Final day in Sydney, unique foods, oblivious parents (not mine), Manly, "see you in two weeks," and glad to be back home in East Gippsland
Friday was the last day in Sydney and was the final day of my adventures with my parents in Australia. Two weeks really goes by fast when you don’t have too much time to stop and reflect on everything that you are doing. My reflection has been in the form of this blog, and it is barely enough to express my thoughts about everything I am seeing and doing. There is just so much to do here and so much to see!
We awoke somewhat later on Friday, around 8, to start our final day. We decided to take the train over to Central Station from Kirribilli. The day was beautiful and the weather was just right. The temperature was barely over 20 degrees, and the breeze was constant. As we made our way over the bridge, we talked about what we wanted to do to fill up our final day.
We decided to walk south into the city and see where we ended up. We finally ended up, passing shop after shop, at the Sydney Eye. We were curious to see what was at the base of Sydney’s tallest structure. We headed into the building where the tower juts out from the ground and headed up a few floors. We arrived at the entrance to the tower and were not too impressed. We didn’t even consider taking the $30 lift up to the top. It was so uninviting and there was no one around to give us any information. Disappointed, we walked around the food court next to the expensive elevators and sat down to a cuppa.
Content with the caffeine fix, we headed back outside and headed toward the tram station to take us to lunch. I was really keen to head back to the Sydney Fish Market one last time to eat and check out the day’s catch. Once there, we scattered to various areas of the market. My mom went to one stand where she picked up salt and pepper squid and chips, my dad headed to the bakery to get some bread and then to get oysters at one of the stands, and I headed to one of the stalls to pick up something new to try.
I decided to pick up some uni (usually translated from Korean as “sea urchin roe”) and some abalone sashimi, two things that I had never tried before. To be precise, the sea urchin roe also came attached to the gonads but I won’t elaborate too much on this. After we all picked out something to eat, we reconvened outside with a Carlton Drought.
I was really excited to dig into the two dishes. I started with the abalone, a delicacy in many parts of the world. The gastropod was unlike any that I had ever had before. I’ve eaten snails, conch, and periwinkle before, but unlike the abalone in front of me on Friday, had all been cooked prior to being served to me. The abalone was tough and very hard to chew. The flavor was of the ocean water it came from, more than likely, and was easy to stomach. It was good, but I certainly wouldn’t rush back to have it again. It certainly wouldn’t be worth the stresses of getting a special license to harvest them.
Next was the uni. It was prepared raw and looked like slimy orange rind on the plate, with the consistency of custard. Having watched Anthony Bourdain eat and enjoy this delicacy, I was really excited to give it a go. I ate each piece with a bit of sourdough bread and thoroughly enjoyed every little bit! I was really surprised at the light consistency and flavor; it didn’t have the overpowering seawater taste that I had expected. Unlike the abalone, I would definitely have this again anytime!
Content with our final Sydney Fish Market experience of the trip, and full stomachs, we headed back to the tram to get the ferry back to Kirribilli. On the way out of the fish market, we passed a stand selling servings of spicy salt and pepper fried white baitfish. I had to have some! I stopped and bought a serving, consisting of more than 75 small fried whole fish. They appealed to me because it isn’t everyday that you see whole fish served to eat whole in one bite. They were delicious and were really hard to share! I would prefer these over a side dish of chips any meal!
We took the ferry home to Kirribilli from Pyrmont Bay but had to wait half an hour for the ferry to get to the Pyrmont Bay wharf. Waiting around at the wharf was entertaining. My parents and I arrived at the wharf early and chose a seat to wait for the ferry. What we observed was both appalling and humorous. About ten minutes before the ferry arrived, two women along with three children arrived at the wharf; one of the children was in a pram fast asleep. The other two children were running around the wharf freely, oblivious to the two women they were with. The young girl (no onlder than 5) started playing on the railings leading down to the wharf platform. She started rolling around on the rails showing off to the young boy with her, of a similar age. The boy started pointing at the girl while staring under the girl’s dress. Thinking nothing of it, our eyes wandered around the rest of Darling Harbour. As I turned around, I noticed this young boy’s private parts were out in full view of the 20 or so people waiting on the wharf, shouting at the girl, “look at mine, look at mine!” At this point it was clear that the young girl was not wearing any underwear and the boy was pointing and staring at her private parts. I had no idea what to say or think; should I notify this young boy’s mom to tell her that he was feloniously expressing himself to the young girl? Should I tell her that her son was primitively showing off his genitalia to the young girl? Luckily, I didn’t have to say anything, since the mother was hinted to her son’s behavior with the laughs and chuckles from the crowd on the wharf. The mother, somewhat embarrassed, put away her phone that she had been playing on for the past few minutes, and directed the young boy to put his penis back in his pants. Australia is a very amazing country and in many ways out-does America but this just went to show me that there are oblivious parents all over the world!
Back to the blog! Rather than waiting until the end of the day to pack, we headed back to Kirribilli to get our stuff ready to go for the Saturday morning. After taking an hour or so to organize our stuff, we made one final decision- what to do that evening! We really enjoyed the rides on the ferries and being on the water, so we decided to take the half hour trip out to Manly, to spend the rest of the day. This was a fantastic decision!
The ferry took us through the harbor out to Manly, where we disembarked and started walking towards the beach. Realizing that we hadn’t picked up enough souvenirs to bring home, we did some shopping along the way. The beach was crowded, full of surfers and sunbathers soaking up the last rays of the day, but the views of the Pacific were certainly not disrupted.
Thirsty for a beer, we headed to Hotel Steyne, at the end of The Corso, across the North Steyne Road from the waterfront. We chose to sit at the window in the corner of the pub overlooking the beach walkway and the Pacific. We eventually had our final meal in Sydney here, overlooking the beautiful colors in the sky as the sun started to set in the west. We all agreed that this was the best place to finish up my Australian adventure to New South Whales, and my parents’ first adventure to Australia.
The ferry ride home was somewhat bittersweet. It was our last time on the ferry and we would have to leave for the airport in the morning, but the ride into the heart of the city was astonishing. We hadn’t taken the ferry into the city at night from this direction, so it was a great opportunity to take our final pictures of the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge; we must have taken more than 200 pictures of the two landmarks from various angles and at different times of the day!
Saturday morning, we woke up early to get to the airport so my parents could check into their flight early. I didn’t pity them knowing I would have to make the same arduous journey across the pond back home in a few weeks, but it was sad to see them go. I thoroughly enjoyed the past two weeks with them and am anxious to hear about their future trips back to Oz; I know they’ll come back sometime soon!
After saying goodbye, I hopped on the bus to take me to the domestic terminal to catch my flight to Melbourne. To put it short, I was the first to check in, the first to board, the first to disembark, the first to the baggage claim, and the first out the door! It couldn’t have been a better 2-hour trip! Domenic and Sheryl met me at the airport and took me back to Bairnsdale; what would I do without them!
I’m really happy to spend my final two weeks here in East Gippsland; I love it here more than all of the other places that I’ve been! I love the openness of the area and the proximity to the ocean and the lakes; how couldn’t anyone complain!
What a busy day! I cannot believe we only have one more full day in Sydney; I really don’t want to pack up and leave! Today, we headed north to a few of the beaches along the Pacific coast.
We first stopped back in Manly to make it out to North Head Sanctuary so we could make it out to the end of the peninsula (we never made it out the whole way when we were there last). It was certainly worth the trip back to Manly! W arrived at the car park at the end of the sanctuary and followed the walking path out to the end of the peninsula. We found ourselves standing at the north side of the entrance to the harbor 25 meters above the water on a cliff looking southwest toward the city. It was by far the best views of the Sydney skyline!
After taking in the views of the city, we decided to leave and head farther north. After half an hour of driving, we ended up in Palm Beach, at the end of the northern beaches peninsula, looking out north towards Broken Bay. With the light drizzle, cool breeze, and overcast sky, we felt like we were in the Pacific Northwest. We stopped in town, across from the beach, at a coffee shop for a cuppa and a sausage roll. We sat outside and enjoyed morning tea watching the waves crash on the surfers and orange colored beach. When we finished, and made our way back to the car, I stopped when I heard the familiar laughing coming from a kookaburra. I was really keen to show my parents one and have them listen to the contagious laughing calls. If you have never heard a kookaburra laughing, please a video below. It is by far one of the best bird noises that I have ever heard, and it will surely get you to start laughing along! What a beautiful bird!
We headed back down the coast to get home. As we got closer to home, the weather started clearing more and more; the sun finally decided to show and the rest of the day turned out quite well. Back in Kirribilli, we decided to have lunch just up the street from the apartment at the Fish and Chip shop and deli.
Dad and I both had the special- grilled John Dory with chips, and a small salad. My mom was keen on the lamb roast sandwich. I had never tried John Dory, an extremely ugly fish if you ask me, but my dad said it was good. It was cooked perfectly and was tender with the perfect consistency; I was surprised how light the flavor was!
After lunch, we headed over the harbor to Circular Quay via the train. When we arrived, we ran into, of all people, Linda and Ernie! We couldn’t believe it! We knew that they were in Sydney and would be here for a couple days overlapping our stay but what are the chances of running into them?
We walked through the Royal Botanical Gardens looking at species of different fauna from around the world. Each specimen was labeled with its species name and family. I was really impressed with the layout of the park and the information provided to its patrons. After making it out to MacQuaries Point, just across Farm Cove from the Sydney Opera House, we headed back into Circular Quay where we stopped at the bar/restaurant where we ate on the first night to have a beer with Linda and Ernie. We really enjoyed their company and had a nice conversation looking over the water at the Harbour Bridge and the ferries coming in and going out of the Quay.
After parting with Linda and Ernie, we headed back to Kirribilli to have some dinner. We decided on the Pizza place just up the street. My mom and I both had pizza and my dad had pasta. Why is it that everything here is so delicious? It is so obvious that Australians take food seriously. They really seem to care what goes out on the plate to customers. You rarely get this kind of delicious consistency at home, unless you are eating at the same restaurants as Michelle Obama.
Tomorrow, we are going to hang around the city on the last day. I’m looking forward to heading back to the fish market one last time to eat some oysters!
Sydney Fish Market, a town more boring than Wagga, another didgeridoo, and a beautiful walk across the Harbour Bridge
How could you not live well in Sydney? I mean, public transport is beyond great, making absolutely everything accessible, and there is just so much to do and see. Today we decided to get up and head over to the Sydney Fish Market, just one of many things we wanted to do whilst in this beautiful city.
We hopped on the ferry at the Luna Park Wharf and headed over to Circular Quay, where we boarded the ferry to the Pyrmont Bay Wharf, just across from Darling Harbour. When we arrived, we walked a few blocks toward the Anzac Bridge where we found the largest fish market in the Southern Hemisphere, the Sydney Fish Market.
The market begins business, everyday, at 5:30, when the day’s catch, prior to going to auction, is examined by the buyers. We didn’t get there that early, but it would have been interesting to see the auction. The only other fish auctions, larger than the one in Sydney, are, of course, in Japan.
After walking around the market to each of the different seafood companies’ stalls, we decided to buy a dozen oysters at Nicholas Seafoods along with a seafood platter, which we shared at a table right next to the oyster shucking station. The oysters we had were from the Tasman Sea and were the best that I had ever had! At $15 for the dozen, they may have also been some of the least expensive! I would imagine the oysters would have fetched $40 or more at a restaurant in the city. The seafood platter was huge, and the three of us struggled to finish it.
After stuffing our faces with the freshest seafood in Sydney, we headed to Paddy’s Market via the Light Rail. I was really keen to get a second didgeridoo at the market and, after a quick look around, I found the one that I wanted! It is beautiful and is so different from the first one that I got! I’m still trying to figure out the circular breathing technique but my plan is to master the instrument by the end of this summer!
Even though it was overcast, we decided to head back to Circular Quay to take the ferry out towards Parramatta. We headed west passing a lot of residential areas as well as the Olympic Park, where there was still an Easter show going on. Deciding not to go all the way to Parramatta, we disembarked the ferry at the Rydalmere wharf; this was the biggest mistake we made all day.
We knew that we would have an hour in Rydalmere before the next ferry would take us back to the city, so we figured we would walk around for a bit, and maybe have a cup of coffee before taking our time getting back to the wharf. Little did we know that Rydalmere is a residential area and home to just about every car repair shop in Australia. We walked for a couple kilometers before coming across a coffee shop. By the time we arrived, it was time to head back to the Wharf.
We picked up a coffee to go and quickly walked back to the wharf. We arrived 20 minutes prior to the next ferry arriving but we didn’t want to have to wait any longer if for some reason we missed this one. We were pretty much ready to leave this part of town as soon as we could; there was just not much happening. We may have found a place more boring than Wagga…
The trip back on the ferry was great and made the trip out west on the river worth it. We went under bridge after bridge and island after island as we headed back into the city. After twenty or so minutes after leaving the wharf, we turned a corner to see the beautiful Sydney skyline in the distance. Soon after, we saw the Harbour Bridge. We took a few pictures if you could imagine.
For dinner, we decided to try the other Thai restaurant around the corner from our apartment in Kirribilli. It was hard to compare the meal to the other night since they were both great! I had duck again but this time it wasn’t at spicy as the other night!
After dinner, we decided to cross the street and walk up the steps to the Harbour Bridge. We started the bridge crossing while it was still light out and by the time we made it to the other side, the sun had completely gone down, only leaving the beautiful orange and yellow colors in the western sky. The sunsets have been quite amazing the last few nights.
Rather than walking back across the bridge, we took the train back across the river to Kirribilli, where we got off and walked the last few blocks back to the apartment. We stopped just outside the train station to grab a Magnum ice cream bar to finish up our day. A great end to another great day!
Tomorrow, we are planning to head north to the many towns and beaches on the Pacific Ocean.
We had another fantastic day in Australia today. We decided to head out of the city to the Blue Mountains, just 100 kilometers west of Sydney. We made our way from Kirribilli over the Harbour Bridge and then west over the Anzac Bridge onto the Great Western Highway/Motorway, taking us up into the mountains to the town of Katumba (1,017 meters elevation).
We stopped at Echo Point to have a look at the spectacular Three Sisters rock formation. The first sister’s name is Meehni (922 meters), the second Wimlah (918 meters, and the third Gunnedoo (906 meters). They tower over the Jamison Valley, part of the Blue Mountains National Park, below. The lookout allowed us to have a great view of the National Park and sat at the edge of the cliff. The only thing separating the lookout from the drop to the floor below was a simple guardrail; I wasn’t too fond of this part. After taking a few pictures from Echo Point, we decided to take the trail closer to the rock formations. After around 400 meters of walking under gum trees, only a few meters from the cliff.
Once we arrived at the next lookout, just next to the Sisters, I decided to take the Great Staircase down to the first sister. The Great Staircase descends 300 meters via 800 steps to the forest floor. I only took a few of them to get to Meehni where I took a bridge over to the first sister. The tranquility was so astonishing and I could have spent the entire day there just looking out over the ledge at the lush greenery below.
After trekking back to the car, we took the road along the cliff over to Scenic World. Lucking, we left early and beat all of the tour busses to one of Katumba’s largest tourist attractions.
Scenic World allowed visitors to the Blue Mountains to take a cableway 545 meters into the rainforest of the Jamison Valley. Once in the rainforest, three kilometers of walkways took us throughout the canopy of the Jurassic looking rainforest full of many eucalypt and fern species. I had never seen anything like it in my life!
At the end of the walkway, we arrived at our ride back up to the center at the top of the cliff, a railway. We ascended the 415 meters back up to the center at the top of the cliff in the steepest railway in the world. At the steepest point, the railway was at a 52˚ incline! After assuring that we didn’t wet ourselves on the way up, we headed back to the car and made our way deeper into the Mountains.
We decided to head to Mt. Victoria to take the long way back to Sydney via Bells Line of Road (Route 40) through Bilpin, where we had lunch at a local shop. The views of the mountains were astonishing and we were even given brief glimpses of the coast through the trees, separating the road from the cliff.
Once we made it back into the city, we decided to take a detour prior to going home to Kirribilli. We were really keen on seeing the Sydney Olympic Park, just west of Parramatta. When we arrived, we took a drive around the large complex and parked just up the street from the Visitor’s Center. We got out and paid for an hour’s worth of parking. Little did we know, we wouldn’t need it…at all. We walked in and out of the Visitor’s Center and then up the street to see ANZ Stadium, the largest in Australia, with a capacity of 110, 000 spectators. The stadium was home to the opening and closing ceremonies as well as many of the track and field events during the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
We walked around some more and decided that we really weren’t too impressed with what we were seeing. The sidewalks were dirty and everything just seemed bland. Had we been here 12 years ago, I may have had a different opinion. To me it seemed like the area was rundown and not well kept. Disappointed, we decided to go back home.
After a few hours at the apartment, we headed down to the Luna Park ferry wharf to catch the ferry over to Circular Quay where we had dinner at the oldest pub in Sydney, the Fortune of War, dating back to 1828.
Exhausted, we headed back home, where we are now, sitting on the couch enjoying the beautiful views out the window watching fireworks in the harbor…can’t get much better!
Tomorrow, it looks like we will be heading back over to Darling Harbour and then over to the Fish Market to check out the daily catch, and possibly have a few oysters (definitely not at restaurant prices).
Last Friday morning we woke up to start our journey north to New South Wales where we would be spending the rest of the trip in the beautiful city of Sydney. On our way there, we would make one stop, around halfway in the largest inland city of NSW- Wagga Wagga, informally known as just Wagga.
We arrived in Wagga understanding that it was Good Friday and there would more than likely be nothing open, as we were told by Linda at dinner in Bairnsdale. It seemed like some sort of crude joke when we rocked up (Oz speak for arrive) into the city of nearly 50,000 people and there was no one around. It was as though the population had hidden as if they had been warned that the Yanks were coming into town; I wouldn’t blame them had the yanks been a few of the people I know back home.
We left Wagga the next morning wondering what Wagga Wagga meant. We couldn’t come up with anything to describe the town since it seemed so boring. We later found out in the travel book that Wagga Wagga translates to “the place of many crows” in the Wiradjuri aboriginal language. I’m sure this was due to the fact that the only noise heard in town is the calling of crows. To be completely fair, we were only there on Good Friday, but I can’t see myself ever making the trip to revisit Wagga again any time soon.
We woke up early on Saturday morning to book it out of Wagga to escape the mosquitoes in our hotel room and to get to Sydney early. The drive was beautiful and we really made great timing since there weren’t too many cars on the road until we arrived in the city limits of Sydney.
We arrived at our apartment in Kirribilli, an area on the north side of the harbor overlooking the Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House. We were quite impressed with the views from the apartment and reasoned that it would be a nice apartment if we resided in Sydney.
Sicne we arrived so early, we had plenty of time to head over to the Sydney Cricket Ground for the Aussie Rules Football match between the Sydney Swans and the Fremantle Dockers. I really wanted to get to an AFL match with my parents while they were here, and this was the only match in Sydney during the week.
We headed down to the train station, a few blocks from the apartment, and each picked up a a MyMulti public transport ticket. This would allow us unlimited travel for the week on the trains (within the city), the ferries, busses, and trams. We agreed that at $43 per ticket, it was the best deal in Sydney. As of today, we have already surpassed the ticket’s value.
We made it to Central Station where we had to catch a charter bus to Moore Park, where the SCG was situated. On the bus we met an older couple who were Sydney Swan club members and helped us navigate the outside of the ground. They were extremely nice and just after getting off the bus, the gentleman gave me his 2012 members hat. I couldn’t believe his generosity; actually I could because I’ve been living in Australia for a few months now and have come to realize that everyone here is so munificent. Here’s a guy that we had just met on the bus to the match, giving us directions, and going out of his way to make sure we were barracking for the right team! I will never forget it!
The SCG is one of the most famous venues for cricket and is small enough to allow everyone in the stands a close encounter to what’s happening on the field; the capacity is only about 40,000 spectators. The first cricket match played on the ground was in 1848, quite a long time ago! The ground is also home to the Sydney Swans, the team we were supporting that afternoon.
After buying our tickets, we headed into the stadium and found our seats, directly across from the iconic Members Pavilion. We sat around for an hour or so waiting for the match to start, watching the stands fill with people wearing red and white in support of the home team. There were even a few people wearing purple in support of the Perth team; a long trip for a fan if you ask me! The game was rough and turned out in the Swans favor! I have really come to love this sport and will greatly miss it when I move back home.
On the way back we decided to go to Circular Quay to see the city as the sun faded in the horizon just under the Harbour Bridge (from where we were standing). We took a stroll down to the Opera House and were stunned at the size of the expressionist art complex. Looking up at the tiled roof and beautiful architecture, I really had to pinch myself because I realized that I was in Sydney and was really looking at one of the most photographed and famous Australian icons. When I turned around, I also had to pinch myself when looking up at the Harbour Bridge towering over the ferries, yachts, and sailboats in the water. This city is gorgeous and when it is lit up at night, there is no other city like it in the world. My dad, so far this week, has said that Sydney has characteristics of many cities he has been to, including San Francisco and Hong Kong, but agrees that there is nothing quite this extraordinary.
After dinner in Circular Quay and a run-in with John Cleese, yes, THE John Cleese of Monty Python, we headed back to Kirribilli via the ferry. This gave us a fantastic opportunity to take pictures of the lit up skyline and surroundings.
Yesterday, we took the ferry over to Darling Harbour from the Luna Park dock, just down the street from us. We took a quick look around Darling Harbour at the different yachts, military ships, and submarines, as well as the replica of the HMAV Bounty. We then headed up the street to Paddy’s Market, a covered market home to all sorts of trinkets as well as fruit and veg.
We walked back to the Harbour from the market, past the Hyde Park (a familiar park for many cities around the world), and the Sydney Eye. We eventually came to Circular Quay after walking for quite a long time. We decided to have a quick lunch under the bridge and a walk around the area just west of Circular Quay, home to a street market full of crafts and trinkets.
After arriving home via the ferry, I decided to go for a run across the Harbour Bridge and back. It wasn’t a terribly long run, but it allowed me to see the skyline and the Opera House from a different angle, and helped me work off some of the fish and chips that I had at lunch. The views from the bridge were spectacular and will certainly be an incentive to go for a run later in the week again!
Due to some rain, we decided to have dinner in Kirribilli, trying out one of the Thai fusion restaurants just up the street from the apartment. We split a bottle of wine and each ordered something different from the seemingly endless menu. Thankfully they had their menu numbered, like any great Asian restaurant, to keep the Yanks (me) from embarrassing themselves trying to pronounce the menu items for the waitress! I’m not afraid to give the name a go but I like the ease of just saying a number! The system also allows people to try new things because they don’t feel like they need to always go with the Pad Thai, because they know how to pronounce it!
Today, we headed over to Circular Quay to catch the half hour ferry to Manly Beach. As soon as we arrived at the ferry station, I decided to experience life in the shoes of an Australian for the day. To do this, I just took mine off and walked around barefoot. Why not, right? I haven’t seen any signs saying “No shoes, no service!” I kept my shoes off the whole time until we decided to hike up into the bush into the Sydney Harbour National Park.
Manly Beach was spectacular. A little crowded, the town was full of restaurants and small shops and a ton of surfers causally walking around in their board shorts with their boards under their arms, like a fashion accessory. I loved it there, and would love to go back to get a surf lesson!
Lunch was amazing! Dad and I ordered the daily special, consisting of a bowl of mussels, prepared in a tomato broth or an Asian style, spicy broth, accompanied with a pint of beer. My dad settled on the tomato mussels with a pale ale, and I settled on the spicy mussels with a stout beer. Mom, on the other hand, enjoyed a free cider (we brought a coupon), and a lamb burger. We still, and I still, haven’t had a bad meal yet in Australia!
On the way home, on the ferry, we decided to get off at Circular Quay and walk home to Kirribilli via the bridge. The cool temperature and ocean breeze made the views even more pleasurable from the bridge walkway. As we passed over the bridge, we kept looking up at the climbers on the “Bridge Climb” experience, wondering if we wanted to do it. I don’t know how the views could get any better, but I’ll bet the climbers can see the ocean from their vista at the top of the bridge.
For dinner, we decided to take the ferry to Darling Harbour. We settled on a nice dinner an beer at a restaurant just up the street from the water. It was great to see the harbor lit up at night, and was surprised to see so many people out on the last night of the holiday weekend. We took the train home from the Town Hall Station.
Tomorrow we are planning to get up early to head west to visit the Blue Mountains. We will be driving to Katoomba, in the Blue Mountains National Park, and will more than likely just play the day out as it comes to us! I know my mom would really like to see the “Three Sisters” rock formation!
I’m sure there will be more to come tomorrow…
Last Wednesday we left Melbourne and headed to Port Fairy along the infamous ‘Great Ocean Road.’ We left early to make sure we beat the traffic to the start of the drive in Torquay, a town just south of Geelong around 120 km from Melbourne. Luckily, all of the traffic that we saw was going into the city!
We arrived at the start of the Great Ocean Road and immediately decided to take a detour to the notorious Bells Beach. We arrived and found the Rip Curl Pro Surfing Championship was going on. We decided to park the car to get a closer look, but only managed to get to the ticket office before returning. The views were spectacular and the waves seemed to be perfect for professional surfers; they were certainly not for amateurs.
After passing through the first town on the road, Anglesea, we had our first “true” look at the infamous road. Hugging the cliffs, the road took us around tight bends and in and out of small towns. The views from the car and the various stops along the way to Lorne, the next large town on the road, were spectacular. We turned each corner expecting each new view to be just as beautiful as the last, but we were wrong, each new sight was more beautiful than the last. We passed under eucalypt forests, still looking up in the canopies for koalas; we never really got over Raymond Island.
We passed through Lorne and made our way to the next large town on the road, Apollo Bay. The road, again, passed through eucalypt forests along the cliffs of Victoria, looking out to Bass Straight. I sat in the front seat, reading off the names of each of the towns as we passed through, while my dad drove, and my mom took the pictures. I’m really looking forward to seeing the pictures!
After passing though Apollo Bay, we made our way into the Great Otway national Park, as the road started to head inland. After a few kilometers heading inland, we decided to take the road heading south toward Cape Otway, home to “Australia’s most significant lighthouse.” The lighthouse at the cape is the oldest surviving lighthouse on mainland Australia, and is situated on the sea cliffs where the Bass Strait and the Southern Ocean collide.
On the way back from the astonishing views at the cape, we passed through magnificent forests seeing koala after koala up in the gum tree canopies. Since being in Australia, I had never seen such a high concentration of koalas in one place. There were people stopped along the road for a few kilometers, out of their cars, looking up into the canopy of the forest. Some trees had as many as 5 koalas along the limbs. Truly astounding!
It was back on the main road, heading to Lavers Hill, the most elevated of all the towns along the Great Ocean Road. We stopped for a quick lunch of fish and chips and then headed back on the road, anxious to see what we were going to see around the next corner.
The next stop was at Port Campbell National Park, home to the dramatic 12 Apostles, rock sculptures carved by the waves of the Southern Ocean. We parked the car and took a walk out to the cliffs to find a boardwalk hugging cliffs. The formations were created by erosion of the limestone cliffs beginning 20 million years ago. The Southern Ocean and the constant blasting of the winds gradually formed caves in the cliffs creating arch formations. Eventually, the arches collapsed leaving only the rock stands 20-30 meters from shore. I truly think there should be an “Eighth Wonder of the World” added to the list, and it should be these rock formations!
The final stop on this wonerous road was in Port Fairy, just west of the end of the road in Allansford. We passed over the Hopkins River through the large town of Warnambool to get there. I will also add that we passed the Hopkins Highway. Mary Kate would definitely have felt at home!
Port Fairy was a beautiful town along the Moyne River and seemed to have a ton of Irish influence. It really reminded us a lot of Ireland! We arrived at the Douglas on River, our home for the two nights that we were there. We were greeted by our host and shown the apartment on the top floor of the bed and breakfast. We dropped off our bags and headed into town for a beer.
We decided to stop at the Caledonian Inn, the oldest continually licensed hotel in Victoria, for a pint and a countermeal. I felt like I was in Ireland so much that I decided on a Guinness! I settled my hungry tummy with a lamb Greek salad. Go figure, right? I looked for Sheppard’s pie but didn’t see it on the menu. My mom enjoyed the Caesar salad, and my dad decided on the more traditional chicken Parm. After the long drive and being in the car for so long, we decided that an early night was in store and headed back to the inn after dinner.
We woke up the following day, early, and decided to head over to Griffiths Island, which was restricted to only foot traffic along the track encircling the island. On our way to the end of the island, where the lighthouse is situated we passed a few wallabies and mutton birds. Once we arrived at the lighthouse, we were stopped in our tracks at the sight of some of the most massive waves that we had ever seen; they even competed with the ones we had seen in South Africa. We were then surprised to see that there were surfers out on the water testing their limits to get an adrenaline high. Mom and I decided to collect a few shells along the rocks and came across some really nice ones! We’ll just have to see what customs says when we get back into the states!
Along the track back, we walked along the beach and came across a washed up puffer-fish and a dead little penguin. I really wanted to keep the penguin, but I didn’t know how long it was there and what kind of diseases it had! s After the walk around the island we headed into town to have morning tea. We settled on a pie and coffee each. The pies were delicious and the coffees were strong!
After walking around town, we decided to head back to change for dinner. We headed back out later to go to Ramella’s, a beautiful Turkish restaurant along the main road in town. Dad and I decided to try their take on Işkender Kebab, a traditional Turkish lamb dish, which happens to be my favorite! Nothing beats an Ișkender Kebab in its homeland but it sure was good in Port Fairy!
The next morning we made our way to Wagga Wagga, only for one night on our way to Sydney! Look for part 3 tomorrow!
Where do I begin? It seems like it’s been a while since I last wrote; in fact it is the longest time between blog posts. Part of it is because I am having such a great time with my family, minus Kevin, and I’ve been without Internet for the past week. I also put off writing this blog for a while so you’ll have to keep with me through this one…it could get long.
My parents arrived in Oz last Thursday, when their flight arrived in Sydney. After a night in Ulladulla, they made their way to Bairnsdale. As I was wrapping up the successful day of parent teacher conferences, my dad rang to tell me that they were in town and settled into their hotel. I had them meet me at school, so I could show off what a wonderful predicament that I was in!
I was so pleased to see them and was extremely excited to show off BSC. They seemed to be quite impressed with the science center…who wouldn’t be- you can’t see anything like it back home. While at BSC, they met a few of my colleagues along with Domenic and Sheryl, who kindly invited my parents to a BBQ for dinner at their home that night.
That afternoon, I decided to take mom and dad to Raymond Island to see a few Koalas. I assured them that they would see many kangaroos and wallabies but may not have the chance to see too many koalas in the wild whilst they were here. Little did I know, we would see a multitude of them while driving on the Great Ocean Road later on the trip throughout Victoria. On the way we stopped at Eagle Point so they could get a view of the surrounding area and to see where the Mitchell flowed into King Lake.
After spotting a few Koalas and a couple Kookaburras, we headed back from Paynesville to Bairnsdale for tea at Domenic and Sheryl’s house. They had a little bit of everything on the grill, from lamb to Kangaroo sausages (kanga-bangas is Aussie speak), along with a ton of vegetables. After dinner and a great conversation, it was time for the best part of the meal- the Pavlova (Pav)!
Pavlova is a meringue covered in various different fruits that are in season. Australians and Kiwis will both tell you that they invented this sweet piece of heaven but it really doesn’t matter- it is the BEST. I made sure my mom left with the recipe!
The following morning, I took my parents to Lakes Entrance to walk to the entrance through the Banksias and Eucalypts on the Cunninghame Arm of Ninety Mile Beach. I had done it prior with Linda, but it was nice to be able to point out a few things to my parents, like Linda had done for me; I really felt like I was a local. At the entrance, we watched boats fight the intense current coming from the lakes to get into town. After a few minutes, we headed back to the bridge linking the town to Lions Park along the beach. The weather was clear and the water in Bass Straight seemed to be relatively calm; it couldn’t have been a better day to take the adventure out to the entrance.
After making in back to the car, I decided it was time for a beer and some lunch, so we headed to Metung. A beautiful town on the lakes, Metung is home to beautiful real estate, and mega sailboats and yachts, along with views that I knew would remind my parents of Northern Michigan. After a pot of Carlton and a chicken Parm each, we took in some more of the view and decided to head back into town.
We headed back into Bairnsdale, stopping at Linda and Ernie’s house so I could show their property and views off to my parents. I am increadibly jealous whenever I go over to their home; they have an incredible garden and a spectacular view of Jones Bay. I would love to call a place like theirs home one day!
My parents decided to take out Linda, Ernie, Domenic, and Sheryl to dinner that night. I decided on the Main Hotel since their menu is outstanding and it was only a few doors down from my parents’ hotel. Dinner, of course, was outstanding, other than the noisy children at the table next to us who seemed to be unsupervised the whole time we were there. After getting fed up with the whimpering children, we decided to move the after dinner conversation to the pub, just across the dining room. Luckily footy was on so Domenic and I had a chance to fill in my parents on the rules of the unfamiliar sport. I was very pleased that my parents had some time to spend with the people that I have become very close to while here in Australia!
We awoke the next morning early to make our way to Melbourne for the next few days. The three-hour drive was quick, especially with minimal traffic. Our apartment was situated about 150 meters or so from the Yarra River in Southbank. We were stunned when we entered the 17th story apartment we stayed at. The main room faced southeast and overlooked the funny-looking Rectangular Stadium (AAMI Park), the massive Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), and the beautiful Port Phillip Bay.
We decided to make the most of the rest of the first day and headed into the city for a walk around. We first started in Southbank, where I decided to point out the largest casino in the Southern Hemisphere, the Crown Casino. Whilst browsing, we noticed the Ohio State Final Four game was on. After getting some lunch at the food court, we headed back into the casino to catch the last few minutes of the game. We weren’t too pleased when we left the casino.
We decided to take our sorrows up the street, across the river, to the Queen Victoria Market. Unfortunately, we didn’t have too much time to walk around since it was about to close. The market was immense and full of fruit and veg, as well as various crafts. We came across a stand with aboriginal crafts with a few didgeridoos on display. I remembered the vendors for the following market day so I could return to pick one out.
After a quick walk around, we headed back south toward the river, where I took my parents to see Chloe on the second floor of Young and Jacksons, right across from Flinders Street Station. Chloe looked as beautiful as she was the last time that I had seen her. If you’re wondering who she is, please find a link to my first blog about her to the right.
The next morning we decided to have brekkie in St. Kilda at a café on Acland Street. After something quick to eat, we made our way out to the pier so I could show my parents a little penguin. We eventually found one of the blue-feathered little animals in the rocks, but it wasn't easy. The pier also provided us with a great chance to take pictures of the Melbourne skylinesouth to Phillip Island. We didn’t plan to go see the penguin parade, but we decided to head to the Nobbies to see the seals. On our way to the western most part of the island, we stopped at a Koala sanctuary; I guess my parents didn’t get enough of them at Raymond Island! It was a great stop since we were able to see so many of them and a few wallabies that had hopped the fence to graze within the sanctuary boundary, where there was no risk of cars. I was amazed at how close we were able to get to one of the koalas. It walked across the railing of the boardwalk, which took us up into the trees of the sanctuary. I could have easily reached out, without fully extending my arm and pet the koala. I decided not to risk and finger and kept my hands to myself. In fact, we had to stop a lady from touching the koala. Blatantly disregarding the rules of entry to the exhibit, she reached her hand out to touch the koala, and the three of us yelled at her to keep her from bothering the animal.
After a fantastic experience with the koalas, we headed out west to see the largest fur seal colony in Australia. The seals were situated on an island in the distance and could only be seen with the use of a telescope. The views from the island’s edge were spectacular, overlooking Bass Strait and the mainland.
The following day, we headed back to the market to pick up a few souvenirs and that didgeridoo that I became fond of during our previous visit. I chose to get an authentic didgeridoo, which was made by an aboriginal, and had been bored out using termites, rather than by machine. After choosing the didgeridoo that I wanted I was shown how to apply the beeswax to the end of the instrument and was given a quick lesson on how to play. I have a feeling I’ll be learning for a few years to come.
We headed deeper into the market, where we found ourselves in the seafood area, where I decided to get a ½ dozen fresh Tasman oyster. I was surprised to only have to pay a dollar for each of them. We later saw the same oysters in on the of the Crown restaurants for more than five dollars an oyster…we made out quite well! They were delicious as well!
Once our time at the market was over, we headed southwest to Southern Cross Station to take the pedestrian bridge over to the Docklands where Etihad Stadium is situated. We made it to the docklands just in time to see the end of a dragon boat rowing competition. There were thousands of people from all over Australia; there were even people from Perth…FROM PERTH! We made our way back to the hotel along Southbank. We went out later to Federation Square to finish our stay in Melbourne with a pint of beer…not a bad way to say goodbye to one of the most beautiful cities I have ever been to!
The following day, we headed southwest along the Great Ocean Road…
Part 2 to come tomorrow.
Welcome to the blog I wrote while student teaching at Bairnsdale Secondary College (BCS) in Bairnsdale, Victoria, Australia.