We began our Aussie adventure in Sydney which was a bit of a shock to the system after the tranquility of New Zealand, Sydney having a larger population than the whole of Nz put together (or so David tells me). We did all the usual touristy things, starting with visiting the Opera House and Harbour Bridge. It was quite surreal to see it in the flesh as we are so used to seeing it all on TV. I also managed to make David go to the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Museum of Sydney (he got his own back by forcing me to go to the Maritime Museum). We also went to Sydney Aquarium and Sydney Wildlife Centre in Darling Harbour where we saw lots of native beasties including the Sydney Funnelweb and Redback spiders (fortunately this is the only time we have seen them so far). Sydney was incredibly hot, 37 degrees one day, so it was a relief to get on a plane to Adelaide after 3 days. We picked up our car at the airport in preparation for our road trip and then spent two days in Adelaide trying to plan where we were going to go and enjoying our very 70s motel room complete with bedside radiogram.
We set off in the car for the pretty town of Robe where we spent the night in a lovely 150-year-old manor house. We got chatting to one of the other guests, a kiwi chap who had been working in Oz for a few years, and one thing led to another and we ended up down the pub with him, a couple of very posh but very nice English guys and two German girls.
David instantly befriended a group of Aussie guys who were in the area laying water pipe for the town. They were really nice blokes, one of whom promised to take me Redback hunting but fortunately forgot a few minutes later. Having got rather drunk with his new Australian chums, David managed to get a piggyback from Simon (one of the English guys who was a rugby player) most of the way back to the hostel!
We woke up the next morning in one piece and with two cricket caps and half a packet of cigarettes David had somehow managed to win off the Australian fellas. Bonus!
We spent the rest of the day in Mt Gambier looking at lakes and sinkholes (neither of which were terribly impressive) before succumbing to the dreaded hangover and snoozing and watching TV.
Port Fairy was next, again a nice place where we walked along the Marina. Very, very hot though. Along the coast from there was Apollo Bay, another beach town where we were going to be brave and go swimming in the sea. However when we got to the visitors centre there was a notice saying: “WARNING: WHITE POINTER SHARK SEEN IN THE BAY TODAY”. It turns out White Pointers are Great White Sharks so we revised our plan and went for lunch instead. I also cooked my first bit of Kangeroo which was suprisingly nice, if a little tough.
In Melbourne we went for a drink by the river and a stroll along the Southbank. Then to the cinema to watch The Time Travellers Wife which made me cry – very embarrasing! We also went to the Melbourne Museum specifically to see the old Neighbours set of the Robinson household only to find that it had been removed because it was a bit old and tired. I was quite disappointed because I had earlier decided that I wasn´t going to pay 50 bucks to go on a tour to a public street and meet a star who I may or may not recognise. Melbourne Zoo the next day rekindled my spirits though, being spat on by an Elephant and then watching it paint, seeing an Orangutan with a spoon and watching a Meercat fight are just a few of the highlights.
We left Melbourne for Philip Island. On the way out we just happened across Pin Oak Court (not a carefully planned and executed journey at all), which just happens to be the set for Neighbours. Yes we were in Ramsey Street. It was really cool, I know it´s sad but it was quite a highlight for me after 15 years or so of seeing it on TV. It is much smaller than it looks on the box and quite a bit shabbier but so surreal to see it. The security gard (there is one on the street all the time) was really friendly, like our own tour guide really telling us all about the stars (he liked Dr Karl the most, apparently a very funny man). He even filled me in on some of what I´d missed since we left home in May. Most interestingly he told us about all the naughty shananagans which people get up to: like weeing on Harold Bishops balcony, getting naked and climbing on the Kennedy´s roof and a man who he caught taking naked pictures of his girlfriend on the Kennedy´s front lawn. All British shamefully enough, it seems that no one else really likes Neighbors that much.
Well, I thought that would be the highlight of the day but then we went to the penguin parade on Phillip Island. It was amazing watching the Little Penguins waddling out of the sea and up the beach. Then you could walk around and see the baby penguins waiting for their parents to come home and feed them. You could get literally inches away from them, hundreds of wild penguins going back to their burrows. It was brilliant. I´ve finally seen some wild penguins, and a wallaby and a possum too no less.
We have spent today chilling after all the excitement of yesterday, just seeing some more of the island and having a paddle at the beach. Our lovely quiet hostel has unfortunately now been overrun by a gaggle of teenage Australian girls who seem fairly hyperactive (well there´s four but that´s enough) hopefully they are not old enough to have boob jobs and too polite to talk about their bowel movements but we will see.
Until next time Sian (and David) xxx