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The East Coast to Sydney...

...via the Hunter Valley (WINE) :-)

sunny 27 °C
View RTW Part 2 (Aus/New Z/Cook Islands ... home time) on RosiePony's travel map.

Lennox Head, 20 mins bus ride from Byron Bay - we venture far! A nice place to visit for a few days but Hel n I only stayed a night at the YHA which had a relaxed atmosphere and was set up for socialising. We walked along the main road which hosts the main shops and restaurants and then into the beach (7 mile beach) all the way to the headland to watch the surfers do their thing with the waves. I enjoyed watching them fight out the right to a wave, often with one having to quickly dive off the wave before the other surfs over them! Once up on the headland we felt the wind blow in our hair and cool is down from the climb up. From the top we could see two more headlands of the coast further south. We lay on the grass at the top n read for a bit before returning to Lennox to grab some dinner back at the hostel and play scrabble - I think I'm improving but we still manage to block ourselves into the middle.

After Lennox we headed down to Coffs Harbour. So far our adventure seems to have so far consisted of walking to headlands and lighthouses! Which have been good but slightly repetitive. Coffs harbor held more appeal and the walk to the headland was really pretty- the sun was out hence my sunburn text. Nice marina too and of course there's the banana...

Port Macquarie was good despite the rain. A nature trail turned into a naturalist hideout as hel and I realised after walking onto a nudist beach! Saw a couple of old guys having a chat naked n a few other nude blokes hiding along the beach edge, probably trying to blend in as hel n I walked past...! Nothing mentioned THAT on the map! After that we went to the koala hospital, nothing remotely exciting Happened there, then back to the hostel. The following day we walked round the town, tried to see the maritime museum but the man in charge (Peter) decided to give us a Q&A session to catch up on English culture... He was a cute 83 yr old from Croyden who had moved to oz 20 yrs ago. He likes ballroom dancing n didn't quite grasp the concept that the uk had calvary dinners ... as well as strictly come dancing! Oh well. He recommended a good fish n chip shop so I am happily topped up on that for a bit ;) all very random!
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Headed down to Newcastle for wine tasting in the Hunter Valley - a highlight of Oz since I'd been looking forward to it since Borneo where it was first recommended to me! And it didn't disappoint. White dry to sweet to red dry to sweet to port! Yum! We visited 5 wineries during the course of the day and luckily (for my party) I snacked between eat tasting so I wouldn't become drunk, hope you're proud mum! I really liked the experience n I know a bit more about wines than I once did. We explored Newcastle on foot, the first place down the coast with architecture and buildings over one story. We climbed up the 180 steps to a lookout to view the international port harbor (big ships come n go).

After that it was onto Sydney...

Posted by RosiePony 16:02 Archived in Australia Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Gold Coast, Byron Bay and NYE

View RTW Part 2 (Aus/New Z/Cook Islands ... home time) on RosiePony's travel map.

We got the greyhound to surfers paradise and spent all of ten minutes there. Marty and family came to pick us up in their people carrier (good job cos we'd got our rucksacks etc) and took us back to their house in the hills (near Mt Tangerine, ha ha) where we met the residents: Angus the dog (after Aberdeen Angus steak), kevin the pig (think Kevin Bacon) and a variety of hens (12 in total) as well as a visiting snake who sat in a tree for the duration of our stay :s Marty is the brother of Janine, who I met in Hong Kong. He is very funny and his family very accommodating. They took us to see the view of Surfers Paradise from Mt Tangerine but due to the weather all we could see was grey clouds n the occasional glimpse of a skyscraper :( that night we went to a Thai restaurant and had a really nice time chatting away and watchin the twins, 10 yrs old mess around. The next morning we had fresh boiled eggs n soldiers (fresh bread) yum! With a cuppa tea of course ;) then played with Angus. Hel went to say hi to Kevin and ended up getting 'tusked' in the bottom! There was blood and all im going to say about our relationship after me tending the wounds, is that its moved to whole new levels...! Once all the excitement had passed we took a walk in the afternoon to explore the local neighbourhood. That evenin Hel and I played UNO with the girls, Sai and Tia whilst Cheryl did a mega BBQ. A few glasses of wine later (one of whih accidentally got split over the Cards- agh, sorry hel!) and we were watching a movie on the homescreen tv :-)
Since our next stop was Byron Bay, Marty and co decided to spend the day there so we all went in the perople carrier to BBay, Hel and I checked into the YHA then we all regrouped for lunch. We went down to the beach then said our goodbyes and thankyous! We had had a few lovely days away from the norm of backpacking and it was a welcome change :)

On the way into Byron we ended up queuing in traffic for an hr or more cos everyone wants to be in Byron for new yr, so to pass time we played eye spy (FYI this wasn't for the kids benefit). Watching everyone walking to and from campsites with surfboards or crates of beer (or both!) felt like we were on our way to a music festival, which made me have a good feelin about Byron before exploring. After Marty and family left us at the beach we decided to take a look around and whilst doin so bumped into the 3 Welsh lads we'd shared a dorm with in Hervey Bay. We arranged to go for drinks later that eve then went shopping!

The next morning we went bakini shopping for Hel and then headed to the beach for some sun (finally some sun!)... This was NYE so we also went to the licquor store (that sounds so American!) I mean bottleo, to ge our supplied n headed back to the hostel to get ready. We'd met two English girls in our room so had a bit of dinner then joined them for drinks on the balcony, and of course drinking games. Which don't work that well with wine :s anyway, we seemed to bypass midnight on our walk, which turned into a run, to the beach where upon I jumped on Whiteley so we spent 'new year' rolling around in the sand like kids! Ha ha

The next day it was raining (typical, have you read about the rain here?) so we had a lay in (nothing to do with hangovers) and then I walked through the rainforest to the lighthouse on a broadwalk, and back to the bay along the beach. It was really grey n miserable but, I did enjoy the walk.
Which I repeated the next day with Hel in the sunshine :) this time with much better views.

And that meant I could have an icecream at the lighhouse...yumThere was a Sunday Market that hel n I popped along too which was nice, hippie and the sun was out which made the day even better. We even tried to arrange hang gliding at Byron but the weather wasn't suitable...too windy or not enough wind, and we couldn't hang around for the weather so headed onto our next destination, by local bus, Lennox Head.

Posted by RosiePony 03:45 Archived in Australia Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Noosa -Xmas, Mooloolaba and RAIN!

rain 27 °C

After Hervey we headed down to Noosa for xmas. We had booked 4 nights here in the YHA, staying in a 6 girl dorm. The hostel had a main building where reception, cafe, bar n lounge area were with some accommodation upstairs as well as a secon building set behind the first which is where the kitchen and the rest of the accommodation was. Generally the hostel was fine but they had signs up everywhere saying 'don't so this' and 'you must do that' which made the vibe more regimented than fun - and when we asked what Xmas activities were going on the staff answered with 'no idea' i.e. Nothing!
So I must say all hopes of a fun filled Xmas at the hostel were thrown out of the window especially cos it was raining so heavily (hence flooding news in Australia) so Whiteley and I knew we had to make our own fun! We went a walk to explore noosa heads, a tiny bit of noosa with elite posh shops n expensive restaurants (it's a posh up n coming place to be - why were we there?!) n found the beach. We went to the cinema that night to see Harry Potter! Pretty good really, I enjoyed it. The next morning it was still raining so we walked to the shopping complex and wet secret Santa shopping (with a budget of $10) then to the supermarket for Xmas supplies. Heading back home we had a cuppa tea and played monopoly - with a bunch of French travellers who joined in on the action, alas, Hel and I didn't win :(

Dinner on Xmas eve consisted of calamari - I'm no turkey fan so bypassed the Xmas dinner - and kitkat cheesecake to share. oh yes, i did say kitkat, and it was amazing. Probably the best thing about the hostel!
A few drinks followed with the french until the hostel told us to turn the music off on Xmas eve at 11pm! They made us do this at 11.30pm! So we went to the park (like UK teenagers) but soon went to bed after in eager anticipation of Xmas. Xmas morning I woke up to find Santa had been! I had a sock at the end of my bed so hel and I got up, made our Xmas brekky of late on toast with tea and opened one our presents and cards. Then we took our mincepies in hand with out bubbly n went to sunbathe on the brag bealcause finally(!) the sun was out.
This of course meant hel and I got sunburn. Cos it was slightly overcast and we fell asleep on the beach for a little while - it wasn't bad sunburn. Back at the hostel we prepared our Xmas day food - finger food buffet style which was yummy and played scable and made our Xmas phonecalls back home.

The following day we checked out and were collected by George mum. So our thinking who is this? Helen has a friend called George and her mum lives in oz, nr Mooloolaba in fact. So we went to stay with her for two nights. She was a very generous host and showed us the sights
of Mooloolaba, broadwalks along the beach front, shopping centres, the university and kangaroos! We also went to Caloundra and Buderim nearby. It was lively staying in a house n Hel and I each had a bedroom! Something I've not had since I was in the UK! The weather hadn't gotten any better, despite the sunshine coast name, we were always wearing our macs and shorts so when we got wet we dried quickly, sometimes I needed my fleece! Flood warnings were issued for a massive area of Queensland, the part we'd come through from agnes to Hervey and down all the way to the gold coast which is where we were headed next!

Posted by RosiePony 03:44 Archived in Australia Tagged beaches australia backpacking Comments (0)

Airlie, the Whitsundays and Agnes

sunny 33 °C
View RTW Part 2 (Aus/New Z/Cook Islands ... home time) on RosiePony's travel map.

I arrived at midnight n checked into Nomads hostel, I got a 4 bed dorm to myself so got a good nights sleep. The next morning I checked out,
left my luggage in storage, bought supplies and headed down to the Marina to board the Mandrake, owned by OzSail. It held 13 ppl on board, who were generally ok but no firm friends :-( you win some you loose some. The weather on day 1 was hot and it was brill to be on an ex racing sail boat, wind in my hair, sun on my face relaxing with the water bouncing below us. We even had time to snorkel - and see turtles!! There is just something so uplifting about watching a turtle slide gracefully through the sea. I love it! However, day 2 poured down with rain and it was cold. The morning was overcast n unfortunately this is when we visited Whitehaven beach (amazing beach n blue clear waters, best seen in the sun!). It is as pure as it looks on the postcards, pure white glassy sand...powdery therefore quite hard to lay on! I got to see some sting rays in a pool left by the tide. Pretty awesome! All in all I had a good time, day 3 weather was better and brightened up by the time we docked at Airlie beach.

Airlie itself is just a hub for trips to the Whitsunday. The lagoona is nice which is where we spent the following day sunbathing before getting a night bus to Agnes Waters/1770These two towns are tiny. Agnes has a pop of 300 and 1770 a pop of 63! We stayed in Cool Bananas hostel (yes, there was a big banana outside), which is really chilled out n laid back.

We're just off the towns main road and ten min walk from the main strip. That's me being nice, the strip is a bakery, shop, post office n greyhound stop! Speaking of which I should tell you all about my pleasant night bus experience...of all the modes of transport I've taken, coaches are the worst. However out here the greyhound is fine, better than the national express (it usually leaves on time!). It's just that I couldn't sleep on the coach, for whatever reason, but I assume I had snatched sleep or dozed cos I was on the bus a good 10 hrs! The unfortunate thing is the driver stops at about 3am n everyone has to get off the bus for security n therefore even if you had fallen asleep, you have no chance at a full trip asleep. So Hel (who, by the way, slept like a baby throughout the journey!) had to put up with a grumpy Rosie, even though the breakfast mcdonalds stop did help cheer me up, until I had my real breakfast at the hostel. Beginning to think im a bit of a hobbit when it comes to food!

Anyway, at 10.30 we took a free tour of the towns put on by scooteroo, a fun activity company who takes a grp of ppl out on bikes for the afternoon. Hel and I signed up straight away and so found ourselves sat on the back of a motorbike come 3 o'clock! Having never ridden one I was slightly apprehensive but was told all I needed to do was relax n let my shoulders down, the bike would do the rest (oh, and keep your foot near the break!). So off we went, up hills, down hills, round bends, corners n then the overtaking began! I saw wild kangas on route to the seaside where we bathed the sunset whilst eating potato wedges (they were ace) then back on our bikes heading home. All of this was of course done fully fitted out with cool biker gear cos we were part of the biker gang, "Hell Yeah!" (their catchphrase, not mine) so hel n I got out tattoos done an hr before we left and then picked up our biker jackets n helmets from the venue. The tattoos really hurt, but were mandatory so now I have 'born to be wild' on my chest...

We then spent the next two days either on the beach or doing Internet research (we took the nights off to meet people n relax with wine n board games- battleships, scrabble n connect 4 - Helen is a connect 4 wizz, she won every game!) about our next fun activity - Fraser Island. We finally booked the tour then left the next morning to Hervey Bay.

Posted by RosiePony 18:43 Archived in Australia Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Marbles, rocks n Ron

sunny 34 °C
View RTW Part 2 (Aus/New Z/Cook Islands ... home time) on RosiePony's travel map.

After picking up Dave in Katheryn, we drove 600k south to Tennant Creek passing soil n brush. 6 hrs later we arrive in Tennant Creek. Now Tennant Creek, whilst this has a bottle shop (which by the way is seperate to supermarkets - you actually have to go to a seperate store to buy alcohol which I still can't get my head round, something to do with licencing laws out here) is by no means more than a stoppover which you make grudgingly - in n out as fast as you can go! We went to the old YHA which made our hearts sink slightly as we pulled up and saw what looked like tin containers... Infact they were our dorm rooms. With aircon. Apparantly. There were four bunkbeds in our room which was ok. Outside the kitchen were two bird cages with ill looking parakeets in them, a wall of rock samples (for some strange reason, but i loved it nonetheless), then onto the female bathroom (which has a sign in saying 'aids travels the world too!', a gentle reminder to those who were ignorant of this).

There was a wooden outdoor pool, not sunk into the ground but a freestanding wooden frame filled with water. The steps had collapsed somewhat but it was still useable. Indeed the swallows or other equivalent birds frequently swooped down for a refreshing drink out of it mid flight. So all in all a fairly strange hostel on the outlook, but actually an ok place to stay. If forced. The next morning, onto Alice Springs, but not before reaching my highlight so far..... The Devil's Marbles!! 15 minute photo shoot later of me doing the usual photo poses it got crowded with people, so we made a move onward to Alice.

We arrived and sought out Toddys backpackers, which was fine, had two pools and a kitchen but breakfast was a sorry affair- you had to ask for your breakfast at the reception desk and were given two pieces of bread in a plastic bag to do with as we wished. Which of course we toasted, but it was depressing they were too tight to trust us enough to ration bread from normal bread bags like other hostels...After settling into out room, we went for walk to find the tourist info centre for more info on Uluru, routes and weather forecasts, but they weren't that helpful. We called ahead to book our accommodation at two resorts in the red centre so that we wouldn't be left stranded in the outback then we went to Bojangles saloon bar for a well deserved beer. And a pack of crisps.

We set off the next day bright and early and drove the 6 hrs to kings canyon resort where we made our tea and prepared ourselves for the next days events. We got up early and drive to kings canyon, hiked up it. The beginning was 100m steep climb where we spotted lizards on the rocks on the way up, we saw the river filled with trees instead of water and the sides of the gorge, a deep orange with black crusting.

The walk went along the canyon rim, and we were onstantly climbing up weathered rock that had formed a kind of stairway as the rain had eroded the outer parts away, to then go down to a lookout over the canyon, to climb back up to continue the walk. We went down to the Garden of Eden, climbing down alongside rock piles, to the bottom of the river bed where there was a stream of sorts, more stagnant pools surrounded by sand and trees with stones strewn throughout. We clambered over these before realising perhaps this wasnt the garden- didnt look so grand. So we went back to the main path and found some steps and a path which lead us to the proper garden, a huge pool of water, refreshingly cool which you could swim in. We didn't cos at that moment it started to spit and thunderclaps could be heard getting nearer n nearer and we weren't quite sure how much of the walk we had left! So we headed back to the car somewhat faster than we started and set of for Yulara resort near Uluru. It was more basic than the kings canyon resort but the same price unfortunatley! Just nearer to the next two places we wanted to go. We settled in and had dinner then an early night...
The next morning we got up and drove to the Olgas, which are north west of Uluru rock. We Walked along the trails stopping at three lookouts. This time the rocks were more eroded by wind than rain, they had black channels running down them, algae. It was cool when we did our walks and the wind certainly provided a fresh breeze. Once we finished the walk we drove to the su set lookout nr Uluru to watch the sun set. Whilst this was nice to watch it wasn't amazing as it's been made out to be (perhaps it was the weather?) but I took photos nonetheless.

We drove Back to Yulara resort n had dinner, agreeing that whilst were in the Red Centre we'd make the most of it n get up for sunrise at
Uluru. So we got up and drove to the sunrise viewig point (same as the sunset one) and watched the sun rise over Uluru...with the crowds...then we had breakfast and drove to the visitors centre. We waited til the cafe opened at 7 and got a cuppa tea then at 8 made it to the free ranger guided tour at the base of Uluru. 1.5 hrs of bush talking later, desperate for a wee, we head back to the visitors centre to read up on the rest of the Uluru rock facts- mainly though, to use the toilets.

Now, in case I haven't already, I should introduce Ron, Laura n Daves Ford Falcon estate that has faithfully been travelling with laura n I since we left Darwin. He has his moments of not liking my iPod music (he regularly skips my favourite tracks without notice or hanged the volume) and has certain 'features' you have to get to know but apart from that he's ace. The next paragraph is delicate ... We all lost a good friend on our last day in the outback. Ron would not start again - he stubbornly remained immobile outside Uluru Rock visitors centre, despite L and D trying all the tricks in the book. To cut a long story short, Ron ended up being towed to the Yulara mechanic on a Saturday afternoon, the outcome of which was that Ron is now awaiting to be crushed. Laura, Dave and I had to hire a car to drive back to Alice Springs so that I could catch my flight to Cairns n so L n D could regroup n decide what to do next...Back in Alice we had a day to recover from our loss and say our farewells. It felt strange leaving them behind, in Australia, after having so much fun, and I have great memories of our time together. In particular our three hour game of 'I packed in my suitcase' which lasted from Uluru to Alice Springs!! Agh...

Posted by RosiePony 19:58 Archived in Australia Tagged australia northern backpacking territory Comments (0)

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