December 29th - We got up quite late and then we decided to go for a walk to the beach. Andrew had told us it was a 20 minute walk, but in 45 minutes we still hadn't found it! After an hour we came to Hampton high street and then found the beach. It was a really nice beach but it was getting a bit cold so we didn't go on but instead walked around the area and then walked back to the flat. Hampton is a really nice area and people seem to have a lot of money as all the houses are big and look impressive and the high street was full of cafe's, deli's and expensive looking shops. We got back to Irene's and then just chilled out, had some tea and watched film.
December 30th - We got up and went into the city at about 11am to get out Thai visas which were waiting for us.
We then got the tram to the Queen Victoria Markets as Emma wanted to go. They were only open for another hour so we quickly looked round. The market was so big and full of clothes, jewellery, food, delicatessens - Emma loved it! We both got a bit carried away in the fruit and veg section as everything was so cheap as it was the end of the day and we left with a big bag of stuff, forgetting we had to then carry it round for the rest of the day! After the market we went to Melbourne
Museum, it took us a while to find as people kept telling us different directions but got there in the end. On the way we passed Lygnon street which is famous for being 'little Italy' of Melbourne - you could smell the garlic and herbs walking through it, it was great.
The museum was really good and we stayed there for about 3 hours before going home. We got back about 6.30pm and then watched tv and made our tea with all the stuff we'd bought from the market.
December 31st - We had a lay in and just spent the day 'at home' chilling out. We had some lunch and watched TV and just enjoyed sitting around doing nothing. We went on the internet and planned out a pub crawl that we would do in the city that night. We both were ready by 5pm and had Champagne and smoked Salmon before leaving to get a train into the city about 6pm. We to wait a while as a train was cancelled and when we finally got on the train it was packed as it was free transport for the night from 6pm until 5am the next morning. We got into the city and the streets were already packed with people so we headed for the first pub on our list which was unfortunately closed but the next one wasn't far away and it was a traditional English Pub called the Charles Dickens Tavern, Neil had a pint of Newcastle Brown Ale! From there we walked through the city looking at some of the other bars and pubs but most were charging entry fees but we found another pub that was free all night and it was nice with pool tables and live music.
We stayed in there for a drink before going for another walk but we couldn't really find anywhere else so we went back there for a few more drinks. We left there at 11.20pm to make our way down to the river for the fireworks. Although the streets were busy it is nothing like we are used to and we easily found our way to a really good spot on the side of the river and wwatched the fireworks at midnight from there - they were fantastic and we had an excellent view of all the sites where they were being let off from. Once the fireworks were finished we went back to the same pub and got back in with no problems and stayed there for another hour and a half until the live band finished. We then made our way back to Flinders Street station for the train home and ended up getting back to the house about 3.
January 1st - We definately needed a lay in this morning and it was so great to have our own place and be able to do what we wanted. We ended up getting up abou 11am and having our first cooked breakfast for a long time, forget New Years resolutions! Neil was then very excited to learn that the Great Escape was on at midday so we sat down and watched that, with adverts it did not finish until 3.45pm! We then had a bit of a tidy up of the house and showered before Zoe and Rich arrived about 6.15pm, they were both more hungover than us! We sat around for half an hour before deciding we were all hungry so as they had their car we drove to Brighton, a coastal town not far away, and found a nice pub for dinner. We all ordered hangover food, Emma had bangers & mash and Neil had a giant burger and chips! We were there for while and had a couple of drinks before they dropped us home about 10pm.
January 2nd - After breakfast and doing some washing we left the house and walked to the train station to catch the train to Frankston where we were picking up our hire car. We had ordered the smallest vehicle (Hyundai Getz) but luckily had been upgraded so ended up with a Toyota Corolla, the same as we had in Sydney. We had printed directions off the internet so drove straight from the hire place to Pin Oak Court (better known as Ramsay Street) which was about half an hour away. It is just a normal residential street in the heart of surburbia in Melbourne, if you didn't know what you were looking for you could easily miss it. We were very luckly, as we had been told that often the street is blocked with a barrier and it is sometimes only the tour bus allowed to drive in but it was very quiet and we parked at the end of the street and walked around it on our own with nobody else around and managed to get some good pictures.
We then drove to see if we could find Lassiter's but couldn't and own our way back past Ramsay Street the tour bus had arrived and it was then packed with tourists, we asked the tour guide if there was anything else we could see and she said only the TV studios but you are not allowed in them anyway so we weren't bothered about that. From there we drove back towards where we are staying and went to a famous lookout point which looks over the city near Brighton beach. We walked along the beach as well and they have lots of multicoloured beach huts along the beach. From there we drove into the city as Zoe and Rich had told us about the Melbourne Grand Prix track. It is a street track so we were able to drive the whole way round the track as it is a normal road around a lake in Albert Park other than on the weekend of the Austrlian Grand Prix each year.
We then headed back to the house for dinner and a few drinks indoors as we were up early the next morning.
January 3rd - We were up and out of the door by 8am to spend the weekend on the Great Ocean Road. Our first stop was in a small coastal town called Torquay where we stopped about 10am and had a walk around, it was a really nice sunny day and it was buzzing with tourists and people on holiday. From there we drove to Bell's Beach which is a famous surfing beach where they hold international competitions every year. After there we drove and went to a lighthouse where we had a drink in the tea rooms and then drove on and stopped for a look around a small place called Anglesea before wedrove along to Lorne stopping at some lookout points along the way.
The road is so scenic and there is so much to see. Lorne is a very rich place and so the houses were amazing. We drove and saw some waterfalls and also up to a great lookout point over the bay. We then had a walk through the town before heading on and driving to where we were staying for the night at Apollo Bay
, this part of the drive is great with the road eally winding and great views over the coastline. We found another nice little beach where we stopped for Ice Cream before making our way to Apollo Bay. We arrived at our YHA hostel about 6pm and were amazed at nice it was. It looked brand new and was like no other hostel we have ever stayed. The kitchens were brand new, it had a TV room with plasma screen, two lounges (one with a log fire) and were were booked a double room which made a nice change from dorms.
We asked at the reception for recommendations of restaurants and went out to have a look at a few and decided on an Italian restaurant and booked a table for 9pm. We went back to get ready and went out about 8pm and had a couple of drinks in the pub before going to the restaurant, this was the first time in 4 months in Australia we had eaten out at a restaurant by ourselves! It was a really nice treat and was for our christmas present to each other. We both had the special, which was steak with hollandaise sauce with prawns and mashed potato. We were both stuffed afterwards and went back to the room to bed.
January 4th - We checked out by 10am and drove towards a lighthouse but the main atrraction is the long road in the forest that leads to it. We had ben told it is one of the best places to see Koala's in the wild and at first we were looking and didn't see anything for a while but by the end we must have seen 10 Koala's and got some great pictures.
Everyone driving along this road just pull over anywhere and get out to take pictures, we were really lucky to stop at one point as Emma had spotted one and as we got near it and looked in the tree it was a mother with a tiny baby. From there we drove inland a it a did a 1 hour walk through the rainforest to Triplet Waterfalls, it was a really nice walk. After that we headed on and stopped for some lunch at Princetown, Neil really fancied fish and chips and Emma had a sandwich. After that we detoured a little off the Great Ocean Road and visited a cheese factory where we tasted 14 different cheeses, Emma was in Heaven, and then onto a chocolate place where we sampled some chocolate. We drove straight from here back to the GOR and to the most popular tourist attraction, the Twelve Apostles.
This part of the coastline is stunning and over years and years has been shaped into twelve massive rock towers standing out of the ocean. We walked around and went to all the viewpoints and took some pictures before heading a bit further on and visiting Loch Arn gorge which again is very stunning. Then we headed to Port Campbell
for our last stop and we sat by the beach and people watched for a while, but the beach was so packed. It was 5pm so we decided to head home and drove back inland and picked up the mian highway back to Melbourne. We went a little wrong getting back into Melbourne so ended up getting home just before 9pm. We had a salad for dinner and both fell asleep in front of the TV before going to bed.