Brisbane, Coolangatta, Byron Bay, Coffs Harbour, Port Macquarie, Sydney

Australia Travel Blog

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October 9th - We got up today and checked out of Bunk hostel and no more bites so hopefully the problem had been solved! To save money on taxis we caught the shuttle bus to the coach station and then called the shuttle bus for Base hostel where we were going next and they came and picked us up and took us to the hostel. We checked in and went straight out to continue job hunting. We went to the library to use the free interent and both didnt really have much luck in finding any suitable jobs. We did gind a couple of numbers to try, one which was marshalling at the Queensland Indy Rally but we would need a special certificate for that so we tried the other number. It was for an agency recruiting for casual work mailsorting etc but when we called the agency they told us we would need to speak to the employer directly.

We called the company and finally got a call back from them an hour or so later and the lady told us she had work for us for the next day and we should arrive by 9am. We went straight to the train station which was right opposite our hostel to check train times etc and then went to the supermarket to get stuff to make a packed lunch. We were both really glad to have finally found some work and so got an early night as we had to be up quite early.

October 10th - Our alarm was set for 6.30am and we gor showered and had breakfast and left the hostel at 7.30am. We bought our return train tickets (only $AUD6 each) and caught the 7.47am train. The train took about 25 minutes and we then had about a 20 minute walk once we got off. We found the place without too many problems and when we got there we asked for Bev, the lady who we had spoken to on the phone.

We were quickly shown around, it was basically a big warehouse and we were soon put staight to work, putting small inserts into a Readers Digest magazine. We stood at a table with about 4 other people doing the same thing and were there for about and hour before we had a tea break!We then both had other different tasks during the day, either packing and sealing envelopes or feeding things through machines, definately not the most exciting job in the world but we both really enjoyed the day, we had 5 hours work and so left about 2.15pm. Definately better than fruit picking though! The lady was quite positive about there being plenty of work for next week and were told to be back at 9am on Monday morning. We got the train back and felt quite tired and so had a bit of a rest in the afternoon, not used to working but definately ready for a celebratory drink! That night we went out with Ainne & Daire the irish couple we met in the Whitsundays, we all had a lot to drink and it was a fun night.

October 11th - We had booked in to the same hostel for another night so ended up sleeping in til about midday feeling a little bit rough from the night before! We finally got up in the early afternoon and went out for a little walk around the town to get some fresh air and something to eat. In the early evening we walked over the bridge to the South side of the river as there was a music festival going on - Greenfest. It had a lot of stalls selling different foods and crafts etc and there were about 3 stages set up with local bands and musicians playing. We stayed there for a couple of hours before going back to the hostel to sleep.

October 12th - We were up and checked out of the hostel by 10am. We caught the 10.30am shuttle bus from Base to the bus station as it was close to the hostel we were booked into for that night.

We walked from the bus station to the new hostel - Cloud 9 Backpackers and there was a bit of confusion at the check in as they didn't have our booking we had made online for a 6 bed dorm, they ended up putting us in a 4 bed dorm for the night for the same price. We dumped our bags and went straight to the open air swimming pool for a swim, Neil didn't fancy it as wasn't feeling great but Emma did her 30 lengths. From there we went to Roma Street Parkland in the centre of the city as they was an all day mulitcultural festival happening which turned out to be excellent. There were hundreds of stalls selling food from all over the wworld, live music everywhere etc. We stayed there all afternoon before heading off about 5pm to Skype Neil's mum & dad. It was good as they had been babysitting Dylan for the night so we got to see him and he was really lively on the webcam.
We then went to the supermarket before going back and chilling in the hostel and watched Australian Idol!

October 13th - Our alarm was set for 6.30 am and we checked out and left all our bags there for the day. We left the hostel and walked down to the train station, about a 5 minute walk for the 7.49am train. We arrived 'at work' about 8.45am and started at 9am. There had a big mailing job on that day and there were more than 9,000 envelopes to be filled and sealed, there were quite a lot of casual workers in helping and we did that for the whole day and finished about 4pm. Unfortunately though we were told we would not be needed again for the next few days. We got the train back to the city and went straight to collect our bags before walking round the corner to Banana Benders Backpackers and checked in to our first private double room for ages! Thought we'd treat ourselves as we were now workers! Emma then went for another swim while Neil stayed at the hostel and relaxed.

We then cooked dinner when Emma got back and we had a couple of drinks at the hostel before going to bed.

October 14th - We got up at a reasonable time and had our breakfast. We then walked from the hostel to the city centre and our first stop was the Post Office to pick up our new bank cards. We then went to the mobile phone shop to check up on the new package we had got as we seemed to have used a lot of the credit we had bought. We then spent the rest of the day doing different things like going to the Qantas Office to enquire about flights next year, went to the Immigration Office to find out about our visas for Thailand and then we went across to the library to use the internet for an hour for free. On the way back Emma went to the pool for another swim but we both seemed to be feeling a bit rough and getting sore throats so that night we just chilled out in the hostel.

October 15th - Emma got up about 10am and went for her 4th swim in 4 days but Neil was not feeling too great so he stayed in bed until about 3.30pm! When he finally got up we had something to eat and then went out for a little walk around the city and to use the internet. We went back to the hostel and asked the owner if there was a supermarket nearby so we walked to a new supermarket in a different part of town which was good as we walked past the Suncorp football stadium and lots of nice shops, restaurants and bars that we didn't know were so close by. Just as we left the supermarket on the way back it started to rain a bit and by the time we got back nearer to our hostel we were absolutely soaking, it was the heaviest rain we had ever seen. The thunder and lightening was so loud but it was fun to experience.

We got back to the hostel and dried off a bit and had some dinner before having an early night.

October 16th - We again slept in this morning but by now were both feeling very rough with sore throats and coughs. We did go out in the afternoon for some air and went round a few shops and found a really good cheap clothes shop that we both thought we would get a few clothes in when we had been paid a bit more. We did check our Australian bank account balance in the afternoon and we had been paid which was great! We also got a call from 'Bev' the lady from the company where we had been working and she told us that she needed us both in the next morning at 7.30am which was great to have another days work. We walked back and checked the train timetables for the train the next morning and went back to the hostel for the evening and to get an early night.

October 17th - We had the alarm set for 5.30am as we were starting at 7.30am. We both got ready and were early at the train station so waited about 10 minutes for our 6.49am train. It was another fun filled day at work of packing envelopes, packing up boxes etc but the days essm to pass really quickly. We were both feeling our worst though on this day and had been dosing up with sort throat stuff etc, Emma felt really rough at one point but we both survived the day! We got the train back to the hostel and both just chilled out. We had some soup for dinner and got an early night.

October 18th - We both woke up feeling much beter this morning and got up and had some breakfast. It was a really nice day and we decided to go and try out a couple of the weekend markets in the city.

The first was in Fortitude where our first hostel had been so we walked over there and spent a while looking round the stalls, it was buzzing over there with lots of people out boozing in all the bars. We then walked right back across the city and over the bridge to the Southbank and it took us a while to find the market over there even though we walked right past it at one point! It again was a really nice market right on the side of the river, but the whole area over there was nice, with a man made beach on the side of the river with a logoon that was absolutely packed! We went back to the hostel and chilled out and had some dinner and decided to go out for a few drinks about 9pm. We decided to try the bars near the hostel and ended up in a massive bar called The Paddo.
We ahd a few drinks and there was a live band on. We got talking to two aussie blokes who had been out drinking for the day, they were a crack up, and they seemed to love us coz we were 'Poms' One of them was so drunk he was all over Emma at one point with Neil sitting right next to her but they were harmless. A bit later on, they both were in the middle of the bar, squaring up to a group of about 5 blokes and 5 girls, I think we'd found the local hard men! We left soon after though so didn't see what might of happened.

October 19th - We had a lay in and got up and walked into the city to yet another weekend market further along but on the other side of the river, We like anything that's free! We spent a while there before going to a 'free' wine and music festival in a little park in the city.

Again is was a really hot day so we sat in the sun, Emma had a couple of glasses of champagne and Neil had a couple of beers, we were allowed to as we only really drink and spend any money at the weekend! Emma cooked a really nice beef stew for dinner (enough for the next night as well) before we went out and skyped Emma's parents and Grandparents and then we just chilled out in the hostel in the evening and watched a film.

October 20th - We were both feeling much better now and were up again at 5.30 to catch the same train to work. We got in our longest day and worked for nearly 8 hours before catching the train back to the hostel. In the vening we stayed in the hostel and had dinner. We ended up watching a film before going to bed about 10pm as we had to be up for work again the next morning.

October 21st - We were up again early and spent a full day at work. We were told at the end of the day that we would not be needed the next day (Wednesday) but there was work for us again on Thursday so we decided to stay in Brisbane until then and get hopefully two more days of work at the end of the week. That evening we had dinner as normal in the hostel, where there is a live in Possum who they've named 'George'. We had never seen a possum before and basically they are a giant rat with a cutish face. The Possum comes onto the deck where evryone eats at the same time every night and looks for food, it stays for about an hour before leaving. He is very tame and people stroke him but we were not keen on eating with a giant rodent staring at us so used to move inside.

That night we went out to the cinema to watch 'Burn After Read' which was quite a good film.

October 22nd - As it was our 'day off' we had a little lay in and Emma went out and had her swim. We then went in to the city and did some shopping before spending some time using the internet at the library again. We sat out in the sun on the side of the river for a while as it was a really nice day before again just chilling in the hostel in the evening.

October 23rd - We were up even earlier than normal as we started at 7am so we got the 6.18am train to work. It was another typical day of envelope stuffing (we were pro's by now!) but were told at the end of the day that we wouldn't be needed on Friday so it turned out to be our last day. We said bye to all the people we had been working with (very emotional!) and got the train back to the hostel.

Emma went for a swim and Neil went to use the internet to look at Bus Times etc. We had been in contact with Cathy and Les, another contact Neil's mum had given us that his Grandad knew,  and so that night we gave them a call and arranged to go and see them the next day as they lived an hour and a half south of Brisbane. They had said we could stay with them so thought we would stay for a night before moving on down the coast. We couldn't book our Greyhound bus as the office had already closed but arranged with them to pick us up when we knew the bus we wanted would get in. We spent our last night in the hostel as normal chilling out and watching TV.

October 24th - We were awake about 8.30am and Emma went and phoned Greyhound and booked our bus for later in the day.

We checekd out of the room at 10am and had our breakfast and stored our bags there. We walked into the city just to have a look around as Emma was looking for some shoes but didn't manage to find any in her size. We walked back up to our hostel and got all our bags before walking down to the bus station to catch our 1.15pm bus to Coolangatta. The bus arrived there right on time and we waited there for about 5 minutes before Cathy and Les pulled up to pick us up, they seemed like really nice people. We drove back to their house which was a 15 minute drive but over the border so we were in NSW and had to put our watches forward an hour. Their place was really nice with its own swimming pool and they had already set us up a bed in their main living room. We sat around chatting with them for a while as Neil wasn't exactly sure who they were but soon learned that they were close relations to people that his grandad spent a lot of time with.
We then met Jordan, their 19 year old son and his girrfriend when they got back from Uni and then a bit later their 16 year old son Callum when he got back from Cricket training. Both of their sons were mad about cricket especially the youngest who showed us all his 7 cricket bats! We then had a really nice BBQ and sat around chatting, Neil and Les got through a good few beers but Emma had decided to have a couple of weeks with no booze so she was not drinking. We went to bed about midnight.

October 25th - We got up and Les and Callum had left for the whole day as he plays cricket in the morning and afternoon for two different teams. Jordan and bhis girlfriend were still around but left as he was playing cricket in the afternoon. We had some breakfast and Cathy took us out for a walk with their dog, Mali, an 18 month old  Sheepdog, who was gorgeous.

Cathy took us down to the beach and left us there to have a look around which we did for a while. We had some drinks in a cafe and looked around the small town and then watched a junior lifesaving comp on the beach for a while before heading back to their house as it had got a bit cloudy and cooler and even started reaing at one point. It brightened up by the time we got back to their house and we sat with Cathy for a while and she said it was fine for us to stay another night so we decided to leave the next day and so booked our Greyhound bus. She then drove us down to the cricket ground so we could watch some of Jordan's match. We sat there in the sun for a hour and a half and then walked all the way back along the coast to their house which too about 45 minutes.
That evening again we all sat around and had dinner, we both stayed up though and watched the Sunderland v Newcastle match.

October 26th - Callum and Les left again early that morning about 7am but we were awake so said bye to them but then we stayed in bed until about 10am. We got showered and had some breakfast and were ready by about 11am as Cathy had her niece coming to visit. She had mentioned this the day we arrived but Neil only clicked a bit later that her niece was someone who had been to the UK and stayed with his Grandad for about a month about 11 years ago and he remembered her. So it was really good that we then got to meet Melanie (Cathys niece) and her husband Pavel and their 3 year old son Brody. And then a bit later Cathy's mum and dad came round who had put Tom up on many occasions so it was really good to find out a lot about the time that Neil's grandad had spent in Australia.

We all had some lunch before Cathy gave us both a lift back to the bus station for our 3.15pm bus to Byron Bay. We arrived there on time and caught the shuttle bus back to our hostel. The hostel was really nice and about a minute walk to the beach. We went in to town and got some food from the supermarket and Neil got some beers and we went back and had dinner. We then went out so Neil could Skype his mate Dan to arrange about when he is going to visit us in Thailand next year. We then went back and spent the night in the hostel which was a friendly place and we met a lot of new people.

October 27th - We got up and had our breakfast then headed straight to the beach.  It was quite windy so we didn't stay that long as we were getting covered in sand so we went into the town.

We had a look around the shops there, they were typical of a touristy place, surf shops, cafes etc and then we had some lunch before walking back along the beach and sunbathing again for a while. We then walked back from the beach to the hostel which was only a 2 minute walk and sat around for a while before having dinner. Later on we walked back in to town but it was very quiet and al the bar were fairly empty so we decided to just go back to the hostel to chill out there before going to bed.

October 28th - We checked out of the room at 10am and stored all of our stuff in the luggage room. We had decided to go and walk to see the lighthouse but it was a very hot day and it was a very long walk so we decided against it. We just spent the rest of the day on the beach and in the town before going back to the hostel and having an early dinner about 4.

30pm as we were getting a bus at 6.10pm. We caught the hostel shuttle to the bus stop and got the bus down to Coffs Harbour. We arraived there about 10.15pm and were picked up by the bus from our new hostel and even though it was late the guy still showed us around the town and even took us to the lookout point over the harbour. We checekd in to our 6 bed dorm and sat around in the lounge watching tv for a while before going to bed.

October 29th - We got up and had our breakfast and then walked to the Coffs Harbour Jetty and across to Mutton Bird Island.  We couldn't understand why it was an island as it was joined to the mainland though.  The island is famous for a rare bird but unfortuntely we only saw a couple at a distance as it was mating season so they weren't around as they were busy! We walked to the other side of the island and from the lookout point we saw 3 or 4 whales migrating which was really good.

  We want to see one jump out the water but we haven't yet. From the island we then walked to the Botanical Gardens and wandered around them for a while and sat down but not for long as there were lots of massive crows which looked quite scary. We stayed there for about an hour and then went to the shops to get our tea and walked back to the hostel.  At the hostel we chilled out with the other people in the hostel, as it was small it was easy to meet people.  Emma was still not drinking but Neil had a few beers.

October 30th - We got up quite early at 9.30am and rented bikes from the hostel for $5.  We rode to the 'Big Banana' which is a tacky tourist attraction, you could pay to have a banana plantation tour but we decided not to bother and instead went to a candy making store which was free!  It was good as we saw them making some wedding sweets which had the 2 peoples names in the centre.

  They ended up looking like giant sticks of rock.   We got to taste them and they were really good.  We then went to the cafe and Neil got a frozen banana which he had been looking forward to.  From here we cycled to Diggers beach which is a popular surf beach, it was cloudy so there wasn't many people there and no surfers which was a shame!  After staying here for a bit we went shopping in the local plaza where Emma spent some of her wages on new clothes for Bali and then we went to the swimming baths. We then rode back through the mangroves on the boardwalk to the hostel.  That night we watched a movie and tried kangaroo for tea.  It was really nice and didn't taste like chicken!

October 31st - We checked out by 9.

30am and then went to the beach as it was a lovely day.  We found out that our tenants had done a runner before we went which atleast stopped us from worrying what was going on, as we had for the last few days.  We stayed at the beach for a couple of hours and watched people kite surfing which looks like great fun and then went back to the hostel to chill out before catching our bus at 3.15pm to Port Macquarie.  The bus took 3 hrs and we were checked into our next hostel by 6.30pm.  The hostel was really small with only 24 beds and the owner was really friendly.  We were in an 8 bed dorm and the room was really big compared to a lot of hostels where there is no room for your backpacks.
  That night we sat on the balcony with a couple from canada and Tony the owner.  We saw hundreds of fruit bats fly past us which was horrible.  Tony said that there were thousands in the forests around Port Macquarie...we thought they were out just because it was halloween!

November 1st - We got up quite early, had breakfast which was free, and then set off for a walk to the lighthouse with 3 others from the hostel at about 10am.  The walk was really good and was about 9k to the lighthouse and went through 9 beaches and some woodland.  On the way we saw so many dolphins it was unbelievable..about 40 all at once it was brill.  There were also whales flipping their tails in the distance which was cool.  We spoke to a local and she said it was unusual how many dolphins there were so we were lucky.

It took us about 3 hours to get to hte lighthouse with lots of stops. When we were nearly there we saw a small snake but it was dead...we're still waiting to see a real one in the wild.  We then walked back to the hostel via the pub (the lads thought they deserved a beer after a long walk) and got back about 6pm. After having our tea we went back to the pub with some more people from the hostel and the hostel owner for a couple of drinks.

November 2nd - We checked out at 9.30am and then walked up the road to a local historic winery which was very small and run by about 30 volunteers.  The winery and buildings used to be run down but were renovated in 1993 and now look really good..the wine tasted good too.  After the winery we went to a farmers market nearby and it was really good as you got to taste lots of local foods.

  We got a big cup of prawns which tasted so good. Neil tried one of the local beers as well. From here we walked back to the hostel and chilled out for a little while before walking over to the Kaola hospital at 3pm for a free tour. It was great as we saw about 8 Kaola's all who had something wrong with them so were being cared for, it is the main hospital that recues Kaola's after bush fires. At 6.05pm we caught ther Greyhound to Sydney, it was bout a 6 hour journey with one stop for dinner and we finally arrived at Central station in Sydney about 12.30pm having passed over the harbour bridge and seeing the Opera House on the way in to the city. We walked to our new hostel which took us about 15 minutes and they had left our room key in the outside letter box for us and although we had booked in to a 6 bed dorm they had put us in a 4 bed dorm with noone else in it so we didn't disturb anyone which was great.
We finally went to bed about 2am.

November 3rd - We had a bit of a lay in and got up about 10am. We got free internet in the hostel so we spent a bit of time having a look on the internet and planning what we're doing over christmas etc. We didn't want to do much in Sydney for the next couple of days as wanted to save all the sightseeing for when Emma's mum and dad come out. We spent the day doing not much, we did visit the Vietnamese part of town which Emma really enjoyed, looking around all of their food shops, and looking forward to cooking different foods in Asia! We had dinner at the hostel and watched tv in our room!

November 4th - Melbourne Cup day! We left the hostel about 11am and went straight out to put our bets on. They don't have shops like Ladbrokes in Australia as all of their betting is down in the pubs which is great.

We did a few different bets and spent about $AUD30. We then went to meet Emma and Alan at midday (Emma is the daughter of Neil's mum's freind who lives opposite them), her and Alan are travelling around Asia, Oz and NZ for 4 months. There were loads of people walking around really dressed up in suits, dresses, hats etc which we would have liked to join in with but not really the sort of clothes we have with us! We had a drink with them in a pub near where we met and then walked to another pub we had found to get a good seat ready for the race at 3pm. It was a really good day, we also met up with Dan and Leigh who were staying in our room at the hostel, a couple we had met in Port Macquarie (the guy was a Norwich fan!) and also Auke and his freind, the dutch guy we met in Fraser Island.
We all sat around drinking and watched the big raace at 3pm but none of us won anything, the race was won by a 40/1 outsider in one of the closest photo finishes ever. Everyone started to move on, to go for food etc but we stayed there with Emma and Alan for a while before goiing to get some food as we hadn't eaten all day! We then went to another bar and they were repalying the Newcastle match from the night before so we were there until about 10pm when we stumbled back to the hostel!

November 5th - Today we checked out the hostel at 9am and we are now in the internet cafe finishing this blog. We are going shopping after here as Emma wants to get some clothes! We fly to Bali this afternoon at 5.35pm, we can't wait!!!

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