however the weather cut our exploring to a halt and we returned to the hostel. The following day I was in too much of mood about the weather to do anything so I didn't leave the hostel. However the day after that which was a Saturday, I was plagued by guilt for being so lazy on the previous day, therefore I was up early and ready to explore rain or no rain. We decided to walk to Darling harbour, which was a busy harbour on other side of the city. It had lots of shops, amusements, coffee shops, pubs, cafes and restaurants. It was still really busy despite the weather. We just strolled round in the rain taking it all in and decided we deserved a break at the Lindt chocolate cafe, we had an amazing hot chocolate and then continued are walk. We walked beside the quays and we stumbled across a busy little market, in a part of the city called The Rocks. This had a fantastic atmosphere, it reminded me of a cross between our very own London's finest Camden Market and Covent Gardens :) I spent a good hour or so perusing around the little stalls and much to our luck the sun had started to shine :) That night we met a girl we had met at Fraser Island and joined her and her friends for a lovely meal at a restaurant (first proper restaurant I had been to in months) which cost more money than I had spent in a week on food so far travelling but sooo worth it. This weekend we were in Sydney happened to be there Mardi Gras weekend (unbeknown to us) which is a massive gay and lesbian weekend. So we hit the streets to watch the parade, there was thousands of people, dressed up and lining the streets. Again a super atmosphere although we couldn't see a lot (everyone was standing on milk crates and when you are vertically challenged like me you are never gonna have a chance) it was an amazing thing to witness :) We then decided to head down to the opera bar, which was as you may have guessed right outside the opera house and the harbour bridge .... EAK .... To have a few bottles of wine to then head to darling harbour again to dance the night away :)
The next day we decided to get on a Sydney Explorer sightseeing hop on hop off bus, it was a 24 hr ticket and you could get two different buses, one to Bondi beach and bays and one around Sydney. The sun was shining so we decided to go on the Bondi beach bus, as it drove you to the different destinations it would give you the history etc about it. We hopped off (of course) in Bondi. Bondi actually means water crashing over rocks and when you are there you can see why. The beach was an unusual shape but this was because volcano eruption I believe. The place was as I expected.... wonderful.... sunny skies, Lovely beach, massive waves in the sea and buzzing with people. We enjoyed a few hours on the beach and an ice cream and then headed back as the day was getting on. The next day and my last official day in Sydney was hot hot hot. In the morning we were up early to move hostels but this gave us a chance to do a lot of things. We finished off the second bus tour in the morning around Sydney, this was good but to be honest we had done most of it on foot on the Saturday but was nice to know the history behind the building, places etc. We then after a spot of lunch got the ferry over to Manly Beach. The ferry ride itself was brilliant, it took half an hour but it gave you fantastic views of the harbour bridge and the opera house which you couldn't see from solid land. It gave you opportunity to see the Sydney skyline and lots of little beaches and on the way back we were fortunate we could see the sun beginning to set over the bridge .... Breathtaking. Manly beach itself was so cute, it was small and intimate but lovely. It wasn't busy like Bondi but that's what I liked about it and I literally spent the afternoon sunbathing .... This is what I had expected my time in Sydney to be like :) After a jug of Sangria we headed back and decided to walk over the harbour bridge. This time round I couldn't afford to climb it or visit the blue mountains but I can assure you I will definitely be seeing Sydney and it's sights again. The walk over the bridge was a perfect way to end the day, the opera house looked amazing :) The next morning after I was packed I decided to take advantage of my last few hours of sunshine and headed down to Hyde park to sunbathe before my shuttle bus came to take me to the airport. Yes Hyde park is named after London's Hyde park. It's a lovely oval garden which is split in two by a road but each side is beautiful and I believe it used to be a race course hence it's oval shape. I literally lapped up my last few hours of sunshine. (And going by the snow I've come back to in England I'm glad I did). So to sum up my time in Australia.... I am so fortunate I have been able to do so many great trips, see so many beautiful sights and meet so many wonderful people.....feeling like one lucky lady :) who is now about to plan what adventure to take next :)
Laters,
Cook xxxxxxxxxxx

Posted by Renae84 15:50 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Fast but fun travelling down eastcoast :)

Hell yeah!!

G'day folks,
Well what a week and a bit I've had :) mostly good though! Due to the wet season my planned trips had to be rearranged slightly. However it worked out much to my advantage weather wise :)
Following my overnight stop in Agnes waters I was due to head to Rainbow beach, which is the departing point for the Fraser Island trip. Whilst in Agnes waters it absolutely chucked it down (my bag even got drenched in the bus's trailer). So in the morning when we started to head to Rainbow beach the weather gradually got worse. Then the bus driver got the phonecall to say no buses were coming in or out of Rainbow beach that day because the main bridge into Rainbow beach was flooded. So our trip had to be rescheduled and we all headed further south to Noosa, which we were meant to go to anyway but at weekend. We did take a quick detour to a rum distillery en route, Australian's famous Bundaberg rum, which was had an interesting little museum on how it came about making rum and why it had a polar bear as it's logo (considering it's Australian very random). We all got two free drinks of rum at then end, it was only 10am so felt a little giggly but de stressed by the time got back on the bus. After a very long wet bus journey we got to Noosa in time to shower, get ready and hit the hostel bar for a pub quiz :) When I arrived I also managed to book myself onto the bus that goes to Australia zoo for the next day. Australia zoo is most famously known for being the late Steve Irwin's zoo. It was originally opened in the 70's by his mother (who unfortunately too is no longer with us) as a reptile centre and over the years it had grown to the zoo it is today :) Luckily for me that day the sun had decided to shine :) I couldn't have been more happier. The zoo covered many acres but my first stop was to get over to the Asian Elephants for feeding time, yes I fed an elephant and brought the picture too :) I do think strangely elephants are gorgeous creatures. Near the elephants was the Tiger temple, were the guide was feeding the tigers. I then headed to Africa, to see giraffes, zebras and later on the white rhinos. The zebras kept making a strange noise and it honestly sounded like a dog barking, threw me something wild (no pun intended). I saw (to name a few) animals: snakes, wombats, lizards (couldn't miss some of them as they were just roaming round), of course crocodiles (Steve was the crocodile hunter), alligators, dingos (unlike the wild ones these boys were fat and well fed), tazmanian devils and of course kangaroos (lazy fellas most of them just lying around) and koalas :) I even held a koala, they are a lot heavier then they look and so so soft .... I was in love :) There is a wetland with birds but sorry guys I had gone alone so was not brave enough to face them but I did walk through (rather quickly) the Rainforest Aviary and during the midday show they put on they brought lots of birds out that flew round.... Did wanna cry a little I must admit but I braved it! The midday show in the stadium (which was called the Crocoseum.... haha) was amazing, the main attraction was the croc show, which was incredible. Things these trainers do I'm surprised they have not got limbs missing or worse. Overall an amazingly fun day, by far best zoo I've ever been too (no offence Banham but your shit in comparison). The following day we had the okay we could drive back to Rainbow Beach, the sun was shining and we were all stoked! :) Once in Rainbow beach we didn't do a lot, it's a small beach town which was nice but spent the rest of day sorting a few things out and then preparing ourselves for the Fraser Island trip, which by the way is the worlds biggest sand island. Up until this point I still believed I was camping until I rang to confirm my place and the lady said that due to an accident the oz experiences passengers no longer camped but were placed on the guided tour, which included lodge accommodation :) RESULT!!
So I was on a tour called 'Cool Dingos' and we drove round in a bright pink bus, which was especially adapted to be able to drive on the sandy uneven roads and again the beach :) We literally drove the bus on the ferry and drove off the other side. We then drove straight away on 75 mile beach, like 90 mile beach in Nz we got to drive along the sea (it was a public highway) and the tide was in so it was even closer this time. We even saw a wild dingo and a random tree in middle of the beach. The bus driver seemed to think it was placed there by someone but had been there standing up right for ages. The first spot was Lake Mckenzie, a beautiful lake (again like Lake Eacham in Atherton Tablelands) it was filled completely with rainwater! Luckily for us, the sun was shining and we all got in our swimwear and ran straight into the lake, it was amazing. One girl from the group swam right to the other side of the lake, I was scared when I couldn't touch the floor. The sand was meant to have exfoliating qualities so Zeya for you I scrubbed my feet and I must say they are incredibly smoother :) Following the swim we had a picnic lunch and then we took a rainforest walk, we walked to another lake called Lake Basin which was very high up but nobody swam in this one and then we walked further into the rainforest, admiring all the different trees, we even saw a tree which took 12 people holding hands to fit round it. When we had finished the rainforest walk we went back to the lodges and they were lovely, each having 5 bedrooms of 4 beds in each and a lovely kitchen/communal area. We all showered then sat together drinking and playing games before heading down for dinner..... Which was an amazing Mexican buffet, we all literally had a bit of everything. This was like having a holiday in the middle of travelling, luxury place to stay massive buffet meals .... Lush :) The first night we all got to know each other really well playing drinking games then heading to the dingo bar for what was like a school reunion, we got him to play all the classics ... Hilarious :) The next day there were a few sore heads but after a buffet cooked breakfast (I haven't eaten this much in ages) we headed to Eli Creek, a gorgeous creek with crystal clear waters, you had to go to the end of it jump in lay on your front and be floated down the creek by a current, again we were fortunate as the the sun was out. We stayed at the creek for a little while, we floated around and even got to sunbathe..... Heaven. We then drove to the Pinnacles, to observe the multi coloured sand dune admiring all the different coloured sands. Some people chose to take a small plane ride around Fraser Island but I declined due to lack of funds, but apparently it's one of the only places in the world where a plane can take off from a beach. Next stop was to see the wreck of the Maheno, this is a ship wrecked vessel which had been on 75 mile beach since the 1930's. It was clearly very rusty but it was incredible to think it had been there all those years, it even had little crabs climbing inside it. We were lucky as not many people were viewing it when we got there so we took massive group photo jumping in front of it :) We then headed to Champagne falls which is a water hole and where the sea meets the rocks it falls over the sides bubbling like champagne. Unfortunately at this point it had become a little overcast and the rocks in the water hole were slippery and shells quite sharp so we didn't spend long in there. After lunch we went to Indian head which is a rock formation which you climb. It had began to slightly drizzle with rain at this point so we climbed it carefully but I didn't take my camera which was a shame as the views were amazing and we even had an eagle hawk flying around us..... 'twas magical. That evening we got to check out the main resorts facilities and use their pool and jacuzzi :) Told you it was like a mini holiday- the people staying in the main hotel must have been minted as it was very grand :) That night was very much more reserved, we had an Italian buffet... Yum and most people were in bed by 11pm. The final day following another cooked breakfast (had to mention that) we drove to Lake Birrabeen, this lakes water looked a little murky and brown but it was actually tea tree in the water so it was therapeutic therefore we got in as we thought it might soothe the many bites we had all gotten over the last few days. We played ball games in the water and swam around... Was great fun! When we had got back to the bus it had started to rain and our next stop was Lake Wabby and as a group we decided to take the 40 minute walk there and back to the lake in just our swimwear and get wet because we wanted to see it. The walk was long and we got bitten numerous times but was worth it. When we arrived we initially saw lots of beautiful sand plains and dunes which we decided to run through (leaving our footprints) and just before you got to Lake Wabby we were on the top of a dune so together we all ran and jumped into the water (again it had stopped raining at this point).... It was hilarious :) After playing and swimming around in the lake, trying to make people do the famous dirty dancing lift :) we walked back to the bus with huge smiles on all our faces. Having our last buffet lunch we then headed back to mainland to a rainy Rainbow beach...... What an amazing weekend that was, definite highlight of Australia :)
The next day we were very lucky to get out of Rainbow beach, think we were one of the only buses to leave as the rain was heavy and the place was soon to be flooded. I know a few people from the group had got stranded there for a few days. We had a long 10 hour bus journey to Byron Bay, but least we got there, although just showered and went to bed on first night. The next day we were due to sea kayak with dolphins but as we had thought it got cancelled due to bad weather so we went on the Nimbin tour. Nimbin you could say is the Australian version of Amsterdam, although it's not legal to smoke weed or eat hash cookies it's just frowned upon here. This wonderfully random little town once used to be just a normal little township until the 70's when some students had a massive festival and turned it into the landmark town it is today. It's an unique little place and as soon as we got off the bus we were offered cookies and weed by sellers on the street. It had marvellous little shops which seemed all were run by ageing hippies but sold lovely little handmade gifts. We toured the museum which is run by donation which is so weirdly but wonderfully decorated and put together. We only had a few hours in this town but it's only really one small street and this was more than enough time to explore the distinct aroma filled streets :)
The weather was still bad and due to get worse, so when we returned my friend spoke to the buses and they said buses probably would not run until weekend but we were eager to get to Sydney so we booked flights to ensure we got there for the following day. The flights weren't until teatime so we had the last morning to walk round Byron bay shops and to see the beautiful beach. We were lucky it didn't rain that morning, so we saw the beach and the lighthouse not in the best weather as it was overcast but none the less it looked lovely :)
The flight to Sydney was only just over an hour and put it this way when I saw the Opera house and the harbour bridge out the window I nearly peed myself with excitement but I will write about Sydney in my final blog- here's to my last 6 days of travelling :)
Lots of love,
Cook xxxxxxxxxxxxx

Posted by Renae84 16:22 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

Water woman!!

I love the ocean!!!

Hello from the east coast,
What a wonderful wet week I've had.... For various reason but one being that everyday since Wednesday I have been on a boat and you know what.... Think I'm quite the sailor or maybe pirate depending on my mood.... Hahahaha :) arrrrrrrr
Well I flew into Cairns late evening on the Tuesday, after my camping escapades I thought I was sleepy, but I got to the hostel which was very lively and they had, I quote a 'Jelly Wrestling' contest on, well I had to stay up and see that.... Priceless!
The following morning was my boat trip and dive over the Great Barrier Reef. I was super scared and excited about this however, I must say it was my personal highlight of Cairns. The boat trip was again another early start, after check in at 7.15 am we could board the boat at 7.30. The boat was called ocean free and was a medium size (I'd say) sailing boat, think I read it could have up to 35 people on board but there was only about 20 of us. Following a cuppa and some muffins we set sail, the boat was comfortably sailing along with the sun shining.... Lovely! We the had a briefing on snorkelling and diving, neither which I had done before. I was quite concerned about the whole breathing (or not being able to being the case) under water e.g via the snorkel or the with the tank, however the crew explained the whole process so well and thoroughly I was put at ease and eager to get in. I was in the 2nd dive group which was fortunate as it allowed me to snorkel first and practice my breathing..... So when we got to our snorkelling destination.....we were in our wetsuits and lifejackets we were free to dive in :) and how I loved it. The breathing wasn't an issue at all and that had been my biggest worry. The coral was about a metre below us at points and was amazing, so beautiful alike all the fish swimming around it, I even saw a small shark and although we had been pre told that they were harmless and shy .... I must admit I did slightly poop myself (well not literally). The dives were hand held by an instructor, who had taught us hand signals if we were in distress or had any problems. The equipment was quite heavy on board the boat but you couldn't feel it when under the water. We got to practice breathing when we were first in the water then we slowly made our way further down to practice popping our ears. One girl in the other group had to get out as she couldn't equalise hers, but fortunately I had no problems. The further we went the more excited I got and I was like freaking nemo.... At one with the ocean :) the guide had to keep tugging my hand back as I was off exploring. Such an awesome experience I would be happy to repeat :) I didn't see anything but coral and fish but I was more than pleased with that. Following snorkelling and diving we had a spot of lunch then the skipper took us over to Green island, it was lovely but unfortunately for the two hours we spent on it, it rained for I'd say an hour of it (each time it seemed I took my dress off too sunbathe). People were still braving the conditions though and swimming and snorkelling in the sea, I watched from my shelter of a nearby tree :) When back on the boat we sailed back to the harbour, with a mixture of showers and sunlight however the sun was shining when we were back on solid ground. I was buzzing and smiling when back at the hostel, so met a friend for a few drinks and bite to eat and joined in on bogus bingo :) One of my favourite days by far!
The next morning I had to be at the bus stop to start my oz experience pass at 7.30am. The bus was a mini bus (think at its maximum it could fit 22 people) different from kiwi bus as that was a large bus (could fit 45-50 people I'd say), however there was just three passengers including me, so we got to know each other really quickly. That morning we drove up to Atherton Tablelands, which was up a mountain not far from Cairns. Our first stop was at the Cathedral Fig Tree, most of Atherton Tablelands is a world heritage as a lot of it got cut down to make farmland (it all used to be a rain forest) so they wanted to protect the remaining parts. The fig tree was a literally a massive tree, I've never seen one so big. It had lots of what looked like smaller trunks, apparently it started off as a seed which grew off another tree.... Strange huh! You got to stand inside the tree to make a wish, which I did...... But not saying what I wished for as might not come true ;) After that we headed to Lake Eacham, a beautiful lake which was formed after a volcano and it is entirely filled with rainwater. It was so beautiful and set within trees, I had a swim in the refreshing water..... It was so tranquil and calming. I even saw turtles swimming around (but I had got out at that point). Then we made our way to Millaa Millaa falls, which is the waterfall from Peter Andres 'Mysterious Girl' video, the waterfall was amazing. We got to swim under it, the water was freezing compared to Lake Eacham!! Brrrrr! But once you got used to it, it was lovely. I tried to get a sexy snap coming through the waterfall but it was very heavy water crashing on my head (nothing sexy about how I looked) and it had slippery rocks so just swam through. This was also the waterfall for herbal essences adverts...... Stunning :) We then headed back down the mountain to start driving to Townsville, we stopped a few times en route. An interesting stop was at a place called Tully, they had a giant gumboot statue. It was awarded to them as they had jointly with 3 other towns had the most recorded rainfall therefore they were the wettest town. Ha, random! When in Townsville the driver recommended we stayed at Magnetic Island, so we caught a ferry over there. The island looked beautiful from the small amount I saw and I wished I had more time to spend there but I didn't so made the most of the one night and morning I had (which was also valentines day). The hostel was on the beach, it was so picturesque and the rooms were little beach huts and only had 8 beds inside. So spent my valentines participating in a quiz night........ funny as :) Came 2nd to last so won a cup of goon (for those who don't know Aussies call cheap boxed white wine goon). The next day we didn't leave until midday, got the ferry back over to mainland and made our way to Airlie Beach. Again we stopped at a few places, one being a lookout at top of a mountain.... You could see for miles and the other was at a giant statue of a mango :)
When we arrived at Airlie Beach it was raining hard.... Blooming wet season. So after checking in and having our Whitsundays briefing we looked liked drowned rats, so just had a much needed long hot shower, packed for the Whitsundays trip and chilled. We had to be in the check in point the next day on the harbour at 8am, but it was a 15 minute walk in pouring rain from hostel however we kept getting lost so took about 25 minutes. At this point I must admit I had apprehensions about what the weekend was going to be like.... However I bloody loved it :) The boat which was going to be home for the next few days was called Hammer. She used to be a racing boat and is quite the Australian yachting legend. When I first boarded I was surprised how small she was, she could sleep 22 people, I think there were about 18 people on our tour plus 3 crew. The upstairs decking area was where we all sat when sailing and eating meals. The downstairs was for sleeping, making meals and using the toilet. When we first set sail the heavens opened again (that rain jacket mum lent me came in handy) the bottom of my dress got soaked and was really heavy so I decided to scrap it and braved it in my bikini, rain jacket and hat..... Looking hot :) The rain eased up as we got further away and luckily for us when we reached the first spot it had completely stopped. We had a bit of lunch then we needed to get ready to get off the boat. We had to put on stinger suits prior to leaving the boat, if we didn't we couldn't swim or go in water (it was jellyfish season). We got off at Tongue bay, which was the beginning of the bush walk we made to get to Whitehaven beach. I don't quite know how to describe Whitehaven Beach but I honestly thought I should be on a movie set. It was the most beautiful beach I ever had the pleasure of being on. The sand was so unique, it was so soft and fine. As you can probably guess it's white as well. The views were breathtaking and as soon as I could I ran in the ocean and spent most of the two hours we had on the beach bobbing in the sea..... Splendid :) We did go over to the shallow side of the ocean to see if we could see string rays and jelly fish, we even saw a small yellow shark..... You weren't allowed to swim in this part but unfortunately someone from another group did not take notice and got stung by a stingray.... Luckily he wasn't hurt badly! When we left the beach we then made our way Nora Inlet which was to be our resting place for the night. Whilst we were eating dinner (it had become dark) we noticed larger fishes trying to catch smaller fishes at the bottom of the boat were the spotlight was situated, they were literally jumping out the water.... Crazy. However the best thing of all, we saw three wild dolphins swimming around the same area.... I was made up with seeing fishes but the wild dolphins made my night, they were amazing. We all stayed up drinking and having a giggle eventually going to bed at 11pm ish. My first night sleeping on a boat was peaceful, I heard the rain occasionally other than that I slept well (the few glasses of goon- boxed white wine- probably helped). The following morning after breakfast we were all set to go to our first destination snorkelling, this was a place called Black island. This time instead of jumping off a the boat to get on the sea (like I had in Cairns) we went on a smaller boat and I fell in backwards.... Like a professional diver would into the ocean :) I loved snorkelling again, as before I saw lots of pretty coral and fishes but no turtles, we thought we might be able to at our next snorkelling destination which was Langford Sandbar but they didn't want to come say hello. Regardless I still took plenty of pictures and had so much fun :) After some lunch we had to sail back to Airlie Beach :( Whilst eating lunch which was quiche and salad, a piece of someone's lettuce flew into sea and these 3 massive fishes came and said hello :) I really actually enjoyed the sailing part of the trip too, you had your high side (where we all had to sit when sailing) and your low side so boat was literally tilted. You got to help out putting sails up and steering the boat too ...... Best trip I've had on east coast so far.....enjoyed every minute even the wet ones. It rained again that night in Airlie beach so just went out for dinner with few people off the boat and today we are making are way to an overnight stop of Agnes Waters, where I spend one night before going to Rainbow Bay for my Fraser Island tour on Wednesday.
Loving life at the moment can't believe I'm back in just over two weeks!!
Lots of love,
Cook xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Posted by Renae84 00:45 Archived in Australia Comments (2)

My 3 day Red Centre Safari experience :)

Unforgettable! :)

Well hello there,
What can I say about my 3 day red centre safari.... It was indeed an experience ....A some what wet but awesome one. So it started with a very early start, got picked up from my hostel at 6am, they drove us in a specially adapted 4WD vehicle, so it could drive in the desert. We weren't a very big group, there was a Belgium lady, three French people (2 men and 1 woman), a German family (mum, dad and daughter) and a German couple..... Oh and me, an Ozzie guide and and English trainee guide. After a short drive en route, time which enabled us to introduce ourselves and get to know each other we stopped at our first stop of a Camel farm. It was just a brief stop, we were able to ride the camels if we wished but I didn't want to. The farm actually saved wild animals who had been injured and had an emu (I took a photo from a distance), young kangaroos- they had been saved from their mothers pouches when she had been killed and various other birds.... Was chuffed I saw my first kangeroos :) Camels aren't actually native of Australia but got introduced to help with help with work (Camel Train) back sometime is 1800's from Canary Islands. But there became an influx of them and there are more then plenty still in wild and Oz is only place still to have wild one humped camels. We stopped a few more places en route before arriving at Ayers Rock resort, were we would be camping the night, at around lunchtime. Following lunch we then made our way to Ulura- Kata Tujata National Park. Ulura is the aboriginal name for Ayers Rock and Kata Tjuta is the aboriginal name for The Olgas (another amazing rock formation). We initially went into the the cultural centre to learn a bit about the culture and how the rocks formed etc, it also had original artwork made by the locals, wood carvings etc but it was very expensive. We then started our walk around Uluru. Fortunately it was a cloudy day, so made it a lot cooler, our guides said doing the walk in the blazing sunshine could be unbearable. We then did the base walk, which was the whole circuit round 10.6km and took nearly 4 hrs. As we went round we saw the amazing breathtaking views and the different parts of Uluru (like teaching caves etc) our guides were very knowledgable and told us all about the different parts, the culture etc. Uluru actually is naturally red, it's because it has a lot of iron in it which has turned it red (pretty much it had rusted). There were certain parts you couldn't take photos of due to cultural reasons and the aboriginals didn't like you to climb it due to similar reasons. Although I wouldn't want to climb it out of respect and because something like 42 people had died climbing it. Crazy. The sand all around was red, so we got pretty dirty and well the flies, about a 10 million of them.... Annoying! Following our walk we went to view the sunset over Uluru but unfortunately we couldn't see it due to the cloud but we got see a sunset over The Olgas, with a glass of bubbles :) beautiful. Both rocks formations are made up from millions of different rocks and pebbles. We then heading back to campsite, helped prepare dinner, which was kangaroo bolognese... Which was actually really tasty :) then showered (I know showered.... that was a nice surprise) and got ready for bed. We were not staying in tents but swags, which are portable sleeping unit, it was thick material on outside like a giant sleeping bag and a small mattress inside. We slept by campfire which actually was lovely only three of us stayed outside the whole night, would say slept under the stars but could only see two due to the cloud.
The second day we got up at 4.15am to be able to pack up, have breakfast and get the viewing point to see the sunrise. After surviving the first night I was feeling pretty proud of myself but yes I did take a pocket mirror so I could put a tiny bit if make up on :) The sunrise was delightful, you could see Uluru it was still slightly cloudy but you could see the sunrising to the right of it. It was cloudy today over Kata Tjuta, but could see the whole of it from this view point and it was stunning. Kata Tjuta means in the local's language 'many heads', this is because it's made of a different stone to Uluru and over the years it moved and shattered and now after years of erosions it has 36 different mounts that the aboriginals thought looked like heads. We then set off to walk round Kata Tjuta, again to walk through the valley of winds, a 7km walk through the stone. You could take pictures all the way through this walk as there were scared parts but not in the sight of the public access places. This walk was much more bumpy and pebbley and we could walk up parts of the stone, the views were amazing. In both places and in general I was surprised how much green trees were around, I just didn't expect it in the desert. We saw wild kangaroos, lizards, a falcons and lots of different birds, ants and flies :) This walk again took about 3 hrs and there was no toilet so yes as you have to take 3lts of water with you to drink, I had to have a wee behind a bush.... Oh the shame! Following the walk we had lunch, it was at a picnic area with a pool and outside shower so I had a public shower but least I got to wash my hair (had my bikini on) and then made our way to the next camping spot. This time it was not a nice resort with restrooms but it was in the middle of nowhere, it had one toilet and one shower but put it this way, the toilet didn't have a door but had a see through sheet to pull across and we went to toilet in packs so someone could shine a torch so you could see what you were doing and the shower you had to light a fire to heat (thank god I had a shower earlier) :-/ It was so windy whilst we were eating dinner in the sheltered area,that we thought we would have to sleep under there but then it calmed down so we all got round the campfire in our swags and had few drinks and settled down to sleep, we could see a few lightening strikes in distance but no rain ......... Or so we thought! Yep whilst fast asleep the heavens opens ...., heavy and cold. I tried to hide under my swag but it was not water proof so ended up dragging my swag in kitchen area to sleep. Then I fell back to sleep, woke up in middle of night needed the toilet and everyone was asleep and I definitely wasn't going to walk alone, then I started thinking about Blair witch project and wolf creek (the 2nd film I hadn't even watched but we spoke about it earlier and it was based on a true story) and started freaking out so turned my torch on to comfort me and make sure no murderers were around. What a plonker eh!!
The next (plus last) morning we got up at 5am, this time we went to Watarrka, commonly known as Kings Canyon. We then did a 6km loop of Watarrka, the first part was the worst as it was like steep bumpy steps up a hill but the rest was quite smooth flat rocks. The views again was extraordinary and you could see for miles. It was cooler today and we could see black clouds and midway round the walk it rained again hard and fast. We all got soaked but we found sheltered under part of cave and just sat had a break and took it all in. The guides were so excited as it hardly ever rains (they were even taking pictures) as it had started all the waterfalls, it all looked even more pretty with waterfalls flowing. We started walking again and on and off to end of walk it rained, but by time we got back we had dried off. But guess who got the blame got bringing the bad weather with them..... Me the English girl ....... How rude! :) We then went to have a BBQ lunch and then had long drive along a bumpy dirt road (for hours) to the drop off point, to then be collected to go back to Alice Springs. However, we saw as it was raining on and off so all the animals came out, wild horses, cattle, emu, kangaroos, a falcon eating a lizard, dingos, one humped camels plus many more animals. We were so lucky to see them all :) like are own personal safari :)
Once back at Alice Springs, I got in a very hot long shower..... Heaven :) was so excited to sleep in my bunk bed and I had a bottom bunk which was even more better. I slept so well. Today I fly to Cairns for the next part of my adventure :) I have explored Alice Springs today but there isn't much to see so I've sunbathed (36 degrees) lovely. Now waiting to get picked up to go the airport.
Update soon folks,
Lots of love,
Cook xxxxxxxx

Posted by Renae84 21:04 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Hello Australia :)

Hot hot hot!! :)

Hello Australia.....Hello sunshine,
How lovely I have to say is it to be back in the sunshine, I arrived into actual Melbourne at just gone 4pm and it was boiling still :) I had not slept well the night before, I have decided I do not like the larger dorms, (it was 12 bed) they are too noisey and people can be so rude.... But mustn't grumble as it is a cheap way to travel, anyhow what I was getting at was I was tired. Following check in, I just took a small walk in seek of a cold drink and a magazine (I didn't need to eat as again Quantus fed me so well! They even handed out ice creams after the meal! Dined like a queen, a flying queen... Haha) and due to my early start for my tour I just showered and got a much needed early night :)
I was up bright and early the next morning as had to be at pick up point at 7.15am, fortunately it was just round the corner from my hostel. There were a few different tour groups being picked up but we were the last group to be picked up, so got talking to a few people then. So this was the Great Ocean Road day tour, little history on GOR for you, it was officially built between 1919 and 1932. It was built by soldiers returning from the First World War as a war memorial (it's the worlds largest war memorial). It starts in Torquay and ends in Warrnambool. Although we only drove to Port Campbell. Our first port of call was Bells Beach, a stunning stretch of coast line, famous for surfing as it holds the professional surfing competitions there. We stopped for tea and biscuits but I got a few snaps of the cliffs and the shoreline, you could see a few surfers on there boards, but just sitting or paddling and the sea was very calm, no giant waves to be seen. We then headed (with a few photo stops on the way) to a rainforest. We did the Mait's Rest Rainforest Walk, it's exactly as it's sounds a walk in a rainforest, which was beautiful. The tour guide explained all the different trees to us, new trees were even growing out of trees that had fallen or on the other different types of trees, very unusual. Some trees were was clearly years old, as they were massive. I even had my picture taken fully standing up inside the trunk of a tree, it had what I would call 'fairy tale' roots, you would imagine magical creatures living within them :) I really enjoyed the rainforest but I was on lookout for snakes/birds etc but didn't see any.... Thank god!
We then drove to our lunchtime stop of Cape Otway, en route we were lucky enough to see wild koalas in the trees, they were all sleeping as it was hot, I even saw a mother and a baby .... So cute! Cape Otway has a lighthouse which is the oldest known surviving lighthouse in mainland Oz (since 1848). It's on a cliff side so generally the first seen lighthouse when travelling from Europe. Such a pretty place, following lunch we got to climb the lighthouse, the views out to sea from the bottom of lighthouse were phenomenal but the views from the top were even better.....amazing. It was very steep climbing the winding staircase but so worth it once at the top :) Once we all had our feel of the lighthouse we headed off to see what the GOR is most famous for the 12 apostles. There are actually only about 9 apostles left due to weather and the sea beating them down. We first stopped at Gibson steps, were you could see the first apostle. You could see it from the top of the steps but once you walked down the steps onto the beach below the view of it was amazing. I believe originally the apostles were once part of the cliff but due to various natural reasons they had eroded away from the cliff leaving the stack. Again stunning. We then drove to the official 12 apostles lookout. The lookout had various different lookout points, and was in the middle of the apostles so either side you could see great views. All I can say is I was in awe at how beautiful the views were and glad I went as it was well worth the visit :) Our last sight of the day was the Loch and Gorge also known as Shipwreck Coast, due to ships hitting the cliffs and becoming shipwrecks :( We then finished the day in Port Campbell, just to grab a snack before the 4 hr drive home. Got back to Melbourne at 21.45 ish....... Long day but it went so quickly and I was sooooooo happy I had booked the trip :) (I booked it out here on the advise of friends I had met in NZ).
The following day and my last full day in Melborne I decided to explore the city itself. You could get a free tram which did a loop of the centre of the city or a free shuttle bus which took you to the sights of the city, but I decided to walk it. Although on occasion I did get lost, and stumbled across something I had not yet planned on seeing, I managed to find my way round. My first stop was federation square which was the main square of the city, this was a vibrant busy place, it had new and old buildings alike surrounding it. St Paul's Cathedral was one of the buildings, a grand gothic building, very striking. I also particularly like Flinders train station another old gothic building :) I then as walking down the main streets of the busy city came across the Town Hall and the State Library of Victoria. I ate my lunch in the beautiful Carlton Gardens which is also the home of the Royal Exhibition building and Melbourne Museum. Two very different building the first being a beautiful grand old building and the second being a modern arty glass building. I then walked to Queen Victoria Market but I got there as it was closing :( it is a very busy food market, however I just saw them packing away! Oh dear! On the upside en route I got to see the Melbourne's City Bath's building. I then took a little break..... It was a very hot day and I was sweating, but managed to do a load of washing and book a trip to Great Barrier Reef in this time ...... Very productive! Then I walked along Southbank by the river (very mordern lively place) and went in search of the Olympic Parks, I was originally looking for the cricket ground to take pics of for my cricket mad family but there was multiple buildings/stadiums and when I decided to give up I noticed a sign saying 'Melbourne Olympic Parks' .... Lucky I took a few snaps then :) I then tried to find the Shrine of Remembrance. This time I thought I found it, a massive column with various statues on and around it, to then wander further through the park to see a sign saying it was 300 yards (or something like that) further on. To be honest I had thought 'was that it', and then I saw the actual shrine and it was breathtaking.... Much what I had expected to see. A beautiful building, set up so you could see it, with a massive stairway leading to it. It had beautiful carvings and statues surrounding it and on the side of the building it had scribed on it ' let all men know that this is holy ground this shrine established in the hearts of men as on the solid earth commemorates a people's fortitude and sacrifice ye therefore that come after give remembrance'. Like the GOR it was originally built as a memorial for those who served in World War 1 however it's now a shrine to all Australians who have served in a war. Very humbling.
Again with everything I have mentioned in this blog entry I can not explain how beautiful things are, I have took pictures but even they don't truly capture the beauty :)
I eventually got back to the hostel at around 8 pm, so again packed, showered and just chilled as my had an early flight to Alice Springs in the morning :) These few days have been like a detox, much what my body needed... Haha :)
Update soon, if I survive camping :)
Love,
Cook xxxxxxxxxxx

Posted by Renae84 23:43 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

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