The one where Sydney grows on me

That's right, I'm still blogging about the holiday I had over 3 months ago. I don't do deadlines, you all know this. If I can hand essays in late what chance do I have with self motivation for my blog?


I've always wanted to spend New Years in Sydney. Probably as long as I can really remember, although that's true of coming out here; NYE in Sydney is an absolute must do for backpackers Down Under. We had a plan: get up early and head to Mrs Maquaries point. Wait for 14 hours. Consume alcohol. Soak up the sun. Enjoy a once in a lifetime experience seeing the greatest firework show on earth. (Except for maybe the Olympic Opening ceremony, that was pretty good.)

So you can imagine my glee when I woke up at 3am with insanely painful stomach cramps, and a strong impulse to regurgitate dinner. Waking my sister at 7am by climbing into bed I whispered, "I don't think I'm very well."

And so began a terrible, terrible day. On any other day of the year, or any other NYE, I'd have stayed in bed. However I wanted to see these fireworks. I'd come halfway across the world to see these fireworks. I dragged myself out along with everyone else; it wasn't a good idea.

I'm sure at some point everyone will spend time on NYE being looked after by a St John's ambulance volunteer, but next time I hope it's because I've drunk too much gin not because I'm severely dehydrated. 

I only took two pictures all day. They're pretty good pictures though.

So now, obviously, I have to do it all again. This time without the vomiting.

It took a while to feel better, but thanks to my little sis the nurse I got myself out of bed after a couple of days for TOURIST TIME. Our little gang was joined by my friend Jess, who I'd met while scrubbing floors in Cairns. It's hard to go through 'bleach day' with Cathy and not form a bond.

Now, you could pay over $200 to walk over the top of the bridge. Or, you can do what we did and just walk  across it. It's even possible to go up in one of the 'pylons' for $15, so don't waste your money folks. $200 is a lot of happy hour beer.

The view was beautiful, and we loved reading all of the lovers padlocks along the way. Take that Paris! The Bridge here beats the 'lover's' bridge there hands down. For a start SATC has never filmed a cheesy love sequence on it, to my knowledge anyway. 

From a distance and in the blinding sun the Opera House loses it yellow tinge and glows brightly against the blue.

But nothing, in my mind, can beat the Bridge. A sheer feat of engineering, it is based on the one in Newcastle, and nicknamed 'the backbone of Sydney' thanks to the labour needed to build it employing so many men during the great depression.

It was also nice to get a different view of Sydney.

Being Brits (Bridget by this point was given honorary citizenship, mostly due to her love of tea) we got ourselves some fish and chips and sat in a lovely park, happy to watch the boats go by.

Obviously all this walking was thirsty work, and fed up of stupid Australian beer got ourselves a proper brew in a proper sized glass. 

I'd really started to fall in love with Sydney, and I'd previously been pretty rude about the place. If my plan to transfer to the Wicked branch in Byron didn't come off, I said to Jess, I'd actually be more than happy to stay in the city. But on our way to Manly on the ferry I got a call from my boss (and lovely, lovely friend) Mark to give me a start date. Byron ahoy!!! 

Going to Manly is worth the view alone (and no I don't mean the gorgeous girls above) because you get the perfect city-scape to gaze at.

Keen to see some Cricket in the sun, we booked tickets for the third day of the test at the SCG. Feeling pretty dirty cheering for Australia we followed everyone elses lead and drank beer to ease the pain. 

It was 'pink day' and it was brilliant to see everyone getting involved! 

The downside to the sunshine was that by mid-afternoon we were pretty hot, so I improvised a rather fetching hat to ward off sun stroke.

S/S Chanel, yeh?

It was the Sydney festival when we got there, and the most talked about thing was the giant duck in darling Harbour. Does what it says on the tin really. I'm supposed to be running away (look at the evil glint in it's eye, like the penguin from 'the wrong trousers')

Eventually the 10th of January came around. Keen to celebrate my birthday on the beach, we made a Plan B after the hottest day on record took two days to turn into storm clouds. Instead we had an amazing breakfast, then went on a walk. It was pretty windy, but this meant that I got to see the greatest thing ever: a little dog trying to wee and getting blown over, thus resulting in the dog doing an accidental cartwheel. It was magnificent and I needed nothing else after that. Well, except lots of alcohol later in the evening. 

Between Tash and Chris I had a brilliant day, waking up with banners all over my bed and my first pair of Havianas from Chris! We tore up the city, going from Oxford St to Darling Harbour to Kings Cross. Apologies, but bourbon may have been in short supply the day after.

Birthday walk through the botanical gardens.

I was so lucky to get to spend my birthday with Chris, and also my little sister. We'd never been that close growing up, and I always felt a little jealous of people who counted their sibling as their best friend. Over the last year we've had some adventures, both good and bad, but Tash has grown up in to the wonderful person I always knew was hiding under her often prickly exterior. I'm so proud of her for striking out on her own and for finding her sense of adventure. It's brilliant to be able to plan travel with her and know that this adventure was simply the first of many. If I get nothing else out of Australia then I'd be happy to take home the knowledge that I'm now one of those people who gets to call their sister their best friend too. Love you Tash Bash xxx.

Road Trip Part 4: Mountains of Blue

So I never really finished blogging about my mini-East Coast adventure. It's pretty hard to blog without a laptop, but thankfully my amazing bestie Helen is now here and has a brand spanking new netbook.


Just to recap, we had a sunny Christmas and rainy Boxing Day in Byron Bay. Doing what all Brits do in the rain we went to the beach and then a walk around the lighthouse. When the precipitation threatening to drown us we headed back to our campervan and promptly got drunk, made friends with a large group of Aussies next to us, and then got more drunk.


We awoke on the 27th December with slightly less enthusiasm than normal, partially (completely) due to nearly draining our booze supplies the night before. This was especially true of me because - I think unfairly - I was drinking goon while everyone else had 3.5% XXXX Gold. Eventually we got our sorry arses together and set off, waving a sad goodbye to Byron, to our next stop of Port Maquarie.

Now, I'd spent the last few months telling backpackers to miss the place out but decided to ignore my own adivce. Turns out everything Wicked Travel had told me was true - there isn't a whole lot to recommend the place. We found a little beach and went for a nice bracing splash, but then found it impossible to get anywhere to camp for the night. Our only choice was to head out of town to a rest stop - warily eyeing the van's petrol gauge - to pitch up for our penultimate night.

The next day on the news we sat that a man was bitten by a shark on the beach we'd been at and all the beaches in the area got closed. 


We got up nice and early, shaking sand out of our hair in lieu of a shower, and set course for the Blue Mountains. It's a beautiful region a couple of hours west of Sydney, so called true Australian fashion ("Mate, this beach is 75 miles long, what should we call it?" "75 mile beach mate") the forests covering the mountains look a blue-ish colour.

As it was our last drive in the van we callously abandoned Bridget and crammed ourselves inside Kat Slater - don't we look comfy?

Lets be honest with ourselves, we had a pretty cool van.

Despite our differences, we came to love Kat Slater. On that first night in Mission Beach I couldn't imagine sleeping in the van, with three people, for 14 nights. But by the end we'd become accustomed to it and loved getting comfy and snuggly giggling of an evening. Somehow I ended up in the middle every night and Tash and Chris developed a fun game called "CHESKIE SANDWICH". I'll leave you to guess what that entailed, but it's safe to say that when you've got ear plugs in and an eye mask it can really scare the shit out of you as you're gently drifting off to sleep. 

We rocked up to Katoomba without a plan or any phone battery; thankfully a really nice hostel let us come in and leave our phones to charge (they didn't have space for us) and recommended a free campsite in the mountains. The first one we found was less than appealing, due to the only spot left being next to the nice compostable toilet. Thankfully the next site along (and the original one we looked for) was much nicer. 

"Ooo lets swim in the river!" we thought...until we saw the sign warning us that the water had been found to contain some harmful bacteria. We decided to stay stinky.

That night we played cards (now that I'd finally worked out the rules for 'go fish!', namely that you're not allowed to bluff. NO ONE TOLD ME.) and drank the little booze we had left. It was chilly being so high above sea level, but our last night was happy and cosy. We would miss Kat Slater!

Ha-goona-matata indeed!!!

On the final day of our road trip we packed and cleaned Kat Slater, hampered only slightly by me throwing up twice, and went to see some mountains!

It's a bit of alright.

Wanting to see the most famous spot - the three sisters - we were not anticipating the amount of other people who had the same idea. It was MENTAL. We had to queue for ages to get this photo, and elbow a few asian families out of the way too.

But we had to get a picture of the Three Sisters (Chris is now an honorary sibling) next to the Three Sisters!

Fighting our way through the crowds was hungry work, so we found a quiet spot to cook our last supper. Not a bad place for a sausage sizzle! And imagine our glee when an ice cream van turned up selling soft serve and melty chocolate cones.

Unable to behave like adults for more than a few minutes, and finding that the ice cream/nut/chocolate combo was rather sickly we resorted to that old favourite 'shove-ice-cream-in-face' game. Thanks Tash.

I've had worse views for lunch.

And so we left for our final destination - the bright lights of Sydney. God speed Kat Slater, and God bless all those who subsequently hire you. It can only be divine intervention that prevented us from ending up in a burning wreck. Or perhaps simply proof that accurate speedos are overrated?