Friday, January 29, 2010

- A Calling To The Captial -

After exploring the Ambercrombie Caves we pushed on through the dry countryside down to the Australian Capital, Canberra. I suppose for any Australian travelling around the country it would be very UN Australian to drive on past. So to ease our minds and out of curiosity we headed into the nations capital.

Surprisingly, Canberra is just one large country town with all roads leading to Parliament House perched on top of Capital Hill. Fittingly all roads in are named after the states of Australia. With the Australian flag flying proudly on top of Parliament House as it loomed before us we took a few photo's before deciding to head inside for a look around.

Naturally we had to be security checked before we could look around and once this was done we pretty much has free reign to look around. The inside was just as impressive as the out. Marble columns and grand staircases guide you to the upper levels to peek into the chambers & walk around the public galleries. We even took the lift up to the roof to see the amazing views of the city and across to the war memorial.

(The foyer, after security checks.)

('Yes, Mister Speaker'.... a glimps inside the chambers.)

(The view from the roof, looking over to the War Memorial.)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

- A Very Aussie Australia Day -

To us, Australia Day Celebrations attract a bigger celebration than New Years Eve, whether it be a BBQ at home with friends or a night out to see a band playing Aussie Anthems, we always plan something for the big day. This year proved to be a little different. Not wanting to spend the big bucks with a day out in crowded Sydney, we opted to soak up the sun while exploring the Blue Mountains! It was a glorious day and we began with visiting many lookouts showcasing the beauty of the land.

The escarpment was impressive at every lookout and soon discovered there were plenty of walks you could do to explore! We did a couple of the shorter walks as we wanted to continue on in the same day. However we made a promise to come back and explore the longer walks at a later date. The highlight and most popular lookout is Echo Point in Katoomba. This is where the rock formations known as the Three Sisters can be seen.

The Aboriginal dream-time legend has it that three sisters, 'Meehni',
'Wimlah' and Gunnedoo' lived in the Jamison Valley as members of the Katoomba

These beautiful young ladies had fallen in love with three brothers from the Nepean tribe, yet tribal law forbade them to marry. The brothers were not happy to accept this law and so decided to use force to capture the three sisters causing a major tribal battle.

As the lives of the three sisters were seriously in danger, a witchdoctor from the
Katoomba tribe took it upon himself to turn the three sisters into stone to
protect them from any harm. While he had intended to reverse the spell when the
battle was over, the witchdoctor himself was killed. As only he could reverse
the spell to return the ladies to their former beauty, the sisters remain in
their magnificent rock formation as a reminder of this battle for generations to

(Courtesy of:

We continued on our journey west out to Bathurst, it was lovely to watch the country change from the mountains into the dry rolling hills. However we had driven out further west for a reason... a pilgrimage if you like to the home of Australian Motor Racing and the Bathurst 1000 at Mount Panorama.

Its quite unique as the actual track is a tourist drive, and surprisingly people's homes are dotted around the circuit. With a speed limit of 60, you can "slowly" enjoy Pit Straight, The Cutting and finally coming down Conrad's Straight! Although no top speed records were broken i can assure you we would probably be in the running for the slowest lap record with the car crawling up Mount Panorama!

From Bathurst we turned south and drove for about an hour and a half to Ambercrombie Caves for the night. As it was late in the day, we camped and decided to explore the caves the following morning. It was a beautiful spot to camp with plenty of shade and a little creek running through the middle. Directly in front of where we set up the tent was a Wombat burrow, and later that night we saw the wombat wander from his burrow and cross the creek! A little excitement for us as this was the first time we saw one in the wild! What a wonderful and unforgettable way to spend Australia Day!

The next morning we set off to explore the caves. Although not as spectacular as nearby Jenolan Caves, it was still an amazing adventure and we had the place all to ourselves! There is also some interesting history with the caves as back in 1830 the Ribbon Gang of bush rangers used the caves as a hiding place!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

- Hunter Valley & Sydney Sights -

The Hunter Valley is a maze of wineries, restaurants, and galleries so it was really really hard to decide where to visit. We finally we chose to call into the local cheese factory complete with taste testing!! Ooo yummy... it was too much indulgence and what to buy for later?? Eventually we settled for a triple Brie and a blue cheese i cant remember the fancy name of!

Next we wanted to have lunch at winery we had heard of however we ended up having a taste for beer and head out to the Blue Tongue Brewery! It was pretty good.. we bought a tasting paddle, which was 6 shooters of every beer they make and at the end you receive a free middy of your favourite beer. We ordered a lovely lunch to go with our beers and enjoyed the country side before the place got too busy! There is so much to see and taste in the valley, though we decided it was best to press on and save the pennies.

(The Blue Tongue Brewry Tasting Plate.)

We began to drive into the outer suburbs of Sydney and made our way out to Palm Beach, where Home & Away is set. Its a beautiful place at the end of a peninsula, and after a drive round and few photo's we decided to head off in search of a place to stay. Then DISASTER struck, we had no brakes!! We had to pull into a nearby park and investigate, soon realising we had lost all the brake fluid and a "special part" was broken! The timing couldn't have been any more annoying! Friday afternoon on a long weekend... eventually we organised a tow truck & somewhere to stay. Ahead was a nervous wait until Monday to see if & when it could be fixed!

(Summer Bay... Ah I mean Palm Beach...)

We thankfully found a place to stay in Cremorne, just north of the city. This proved to be quite handy for planning our exploration of the city. On the Sunday the weather was a bit drizzly which wasn't all that good for photo's however it was a nice change to the heat we had been experiencing lately. We bought tickets for the city explorer bus which you can hop on/off all day, included with this was a number of discounts to venues all over the city. So off we went... the first stop was the Opera House looking out to the Bridge. It was pretty awesome to be finally here after all this time and was a great starting point for our day. We continued onto the Sydney Museum & the Australian Museum which had some great exhibitions on. We had brunch in Kings Cross & went shopping at the Beautiful Queen Victoria Building which covers an entire block. However i think the biggest highlight of the day was heading out to the Australian Maritime Museum where we had the opportunity to explore the James Craig tall Ship, the replica of the Endeavour, HMAS Vampire & the Submarine HMAS Onslow and then through all the displays inside! It was an amazing day topped off with drinks on Darling Harbour!

(Street views, including the Sydney Tower.)

(Even though the weather was miserable, the view was still spectacular.)

(Fountain in Kings Cross near where we had brunch.)
(The marvellous Queen Victoria Building.)

(The Endeavour Replica.)

(Ready to sail the seven seas.)

(It was fun exploring the confined spaces of the SUB.)

The following day was dedicated to getting the car back on the road, after hours waiting and a small fortune taken out of my bank account we were back on the road! It was a pretty good feeling to have the car back and we wasted no time and headed for the hills to begin our next adventure!!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

- Beautiful Beaches -

Byron Bay is the most easterly point of mainland Australia, boasting beautiful beaches, a hive activity with surf lessons, kayak adventure tours, seaside resorts and quaint cafe's & shopping.It seems to be on every tourists east coast itinerary, so we were interested to see what all the hype was about.

It was a beautiful summers day and as we pulled into the township there was already a hive of activity!People walking down to the beach for their morning swim or off to a late breakfast at one of the many cafe's. We decided to slip in with the crowd and enjoyed a coffee near the beach. We wandered around the shops for a while before making our way to the Beach. It was gorgeous! turquoise blue water, perfect waves for body surfing and not over crowded... yet. Although we got a little too burnt, it was a lovely day spent exploring the coast line around Byron. Later that evening we stayed with Anneke and caught up after not seeing each other for about 7 years!

(Beautiful Beaches at Byron Bay.)

The following morning we set off for Coffs Harbour, home of the BIG BANANA! Its quite a large place of 70,000 people. We spent the weekend there exploring the beaches and local markets. The marina was also a great place to hang out and soak up the towns atmosphere.

When Monday morning came around we headed off south to explore more of the coast line. Calling into Nambucca Heads which offered great views of the beaches and local river system. We pushed on to Arakoon, to visit Trial Bay Gaol. It looks quite dramatic perched on the headland to the bay. In 1886 it was the only jail built especially for public works. Prisoners were to construct a break wall to create a safe harbour for passing boats. However the project was abandoned by 1915 as the the large surf continued to destroy any progress made. It was really interesting to walk around and i must admit a little Erie at times. Before moving on we took a refreshing swim in the bay...

(Enjoying the view at Nambucca Heads.)

(Inside the Trial Bay Goal)

Not far from Arakoon is Hat Head National Park. A beautiful stretch of coastline, with rugged cliffs, pristine beaches, just the perfect mix for camping! After visiting the Light House and admiring the views, we set up camp. The following morning we went for a walk along some of the grassy headlands. It was beautiful and the local kangaroos thought so too!!

(The view from the Lighthouse, Hat Head National Park.)

For Christmas we had received a day out with a fishing Charter out of Port Macquarie. So this was our next stop along the coast. We had to spend a few days there, as with the summer holidays most spots were already filled. We didn't mind, it gave us a chance to tidy up the car and check out the town and beaches. Finally the morning arrived where we went on the fishing charter. We had to be on board Ocean Star at 5:30am!! So it was a very early rise as we had to pack up camp before we went!! There were about 11 on the charter and the day was perfect. We mainly set out fishing for Pearl Perch, Snapper and flat head. We were only about 5 mile off shore and amazingly fishing in 50 to 70 metres of water!! It was very different to fishing up in the kimberley's that's for sure!! Over the next few hours we brought up various species, red rock cod (thrown back), snapper, sweep (thrown back) & Pearl Perch. Although it was all very exciting nothing of real size was pulled over the sides, The biggest fish for the day wouldn't have been much over 35cm! We arrived back from the fishing charter around midday, even though the quality of fish wasn't what we were expecting, it was an awesome day out and we still managed to take home a feed of fish for dinner!

The coast line South of Port Macquarie is very unique with a number of lakes so close to the coast line. We explored a few of these before calling into Crowdy Bay National Park for a swim! We were considering stopping here for the night however it was VERY POPULAR!!! We decided to try further down... We continued on through Forster, a beautiful spot that again boasts both lake and ocean access. I wanted to pull into every lookout, the colours were amazing and the water so clear!

(Diamond Head, Crowdy Bay National Park.)

(Views of the coast line near Forster.)

Near to Forster is Myall Lakes National Park which were were very keen to explore. However upon arrival we noticed that camp spots were very scarce and the information provided by DEC wasn't all that helpful. Today just wasn't working out to be our day... So after a quick look around we headed out and pushed on to find a place to stop the night. Finally stopping in at the quiet town of Karuah in the far reaches of Port Stevens.

We had an amazing time travelling down the North Coast, and were really spoilt for choices when it came to choosing which beach to swim at or which towns to spend some time in. Next stop... a quick trip into the Hunter Valley & into Sydney!!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

- A Year, A New State -

On New Years Day we wasted no time to hit the road and set off down the coast. Driving through Coolangatta - Tweed Heads marked the cross over into New South Wales. After some exploring we decided to head inland and camped at Mount Warning, which is very similar to the volcanic cores making up the glass house mountains on the Sunshine Coast. It rained over night and after drying out a little in the morning we pushed on to visit the Hippie or "Alternate Lifestyle" Capital of Australia.

Nimbin was an eye opener. After finding a park for the car we called in to a cafe, ordered coffee and sat a while to take in the atmosphere. The main street of town was a buzz with activity, bright coloured clothing, people with their hair in dreads, marijuana leaves on posters, pet dogs following their owners. Even though we were expecting this scene, it was still quite surreal being amongst it. We waked around, calling into the local museum, complete with Combie vans and posters promoting the right the use marijuana, the benefits of smoking the plant and free postcards warning users of police tactics at road stops. Next we called into a souvenir shop, wanting to pick up a bumper sticker for the car...upon handing the lady the money she says to me... "cookie or chocolate?" it took me by complete surprise... i have to ask her to repeat.."cookie" i hear myself say. Before i know it i am paying $15 dollars for 3 "cookies". It was quite amusing being handed a brown paper bag.. and back on the street passing fellow tourists with their "brown paper bags". We continued to check out the other shops in the main street soaking up the atmosphere.

(I wanna be a hippie.....)

We decided to push on to Lismore, a small country town about 30 mins from Byron Bay. It was here we decided to look for work. The caravan park was reasonably price and a town of 30,000 we thought it wouldn't be too hard to pick up work. So the search began... almost 2 weeks later, after applying for almost every job in town, we still hadn't secured an interview let alone getting work!
We soon decided it would be best to hit the road and continue our trip through its entirety back to Perth. We planned a rough route and soon set off to Byron Bay to begin the last leg of the journey.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

- And A Happy New Year! -

We flew back to Brisbane and the following day made the trip down to the Gold Coast. Our plan was to find a place to stay, celebrate New years and then look for work in the area. HOWEVER.... on the drive down there the traffic was terrible, 4 lanes heading the same way, all at a stand still! It was certainly a shock for us and the prospects of looking for work in the area soon seemed like a crazy idea! We continued very slowly and after what seemed like forever we arrived in the high rise capital of Australia.

We pulled over at a quiet park to ring up a few places for somewhere to stay.. soon realising that every caravan park was booked out we opted for backpackers. Luckily finding one close to Surfers Paradise and the main strip. It wasn't the most appealing of backpackers however we made the most of it to enjoy New Years Eve.

We spent the arvo checking out the Coast, the countless surf shops and on our travels booked in for a Club Crawl for New Years Eve. It included VIP entry into 5 high end clubs, free welcome drink at each, All cover charges etc.

New Year's Eve day we headed out to the beach and then got prepared for the big night... All dressed up and ready to party we joined about 100 others In the Wicked Club Crawl. The clubs included Sin City, The Bedroom, CD's, Cocktails & Dreams and Players. When moving onto the next clubs we watched the streets continue to grow with crowds of people.. it was unbelievable!

(The Skyline of the Gold Coast.)

(Some of the crowd at Surfers.)

Just before the clock struck midnight we walked with about 1500 others down onto the beach to watch the fireworks! It was a memorable night and a great way to see in 2010.