A Travellerspoint blog

May 2006

Please read this...it'll be shorter...honest!!

overcast 20 °C

Q’s

· How are we both?

· What have we been up to?

· HOW LONG WILL THIS CHAPTER TAKE TO READ?????

We guess those of you that are interested (or still awake from the last instalment) will be asking at least one or more of the above!

In answer to the first question, we are great, no injuries, illness or snakebites so that’s something! We are only suffering with the cool nights, this being something we didn’t read about in the brochures! It seems that a few months in a hot climate, your expectations of the weather become very high and a bit of wind gives you cause to complain! (I mean of the weather kind of wind, although both types are not unheard of round casa John & Lou!).

In answer to question 2, We have been busy this last couple of weeks fitting in activities we want to do with our remaining time in Sydney and coupled that with the quest to find THE VAN.

Big things to report this month have included a fantastic visit to Taronga Zoo. Brilliant and well worth the money! The zoo is on the side of a hill facing the harbour, so a ferry is required. Lovely boat ride, (cheaper than the tourist cruise option!). On arrival the entrance is at the base of the hill, a cable car was provided to take you to the top, so you can work your way around and down the hill. A full day was spent exploring the zoo and we saw all kinds of wild and exotic animals! The lions were pretty scary and took a liking to Lou (We weren’t sure if they thought Lou was a distant relative or lunch!) The highlight of the day was watching the zookeepers feeding the ape / gorillas. There was a King Kong type of monkey that was very greedy & unwilling to share his booty with the rest of the tribe; it was v.comical to watch him shining an apple before he ate it (More table manners than john!).

Ideal camera opportunity you say………..DAMN THE DIGITAL CAMERA!

Why say ‘full battery’ one minute and then after the first snap display the ‘empty battery’ warning! Luckily (for the zoo) we were able to be fleeced nearly 15 quid for a disposable! So we got some great snaps and even managed to go inside a koala enclosure and have a pic taken!

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This month we have fitted in many treats including Thai, ice cream, Turkish, ice cream, Tapas, ice-cream, Italian, ice-cream! You get the picture on that score we guess!

Also this month we have been to ‘Susannah Place’, which is a preserved set of terraced houses that are located on ‘The Rocks’. These were some of the first houses built in the area for the early settlers who were less than wealthy. They have been restored to look like they would a fair few years ago, but don’t worry; you too can share our experience by visiting one of your elderly relatives that live in a terrace with dated décor & original furnishings from pre-war days!! It was quite funny to hear other museumgoers ‘oohing and ahhing’ at the mystery’s of the tea caddy, pastry cutters and peg bag. Joking apart tho, it was nice and quaint in a funny kind of familiar way.

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So big news left, the quest for a van! We searched high and low, visited Kings Cross market and dealerships and eventually found the one! We are now the proud owners of one 1983 Toyota Hiace Savannah pop-top campervan! It’s like a time machine! Every thing is in excellent condition but old! It was ironic that the only radio station we could find on our first drive was a 1960s channel!

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We took our first mini adventure on Sunday and navigated our way successfully across the city to Coogee Bay and then onto Maroubra Beach. Excellent effort considering the amount of one way systems, impatient taxis and that we are driving a tank with the gear stick protruding from the side of the steering column?! This van is an olds mobile…but it’s our olds mobile so we love it.

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And now just before the end of this slightly shorter update we would like to offer you all free entry into our competition. Don’t worry we’re not going to ask for all your bank details in exchange for a dodgy porcelain dog ornament (although we could nick you one from Susannah Place if you like)…all we want you to do is email us a possible name for our mobile home. Send your entries to john4lou@hotmail.co.uk and the lucky winner will be sent a genuine piece of Australiana.

Anyway in a conscious effort to keep it short, that’s all folks!

Will update you shortly with our news, we are due to be leaving Sydney on the 29th June, our itinerary is outlined for your information below:

· NORTH

Then…………

· SOUTH

(Heheheheh!!!)

Speak soon!

John and Lou x

Posted by chumba 22:31 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

The Hills Are Alive With The Sound Of Screaming!!!

sunny 25 °C

Hi Everyone

How are you all, well we hope? Well since our last update we have managed to tear ourselves away from the restaurants long enough to have some more adventures to tell you all about.

We took the opportunity to go somewhere a bit farer a-field with the Easter long weekend and went to the Blue Mountains. As the name suggests they are mountains that are blue and we booked to stay in a place called Katoomba, which is about 2 hours west of Sydney on the train.

Before we even got half way there the adventure began when we changed at Lidcombe to get on a train, which had over 900 adventure scouts on it. There was no place to sit so we both got comfy (as you can) sat in the doorway of the carriage.

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The journey was quite funny as about 20 of the adventure scouts kept running through all the carriages shouting “give me high 5’s” and “touch my nose” to everyone. Also we got talking to a couple of ozzys on the way, which was great and made the time pass quicker.

Anyway we got there eventually and after we had dumped our stuff at the hotel we headed off. We went straight away for a walk on a footpath called Prince Henry Cliff Walk. The views of the mountains were unbelievable and every so often there would be lookout point that over hung the cliff edge and when you looked out it was bloody scary.

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This cliff walk took us all the way to the three sisters which is a rock formation that is pretty famous over here and has a whole Aboriginal legend attached to it, but we wont bore you with it.

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From there we took the giant stairway, which is 1000 steps down the mountain face to the bottom of the valley. The stairway was this set of dodgy metal steps that were very steep and very rickety.

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By halfway down we were both knack’d and totally demoralised when we saw what looked like a 99 year old Chinese lady…going up!!! Anyway we managed it in the end and like the wobbly legged Shaken Stevens we then followed the Federal Pass walk.

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This took us to a thing called the Scenic Railway, which is an old mining railway that used to take coal up the mountain face to the top. Now it takes people up the mountain face to the top at an angle of 52 degrees, which was a bit scary.

After that we went back to the hotel and went out for food and a drink, which was nice, we also looked round Katoomba and found allsorts of shops and stuff that looked interesting. Especially interesting was the Paragon Café, which in the front had the biggest selection of homemade chocolates you have ever seen.

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The next day we set out to a place called The Zig Zag Railway, which has a private train line where they run old steam trains up and down the mountain in a zig zag formation like they used to in the old days. To get there you have to take a train from Katoomba to this stop where the private line is a short walk away. But the platform for the Intercity is small, in fact only big enough for 1 carriage and is so rarely used that you have to ask the driver specifically to stop there for you and when it stops you have to go to back carriage to get off. Anyway we got off and walked to the private line and got on the Steam strain and it was brilliant and gave some good views when you passed over the viaducts and when you went over mountains also the sounds of the old train chugging away and whistling was nice.

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So that took most of the day and after that we returned to the main line to go home via our Intercity but wondered how the train would know to stop for us since we had to tell the driver to stop on the way there. That question was answered when we got to the platform and there was a sign saying that the train would not automatically stop at the platform and that if we wanted it to stop for us we had to take the big green lollipop lady style stick out of the holster and wave it at the on coming train for the driver to see and stop!!!!! And we thought Thorne South was a bit of a dodgy stop but never had we had to wave a train down.

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We had planned to go to Blackheath another place along the way home that has a great gorge called Govetts Leap that we intended to walk but we must have spent to long at Zig Zag and didn’t have enough time so we called it a day.

The next day we had booked a bus trip to a place called Jenolan where they have fantastic caves with stalactites and stalagmites and all that. Also Jenolan has lots of walks and scenery and a green pool where platypuses play (yes we know it platypi, but we’re common alright!!). So before our cave walk we went for a look round the area at all the huge outdoor caves and round the pool.

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We saw signs all round the pool telling us about the snakes in the area as well as about the platypi (ok happy!!). But while walking in the area Lou actually spotted one of the snakes the sign was on about. So we were both snapping pics away happily and the thing was turning round and hissing at us but we didn’t mind too much as the sign said nothing about them being poisonous, eventually we left it alone coz we didn’t want to get bitten poisonous or not.

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We went for our cave walk and enjoyed the caves; although the guide kept turning the lights completely out to demonstrate how dark (really really dark) it was which was a bit scary.

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Anyway we got back to the coach to go back to Katoomba and we got chatting to the bus driver and told him we had seen snakes. He seemed really interested so I showed him the pictures and he looked and said, “bloody hell, I hope you used the zoom lens for those pictures, they would have ruined your day they’re red bellied black snakes and they’re deadly!!!!” Oh well lesson learnt I guess, snakes are to be kept away from regardless of whether you think they are deadly or not and dont rely on the signs to keep you alive, but believe them to get you home.

Anyway as well as seeing the snakes we also saw lovely spiders…yes we finally got to see the S word that John has been dreading so much since touching down in Feb (and Lou to be honest).

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Although we still haven’t seen tarantula type spiders yet, just house spiders on steroids. Either way they’re bloody horrible and hopefully they won’t feature too much in the coming road trip as John may freak out and in the small campervan and that might not work out so well!!! If the vans a rocking!!! Sorry mum and dad!!!

Other things weve been up to, during another sunny sunday afternoon we took a trip to Tumbalong park to the Thai annual festival. It was pretty cool! There was alsorts going off and alsorts of nice treats to eat too! Im sure we have all thought of what can you do with fruit to make it more eatable/appealing than a bag of crisps,.. but the sculptures at the Thai fest were really something else!

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Walking is fast becoming our favourite free past time during our stay in Sydney and after the festival we caught a bus to bondi junction and walked to the beach and followed the Bondi to Coogee beach walk! It was pretty spectacular! Especially cos all the beaches were officially closed due to the enormous crashing waves, even the more hardy surfers were put off!

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Anyway thats all for now, hope to hear from you all soon, take care.

Posted by chumba 16:33 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

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