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Our Travelling experience

Travelling was the best thing we have ever done, we have seen so many amazing countries and had the best experiences. From trekking in Chiang Mai, to kayaking in the Ko Samui national park, sailing the Whitsundays, lassoing goats, stroking a huge tiger, riding on an elephant, going on a helicopter ride over Sydney harbour, catching our first fish, doing a sky dive, and celebrating the Australian and Chinese New Year in style, what an adventure.

We got through the highs and lows, arguments, feeling homesick and unsure and we tried to embrace every moment. Spending over 150 days together has been brilliant, and defiantly made us stronger, going home to our parents will seem weird, but we will look back upon this experience fondly and our memories will always be with us, along with the 4500 photos!

Posted by pjr6 03:28 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

Hong Kong

Week 21

Hong Kong
The journey to Hong Kong…3hour plane to Brisbane….wait for 7hours….9hour plane…we reached Hong Kong at 6am! Wow when we arrived we were tired but couldn’t check into our hostel until midday earliest. So we had a quick change of clothes and added lots more layers because it was 10degrees and felt freezing compared to what we had been used, then hit the town. We were staying in a really nice hotel in Mongkok on the main island, what the hell we thought, it’s our last two days, blow the budget!

We loved the feel of Hong Kong, its east meets west feel was nice, and we were enjoying a bit of Asian culture again, especially buying some street food at 8am and the men serving us were drinking cans of beer!

We walked around the town, saw over to Hong Kong island, although the day was very misty, we picked up some tourist leaflets and realised that today was the first day of Chinese new year, and over the next few days we had lots to celebrate. We watched a huge parade the first night, with several floats, dancers and music playing, it was really special and the atmosphere was brilliant. The next day we explored the city some more, going up to Victoria Peak on Hong Kong island where you’re meant to see amazing views over the city..we were in a giant cloud though so saw nothing! Then there were fireworks and all the buildings were lit up in the evening, Paul tried out his new pen which secretly films people, I don’t think the Chinese were fooled though!

Our last day we packed our bags for the last time, thank god! Then went to a huge market selling everything you could think of, and spent a couple hours walking around there – of course purchasing a fake Mulberry bag for £24, bargain! Then it was to the airport to begin our long and emotional journey home.

Posted by pjr6 03:27 Archived in Hong Kong Comments (0)

New Zealand (North and South Island)

Weeks 19 and 20

New Zealand

After a wild last night out in Sydney, walking home via Mcdonalds and Hungry Jacks, we rolled back to our hostel and had a few hours sleep before our 5am shuttle bus arrived to take us to the airport! We walked around the airport like zombies, hung over and sad our 9 weeks in Australia had come to an end. We saw Robson Green, getting onto our plane, he was filming himself with a video camera, possibly for a new TV program, either way we were excited at the celeb spotting!

Arriving in New Zealand, we were greeted with the news that an earthquake had struck in the early hours of the morning in Christchurch. Although scared at the thought it could happen again we were quite intrigued as to what a tremor or quake would actually feel like. I was quite looking forward a little gondola trip down the river Avon but it was never to be.

The centre of Christchurch was all closed off due to many buildings being destroyed and unsafe to have people walking around them. So we had to stay slightly out of town, our hostel was lovely, and even had a hot tub out in the garden which was a home from home for both of us!

We wandered around the outskirts of the city, it was like a ghost town and it was really sad to see all the old buildings, and churches all destroyed, 95% of the building are due to be pulled down because of the amount of damage the city has suffered with quakes over the past couple of years. The whole of New Zealand sits on two tectonic plates, which is why in certain areas the earthquakes are a regular occurrence, and one day may not even be able to be built on.

After a day in Christchurch we hopped on our Kiwi Experience tour bus, which would be our means of transport throughout the south and north island for the next 17days. After a long day of driving we arrived in Kaikora. A place famous for its whale watching and swimming with dolphins. We booked ourselves onto a whale watching trip for the next morning, seen as we had missed out on seeing them in Australia we were both so excited. We made some new friends that were on our bus, and spent the evening in our hostel, avoiding the rain outside and playing some drinking games that somehow ended up with the two of us drinking half a huge bottle of Bundaberg that we had bought from the airport! The next morning we woke up to a beautiful sunny day, with the most beautiful scenery (we had arrived the night before in the dark, so hadn’t seen it yet!) we walked to the port eager to catch the boat out to see the whales, and to our great disappointment all of the trips had been cancelled! This was due to very high sea levels caused by the crazy weather in the few previous days. We were gutted as we had used a valuable day of our trip to see the whales, but we stayed positive and instead, along with our new friends went for a long walk along the coast to a seal colony. The walk felt like a lifetime! We were walking for over an hour before finally reaching the dark, dull motionless seals! Nat loved them and took at least 25 photos. We saw many seals chilling on the rocks in the sun, looking very content, and on our walk back to the hostel later in the afternoon we enjoyed a lovely fish and chip meal for a cool $5 each, so our trip wasn’t wasted!

The next morning we got up early for our kiwi bus Everyday they pass around a clip board with the days activities on and you have to tick which ones you want to do etc. As we had already learnt the weather over here can be quite temperamental, so we were going to grab every opportunity that we could to do all of our activities, and hopefully we could get the good weather! So when we both looked at the clipboard and the days top activity was skydiving, a pang of excitement and terror set upon us. We had both been talking about doing a skydive, and said that if the time was right and we had enough money that New Zealand would be the place to do it, but suddenly the feeling of signing our life away felt very real. We both gave in and after a spur of the moment “yea what the hell” from each of us we signed our names on the board! We had hoped to do the skydive that afternoon, and if we weren't nervous enough we had to endure a further wait as the weather took a turn for the worse and it was called off until the next morning, which meant sleeping on it. Safe to say we didn't get much sleep.

The town of Kaiteriteri was tiny, literally one hostel and a few other places to stay, all set around a beach cove. We arrived there early evening, went for a walk along the beach, then back to our hostel bar to have dinner and a few drinks with some people in our dorm room.

After a very restless nights sleep we were up early and greeted by a beautiful clear bright blue sky, with a few perfect white fluffy clouds in it, and we knew that a skydive was on the menu!

We were picked up from our hostel and driven out to the skydiving site where we were briefed with a video, given our very attractive boiler suits, hat and goggles and then given partners who we were harnessed up to! We decided to go for the 13000ft jump, as we didn’t feel brave enough for the 16500ft one! We were crammed into a tiny plane with our instructors, cameramen, and three other men who were jumping on their own. Our instructors gave us both a commentary on where we were flying over. Our jump was over the Abel Tasman National park, which is a pretty spectacular view, rolling mountains, green fields the sea and even a glimpse of the north island!

But no time to admire the view because once we reached 13000ft the plane door flew open and the three solo skydivers jumped out! It scared the life out of both of us, suddenly the realisation that we would both be jumping next hit us!

Nat - As my instructor edged us to the open door I turned round a yelled a quick “I love you” to Paul, and we both had a very pathetic attempted to grab each other’s hand. Then after my instructor waved his hand out to count 1,2..we were out! The free fall was amazing, it felt like we were flying – Paul said watching me disappear out of the plane was the scariest thing! The jump took my breath away, I couldn’t even scream, it went so quickly and before I knew it the parachute was up and we were gliding back down to the ground. Floating through the sky was amazing, we went through a little white fluffy cloud, it was so peaceful, and the view was just amazing.

Paul – I had a great instructor who put my mind at rest on the plane journey, I remember thinking "this is quite expensive, I hope its not all over to quickly!" I don’t know what I expected but it just felt really strange, my camera man was awesome and took an amazing video and pictures! I asked him to drop us through a cloud which he did and was a really strange feeling.

We both sat and watched our videos before heading back to the hostel, and of course we were straight onto facebook and texting our families to let them no what adrenaline junkies we had become!

On our way to Westport we stopped off for some famous Hokey Pokey ice cream – famous in New Zealand it is vanilla with honeycomb chunks, and very tasty! Then we decided to complete our crazy day and go Jet Boating! This is a boat that can reach excessive speeds and drive in as little as 10cm of water. It was brilliant, we went with a couple of other people from our bus and sped down the river, missing the rocky sides by inches and of course getting soaked.

Arriving in Westport, Penny and Ben (a couple form Birmingham) had become our new friends and saved us two places in a hostel room. The hostel was brilliant, we had a huge room with 10 of us in, but it also had a lounge and kitchen area, it was like being students, we all watched a film together whilst trying to avoid being bitten by mosquitos..that were everywhere!

Ben went out for a drink with some locals and came back drunk, and we were all woken up to a big crash in the middle of the night…it was Ben falling out of the top bunk, OUCH!

Lake Mahinapua
Another day, another destination! This was one we were all really excited for because it was where the “Poo Pub” was and this meant party night! The Poo Pub is a bar attached to a tiny hostel, owned by an 89 year man. Everyone on the kiwi experience bus goes there to have a steak dinner, and spend the evening drinking in the bar, every evening has a theme and our driver Briggsy gave us the theme ABC – anything but clothes!

So on our way to the hostel we stopped off at a local town to buy our outfits. We teamed up with Penny and Ben and decided to make joint costumes. The boys picked Bill and Ben – they bought giant flowerpots, cut the bottom out and decorated then with stickers and braces. They each had a small flowerpot on their heads, and of course were stripped down to their boxers! Penny and I decided on a slightly cheaper option and stole a pile of lottery tickets which we threaded string through and tied around us along with some polystyrene balls and we were “lottery girls”

The evening was a great success, we all drank far too much and had a brilliant night, everyone made a real effort, there were nuns outfits made from bin bags, a sheep from a bath mat, giant board games, someone even dressed up in their backpack! After far too much drink, we thought it would be a good idea to go and swim in the “nearby” lake. The road sign said it was a few hundred meters walk, but after what felt like an eternity we ended up in a very shallow, freezing lake, in the rain, not ideal! Still the pathway, although pitch black, was filled with glow worms which looked really cool. Ben suggested eating one to make his belly glow, thankfully we talked him out of it!!

Franz Josef
We drove to Franz Josef via a bush centre – which was really just a place to stop to make money out of us. But an early start and a hangover meant we weren’t really up for it, so we all sat in the café with a cheap hot chocolate instead!

Once arriving at our hostel, we got wristbands allowing us free entry to the hot pools which were down the road. We spent the afternoon there with Penny and Ben, the pools were all really hot and relaxing, however the huge rain storm wasn’t ideal as we tried to shelter under the canopy’s over the pools! In the evening we headed to the Monsoon bar on the hostel sight to get together with the rest of our bus and have the winner of the ABC fancy dress competition revealed…It went to Paul and Ben for their joint effort as Bill and Ben…winning a Canyon Swing…UhOh!!

Day two in Franz Josef and we were feeling fresh after an early night, just as well because today we were climbing the Glacier! After several days of constant rain we were so glad to wake up to a reasonably clear day, drizzly but bearable. We were fitted with all the gear, and were driven to the base of the Glacier before our hike began. We spent the next few hours walking along rocks, then ice (using our clip on crampons) and weaving our way the glacier. It was hard work, but well worth the stunning views and walking through ice caves and tunnels with the beautiful white and blue glowing in the sunlight. The weather took a turn for the worse after lunch and the rest of the trip was in the pouring rain, but we struggled through and it was well worth it.

Lake Wanaka
We had a short drive to Wanaka, stopping to see thundering falls, a huge very picturesque waterfall. The sun made an appearance and the views around the winding mountains were amazing, they complimented the blue lake perfectly. Wanaka was pretty laid back, we went to a local bar with Ben and Penny for drinks – the boys entered a pool competition which Paul won, along with a nice $30 bar tab. Penny and I went to bed early while the boys stayed out until the small hours. This wasn’t such a good idea the next day when we went to Puzzling world and they both had hangovers. There was a maze there and many weird illusion rooms which freaked us all out.

Everyone that had been to Queenstown had loved it, so we were prepared for a lively resort, ruined by tourists, but much to our surprise it was a charming town – a ski resort in the winter, with lots of activities – known as the adventure capital of the north, people were friendly and the atmosphere was the right amount of lively.

We enjoyed a couple of days here, meeting up with our kiwi bus group one last time before we went our separate ways. We went for a pizza and a few too many cocktails in teapots which was interesting! During the day we went with Penny and Ben up to the peak of one of the mountains to admire the views, and got a cable car right to the top then had several luge rides down. Luges are little sledges on wheels which you basically roll down a track on, it was brilliant fun! Then to continue our energetic day we went to the Canyon Swing! Everyone’s nerves were clear – Ben and Penny jumped first and said it was amazing. Nat was chosen as the camerawoman, and then it was my turn to jump next……

I almost went for the easy option of being suspended then dropped but after a chat with the guys there I decided it would be scarier and more exciting to actually leap myself off the edge! I was standing at the edge of the platform, looking over down towards the sharp rocks and river! The safety men kept talking to me and I could barely answer them. I threatened to hold onto them when I jumped which they laughed at! I remember thinking that I mustn't swear when I jump because I might buy the DVD and don't want the family to have to hear that! After a minute or 2 of deliberating about how to jump I simply ran forwards towards the end of the platform and attempted to spring myself off with both legs together like you would from a diving board! It felt like I was seamlessly floating through the air in perfect dive formation but wasn't until I watched the dvd that my legs were like jelly and I rotated pretty quickly! I also screamed SHIIIIIIITTT which also wasn't in the plan! It was all over before I knew it though and I was being hoisted back up to the top!

We finished the day off with a Fergburger – famous huge burgers in Queenstown, and were joined to watch the sunset on the beach with our fellow kiwi friends.

The North Island

We had an emotional morning as we had to say goodbye to Ben and Penny :( Then we flew up to the north island and the capital city Wellington. It felt strange being back in a city with the hustle and bustle. We were only there for a day so did a bit of exploring, and went to the Te Papa museum which was interesting, before cooking one of our famous chilli’s for dinner.

We were picked up from the “windy city” by our new north island kiwi bus, which meant new people, and not so much fun! The drive to Taupo was very scenic, we saw Volcano Ruapea which looked pretty spectacular with its snow-capped top., then onto Huka Falls, which is a very fast flowing river where many has attempted to raft down, unsuccessfully! After settling in our hostel, we walked to the nearby hot springs, which is small rock waterfall, leading into a huge lake. The water comes off the rocks at about 50degrees, and feels so hot you can barely stand in it, but once mixed with the lake water it become a pleasant temperature and a very relaxing place to chill.

An early morning pick up took us out to Waitomo where we had booked to go black water rafting – you each have a rubber ring and are lead through pitch black caves filled with water! We were with a group of several others and began our adventure by climbing into the dark caves, which at first was very daunting. We spent the next hour walking and swimming through the caves, jumping in our rings down 1 and 2 meter falls, squeaking through tiny gaps, and floating along the stream looking at the glow worms. It was an amazing experience and we were both so happy we had come all this way to do it.

Our bus driver took us back to our hostel in Rotorua, where we checked into our first double room in a hostel – we had vouchers and it was the same price as a dorm! We had a few hours swimming in the heated outdoor pool before we went off on a Maori evening. We went with a coach load of others to the reconstruction of a traditional Maori village, we learnt about their way of life, saw them perform the haka! The evening was finished with a huge feast prepared by cooking the meat and potatoes in a huge brick over set into the ground. The food was amazing and as poor travellers we ate until we felt like we were going to burst! Our driver back to the hostel was hilarious and managed to memorise everyone’s names, very impressive!

The journey up to our final destination Auckland was very slow – we stopped off at Hobbiton which is where Lord of the Rings was filmed, then spent ages in a traffic jam trying to get into the centre of the city. We cheered ourselves up by heading to a pub then back to our hostel in the evening for “free pizza” in the downstairs bar. The we thought was too good to be true, free pizza for the whole bar, surely not. Well when the twenty odd boxes of pizzas arrived we were told to make a queue, take slice, then go back to the end of the queue again. We both two slices, which filled a gap but we were still hungry. So one last time we scrapped together the last of our New Zealand dollars and made ourselves a chilli and rice..the perfect one to end out trip.

Posted by pjr6 03:24 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Melbourne, Great Ocean Road, Adelaide, Xmas and New Year!!

Weeks 15, 16, 17, 18

We got an overnight Bus from Syd to Melb as we were advised there wasn't much to see between. Nat found the goodbyes to her family really hard but the sun in Melbourne helped lift out spirits. We spent some time exploring the city and catching up with friends we had met earlier on our travels. First impressions of Melbourne were that it is a really cool quirky city and we can see why so many people choose to settle here. One evening our Irish friends Martin and Ciara got us involved with the "12 pubs of Xmas" which involved exactly that, along the famous Fitzroy and Acland streets notorious bars and pubs. Not ideal on a backpacker budget but we gave it a good shot, and about 20 Irish and English people dressed up with Santa hats certainly raised the festive spirit (australia don't get half excited about Xmas as us Brits!)

We were looking forward to coming back here in 2 weeks for Xmas but for now it was just a quick visit before our road trip in the camper began...

The Great Ocean Road:
After just 2 days in, this was definitely going to be one of the biggest highlights of our travels.
We drove along the coast stopping at pretty, small towns and view points that would blow anyone away. We stayed at some pretty cool campsites, most memorable being Bimbi in the Otway National Park. We were deep into woodlands with nature all around us and 2 cheeky koalas actually on a tree directly above us! This is where my passion of making fires began! Instead of paying 12 bucks for fire wood I took advantage of being in the middle of woodlands and collected enough twigs and branches to keep us going... Or so I thought! After about half hr or so, the sun was going down and the fire was going out so back out I went, like a bear in search of dinner and came back with plenty to see us through!

We also came across a few giant pillows at some of the camp sites which are amazing and literally 30foot long bouncy castles surrounded by sand. Whatever next!

The drive along the great ocean road was amazing, long winding roads around the cliffs edge, out of one window we could see the trees and greenery, and the other out to sea for miles. The main attractions on the drive for us were the 12 Apostles and the Grotto!

The drive to Adelaide was around 500km from the end of the Great Ocean Road. We stopped at the beach first which was buzzing with life, full of people and schoolies as term had just ended. I jumped off the end of the pier (around 15 feet high) and was put to shame very quickly by little muscly 16year olds back flipping off an even higher section of it (around 25 feet high!)

The Grampians:
We drove back to Melbourne inland, and stopped off for a few days at The Grampians which is a national park, surrounded by mountains and huge hills, perfect for long walks and treks! We let off some energy climbing up to see several view points around the park. 3 Great sights that we visited at the Grampians are:

1) "Reid's Lookout" which was hundreds of feet high and aptly named after ME!
2) "Mackenzie Falls" this is home to the largest waterfall in the Grampians and was quite a sight.
3) "Balconies Lookout" Offered views from 2 large rocks jutting out from the mainland appearing like balconies. I climbed over the barriers for great pictures...although a large gust of wind might have thrown me off the cliff to certain death!

We came across many Australian animals in the wild including an echidna (like a hedgehog with long snout) loads Kangaroos grazing at dusk and dozens of different types of birds and parrots. We also came across some huge emus chilling in a picnic area! After a few energetic days our 2000km road trip came to an end as we headed back to Melbourne.

Back in Melbourne, we met up with our friends who have settled there since we had been away on our trip. We spent some time on the beach and of course had a night out together, then it was time to get in the festive spirit.
We went to stay with my friend from uni, Caroline and her boyfriend Ade, we prepared for our first Ozzie Christmas over the next couple of days, getting our Christmas dinner ingredients from a local fresh fruit and veg market and of course picked up our turkey roll! We all spent Christmas eve at the Yarra Valley wineries, sampling the tasty wine and ignoring our travellers budget for a while buying a few bottles for Christmas day, and of course finished the evening by hitting the town.

Christmas Day, we got up early like excited kids, opened all our pressies that we had bought each other and family had left us, then cooked a brilliant fry up for breakfast. We went down to the beach and celebrated in true Ozzie style with xmas hats and a glass of wine in the sand! Unfortunately a storm approached which cut our trip a little short, but we were back cooking our dinner and it actually felt really Christmasy in the rain. In the evening we went to the end of the pier and watched the little penguins coming out of the sea and onto the rocks to nest, it was the perfect way to end the day and something we never imagined we would see on Xmas day.

Over the next few days the Christmas fun continued, we went out drinking with our friends, had a BBQ at Dan and Jens new place, drinks at Martin and Ciara's and explored more of St Kilda and Melbourne City. We headed into the city on a beautiful sunny day and it was buzzing with life. People were watching the cricket on a huge screen and there were street performers (not like those in Covent garden though, these performers had hundreds of people watching and crowding around)

There was something really special about spending Xmas day with Caroline and Ade and they really made it one to remember. We have both never missed a Xmas with our families so having company was great and and we both embraced this rare occasion. Melbourne was the first place along our travels that really felt homely and we could have quite easily stayed longer!

It was an emotional goodbye as we jumped back on a night bus and prepared for our 12hour journey to Sydney!

Back in Sydney, and thankfully the sun was shining, unlike when we were here a month ago. We met up with Paul's friends who were newly engaged, so spent the next few days staying with them in Bondi and celebrating the news! It was good to be back in Sydney, we explored the city again, we went on a day trip over the Manly, which has stunning scenery and a very chilled vibe. Bondi was one of our favourite places, the beach was cool and we walked along the coast to find several more coves with stunning views, so enjoyed chilling for a few days and topping up the tans!

New Year was brilliant, we were very lucky and had the opportunity to watch the fireworks from the 13th floor of one of our friends offices in the city. The view of the fireworks was amazing, we could see the bridge perfectly and 3 other sets of the fireworks from down the river. Having such an amazing view was really the perfect way to see in 2012, and celebrating with drinks and friends really made it.

After such and an amazing year, we are really excited to see what 2012 will bring! The final part of our adventure is about to begin as we head to New Zealand in a matter of days. While we don't want the adventure to stop, we are both really excited to go home and see all of our friends and families......but there's still lots to see before then! :)

Posted by pjr6 16:14 Comments (0)

Week 12/13/14 - Brisbane - Sydney

We arrived in Brisbane after a relaxing few days in hervey bay and it seemed weird being back to a big city again! We explored the area and settled at southbank where they had a huge man made lagoon with sand, a wheel like the London Eye, public bbqs and stunning views over the city. The first night we had a bit of a wild one, keen to enjoy the end of "Movember" we headed down to our hostels club and had moustaches drawn on which entitled us to cheap drinks!

The next morning was one we had been waiting for; The Boyces had arrived!...

We spent the morning catching up on stories and showing photos on out past few months adventures. Tim was keen to embrace the backpacker lifestyle and Mum and Dad were keen to explore Australia.

The first day together we spent around the lagoon and Mum and Dad treated us to a lovely meal in Queens St Mall. This was a luxury we weren't used to. We finished the night at the hostel club where a live male stripper performed, what a sight! 

The next day we picked up our hire car and the first of many boyce car journeys began! We went up to Mount Cootha, a huge hill that over looks the city, and we decided to show our new guests a taster of one of our new favourite past times... Trekking! We went on a mission in search of a waterfall forgetting Brisbane is currently going through a drought so we didn't quite what we were looking for but we still had a good energetic 45 minute walk.

Our day ended perfectly with a BBQ at the southbank and some goon to wash it down which didn't impress the parents too much.  

As usual Paul couldn't sit still and threw his ball up a tree and proceeded to climb up to try and shake it down but it didn't work an instead awoke a bat who then wee'd on my head!

Another car journey driving the wrong way, incurring a toll fine and ending up the wrong side of town we eventually left Brisbane and arrived in Noosa, thanks mainly to MY map reading skill! 

We stayed in a lovely apartment each with our own bedroom ensuite and balconies right in the centre of town. Our 1st afternoon we visited the nearest beach which was just 100m away and we built a 3 man sofa in the sand. 
Fraser island: We took a day trip over to the beautiful 74 mile sand island! On ferry ride over from rainbow beach we saw dolphins in the sea and once we had reached the island our beasty truck drove us along the beach and our adventure began. We took the old mining road 18km inland through the rainforest (Fraser island is the only island in the world where the rainforest grows straight out of the sand) the island is pretty amazing with only a handful of people living there and everyone having to drive 4X4 vehicles as there are no made roads. 
We visited various freshwater lakes including Lake Mackenzie and Eli Creek which is a beautiful freshwater natural lazy river only about 2 foot deep with Rainforest views all around. We also reached a wreck (SS Maheno) which sank in 1935 and is now a permanent fixture here in the beach.
We then drove 57km along the beach back to the ferry pick up and our driver detoured to drive us along a long stretch rainbow beach back to our apt in Noosa! 

The next few days we spent with Mum's cousin and her family who live out here. We had a fantastic time and they showed us some of the local sites of Queensland. We went to a market, watched kite boarders at Noosa beach and had a lovely BBQ.  We visited their local beach in Mooloolaba where we all went out and had a chance to drive a speed boat and nose at luxury houses that back onto the river. 

Burleigh Heads
We stayed in a chalet at a lovely holiday park on a river and this is where Tims love of sofa beds began! It was this or sleep on a dangerously positioned single bunk bed nailed to the wall above me and Paul.  Me and Tim surprised Paul one afternoon by hiring a 4 dearer bike and we all tool turns to drive it around the lake and had a right laught! (even the oldies got involved!) we went on a a coastal woodland walk in search of local animals, then we watched paddle boarders and speedy kayakers along the river. The last night we treated ourselves and got dressed up for a lovely posh meal with oysters and expensive wine! It was totally worth it and a nice chance to catch up on what we had already done in such a short time. 
Byron Bay
One day from Burleigh heads we visited Byron Bay. This beautiful low rise surfer town is certainly popular with travellers however, retains an innocent local feel and we just loved it! Definitely a place to go back to. We spent most of our time on the beach and also had a look around the shops in search of Billabong shorts for Paul which is now a regular quest at new towns! Here we visited Cape Byron light house and on our walk around the grounds we saw quite a lot of wildlife. A mountain goat was chilling on a gradient of about 50degrees! A rock wallaby sat infront of us just off the pathway and looking down out to sea we spotted dolphins, stingrays and turtles. We all wished we could have stayed here for longer and embraced the hippie vibe!

Surfers Paradise
Every traveller talks about or has heard about surfers paradise and how it's a great place to go for surfing and a good time. We were quite shocked as we arrived there. Admittedly it was a dull cloudy day but it wasn't what any of us expected. High rise hotels and apartment blocks were not positioned in a flattering way such as the strip at Vegas but it was more like standing in the centre of benidorm overlooked by encroaching tall buildings in no real order. We struggled to relate to the town and think it struggles with it's own identity, having suffered a rushed manic boom without direction because of increased popularity. 

Without weather on our side, the beach was a no go zone with only a strip of around 25 feet wide of icy cold waters to swim in so we headed for the shops! 

Coffs Harbour
This was one of a few stop off on our journey south to Sydney. We stayed a nice hotel on the beach and took advantage of their amenities; giant chess, table tennis, air hockey and hot tub. We stopped at an opal stone shop and Paul bought me and Tim an amethyst stone, supposed to promote soberness and purity! We'll see! 
Port Macquarie
We hired kayaks (with special foot pedals for steering) at this lovely fishing village. We had a laugh because Dad and I were in a double and had to figure out how to steer it together. After a stroll around the town and a drink by the marina (and a bit sunburnt) we hit the road to continue our journey south.
We stayed at another holiday park set in a forest on a lake and we were pleasantly surprised. Our villa had a nice 4 bed dorm inside which reminded us of the hostels. We ate pizza whilst watching the sunset over the lake on our terrace and spotting kangaroos hopping on the other side of the lake.
We stayed right in the centre of the city in a hostel with very cheap drinks which pleased us! Mum and dad went for the flasher option and stayed in an apartment in Darling Harbour. The weather was slightly disappointing so we had to wrap up warm, apparently it was the worst start to winter they had seen for 50years!! We explored the city, visiting the Aquarium which was filled with so many amazing fish, huge turtles, sharks, and stingrays, it felt like being back on the great barrier reef! Wildlife was our next stop, Darling Harbour's very own zoo. There we saw all creatures Australian, a huge crocodile, wombat, wallabys, kangaroos, emus, and by far mums best sight were the koalas! Although it wasn't quite the same as seeing them in the wild, it was still pretty cool, and we sat up on the roof terrace with a hot chocolate with them surrounding us.  After hearing so much about the Cassowary in Mission Beach and how they can kill a human with one claw we were very eager to see one, and they didn't disappoint looking even scarier in the flesh! 
We decided to be a bit daring whilst in Sydney, Dad and Tim took the adventurous route and decided to climb the Harbour Bridge! They said it was an amazing experience with 360 degree views over the city. Mum, Paul and I took the more laid back route around the city and went on a helicopter flight! Very flashpacker we know! We flew over Bondi and Coogee beaches, the Harbour Bridge, Opera house and the city, it was an amazing experience and what a way to see Sydney!
Then the time came for the Boyce's to go home. After spending nearly 3weeks together it was really hard to say goodbye, but we have brilliant 
memories of our trip and the reality is we only have 7weeks left of travelling!

Now we are heading to Melbourne to begin our tour of the Great Ocean Road in a campervan.

Posted by pjr6 15:26 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

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