Sydney 3

March 14th 2018
A hazy start to the day but it was due to brighten up so we went ahead with the plan to go on the hop on/ off boat. We went down to the wharf at Darling harbour and boarded on the blue route stopping at fort Dennison; Taronga zoo, Garden Island, Shark Island and then Watson’s Bay where we got off. It was a pretty bay and we wandered round to coast for a while. There were a couple of nice bays and I would have like to go in the sea. After our walk we got the ferry that went on to Manly and then back to Barangaroo on the green line. We walked round to the Circular key area and went back to the Four frogs restaurant for another galette.
After lunch and a wander it was time to head for the Bridge Climb centre to get ready for our 4.15 climb.

At 4.15 we were taken through to complete forms and have a breath test for alcohol. Then we were issued with our climbing suits and equipment. This included a safety belt, cap, headphones and radio and a hanky. We were shown how to wear it all and then we went to the bridge simulator where we were shown what the steps and walkways would be like and how to go up and down the steps.

Then we were ready! We headed up to the entrance and followed our climb leader, Maddy. John was at the back of our group and I was just in front of him. The views were amazing and we soon got used to following the pathways and seeing the ground a long way below us. We had photos taken along the way.
The hardest bit was going up the four ladders, one after the other, each with twenty five steps. The view from the apex was amazing and I really felt a sense of achievement. It was actually a lot easier than I had imagined and I felt quite safe.
When we got back we handed everything back and walked home.
It has been a busy and exciting day.

We climbed to the apex of the bridge where the flags are and crossed to the other side of the bridge before descending.

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March  15th 2018

Our last day in Sydney before beginning the long journey home. We checked out and locked our bags away in the hotel as we don’t go to the airport until this evening.


The sun was shining and it was due to be a hot day. We headed for the quay as we planned to visit Manly today. Our boat only stopped at Watson Bay and we went straight to Manly. After disembarking we walked through the town to the other side of the bay where the surf beach is. We sat down and watched some of the surfing then walked along the seafront and found a shady bench to spend some time.
We sailed back to Darling harbour and had a late lunch and wandered around the area for the last time and took a few photos then sat by the quay watching the world go by and reflecting on what a fantastic time we have had.


Then we headed back to the hotel to collect cases, get a taxi and start the long journey home.

The best trip ever.

 

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Sydney 2

March 12th 2018
Another hot sunny day. We bought our tickets for the hop on/off Sydney bus. There are two routes, one is a city based tour and the other goes to Bondi beach. After all the walking yesterday, we can take it a bit easier today.

We started on the red route which is the city route and as we have walked around quite a bit of Sydney we decided to stay on the bus for the full circuit and saw all the main landmarks and places of interest while listening to a commentary. Luckily we had WiFi on the bus so we could upload photos, add to the blog entry and publish it.

When we got off it was lunch time and we went to a restaurant on Darling Bay harbour. During lunch John said he would like to do the ‘harbour bridge climb’ so we went to find out about it and ended up booking for Wednesday at 4.15!
Next we walked to a bus stop to pick up the blue route to Bondi beach. We left the bus at the first stop and crossed over to the beach. It isn’t a very big beach but it wasn’t as crowded as I expected. On tv it is always seems to be really crowded, but we are now into early Autumn so peak season is over. We walked on the beach and I went for a paddle. The sun was very hot, there were a few people swimming and some surfing including a group having surfing lessons. After a stroll along the beach we crossed back over to the shops and found an ice cream shop. A bit later we got a return bus back to Sydney centre and walked back to our apartment.

March 13th 2018
Today the rain caught up with us so the plan for the hop on/ hop off boat had to change. We dodged the showers and walked over to the harbour bridge as I wanted to cross it on foot. As well as eight lanes of traffic and a railway line, there is a footpath. So we climbed the steps to the footpath level and walked across to the north side. We took a few more photos of the Opera house and views of the city from the bridge. Then we turned straight back.


Back on the south side, we headed for the Four Frogs restaurant (creperie) as we decided to try the savoury galettes for lunch. They proved to be delicious and we couldn’t resist having the crepes again for pudding. Feeling full we wandered back towards Darling harbour area and visited the Sealife Aquarium. As it was late in the day, there were no crowds or queues and we were able to get a good view of all the sea creatures including several kinds of shark, rays, dugongs, sawfish, various fish of different sizes and penguins.


Then we headed back feeling quite tired after another day with lots of walking. Hopefully we can go for a boat ride tomorrow before the big bridge climb.

 

 

 

 

Sydney 1

March 11th 2018
After breakfast this morning we decided to have a day exploring Sydney on foot rather than book anything. We set off in the sunshine and walked around Darling bay and headed for the area called ‘the Rocks’. We stopped off for a drink on the way then continued our walk following the harbour. We took photos of the Harbour bridge and could see some people on it who had done the climb.

 


We walked through the Sunday market at The Rocks and then visited a museum about the history of Sydney. We stopped at a cafe for a light lunch and the continued round the bay to the Opera house and climbed the steps. The views of the bridge were really good from the Opera house. We continued round the bay to look for ‘Mrs Macqueries Chair’ not knowing what it was but deciding to solve the mystery. It turned out to be a stone seat. We took more photos looking back at the Opera house and the bridge and then on our return walk we cut through the Botanic gardens and passed the swimming pool.


We were looking out for a supermarket but they only seem to have convenience stores that don’t have much choice. As we reached circular quay, we came across a creperie and decided we should have some crepes. They were really delicious; I had maple syrup and ice cream and John had lemon and sugar. I can’t see us needing a dinner tonight so I think we will have tea and toast for supper.

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Then we continued our walk back via Darling harbour. We have been out all day and it has been a lovely day. Feet up tonight.

March 12th 2018

Cairns 2

Thursday 8th March 2018

Today we visited Tjapukai aboriginal centre. We watched demonstrations of aboriginal skills such as how didgeridoos and spears were made. How a didgeridoo is played. We were told about poisonous plants and seeds and how they got rid of the poison. Then we watched a creation story performance which was really good. They used special effects that created pictures on the floor and walls to retell the ancient stories. After the show we went to a dance demonstration and then it was time to have a go at throwing a boomerang. We didn’t do too badly even if they didn’t quite come all the way back!

After the aboriginal centre we went we went on the Skyrail up to Kuranda. Unfortunately it has been a rainy and cloudy day so visibility was poor. We walked along the boardwalks and saw the plants, a rather large spider and the very powerful Barron waterfall. It was particularly powerful as there has been so much rain.

 

We continued up to Kuranda and wandered in and out of some of the shops that led to the centre where we went to the Koala Gardens. I wanted to cuddle a Koala. It was more of a quick hold than a cuddle but it is done. We saw other animals including wallabies, snakes, crocodiles, possums and tree frogs.

The excessive rain caused a rock slide which meant we couldn’t return from Kuranda by train and had to come back down by sky rail to meet our coach back to the hotel. It has rained all day!

 

9th  March

Despite continued rain we were picked up by our coach for the trip to the Daintree Rainforest. We were due to do a walk in Mossman Gorge but on the way we found out the gorge has been closed for the previous two days due to a rockslide caused by the heavy rain. We couldn’t believe that with continued rain, it would be open and sure enough it wasn’t. Our driver Greg, took us on a short tour of Port Douglas and pointed out buildings, trees and birds of interest on the way. As the Gorge was shut he arranged for us to have a meeting with an aboriginal guided at the centre at Mossman Gorge, then we had tea and scones and after that we continued on to Daintree.


The rain had caused a tree to fall close to the restaurant and they had no lights. The meal was very nice, I had barramundi (fish) and John had steak. There was some concern about the roads going back to Cairns as the rain had caused the river levels to rise very quickly and they were at risk of flooding the bridges. After some deliberation, it was decided that we would go ahead with the river nature cruise on the Daintree river. The cruise was an hour long and we were hoping to spot crocodiles. The boat driver gave us information about the mangroves, plants and birds that live on the river.


As soon as it was finished we boarded the coach and headed back. The first bridge had a very high water level but the bridge itself was clear. The second bridge however was flooded and when we reached it, the police had shut the road and traffic was backing up on either side. There wasn’t an alternative road so we sat waiting. We could hear over the radio that it might be five hours before the road reopened which was a bit worrying.
After about half a hour some people came through on the other side of the road and a lady in a car spoke to our driver and said if she could get through, he would be fine. It turned out that the police had gone for a break and so people decided to try and get across.

Greg decided to go for it and luckily we got across and continued on our journey. Whilst we were glad to get back to the hotel we did feel concerned that he had ignored police safety measures and that the company had run the trip in the first place knowing the weather conditions.

March 10th 2018
Today we left Cairns for the last leg of our journey to Sydney.
We left at 11.30 and arrived in Sydney at about 3.45. We got a taxi to the apartments and then popped out to find a shop to stock up on a few provisions. Afterwards we walked down to Darling Harbour which is only a few minutes away. The harbour area is lovely, it is lined with shops and cafes and we called in to the information centre to gather some leaflets so that we could decide what to do this week
After wandering for a while we decided to have food. John had a burger and I had a Caprese salad.
After dinner we wandered back to the apartment.

 

 

Cairns 1

Monday March 5th
Paul took us to the airport this morning for our flight to Cairns. When we arrived, we got a taxi to the hotel, we have a very well equipped apartment so we popped out to get some breakfast provisions and fruit etc.
We had a wander round some of the shops and managed to find another pair of ‘sunnies’ as John lost his (replacement pair) at Rainbow Beach at the weekend. We also bought more sun lotion ready for the visit to the Great Barrier Reef tomorrow.

March 6th 2018

Today we were picked up by coach at the hotel just after eight and we drove to Port Douglas where we boarded the large catamaran, Quiksilver viii.
We sailed out the Agincourt reef which took about an hour and a half and during this time we had some information briefings about the marine life around reef and snorkelling. John decided to go on the advanced snorkel trip with the marine biologist and I decided to snorkel freely on the area around the boat as, although I love snorkelling, we hadn’t done it for a few years and I am not as confident as John is, and I like to be in control of what I do!

We boarded the pontoon and John went off straightaway to get ready with his group and I found somewhere for our belongings and then got my equipment and my Lycra suit. The suits are worn to prevent jelly fish stings so they cover everything up to your chin and have a hood for your head (very glamorous).
I got into the sea and took a noodle or swimming woggle with me as they advised everyone to do so and started snorkelling in the area close to the pontoon. They had roped off a large area of the sea and we had to stay within it so that lifeguards could observe from their tower. After a while I moved out further, following the coral bed which had a variety of fish swimming around and some different coloured corals. I had hoped to see a turtle but neither of us did.

John’s session was an hour so after an hour I got out and waited for him to return. He had a good session and as he got out I saw a small jelly fish close by.

We had lunch which was a buffet with a good choice of food and fruit. Then we went and had a cup of tea and decided we wouldn’t  go back in the sea so we could get out of our suits. We had a shower and wandered around trying to dry off our swim costumes. It was really warm. We went down to the underwater observatory and looked at the  fish swimming near the pontoon.
On reflection we should have gone down in the semi submersible as some people saw turtles when they did and said it was good, but at the time we didn’t think it would be any different to what we had seen for ourselves.

We boarded the boat again and left the reef at 4pm for the hour and a half return journey. The sun was shining and the sea was lovely and calm so the captain decided to take a different route back and sailed close to the Daintree National Park coastline for some of the journey. We sat up on outside deck and enjoyed the sunshine and sea breeze.

Our coaches were waiting for us and we drove home along the scenic coastline. Closer to home we saw wallabies in a field, but they were a bit far away. The wildlife in Australia is all protected including the saltwater crocs who live in the rivers.

March 7th 2018

We went for a walk along the boardwalk by the sea this morning and followed it past the harbour. This afternoon we walked in the other direction. The seafront has mudflats which are popular with wading birds and we saw an Australian pelican.

We called in at the Cairns art gallery which had some interesting exhibitions including one based on a story by Oscar Wilde called The Nightingale and the Rose.

Before dinner we visited the night markets for a look and on the way back the fruit bats filled the sky. There are hundreds of fruit bats that roost in the trees during the day and wake up in the early evening. The locals don’t like them as they eat the fruit but as with the other animals they are protected.

The Brisbane weekend

2nd March 2018

After a quick visit to the shops to buy another case we completed our packing, returned the motorhome to Maui and went on their shuttle to the airport. We were met by Paul at Brisbane airport and he took us back to their house in Burpengary Brisbane. Jen and Mark had driven up from the Gold Coast and we had a lovely supper catching up with each other. We worked out we had not all been together since the Singapore sales conference 12 years ago!

3rd March 2018

After tea and toast we set off in Paul’s Pajera( 4 x4 ) to Noosa, a town further north on the coast. We headed for a cafe for brunch and then had a stroll around a few shops before walking along the sea front. It was very warm so we soon went back to the car to continue our journey to a Rainbow beach and the resort that Paul and Nicky had booked for us all.

 

 

We crossed the river to Noosa North Shore and then Paul drove onto the beach. We drove the next 100km along the beautiful beach. It was such a great experience, most of the beach was empty apart from a few people fishing and some families enjoying a day at the beach and the views were stunning.

 

At the end of the beach we stopped, had a paddle in the sea and then John, Jen, Paul and I walked up the hill to the Double Island Point lighthouse. It was quite a steep climb and it was very hot but the views back along the beach were worth the effort!

 

After our walk we continued to the resort which was absolutely perfect. There were three double rooms, a large living area and a balcony. We had a cup of tea and headed for the pool to cool down. Once back in the room we gathered on the balcony with our collection of nibbles and drinks and spent the late afternoon relaxing. Later we went out to try and get a table at a pizza restaurant but it was booked so we got take away pizzas and went back to the balcony and enjoyed the selection of pizzas, salad and wine. It was actually better that way as it was more relaxed and not rushed or noisy.

 

Sunday March 4th
After a cup of tea in the apartment we wandered over the road to a cafe for breakfast. I really enjoyed the smashed avocado that I had yesterday so opted for similar today.

We returned to the apartment to check out and Paul drove us to Montville with a quick stop at the Ginger factory on route. Montville is high up so when we went to a cafe for lunch we had a great view of the valley below.

After lunch we wandered around the many individual shops that sold gifts, art, clothes and household items such as pictures and ornaments. I managed to restrain myself and only spent $5.

We headed back to Paul and Nicky’s before going out for an evening meal to a restaurant called the Summit at Brisbane Lookout. The name of the place aptly describes its position at the top of a hill and the view of Brisbane was lovely. As the light faded the lights of Brisbane lit up the sky.

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We all agreed that we had had a brilliant weekend and we said goodbye to Jen and Mark who drove home to the Gold Coast while we went home for the last night in Brisbane with Nicky and Paul.

 

South Island 6. From Greymouth to Christchurch

March 1st 2018

We left Greymouth this morning and headed towards Arthur’s Pass Village on the Trans alpine train route. We stopped for petrol and continued towards Springfield. This route is incredibly scenic, passing through and around the mountains and valleys. We stopped at a rest point for a cup of tea at Cave Stream scenic reserve and noticed there were some short walks in the area. We decided to do the loop walk which took us to a viewing point of the stream and the cave that it passes through. We left the main path and walked down the track to the stream.


After a few photos we walked back along the pathway and turned off to the path that led to the other end of the cave. It is quite a long cave and we saw a few people dressed for caving with helmets and head torches. Apparently the water in the cave is waist deep and it is really dark as the cave is quite long. Not my kind of activity!

We continued on through Springfield stopping briefly for our lunch and a quick look at the large pink doughnut that was originally put up to promote the Simpsons movie.

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On arrival in Christchurch we visited the Maui office to sort out our expenses and then headed for the site and some relaxation before packing and tidying up ready to hand KTH 347 back to Maui tomorrow.

We both agree that this has been the best trip we have ever done. We have loved every minute of our motorhome adventure travelling this beautiful country.

Now to prepare for the Australia experience.