The End of Our Australian Adventure

After an amazing 12 months of travelling around Australia, sadly it had to come to an end. We started our adventure in Perth, from there we went up the west coast to Monkey Mia and down to Margaret River. We flew to Melbourne, did the Great Ocean road and travelled through to Adelaide and Port Lincoln. From there we drove to Sydney passing through Mildura and Canberra before embarking on a trip up the east coast stopping at Coffs Harbour, Byron Bay, Surfers Paradise, Brisbane, Noosa, Rainbow Beach, Hervey Bay, Fraser Island, 1770 Agnes Water, Rockahampton, Airlie Beach, Whitsunday Islands, Townsville, Magnetic Island and finishing in Cairns diving the Great Barrier Reef.

Now we are settling back to normal life in Birmingham, England and miss Australia in so many ways. Our next step is to find work and then plan some more exciting adventures.

Due to the amount of fun we were having our blog sort of fizzled out but we are hoping to reignite it and maybe even give it a makeover. Some content will be deleted and other bits shall be edited. On top of that hopefully they’ll be a lot of new additions. The blog will no longer become an update for friends and family but a form of help and advice for any people hoping to embark on an adventure similar to ours. We’ll point out the Dos and Don’ts of travelling and the mistakes we made. Reviews of travel agencies, hostels and more.

Let us know if you have any ideas for the blog? What would you like to know?

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Tourists see things, travellers experience them!

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Road trip – Warrnambool to Grampians

Our adventure along The Great Ocean Road had come to an end but we still had a lot more driving to do. Our first stop of the day was an unplanned one, but seeing a sign for Hopkins Falls we decided to follow it. Turned out to be a great little stop with a nice view of a waterfall. At the lookout we discovered a ‘Fotopol’ a brilliant invention! It was basically a permanent tripod for people to attach their cameras. It allowed me to take some really nice photos of the waterfall using a long shutter speed to make the movement of the water look silky smooth. The sturdiness of the Fotopol and the use of my wireless remote combined to create some great snaps.
Tower Hill Reserve was next on the agenda. The reserve was home to an extinct volcano believed to have erupted 30,000 years ago, but now a new habitat for many animals. We walked some of the many trails. The peak climb took us 30 minutes and led us to the highest point of the reserve with views of the surrounding area. The lava tongue boardwalk took us 30 minutes which led us through swamp areas and we spotted lizards, a snake and emus along the way. Journey to the last volcano took us one hour and lead us to the centre of the volcano but to be honest there was not much to see. We spotted a koala sitting in a eucalyptus tree near the picnic area and ash had a brief encounter with a snake near the information centre.
On returning to our vehicle I unlocked the doors and the key broke in the lock! I couldn’t believe our luck, stuck in a national park in the heat. We called Jucy who told us that even though we paid for the full insurance cover the key wasn’t covered. They gave us a number for a mobile locksmith and informed us that we would have to pay. How very helpful of Jucy rentals! We had to wait 2 hours for the locksmith to turn up so we went into the back of the van and cooked up some soup. There we were sitting in the national park carpark enjoying our soup and an Asian tourist took this opportunity to take a photo of us. Eventually the locksmith turned up and managed to cut us a new key for the hefty price of $100. But don’t worry, we did what we do best and complained to Jucy who later reimbursed us. After this setback we quickly got on the road again and headed for Grampians but a bigger obstacle was about to come into play.
The roads were straight and long heading towards the Grampians and we could see the mountainous landscape in the distance. We spotted smoke ahead and soon realised we were heading straight for it. We passed a Fire Marshall who informed us that it was a controlled fire and we had nothing to worry about. He advised us to slow down from 110kmh to 50kmh, to put our headlights on and he’d radio the other Marshall’s to let them know we were heading in their direction. Smoke was everywhere and even though we shut all the windows and vents we could feel the smoke filling our lungs. We carried on down the road only for the smoke to get thicker and all of a sudden we were in a thick blanket of smoke and could not see a thing. I couldn’t see the bonnet of our own car never mind the road ahead of us. The smoke was making us cough and the heat was unreal, even though visibility was zero, it was safer to keep on going. I was driving at walking pace when all of a sudden I had to hit the brakes hard and we stopped inches away from hitting a bollard. It was a bit of a panic but the car was becoming very hot so all I could do is keep moving and Ash suggested beeping the horn as we crawled along the road. Eventually visibility started to improve and there were flames near the side of the road. We could just make out the shadows of some of the marshalls fighting the fire. As soon as we cleared the smoke I put my foot down and wound down the windows, air never tasted so good. It was a very scary experience and one we will not forget. We were very lucky nothing was coming the other way. Ash did manage to film some of it, so we will try and upload some footage at a later date.
We stopped at Lake Bellfield before spending the night at Lake Fyans holiday park in the Grampians. It was a very eventful day and we enjoyed a relaxed evening star gazing with views of the Milky Way.

The Great Ocean Road – Anglesea – Port Campbell

We had an early start for day 2 of our great ocean road trip to make up for lost time. We woke ourselves up with a walk along the beach before driving to Aireys Inlet. We walked a short trail with scenic coastal views and saw Split Point lighthouse which was featured in the classic kids TV show ‘Round The Twist’ (I’m very tempted to watch it again and see if it was as funny as I remember).

Our next stop was Memorial Arch for a photo opportunity. The arch is a big wooden structure above the great ocean road in memory of all the serviceman that helped build the road and served in the Great War. The road itself is the worlds biggest war memorial, first built in 1939 and then replaced in 1973. It was then rebuilt following it’s destruction by fire in 1983. It is a very popular destination, coach loads of people were turning up all wanting a photo so we didn’t spend too long loitering. We then stopped at Teddy’s lookout for another great photo opportunity of coastal views before making a short stop at Apollo Bay for some fish and chips by the beach.

On the road again we drove through endless tunnels made of tree’s before arriving at Cape Otway. There was another lighthouse to see although we had to pay admission for access to the park. Within the park there were a few attractions such as the lighthouse, military bunker, aboriginal shack, small museums and nice views. In 1978 an aeroplane went missing in the area piloted by Fredrick Valentich. The last radio transmission he sent was “the strange aircraft is hovering on top of me again and it’s not an aircraft”….Strange! UFO? To be fair there was not much to see and if we had known probably wouldn’t have paid the admission.

We drove to Castle Cove for more coastal views and on route Ash’s eagle-eye spotted a few koalas up in the eucalyptus tree’s.
Finally we arrived at Port Campbell National Park, home to the 12 apostles – the most photographed stretch of the great ocean road. Our first stop was the Gibson Steps which led us down to Gibson Beach where we came face to face with one of the apostles – A large rock stack in the ocean. We then travelled a few minutes down the road to the 12 Apostles Visitors Centre where there were several lookouts to view more of the Apostles and a great place to watch the sunset. It was great seeing something up close that you’ve only ever seen in tour magazines. We would have liked to take a helicopter ride to see them all but sadly didn’t have time or the money.

That night we stayed in Port Campbell Holiday Park for another night in the van.

Formula 1; The Melbourne Grand Prix – Part 2

It was Friday 14th March 2014, the day me and Ash get our first look at the new Formula 1 cars in all there glory. We made an early start to avoid the rush on the trams and it paid off. Before we even entered the gates of Albert park we spotted Mark Webber being interviewed. Sadly we didn’t get near him but popped off a few paparazzi shots before leaving him in peace. We walked around before settling in our grandstand seats for the first F1 practise session of the day. We had bought some earplugs from my experience hearing a formula ford do a lap a few years ago but to my surprise the cars were a lot quieter, now fitted with their V6 turbos as apposed to the V8 monsters they once had. We sat in our seats for most of the practise before walking to the inside of turn 13 and 14 for a different perspective.  That day we also watched the Porsche Carrera Cup, RAAF roulettes and the deafening F/A18 Jet air displays as well as the second F1 practise session. Hamilton looked to be very fast and consistent throughout the day.

Saturday was another fun filled day. We spent some more time in the action zone before checking out some of the Ferrari’s and Lotus cars around the park. We walked along the V8 pits and went to the autograph stage were I met and had my photo with the Rolex grid girls and Ash met and got autographs from some of the skateboarders but sadly not Tony Hawk. We watched the third F1 practise session, Ferrari road car parade and the over head air displays. Towards the end of Saturday the F1 qualification began so we found our seat and didn’t budge. It was very exciting soaking up the atmosphere, hearing the roar of the engines and seeing some of the pit action. It was definitely better than watching the qualification at home on a TV.

Sunday was the big race day and the day we spent most of our time sitting in the grandstand. Before finding our seats Ash bought me an early birthday present in the form of a McLaren Jenson Button cap. We watched an ultimate speed comparison lap where a 2013 F1 car, current V8 supercar and a     all raced each other. There was also the F1 drivers parade and of course the 2014 Melbourne Grand Prix! I was cheering on Button and Kimi but believed the Mercedes looked very capable of a one, two finish. It was great to watch and we found the screen opposite very handy. We soon found ourselves cheering on Riccardo along with majority of people around us. After the race we managed to fight our way onto the track which was a bit of a struggle but managed to get close to the podium just after the champagne spraying. We watched the speeches, took photos of us on pole position before walking the track towards turn 3 finding some rubber from the tyres along the way.
It was a great weekend both me and Ash had a great experience. I still believe, however that watching the formula 1 is a television sport but you can’t beat the atmosphere and a weekend full of action.

Formula 1; The Melbourne Grand Prix – Part 1

We left Sydney to do a road trip along the Great Ocean Road starting from Melbourne. Timing was perfect as it meant we were in Melbourne for the Grand Prix. As much as I love watching formula 1, I’ve never had the opportunity to attend one, so what better excuse than seeing the opening race. We pre-booked a 4 day grandstand ticket. Unfortunately the Schumacher and Clark stand were both sold out so going by the location and reviews the next best option in our price range was the Webber stand $320 each.
We stayed in Nomads hostel which is located in the CBD near Grand Central and the free tram to the Grand Prix was on our doorstep.
Thursday was the first day and free entry to the public. As soon as we arrived at Albert Park we thought we would check out our seat for the weekend. It was a good location on the pit straight, we could see the V8 pits and the end of the F1 pits. We also had a big TV screen opposite which would help us keeping up with the action. There was no shade or shelter from the rain so we would have to make sure we came prepared for anything as Melbourne weather is very unpredictable. We caught a few races including historical cars before we decided to go explore.
As it was a free day we invited Josefine to meet us there. We spent a lot of time in the very impressive Action Zone where there was plenty of entertainment. We watched 3 motorcyclists dice with death in a cage aptly named the globe of death. It’s amazing how little space they have yet the three of them are criss crossing each others path whilst riding upside down and side to side. To add to that during the show we had RAAF Roulettes performing a jaw dropping air display above our heads. There was a massive skateboard vert where Tony hawk and friends performed some rad tricks. I couldnt believe that we got to see a legend of skateboarding twice in the space of a month. We also enjoyed Flair motor trials display where there was 2 dudes on motorbikes along with one guy on a bmx and another dude on a unicycle all getting air and tricking of some crazy ramps. Just when you think it can’t get any crazier there was an awesome high wire stunt with a dude riding a heavy motorcycle along a high-wire whilst a talented lady hung beneath the motorcycle performing trapeze-like stunts.
After our adrenaline kick we walked around other areas of Albert park checking out various sponsors and cars that were competing over the weekend. Near the historic car garages we bumped into David Coulthard surrounded by a mob of people.
Before leaving Albert park for the day we checked out the V8 supercar pits before catching the end of a Porsche Carrera Cup Race and boy were they loud!
That night we met up with Josephine and Elisa for food and drink. We had a good old chat about all our adventures past and present and sadly had to say farewell. Josephine was heading to Thailand and Elisa to Perth. Two great people that I’m sure we will meet again.

Sydney – life’s a beach. Bondi, Coogee and more

In Sydney there is a yearly event in November called Sculpture by the Sea. YHA central, a hostel we were staying at arranged a free walk featuring the sculptures. We decided to join in for the chance of meeting some new people and to get our bearings. The walk was from Bondi Beach to Bronte beach with plenty of weird and wonderful sculptures to gawp at along the way. Some of our favourites were a big glass orb that was filled with water which turned the landscape behind it upside down. There was a big 8 foot tall ball made of plastic rubbish symbolising the amount of rubbish found washed up upon the shore. During the walk we came across a giant orange wasp that was dragging a big huntsman spider along the rocks. I later found out that the wasp was called a spider wasp and they apparently paralyse the spider and then lay eggs inside the spider! NICE! It was a good day out and a chance to enjoy the sun. The walk would normally take 40 minutes and is about 4km but it obviously took us longer as we were enjoying the views. It’s a great walk to do even when the sculptures aren’t there. There are some great coastal views and nice beaches along the way.

 

On another sun filled day we headed to Bondi Beach for a relaxing beach day. To our suprise there was a surf competition happening at the time which added to our entertainment. Whilst the competitors were catching some waves there was music, funny australian comentators, charity BBQ and even a little stage area where some of the surfers were sharing their dancing skills with us. The grass bank was very busy, full of people enjoying the entertainment whilst sipping on an ice cold brewsky. There was a dude surfing who had a traffic cone gaffa taped to the front of his board, I don’t know if it helped but he was pretty good. After enjoying a hot dog and an ice cream we checked out the bondi shops and then walked to Bronte beach enjoying the coastal walk once again.

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If you are feeling energetic, you can do the same coastal walk from Bondi but go further than Bronte and end up on Coogee beach. This walk is roughly 7km and takes 1 hour and 40 minutes to walk. On this route you also get to see Clovelly and Gordon’s Bay.

Clovelly has a small beach and a large concrete area either side of the bay. It’s not the prettiest of beaches but a great place to sunbath on the concrete, if you’re not a fan of sand. It’s also a good spot for swimming and snorkelling due to protection from the waves the water is pretty calm. We have seen various fish and marine life whilst snorkelling and they seem very friendly as they are used to people. There is also a local big blue groper fish that is often seen but so far me and Ash have had no luck.

Gordon’s Bay is a beautiful quaint and rocky bay. It tends to be very quiet compared to the surrounding beaches. It’s also another great spot for snorkelling.

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Coogee is our current local beach seeing as we only live a short walk away. It’s similar to Bondi but tends to be less busy and you don’t see many surfers, It’s a great place to chill on the sand and then go for a swim to cool down. Last week i managed to catch the biggest wave I’ve ever body surfed and the wave after that was even bigger and took me out. There’s plenty of places to eat and drink around Coogee and we both enjoy living here.

A 45 minute walk south of Coogee is another lovely beach called Maroubra. It’s popular with surfers and has a great sandy beach to chill out on, It doesn’t get anywhere near as busy as Bondi and Coogee and you’ll find that most of the people there are locals.

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Job Searching and Sydney Sea Life

Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.” –Thomas Jefferson

We wanted to make a head start in Sydney and get on with applying for jobs straight away. We updated our CV and cover letter and printed out a stack of them. We updated our details on job sites such as seek.com and we were ready to roll. A lot of places did seem to be hiring, we noticed various job vacancies in shop windows. We would always check that the places we handed in our CV were actually taking on people with a Working Holiday Visa as to not waste their time and ours. We covered a lot of ground in one day walking the CBD and asking around. At sunset it was no rest for the wicked as will filled in numerous online applications and emailed a whole bunch of places. It’s not just something you can do for a day and then hope one of the companies get back to you. It was a constant pain in the arse! Day after day of applying for jobs…

In-between applying for jobs we took advantage of our Merlin pass and spent the day at Sydney Sea Life centre at no cost. Considering it was in Sydney you’d think the aquarium would have been the best if not one of the best Australia has to offer but Melbourne and Hillary’s aquarium are both a lot better. The highlights were seeing Dugongs and Platypus.

The kitchen area in the Wake Up hostel was always very busy. There was not enough hobs and if you were lucky to find a spare one you’d then have to sell an arm or a leg to find a pan. Due to this and the price difference we booked a twin room at The Maze hostel.