Sunday, 13 March 2016

Melbourne October 2015

We spent 4 days in Melbourne, travelling in my brother's van which we drove from Sydney! The drive takes around 9 hours, and the drive is quite boring, there wasn't much to see other than fields and squished kangaroos on the side of the road! :-(
We made one stop in a town called Goulburn, as they have a huge statue of a sheep called the Big Merino!

Once we arrived we found our hotel and checked in. It was called the Tune Hotel, which was cheap and in a great location to walk into the city.

The next morning we headed out and went for breakfast in a cafe opposite the hotel. We had been told the coffee in Melbourne was awesome and it definitely was, double shots come as standard! Yummmmm!

After breakfast we headed down to the State Library, where we joined the 'I'm Free' walking tour, which we had picked up a leaflet for in our hotel. The tour took us to a few places including the old Melbourne jail, Carlton Gardens and Chinatown, and we learned a bit about the history of Melbourne along the way.

The tour guide then took us to some small 'laneways' where there was loads of street art. We stopped to take a few photos as the art was awesome, and before we knew it we had lost our group! Oops!!

We made our own way to Hosier Lane, which is probably the most well known street art laneway in Melbourne. We loved this place, it was awesome for taking photos!

We weren't sure where else the tour would have taken us and we felt kind of bad that we weren't there to tip the tour guide at the end, but he shouldn't of been in such a hurry, haha!
We found our way back to the State Library and thought we'd take a look inside to see Ned Kelly's armour and his 'death mask.' We had a figure of Ned Kelly where we worked at Madame Tussauds so it was interesting for us to see!

We decided to get the tram down to St Kilda beach, as you can see penguins there at sunset, but it was freezing! So we had a look at Luna Park and the beach then headed back to get some warmer clothes on! Luckily we had bought 'Myki' cards for the public transport and it didn't go over a certain amount per day.

When we arrived back just before sunset there were loads of people all heading down towards the pier, and once we got down there it was literally full of tourists waiting to see the penguins!

At first the odd few penguins started to swim up to the shore, and make their way under the boardwalk where we were standing, to their homes in the rocks.
There were volunteers down there who help you spot the penguins and have red lights to point them out without hurting their eyes. You couldn't use flash for this reason so it was a little hard to get a photo but as it got dark there were penguins everywhere!

The following day we had a walk up to the Queen Victoria Markets to have a look around there, we also went in a coffee shop called Market Lane Coffee which we had heard was a good one! Instead of our usual lattes we ended up trying some weird flavoured coffees with no milk, which were.. interesting!

We then had another wander around and ending up going for breakfast on Degraves Street. We then headed over the bridge which took us to the Eureka Skydeck, and we went up to the viewing area for some great views over the city.

We headed back to the hotel, seeing a few random things along the way including a limo done up like Bumblebee from the Transformers and some funny looking statues!

That evening we went to a dinner show called Draculas! It was just a short walk from the hotel and we expected it to be a bit tacky but it was really fun, the show was really good and the food was yum!

The next morning we decided to go on the Neighbours tour, although we both hadn't watched it since we were kids! We checked out of the hotel and headed down to a different part of the city where we had to meet. Our guide was an Irish guy called Gerry and he knew literally everything about the show! He drove us about 40 minutes from the city to the cul-de-sac which is used as Ramsey Street, which is actually called Pin Oak Court. He gave us some props for photos, like the Ramsey Street sign and a school bag, and an old cast member (Stingray?) turned up to meet us too.

We then drove just a bit further down the road which took us to the studios. We saw another cast member leaving in his car as we drove in, then had photos taken with the 'Welcome to Erinsborough' sign and some other places from the show like shops and a car garage.
It was an awesome tour and we really enjoyed it even though we didn't know the characters being talked about most of the time!

After the tour we arrived back in Melbourne, but before setting off on the Great Ocean Road we decided to drive down to Brighton Beach. We had seen a fridge magnet in a shop which had photos of some cute looking beach huts so we Googled to find out where they were!

Every single beach hut was painted differently, our favourite had an Aussie flag on it! :-)

We then set off for the Great Ocean Road, which you can read about soon...!

Sunday, 6 March 2016

Blue Mountains April 2015

We spent 3 days in the Blue Mountains and decided to travel by train as it's so easy to get to from Sydney, and with our Opal cards it was so cheap. It actually only cost about dollar more than a usual trip into the city for us, which takes 10 minutes!
The train to Katoomba took 2 hours from Central, and as soon as we got off the coldness hit us, it's the coldest temperature we've felt since arriving in Australia by far! We knew it would be colder, but not that cold! I didn't even bring my coat, what an idiot!

We stayed at the Blue Mountains YHA, which we walked down the main street to get to from the station. Our room was small but nice, and it had radiators which I've not seen in Australia before!

We had worked out a bit of an itinerary but we totally changed it and decided to go and check out Govetts Leap first! This was in Blackheath, which was a couple more stops down the line on the train, so we headed back up to the station. This cost nothing on our Opal cards, maybe because we'd already travelled from the city so it counted as a transfer, who knows!

When we arrived in Blackheath we noticed that a storm was coming over! Great! It got really windy and started to rain so we went for a coffee and luckily when we came out it had passed!

We made our way down the road towards Govetts Leap, til we got to the start of a walking track to the lookout (which was kind of further than we thought!)

We finally arrived at the lookout, this was our first view of the Blue Mountains (here I am trying to not look freezing!)

From the lookout we could also see Bridal Veil Falls, and we decided to walk along to them.

We followed the steps down, which took us across the top of the falls. As we got there another storm cloud came over and we got soaked but again it passed really quickly and we saw a nice little rainbow in the valley!

After that we headed back and got the train back to Katoomba, that night we went to an amazing Thai restaurant in the town then went to the cinema and it was freezing in there too!!

The following morning we put on as many layers as we possibly could and set off down the road to Scenic World. This is the main touristy part of the Blue Mountains, and it features the Skyway - like a giant cable car over the valley, the world's steepest railway, and a cableway which both go down into the valley and back up. From here you get great views of the famous 'Three Sisters.'

After getting our tickets we got the skyway over to the East station and back again, getting some great views of the Three Sisters and a huge waterfall. It had a glass floor which was great for seeing the valley below!

We then went on the steep railway to the valley floor, which was not as fast or scary as I remember it being when I came here as a kid! Once we reached the bottom we walked all around the boardwalk through the forest, which was beautiful. We headed back up on the cableway.

After having some lunch we walked down the 'Furber Steps,' another way of getting to the bottom but with lots of different lookouts and close-up views of the waterfall.

We came back up on the railway, which was fun to do backwards! Back at the main area where the giftshop is there was a bit of a commotion and a huge group of Indian people following someone around, a girl that worked there told us that the man being followed was a guru!

We then left Scenic World and did a bit of the Prince Henry clifftop walk, which took us to Echo Point for closer views of the Three Sisters.

We carried on a little further and were going to continue on to the Leura Cascades but by now we were tired of walking! We decided to do that part the following day so 1km before the cascades we joined the main road which was a short journey back to the hostel.

The following morning we checked out of the hostel and stored our backpacks in a locker while we headed back down to see the Leura Cascades. I am so glad we saw these as they were so beautiful! The walk seemed longer than 1km to reach them though and we wondered if we'd got lost at one point!

Once we'd completed the walk, which was a loop, we collected our bags and headed back to Katoomba station, and we were back in Sydney by that afternoon!

This itinerary worked pretty well for the time we had and I'd definitely recommend it! If you are planning a trip and have any questions just ask! :-)

Useful links:

Blue Mountains YHA - We stayed for 2 nights in a double private room which was great, the hostel had a huge kitchen and social area!
Sydney Trains - for timetables and fares, i think with our Opal cards the journey from Sydney cost us $5.80 each way.