November 28th - We landed back in Sydney about 9.30am and got our bags quickly. We went to book a shuttle bus in to the city and decided to book a return as we would be back the next night to meet Alan & Jenny (Emma's parents). We had booked a hostel for the night as close to the hotel where we were booked in for the following night with Alan & Jenny so we would not have far to walk the next morning. The shuttle bus dropped us off at our hostel, Kanga House, and we were very pleased as we got out and looked over the road to see the hotel morealess directly opposite! Our beds weren't ready so we couldn't check in straight away so we went for a little walk around the area and also went in to the hotel to have a look for the next night.
The hostel and hotel were on Victoria Street which was a nice road with little cafes and restaurants and lots of accommodation but the road running parallel was the main road in Kings Cross
where there were loads of bars and strip clubs so it was a cool location which was always buzzing. When we finally checked into our 10 bed dorm it was disgusting and we were so glad we were only staying for 1 night, the room was filthy, the bin was overflowing. We went straight to sleep as we were tired and woke up about 7pm. We went out for a bit, had something to eat and used the internet, before going back to the hostel and played cards for a bit before going to bed.
November 29th - We both woke and were checked out by 10am and were both so glad to be out of the hostel.
We took our bags straight over the the Victoria Court Hotel where we were booked in and left our bags there but we couldn't check in to the room until 2pm. We spent the day having a look around the area trying to find a nice pub to go to when Alan & Jenny arrived. We then went in to the centre of the city and bought ourselves two new towels as we had left ours on the line at the hostel in Darwin. We were back at the hotel by 4pm and checked into our room, they were really nice, it was a small friendly hotel, but was decorated in Victorian Style with fireplaces in the rooms, Alan & Jenny had a 4 poster bed. We hadn't found a nice bar close by so we went out to the Liquor Store and bought a bottle of wine and a few beers to have in the room when they arrived. We caught the last shuttle bus of the day to the airport at 7.
15pm, we had a couple of hours until they arrived so we had some dinner and a couple of drinks at the airport. Their flight landed at 9.40pm and we met them as they came through the exit at about 10.20pm. We all went straight out to queue for a taxi, it was pouring of rain, but were soon back at the hotel and catching up with a few drinks in the room.
November 30th - We were up and having breakfast in the hotel at 9am. Emma had planned our 4 days in Sydney (Emsy's tours) as there was a lot to see. This day we were out on the Lonely Planet walking tour of the city. We started off in Hyde Park at the Captain Cook Memorial about 10.30am and it was a Scottish Celebration Day so there were a lot of bagpipe players around. From there we passed the Cathedral and then into the Botanical Gardens.
We walked all through the gardens and were amazed when we looked up in the trees and saw literally thousands and thousands of bats! We walked out and saw our first glimpse of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge which was great before walking around a path which took us right up to the Opera House. We had thought it would be good to see something there if we could so after going in and finding out what was on we went and had a coffee and decided to book up to see the ballet on the Wednesday night (Rolf Harris Live was fully booked!) From here we walked around Circular Quay
and up the 'The Rocks' area which is the oldest part of Sydney. There was a Sunday market on which was really good and we walked around there for about an hour and made a few purchases before heading up the the oldest hotel in Sydney, that had been recommended to us, which so happened to have a brilliant pub below it which brewed its own beers.
We stopped in, had a drink, and even booked a nights accommodation there for when we were all back in Sydney for the last night when we came back from Cairns
. We then walked out over the harbour bridge for a view over the city before catching a ferry from Circular Quay down to Darling Harbour
which was a buzzing as it was a really hot and sunny day. We caught the last of the Christmas Parade in a park before heading back to the hotel and chilling out for a while before heading out to an Italian Restaurant close by for dinner.
December 1st - We had breakfast again about 9am before walking around the corner to pick up our rental car (Toyota Corrolla) which we had got a good deal on for 3 days, with the added bonus of them having their own car park where we could leave the car overnight.
We thought we'd make the most of it so drove out to Bondi Beach
(via Bondi Junction for a bit of shopping) which was great to see with loads of surfers out in the water. We then drove back and left the car and walked down to Circular Quay to catch the ferry to Manly
for the afternoon. We walked along the beach, stopped and had fish and chips for lunch, and then walked around to a little bay and sat there for a while but it started to rain so we walked back although the rain didn't last long, before catching the ferry back in to Sydney. We had drinks on the room that evening and had decided to try soemthing that had been recommended both by people and in the book called Harry's Cafe de Wheels.
It's basically a burger van that has become famous over the years that is parked up on the side of the water. Loads and loads of celebrities have been there (there are lots of photos up) and they do very very good pies. We all had 'The Tiger' which is a meat pie with mash on to, mushy peas on top of that and then gravy on top of that. We took them back to the hotel and we all enjoyed them!
December 2nd - We were up early for breakfast at 7am, Neil went to get the car and came back and we were on our way to the Blue Mountains by 7.30am. It took us just over an hour to get to our first stop which was a drive through a wooded area that led out to open grassland where there was the opportunity to see wild kangaroos but as it was a hot day we were a little late so unfortunately didn't see them.
We then drove on to some great viewpoints thaat look right out over the mountains and the vast valleys and saw the most famous site, the 3 Sisters, which are three peaks very close together. We stopped in a nice little town for a coffee before heading to Blackheath
where we stopped in a nice little Deli and bought some fresh bread and cheese which we had for lunch sitting in the sun. We then took a road right out through the countryside which was very scenic, everyone was busy trying to spot kangaroos but we saw a fax, horses, cows parrots....... We decided to start making our way back, we stopped at two little towns on the way home (Richmond & Windsor) before arriving back at our hotel in Sydney just after 7pm.
We had drinks in the room before going out for dinner and finding a nice little cafe/bar where we had pizza.
December 3rd - We were up again at 7am for breakfast and on our way again at 7.30am heading towards the Hunter Valley for a day of wine tasting, Neil decided to drive after lots of wine tasting in South America. It took about 2.5 hours to get there and our first stop after the information centre was one of the favourites of the day, a champagne/bubbly tasting place. We had a great day visiting about 9 wineries, 1 brewery and places to taste cheese, chocolate and jams and marinades. We all bought a bottle of wine/bubbly during the day and drove back to Sydney arriving back, after a few people nodding off, about 5.30pm. We had a taxi booked for 6.30pm to take us to the Opera House and had a drink before going in to see the ballet called Manon, which we all throughly enjoyed, without having seen one before and loved the experience of being in the Opera House.
We all took different things away from it, Alan fell asleep in Act 1, Emma couldn't believe the size of the male 'organs' in lycra and Neil wondered where were the 'boobs'! We ended our cultural night with a visit to Harry's for some pies!
December 4th - We were all up early and in a cab by 6am to the airport for our flight up to Cairns at 7.30am. The flight was fine and on time and we arrived and we left Alan and Jenny with the luggage while we went to try and book a rental car. We finally found some cheaper companies on the internet and were picked up by a shuttle bus and taken to 'East Coast Rentals' office where we upgraded what we had booked to a Mitshubishi XLander. We then drove the 20 minute drive to our accommodation and checked in with 'Eddie' the owner. He showed us up to our top floor apartment which was absolutely amazing, it was massive, 3 bedrooms with a huge balcony that overlooked the ocean.
It was very newly decorated and the kitchen was the size of our living area at home! We all checked out the place for a while before going out for some lunch and doing a 'big shop' as we were there for a week. That night we had a few drinks in the apartment and Emma made a chicken salad.
December 5th - We had a lay in and had our breakfast on the balcony which was very nice. We all went for a walk along the beach and we went in for a swim in the roped off area on the beach as you can't just swim in the sea as it was 'stinger season'. Alan and Jenny went for a walk down the far end of our beach and we sunbathed for a while. We chilled out in the afternoon and we went out and got some meat for a bbq which we had for dinner that night with a bottle of wine.
December 6th - We slept in again this morning although Alan and Jenny were up and had been for a walk along the beach by the time we all had breakfast.
After breakfast we drove in to Cairns and parked up and had a walk around. We stopped in the tourist information centre and picked up several leaflets for the cruises on the Great Barrier Reef. We went to a cafe and had a coffee to think about what boat we would go out on as there were so many to choose from and we had been told lots of different things by various people. On te way back from Cairns we stopped at the shopping mall for a quick look around before heading back and spending the afternoon sitting around the pool and chilling out. After showering and getting ready we went to a bar next door to the complex for a quick drink before headig off to 'the Blue Moon Grill' which was a restaurant that had been recommended to us. The food was excellent and we had really enjoyed it along with lots of wine and a few beers!
December 7th - We were out and on the road by 9am and drove up to Kuranda which is a small town in the mountains.
We visited a small wildlife sanctuary where Jenny had her photos taken with a Koala, called Chibby, which was fantastic as it was quiet and we all got to spend quite a bit of time with them. We then saw Croc's, Kangaroos's, snakes etc...We then had a look around the small markets that were there as well. From there we drove to Port Douglas
which is a resort town but really nice. We walked around the market there which was good and drank and ate a real coconut before having a drink in a bar as it was so hot. We were plannng to head back after that but as we were going to head back the same way the next day we decided to carry on and heading for Cape Tribulation
It was a lovely drive, we had to cross a river by a car ferry and were then in the rainforest areas. We stopped off at a lookout point before parking up in a carpark and heading out for a short walk in the rain forest. It was very hot with lots of mosquitos so none of us wanted to walk too far but Jenny spotted a bird walking near us through the trees which was a Cassowary (an endangered species with only 900 left in the wild there) which was incredible. The bird stood nearly 6 feet tall and are know to be quite aggressive and dangerous but was so colourful and one of the most amazing sights we had come across. From there we headed up to Cape Tribulation which is an amazing beach where the rainforest meets the baech and the ocean. We stayed there for a while before starting to head back for the long drive.
We arrived back just after 7pm and had jacket potatoes for dinner in the apartment followed by a game of cards.
Decmber 8th - After the long day the day before we had decided to have a chill out day. We lazed around the pool for most of the day. At 4.30pm Emma had an appointment to get her hair cut but we drove up to te mall where the salon was and the whole place was dead as they were in the middle of a power cut. Luckily the supermarket was still open so we shopped in the dark for a while but then the power came back on so Emma managed to get her hair cut. The guy who cut her hair did give her some new though - that she had nits! And said that Neil would have them too if we had been sharing beds, towels etc! We had some spray that could be used for nits (from when we had bed bugs!) so we both treated our air when we go back.
That night Neil made dinner (beef taco's) and we all played cards with a few drinks.
December 9th - We were up early and left the apartment at 7am. We arrived at the port and checked in for our Great Barrier Reef trip. We boarded the boat we had decided on, Silverswift, at 8am and left at 8.30am. There was breakfast served and we all decided to hire a wet suit for snorkelling because of the 'stingers'. We arrived at the first site about 10am and all went snorkelling. Jenny had been a little wary leading up to it as she hadn't snorkelled before but she got used to it in no time and we had a fantastic day, it is hard to describe what an amazing experience it is, the water is crystal clear and the fish and coral that you see are beautiful. After the first site we headed off for about a 20 minute trip to the 2nd site where we had lunch on the boat before going snorkelling again and then to a 3rd site for the final snorkelling of the day.
We all really enjoyed the day, none of us were sea sick at all, although we all took tablets just in case, but when we arrived back into Cairns at about 4.15pm we couldn't believe how quickly the day had gone. We drove back to the aprtment for a glass of wine and a chilled out evening.
December 10th - We were up at about 8.30am. Neil gave Emma a bottle of champagne and a gift voucher for a surf clothing shp as it was our 4 year anniversary. We then headed straight out to the chemist to get a good 'nit' treatment as we had found more eggs in Emma's hair the night before. We came back and Jenny helped us both with the treatment and getting the liquid all over our heads! (hopefully this would get rid of them!) We then drove in to Cairns to go to the souvenir shops to buy a few presents and after stopping at the mall on the way back for Emma to spend her voucher, we spent the afternoon around the pool although it had been the cloudiest day we had had.
We were all ready by 7pm for champagne before heading out for dinner again at the 'Blue Moon Grill' at 8pm which again was really good, Emma and Jenny again went for the Barramundi fish which they had had last time.
December 11th - We left the apartment at 8am and dropped the car back before being taken to the airport for our 10.15am flight back to Sydney. We arrived back and caught the shuttle bus from the airport (with lots of backpackers) to our accommodation, the Lord Nelson in 'the Rocks' area. We checked in to our rooms about 3pm before heading out for a little walk around the area and for something to eat before heading back to the hotel to get changed. We were downstairs in te pub at 6.30pm with Alan & Neil trying the home brewed beers and Jenny & Emma sticking to wine.
We went out on a mini bar crawl which was really nice before finding a really nice little Italian restaurant for dinner. We stayed there for a couple of hours before heading back to the Lord Nelson for anoter drink before heading up the two flights of stairs to bed!
December 12th - We were up early for breakfast at 8am to make the most of our last morning. It was a horrible day and was raining. We didn't mind and headed out for a walk around and went to Darling Harbour and looked around the shops and had a coffee. We then headed back to the Lord Nelson at midday for a final pint of the home made brew amd some lunch before saying goodbye to Alan and Jenny when they were picked up by the airport shuttle at 1.30pm. We had all had a great couple of weeks. We both then had another drink in the pub as it was still horrible weather but thougt we could be waiting all day so decided to brave the rain and walk to our new hostel which took about 20 minutes - we got absolutely soaked! We checked in but as it was so busy they forgot to charge us which we were very happy about! We then went out to use the internet before coming back to our dorm room (it was nice and clean) to chill out.
We went to a pub next door to the hotel for dinner as they were doing good deals for people staying in our hostel although we were both tired so in bed by about 10pm.
December 13th - We were up and checked out of the hostel by 10am and got away without paying. We used the internet for an hour before walking to Central Station to catch the 12.30pm Greyhound bus to Canberra. It was only a 3 hour journey so we were checked into the YHA hostel by 4pm and in the bar next door for a drink. We then went to the supermarket and shopping mall before chilling out in the hostel for a few hours and watching tv and films. The hostel was really nice. We went out for a few drinks as it was saturday night but the city was very quiet.
December 14th - We had to check out by 10am and stored all our stuff in a locker at the hostel.
We spent the next few hours just chilling out at the hostel but finally decided that we must go and see the Parliament House while we were in the capital city so jumped on a local bus at 4.20pm and were really glad we did. The building was very impressive and although we had to be quick as it closed at 5pm we saw all the Parliametary rooms. We then caught the bus back and spent the evening watching TV and on the internet before walking to the bus station for our 11.55pm overnight Greyhound bus to Melbourne