Posted by: The Travelling Mallorys | December 17, 2010

As Oprah would say, we’re going to AUSTRALIA!!!!

G’day from Down Under! How’re ya going?? I am really getting into the local lingo…

Err, yeah….Your Australian accent is getting slightly better, no longer sounding so Welsh!

So as you know we left Japan after an amazing 2 weeks. We got a cheapie Jetstar flight to Cairns, so this time no free anything! And the worst thing was we landed at the crack of dawn, 5am!

Due to strict Australian quarantine laws some of our food was confiscated on arrival! I am not really sure what impact a rice ball could have on the Australian ecosystem but now we will never find out. I actually think the security man scoffed it for his brekkie!

Now to Cairns – first impressions, what a dump. And to be honest, our opinion didn’t get any better.

It is basically a town that has sprung up solely as an avenue for tourists into the treasures of North Queensland.

And what treasures they are my dear. We took a wonderful trip out to Green Island in the Great Barrier Reef where we swam, snorkelled, took a trip in a glass bottomed boat and a semi-submersible vessel to view the amazing underwater world.

Ready to swim to the depths of the Great Barrier Reef

Ready to swim to the depths of the Great Barrier Reef

It was fantastic! We also went on the Kuranda railway, one of the country’s oldest railways, up into the mountains of the rainforest. It was a great ride and we saw some breathtaking scenery.

On the Kuranda Railway

On the Kuranda Railway

Scenery on the railway

Scenery on the railway

Other than that, Cairns has little to offer. It is full of annoying little backpackers getting drunk and not cleaning the hostel properly. Our worst experience came when we received our free backpacker meal and had to endure canteen slop in the meat market that is known as the Woolshed – go near at your peril. We scoffed down the free grub with shame and hunched shoulders!

Feeling the Post-Woolshed shame

Feeling the Post-Woolshed shame

Next, onwards to Brisbane. A place that was much more our scene. It is a lovely city with first rate museums, galleries, a brilliant library and an alfresco dining/drinking scene that I appreciated, though sadly couldn’t partake in as fully as I would have liked what with our backpacker budget! Shame it rained so much.

In Brisbane we got ourselves a relocation deal for a campervan that meant we could drive from Brisbane to Sydney in a van for $1 a day. Bargainacious, and as anyone who knows me knows, I love a good deal!

Our time in the campervan was a real highlight of our entire trip. It was so much fun on the open road. A special part for me was re-visitng some childhood haunts. My parents emigrated to Australia with me and my sister, Bean, in 1988 and spent two years there, mainly on the Gold Coast. So Gavin and I happily detoured off the Pacific Highway and went to our old house on Discovery Drive, Helensvale.

And just as the wife got out of the van to take a snap, the heavens opened! Rain like I have rarely seen in my life, and it was literally as her foot touched the ground that it started. Pretty funny from where I was sitting (in the van).

So we hopped back in and continued to Surfers Paradise and Broadbeach, where it also rained each time I got out! But it was lots of fun, even though the area is pretty different now to how it was then!

In my former home

In my former home

The coastal road took us to Byron Bay (more rain) and Ballina where we spent the night in the most luxurious campsite I have ever seen, and the only 4.5 star place we are likely to stay on our trip.

Well if we got the van for a $1 and if I have to stay in a campsite why not glamp it up! It was soooo nice, about a million times better than skanky hostels!

In the van (don't panic - the engine is turned off)

In the van (don't panic - the engine is turned off)

Along the way I went for a play in the big waves and got totally smashed by one, losing my sunglasses and twisting my back like an old man. Very embarrassing.

Very funny you mean!

Here comes the wave

Here comes the wave

Hobbling out of the sea

Hobbling out of the sea

Ah, did you get water up your nose?

Ah, did you get water up your nose? And where are your sunnies?

We then stopped off throughout our trip at some lovely places, such as Coffs Harbour for a lovely lunch of halloumi kebabs overlooking the sea, Port Macquarie, Newcastle/Stockton and Forster before getting to the big Smoke.

HELLO SYDNEY!

Sydney Harbour Bridge

Sydney Harbour Bridge

We were lucky enough that our friends Ben and Jo very kindly let us stay in their Bondi Beach apartment for our time in Sydney. They were perfect hosts and took us on multi-transport tours of Sydney; to some amazing beaches in the Royal National Park; gave us tips and advice and, oh yeah, Jo ran over my foot with a 4×4!

Ouch, was pretty painful to see.

And pretty painful for me to experience! No worries though Jo, I am all better now! I am strong and powerful with virtually no physical limitations.

Ha!!! Yeah right! Back to Sydney, it’s a great city with a lot of charm. We particularly liked The Rocks area with its winding lanes, little shops and great pubs. We also loved the Art Gallery of New South Wales and the coastal walk from Bondi to Bronte beach, even though I was bitten by a flying spider and am currently scared that the lump on my leg is full of its babies….

Ah, she’ll be right!  Next up was Canberra, that everyone tells you is not worth bothering with, but don’t listen to them – it’s well good.

We loved it! We visited the National Portrait Gallery, the National Gallery of Australia (one of the best galleries I have ever been to), the new Parliament House – an amazing grass covered modern emblem – and the old parliament which felt a lot more traditional, the National Museum of Australia and also the Australian War Memorial which was an incredible museum.

The only slight downside was that I had booked us into the ‘Central Canberra Motel’ which turned out to be far from the centre of the city and in the middle of nowheresville!

Canberra "Central" Motel, in the centre of absolutely nowhere!

Canberra "Central" Motel, in the centre of absolutely nowhere!

Looked like the Norman Bates Motel in Psycho…

No worries though, we were able to hop on a bus into town via a ‘giant ant’ infested walk across some fields.

I also got to go to the best pub on our trip so far, the Wig and Pen where I sampled three ales.

Raspberry, mint and lime ale. Like Pimms for old blokes.

Raspberry, mint and lime ale. Like Pimms for old gits.

Now we are in Melbourne, where our friends Paul and Portia are letting us stay in their lovely apartment for 3 weeks whilst they go back to the UK for the festive season. Not only that, they stayed up til the wee hours with us the first night we arrived, as our stupid plane was delayed, and then they fed us champagne, expensive red wine and a smorgasboard of dips and nibbles. Wonderful!

We’ll be in touch again soon with more updates from Melbourne – including a surprise meeting with some old friends – and perhaps a Christmas message, like the Queen.

Hope everyone in UK wasn’t and isn’t TOO affected by the snow, I am actually very jealous! Good luck with all the Christmas shopping. Bye for now.

Sweet as mate! I’m off in my ute to get some shrimps for the barbie me old bogan cobber dingo.

Good grief!

Click here for all our Australia photos on Flickr.

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Responses

  1. Stone the crows! You’re drinking a cup of tea on the great barrier reef! Strewth cobber… Glad the nations capitol was kind to you both enjoy Melbourne!

  2. Where are Oprah and her audience going?

    • They went everywhere – including the same restaurant we had lunch in with Ben and Jo. What great taste we all do have.

  3. What a great deal on the campervan! We loved our 3 weeks driving around the Northern Territory. Enjoy Melbourne!

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