What a way to say goodbye...

Trip Start Nov 09, 2012
1
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Trip End Mar 04, 2013


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What I did
Neighbours tour
South Yarra
Melbourne Tennis - Australian Open

Flag of Australia  , Victoria,
Monday, January 7, 2013


We arrived in a very sunny Melbourne – around 36 degrees and caught
the Skybus into the central train station where we debated about
walking to the hotel. We then caught a taxi to our apartment and
checked in before exploring our local area. We stayed in St Kilda, a
main road that comes out from the city centre, an approximate 50
minute walk away. 

First job was to go in search of provisions, food and drinks, and went off
exploring around an area called South Yarra where there were lots of
bars and restaurants, but for about 45 minutes of looking, no
supermarkets. (the receptionist told us to go the wrong way – but I
managed to blag free wifi for it). We finally found our local Coles
supermarket and  provisions for the week ahead before trekking
home. 

We were quite tired from a few late nights and early mornings and that
is the only reason we didn't leave the apartment til 2pm on our first
full day in Melbourne. We booked our tours, one to Philip Island and
one to the Neighbours tour. It was another hot, 36 degree day and
this caused some problems with bush fires around Victoria and New
South Wales, especially in Tazmania and around Canberra. Luckily we
didn't have any near Melbourne. We walked into the CBD and pootled
around checking out the malls and shops. We did a lot of walking
around town, as well as a 14km round trip from the apartment.

The next day we didn't leave the apartment until midday as Doobs refused
to get out of bed (again)... A cooler day in Melbourne at 20
degrees, we walked into town to catch our tour to Philip Island.
About 2 hours away by bus, Philip Island is home to koalas, wallabies
and penguins – and it's the Little Penguins that we went to see.
These little fellas, about 12 inches tall and blue as opposed to
black, come back to their nests after sunset each night to rest from
their days at sea eating fish and to feed their chicks. We saw
hundreds of little penguins waddling in from the sea (they would run
out of the sea in a big group, get scared about predators – and
probably the hundreds of humans, and run back in a few times til they
felt confident to come to shore), up the beach and to their nests –
and it was fantastic – and out favourite was this one guy who's
foot was missing and he hobbled past us with a stump – dear of him!
Their nests were dotted all around the area and some penguins had a
trek up and down dale to get to them – and their chicks were
waiting for them – most still with their fur on, making an almighty
racket! One of the best moments of our time in Australia and a must
for anyone making the trip down under – anyone making the trip
however should not visit as we did in shorts and t-shirts as it gets
very cold at night on the sea front – however, it's a very good
excuse to buy a Penguin blanket to keep warm. We couldn't take any
pictures, but check out this Youtube clip:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xBSmcjQWqpg

The next day we went on our Neighbours tour. First of all we went into a
coffee shop and got to meet Kim – aka Libby Kennedy for a photo and
a chat. She told us all about her ex-husband who 'fucked-off' and
how she had to quit Neighbours to look after her daughter and now
spends her time signing autographs for tourists... We then headed
out to Ramsay Street on the official Neighbours bus! We visited some
sets, including the coffee shop, police station and school – AND
saw the set where Prisoner Cell Block H was filmed! OMG – that was
the best day of my life!!!

We then visited Ramsay Street – although it's not Ramsay Street at
all, it's a very very small (much smaller than on TV) close called
Pinoak Court – and real life people actually live in the houses –
so when it's time to film, they put the Ramsay Street sign up, change
the house numbers and tell residents to close their blinds and stay
indoors – so all the inside shots are done on set! If I was a die
hard Neighbours fan I'd be really upset that I'd been lied to all
this time... After our tour we headed over to the Australian Open
arena to watch some free qualifier matches which was excellent –
the courts are much smaller than what they are on telly.

The next day was all about cricket – and we headed off to the Melbourne
Cricket Ground to watch Australia v Sri Lanka one day international.
A scorcher of a day at 37 degrees, we were luckily in the shade
otherwise we may have baked – although when the weather changed to
a cooler wind in the afternoon I had to sneak in to the VIP seating
area to get some sun and warm up! The game was great (well the first
half was a bit slow) with Australia beating Sri Lanka with plenty of
overs to spare by bowling them out. It was a great atmosphere with
very vocal Sri Lankan supporters – although the Aussie supporters
may not have appreciated me dancing to the Sri Lancan music whilst
wearing my Aussie hat... We even got to see Basement Jaxx who played
at the half time interval which was very cool...

We had a very late night after the cricket cos Saturday morning we were
off on our road trip down the Great Ocean Road (hundreds of
kilometres of road that run parrallel with the coastline between
Melbourne and Adelaide with spectacular views and stop offs). We
checked out and headed to Avis to pick up our little Toyota Yaris
Automatic and headed out of Melbourne towards Woolambool where we
staying Saturday night. On the way we stopped at Torquay, where the
Billabong and Rip Curl brands were created, before heading over to
Bells Beach where the surfing championships are held each year, and
then on to Anglesea where we were supposed to go for a swim and play
some sea rugby. Unfortunately the weather had other ideas and it was
a cool day – around 20 degrees (it seems in Melbourne it can be 40
degrees one day and 20 the next and that's usual!). We then headed
out to a waterfall called Erskine Falls before going to Teddy's
Lookout for some lovely panoramic views over the coast. Next up we
went to Appollo Bay where we stopped for some food and got attacked
by flies – Debs had issues with Appollo Bay and we left quite
quickly never to return...

We then headed off to go on a Lighthouse tour but it cost too much to
enter so we decided to straight to the 12 Apostles – but on the way
we saw lots of Koalas up in the trees along the road – lovely to
see them in their natural habitat – although there were lots of
people stopped taking photos – in my opinion, up way too close to
the little fellas (cameras have zoom for a reason people!). Next was
the 12 Apostles, which are sandstone pillars left in the sea by the
coastline after thousands of years of erosion and looked lovely. We
went down on the beach for a close up of the first one, then to a
lookout for a panoramic view – the photos are amazing. After the
Apostles we headed to our accommodation for the night in Warnambool,
an hours drive from the Apostles – and it reminded us of Alice
Springs all over again – not the nicest hotel room we've ever
stayed in, but at least there were no legless lizards there. We went
out into town for pizza before heading back for some James Bond :-)


The next day we headed back along the Great Ocean Road to the Bay of
Islands, like the 12 Apostles, these are sandstone pillars left after
erosion – and they looked magnificent – really lovely views. We
then headed to the Otways National Park to go on a rainforest walk at
Otways Fly which was fantastic – it was a treetop walk through
thousands of year old rainforests, walking over the top of canopies
about 50 feet up with sensational views – it was very humbling to
be amongst all the nature – with of Australia's forest gone
since European settlement, it's all the more important that the
national parks are kept and protected.

After our walk we headed back to Melbourne, leaving the Great Ocean Road
and joining the in-state highway (the A1) on our trip back to
Melbourne. We needed to get the car back to Avis by 5pm and we made
it with minutes to spare as we got a little lost coming into
Melbourne and traffic lights in Australia are a bit of a nightmare if
you get caught on red... We did some interesting driving, and at
least one highly illegal turn, as there are tram lanes, inner lanes,
outer lanes, and only some of them can turn left/right and we didn't
know which was which, but we made it – now for New Zealand camper
van – which hopefully wont be an automatic as Debs had a tendency
to use the clutch and do an emergency stop in the middle of the
highway...

Monday (today) is a day of rest with lots of admin to catch up on before we
go to New Zealand on Wednesday. A lazy day – I was furnished with
Fruit toast and chocolate cup cake for breakfast in bed (best day
ever!)... And it's currently 3pm and I'm still in bed – watching
the Aussie Open and doing my blog...

Tomorrow is Aussie Open day and we have tickets to the Rod Laver (centre)
court – and we will be watching Andy Murray, Azarenka AND Federer –
we are very lucky to get such an amazing line up – we are VERY VERY
EXCITED! After the tennis we need to leg it back to our hotel to
check out, get the Skybus over to the airport for our transfer to our
airport hotel, ready for our 9am flight to Christchurch on Wednesday
morning. So far we have 3 nights in Christchurch in our camper van
and nothing else booked so this afternoon we probably should book
something... :-)

Melbourne is a funny little city – the weather is... intermittent – with
hot hot hot days one minute and cold the next – and is the first
time in Australia I've been cold during the day and have had a jumper
on – the city is more artsy than other cities and is the home to a
sports hub with footie, cricket and tennis arenas next to each other.
It does however lack a little soul and we prefer Sydney and Brisbane
to Melbourne – but saying that, it's been voted best city to live
in 3 years in a row – so what do we know...

This is our last stop in Australia and we can't believe our Aussie
Adventure is nearly over...  Australia's
an amazing country – and it has a little bit of everything, from
heat (especially Central and Northern territories – Alice Springs &
Darwin where temperatures often exceed 40 degrees), cooler climates
(Victoria and Southern Oz – including Melbourne), beaches,
rainforests, wildlife, especially kangaroos, wallabies, possums,
Tazmanian Devils, Cocaburras, seals, sea lions, whales and penguins –
such a diversity and uniqueness of wildlife. It also has amazing
sights and experiences to offer, including the Great Barrier Reef,
surfing, numerous islands to explore and great weather (for the most
part, but also cyclones and bush fires!).

Australia's the largest island in the world and is also the most arid – most
settlements are around the coast as inner parts of the country are
too hot and too arid and I guess if there was a downside, the rate of
development sees many forests and natural habitats being destroyed to
make way for new houses and businesses – pressurising already
stretched natural resources and negatively impacting on wildlife and
fauna. Oh, and a lack of monster munch...Overall,
Australia gets 9/10. The weather's great, the sights are great, the
people are great – if only it were closer to home for regular
holidays...

Next stop is New Zealand and 3 weeks of camper van fun – and in the
South Island alone we will experience whale watching, swimming with
dolphins, Southern Lights (hopefully), glacier walking, numerous
walks, beaches, swimming and kayacking. We're very excited to be
going on a new adventure but very sad to be leaving Australia (and
comfort of apartments and hotels) behind.

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