This’ll be an overview into what we did and saw throughout the 24 days, I’ll write other posts about specifics on some of the places we visited. But where do I even start? The beginning –
As we all know, Flying from London to Sydney is a long 2 part flight so let’s skip that. Arriving in Sydney and immediately getting the train out off the city. Finally reuniting with family that I’ve not seen in 11 years, to be honest I can only sort of remember the last time I met them. These first couple of days, 8 of us explored the Blue Mountains National Park, which has it’s name from the haze in the air that makes the trees appear on the bluer spectrum of greens. The park has multiple walks around, Viewpoints, A cable car and the worlds steepest train. The steepest train has adjustable seats to make it feel more or less steep – word of advice, if you have short legs, don’t make it too steep or you’ll slide off.
After only a couple days, we flew out to Uluru. This was the adventure part that I was looking forward to the most. Ayres rock is the big name that gets you out to the middle of nowhere, but from what I’ve seen, Ayres Rock is only the start. Kings Canyon, Valley of the winds and even the night sky, these are the top things around. We stayed in the Emu Apartments in Yulara which is a small, mostly tourist populated, village just outside of Uluru. being self catered allowed us to be up at the early times needed for the coach tours and be up late to see the incredible night sky. All the tours were booked through AAT Kings and they sure delivered, especially for the one where we hiked around Kings Canyon. Those 3 days went too quick.
Flying back to Sydney only to start driving back out, heading towards Yass (just outside Canberra since no one has heard of Yass). Our first Hire car was nice, a Holden Commodore V6 RS that was only a few months old and had only 300km on the clock. Oh yeah, and it was Red. I wish I could’ve driven that at some point. That night we stopped at an Air BnB in Stanwell tops to be able to wake for a sunrise view over Sea Cliff Bridge. This wasn’t just any road – it was built in replacement of the old road that kept needing repairs as it eroded away with the cliff. By having the bridge, it no longer sits on the cliff, eliminating the problem. And what a stretch of road and what scenery.
Canberra was next on the list. The city that in it’s own little Territory has several viewpoints from the hills around it, one of these being the Telstra Tower on Black Mountain. As cold as it was in the winds on the outside deck, it was still so worth it being that high up looking down on to the capital. There is also a lot history here, as it is where all the old and new parliament is.
Dropping off the Red Commodore RS, flying out to Melbourne and picking up the 2nd Commodore, this time the Black edition – a slightly more laid back version. We drove to Peterborough on the south coast of Victoria, ready to start going back along the Great Ocean Road in the morning. This Road started off with a number of stops to see different viewpoints of different rock formations along the coast, The Grotto, London Bridge and The Arch are the top recommended ones. Obviously the 12 Apostles is the biggie that is possibly over touristy now but still offers a spectacular coastal views. Driving through a koala park and ending with a drive around some of the best coastal road, with forever changing corners and scenery, chasing down sunset from Teddy’s Lookout. And as we approached this by foot, the sun was still just in the sky – we made it. What a place, this is a strong recommendation.
Day 2 of the Great Ocean Road started off with a drive and a ferry going towards Phillip Island, to go to Phillip Island race circuit. I remember racing around that circuit on TOCA Race Car Driver 2 on my Dad’s PC, now I was racing around it in a Go Kart. After a couple of laps getting used to the feel of the kart, I slowed down to let my catch up to race a bit more wheel to wheel. I wish I could race in go-karts more often, they’re such good fun. Before heading back to Melbourne, we went to see one more thing: The Fairy Penguins. These little guys come out the sea to their nests just off the beach every evening just after it turns dark so they can run through the camouflage of night to avoid predators. And they are adorable.
Back in Melbourne, I went to see an old flatmate who happened to be staying in Oz at the time before heading to our upgraded hotel suite. It was more of an apartment that overlooked Albert Park. And in the morning, the sunrise revealed just how good a view it really had. We walked around the Albert Park Grand Prix circuit before checking out and flying to the Gold Coast for the Queensland segment of our tour. Straight after the hotel upgrade in Melbourne, our seats on the plane got upgraded on the plane to the premium section which most importantly gave my knees a break from continuously bashing the seat in front. The evening that we landed, we had tickets to go see South Sydney Rabbitohs vs Brisbane Broncos with family. 11 of us were there as a group, 10 of us supporting the Rabbits. The other 1 supported the winning team, damn.
The next day was started off with a walk around Byron Bay. Sadly, the day that we were there, there was what looked like a search & rescue party going around the cliffs. Hopefully people were alright. Anyway, as we went down the paths towards sea level, the were numerous sightings of whales and dolphins all the way down. That night we went to see the Outback Spectacular as one of my cousins is part of the crew. This is basically a night of theatre and show riding and dinner. Why can’t there be more shows presented in this way?: Having a 3 course meal delivered to your seat at generous spaces while the show is happening. Honestly top 3 live shows I’ve been to.
Even in winter, a beach trip on the Gold Coast is a must. We went for a short sunrise session followed up by a short surfing lesson (because you can’t have been to Australia if you didn’t surf) all under unbroken clear sky and sunshine. At dusk, we went to see the kangaroos as that’s the best time when they come out, there were so many. Plus a couple koalas high up in the trees.
Having an early morning dip in the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games pool was first on the agenda the following day, backed up with some treetop adventure courses at Tambourine Park. Finished with our last sunset of the Gold Coast from the top of a very windy hill. Totally worth it, being able to see all the way to the horizon with a completely clear sky was something special.
Early the next morning it was time to hit the airport for the next flight, this time heading to Townsville (where?!). It’s in Far north Queensland, we have family scattered up and down the east coast. They have such a relaxed living style up there, everything is chill but the weather, seriously that was a 25°C-30°C middle of winter day.
The final part of the adventure was back in Sydney, staying out at Emu Heights. Whizzing around on a quad bike was definitely a big high for me as well as wondering around the city of Sydney itself, visiting Kirribilli Point where I got a the photo that I had been thinking of getting for some time looking back at the city skyline. I got this idea from my main photographer and cinematographer inspirer, Matthew Vandeputte, who I was fortunate to be able to meet up with for a bit while in the city along with the incredibly talented Stefan Kunz. Managed to go to the top of one of the towers of Sydney Harbour Bridge and also went up the Sydney tower for dinner one of the nights with all the family in the area, what a time. Views, food and family – who could ask for any thing else?
A last minute decision to go to Newcastle was the final place we visited to go to my cousin’s home town. We went around Nobby’s Breakwall, the Anzac Memorial walk and Lake Macquarie – my favourite of which being the Memorial Walk, seeing that a local council can fund such a well planned and well presented walkway over a cliff edge and be able to make everyone happy with the money they’ve spent is incredible. And the perspective that it gives you on the landscape is quite spectacular.
Leaving an adventure is always sad, yes I want to go back. Sitting here 6 months later finishing the last few paragraphs and adding the images of this post takes me back to this time. I am so thankful to my parents for giving me the opportunity to go and to the family and friends we met out there for putting us up and for putting up with us.
On to the next adventure