Weeks 31 to 32 - Australia

Byron Bay Travel Blog

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Bells Beach, Great Ocean Road

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.

Twelve Apostles
  We stayed there for all of 10 minutes before we were pretty much literally swept into the ocean.  That, and the fact that there are now only Nine Apostles due to the weather taking its natural toll on three of them. With the main attaction of the road ticked off we wondered how much further to travel down the Great Ocean Road.  Then the guide book miraculously fell open at the page of the Barossa Valley Wine Region, being one of the top 30 things to do in Australia.  James estimated we were about 15 hour drive away as it was near to Adelaide but assured me we could get there tomorrow.  The great thing about the Barossa Valley was you could hire bikes and cycle our way around the wineries, i.
Whistler Wines
ee both of us could drink.  Being the wine lovers that we are we hit the road and followed our noses.  That night we pitched up our yellow tent, sampled our first Aussie fish and chips and enjoyed a bottle of vino (preparing our taste buds for what was to come).

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.

Pam lets the wine do the talking - yeah, baby, yeah!
  We pulled over (obviously), James poked around the engine but being an accountant and not a mechanic we were up sh*t creek without a paddle.  Then out of nowhere a motorcycle Police Officer turns up, tells us we are safe to drive to our campsite and then call the RAC from there, which we dutifully did.  To cut a long story short, the car was unfixable and was towed away the following morning but we were given a new, even bigger car - wicked!

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.

The Barossa Valley - we could almost be home
  Secretly I was pleased as the previous campsite was full of people who lived there all the time and have literally built extensions onto their caravans.  It was a little bit trailer trash - call me a snob ('Snob!' - Ed)!

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.

Wolf Blass Wines
  Conclusion: the more wine we drank the more we liked them, but basically we are red lovers.  So another hour flew by there and we were well on our way to being p*ssed and needed food.  Over lunch we came to the conclusion that one day of wine tasting was not nearly enough and decided to do it all again the next day.  We finished the day with three more wineries and sampled the offerings of another four the following day at big places you will know such as Penfolds & Wolfblass and small ones you (probably) will not.  It was absolutely fantastic.  The wine was beautiful, the scenery was amazing, just like the rolling hills of the English countryside on a brilliant sunny summers day, and the cycling made it all even more good fun.
Wicked Campervan

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).

The Kampa Sutra Van
 After deliberating for some time, all of one second, we opted to pay the fine...

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".

In case you are in any doubt!
  He was so irate it was actually hilarious but we were grateful when the bus arrived so we could escape.

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.

Byron Bay - the most easterly point of the Australian Mainland
  We arrived at the depot and there was a fantastic Beetles designed van in the drive. However, this was not ours. Instead our van is the one with all the sex positions on it.  It is hilarious and we promptly named it the Kampa Sutra!  With big smiles on our face, we first hit the road south to Surfers Paradise.  We arrived, decided it was like Blackpool and carried on further south to Byron Bay.

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.

Pam enjoys her champagne salmon & scrambled eggs breakfast
  We litterally did very, very little here.  Each day was pretty much the same; get up and catch the early morning rays on our camp chairs over a cuppa, eat weetabix, read books, head to the beach, sunbathe and swim, get too hot and leave for lunch, go back to the beach, sunbathe and swim, get too hot and go back to the campsite for showers and dinner, chat to whoever was in the camp kitchen until 10pm when the kitchen closed and we all went to bed.  Sounds dull, but it was fantastic to do nothing.  We planned to stay one night but stayed for 6 and loved it.

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.

Pam enjoys sun for the first time her birthday (that she can remember)
  James started the surprises with champagne, smoked slamon and scrambled eggs for breakfast.  This was followed by returning to the van to see a huge 'Happy Birthday' banner on it, where I opened my cards from James and my pressies.  We then hit the beach for an hour and then I treated myself to a much needed hair cut at Toni & Guy, where James produced another bottle of champers and all the cards and pressies from family that I did not know I had.  I then had another birthday treat of a facial and pedicure followed by a wicked phonecall back home (Mum & Dad now have Skype with webcam and microphone).  James then surprised me again with a birthday cake with candles and everything before going out for dinner (with more champagne - the good one we had bought at the Barossa Valley) and dancing till dawn.
Pam shows off her deluge of presents and cards (all of 3)

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!

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Bells Beach, Great Ocean Road
Bells Beach, Great Ocean Road
Twelve Apostles
Twelve Apostles
Whistler Wines
Whistler Wines
Pam lets the wine do the talking -…
Pam lets the wine do the talking …
The Barossa Valley - we could almo…
The Barossa Valley - we could alm…
Wolf Blass Wines
Wolf Blass Wines
Wicked Campervan
Wicked Campervan
The Kampa Sutra Van
The Kampa Sutra Van
In case you are in any doubt!
In case you are in any doubt!
Byron Bay - the most easterly poin…
Byron Bay - the most easterly poi…
Pam enjoys her champagne salmon & …
Pam enjoys her champagne salmon &…
Pam enjoys sun for the first time …
Pam enjoys sun for the first time…
Pam shows off her deluge of presen…
Pam shows off her deluge of prese…
Pam takes her haircut at Toni & Gu…
Pam takes her haircut at Toni & G…
On the phone to home
On the phone to home
The Birthday Girl celebrates in st…
The Birthday Girl celebrates in s…
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photo by: SFGiantsGirlie