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Hostel life

March 7th, 2009 | Posted by Davey in 11-Australia - (2 Comments)

We’re not sure if we’ve ever covered this in a post so we though we’d upload a picture or two of what backpacking and hostel life is really like – it’s not for everybody!

We stayed in G’Day Backpackers right in the heart of Sydney and a stones throw away from infamous Kings Cross.  It was a little run down in comparison to some hostels but the atmosphere was welcoming and craic was good.  Most evenings after a hard days touring (or working for some) we’d sit in the the courtyard and have a few beers and somebody would bring out a guitar and play a few tunes.  There is something in it for everybody, if you travelling alone you will meet loads and make friends, if you’re a couple (like us) you can bugger off to a local bar for a few hours knowing your misus is safe with the girls in or outdoors.

That’s the good stuff, now the bad.  Generally these places are filthy, you have all kinds of weirdos staying and some messy tramps as well.  Few clean up after themselves so inevitably after a few hours the kitchen looks like a bombs hit it. The picture below is of our 10 bed dorm – what a mess.  Guys and girls come in at all hours in the night talking, shouting, lights and tv on all night.  Getting a half decent nights sleep is out of the question. And then there’s the all night shagging, yes it happens, guys and girls come in at all hours loaded to the gills with drink randy as tomcats and shag for all to hear – even a polite ‘be quiet’ is laughed at or even encourages them to up the tempo!

So there you have it, sometimes it’s good but mostly its bad and takes a little getting used to.  In saying that, we’ve had great times at most and it hasn't deterred us in any way.  Is it for you, that’s the question?

That’s it for us here in Oz, we’ve had a great time and memories for a lifetime, next post will be from the green lands of New Zealand.

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We arrived in Sydney feeling a little subdued having just handed back Larry (our camper) and the thought of hostel life again, but we soon got back into it and really enjoyed our time in the city. 

The first day or so it was all business having to clean the van top to bottom, pack our rucksack, check our airline tickets, banking and do a little research on our next destination Auckland, New Zealand and so on...  Once that was done it was time to relax and enjoy the city.

The easiest and most enjoyable way to see the city was via the open top hop on hop off sightseeing tour bus.  We bought a 48 hour pass.  Our first stop was the Australian Museum and the most striking display was the National Geographic Wildlife Photographs of the Year  – wow!  Jonathan, if you do make it down this far it is definitely worth a visit – awesome.  Then it was onto the Maritime Museum and for about $30 you could explore the Vampire gun ship, Oslo the submarine and an exact replica of James Cook’s Endeavour.

On the third day we visited Manley beach and the world’s largest IMAX museum which was awesome.  None of these activities come cheap but we managed to get almost everything half price with our fake student cards from Thailand .

In all we had a busy but relaxing time in Sydney and would highly recommend it as a city break.  It so like London in so many ways but without the sheer number of people which meant you could sit back and just take it all in.  Could definitely live here!

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Last week we visited the The Blue Mountains but just didn’t have much spare time to sit down and write a post, so here come a few updates. The mountains officially start about 60 kilometres to the west of Sydney so it was an easy stop off before we handed back our campervan, Larry.  The spectacular plateaus and epic gorges descend to over 700 metres below sea level and rise at their highest at over 1,000 metres. The majority of the Blue Mountains are listed in the Greater Blue Mountains Area World Heritage Area and is a conservation area that contains around seven national parks. We had an amazing time bush camping and trekking and our days were easily consumed with tourists attractions such as Katoomba Scenic Railway, the steepest railway in the world according to the Guinness Book of Records, and originally part of the Katoomba mining tramways constructed between 1878 and 1900.  The cable railway line descends 415 metres through sandstone cliffs, via a rock tunnel with a maximum gradient of 52 degrees. Also, the Scenic Skyway, a glass-bottom aerial cable car that traverses an arm of the Jamison Valley, and the Scenic Flyway, the steepest aerial cable car in Australia. Pictured below are some great shots of the famous three sisters, which is well worth a visit, and all walks and scenic tours seemed centred on views such as these. Most evenings we headed off into the wild, or the bush, for for much needed relaxation.  As you can see I felt very at home building my fires and cooking outdoors.  The parks were the best in terms of facilities that we’ve ever seen.  Not only are you allowed to build your own fire, but wood is also provided and chopped in some cases – how mad is that!  Sometimes I went a little crazy with the whole experience and built a fire that would warm the whole campsite, but we were on our own so no worries there. Byron Bay to Blue Mountains 059 Byron Bay to Blue Mountains 091 Byron Bay to Blue Mountains 140 Byron Bay to Blue Mountains 157 Byron Bay to Blue Mountains 259 Byron Bay to Blue Mountains 285 Byron Bay to Blue Mountains 357 Byron Bay to Blue Mountains 363 Byron Bay to Blue Mountains 360 Byron Bay to Blue Mountains 373 Byron Bay to Blue Mountains 398

Surfing at last

March 2nd, 2009 | Posted by Davey in 11-Australia - (7 Comments)

Who said surfing was easy? I though I’d save us some cash and go down the self-taught route – sure it can’t be that hard – only to discover weeks later that I was getting absolutely nowhere, not even a knee on the board let alone my two legs.

So, while in Byron Bay Sam and I had a three hour surfing lesson on boards the width of an elephant, both of us stood up on our first attempt.  Later I showed the instructor my board and he laughed and asked if they sold me a snorkel as well.  I thought that cheeky f**ker I’ll show him. Determined to prove a point, I went out that same evening for a few hours and eventually caught a large wave and was straight up on the board.  All the lads were on similar boards so if they could do it so could I – it just took a little longer!

If you’re piss’n around in training waves you have no hope of standing on a small board, but with the larger waves you get the speed and you’re away.  It wasn’t all glory, I have far too many bruises and cuts to prove my efforts – the board doesn't half hurt when you’re being tumbled with it like a washing machine.

Sam took these few pics when I first managed to surf and I’ve improved no end since which you’ll see in the last few. We’ve been to some 10 different surfing beaches along the coast to try out the different waves and swells.  The best was Garie Beach in The Royal National Park (the last few pics), absolutely awesome.  The waves were averaging 10–12ft and if you fell off it was hell – tumbled for a good 10–15 feet.

If anybody out there is planning on learning to surf, get some lessons and it will save you so much time and effort.  I can now see why so many people are addicted, catching and surfing a wave is one hell of a buzz!

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A pothead’s heaven

February 22nd, 2009 | Posted by Davey in 11-Australia - (2 Comments)

Finally after hearing so many good stories we finally arrived in the infamous Nimbin.  Having drove through the centre on the way to the campsite we knew we’d have a relaxing few few days while smoking (I mean soaking) up the atmosphere. 

The Lonely Planet has a rather amusing description “Landing in Nimbin can be like entering a social experiment, particularly at noon, when the Byron day-trippers arrive en mass and find themselves hectored by dreadlocked, tie-dyed pot dealers on the main street.  This is the stereotype, of course (not all the pot dealers wear tie-dye), and Nimbin’s residents and culture are actually far more eclectic.  A day or two here will reveal a growing artist community, a new age culture and welcoming locals”.

Exactly right. It’s just a mecca for pot smokers where the local police seem to turn a blind eye most of the time – it is so obvious and on show, you’d think it was wholly legal.  We stayed two nights and enjoyed every minute, albeit a few pounds heavier having scoffed several bars of chocolate in trying to soften the munchies!

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