Aussie Rules!

Trip Start May 27, 2011
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Trip End Ongoing


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Where I stayed
A campervan in the middle of nowhere
What I did
Explored New South Wales

Flag of Australia  , New South Wales,
Friday, September 9, 2011

We arrived in Sydney Airport at 9am after around 18 hours flying, surprisingly awake - which was probably excitement. We were staying in a hostel in the Kings Cross area of Sydney, the backpacker district (ok, the red light district, so the only place cheap enough for backpackers). Cue my rant about the strong Aussie dollar... every blimin thing is so expensive. I spent my first day in Australia wandering around a supermarket picking up various items and swearing at the prices (it was jet-lag ok?). Its no exaggeration to say that everything is around 2-4 times more expensive in Australia (bar petrol) than in the UK.

For the first 5 days we spent our time exploring Sydney and its beaches. Sydney is a beautiful and fun city - and obviously compared to most of South America, it seemed extremely clean and modern. The underlying atmosphere is so much more relaxed than a lot of other cities. Commuters seemed happy and in no rush. Even their commute is on cool old fashioned tugboats (like boats from a children's cartoon) across Sydney Harbour. When we went for a coastal walk from Coogee Beach round to Bondi (takes about 2 hours) we saw so many lithe, healthy, tanned joggers bounding past us that we started to feel guilty for the total lack of exercise we had undertaken in the last 3 months (and had to reign in the urge to trip some of them up for fun :)

After a bit of cosmopolitan city time we decided to hire campervan, a lovely little Toyota with a kitchenette and hitop. I called her Charlene. We travelled west from Sydney to a place called the Blue Mountains and stayed in a few free campsites. Essentially in Australia you can camp for free in designated areas, (some with unsealed roads... which are interesting to drive along in a campervan let me tell you). What is rather brilliant is a lot of them have toilets AND TOILET ROLL. How organised is that... would never happen in the UK sadly.

We decided to splash out (no pun intended) and go whale watching in Jervis Bay (South of Sydney). These whales are currently migrating from the Artic and arrive in the Jervis Bay area around September or October. We only managed to see one teen male who wasn't sure whether he was heading North or South... or as the captain put it "like all teenage boys he has no direction". What we did see a lot of were dolphins, they seemed to like playing / racing with the boat and put on quite a performance, such little attention seekers eh?

Whilst on the road I've been reading Down Under by Bill Bryson and he talks a lot about all the animals and creepys that live in Australia. To directly quote "It (Australia) has more things that will kill you then anywhere else. Of the world's ten most poisonous snakes, all are Australian. Five of its creatures - the funnel-web spider, box jellyfish, blue-ringed octopus, paralysis tick and stonefish - are the most lethal of their type in the world. This is a country where even the fluffiest of caterpillars can lay you out with a toxic nip, where seashells will not just sting you but sometimes actively GO for you". So, imagine how nervous I was about going into the woods to use 'natures public convenience' at 11pm in the middle of nowhere. As it happened no insects attacked me. A possum did instead. I let out a big girly scream and he/she ran away. Trevor lept to my rescue (or as it happens paused the movie he was watching on the laptop and just listened, my hero.)

The final animal-related stop was at an Australian animal sanctuary, so all the favourites were here - Kangaroos, Koalas, Emus and Wombats. We spent quite a while in the enclosure with the roos, as to our eyes they are fascinating creatures. Like someone with the eternal age of five, everytime one hopped past me I'd giggle "look its a bouncing animal!!" To Trevor and I the novelty would never wear off. Except later when the van stank of roo poo from my sandals mind. The koalas were asleep the whole time we were there as they need a world record breaking 21 hours sleep (slightly more than Trevor).

We travelled for a total of seven days in the van but we would of both loved it to be longer. Australia is more beautiful than perhaps its given credit for and the people more friendly. Once you get used to the directness that is :)

One day we'll go back and hit up the entire country - scary outback and all, but at this moment we had a schedule to keep and rugby to watch in NZ. So we flew out of Sydney on the 9th September, flying into Auckland where the opening ceremony of the Rugby World Cup was being held.
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