Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Australia - New South Wales

We celebrated Anna's birthday in Byron Bay with a posh fish and chip dinner, including oysters and calamari! We had nice ice creams by the lighthouse while trying to spot humpback whales from the clifftops. We didn't see any whales but we did see a pod of dolphins hunting a school of fish nearby and a turtle lolling around in the surf at the bottom of the cliffs!

The next day we carried on towards Sydney, stopping off at Coffs Harbour for the night. We arrived mid-afternoon so managed a trip to the botanic gardens where we'd heard rumours of wild koalas having been spotted. We didn't manage to see any though...

We spent another day on the road getting to Port Stephens. We stayed at a lovely YHA hostel called the Samurai Beach. It was out in the bush and made up of individual cabins with a bush kitchen in the middle and had a resident huge fluffy german shepherd puppy. The owner lent us her binoculars and showed us where to see a wild koala and baby in the grounds which was awesome! We explored the area during the remainder of the afternoon and did a short walk to a lookout that was a bit overgrown so couldn't really see a lot!

We arrived in Sydney after a fairly short drive (only 2 and a half hours). Stopped off in Palm Beach to watch a spot of filming for the infamous Ozzie soap opera 'Home and Away'! We had an ice cream again as the crew and cast took several 'takes'. They mustn't have had any talent scouts around as we weren't asked to help out...

We were staying in Manly, one of the many suburbs of Sydney. Its a very chilled out sort of place. We caught the ferry into the city as it was more scenic than the bus. You get great views of the Opera house and bridge from it anyway! I'd bought Anna a bridge climb tour for her birthday, so we were up bright and early to join the commuters on the ferry. We arrived early to the climb centre so we got bumped to an earlier tour and after a half hour or so of preparations we were on our way to the top of the bridge.

It was great fun climbing up above the eight lanes of traffic and two rail lines. Our guide was quite new but still very competent. Although one of the guys in our group corrected him when he said most of the steel used came from London, allegedly it came from Stockton... The whole climb took about two and a half hours, not including the time taken to clamber in and out of our flattering grey jumpsuits, headset radios and other safety equipment.

When we'd finished at the bridge we had time to wander down to Woolloomooloo to Harry's Cafe de Wheels for a 'Tiger Pie'. They don't have real tigers in them, but they do come with mash, peas and gravy all on top of the pie. Genius.

After all the walking and climbing we returned via the ferry to Manly. I was so tired I even had a sneaky forty winks on the ferry until I woke myself up snoring much to Anna's amusement.

The next few days we spent hanging out in Sydney, wandering round the shops and botanic gardens. Taking lots of pics of the bridge and opera house and eating another Tiger pie!!!

Our last stop in NSW was Batemans Bay at another YHA. This time in a converted caravan that was surprisingly well decorated. We'd imagined some nice 70's oranges and browns! We only stayed the night before heading on towards Melbourne.

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