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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Meeting the icons of Sydney

So we were in Sydney, it hardly seemed real as one minute we were in Perth The next in Melbourne and then boom…straight to Sydney with only a second thought.
This city is busy, streets filled with every culture you could imagine. It’s the first port of call for most travellers so expect a lot of backpackers which means expect hostels to be $$$ and fully booked. New year’s was pretty much impossible to get accommodation and we were concerned, had we made the right choice to come to Sydney at such a busy time?

To take the stress off that question we gathered ourselves and decided to jump headfirst in to Sydney life by checking out the harbours. We approached the busy metropolitan and squeezed through the crowds, of which were many.

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We had arrived and what we saw can only be described in one word, wow. The harbour bridge is only a bridge I know but we were taken aback by its sheer size and structure, it is such an icon of Sydney’s skyline and to be stood in front looking up at it was such a great feeling and I think it was then that I realised how far we had come and now we were here together.

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I couldn’t wait to get up close to her and take a zillion photographs although we had both decided I needed my own camera as Sean had his SLR and I only had my phone I really wanted this bridge all to myself and my HTC just wasn’t going to do the job.

Camera shopping = stressful

I had a few cameras to compare, Nikon, Canon and Lumix.

I looked around at a few shops in sydney and online, ending up at Ted’s Camera’s. To cut to the chase I ended up buying the Canon IXUS as it had WiFi, had a great range of effects for photography creativity, the picture quality and my mother who is a keen photographer uses Canon so like mother like daughter. The lumix apparently does not ha great results I was told and if your travelling you do not want to risk all these great memories. I ended up getting a good deal on my camera too paying $140 with a camera by thrown in.

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I now was snappy happy, taking photos of the bridge and of course the opera house. She was quite an impressive building and it looks quite different up close, from tv she just looks a plain white colour but up close you see her thousands of tiles and the iridescent/pearly colouring which was great to see. Her peculiar shape meant photographs came out very nicely with the sharp lines and arches. I couldn’t wait to see her at night and all lit up for new year.

St Kilda beach, The Nunnery, Fitzroy

Sadly Space Hotel was fully booked so we had to hunt down new accommodation. We booked some nights at The Nunnery, it was a bit further out than Space but only a 15 minute walk to CBD. It was a nice little hostel, we stayed in a 6 bed dorm ($34 each) but unfortunately apart from an American girl the other guys sharing the room were very annoying. Sleep was a blessing, as two nights in a row we were woken up numerous times. One of the guys from our dorm was a bit of a party animal and would come and wake us up in the middle of the night. “Come out!” He’d say “We’ve got goon! Come get some goon!” Another guy loved to walk in the room and turn all the lights on and then walk out leaving all the doors open. What a douche! Everyone was very clicky at the hostel so it was very hard to interact with them. At a free BBQ at the hostel we did manage to speak to a friendly guy from Argentina called Francisco.

That day we had a house to view not far from Carlton Park. We knocked on the door and Jess greeted us and let us in. My first impressions weren’t great, the room we walked into was her bedroom, mattress on the floor and clutter everywhere. She was a nice girl, a bit hippy looking wearing an oversized jumper and she had dreadlocks. Her friend was sporting a little pencil tash and to be honest seemed a bit high. His eyes were red and he spoke very scatty. The house overall was very cluttered, the bathroom had vines growing from outside, into the window and down the inside of the bathroom wall which did look cool but neither of us fancied sharing a shower with a load of spiders. After looking around the house we returned to Jess’s bedroom to find that tash-guy had the munchies. He found a bag of nuts amongst the clutter and began to munch away as Jess reminded him that he had a nut allergy. We sat there asking a few more questions and talking about Melbourne in general. Tash-guy stopped eating his nuts as he was feeling sick, which was our cue to leave.

During our stay at The Nunnery and in between the rain we had a nice day were it was 28°C so we went to St Kilda beach. It wasn’t the best of beaches but it was nice to be by the sea. Near the beach was Luna Park with a massive face as the entrance. We checked out some of the markets, walked in the sea and relaxed on the beach.

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We managed to book more nights in the much loved Space Hotel. For our last night at The Nunnery we avoided the noise and the two of us headed to Fitzroy. It was similar to Northbridge in Perth, plenty of quirky shops and bars and a few good graffiti spots. We found a Little Creatures bar which we had missed since leaving Fremantle, we chilled out with a few bottles of pale ale discussing our plans and future trips.

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Above our heads the seatbelt light was flashing, everyone buckled up and shortly after that it was touchdown. We had arrived in Melbourne! Due to it being a domestic flight everything went pretty quickly in the airport we were reunited with our luggage and jumped straight onto a shuttle bus which dropped us outside our accommodation.

For the next two nights me and Ash were staying at Space Hotel. This is the best hostel style accommodation we have stayed in to date. It was $85 a night for a double room, very clean and modern. The toilet and shower facilities were shared but very clean and there was plenty of them. The shared kitchen was very spacious with plenty of cooking utensils and cooker hobs. There was also an outdoor balcony and indoor dining tables. Within the building there was also a nice little gym and movie lounge. To top it of there was a nice area on the rooftop for kicking back and enjoying the city view as well as a jacuzzi. We dumped our luggage in our room then went out to explore Melbourne.

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Hosier Lane was a short walk from Space and enticed us with its graffiti covered walls. It’s become a very popular tourist spot due to the ever changing artwork covering the walls. It would be a great place for a fashion shoot, everywhere you look there is colour. Some of the graffiti had been freshly done and the smell of spray paint was still lingering. Our first  impressions of Melbourne was “cool” it was certainly a quirky, hip place to be. We already had an idea of the size difference compared to Perth, it is a much bigger city. Bigger buildings and bold statements everywhere, some of the architecture was awesome. There’s a mix of old and new such as the abstract shapes of buildings surrounding Federation Square and the older buildings such as Flinders Station.
We chilled out in Fed Square and watched the sunset behind Flinders Station. The sky had a beautiful pink and orange hue to it.

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Perth and WA is always going to be special to me. I’m glad we spent nearly 5 months there as we experienced so much and met some great people. We have so much more yet to see and have not regretted anything.

Perth to Monkey Mia: Day 3 – Monkey Mia, Hamelin Pool, Eagles Bluff, Kalbarri

Early start for all of us today, we had dolphins to see!! Myself and Sean were excited to actually see one up close as we have never seen a dolphin before. Kelly did tell us that the chances of us being picked were slim as there would be lots of people there and it was school holidays so normally children or elderly people get picked.

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Now we could either watch from the jetty and get good pictures or stand by the shore and try our luck, I decided to try my luck but got trapped at the side and didn’t get much of a view to be fair, Sean found it hard to get pictures of the dolphins and sadly we did not get picked to feed them but a few people from our tour did. During the feed I saw something near the end of the Jetty and I thought it was probably a dolphin but Josie later told me it was a turtle.

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When the feeding had finished we were told there might be another feed around 9:30 but it’s dependent on the dolphins. We lay on the beach and soaked up the rays for a bit enjoying the view if the boats on the water. The time had arrived and lucky for us the dolphins had decided they wanted some more food. Sean and I made our way over with Kelly but this time we took a bit of a seat back not expecting much.

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Feeding time and a dolphin called Surprise, came over by us to get her fish and people started getting picked and one of those people was me!! It was so surreal but I grabbed Sean’s hand and took him to meet our dolphin. We were speechless after and to be truthful a bit shaky (it was our first dolphin encounter after all). Now that’s another thing checked off our bucket list. Me and sean took a dip in the sea but we’re thinking if a dolphin did come and swim by us we’d freak out and think a shark was there so we got out and soaked up some sunshine.

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We had another animal encounter that day too when an Emu came from nowhere, walking along the beach. It came right up to our bags rummaging around in mine and lindseys stuff, cheeky. We got some great pictures though and it was pretty cool being that close to an Emu especially since they are quite dangerous.

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As the day grew on we left Monkey Mia with a whole bunch of new memories, friends and experiences but sadly part of it had to end so we enjoyed the view one last time before we got in to the van for the last time. We drove to a viewpoint called Eagles Bluff next which had an amazing view over the Indian ocean, the sea was crystal clear and even though we were so many feet high on a cliff you could still see the shadows of sea life from turtles, rays, sharks and schools of fish. This place was so beautiful I wish we could have stayed longer and I wanted even more to just jump into the clear waters and swim amongst the fish.

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After our stop off we had one last trip as a group and that was to Hamelin Pool, home to stromatolites. These ancient living rocks provide the oldest record for life itself, pretty interesting. They give us the oxygen we need that make life on earth possible. There was a walkway for people to walk around to view them as they are a protected life form so we had to be careful but I don’t know if it was just me but the air felt so pure and cleansing, I felt glad we had came to view such an amazing site.

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It came that time when we had to say goodbye to an amazing place and not only that but goodbye to a great bunch of people as 5 members were heading on up to Exmouth. We swapped Facebook’s and gave our hugs and sooner then expected we were met by our new guide Mark who was taking us for lunch and then on to our hostel in Kalbarri. We were really envious of the others getting to go up to Ningaloo Reef and snorkelling with all the amazing creatures but the experience would have to wait for us till we visit the great barrier reef.

The journey was long to the hostel and the van was even more smaller for us so when we finally arrived at the hostel, I couldn’t wait to jump in bed but we were given some bad news that evening that our van had broken down (Mark had cut the radiator pipe!) So who knew when we would be able to move on. We hoped it wouldn’t cut in to our last day but for now all I wanted was my head on that pillow.

Perth to Monkey Mia: Day 2 – Kalbarri, Murchison Gorge, Shell Beach, Monkey Mia

It was an early start leaving the farm and a team effort to get everything packed onto the minibus. We said goodbye to the horses then off we set for Kalbarri National park. It was a beautiful sunny day and once we arrived at our destination we had views to match. A rocky landscape like nothing I’d ever seen before apart from on TV. We walked a rocky path to get to Natures Window a naturally made hole in a rock that frames the river. It’s an iconic attraction and was a great photo opportunity. Lindsay said “is this the window?” which made us all chuckle as it was as if she was sarcastically saying “is that it?” I couldn’t help myself from hanging from a few of the rocks to get some good photo’s. For some reason the film 127 hours came to mind. We all jumped back on the minibus to get a bit closer to Z-bend gorge. The walk was a bit more demanding, at times there was no actual path and a few uneven rocks to climb down but it was nothing too taxing. Nearing the river we met some abseiling guys and for $30 we could abseil down a 30 metre cliff face, which was pretty sweet. Most of the group got involved including Ash whilst those who didn’t took snaps. After that boost of adrenaline we chilled on the rocks by the river before climbing back up to enjoy some more views.

Back on the open road and our stomachs were howling at us like a pack of hungry wolves. Luckily we had some music to sing along with to distract us. My ipod was picked to be blasted out and the first song that came on was “whip it” by Devo. Everyone seemed to find it hilarious especially Antoine who said “this is so 80s”. We stopped at Billabong roadhouse for lunch. No BBQ today but there was plenty of food to make a decent sandwich to silence the wolves. Beetroot, sweet corn, ham, cheese, lettuce, tomato, carrot, tuna and more. Once again a group effort to get everything prepared and put away again.

Back into the oven we went… Ahem, I mean minibus. By this time it was pretty hot but once we got moving it became more bearable. We’d already seen a lot of wildlife whilst being on the road, a lot of roo’s live and dead. Suddenly Kelly, our tour guide slammed on the brakes, turned the minibus around, stopped and then jumped out. We hadn’t a clue what was happening and then we noticed she picked up a lizard. Somehow whilst probably driving about 100kph she spotted this well camouflaged lizard which turned out to be a thorny devil. It was great to see one up close and in the wild. We all took some photos then she carefully put it back.

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Shell beach was really cool, a beach of shells… self explanatory really. No fine sand just loads of tiny shells. There was no one else there and water was so clear and blue I couldn’t resist a quick dip. You could walk a fair bit out and the sea wouldn’t go any higher than your knees. We all got some great group photos of us jumping in the air whilst throwing a handful of shells. Thanks Kelly for the idea.

It was minibus time again like Adventure Time but without Jake the dog and Fin the human. Actually nothing like Adventure Time apart from the fact it was an adventure. More tunes from my iPod followed, one in particular was Heroes by David Bowie. We were excited to see dolphins at Monkey Mia and the lyric “like dolphins can swim” became a catch phrase, us cool kids on the back row sung the whole song. We arrived at Monkey Mia just as the sun was setting. Straight away we saw something in the sea…Dolphins! As if! Wild bottle nosed dolphins just like that, at least 3 of them swimming no more than 10 metres away. It was amazing and to top it off the beach was beautiful.

We all unloaded our gear at the hostel and enjoyed a BBQ. Steak was the dish and I enjoyed it all the more washing it down with a cold beer. That night a few of us chilled on the beach, the sky was so clear you could see the milky way! We sat there star gazing sipping back a few beers it really was a beautiful night. Monkey Mia had already got a firm hold on me with two hands and I didn’t want to leave.

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Exhibitions: Mekel Fashion Illustration & Beyond The Pale Rock Posters

Mekel: Perths Fashion Week @ Tu, Northbridge

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Found out that one of the illustrators I follow on instagram, Mekel aka Kelly Coates, was having an exhibition in Perth to celebrate Perth’s fashion week. I was tempted to go check out the opening night but decided on viewing her work minus the big crowd.

It was all based in a boutique store called Tu (French for you/yourself & Mandarin for painting/artform). The store itself is great, selling unique fashions and cute accessories that if I had the money I would buy. And out the back past the exhibition is a tiny cafe called Tea for Tu, which sells some nice food and coffee at a good price. These guys took part in the Northbridge Makeshift activity day (we shall post pics and a post about the Makeshift day).

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The exhibition was small but the work amazingly beautiful! Her style, strong with clean lines and amazing washes of water colours bursting out of the paper. I really like the positioning and quality of her pieces and would love to have one of these up in my home.

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The photos I took were not so great but I shall put them up to show you her work, but I would recommend either checking out her work online Mekel Illustration or follow her on instagram @mekel_illustration. Little did I know until after writing this blog that Kelly Coates has done artwork for a number of big branded companies, this is very impressive. Her clientele, to name but a few are: American Express, Cosmopolitan & Betts

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Anarchy Rock & Ink Posters, Beyond the Pale @ Fremantle Arts Centre

Sat 27th July-15th Sept

Beyond the pale was formed in 1996 by John Harris, an established group of Australian (and one American) artists,  who have since created artwork for some of the worlds biggest bands including: Kiss, The Rolling Stones, Queens of The Stoneage and Kings of Leon.

The artwork taking influence from the 1960s to the rebellious careful punk approach. Artists in this exhibition include: Rhys Cooper, Pat Fox, Daymon Greulich, Chris Grosz, Vance Kelly (USA), Ian McCausland, Craig Phillips, Graeme Webber, Joe Whyte and mine and Seans favourite, Ken Taylor.

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We took as many photos as we could take to show everyone what great work these guys created over the years for some iconic bands. Ken Taylor has a great design style and his imagination is on fire. I especially liked the Eagles of Death Metal, The Black Keys and Kings of Leon posters.

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Some great work and a great day for me and Sean. If you want to check them out and buy yourself some great prints click this link–> Beyond The Pale and why not check out more exhibitions at Fremantle Arts Centre

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Also at the Fremantle Arts Centre that day was a collaboration from Black Cat/Gato Negro, artists, anarchists and activists from 1978. There work very aggressive and definitely makes a statement for example one of the posters against abortion depicted a stick drawing of a lady with a coat hanger between her legs and the words ‘This is the enemy’.

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That was about all we could handle and so on we went to Little Creatures for a pint.