A Travellerspoint blog

Australia

Sydney, NSW, Australia

A holiday in a holiday

sunny 30 °C
View Honeymoon World Tour on Nick-n-Charlie's travel map.

If you are new to this Blog then you may be thinking why do they need a holiday, they have just spent the past 6 months travelling around. If you are an avid Blog fan, you will know that we have been travelling at a fairly fast pace, trying to cram as much into our trip as possible, and quite frankly we are shattered, so we warn you now this edition is not the most riveting we have written - mostly because we didn't really do much!

So why choose Sydney for our break. Firstly, we have been before and LOVE it here, secondly because we have been before, we don't need to worry about rushing around to see all of the sights and touristy things as we did them last time, and finally where better is there in the world to celebrate New Year's Eve than in Sydney Harbour!

For the first four nights we had treated ourselves to a very nice apartment in the centre of the CBD so we could fully relax and make it feel as special as we could.

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Our first night was 23 December, which as many of you may know is when Nick and I celebrate our Christmas normally as it coincides with with half year anniversary (I know that may sound strange, but it works for us!). We had already booked a table at our favourite restaurant in the city which we fell in love with when we were in Sydney in 2010. Pony lived up to our memories, located in the heart of The Rocks area of the city within spitting distance of the Harbour Bridge and Opera House and we enjoyed a delicious dinner of juicy steak and rhubarb crumble and chocolate mouse cake for dessert - yummy!! It was a lovely evening and our Christmas present to each other.

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On Christmas Eve we did a free walking tour of the city which was excellent. It was really informative and took us to loads of places in the city we had not seen before (like the Queen Victoria Building which is now an upmarket shopping arcade) and giving us information we did not know about places we had! We still love doing these tours and were so glad we found it.

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Christmas Day was a very lazy one! We enjoyed a champagne breakfast of scrambled eggs and smoked salmon before Skyping my Mum and Dad. We then thought it would be a nice idea to go for a stroll, but not only was it raining, Sydney seemed to be open for business as usual?? Most shops were open, all of the restaurants and cafes were packed and it just didn’t feel like Christmas! We retreated to the comfort of our apartment and spent the rest of the day watching Christmas movies, eating cheese and biscuits and then Skyping Nick’s family and friends later in the day.

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Boxing Day was the Australian release of the second in the new Hobbit trilogy and we couldn’t resist the temptation to go and see it! The rest of the day was spent sat in Hyde Park soaking up the gorgeous weather which had come back to Sydney!

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On 27th, we had to check out of our apartment and move into a hostel near the train station. First impressions of the YHA Railway Square were not great when the rude staff wanted us to pay to store our luggage with them as our room was not ready (we didn’t and dropped it back off at the apartments concierge!), before, you guessed it sitting in Hyde Park again for the day doing nothing and stopping for a pint in Happy Hour!

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That night we had arranged to meet my friend from work, another Charlie and her husband Darryl, who goes to Sydney every year for Christmas and New Year. It was so lovely to see a familiar face and the four us spent the evening chatting away. It was also great going out with someone who knew the city so well as it meant we got to go to some really nice pubs, one which had a roof terrace with amazing views over Circle Quay and the Opera House. We also got to try the Coat of Arms Pizza (which we had heard about on our walking tour) which has Kangaroo on one side and Emu on the other - it was delicious!! Thank you Charlie and Darryl for treating us!!

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Nothing interesting happened on the next two days. The weather was still glorious so we spent more time sitting in the park. We did mix it up though, this time opting for the Botanical Gardens down by Sydney Harbour. One evening though we did another free walking tour, this time of The Rocks which is the oldest part of Sydney. Even though it was the same company who we did the tour with a few days before, it was pants! No tip this time!! It did however mean that we could walk back via Darling Harbour and take in their firework show which they put on for free every Saturday night at 21:00 - it was brilliant and a good warm up for New Year's Eve!

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Waking up to another beautiful sunny day (oh the hardship!), we jumped on the ferry over to Manly Beach on the northern side of the harbour. The ferry only takes about 30 minutes, but is well worth, although everyone else seemed to have the same idea as the beach was packed (see Dad there are other people here!) Another lazy day of sunbathing - this time on the sand ensued!

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New Year’s Eve was set to be one we would always remember - not necessarily for the reason you are thinking though! The firework extravaganza you see on the tv over the harbour is the main reason we were in Sydney as Nick was adamant he wanted to see it in the flesh. We hadn’t realised quite what an ordeal it would be though!

We had already decided that we wanted to watch them from Mrs. Macquarie’s Point which is where you get that iconic view of the Opera House and Bridge. We had also already been warned that their would be about 17,000 other people with the same idea due to this being one of the few free spots open to the public, and that although the gates to the park officially opened at 10:00, the queue would start much earlier (it turned out two days earlier!).

Armed with bags of provisions we joined the enormous snaking queue at 08:30 and were informed there were roughly 5,000 already in front of us! We had never seen anything like it and had completely underestimated this! The next FIVE HOURS were spent in the queue in baking heat with no shade (apart from our tiny umbrella), slowly shuffling forward every couple of minutes.

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Around 13:30 we made it through the security point at the park gates were our bags were checked in case we were trying to sneak in alcohol. They even made us open up and show them our pasta and salad and make us throw away our bottle of balsamic dressing as it was already open. This was slightly annoying as the people who were in the queue in front of us had spent the last five hours hiding their alcohol strategically throughout their stuff and got through with barely a glance! Typical!

Then the real fun began, attempting to find a spot left with a half decent view. Obviously all of the best spots with prime views (and no trees in the way) had gone hours ago, but we managed to find with where we could see all of the bridge and a small bit of the Opera House which was better than we thought we would get. We hunkered down guarding our borders against intruders and trying to not to pass out in the heat for the next 8 hours!

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At 21.00 they put on a warm up firework display for families with young kids and to get everyone else in the mood, but it is obviously no where near as big or long as the main event.

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By 23:30 it was dark and it had gotten a little chilly and the crowds had swelled. People had cottoned onto our decent vantage point and were trying to squeeze into every available gap - even if it was only a tiny patch of bare grass. At this stage though we gave up with towels, fearing we could loose our view completely if we did not stand up. As the clock ticked closer the crowd pushed forward in preparation but we managed to keep our view through it all.

The entire 17,000 strong crowd counted down from 10 before the sky erupted in a blaze of fireworks to celebrate. They were quite simply incredible! Apparently using 700 tonnes of explosives at a cost of AUD$5,000,000 it was absolutely worth our 18 hour ordeal for this 10 minute show!

Needless to say all of our pictures were pants so here are some of the official ones and a YouTube link to the highlights - enjoy!!

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New Year’s Day and after not making it back to the hostel until 01:30, it was not an early start to the day. Nick was up about 10:30 and had just returned from the shower when his phone started to ring? Our friends were in the last 5 minutes before their New Year’s Eve countdown in the UK and wanted to Skype so we could all see it together - perfect! We got to do it twice!! It was great to see them, even though a few faces were missing.

The rest of the day was sadly not spent in the park (it was cloudy anyway!), but glued to the laptop figuring out a plan for our next stop; New Zealand. Should we hire a car, get a “bus pass” book onto a full 30 day guided tour (strangely the cheapest option!)? Annoyingly this decision took literally all day - I didn’t even get to go outside! It needed to be done though and we formulated a plan(ish) finally making it to bed about 23:00!

The past 5 weeks had been incredible! We had squeezed in so much, seen some stunning parts of Australia and had some amazing experiences we would never forget! We both wished we could have stayed longer. Our final day in Sydney (and in Australia) was brief. We were checked out by 09:30 and on the train to the airport by 10:00 to catch our plane to Auckland to begin our New Zealand adventures!

Posted by Nick-n-Charlie 16:00 Archived in Australia Comments (2)

Melbourne, VIC, Australia

A whistle stop tour, luckily we have been before...

semi-overcast 22 °C
View Honeymoon World Tour on Nick-n-Charlie's travel map.

After dropping off our car and walking to our hostel at the other end of the city, we checked into Greenhouse Backpackers on Flinders Lane (the most amazing location right in the centre of the city!). Not surprisingly as it was only 10:30 our room was not ready, so we stored our luggage and set off to see what had changed in Melbourne since we were last here in 2010.

Having done many of the “big sights” previously we went in search of something different at the TI and found some cool walking tours of the Lanes with their graffiti art and funky cafes which obviously meant a coffee stop!

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We also discovered that the Melbourne Museum were holding a special exhibit called “Designing 007 - 50 years of Style” so we decided to check it out. Visiting the TI had paid off as we got a discount voucher for our tickets and the exhibit was totally worth the AUS$25 each we paid. Not only did they have the original Aston Martin DB5, they had so many pieces of memorabilia from the films, as well as some really interesting information about the life of Ian Flemming.

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That evening we following the Christmas Lights Trail (another leaflet we had picked up from the TI) which took in some of the cities best displays, including what had been dubbed Christmas Square with a huge Christmas tree and lots of little ones making a forest you could sit in while watching the big screen, giant presents and life-size toy soldiers. We also walked over to the Town Hall which had ben dubbed Santa’s Workshop and where we watched a brilliant animation show which was projected onto the front of the building. We even took a walk over Mistletoe Bridge, obviously stopping for a quickie under the giant, illuminated mistletoe.

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The next day was a boring one, so nothing exciting to blog about sadly. Due to the infamous erratic, Melbourne weather - we had gone from shorts and flip-flops (thongs) to jeans and hoodies (still flip-flops mind you!) - we went on a reckie to find our bus station for that night, took a short stroll around the new Dockland’s area (which was being constructed last time we were in town), and nursed a coffee for hours to make the most of their free wifi! See, told you it was boring!

By 18:30, we were at Southern Cross Bus Station, only a 20 minute walk from the hostel waiting for our overnight bus to Sydney where we would start our Christmas celebrations!

Posted by Nick-n-Charlie 16:00 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

The Great Ocean Road, VIC, Australia

Epic scenery, winding roads and a brilliant road trip

sunny 38 °C
View Honeymoon World Tour on Nick-n-Charlie's travel map.

Our hope of being able to drive from Adelaide to Perth by securing another relocation campervan deal had sadly not panned out, so we had no other option but to hop on a cheap(ish) flight down to Melbourne which only took an hour. We then collected another hire car, this one a Hyundai I-20 who we named Holly for our second road trip in a matter of days - not quite as far this time, but equally as iconic!

Day 1

Melbourne - Warrnambool 273km/170m

The Great Ocean Road is one of those "must see's" and is on most people's bucket list and promised us some incredible coastal driving and scenery. After collecting Holly, we set off, again with the aim of getting the big distances done on the first day heading across country on the highway to Warrnambool just past the start of the GOR itself. The drive was simple enough, only taking 3.5 hours with a small stop for lunch in a town called Colac (which Nick is convinced he knows because of some characters from Neighbours!), and we arrived at the Raglan Motor Inn about 16:00. The Motel was really nice, and we got upgraded for free to a larger room with a sea view! Being a Motel it was right on the highway, but it was only a 2 minute drive down into town and to the foreshore.

Deciding to make the most of the evening we drove the short distance to the Lady Bay foreshore, where we strolled along the beach, for about half an hour, reaching the Yacht Club Cafe a few minutes to late.

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Walking back along the beach to the car we drove a short way out of town to Logan’s Beach and the Whale Viewing Platform. Unfortunately we were out of the whale migration season so there were none to be seen, the beach was still impressive with large sand dunes and huge waves.

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Trying again to find a place to have coffee we drove to Proudfoot Boathouse, a preserved 100 year old boat shed, now a cafe, recommended to us by the Motel owner. Unfortunately this had a large event on so was closed too. Giving up we went to the supermarket to get dinner, before getting an early night sleep, ready for the next day.

Day 2

Warrnambol - via Port Fairy - Apollo Bay 215km/134m

The GOR officially starts from Nullawarre but we had google’d Port Fairy a little further up the coast so thought we would start our journey from there as it looked beautiful. However when looking for accommodation we discovered it was really expensive, so we stayed in Warrnambool just 27km drive away, settling for short visit it instead. When we arrived in Port Fairy the next day we soon realised why it was so expensive. This Port Side town was made up of old but beautifully restored colonial houses, row after row of yachts and small fishing boats, plus it had a lovely sandy beach, making it a prime holiday spot.

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The weather was surprisingly good for Victoria being, in it’s 30’s, so after the small walk around the port and river we were rather hot and sweaty. It was then a great pleasure to see the beach and cool sea which we jumped in straight away (after stripping down to our swimwear of course).

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After a drying off in the sun and walking back to a very hot car, we hit the road again for a short 100km drive to the first of many lookout points, the Bay of Islands.

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The Grotto, Nick did this one on his own as we thought it was going to be a quick photo stop, however it turned out to be quite a walk down to a lookout, which in the heat was not good.

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The London Bridge, so called as it used to be 3 arches looking a lot like the London Bridge, until it finally collapsed leaving two unconnected arches.

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It was now time for a lunch and beach stop at Port Campbell, a small town perfectly situated for a holiday. The town was the usual one street, but had lots of nice bars and restaurants, looking out on the sea with a small sheltered beach. Again we had a swim and took the opportunity to soak up the rays, wishing we could stay here forever, but there was more lovely scenery to be seen.

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Just 12km down the road and we were stopping again at the stunningly beautiful Loch Ard Gorge. This was named after a clipper which was shipwrecked hear in 1878, leaving only two survivors. Today it is a major tourist attraction due to it’s hidden beach at the bottom of the gorge and again we took the chance to cool off.

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It had now reached 38 degrees (dad that’s 101F), melting the tarmac which splashed up the car and Nick accidentally left a footprint in it.

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The last lookout of the day was the big one, the world famous 12 Apostles. This is such a big tourist trap it has its own shop/visitors centre with very over priced drinks and food. This has afforded a tunnel under the GOR to the other side making it safe and easy to stop for lots of photo’s. Even though we had to fight past the tour groups, they were very impressive to see.

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By now it was getting late in the afternoon and due to all the stopping at lookouts, we were still over an hour away from that nights stop at Apollo Bay. Luckily, the ‘GOR’ takes a large detour inland, however we couldn’t resist some guaranteed Koala spotting. This meant taking a short detour down the Cape Otway Road, which due to it being a quiet road meant we could drive at 20kmph pulling over and running in the middle of the road to take pictures, along with other drivers. It was well worth it as we saw lots of them and did lots of “ahhhh they’re so fluffy and cute” noises.

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We finally made it to Surf Side Backpackers on the outskirts of Apollo Bay and were sadly disappointed by the rundown hostel (our room obviously hadn’t been cleaned for a while, as it was covered in dust, dead flies and spiders webs, lovely!). Deciding against using the equally dirty kitchen we treated ourselves to fish and chips. These were soooo good and made better by sitting on yet another stunning beach watching the sun go down.

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Day 3

Apollo Bay - Torquay 92km/57m

After a not very relaxing nights sleep fending off insects, we checked out early not wanting to linger any longer than necessary, so we went for a mooch and a coffee around Apollo Bay for an hour or so (which was much livelier than the previous evening!).

Feeling more alert, we set off for the next leg which is the actual coastal part of the road, and as we had been taking the driving in turn typically Nick got to drive this (the jammy bugger!). Imagine, tight bends, steep inclines, sheer cliffs on one side and amazing scenery around every corner (you could even imagine James Bond speeding along it during a car chase!).

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We stopped a few times during the morning at some deserted beaches and some lookouts (Grave) before arriving at Lorne. This is yet another small sea-side town with a nice beach, foreshore and some very nice looking cafes - however it was ham and cheese sandwiches on the beach for us as usual! The sun was just about still shining (it had been getting cloudier during the morning), so we made the most of it by having an hour on the beach, before getting back on the road.

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En route we of course had to stop for photos of the Great Ocean Road Memorial Arch which pays tribute to the men who somehow managed to build it!

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From here we trudged straight through to Torquay which is the official start / finish of the GOR. It was not the nicest town we had seen, but again had a number of nice beaches. We checked into Bells Beach Backpackers, which was really nice and only a 10 minute walk to the foreshore, so we went for a wander along the coastal path to the lookout point at Point Danger (we couldn't resist a name like that!), before sitting on Cosy Corner beach watching the amazing kite surfers do their thing - so cool!

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After a nice chilled evening watching movies with everyone in the communal lounge (and being outraged when two teenagers had never heard of Wayne’s World - god we felt old!) we settled into out 6 bed dorm for a good nights sleep.

Day 4

Torquay - Melbourne 94km/58m

Our final day with Holly and with the Great Ocean Road behind us it was simply a case of getting back to Melbourne. We had not realised when we picked her up that they were charging us a whole extra day because we picked it up 45 minutes early (meaning they wanted us to pay 5 days for 4 days + 45 minutes!). Not wanting to be charged for this we were determined to be back in plenty of time!

We planned to have a quick stop off at Geelong for a look round and maybe a coffee on our way, but got completely lost in the one-way system, and somehow managed to miss the town completely and get back on the highway! Oh well! The whole way back we were also on petrol watch as we had foolishly paid the hire company for a full tank (and paid a fortune in tax on top!), so were again determined to get our monies worth by giving it back to them with an empty tank, so when the light came on with about 50km to go we decided to risk it...thankfully this turned out to be more than enough and we arrived in Melbourne with plenty of time to spare.

We were not doing well that morning though as we had also planned to drive to the hostel first to dump our bags then go and drop off the car, but for the second time in less than an hour we were getting lost in the one way system and could not find out hostel - oh well again!

We said goodbye to Holly, sorted out the issues with over-charges and walked the 20 minuets to our hostel for a couple of days in Melbourne, but that is for another blog...

Posted by Nick-n-Charlie 16:00 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

Adelaide, SA, Australia

sunny 35 °C
View Honeymoon World Tour on Nick-n-Charlie's travel map.

It had taken 6 days and been one incredible adventure across the Nullarbor Plain, but 3,033km later and we had made it to Adelaide in surprisingly good weather! The sun was shining and the temperature was soaring so after checking into the YHA Central Adelaide hostel (we had opted for a private room knowing we would need some sleep!), we set off to explore what the city had to offer.

Sadly we discovered all to soon that the answer was not a lot. We walked around the main shopping precinct, having to buy some new flip-flops (or thongs!) for Nick after his snapped - they really aren't designed to be worn every day for 6 months straight - finding some nice Christmasy shopping arcades.

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We sat by the riverside for another picnic lunch and then walked over to the Museum and University district which has some stunning architecture and felt like we had just landed in Oxford.

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We got lost in the Gallery of South Australia for an hour or so which was really good as the exhibits were done via a theme rather than by date meaning you had old masters alongside modern pieces. We called it quits for the day and headed back to the hostel for a much needed early night!

Next morning and we decided to go for a stroll around the Botanic Gardens of Adelaide which were very nice.

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Then after another picnic lunch we jumped on a tram and headed to Glenelg which is Adelaide's main beach and spent the afternoon soaking up the sunshine, before taking advantage of Happy Hour at a beach side bar for a couple of beers!

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It was time to say goodbye to Adelaide. Sadly we had not been able to find another relocation car deal as we had hoped to get us to Melbourne, so it was off to the airport for our 1 hour flight.

Posted by Nick-n-Charlie 16:00 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

Crossing the Nullarbor, Australia

Perth to Adelaide 3033km/1885miles

sunny 37 °C
View Honeymoon World Tour on Nick-n-Charlie's travel map.

Day 1

Perth - Kalgoorlie (594km/369m)

Our final morning with the Holans and we were up early to say goodbye to John before he went off to work, and were given pictures that each of the kids had done for us which were lovely! We then walked Alex and Christian to school and said our goodbyes to them too. After some last minute faffing, H (and Sophie) very kindly dropped us off at the car rental depot and after massive amounts of paperwork we were told to watch an instructional video about how the campervan worked and were amazed at all of the facilities it came with - shower, toilet, digital tv, gas hob, pull out barbecue and even air conditioning, the list goes on... Thinking there must have been a mistake we were even more amazed when we were handed the keys to a HUGE campervan who we named Marlene (with an Aussie accent!) It was so cool and all four of us spent ages looking around it! The time had come though to say our final goodbyes to H and Sophie and it all got a bit emotional.

We were on the road and it was now past 11:00 meaning we really had to motor to make it to our first stop; Kalgoorlie, almost 6 hours driving if we wanted to make it before dusk when the roos come out to play in the road, very dangerous!!

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The traffic thinned out, the road got narrower, the buildings disappeared, the bush got thinner, and the “road-trains” grew longer!

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not our picture but Googles

not our picture but Googles

After going for about 3.5 hours, we needed to stop for petrol (we had agreed early on that we would treat half a tank as empty as we had no desire to get stuck in the middle of the outback with no fuel!) and had our sandwiches in a rest area by the side of the highway.

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Another 3.5 hours later past some incredible, if not barren scenery, we had made it to our first campsite just before dark - phew! Kalgoorlie Goldfields Caravan Park was pretty decent, pretty basic, but decent, for only AUD$35 (£19.50)! We were too far out to walk into the town, but were both so tired after a dinner of pasta and pesto (surprise, surprise!), we settled in for an early night and were amazingly cosy, even though we had to have the AC on!

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Day 2

Kalgoorlie - Mundrabilla (827km/514m)

05:45 the next morning, I was up and surprisingly awake after a really good nights sleep, which was good as we had just over an eight hour drive a head of us.

After breakfast and showers, we did the morning ritual for maintaining the van. Checking the gas is off, emptying the waste water tank, filling up the clean water tank and unhooking the electric.

By now it 07:15 and we needed to head off but we had to get supplies first. Driving into the incredibly small town (we had yet to see the even smaller ones on our journey) we went to the petrol station to fill up on diesel again and then went to see the one attraction in Kalgoorlie, if you didn’t count the street of old brothels. Just a short drive and we were at the Super Pit. Now this sounds boring but it was amazing, due to it’s colossal size. The pit is over a hundred years old and still in use as a gold mine. It was so large it had it’s own road system winding it’s way deep down into the pit, making the trucks and diggers look tiny. As you can see in the photo of Nick next to the bucket and me on the tyre (ok so we all know I’m small, but a tyre over 4’10” is large) these trucks were by no means small.

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Realising we should get moving if we wanted to see the next town 150km away we hit the road again. Over an hour later on some very quiet roads we arrived at Norseman. So named as Lawrence Sinclair was riding in the area in search of ore/gold when his horse threw a shoe, seeing to the horse they discovered it was due to a gold nugget. Sinclair decided to set up a mine and a town naming it after his horse.

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Now there are also some famous Camel statues made of tin on a roundabout which of course we stopped to photograph, however their story is not so interesting.

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Apparently in the days of the town being founded, camels were used as transport and so the roads were wide and were kept this way when the town started to grow, hence the camels? Told you it was crap. This town was tiny with only, a petrol station (where we filled up again), a IGA (supermarket) where we stocked up on water and supplies, a bottle shop, bait shop, butchers and pub.

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Back in Marlene and we officially started our journey across the Nullarbor Plain - one of the worlds greatest road journeys!! Driving for another 190km, it was yet again time to fill up with diesel at Balladonia, pulling over for a picture stop on the way at a Zebra Crossing in the middle of no where. This was actually for one of the many R.D.F.S (Royal Flying Doctors Service) airstrips, as the highway is so long, straight and quiet it’s perfect for emergency landings.

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Full of horrifically over priced fuel (60cents 35p a litre more than in the city!) we now started our drive along Australia’s longest, straight road measuring a whopping 145.6km (90 miles)! This was surprisingly ok to drive as you were constantly amazed at the distance you could see ahead of you due to the flat, barren terrain.

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Three quarters in to the drive and we crossed time zone of the journey and we were still in WA, moving our clocks forwards 45 minutes - very confusing! We carried on until we arrived at our stop (and the only stop for some kilometres) for the night at Mundrabilla. This is not a town, but a Roadhouse with a motel, “caravan park”, shop, restaurant, Petrol station and small pub. This one was a bargain at only AUD$20 (£11) a night!! However it was really just a gravel carpark in the middle of the bush with electric hook up. There were only 3 other people there so was amazingly quiet and surprising had a fantastic sunset over the highway, and again we would be treated to some amazing stars above us.

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Day 3

Mundrabilla - Ceduna (494km/307m)

Again after another good nights sleep we were up very early as we had another time zone to cross in 75km when we entered into SA and didn’t know what the extra would be. (the internet would have been handy then). Under an hour later and we were entering SA and losing an hour thirty meaning it was now late morning.

After a quick photo stop with Rooey II at the boarder and seeing we were about half way through having travelled 1462km form Perth and having another 1253km until we reached Adelaide. We hit the road again.

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We had now entered Great Australian Bight, the part of Australia were it looks like someone has taken a huge bite out of the country, hence it’s name. We of course stopped at all three lookout points to get amazing views and photo’s of the Bunda Cliffs, which really do look as if someone got a little peckish.

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From here we stopped at the next Roadhouse Nullarbor Hotel/Motel along a mere 182km from the last one, to find some more overly priced fuel. Deciding we could probably make it to the next Roadhouse in 150km we stopped for lunch instead, saying hello to few travellers and truck drivers who had also stopped. There was a great sense of community with everyone, the Road Train drivers who did this everyday for 12 hour stretches and the crazy travellers like us doing it for fun. Not many people have done this and everyone has to stop at the same places so you start to see and nod at the same folk, it was really nice.

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Luckily we made it to Nundroo Roadhouse and seeing much cheaper Diesel, our gamble worked, we filled up the tank which was just on a quarter and spent a whopping AUD$100. Back in Marlene and passing ever changing landscapes we made it to Quarantine Check Point. There are two of these on the way one for people heading west out of SA and one for people heading east out of WA, these are to stop pest and insets crossing states and ruining each others farming. Knowing this was coming up we had tried to use up all our fruit and veg the night before but were still left with a tomato, mushrooms and lettuce. Not being sure what was and wasn’t allowed we declared it all at the check point. Now they are very serious about this, you arrive at a barrier, your number plate is noted down and then they take any fruit and veg that’s not allowed from you. We got to keep the mushrooms, but had to handover the rest and even the banana skins in our bin! Everything declared they opened the barrier and we drove the short 20 minutes into Ceduna town.

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Being in SA, Ceduna was a slightly bigger town with a shopping centre, restaurants, pubs and beautiful foreshore. Heading to Ceduna Foreshore Caravan Park (a Top Tourist Site), which was labelled on our map we checked in-- Marlene, somehow getting a discount paying only AUD$27 (£14) and got a site on the sea front. The views from Marlene were lovely and after doing a much need pant wash we went for a walk along the pier and into the town, which was sadly full of homeless Aboriginals. Deciding it was still a bit chilly but not wanting to miss the views we made a cuppa and sat on the grass bank eating biscuits watching the sunset.

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Day 4

Ceduna - Port Lincoln (402km/250m)

Up early again the next morning we ate breakfast and did the van rituals of filling up, emptying and switching off, to be ready for the off.

Again the scenery was ever changing with more farm land and massive salt water lakes which had dried up or just had a small amount of water left.

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We had decided in the first few days to break the back of the journey and get the long days of driving out of the way, so when we came closer to the coast we could take our time and enjoy stopping at small port towns. Our first one of these was Streaky Bay, so named as Flinders (who named everything and discovered everything, even naming a bay after his brother “Flinders Bay” haha) thought the water looked streaky with the white of the waves and blue of the sea. (think he invented the catchphrase game, ‘say what you see’) This was again a tiny town, hardly a street, on a beautiful bay. The sun was shining and so we decided to stop for a coffee taking in the lovely view and soaking up the rays.

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Reluctantly leaving Streaky Bay behind we traveled further down the coast making a quick detour into a farmers field to see the famous Hay Stacks. These were large red rock formations Inselbergs. It was so strange to see these huge red boulders raising out of the ground in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by fields.

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After lots of photos, we went back on to Highway Alt 1 to Elliston nested between Anxious Bay (Flinders apparently felt nervous once sailing here hence the name) and Coffin Bay (again with the imaginative name due to many ships meeting their deaths here). Here we stopped for a spot of lunch and a walk along the beach before heading to our final stop for the day, Port Lincoln.

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Stopping at another Top Tourist site after a huge debate wether to stop as this larger town or drive up the coast to Tumby Bay, we paid another bargain price of AUD$30 (£16). Again we managed to secure a spot on the sea front and I soon decided we had made the right decision, largely due to the rabbits which were walking around happily eating grass right outside our window.

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Walking just 3km of the coastal trail into town we explored the slightly bigger town of Port Lincoln. Unfortunately the beach was dominated by a huge factory, you even have to walk through it on the walk. The town was very quiet with nothing of interest for us so we headed back to rabbit watch with a cuppa and views of the sea, perfect!

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Day 5

Port Lincoln - Port Pirie (441km/274m)

Up not so early the next day we headed for Port Augusta 339km up the coast. Passing yet more dried up lakes and a train with 96 wagons (the very long video is attached if you fancy watching or checking my counting), we soon arrived and decided that we would drive another 92km down the other side of the coast to Port Pirie hoping it would be a nicer smaller town.

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We were right this was a smaller town, so following signs to the riverside and caravan park we booked into a small site for our last night with Marlene for only AUD$33 (£18). This site was located on the side of a river flowing into the sea and it had a man made lake you could swim in. Still being early we walked the short distance to town, deciding there was nothing to see we headed back to the lake for a paddle and cool down before soaking up the evening sun on the river bank.

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Day 6

Port Pirie - Adelaide (227km/141m)

Packed up, filled up and everything clean it was time to drive the last 200km to Adelaide and say goodbye to Marlene.

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Passing more farm land making us feel like we were in Derbyshire rather then Australia and passing more huge dried up lakes, one with Nessy, who was evidently on holiday from Lock Ness.

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We stopped for a quick toilet break at Port Wakefield, discovering that the women toilet also doubled as an art gallery we decided to visit the gallery/TI next door and picked up a few maps of Adelaide, as we had no idea where the rental place was.

Arriving at Adelaide, we had decided to drop off our bags at our hostel before driving to the airport to drop off Marlene, making it easier for the journey back into town. However this meant navigating a huge city and one way streets with a 7 metre long van. With only a tourist map in hand we managed to find the Hostel even finding a two free parking spaces outside. Bag dropped we headed back out of town.

Six days, 3033km, two states, three time zones, a whopping AUD$690 (£374) of Diesel and it was now time to say goodbye to our now beloved van.

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Posted by Nick-n-Charlie 16:00 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

Perth, WA, Australia (again)

Back Again

sunny 30 °C
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After some emotional goodbyes with Nick’s cousin Milly, who had been kind enough to let us stay both before and after our trip “down south”, it was back in Talulah (our trusty rental car) to head north of the CBD for the second leg of our Perth trip.

Helen is Nick’s other cousin who has now lived in Australia for nearly 15 years with her husband and three children. When we were in Australia two years ago we stayed with them in Melbourne, but they have since moved to Perth so it made perfect sense to have the next couple of days with them.

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We had intentionally timed it so that we would get the weekend with them and after settling in and catching up it was time to put up the Christmas tree.

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Then it was off to the local park to wear out the kids (and us!!). I loved it as for once I had a valid reason for playing on the park!!

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The rest of the day was a lazy one, playing with the kids, swimming in the pool and catching up with Helen (H) and John.

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Next morning and after a yummy cooked breakfast (done on the barbie of course!), it was off to the local beach for a swim, body-board and of course some fort making. Sadly the weather turned a bit windy and it was too cool to stay, so after a coffee stop it was back home for another afternoon of Chinese Checkers, Lego and another dip in the pool!

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Monday morning meant John was back at work and Alex and Christian (the two eldest) were back at school. It also meant that it was time to say goodbye to Talulah. H (and Sophie) followed us into town, and after a quick delay when we realised we had forgotten to fill up the petrol tank, we jumped in H’s car and headed over to a beautiful stretch of beach which had a lovely coffee shop and great playground for Sophie. It was lovely to sit and chat with H, reminiscing, putting the world to rights and generally talk rubbish - with the occasional break to play on the park with Sophie. It was a lovely morning! Again the afternoon was a lazy one, playing with the kids and drinking coffee.

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Our final day with the Holan’s and H had to work and all 3 of the kids were in school today, so we headed into the CBD for another wander round the city, a touch of Christmas shopping and another picnic at the Supreme Court Palace Gardens in glorious sunshine. There was also just enough time for Nick to get a much needed haircut, before being back in time to collect the kids as promised from after school club. Then began the best game of hide and seek we have played since we were about 10 - winding the kids up, just in time for John to come home - ooops!!

Our final morning and after saying goodbye to John and walking Alex and Christian to school it was back into central Perth. We had arranged for a relocation campervan deal to drive from Perth to Adelaide and H (and Sophie) kindly drove us over to pick it up. Then it was time for more emotional goodbyes before starting our epic road trip across the Nullarbor!

Posted by Nick-n-Charlie 16:00 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Margaret River, WA, Australia

From Perth to Albany and back again!

semi-overcast 24 °C
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We had wheels again for the first time since we were with in Langkawi, however this time it was a significant upgrade. Our swanky Toyota Corolla was much larger than we had expected and an absolute bargain thanks to a deal the rental firm (Bayswater) had on at only AU$42 (£32) a day! We christened her Talulah before hitting the road.

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Our plan was to get the big distances out of the way on the first day by heading all the way down to Albany on the south western tip of mainland Australia. The journey was about 6 hours in total with a couple of toilet stops enroute but was really straight forward - we only really needed to use Milly’s (Nick’s cousin) borrowed Sat Nav to get out of central Perth - although in fairness once you are on the highway it is just one road going south!!

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We arrived at 1849 Backpackers in the centre of Albany about 16:30 and were instantly hit by the freezing cold temperatures (well to us). It was only 19 degrees and was SO windy! I guess when you are this close to Antarctica we shouldn’t have been surprised! The hostel was nice enough, although felt like an old school due it’s layout. There were also A LOT of long term residents staying with working visas so it felt a little clicky and like you were invading their space. Luckily though we had booked a private, thinking we would want privacy after our long drive and when we walked past an open dorm room door and saw the carnage within were glad we did!

We decided to go off in search of a much needed coffee to discover that Albany was not only tiny, but closed - literally everything had shut at 16:00 and it was like a ghost town. Strangely many of the restaurants and cafe seemed to re-open at 19:00 for dinner (although when we looked later none of them were!). We stumbled across a pizzeria and managed to have a coffee and cake. Feeling a little warmer we decided to explore some more, however we soon realised we had seen all Albany had to give, so jumped in the car in search of a good sunset.

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After a short 25km/15m drive we were on the Flinders Peninsular, arriving just in time to see The Gap and Natural Bridge rock formations with an amazing sunset backdrop. We didn’t stay too long as it was so windy, flippin’ freezing and we needed to be careful driving at dusk due to roos.

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Our next morning started off well with yummy free pancakes for breakfast. We had decided to go for a coastal walk along Middleton Beach, but when we arrived we were disappointed to find out it was just a beach walk. Being early in the morning the beach was deserted so we decided to walk it anyway.

Middleton Beach

Middleton Beach


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After our walk we realised that this was going to be more of a driving trip, beach and coast hopping. We therefore spent the rest of the day visiting small towns and their beaches, seeing stunning scenery along the way. We will now bore you with loads of beach photos.

Cosy Corner

Cosy Corner


guests at our picnic

guests at our picnic


Denmark Town Centre

Denmark Town Centre


Walpole Beach

Walpole Beach


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We checked out the next morning after more yummy pancakes and hit the road to Augusta 360km/223m up the coast. Stopping along the way at yet more beautiful beaches and the Pemberton Tree Top Walk. A 40m/131’ high walk way in the canopy of the forest trees, the views were great but the walk way was very bouncy and swayed from side to side.

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We arrived in Augusta about 15:00 in beautiful sunshine, so went for a lovely walk along the river until it joined the Southern Ocean. (Sorry more beach pictures)

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Later that night, we took the opportunity of a clear sky to go star gazing. Deciding to drive a little out of town while still in our PJ’s we got to see why night driving is dangerous, narrowly missing a large kangaroo and lots of bunnies, luckily we were driving less then 10kmph/6mph. The drive was worth it, getting the chance to see a full sky of bright stars meeting the sea, more then either of us had seen before.

After a really good night sleep in our 7 bed dorm which we had to ourselves, drove down the coast to Cape Leeuwin to see the lighthouse, the most south westerly point of mainland Australia where the southern and Indian collide. Booking on a tour so we could go into the still working light house, we picked up our Audio Guide and explored the living quarters around the lighthouse, while waiting for our tour to start. The audio tour was really good and filled in some of the history before we started our tour. Just as the audio tour was finishing our guide called us over to start our lighthouse tour. This was fantastic, getting to understand the workings of the lighthouse and it’s amazing engineering before going to the top to see the views and getting nearly blown off by the gale force winds.

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Back down the spiral staircase and it was now time to explore the Margaret River Region. This is where all WA’s food, wine, beer and cider comes from, an area full of vineyards and farms. The best part of this area is that all the factories and cellar doors are open to the public often having free tasters on offer. Of course we made a stop at the two chocolate workshops and couldn’t miss the Cullen Vineyard, where Nick got to taste lots of wine, while I just got to have a sniff.

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Due to being more north and in-land the temperature had started to increase so we treated ourselves to a pub lunch in Cheeky Monkey’s beer garden. Bellies full, we drove further north to Dunsborough discovering yet another a beautiful beach, Yallingup of Beach, and regretted not having our beachwear.

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That evening after dinner we yet again did a small drive out to a local beach to get in a sunset view.

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Our last day and after a hunt around town for somewhere open to get milk, we checked out of the YHA Augusta. Taking advantage of the sun we grabbed our beach stuff and drove back to Yallingup of Beach for a few hours of sunshine and swimming.

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On our way back to Perth we stopped off at Rockingham which we regretted as it felt a little more like a seaside town in Britain and again being there late afternoon everything was closed or closing.

That evening was spent back at the now Christmassy Jefferson residence for chilled out night. After a huge breakfast and emotional goodbyes it was off to North Perth to stay with the Holans.

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Posted by Nick-n-Charlie 16:00 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

Perth, WA, Australia

At home with the Jefferson's

sunny 24 °C
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Singapore airport was amazing, it had TV area’s, a 3D experience, free Wi-Fi, free internet PC’s, an indoor garden and a children's wax rubbings area! Brilliant for entertaining us for a few hours before our 5 hour Tiger Airways flight to Perth.

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The flight was the usual budget airline deal but we enjoyed an amazing sunset too.

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We arrived 21:00 and were greeted by Milly, Nick’s cousin, who we haven’t seen for a year. It was so lovely to see her and very kind of her to pick us up that late. Once at Milly, Andy and Baby Finn’s house we were given a warm welcome instantly feeling at home. While snacking on nibbles we caught up until we all realised we were extremely tired, although Milly and Andy had the excuse of work and chasing after a 17 month old.

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After a great nights sleep, Milly kindly dropped us off at Fremantle for the day, while they were at work. Fremantle is a lovely seaside/port town with lots of the old buildings from when the town was founded in 1829. The weather though was freezing, ok, so it was 22 degrees but after being used to 30’s this now seemed cold to us and it had started to rain. Deciding to shelter from the rain we made our first stop the Fremantle Gaol (Prison). For AU$19 (£10) each, we took a brilliant tour of the prison with our funny and knowledgeable guide. We were surprised to see the very basic conditions of prison life and liken it to some of the concentration camps we have seen and so were even more surprised to find this was still used until 1991!

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After an overpriced coffee stop we visited the sights; the Roundhouse, a photography gallery, the covered markets, the port and finally stopped for lunch at Sail and Anchor. We then windowed shopped at many the lovely, quirky and creative shops, making sure we stopped at the Tin Tin shop, although we couldn’t afford anything. Stopping for another expensive coffee, (these will have to stop in Perth) we finished our drinks just in time for Andy to pick us up, on his way back from work.

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Once back at Andy and Milly’s we introduced ourselves to Finn who wasn’t even crawling last time we saw him. Finn decided we were ok and we played lots of games until it was time for him to go to bed and us to have dinner, enjoying a few beers too.

The next morning while Milly and Andy took Finn to a Christmas party we went round the Kings Park, a huge park in Perth City. The weather was still cold, but this time we had dressed correctly and had our umbrella ready for the rain, which it did a lot. The park is massive with lots to do and as usual we crammed in as much as we could, going over the Millennium bridge, visiting the water garden and women memorial before racing each other up the DNA structure (a set of stair cases twisted like a double helix) and finally sitting down to take in the river and cityscape.

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Andy, Milly and Finn picked us up later that afternoon in the now warm sunshine and took us to Swan Valley. This is a wine region where you can go from vineyard to brewery to vineyard having free tasters. We opted for some free coffee and chocolate tasting (they have a huge bowl full of small white, milk and dark chocolate buttons which you could help yourself to, with a spoon!!!), before going to lunch at a lovely pub and having more tasters, but of ales this time. Which Andy and Milly very kindly treated us to, thank you! It was then time for a bit of chase and an attempt at distraction with Finn who had wanted to take another child's ball. By now Finn was wiped out from all the fun, so it was back home for a bath and bed (for Finn not us).

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Being our rubbish indecisive self we had decided last minute to hire a car and follow in Susie and Hughie’s footsteps to go to Albany and Margret River. Again Milly kindly dropped us off in Perth City so we could see what deals we could find. Finding a car for a week at only AU$42 (£32) a day we booked it for a Monday morning pick up and headed off to see the city.

Perth is quiet a small city and very easy to walk round, but if you can’t be bothered or are in a rush you can take one of the 3 free cat buses running loops of the town centre. The city is a melting pot of different architectural styles with everything from very British Victorian structures to modern glass skyscrapers and everything in between, somehow living in harmony and making the city the exciting place it is.

We of course did the free activities visiting the beautiful churches, London Court shopping lane, seeing the very still Kangaroo's and the art gallery. The it was a quick stop at Woolies (Supermarket) to get supplies for our picnic in the Supreme Court Gardens.

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This time the weather was glorious and in it’s late 20’s, so Nick decided he would like to go back to Kings park to get better pictures. So after a quick stop at the Bell Tower (a tower with 18 bells, twelve of which were cast from the bells of St Martin-in-the-Fields and are one of the few sets of royal bells to have left England) we did a 2.5 mile walk to Kings Park, going up Jacobs Ladder on route (a steep set of stairs that people run up and down for exercise, crazy!).

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Our last morning with the Jefferson family and we headed into Perth using bus and train (only AU$4.20, £2.30 ) to pick up the car and start our 4 night holiday South of Perth.

Posted by Nick-n-Charlie 16:00 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

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