Weeks 31 to 32 - Australia
Byron Bay Travel Blog› entry 1 of 1 › view all entries
Having seen the main sights of Melbourne, wondering if we could live there and deciding it was too cold, we hired a car to explore the surrounding areas (whatever they were). We got in the car and promptly realised we had no idea where we were going, so bought a map, and decided on following the Great Ocean Road, before returning to Melbourne to see other places of interest nearer to the city. The main reason for hiring the car was to see the Twelve Aspostles along the Ocean Road, as it was cheaper than doing an organised day trip (which were Aus$ 90 each - ripper).
We hit the road and drove along the beautiful coastline until we reached the Twelve Apostles, which are basically huge sandstone rocks sticking out of the ocean, very close to the shore.
We camped for the next 5 days and froze our tits off at night as our tent was built for summer, and South Australia had not quite made it yet. Never mind it was all good, sleeping fully clothed fun! The next day was a marathon drive for James (11 hours) to get us to the red nectare. We arrived at our camp site of choice in the Barossa Valley by 9pm, but not before the hire car's computer stopped working, 10 miles away from the Barossa. Suddenly we could not drive above 2000 revs, when the full beam headlights were on the lights of the dash board went out, the wipers were wiping without being turned on and the left indicator was constantly ticking.
The whole reason for staying at the campsite we chose was because, according to the Rough Guide, they hired outbikes. When we requested bikes from them the next morning they looked at us like we were mad, as they have never hired bikes (thanks Rough Guide) out at all. So a bit of ringing round found us another campsite that did hire bikes so we packed up the tent and moved there.
By 10:30 we had chosen our bikes and helmets, marked out the route on the vineyard map and were ready to go. The first location, Chateau Tanunda was a fantastic location with its own cricket ground, crocquet pitch and soon-to-be-launched railway station. The Swiss lady at the cellar happily served us every red wine and champagne on offer and an hour later we were wobbling off the premises, promising to come back the following day to buy lots of wine. We cycled to the next place which was a small, family run winery called Vine Crest where we decided to samples some whites (as well as reds) to see if we could learn to like them.
On our third and final day in the Barossa Valley we drove to our favourite wineries and purchased 8 bottles as a treat to ourselves (our justification for the overspend). We then spent the next day and a half working our way back to Mebourne arriving at Sunday lunch time. Highlight of the trip back was James picking up an Aussie speeding ticket. James can be quoted as saying, "Don't worry, Pam, he can't know how fast we were going as he was travelling in the other direction!". Wrong! James was very much made to eat his words. Slapped with a Aus$245 fine, James was left with the options to either a) pay the fine, or b) to be banned from driving for one month in the State of Victoria (we would not be driving in this state again), and to frame the fine on his wall (the words of the policeman).
Upon arriving back in Melbourne, we had arranged to meet Tash (who we met in India) for a Sunday afternoon tipple to say goodbye as we were leaving for Brisbane the next morning. She took us to the new up-and-coming cool area of St. Kilda on the Beach, which was very nice. In true British style, a bar, a sunny day and one beer turned into many and we said our farewells at midnight, but not without promising to taste some Tim Tams (the Aussie equivilant of Penguins, which are very addictive).
The next morning we flew to Brisbane. Whilst waiting for the airport bus at 7am (with headache) we are 'treated' to a full-on rant from a Scottish guy in his 70's who was spending his retirement in Australia, but hates all Aussies, calling them rude, arrogant and claiming the whole nation to be an "intellectual dessert".
We only spent one night in Brisbane. A mini explore led us to believe that this is another dull Australian city (Melbourne and Sydney being the exceptions), and happily headed off to collect our mode of transport for the next three weeks - a Wicked Campervan. The reason for picking Wicked Vans, was because they are the cheapest, and they all have really cool designs all over them such as ET, The Simpsons, etc. etc., but you have no choice in the design you get. It has always been a dream of mine to go on a road trip in a campervan, so I could not wait to collect our home that was to take us up the east coast of Australia.
Now this was a GREAT choice. Byron Bay was just beautiful. The beach was stunning, the town was really cool and the caravan park we stayed in was really chilled out with lots of other campervan buddies to chat to.
We avoided all the partying until the day of my birthday. I have now reached the grand old age of 29 and despite being away from all my family and friends (missed you all), I had a fantastic day.
So my brilliant birthday (thanks to James) endeth this update. We nursed our hangovers (well mine really) the next day and then hit the road to head north in the Kampa Sutra, and on to Noosa!