A Travellerspoint blog

New Years Eve - Sydney 2008/09

sunny 34 °C
View Round the World in 164 days! on KerryMc's travel map.

31st December 2008

Ok, so conjour yourself up a picture of Sydney... Imagine you're there for New Years Eve... Ok, where do you want to be? Somewhere with a good view? A good bar? On Bondi Beach?

Right, so pray tell me why I am not (at 2 minutes to Midnight) in any of the above places!?!!! I shall explain....

I should have know really that when I got a text from George that she was meeting up at 8.45am (but Midnight is hours away...) that it wasn't going to be an ordinary day! So, I happily get myself on the train (I'm such a Sydney Commuter already), and head into Central to meet George and her friends who I'm joining for the day. We head off to a supermarket and pick up some picnic items which seems to take forever.. and then onto St James' Park to wait for more people to join us.

We're heading for Mrs Macquarie's Point - which is a really good spot to see both the Harbour Bridge and Opera House - but it seems like every other person is doing the same. It has capacity for 20,000 people and they open the gates early so by getting here early, the plan is that we get ourselves a good spot and chill out for the day... in theory that is.

Now imagine that its 34 degree heat and you have a headache already.... imagine your absolute delight when you see the queue to get into Mrs Macquarie's Point. Its about a mile long (and that is no exaggeration). It snakes its way around the parkland before the entrance and there are thousands of people already there before us.... this could be a problem.

Despite my suggestion that staying in this queue is crazy and that we should try elsewhere, I'm one of many and being a 'newbie' to this group, I don't have any influence. I am destined to spend the day in the queue... I then get a message from Juliana and Ina to say that they have a ticket for me at the Cahill Expressway (great views and no need to queue...) but I feel too rude to leave now considering I've landed myself on this group of people when they didn't have to invite me along!

Four and a half hours later (no joke), we reach the front of the queue and we're allowed into Mrs Macquarie's Point. Unsurprisingly, the place is packed out and the good seats are gone! I'm feeling so sick from my headache at this point that when we find a spot in the shade, I plonk myself on the grass and fall asleep for an hour or so (there's not much else to do!). I struggle to understand why it is I've got myself into this and think about high tailing it back to the comfort of my apartment and watching the fireworks on the tv. But thats not the point of it is it? I shall persevere.

I'm glad of my picnic items, I'm even more glad of the two 2l bottles of water that I've bought. They make a lot of sense in this heat. Despite bringing a change of clothes with me so I look a bit more 'celebratory', I can't even be bothered to switch! Bah humbug - I'm so like my Dad when it comes to New Years Eve! Such an anti-climax, even in Sydney!!

The time ticks around (quite quickly thankfully) to 9pm when Sydney have a warm up fireworks session - mainly for the families who don't want to be out on the town all night - which i think is a lovely idea. Had they set fireworks off on the bridge at this time, I would definitely be leaving after this. But, because they didn't, I feel like I'm missing out so I stay.

George and I head for a walk around the gardens where we are and try and pass some time away, I'm glad I've brought my book!

Towards Midnight, everyone starts to make there way to a better point to get photos so George and I head out towards the exit gates where there are a few viewpoints which we hope are quieter. The one we decide on is ok but not great. There's no countdown - bizarrely - so we only know its Midnight when the fireworks start which are just stunning - about 12 minutes worth which is quite some going. The bridge is lit up in every sort of colour and even a watefall effect - amazing.

I get a text from Clare to say that Alan is watching it live on Sky so I give him a call - bizarre!

Then its over... no Auld Lang Syne. So aside from George and I setting off a few party poppers, and a few shouts of Happy New Year, we're into 2009!

We make a quick exit and George and I go our separate ways - I'm on a mission to beat the crowds onto my train home (which is free! yay!). I just miss one train but I'm still surprised when I get onto an empty train! This soon changes when we stop off at Circular Quay and later stops - now I feel more like I'm in rush hour on the Tube in London. Familiarity is great.

I squeeze myself off the train at my stop - some people further up are falling out, its not a pretty sight! - and with it being 1am, I race back to the safety of my apartment. I'm so glad to be back! I'm exhausted, even though I've done nothing!

Starving, I get myself some food and then spend the next hour or so catching up with home and friends on the phone! Now I feel homesick!

Posted by KerryMc 15:29 Archived in Australia Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Melbourne... to Sydney

sunny 32 °C
View Round the World in 164 days! on KerryMc's travel map.

30th December 2008

Up and out for the 9.30am Skybus to Melbourne Airport. My bag weighs a tonne! Its still got the wine and cake in - what am I thinking? Just hoping that Qantas don't have a checked in baggage limit otherwise i'm going to be drinking sparkling shirley shiraz and eating cake like there's no tomorrow before I go through security!

Thankfully, I'm allowed through (my bag hits 27kg... I need to offload some stuff!) and I'm through to have a look at the shops. Oh and maybe an english breakfast! How great to have poached eggs and bacon (well, not real bacon but vaguely familiar!).

The flight to Sydney is pretty uneventful and only takes an hour. No view of the opera house and bridge on the way in - nevermind! I'm spending a week there, its not like I'll miss it!

Being such a well-travelled individual now I head onto the train into Central - phew its hot! Definitely not loving the fact that I decided to travel in jeans (although it was raining when I left Melbourne this morning!) so cheat a little and take a cab to my new home for the week in Sydney in Newtown.

Being able to shut the door behind me and have a room to myself which houses everything I could possibly need (flat screen tv, dvd player, washing machine, dryer, shower, cooker, microwave etc) is definitely the little bit of luxury I need at this time. Its only a studio flat but its exactly what I need. The last few weeks (aside from my visit with Vivi) have been hectic, non-stop and a little chaotic. Some downtime is just what the doctor ordered so I think I can be forgiven for finding myself lying on the sofa, tv on, trainers off and falling fast asleep in the afternoon!

I'm in one of the most exciting places on the planet, what am I thinking?? I know, I'll go food shopping!

It feels good to be able to buy groceries again knowing that I won't have to chuck out loads of fresh things because I'm travelling on again! Fresh salad all the way!

I'm back to cook for myself and watch some DVDs - I never knew how excited I would be to get chance to sit and chill like this when I have Sydney on my door step! I will take advantage of it tomorrow, don't you worry!

Posted by KerryMc 19:46 Archived in Australia Tagged air_travel Comments (0)

Groovy Grape Ocean Road Tour - Day 3

sunny 28 °C
View Round the World in 164 days! on KerryMc's travel map.

29th December 2008

Woo-hoo! I awake to the news that West Brom have won a game finally! The Baggie bird mascot that I have is going to find itself in many photos today in celebration!

We head first to Loch Ard Gorge - site of a ship wreck where there were only two survivors who managed to climb there way to safety - and then we're back on the road down the coast to Apollo Bay.

We get chance to have an hour in the sunshine which has finally decide to join us - "welcome! don't leave me again!" and then fish and chips for lunch. Disappointed - they're not like back home!

As I'm leaving Apollo Bay, I bump into Jess (tour guide from the Outback) - how weird is that? A small world! She's off to a festival for a few days!

Onwards and down to the surf home of the world - Torquay and Bells Beach. The latter being a place used in the Point Break movie - which, being in the know with all things surf (?!), is the home of Rip Curl and Billabong... Maybe I'll go and get measured up for a wet suit!

We're on our final stretch now to Melbourne - a couple of hours drive away for my only night in the City - which ends up being out of the City anyway so not much chance to explore! That's not such a bad thing. I'm exhausted after my couple of days and I'm looking forward to the rest and relaxation I'm hoping to get in Sydney for a week with my own apartment! Bring it on!

Posted by KerryMc 19:17 Archived in Australia Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Groovy Grape Ocean Road Tour - Day 2

overcast 21 °C
View Round the World in 164 days! on KerryMc's travel map.

28th December 2008

Remind me to follow my instincts!

I've had a naff night's sleep - its cold for starters, what's that all about? My bunk is right next to the window and the wind was howling through it all night. I'm freezing and have got the shakes. Surely I should just go back to bed instead of going hiking?? Especially at about 6am!

Normal Kerry would have gone back to bed right? Not new Kerry! I'm going to go hiking - yay!

We arrive up the road at the start point for the Pinnacle. Amy warns me that its pretty heavy going - I had no idea how much she was telling the truth! I might have spent the last 5 months in a gym but it was tough!

Its about a 4.5km round trip up to the top and back with the first section through a gorge. The terrain is all very interesting but I'm too bothered about remembering to breathe! Its a tough old slog and I think about giving up a number of times and catching up with those crazy kids who are sprinting to the top back at the bus.... but I won't be beaten!

I make it! Tough going but worth it. I'm very proud of myself! The view from the Pinnacle looks over Hells Gap where we have spent the evening and out over the Grampians National Park. Beautiful when its quiet in the morning!

We head back down again and off for some well-earned breakfast and a lovely hot shower! Just what I needed!

We have a quick look in the local aboriginal centre and then hit the road again. We're off towards Warrnambool - back to the Coast. On the way we encounter many a sight that reminds me of the Irish countryside, not least that it is now raining! How rude!

After a BBQ lunch (in the rain, classy!), we start to head towards the Great Ocean Road which, in the cloud cover, is looking more Grey than Great...

There are a collection of rock formations along about a 150km stretch of coastline as follows:

The Bay of Islands, The Bay of Martyrs, The Grotto, London Bridge, Lorch Ard Gorge and the Twelve Apostles!

The funniest story about all of them is the fact that London Bridge didn't used to be detached from the coast. But when it did 'detach', it was at a time when a couple were standing out on the far part of it - a couple who weren't meant to be together and were having an affair. Being such an internationally hot story, the helicopters and their cameras were soon to follow and they were caught red-handed! Karma eh?

Myself and a couple of the group decide to have a go at a helicopter ride - amazing! Well worth a go.

We head back to our hostel for the evening in the local town of Port Campbell. I'm left in charge of making a spag bol for 20 people... I'm such a dinner lady! We sit and drink a few beers and then another early night - its been a long old day!

Posted by KerryMc 18:53 Archived in Australia Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Groovy Grape Ocean Road Tour - Day 1

semi-overcast 27 °C
View Round the World in 164 days! on KerryMc's travel map.

27th December 2008

Delighted to be up at 5.30am, just what I always wanted when I planned my trip!!

We're up and ready and Vivi drops me off at the bus station - a teary farewell. Feel like I'm leaving home all over again! I'm greeted by two guys who are joining me on my Groovy Grape tour (Mike and Steve) who share my enthusiasm for finding out football scores. I feel I may have found my kindred spirits for the trip!

Vivi has packed me off with a picnic fit for a Queen! Well, clearly I am one! Including half of a christmas cake... which, together with the bottle of sparkling wine, is breaking my back!! Nevermind, it'll taste good!

We're waiting for the bus for a while and then we get a call to say that it has broken down and that it could be a while - eek! I could have had another hour in bed!

Amy our tour guide finally turns up about an hour later and we get underway.

I hadn't quite realised the distance we're going to need to travel to get from Adelaide to Melbourne in 3 days - suffice to say that we're spending most of Day 1 in a bus! No change there then!

Our first stop is to take a look at some albino kangaroo / wallabies (what is the difference, I still don't know!). Interesting! Whilst there the local sandfly population decide that they want to feast on me so for the next few days I'm going to be in agony from bites (and on my feet of all places! Arrrggghhh!). From there we cross the South Australia border into Victoria and stop off for a picnic lunch.

More driving and we head into Amy's favourite place - The Grampians National Park. From the distance, I'm not entirely convinced that this is going to be all its cracked up to be but I'll go with the flow!

Our first stop is Mackenzie Falls and maybe I was wrong to judge quickly! The climb down to the waterfalls was easy as - clearly as it was all downhill (steep). The view from the falls at the bottom was amazing and despite it being packed full of Japanese tourists... (you want photo?), I can still enjoy it! What I didn't particularly appreciate was the cardio-workout walk back up the steps to the top... I shall be fit one day!

What stands out about The Grampians is how much of the landscape resembles the limestone formations in the Burren Mountains back in Clare... weird eh? I'm sure my family will appreciate the comparison if no-one else does! We take in a few more lookouts and then head on to a place called Hells Gap (?!) where our hostel is for the night. Amy, Steve and I are left in charge of the barbecue (dangerous!) as others go off and get pictures of the local scenery. The food isn't half bad, even if I say so myself!

We're all pretty tired so its an early night for us all - we're up early again tomorrow to do a challenging hill walk. I can't wait!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by KerryMc 00:36 Archived in Australia Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

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