With tickets to the Boxing Day Ashes Test purchased immediately upon their release (Rachael’s idea obviously), we had long known that we would be spending our first Australian Christmas in Victoria.
We decided to book some time off work and fly down to Melbourne a few days before Christmas, giving us time for a second visit to one of our favourite places from travelling – The Great Ocean Road.
We picked up a rental car on arrival, and immediately headed west out of the city towards Torquay, situated at the eastern end of the coastal drive.
After surviving a very cold night in the van, we were pleased to wake up and find that not only was it a beautiful clear morning, but also that the campsite had hot water. After a long shower and some breakfast in the camp kitchen, we were ready for a day of hiking in the National Park.
In an attempt to reduce visitor traffic, and protect the Park as much as possible, the number of private vehicles allowed into the park is restricted. We therefore parked at the Visitor Centre, and instead made use of the excellent shuttle bus service, which is included in the Park entrance fee of $16.50 (£10) each.
After travelling inland from the east coast for several hours, we arrived into Launceston, the island’s second largest city. We began our visit at the city’s most well known attraction, Cataract Gorge. Just a short distance from the city centre, the vast river gorge is home to a chairlift, a suspension bridge and a swimming pool, all of which is surrounded by Victorian gardens.
We took the chairlift across the gorge, admiring the panoramic views around us, before enjoying a relaxing stroll around the beautiful gardens. We followed the path as it descended, taking in several viewpoints before crossing the suspension bridge, arriving back at the entrance and shop, where we treated ourselves to an ice cream. Continue reading
With both of us celebrating our birthdays in Australia for the first time towards the end of 2017, we decided to celebrate getting another year older with a long weekend in Tasmania.
After several months of working since we arrived in Sydney, we thought it would be a great chance to get back on the road, and we decided to hire another campervan. Although we again chose a Toyota HiAce, unfortunately this one was nothing compared to the beloved van from our previous travels. With over 200,000km on the clock (and it showed), we were glad to only have this one for 5 days rather than 8 weeks!
Arriving into Hobart, we decided to start by exploring the island’s capital. Situated on the River Derwant, and with the towering Mount Wellington as a backdrop, the city is surrounded by beautiful scenery. With a population of just 220,000, even though it was rush hour it felt relaxing and peaceful, especially compared to Sydney. Continue reading
Every November, Sculpture by the Sea transforms the famous coastal path between Bondi and Tamarama into a temporary sculpture park, with over 100 sculptures from both Australian and international artists suddenly appearing along the walk.
Now in its 21st year, the programme is one of the most popular and well known art events in Sydney, with this edition attracting over 500 entries from all over the world. Sensing a great photo opportunity, we decided to finish work early one Friday and go check it out.
With the Whitsundays being so close to the Great Barrier Reef, it seemed only right that we visit the worlds largest coral reef system and one of the natural wonders of the world. The Reef is composed of 2,900 individual reefs and stretches for over 2,300km along the North Queensland coast.
After looking into the different tour options we decided on a trip out to Hardy Reef, where we spent half a day on Cruise Whitsunday’s Heart Pontoon, which we had been told provides a unique way to explore the reef. It was an early start, and after a quick breakfast we made the short drive to the Port of Airlie, ready for departure.
The journey out to the reef took just over two hours, and despite the high winds, we decided to brave our chances on the very exposed top deck, taking in some great views of the Whitsundays as we travelled past. Some clearly enjoyed the journey less than others, and we were thankful not to be among the seasick passengers leaning over the back of the boat.
As we arrived at Hardy Reef, we first passed an older Pontoon, now in a state of disrepair having been badly damaged by Tropical Cyclone Debbie in March 2017. The new Pontoon is moored nearby and is located 39 nautical miles off the coast of mainland Australia.
Back in October we went on our first holiday since arriving in Sydney in June, spending five nights in Airlie Beach, the gateway to the Whitsunday Islands.
With Rachael’s parents, Paul and Lorraine, arriving in Australia to visit us, we decided it would be a great place for them to start their four week tour, before travelling back with us to Sydney.
The Whitsundays are a collection of 74 islands, located just off the coast of North Queensland. The islands are one of Queensland’s most popular tourist destinations, renowned not only for white sandy beaches and crystal clear waters, but also as a great place from which to explore the Great Barrier Reef.
While a number of the islands offer accommodation, most notably Hamilton Island, we decided to stay on the mainland, finding a great Eco Cabin just a short drive from Airlie Beach. Surrounded by thick bushland and lots of friendly native animals, including wild turkeys and wallabies (but thankfully no crocodiles), it was a great introduction to Aussie life.