Making our way down the South-East coast of Australia
07.08.2011 22 °C
From Rockhampton we made the 10-hour overnight bus journey to Brisbane, however the trip didn’t go without a ‘slight’ hitch. Kayleigh was already feeling a little under the weather, but 3 hours into the journey she turned very white and was very poorly, luckily they have sick bags on the buses! We’re not sure if she picked up a bug from somewhere, but it came on pretty quick and she felt awful for the next day or so.
After getting only a little bit of sleep for the rest of the journey, we arrived in Brisbane at 6am and walked to our hostel, Chill Backpackers. We were staying in a 4-bed dorm room, and met Erlend, a nice Norwegian who had just arrived in Australia. With Kayleigh still feeling rough, she rested in bed while Phil and Erlend went on the roof as the hostel put on a free sausage sizzle with a few beers.
Kayleigh was much better the next day so we headed out into the city to explore. We walked to Queen Street in the centre where most of the shops are, saw the City Hall where LG were launching a ‘Life’s Good’ campaign with free Zumba dancing and checked out Anzac Square with monuments for Australia’s war veterans.
We did some more exploring of Brisbane the following day, walking across the river to the Southbank area, where they have an amazing man-made beach, some lovely gardens and the cultural centre. We went to the free museum, which had some really interesting exhibitions including Australian animals, dinosaurs and Rock n Roll George’s car, a legend in Brisbane who used to drive round the city for over 60 years.
Unfortunately, that night the curse of Kayleigh’s bug came back to get us, this time it was Phil’s turn to feel sick! After an early night though, it didn’t last too long which was lucky really as we headed to Australia Zoo the next day, along with Erlend.
We were up nice and early and on a Greyhound bus by 7am, it only took an hour and a half to get there. The weather was perfect and the Zoo itself wasn’t too busy with it being a week day, so we had a great time seeing all kinds of animals. Highlights included watching the otters being fed, a crocodile show at the ‘crocoseum’, feeding some really tame kangaroos and wallabies, petting some koalas and watching the tigers playing in water. :-)
We spent 5 days in Brisbane overall, and on a Sunday we made our way to the next stop, Byron Bay. It took 4 hours on the bus to make it there, and when we arrived we dropped off our bags at Aquarius Backpackers Hostel and headed out. We went straight to the main beach strip, which was a lovely long stretch of white sand, but the main attraction was the many surfers who were making the most of the waves.
That night we went for a few schooners at the Beach Hotel, which was busy with locals and tourists enjoying a live reggae band. Afterwards, we went back to our Hostel where it was ‘Scattegories’ night. A game where teams had to think of funny words depending on the letter that was chosen (the ruder the better), we met 2 Californian girls and the 4 of us managed to win one game, free drinks all round!
The main highlight for us in Byron Bay was walking to the Lighthouse, built in 1901. The route we took to the lighthouse was a steep(ish) climb through a forest for about 4km. When we emerged at the top the view was spectacular. The day was warm with the sun shining, the waves from the ocean were crashing against the coast, along with the impressive lighthouse made for a very picturesque moment. To make it last we sat and enjoyed the view with some homemade milkshakes.
For our descent we chose the coastal walk route which was much more of a stroll compared to the forest. But not before we ‘got our tourist on’ and headed to the lookout at Cape Byron which is the most easterly point of Australia.
We really enjoyed our time in Byron Bay; the place itself was really fun. Unfortunately due to a couple of prats in our dorm room we were actually very ready to leave. So, on to Newcastle we go.
After our recent bad experience with overnight buses we opted to take a day bus to Newcastle, even though it was a 9 hour journey. Even so, it actually went quite quick – we arrived in Newcastle around 9:30pm, and our hostel was just a 5 minute walk away, which was good as even though we hadn’t done much all day we were still shattered, so we just crashed that night.
Our first full day in Newcastle we explored the shops, that didn’t take too long as the town centre is quite small, and then visited the beach. So there really wasn’t very much to do in Newcastle, but we were there as it’s the place to book your trip to Hunter Valley and visit the famous wineries – so we booked our trip for the next day.
That evening we joined some of the other people staying at our hostel ‘Backpackers by the beach’ at the Brewery, a local pub, for a free BBQ, beer and pub quiz. It was a fun night, and although we only got a mediocre result on the quiz we did get a few bonus questions resulting in some more free beer....What is the Canadian national animal?? Any takers? It’s the beaver, which for some reason Kayleigh knew lol. (Mainly cos she loves How I Met Your Mother!)
Up early the next morning we enjoyed some (Heinz English recipe) beans on toast for breakfast as we would need something in our tummies before going wine tasting. There was just us and another couple on the tour so we were able to taste a variety of wines throughout the day. We visited 5 different wineries and tasted around 30 different wines and port, as well as cheese and chocolate tasting. We treated ourselves to one bottle and bought a couple of other bottles for presents.
We also visited the British lolly shop on our visit and picked up some treats from home and Phil had a Double Decker. Haha. We really enjoyed ourselves on this tour as you can imagine. In the evening we treated ourselves to dinner at a Balinese restaurant, which was a perfect end to our first 4 weeks in Oz.
The next day was Saturday and we were due to be at The Buckley Household on the Sunday – but we had other plans. Up early again we caught the bus from Newcastle to Sydney Central taking 3 hours. From there we hoped on the train to Macarthur station just 7km away from the Buckley’s house in Mount Annan. We thought about walking but opted to take a taxi as we didn’t fancy walking down a dual carriage way lol. A quick 10 minutes in the taxi and we were round the corner from their house, just out of site. We walked up the drive of the house we thought was theirs and had a peek through the door window, Uncle Paul was on the couch, woo we had arrived!
We opened the door and let ourselves in to be greeted by surprised faces and lots of kisses and cuddles from Uncle Paul, Ainsley and Tayler – it’s been a whole year since we saw them. One person was missing though – Auntie Dawn was out shopping. Uncle Paul called her under the pretence that the house alarm was going off and she needed to come home. A few minutes later her car pulled up and as she approached the house we opened the front door to her. Her face was a picture, and she was very pleased to see us. :-) We are here for the next four weeks and have so far enjoyed one fun-packed week with them.
We will update you very soon on our adventure with the Buckleys.
Lots of Love,
Kayleigh and Phil.