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Marc and Nic's Message Page

Updated 25/07/08
 

So our Ausie adventure has finally come to its amazing end! We have just finished our  3800 kilometer drive down the East coast and if time would have allowed we could have probably travelled a few more kilometers without ever growing tied of the endless gorgeous sandy beaches and continually marveling at the remoteness’ of some of the towns. We have of course got our last few stories to report, some of which, (in particular Fraser Island) would rank amongst some of our top experiences since starting our travels in November...

Airlie Beach and The Whitsundays!

Airlie beach happens to be the gateway to the Whitsunday Islands and where most of the tours depart daily from. This has of course turned Airlie beach into a huge Tourist and Backpackers party heaven. There is no beach at Airlie Beach but a huge man made lagoon, which everyone collapses around after a night of partying! Due to the time scale we were travelling to we could only fit in a days sailing around the Whitsunday but you can sail around the Islands for multiple nights and camp on the remote beaches when the sun goes down.  The Whitsundays are a group of more than 90 Islands; most of which are inhabited and all but four of them are classed as National Park. They are unbelievably beautiful with blue-green water and perfect beaches. Our tour stopped at The Whitsunday Island which is the largest of the islands and the 6km long beach is classed as the finest in the group. We then hiked up to the Hill Inlet for the most amazing views, were the water is that clear we were able to spot Sting Rays and Turtle in the waters below! The whole place is magic though you can see how things have changed slightly over the years with more and more tour group’s starting up; it makes it a little bit like a theme park and takes away the pure natural beauty.

Some more Wildlife!
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Taking a swim out to the reef!
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Swiming back to the boat!
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Docking at the white sands of the Whitsundays!
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Enjoying the Beach at the Whitsundays!!
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Our boat!!
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Nic on the way up to the Inlet Hill Lookout!
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The famous moving sands of the Whitsundays!
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Hervey Bay & Fraser Island

The drive to Hervey Bay got a bit scary to say the very least! We did the unthinkable and decided to carry on driving even after it got dark. After a few near misses with a couple of Kangaroos and getting bullied off the road by the outrageously dangerous road trains (lorry’s that have up to 5 carriages which thunder at speeds you wouldn’t even do on these roads in a 4x4!) we decided we had no other option but to stop at Rockhampton for the night and plod on to Hervey beach the following day. As always even what should have been an uneventful night, just waiting for the sun to come up which would enable us to get back on the road ended in being another experience that this whole trip has been about. We needed to find internet access so we could phone Josephina for her 18th Birthday (Happy Birthday Jose and have a fantastic time in Sunny Greece! Don’t do anything we wouldn’t do!!). Much to our annoyance it has sometimes been harder finding internet in Australia than it was in the Jungles of Cambodia and Rockhamton was no different! However, after pounding the streets for an hour or so we were advised by a friendly local that the only place we could find it would be at the local Bowling Alley! (Only in Australia!) It was hilarious, the kind of place that when strangers walk in the music suddenly goes off and everyone stops and stares at the two strangers walking in, who obviously are not from these parts! They were so into their bowling, all of which had their names printed on the back of their shirts with things such as “2008 bowling champion and best bowling newcomer!” To say they took it seriously is a major understatement and we were nearly deafened every time one of them hit a strike! We did over hear a conversation by a couple of locals explaining that they were going to stay at a friends house on that particular night as the Kangaroos on that stretch of road had grew in such numbers that the chance of hitting one was too great and he would wait until the morning! (Our decision to stop for the night had obviously been the correct one!) As we had turned up to town quite late the only option was to park next to another campervan on the main road outside a couple of local bars… needless to say when closing time came the Jolly punters thought it would be hilarious to come and rock our campervan for a few minutes!!!  (Note to selves - “do not park outside a pub again!”)

So the sun came up and off we went to Hervey Bay. As Airlie beach is the gateway to The Whitsundays, Hervey Bay is that to Fraser. However, there is one huge difference, Hervey Bay couldn’t be any more different in comparison to Airlie beach if it tried. For instance we would travel back just to visit Hervey Bay forgetting it is the easiest route to Fraser, It is in its own right a beautiful  beach village we also seen some of the biggest Pelicans we have ever seen!

The beef capital of Rockhampton!
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Setting off on our way to Hervey Bay!
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Driving into the the early morning fog!
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The beach at Hervey Bay!
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Entrance to the Urangan Pier!
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The history of Urangan Pier!
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Marc on the pier with Huge Pelican!
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Fraser Island is definitely one on its own! An experience you just couldn’t get from any other destination. We booked ourselves onto the Fraser Island Experience tour as we were recommended it by a local and set off early the next day to catch the Ferry over to the Island. Now we must say that it was ‘persistently raining’ at this point but as we would be in a coach most of the day this would not matter.  We found that it would be no ordinary coach either; this was a monster truck with a coach shell on top to hold as many passengers as possible with our coach driver introducing himself as “Me names Warren, or Wozza to you guys!!” Wozza had worked on Fraser Island for over 15 years; which gave us a lot of confidence, but once we started through a section he liked to call “The rollercoaster!” Then we found ourselves on the edge of our seat for the best white-knuckle ride of our lives. This guy was phenomenal, the way he could give his commentary as he was throwing this 40ft long coach around in the rainforest. He said at one point “Right guys, if you feel that we are getting a bit close to the trees then close your eyes cause that’s what I do!!!”

Apart from being a white knuckle ride Wozza’s commentary was very informative, apparently all the sand from the East coast of Australia eventually ends up on Frazer, the worlds largest sand Island, which measures 120km by 15km. Apart from sand the Island also consists of Rain Forests, 200 freshwater lakes and sand dunes, some of which are a massive 224 meters tall! The Island holds a lot more fun than the Sea surrounding it does, as no one is permitted to swim in it due to the amount of patrolling man eating sharks! We weren’t going to try and find out! We did get a bit wet in the fresh water rivers which are perfectly safe to walk through.

The Roller Coaster with Wozza driving!
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First stop with Nic stood outside the monster bus!
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Nic going in to the fresh water river!
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Fraser Island is also known for the huge population of Dingoes. There is now a fine of $3000 for feeding the Dingoes or leaving any food scraps about as over the years the increase in tourists feeding the dogs has led to them becoming increasingly aggressive, so much so that in 2001 a little boy was attacked and killed by a Dingo. The Australian Gov responded to this by culling a large percentage of the dogs and followed this by killing any dog that came near a tourist area – ‘till they got the message and stopped visiting!!’ There were a lot of people unhappy about this as Fraser Island is home to the purest breed of the animal! Even with the decrease in numbers we did catch a glimpse of one of the Dingoes which was a real bonus!!

Once we were out of the rainforest it was time to hit the beach. This is one of the weirdest sights we’ve ever seen or experienced as Wozza explained that “Fraser Islands beach is actually classed as a public Highway”  to the extent that they have Police patrolling the highway (Even with speed guns!) as you would on any other road!! Wozza decided to test the Monster truck Coach at this point by saying “My advice to anyone thinking of driving through sand would be – Go at it like you’ve just robbed the vehicle!!” and that he did. To the extent that we were in the sea at one point then pelting it through sand and rivers the other. There was one section of water that we hit so hard that the man hole cover next to Marc blew up letting half the Ocean in and soaking the German guy behind up. Wozza just laughed it off and carried on while the German was struggling to find the funny side!!

We ended up at an old ship wreck called the ‘The Maheno’. The story goes that it was used (Post War) for the ferry crossing from New Zealand to Australia. Which took 3 days!! Not your 3 hours by plane that it takes now!! Then during the First World War it was utilised as a floating war hospital. Shortly after this it was replaced by faster vassals and sold to the Japanese so that they could melt it down and make use of the steel. As the Japanese were tugging the ship past Fraser, a hurricane hit causing the rope to snap between the two. With the crew not being able to anchor ‘The Maheno’ it was swept onto Fraser Island. From looking at the early photos of the ship it sadly no longer looks anything like it did. The Australian RAAF decided that it would be good target practice and so there is not much left of it. Here are some pics to show you…

Wozza driving on the Fraser Island Highway!
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Marc with the Maheno ship wreck in the distance!
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Nic at the Maheno Shipwreck!
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The Maheno as it was originally!
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We finished the day at Lake Mckenzie. Wozza explained that this used to be the main attraction on the Island and is basically a giant rain puddle!! The sand here is white, as it was at Whitsundays. This is due to it being 90% silicone and supposed to be really good for cleaning gold or silver. The running joke was that a few husbands or boyfriends were going to get a thick ear because any other metals just loose their colour!!

Nic at Lake Makenzie!!
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This was a great trip and was topped off with an amazing sunset as we were waiting to get onto the Ferry and a few Dolphins swimming along next to us!! Paradise!

Catching the Ferry back to Hervey Bay!
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Brisbane!

We very nearly drove right through Brisbane as when we tried to park up the car parks were wanting to charge us $17 per hour for the privilege!  (How much!!!) So we did a major U-turn in the car park and started to head out of the City. Luckily just on the outskirts we were able to find a spot to abandon the van for a few hours and we walked into Brisbane. Our walk in first took us over Story Bridge, which is where they have tried to copy the whole Harbour bridge climb from Sydney. We passed on this climb as it wasn’t really the same as climbing the Harbour Bridge…

The Story Bridge Climb - Brisbane!!
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Nic with the Story Bridge!
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We’re sure you guys back in Blighty have been hearing all about the Popes visit to Sydney for World Youth Day, Well the pilgrims have also travelled to other parts of Australia, Brisbane being one of their stops. When we got to the centre it was full of Guitar playing, halleluiah singing Bibleites. It was definitely a sight to behold and you couldn’t hear yourself think, let alone walk past them as you were immediately pulled into their circle to join in with the singing.

Brisbane seemed to be a great city with everyone getting about on bikes and when the working day was over the whole City seemed to come out to go jogging along the River!

Post Office Square Brisbane!
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Surfers Paradise

This place is like Tenerife Australian Style!! The front is overlooked by high rise apartment after apartment, the beach however is just as beautiful as all the other we have visited. We also managed to bump into a few of the girls from Big Brother (Australian Big Brother) not that it will mean a great deal to you all back there but it was hilarious to see them and they were just as happy with the attention from us as we were to have seen them…

Surfers Paradise!
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Early morning walk along Surfers Paradise Beach!
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Walk along Nobbies beach!
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Breakfast at Nobbiesbeach!
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Kirri Beach

Now as far our favorite beaches go in Australia this is top of the list! It helped that we were the only people on it for as far as the eye could see… No amount of words could explain how gorgeous it was so here are the pics…

Nic in the distance at the amazing Kirri Beach!
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Nic relaxing on Kirri Beach!
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First sign for NSW!
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Could'nt resist some fresh Fish and Chips!!
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These Pelicans are massive!
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Dont be a tosser!!
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Port Stevens

Another amazing beach and with this being our last chance for some hot weather before heading to the Blue Mountains we stayed on a swanky caravan park for 2 night. This was situated directly parallel with One Mile beach and felt like complete luxury compared with anything else we had stayed at.

More wildlife sat on a bin at the caravan park!
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Sand dunes at one mile beach!
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One mile beach!
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Blue Mountains

As we travelled up to the Blue Mountains the weather had taken a definite change for the worse. It was cold and on the way up it rained lots. It is said that the Irish used to come up to the mountains when they felt a bit home sick and at the time of year we went up they are actually celebrating Christmas with the windows of the shops covered in white snow spray!! It certainly had the feel of Christmas back home with the chill in the crisp air!!

We decided to do one of the many treks that the mountains had on offer. We had a quick look at Govetts Leap lookout which had some spectacular views but from there the lady in the tourist information office suggested that we go back down the road to Evans Lookout and do the 3 – 4 hour Grand Canyon loop trail as we would be out of the wind that was picking up.

This was a great trek with everything from views, forest, waterfalls, wildlife and cliff edge drops (Some very high and the saying “Don’t look down” was used quite a lot!

At the first lookout for the Blue Mountains!
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Start of the Grand Canyon Track!
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Amazing views from Evans Lookout!
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Some amazing views!
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The massive rock faces as we go into the canyon!
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Passing through a cave on the way!
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Passing under one of the waterfalls!
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Inside the Blue Mountains Grand Canyon!
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The famous three sisters!
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We finished the day with a well deserved meal in one of the café’s in the main town of Katoomba. We noticed this café called the ‘Common ground café’ the day before due to the amount of people that were in there. Today was the same with people queuing up to get in so we thought it must be good!! We joined the crowd and waited to be seated. It was a fascinating place that was run by a family of Mormons. It was just what the doctor ordered with the nicest hot chocolate we have ever tried, a fresh just made hot beef sandwich and a small plate of nachos that everyone seemed to be ordering. Wow!! Now we know why people were prepared to wait in a queue for this place. If anyone finds themselves in the Blue Mountains then we highly recommend a visit to this café!!

The last couple of nights were spent in Sydney at an old friend’s from Work! It was great to catch up and not be moving for a couple of days. Cheers Ollie!!

Well this is the last g’day from us and next time we will be saying a big Kia-ora (Hello in Maori!) from a very snowy NZ!!! Brrrrrrrrrrrr its freezing!!!

Love to you all from a very cold Nic & Marc xxxxxxxxxxx

Updated 14/07/08
 

Mosman Gorge, The Daintree Rain Forest, Cape Tribulation, Mount Malloy & The Tablelands!

Have we got a few stories to tell after the last couple of days!!!

We left Port Douglas early, at about 6 am. For starters we didn’t want to get caught by the Ranger & from past experiences we had learnt he is normally doing the rounds at about 7am. It worked out great as we got to Mosman Gorge before the shepherds led in their coach loads of tourist sheep, which meant we managed to complete the walk around the Gorge and get back to the Van just as the coaches were pulling up to the car park. The Gorge was beautiful and the clearest waters we have ever seen. Below is a photo which shows exactly how clear it was!

Clear waters of Mossman Gorge!!
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The area of Rain Forest where the Gorge is situated is famous for being the area where the Kuku-Yalanji people lived. On the walk through the Rain Forest and along the Gorge there is signage at various plants and trees explaining what the Kuku-Yalanji people used them for. For example there was one tree in which they ate the leaves, however, they were only able to eat them after they had boiled, bleached, and left for a number of days, and without doing any of the stages of this process correctly the leaves were fatally piousness… We couldn’t help but think how many people actually died in mastering this process… and all for some lovely tasty leaves!!

Mossman Gorge tropical rain forest!
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Suspension bridge built by the RAE!
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Royal Australian Engineers suspension bridge!
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From the Gorge we drove to The Daintree Village. The drive again was amazing, though fields of Sugar cane with the back drop of the Rain Forest and some glorious beaches along the way. On this stretch of road we were just getting to realise how remote things were going to get! The Daintree Village is separated from the main Daintree Rain Forest and Cape Tribulation by the Daintree River. We decided to make a quick stop at the village before catching the ferry across the river. Again this was our first taster of an Australian Village that is literally in the middle of nowhere, with just one road running through and a few houses, a restaurant come bar and a few tourist souvenir shops that usually acts as an agent selling any tours that are working around the area, in this case Croc spotting on the River.  At this point we were also getting into the area where everyone owns a 4x4, a Cowboy hat & boots and a gun! Incidentally, it was also the first place we have seen Croc’s on the menu! Next on route was the River Crossing. Everywhere in the area there is evidence of how in the Rainey Season things in this area are very different. Around the River, which is invested with Croc’s, they have meter gauges that show you exactly how high the waters rise and for most of the time the area is impassable with or without a 4x4! We were just relieved we were doing it in the dry season, can you imagine getting stranded with the water rising and the crocs closing in!! We were shown some of the photographs of the crocs caught in the area and they grow up to about 25 foot long! For the River crossing you pay 18 dollars so about 9 pound. You drive your vehicle onto a platform which is then pulled along by a cable operated motor. Here it is…..

Stopped at Wonga Beach for lunch on the way!
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Ferry crossing across the Daintree river!
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Story of the Crocs in the Daintree!
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Beware of Cassowary in the road!
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Cow Bay on the way to Cape Tribulation!
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Rainforest meeting the Sea at Cow Bay!
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That night we decided to camp at a more civilised camping site at Cape Tribulation as apart from venturing deep into the Rain Forest there was nowhere like there was in Port Douglas to camp. It was a great site called P.K’s which was situated right on the beach and set in the Rain Forest. We certainly made the most of the hot showers the following morning and with another early start we decided to attempt the Rain Forest hike to Emerson Creek and a swimming hole.

Nic relaxing at PK Campsite!
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PK's Beach front!
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Now what we haven’t told you about so far is that apart from having Crocs, Spiders & Snakes the biggest talked about creature in the forest is the Humongous Cassowary Bird. The flightless Cassowary is as tall as a man (you might remember our photograph of one in a zoo when we were down in Melbourne) has three toes, a blue-&-purple head a helmet like horn and black feathers! This Bird is only found in the North of Queensland and particularly in the area we were walking! Oh, and we forgot to mention the Cassowary can be aggressive and has been know to attack particularly if it has chicks! We were told if we see one do not run under any circumstances, give the bird right-of-way and try to keep something solid between us and the bird, preferably a tree! Well…. We were about two hours into our trek and starting to loose faith in our ability to map read as we still hadn’t come across the Creek we should have stumbled across about 30 minutes ago. Due to an earlier accident on the track we were walking along there was a recovery vehicle trying to pull a 4x4 out of the rainforest which in the process had stopped any vehicles being able to use the path, so we hadn’t seen anyone for about one hour, we started to think about turning back when out of the side of the thick Rain Forest came an almighty Bird screech and the sound of something very big moving quickly through the growth towards us! To say everything that we had been told to do went out of the window is an understatement, we couldn’t move quickly enough, both clambering over each other to get away! The adrenaline was definitely flowing and we initially started to run back the way we came but stopped when the noise behind us stopped, we decided we had come this far and to not see the creek after all this would have been a shame. So we crept past as quietly as possible (if anyone was watching us they would have been in hysterics!) and as we got so far the noise started again, we just reached the corner of the path, and, at last there it was the sight for Emergen Creek and two other human beings that we were more than happy to see! Imagine if we would have turned back with it only being around the corner! We got to the Creek and ate our well earned sandwiches on the edge of the water. Here is what it looked like and some photos of the beach we found on the walk back.

This is the furthest North we would go as the rest of the track is only passable by 4x4 for the route up to Cook Town.

Early morning at Cape Tribulation beach!
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Breakfast at Cape Tribulation!! Wakey Wakey!!
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Big spiders in the rain forest!
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On the way to Ennagen Creek!! 4x4's only!!
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Truck recovery from the rain forest!
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Obstacle course on the way to the Creek!!
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Stopped for Lunch at Emmagen Creek!!
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Butterfly on the way to the beach!!
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Only us, the rainforest and the Pacific Ocean!!
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On the way back from the creek!!
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Mount Molloy!

After our near miss with the Cassowary it was back on the road South back towards Mosman and up to the Atherton Tablelands. After some steep climbing in the camper van we reached Mount Molloy and oh my god this is Hicksville! As we approached Mount Malloy we noticed a huge congregation of Caravans, we decided to pull in to check it out. It happened to be the free camping area the Ranger had told us about back in Port Douglas. All the Nomads of Australia seemed to be in this one spot and as we pulled in they were all sat on camping chairs with a guy in a cowboy hat singing and playing Country and Western  Songs! Here is the photo evidence…..

The view on the way to Mt Molloy!
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Left Mt Molloy!!
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Camper up on the mic entertaining the rest!!
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After a quick listen to the Bob Dylan wanna-be we decided to drive in to town to check out where the locals were hanging out! As we pulled up the street there was one pub, a post office, a town Hall and a burger café. We parked outside the pub which looked like it was a hundred years old if a day and the two guys sat outside on the porch didn’t look much younger! It’s the kind of town you expect tumble weed to be blowing across the road! We decided to grab a couple of beers and join the two old guys on the porch in the sun. Meet Lex and Dave……..

Meet Lex and Dave!!
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Lex’s parents happened to be from Wales and Scotland and after the Second World War was over they paid to get on the boat to Australia. They paid five pound back in the day for their space on board that ship and Lex explained they are called 10 dollar Poms as are all the Brits that decided to come over post Second World War. We ended up spending a couple of hours with Lex and Dave, Lex lives in a caravan on the land of an Aboriginal family (who we also met) and does odd jobs around the place for his rent and Dave owns his own plot of land which he bought for $400 where he lives self sufficiently with a two hob gas stove to cook on and just the fire he makes for light. Lex works on a nearby farm. They both spent the time telling us all about the size of the Crocs they have seen and what to do if you come across some of the snakes that live out here in the bush. While they were busy telling us their stories other farmers and locals were pulling up in their 4x4’s and shouting over to us not to listen to any of their tall stories. It was a great experience and one that will stay with us for a long time. We ended the experience by going to the Burger café to eat one of their famous Burgers!

The only pub in Town!
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Nic chatting to Lex and Dave outside the pub!!
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Tasted better than it looks!!
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After our night in Mount Malloy we headed deeper into the Tablelands through the towns of Mareeba, Atherton, Tolga, Malanda and Millaa Millaa. At Malanda we stopped off at the Coffee Works. We had learnt from our time working in Sydney that the Australians love their coffee just as much as the Yanks. The Coffee Works is a coffee lover’s heaven, you pay $20 and you get to try just about any coffee made from about 15 different countries plus they have a chocolate factory on site as well so you get to try as much choice as you can take! There is a museum here with the whole history of coffee. 

View of the tablelands going along Kennedy Highway
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Marc testing all the Coffee's at Coffe Works!!
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Stood beside the Coffee plants!!
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Nic waiting for the Dunny!!
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It was amazing just to drive through the towns all of which have grown up around the fruit growing industry. We stopped off at Tolga for a loaf of bread. When Marc returned to the van the loaf of bread had been transformed into three Sausage & Onion Sandwiches and half a loaf of bread! As Marc had been walking towards to the local shop to buy the bread he walked past a guy making sausage sandwiches on the side of the road Marc asked him how much they were and the guy replied “There free to you mate, where you from?” After Marc spent a few minutes explaining our travels he ended up coming away with 3 free Sausage & Onion Sandwiches and a free loaf of bread and we have to say that any Sausage Sandwiches we eat in the future with have to go a long way to beat them on taste!

Best sausage sarny in the World!!
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Stopped at Tolga to enjoy the Sarny's
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It was then onto Lake Tinaroo where it holds over 300 Species of Bird. We managed to see quite a few of them and snapped some of the Metallic Starlings sitting on the ladder at the dam!

At the walkway over the Dam at Lake Tinaroo!!
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Starlings on the Dam!!
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The drive through the Highlands was amazing as the red soil seemed to be home to a million Termite nests. We were also able to stop off to buy some fruit at the little stalls they set up at the side of the roads, most of which have honesty boxes so you take a bag of Bananas and leave the money in the box. 

Passed the highest town in QLD!!
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Warning on the way into Wooroonooran National Park
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We travelled down the Kennedy Highway and then onto the Palmerston Highway to camp the night at Wooroonooran National Park and in the middle of the night the heavens opened. The noise of the rain from inside the van was like sitting in a tin shed while being shot at by a hundred pellet guns, needless to say not a lot of sleeping got done on this particular night and we also both spent the last couple of hours dying to go to the loo as the noises coming from the Rain Forest outside was less than inviting and so dark we couldn’t even see our hands in front of our faces! When we got up the next morning the rain had not subsided but we were determined to do the trek to the Nagoya Falls. The trek was amazing, taking us right through the Rain Forest and with the rain and low clouds it made the area even more beautiful and mysterious. We sat at the side of the falls which were amazing and ate our egg & Mayo sandwiches. We had walked without our camera and decided it was so beautiful we would walk the 2.6 kilometers again to get the camera and come back. As we were packing up our lunch at the side of the falls Nic noticed a, wait for it……….a Leech on the bottom of Marc’s trousers!! Once we noticed one that was it we noticed dozens of the things all over our walking boots making their way up to feast on our legs. We both freaked out to say the very least using anything we could to get them off without letting them touch our skin. For the whole walk back we had to keep stopping to pick them of our walking boots using the stones on the track. We must have walked the 2.6K in record time and stripped off as soon as we got to the van, checking every crevice of our bodies for Leeches. If the Cassowary hadn’t put us off hiking in the Rain Forest the Leeches definitely have!! Needless to say we never went back to take the photos!!

So that’s were we are up to so far. We are now on route down the Bruce Highway to the Whitsunday Islands. We will be back in touch when we get to our next town with internet.

Loads of love Nic & Marc xxxxxxxxxx

Updated 03/07/08
 

G’Day All!

Meet Hippie!

We left the Hostel early on Monday morning to catch a local bus to the car hire office just outside Cairns Airport. When we got there the grounds were full of huge Winnebago Type Campervans, all complete with satellite T.V & Showers! Once we had filled in the usual papers we walked over to meet ours……..

Meet Hippie the campervan!!
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A bit different to a Winnebago, but what she lacks in creature comforts she more than makes up in Fun!

What an amazing experience we have had so far and we’ve only been on the road for 3 day! After leaving Cairns we hit the Captain Cook Highway which is, in our opinion, the most beautiful beach drive, on one side we had Rainforest, stretching as far as the eye could see and on the other, one Golden Sandy Beach after another! WE stopped on Route at ‘Yorkees Knob Beach’ for a quick swim…

The typical lifeguard hut on each beach!
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Crocs and all!!
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Nic with Hippie at Yorkeys Knob beach!
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We couldn’t resist a few more stops before we got to Port Douglas as the drive from Cairns to the Port is only about 1 hour. The stops we made included the stunning Trinity’s Beach & Rex’s Lookout

Amazing Views on an Amazing Drive!
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Gorgeous beach onroute!
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Port Douglas!
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Port Douglas

Wow…This is the first place we have visited in Aus that we have both fell completely in love with. After only initially planning to stay here for one night on the way up to The Daintree Rain Forest we are now here for our 4th night! It is definitely picture postcard perfect and the weather has been amazing!

As we drove up to the beach which is called 4 Mile Beach for obvious reasons, we asked a few of the guys in Campervans where they had been parking up and sleeping for the night, they said it is the done thing to park up for the night at the car park over by the Mariner, at no charge and apparently it is allowed (we later found out that is not completely true, but we’ll get to that shortly!). Anyway, with this knowledge we drove just around the corner to the car park where we found the most beautiful view. Marc being Marc decided it wasn’t good enough to enjoy the view from the shore like everyone else but decided to get our camping chairs and tables out onto the Jetty and crack open some beers. Nic at first was mortified at being the only ones out on the jetty while everyone else looked on! However, minutes later everyone was asking if we wanted our photos taking and that they wished they would have had the same idea…..

Here comes the table and chairs!!
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What a place to enjoy a beer!
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We had the same view from our campervan!
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View of 4 mile beach!
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Flagstaff Hill Port Douglas history!!
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Setting up for breakfast!
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We came back for lunch!
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We came back for tea!
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Nic relaxing at 4 mile beach!
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Making use of the free bbq at 4 mile beach!
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Nomads!
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4 mile beach!
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Another amazing sunset!
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Nomads campsite! Great view!!!
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The following two days we just relaxed on the beach and the park and enjoyed our new lives as nomads! (or Gipsy’s which ever way you want to look at it!)

Great Barrier Reef 

It really is like swimming around in a gigantic tropical fish tank!

We opted for the Wavelength company to take us out to the reef as we had been recommended them by the local newsagents and with them being a specialist in snorkeling and with groups of only 25 people it was fantastic we even had a Marine Biologist onboard who came out into the water with us for briefings on what we saw & gave us a presentation as lunch was being served onboard. In total we had 3 dives, the last one being at the part of the Reef called ‘Turtle Reef’.  Here we got to swim with 3 different types of turtle, Reef Shark, Stingray and Giant Parrot fish, not to mention the hundreds of other Nemo like fish that thought nothing of swimming right up to your face… It takes 2 hours to actually get out to the reef from the shore and on our 2 hour return journey back we were lucky enough to witness a minki whale jumping by the side of the boat!!

Nic gearing up for the dive!
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Marc looking dashing in his wet suit!! Ha ha!
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Nic relaxing after the first dive!
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What an amazing place!!
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The Coral Reef appears during low tide!
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The Wavelength boat we went on!
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Tomorrow we head back on the road to The Daintree Rain Forest and Cape Tribulation so will be back in touch as soon as we can with some more stories…

Loads of love n hugs Nic and Marc xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

p.s We did end up finding out that it actually wasn’t allowed to park in the car park when the Ranger turned up at 7am in the morning. As we were already up and making breakfast we got away with it as he asked if we had just arrived and we said yes. He did then go on to wake everyone else up to give then a warning that if he seen them there again it would be a $170 fine!

Updated 29/06/08

Our Road trip is back on track!

Yep, we have left the working life behind us once again and have arrived in Cairns! (wahoooo!). The landscape as we flew down the coast to Cairns showed just how tropical it is up in Queensland compared to New South Wales, with the Rain Forest meeting the Beach (as you will see from one of our pic below). Having left a wintery Sydney behind us we landed at Cairns airport wearing three layers, once we disembarked the aircraft we couldn’t get our clothes off quick enough, it’s hot…!

Plenty of layers on leaving Sydney!
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View of Sydney Harbour from the plane!
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The view comming into Cairns!
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15127 Kilometers from London!!
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Now that we have had a couple of days in Cairns, it has got to be said the City does not hold any great attractions or sights, or pretty much anything really (Hicksville!) and the only reason travelers come here is to work if they are skint or as a base to travel to the real attractions of Queensland, like the Great Barrier Reef and Port Douglas just to name two, which, is exactly what we are doing as we pick up our campervan tomorrow and head up North!  The photograph below shows the Pelicans on the muddy beach of Cairns, you can jump on a local bus to the North Beaches but as we will be doing that for free and at our own leisure when we pick up our van we decided to see what the only other attractions in Cairns held.

Pelicans by the non existant beach!
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Marc by his top bunk in our 6 person dorm!
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The one saving grace in Cairns for us has been the Botanic Gardens and the trek up Mount Whitfield and Mount Lumley, it was fantastic, and  gave us our first taster of the Rain Forest. The first day we walked around the gardens and learnt about how Australian Plant life became isolated from any other area on the planet, seeing the huge Tropical insect eating plants and other tropical plants from other Rain Forests from all over the World.

Entrance to the Cairns botanic gardens!
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Nic at the botanic gardens!
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Start of the evolution trail!
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Evolution explained!
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What is an Orchid?
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Orchid pic 1!
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Orchid pic 2
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Orchid pic 3!
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Sausage tree! Weird
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Finished the day with the Board walk
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Through the swampy rain forest!

The second day we decided to start our fitness regime and complete a 7K hike up two of the rain forest Mountains. It was hard work, which wasn’t helped with our previous 3 months painting the town red in Sydney! As you will see from our Beetroot faces on the photographs we found it hard going but it was definitely worth all the efforts as the views from the top were amazing, which is where we stopped for a picnic before attempting the climb down. Incidentally, it was during the climb down that we stumbled across the biggest spider we have seen on our travels. It probably looks like we are now becoming obsessed with taking photographs of every Spider in Aus, but we couldn’t resist putting it on the site as it was the same size as Marc’s palm, but not poisonous (We think!) which is why we got so close!

Quick Sandwich before heading off on the trek!
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Man killing Cassowary birds on the loose!!
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We reach the first lookout!
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Cairns Airport from the first lookout!
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Nic getting reder by the second!
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Marc stopping to take a breather!!
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Finally got to the main lookout at the top!
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View from the main lookout - Mt Lumley!
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Using the timer on the new camera for the 1st time
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We had to run into position quickly!!

Praying Mantis at the Mt Lumley lookout!
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Big aluminous spider on the way back!
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Well tara for now! We are heading off tomorrow morning to pickup our campervan from the depot near the airport! We are very excited about this as we will have some freedom to do our own thing up and then back down the Gold Coast. First stop will be the famous AJ Hackett Cairns Bungy! Then some beaches on the way to Port Douglas. So we will endeavor to keep you up to date with our experiences and findings!!

All our  Love

Marc and Nic xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Updated 24/06/08
 

Hiya Guys!

Well, our time in Sydney has nearly come to an end. We thought we would put the photos of our last weekend in Sydney up on the website to finish off our Sydney stories. We are flying to Cairns on Friday at 8am and have three nights there before picking up our Campervan and hitting the road for 4 weeks!

So here is our last weekend in Sydney cant wait to update you on our first stories about being back on the road!

Loads of Love Marc  & Nic xxxxxx

Watson's Bay
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Marc with Opera House!
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View across the Rocks to the Anzac Bridge!
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Fort Denison
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At the top of the bridge tower!
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Outside the OperaHouse!
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Nic & the Opera House!
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Marc on a Penny farthing in the Powerhouse!
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At the top of the Tower!
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Photo of the bridge being built and Circular Quay!
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Circular Quay as it is now!
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What a view!!
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Updated 19/06/08

Our Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb!

Well, we finally did it…! The weather in Sydney over the last 4 weeks has been unpredictable to say the least and due to this reason we have been keeping an eye on the weather forecast to catch a break in the wind and rain so that we could book the Bridge Climb!

Well we waited and waited, but in the end decided that we were doing it come rain or shine!! And there’s us thinking the weather was nice in Sydney all year round!! Just like home from home!!

We got up on Sunday morning with our climb scheduled for 12:30 and; guess what; it was blowing a gale and raining!! We actually mentioned to one of the local expats who was waiting for the ferry that we were off to do the climb and he looked at us like we had gone slightly mad! But applauded the good old Brits for their efforts. By the time we reached the Bridge Climb reception the heavens had opened!

View from Woolwich Wharf!
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"Just about to climb this!"
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At the Bridge climb reception
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Once we had checked in we were called through to a holding room with our small group of 6 people. We were all breathalised and given a safety briefing. Then we all went through to the changing rooms to be fitted with our bridge climb boiler suits and safety gear.  All this took about 40 – 50 mins due to the amount of stuff we had to put on and included a test run on an example of the ladders we were going to climb! Our legs were shaking just doing that so you can imagine what we felt like as we started our walk out to the bridge!

To be fair the only really nerve jangling bit is climbing up the ladders, as you have to climb up the steep steps one person at a time so  you are constantly wondering if you are going to slow for the person behind you, plus the steps on the ladder are mesh so you can see the ground below! Once you finally get to the top of the stairs you are positioned at the start of the top arch of the bridge. This is where you wait for the rest of the group to catch up. This part of the climb gives you the first glimpse of the road and the cars racing past below on the road across the bridge. This is when the wind picked up again!!

From here we could see the rest of the climb which was to the top of the arch. We set off again and started the climb up the stairs taking in the amazing views on the way. This is when there was a break in the weather and the clouds started to clear. As we were climbing the guide we had was fantastic, answering questions and pointing out places of interest and explaining there significance over the head set radios we were all wearing. Her knowledge of the history of the bridge and surrounding area was fantastic.  

She was telling us about how the bridge was constructed, the engineering,  the amount of rivets used and about the 17 men that tragically died during the build.  It is mind boggling to think of the guys building the bridge, that they were using no safety harnesses and didn’t have the steps that they now have in place!! They used to just run up and down the arches!!

The whole experience was fantastic and should be a must do for anyone visiting Sydney. Needless to say it never stopped teaming down except at the very top of the bridge, but it just added to the fun of it all and certainly didn’t ruin any of the views!

Bridge Climb group photo!
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Our view from the pub after our climb!
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Edward Scissor Hands at the Opera House!

We decided to book a show at the Opera house, first as a night out for Nic’s birthday but also to have a look at the inside of the building!

 

We hadn’t been up to the Opera House at night before and it certainly has a different look being lit up at night.

 

At the start of the performance we weren’t too sure if we were going to enjoy the show, we kept wondering when the singing was going to start! This may seem a little naive to say but we both had never been to a musical before when it was be all dance performance and background music. We kept expecting them to start the singing at some point! However, once we realised what it was all about we really enjoyed it. Edwards Scissor Hands is directed by Matthew Bourne who we have now come to learn is a ballet and dance choreographer who directed Swan Lake and Choreographed Marry Poppins. Anyway, it was fantastic and great to see something so different to what we are used to. It is of course based on the classic Tim Burton movie and come complete with dancing trees!

Edward Scissor Hands!!
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Inside the Opera house!
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The Opera house lit up!
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View of the city from the Opera house!
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Below we have also included some random photos of our visit to the brilliant Sydney Maritime Museum, Marc stood by the Queen Victoria statue that sits on George Street and was actually given as a gift from the Irish, the best shopping street in Sydney, Pitt Street and a photo of us enjoying a few wines with the Owner of the house we have been staying in. We were lucky enough to catch the Jazz and Blues festival on Darling Harbour a few weekends ago aswell!!

Nic, Hilma and Philip!
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Funny long beaked bird! There everywhere!!
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Shopping central - Pitt Street!!
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With the Viewing tower in the background!!

The Queen Victoria statue in the Town Centre
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George Street!

Jazz and Blues Festival stage!
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Darling Harbour!
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Submarine down at the Martime Museaum
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Inside the Maritime Museum!
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Nic next to the figurhead in the Martime!
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Back to China with the local food hall!
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Update 25/05/08

Hiya Everyone!

Well it appears that you lot over in Blighty are having better weather than us Sydneyites!!! To be fair we are now into Sydney’s Autumn and it is still pretty gorgeous here! The temperature has dropped to around 20 degrees but pretty much everyday for the last couple of weeks the sky has been perfectly clear, though It hasn’t always been like that since we arrived in Sydney with a torrential rain shower or two but we’ll fill you in on that a bit later on!

So, we have been working here in Sydney for a good couple of months now and in-between working our socks off to carry on with our travels we thought we would get some info on the site for you to see what we have been up to…

 Having arrived into Sydney at 7am, we had to get to the Hostel quick march and get settled in as Nic was starting work at 2pm that day for a meeting to meet the team, talk about diving straight in..! That’s been the story since arriving in Sydney so far, work, work and a little bit more work! Not that were complaining, we were lucky to find jobs as soon as we arrived and to be honest it’s been a great introduction to the City as when you have to be at an interview or a meeting for 9am you have no choice but to get your bearings and find out where things are in the City. We can honestly say after the first couple of weeks we felt like we had been in Sydney for a couple of months as we know some of the back streets even the hardened taxi drivers don’t know!  Needless to say we haven’t yet got around to doing quite as much as we intend on doing by the end of our stay here in Sydney but at least we can tell you a bit about what has happened since we arrived and where we are living etc.

After a couple of nights sleeping in a 10 person dorm and having to get up at 6am every morning for work we quickly realised that hostel and work don’t belong in the same sentence and it just wasn’t going to work. Besides which we had been scouting around for shared house prices and they seemed to be cheaper than being in a dorm room with 10 strangers! Hostels have been great so far on our travels but when you’re having to get up and shower, iron, get dressed, eat breakfast all in time to catch a bus while you have 10 other people trying to do the same thing it ends up being a slight nightmare! Marc wasn’t due to start work for a couple of days, so had the wonderful task of finding a nice house without too many party animals, in a decent area and for a relatively decent price. Well, Marc definitely pulled one out of the bag! We are living in a place called Hunters Hill. It is a peninsula between two rivers, Lane Cove & Parramatta River, which flow into the Sydney Harbour, hence the reason why we get a ferry to work. The house also takes advantage of great river and city views with a veranda overlooking Lane Cove River! It’s lovely and peaceful, apart from one sinister factor… the bloody spiders, Oh My God (T.B.B) we have never seen so many spiders in our lives and were not talking everyday run of the mill spiders. They are huge and very nasty looking, don’t take our word for it, have a look at the photos below… Marc was actually out jogging when we first arrived and had just ran through a narrow walkway when all of a sudden he felt like he had ran straight into a fishing net, only to realise seconds later it was a huge spiders web!! He has never moved so quickly in his life, whipped off his top and was jumping about like a mad man…can you imagine the people in their posh houses watching this man they had never seen before throwing off his t-shirt in broad day light!!! There is a lovely looking restaurant and bar at the end of our street, we haven’t been yet (shock, horror!) but when we do we will let you all know what our local in Sydney is like, we’re sure it wont live up to the G&D or the HARP! (Since writing this we have now christened our local quite a few times…and it’s great, on a Friday night it gets even better as they offer free beer for everyone until the first points are scored on what ever Footie match they happen to be showing on the big screen!!)

Woolwich History!
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Park at the end of our road!
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Woolwich dock ship repair!
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History of the Woolwich ship repair dock!
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Woolwich Wharf! Our transport to work each day!
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Catching the Ferry in the Morning!
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One of our few rainy days!

Nic with Sydney in the background!!
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Woolwich Road from outside the house!
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View from our road. Harbour bridge in backgroud
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The house we are staying at!
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Watch out for the SPIDERS!!

Close up of the House!
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Nic in the background in the hallway of the house
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View from the back of the house!
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Chesser the 16 year old house cat!
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Torrential rain with view of the back of the house
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Laughing kookaburra on the Veranda!
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One of the many spiders outside the house!
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More BIG spiders!!
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The weather as we were saying before has been perfect, dead sunny and about 28 to 30 degrees… well Summer came to an abrupt end here a few weeks ago and we are now well and truly in to a Aussie Autumn!! The rain was that bad a few weeks ago our roof started leaking (with no help from the Possums who keep lifting up the tiles!) Nic had to wade ankle deep in rain water to catch a bus to work (good job she was a true Brit and had sandals on in the rain otherwise it would have been a wet socks day!). When it comes to wildlife we wouldn’t know where to start with the long list of creatures we have seen already, not to mention the birds. There are cockatoos flying around everywhere and birds called the laughing bird which make the most unreal sound. At night time as the sun has just gone down from outside our window we are nearly deafened by the toads and every insect here seems to be able to fly as well, which isn’t great when you get constantly dive bombed by the things… taking the washing out to get dry is like walking a mine field!! Though it’s all part of the fun…!

The Shangri La and Four Seasons Hotels
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Where Nic was working!!

Sydney Opera House

What a building! We both agree that we feel the building looks more spectacular at night and since arriving have had a couple of walks around outside just to take in the building. Nic worked there one night as they were using the Opera House as the Gala Dinner venue and booked the whole of the Opera House out including all of the restaurants and the Concert Hall. It is amazing to think that it took 7 years just to build the model of the building and then 17 years to complete the actual building!!! (And we complain about Wembley!! though come to think about it, it was actually an Australian firm that built Wembley!!) We are going to watch Edward Scissor Hands in a couple of weeks so will let you know what we think of the inside after that…

Nic on the steps to the Opera House!
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Nic around by the front of the Opera house!
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The amazing Sydney Opera House!
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The Opera house is a stunning building!
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The Sydney Opera House!
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View of the city from the Opera House!
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Sydney Harbour Bridge

Again when anyone thinks of Sydney one of the images that pops to mind has got to be the bridge! To this day it is still the world’s largest steel, single span, arched bridge! And every morning we are both lucky enough to be able to take a ferry to work that travels right underneath. The bridge was actually completed in 1930 and all families living in its path were asked to leave that area without any compensation. Built between two World Wars, it unfortunately caused 16 deaths by the end its completion. One worker, an Irishman fell from the bridge but was and still is the only person to survive a fall from the bridge structure. Not a lot of people know this but there is actually a toll to cross the bridge of $3.00 but is only charged when travelling to the South (so Opera House side). The government advertises that they only charge this as an efficiency measure to speed up traffic flow!! Watch this space as we are going to do the climb next weekend as long as we have a clear day!

The two of us in front of the bridge!
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Marc with the Sydney bridge in background!
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Nic with the Sydney bridge in background!
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One of the Sydney Ferry's by the bridge!
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The Opera House and Harbour Bridge!
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AFL

So we have arrived in the home city of the football team known as the Swans, and we don’t mean Swansea!! Nope the Swans are also the nickname for the Aussie Rules Football team of Sydney. We had a call from one of Marc’s mates from work – Ollie. He said that a few of his mates that he lived with were heading out to the AFL match and wondered if we fancied it. We jumped at the chance and decided to meet up with them at the Olympic Stadium for a few pre match drinks. We headed off about 4pm on the Saturday straight to the main train station to catch the transfer to the Olympic park. To our surprise the train was free of charge as long as you could show a valid AFL ticket on your return. We thought this was great, because it should have cost $35 dollar for the two of us. It was only a couple of stops before we reached the Olympic park which was developed specifically for the Sydney Olympics in 2000. We could see all the modern stadiums as we approached and the modern looking Olympic village which has since been sold off for residential use.

We approached the main stadium which was breathtaking. This is a massive structure that is now home to the Sydney Swans and many other sporting events. It is now called the ANZ stadium and has been reduced from it original 110,000 seat capacity to 80,000. This was to create more of an atmosphere during match day.

The first thing we noticed was it was nothing like the build up to a footy match back home. To start with the home and away fans were all mixed in the 2 main outdoor bars with live bands playing in both. We thought it was great but weird to think that they needed live bands to create some atmosphere. In Liverpool you just get the spit and sawdust kind of pub with the guys in there singing for themselves!! We had a few beers before going to buy our tickets from the gates. We managed to get tickets with the away fans for $22 dollars each and got a great seat on row 14 right behind the posts and the action. You definitely have to stay alert as you have footie balls flying at you from all angles!

As the game started we had no idea of the rules and had seen hardly any AFL. This is the weirdest game ever created. It must have been some mad Aussie in a pub one night had two many beers and decided to create this game with some crazy rules. There were 3 refs on the field at any one time, then goal judges, People in bright yellow running across the ‘Oval’ pitch seeing if anyone needs medical assistance and then people in green and black on the pitch giving people drinks!! It’s like a rainbow right in front of your eyes, with dozens of people running everywhere. Then when it comes to restarting the game the ref chucks the ball in from the sideline while facing the crowd and chucking it over his head!!

The weirdest and funniest rule happened half way into the game. Barry Hall the main guy for the Sydney Swans turned around about 20 ft from us and punched a West Coast Eagles player that was defending him and knocked him clear out!! The weird thing was No red card. Barry Hall carried on playing till the end. The way it works with AFL is that the player carry’s on playing the rest of the match what ever the offence and then goes to the AFL court a few days after the game to see if he has to miss any games – Barry got an 7 match ban!! Take a look at this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_dsiuc169_w you might even see us in the crowd, we were sat directly behind this action!!

Nic outside the ANZ Olympic Stadium!
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Live band playing before the match!
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Sydney Swans V West Coast Eagles!
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The view from our seats!!
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Bondi Beach, Hunters Hill Food Festival and some Blue Crab!!

We were pleasantly surprised by Bondi Beach as we had heard mixed reports about the place. You will see from the photos that the beach is really nice and clean and it’s just a great place to sit on the sand and watch the Surfers catching a few waves. Chris and Kate had arrived into Sydney so the four of us headed down to Bondi to have a relax…It’s a real surfers town with everyone walking around the shops, cafes and bars in wet suites and bare feet. The following day we headed to the Hunters Hill food and Wine festival and tried plenty of the Australian Wines including Chili Wine!

We also paid a visit to ‘The Rocks’. This place is steeped in History. Supposedly the place where the first British convicts and their overseers setup open-air Gaol’s. Its changed a bit now with the Sydney Harbour Bridge using ‘The Rocks’ as it’s support and also a vibrant market place and old Irish bars in place of the Gaol’s. Up the road from here we wanted to pay the oldest pub in Australia ‘The Lord Nelson’ a visit to try out the locally brewed beer’s. http://www.lordnelsonbrewery.com/lnbh_joomla/index.php?option=com_frontpage&Itemid=1

We bought a Scooner (Bit bigger than a half measure) each of different beers from the interesting looking blackboard menu, and then passed them around to give each one a try. We must say that we were pleasantly surprised by how nice each beer was. We were good and kept the testing of beer down to a minimum, and headed back to the Markets as there is always something going on!!

Just before Chris and Kate left for China they headed down to the Fish Market early in the morning while Marc was in work and bought some blue crap and fish for us all to try something a bit different for dinner! Both the blue crab and the fish were delicious!!

We will be back in touch once we have done the Bridge Climb hopefully next weekend!!

All our Love

Marc and Nic

Sejuiced at Bondi!!
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The impressive Bondi Beach!
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View from the Bondi Junction Shopping Centre!
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At the Chillies stall! Wine with a kick!
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It was nicer than it looks!!
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Updated 14/04/08
 

G’day Everyone!

We hope everyone is doing well at home, we have been hearing all about how bad the weather has been and if it’s any consolation it’s not been too great here, we have had a couple of days none stop rain, that much that our ceiling in our bedroom started to leak last night! What with the rain and the possums the roof has got no chance here!! We have finally got a day off today so we thought we would fill you all in on our frivolities in Melbourne! 

So Melbourne, well it was definitely hot that is for sure!! Whooow… at a whopping 42 degrees on Grand Prix day we were dreaming of the weather back home! The city is definitely student central (tax dodging heaven!!) and they seem to dominate the population here. With this in mind you would think there would be some cheap restaurants and shops etc. well think again, it’s probably in the running with London for its price and now we have arrived in Sydney we can safely say that Sydney is definitely cheaper. We arrived into Melbourne on a bank holiday called Labour Day when they happen to have a festival all along the Yarra River, it is a really cool young city and apparently this type of festival is happening all the time. It’s also soooo easy to get about using the trams. Everyone got on the trams and did'nt pay, however, if you get caught you get finned, we didnt have the bottle for this so paid... most of the time!! It’s only a 15 minute tram ride to St. Kitts beach which was our first day out with Kate & Chris (Kate and Chris are a couple of our friends that are doing something similar to us and we managed to meet up with them in OZ!). We pretty much just chilled out and had a few beers (for a change!) while enjoying the sun and sea, though there was one thing that was completely different to any other beach we have been on so far and that is that they had a wheelbarrow library. A couple of young guys from the Melbourne library walk up and down the beach with a load of free books that you could choose from. We just thought it was a great idea for a beach and a good way to get the books into circulation. It also happened to be Chris’s birthday on this day so we finished the day off by having a few more beers and some birthday cake on the top deck of our hostel, where the views across Melbourne were out of this world!

Enjoying the beach at St. Kilda!
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Watch out for the Nobby Clarks!!
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Enjoying a drink at St Kilda beach!
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Kate and Chris enjoying the birthday cake!
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Having a few beers on teh Hostel rooftop!
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View from the Hostel rooftop!
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Federation Square is the city’s meeting place where everyone gathers after work and at weekends. All the buildings are futuristic and there is a huge outside screen where you can watch movies every Saturday night. The four of us got mixed up and ended up sitting there for about 2 hours before we realised it was actually Saturday night and not Friday duhhhhh! It’s a great spot to sit and people watch!

It was so hot the birds were panting!
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The big screen in Federation square!
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View across Federation square!
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We escaped from the City for a day and all jumped into a car to Phillip Island. Cape Woolamai was our first stop on the island where we got to see some wild surf… Marc and Chris actually went in to try out the waves and were amazed by the power of the surf! We also got to see our first Australian lifeguards in action... the tyde and waves were that strong they put the area in which you could swim to a few feet. Kate and Nic on the other hand stayed on dry sand and enjoyed the view! One of the big sites on the Island is a visit to the Koala conservation centre and I think you will all agree from the photo’s how cute they are but let us tell you they don’t smell as good as they look! Plus there a bit like the Giant Pandas we seen in China and dont move to much...!They eat the eucalyptus trees and it ferments in their bellys so they spend the whole time a bit tippsy!! (sounds like most of the people in Abergele!!)  We then stopped off at the animal conservation center and all got to feed some Kangaroos, talk to some cockatoos and got the fright of our lives by the Cassowary Bird… This is a weird animal... put it this way in April last year, a busload of Japanese tourists were held hostage by a hungry adult bird as it head-butted the vehicle's door. In May, a load of teenage cassowaries wrote off five cars in a hotel parking lot, karate-chopping the bonnets.  There is a photo below of Marc trying to hand feed one… as you can see from his face Marc wasn’t to happy about the bird getting too close!

Big Koala!
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Our first Koala sighting!
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Yawning koala!
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It's a hard life!!
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Another Koala relaxing!!!
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The long strech at Surfers Beach!
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Huge waves at Surfers beach!
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Kate and Chris with the Kangaroos
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Nic feeding one of the Kangaroos!!
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Everyone with the Kangaroo!!
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Kangaroo with a joey!
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Cute Kangaroo!!
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G'day Skippy!!
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Kangarooville!
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The Man killing Two-Wattled Cassowary!
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Marc had to move quick to get away!
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Nic feeding one of the talkative cockatoo's!
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The huge Australian Pelicans!
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Dingo eyeing up his next meal!!
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Then we were off to see the Nobbies and we don’t mean a pack of nuts!! The Nobbies are named “The Nobbies” because of their unique rock formations off the western tip of the Island. It is a high conservation area featuring penguins, seabirds and home to the second largest colony of Fur Seals. Well it can’t be that big because we didn’t see any!!! Apparently we weren’t there at the correct time but what we did see is a shed load of Penguins. We actually went to the Penguin parade that night and it’s not what you think… nothing like the parade in Colwyn Bay Mountain Zoo! It’s a bit more natural than that. At sunset you get given a spot on the beach to watch hundreds of the Worlds smallest Penguins emerge from the sea and waddle ashore to their sand dunes to sleep for the night. It was a great thing to experience and a bit hilarious as some of the little penguins had eaten that much at sea they were having problems actually walking on dry land! Sorry no photos of this we were not aloud!

Waves on the Nobbies!
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View of the Nobbies!
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Fat baby Penguin waiting to be fed by Mum!
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More amazing views!
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The Nobbie blow holes explained!
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Stage one of the blow holes!
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Out it comes!
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The Grand Prix was ace and brilliant to see Hamilton come in with the win!!! The only problem was the heat… it was 42 degrees and as you can imagine if you want to watch the race there is no shade what so ever! We managed to get a great spot where we were on a higher part of the land so could see a long length of the track. Before the race started there were heaps of other races including a celebrity race, vintage car race and a Motorbike race. There were also stunt drivers going around the tracks so we were kept entertained throughout. We also had a fly over by the Australian Red Arrows and bizarrely by a Qantas 747!!

It was a bit scary that a 747 flew so low over us all and we didn’t know it was going to happen so we were all a bit stunned when this big plane came out of nowhere!! Once the race was underway the first thing we noticed was the massive speed difference between the F1 cars and the others and the noise was phenomenal. They were selling ear plugs outside the race track; we just thought nothing of it, now we know why!! It really was ear piercing. It was a great day and we would recommend it to anyone especially when next year is going to be a night race. We were surprised at the end of the race when the crowds were aloud to enter the race track, but the announcement was made when Hamilton was on the podium so everyone jumped at the chance to get close to the track!! Here are some of the pictures of the action!!

Marc checking out the Mclaren car!
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Our entrance to the race!
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Australian Red Arrows!
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Dont blink or you'll miss em!
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Here he comes.......!
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Lewis on his winning lap!
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Nic getting onto the track!
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We could just about walk the track in the heat!!
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Neighbours, everybody needs good neighbours! The day before we were due to fly to Sydney we travelled to see Ramsey street. Well, it is actually called Pin Oak Court in real life! It was just so bizarre that we had watched Neighbours all through our school years and now here we were both walking down the street! Everyone else we met had paid 120 dollars for the organised trip but we had made our own way there on the Tram and didn’t pay a dime! As it happens it is just a normal street and there are people living in some of the houses, they even have body guards outside one house because people have walked up the drive and through the front door thinking that they are really in Neighbours! It just happened to be St. Patrick’s Day on the day we visited so we made the most of it and had a photo taken outside Harold’s house with our Guinness hats on! Unfortunately we never got to see any of the action as the one of the body guards told us all the filming goes on first thing in the morning to avoid the heat!!!  (Don’t suppose they have the same problem in Coronation Street!)

Outside Doctor Kennedy's house!
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What do ya think of the new couple in Neighbours??
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St. Paddys day Ramsey style!
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Proof that it really is Ramsey Street!
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A view up the street as the tour bus arrived!
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It’s onwards and upwards in the state of New South Wales now as we have arrived at the home of the fantastic Opera House and the magnificent bridge! We have been here for about three weeks and have pretty much not stopped working since our arrival, not that were complaining we were definitely in need of some hard cash! Once we have earnt some notes we will be on our way in a Camper Van up North! We have got some funny stories of our first few weeks working here and once we have got over the ordeal of getting Melbourne up and running we will be back on with some stories and photographs (including some humongous spiders in our Wash room!) in the next few days…

Loads of love and hugs Nic and Marc xxx

Update 25/03/08

Perth

G’Day!

Well this is it, 4 months into our journey and we’ve arrived Down Under! And we can’t understand a bloody word there all saying…! It doesn’t help with the fact they shorten everything and they talk so fast! We’ve got to say as well; here in Perth they all look a bit on the scruffy side, well maybe not scruffy but definitely relaxed. Everyone seems to wear either tracksuits or baggy shorts, anyway, this is only our first impression, were sure there are some very smart people in Perth…isn’t there?!?

Our flight from Singapore to Perth only took 4 hours so not that bad at all and what with the films on the flight and all of the pirate copies we bought in Asia we should definitely do well in any pub quiz on films! The hostel in Perth was okay, it just amazed us that when travelling around Asia everywhere was well geared up for the internet and arriving at our first hostel in Australia; where you would think they would be well switched onto the World Wide Web there wasn’t a mouse in sight! But we did get a free pickup from the airport to the hostel which made up for lack of internet. We immediately got the feeling that this city was really in the middle of no-where. On the road in you can literally see for miles across barren landscape. On the first full day we had in Perth we went into the city centre. It’s so not like any of our cities at home, for one it is very small in comparison or at least it feels that way. Perth also feels very friendly with it being so easy to get about, it’s also strange on the roads as there isn’t a great deal of traffic, you can pretty much cross the road where ever without having to go to a crossing. It was also dead quite with hardly anyone around, however on hindsight it was a Saturday and here in Oz there is a huge culture where everyone deserts the city at 5pm on a Friday and heads for the surf for the weekend (work hard-play hard, ooh we like the sound of Oz already!). We walked around the whole of the city on the City tour which of course didn’t take too long but there were some absolutely beautiful areas. One of the our favorite parts of the city has got to be down at the Jetty called Barrack St where you can catch the ferry to “Freo” (Freemantle is the full version, but hey when in Rome and all that!) and to Rottnest Island. There are loads of nice spots along the jetty to eat and drink with the big thing being Fish and chips, we avoided the temptation here because we were going to “Freo” the next day and had been tipped off that a place there serves up the best fish and chips in the whole of Oz (we don’t know about you, but our mouths are watering just writing this!) On the city walk we also went past the Swan Bell Tower which apparently is the largest instrument in the world! You will see what we mean from the photos, but it gave out the most beautiful sound! We then walked up Jacob’s ladder and what a climb that was… god only knows how many steps there are, we ran out of breath half way up and couldn’t be bothered counting the rest, and can you believe there were guys there running up and down a few dozen times! The story goes that after a builder put up some stairs to get locals up to the top of the hill, one of those locals erected a sign saying this way to Jacobs ladder (story from the bible) and from then on the name stuck - it is now an area where mad locals prepare for mountain climbs etc. At the top we walked around the corner to King’s park, where the views across Perth and the Swan River are fantastic.

Getting a foot message at Singapore airport!
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Big fig tree outside the old Perth hospital!
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Down one of the old streets in Perth!
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Kangaroo sculpture in the centre of town!
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The Swan bell tower!
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Biggest instrument in the World

The view from St David's park!
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“Freo!”

We caught the train to Fremantle. The train itself which only took about 40 minutes was worth the trip as we got to see the beautiful residential areas on the outskirts of the city where the lucky locals get to live… it’s a very pretty area! When we first got there we jumped on to the free tourist bus, which is an amazing service they have everywhere in OZ. They have a network of buses that travel all around the main tourist sites and you can jump on and off for nothing. They even have a machine that when you press the button will tell you what time the next bus arrives which is generally every 15 minutes. We took the free bus to the beach which took us through the historic port town first. All of the buildings are colonial architecture so it’s like stepping back in time. Once at the beach we realised where all the city people were… it was chock-a-block! It was a lovely beach with crystal clear water but it was freezing, a bit of a shock for us after a few months swimming in the warm waters of Asia, however, we had to put on a brave face as the Ausies don’t even flinch when they get in! The beach was great and we could definitely get used to coming down here every weekend. After a couple of hours on the beach we hopped back onto the bus and headed over to the Maritime Museum which holds stories about the famous mutiny on the Batavia (one of the oldest ships they have found ship wrecked off the coast of Australia). It’s a great museum and explains all the stories of how Australia was first reached by the explorers and the conditions the convicts had to endure at sea before arriving. Incidentally it was actually a Dutch explorer who first landed his boat here, and Oz was briefly known as New Holland, that was until the Brits Rocked up!

The train to Fremantle from Perth!
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Peace bus near the Fremantle beach!
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Catchin some rays on Freo beach!
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Plenty happening out at sea!
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Nic at Freo beach!
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It's spotless!

Our next big adventure was to try the Fish and Chips of Australia! Everywhere in Asia where we met Australians they have been telling us how great their fish and chips are and after 4 months of a no fish and chips diet we were very excited about our lunch! The most amazing thing about it was the fish! They have a huge fish counter where you can choose from any of the fish! It was well worth the 4 month wait as the fish was fantastic! The chips on the other hand left a lot to be desired and weren’t really a touch on our Chips at home…

Voted the best Fish & Chips!
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Fremantle harbour! Big yachts
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Outside the Maritime museum!
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Flight from Perth to Melbourne! Perfect day!
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All in all we loved Perth and had we not needed to rush onto Melbourne we would have really loved to spend a bit more time on the West coast… but who knows, we have plenty of time so once our working days in Sydney are over we could be bombing back to the West coast in a camper van!

The cockpit inside the plane!
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View from plane leaving Perth!
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Amazing views on the way to Melbourne!
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Amazing views all the way!
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Plane arriving into Melbourne!
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Tara for now, we will be back on with Melbourne and Sydney soon!

Loads of love Nic & Marc xxx

Update 23/03/08

Hi Everyone & Happy Easter!

We have just added our last stories of Asia over on the Malaysia and Singapore page… We will be back on in the next couple of days with our first stories from Down Under!

Great to hear from you all,

Loads of love Nic & Marc xxx

The only things in life you regret are the things you don't do!