Australia Done.

March 15th, 2007

Well, i’m done with Australia. Whew. It was a nonstop month-long adventure. I saw many beautiful cities, beaches, mountains, deserts, kangaroos, koalas, birds, beers, and backpackers. A great trip, i spent more and stayed longer than originally planned, really enjoyed kickin’ it with my peeps from Cali, and met more people not from Australia than from Australia (backpacker way). I will not go into detail every day like I did for New Zealand, just give the broad strokes. I have over 1500 pictures that i’m still sorting through, i expect to post several hundred of them onto flickr within a week.

As mentioned earlier, I started off in sydney, meeting a few friends from the bay area – Damian, Juan, and Ramon. Next we flew to Brisbane, where we had a few pints before meeting Sarah and Steph. Not just any pints – a few pints of Kilkenny, a smooth, creamy, Guiness-like beer only not as dark. You can’t find it in the US, but you can in Europe, Hong Kong, and apparently Australia. Mmmm… After meeting the girls, we hopped on the greyhound bus to Hervey Bay for our Fraser Island experience.

We rented a 4WD Land Rover for Fraser Island – all 6 of us and our stuff squeezed in very comfortably (yeah, right). I did the most of the driving – it was fun driving on the wrong side of the road, especially on the sand once we got on the island. The beach on the east coast of the island had a 100kph speed limit (60mph). Cruisin’ down the beach was saweeeet. I did have to share my road with planes – yes, airplanes land on the beach. Why wouldn’t they? The Shipwreck Maheno was cool, the view from Indian Head was stunning (you must see all my pics), but my favorite on Fraser Island was Lake McKenzie. It was unbelievably beautiful. Fresh blue water, blinding white sand, green trees and plenty of relaxing vibes.

After Fraser we took the greyhound back to Brisbane for one night before heading to Melbourne. Our last night in Brisbane was fun – we had a few drinks at the bar/hostel we were staying in – tinbilly. We even made up a cool game – guess what the next song will be. you pay a buck for a guess, you get as many guesses as you want, and if you win you take the pot. And if you’re the first to identify 2 songs in a row, you get to add a guess. Fun, eh?

We arrived in Melbourne on Sunday, Feb 25, checked into our hotel, Rendezvous, and started walking around. Melbourne is almost as big as Sydney, but seems a bit less busy. They have lots of random art, cool people watching, but one of our more interesting moments included an ice bar – that’s right, a bar where the inside is made out of ice. It was sooo cool. heh. The black cat in Fitzroy was another cool bar. I also give props to the bars and restaurants in St. Kilda – so now you know where to drink. But St. Kilda also had penguins – we saw one on the pier. We saw more penguins on Philip Island, a few hours from Melbourne. Our trip down there also passed through a kangaroo farm and a nice beach.

Wednesday we left Melbourne for Hobart. Hobart? yes, Hobart, in the bustling state of Tasmania. This was the smallest city on our tour, about 120,000 peeps, and the second oldest city in Australia. Its famous for Port Arthur, where prisoners from the UK were sent from 1830 to 1856. Before 1856, Tasmania was called Van Dieman’s Land, and it received more prisoners from UK than anywhere else. We spent one of our 2 cloudy days at Port Arthur. The other day was at the Cascade Brewery – Australia’s oldest Brewery (1824). They had tours of the brewery, but it was booked up, so we just enjoyed fresh beer and lunch there. My favorite was the Blond beer.

Friday we flew back to Sydney to have a bit o’ fun before the boys head back to California. We squeezed into this hotel/apartment place called the Macleay. I loved that they had internet in the room, plus a nice view from our room. Friday night we got our drink on – first at the Fountain cafe – where its 2 for 1 beers from like 4 to 6pm. Then on to more bars and dance clubs around oxford street. We slept in pretty late saturday, but made it out before sunset for snacks before the mardi gras parade. The parade was huge, several hundred thousand people were out watching it, and it lasted a couple hours before took over the streets. Only juan and i made it to the end (it did get boring), but then juan and i had fun bar hopping before heading to this cool bar in kings cross called Melt. A/C, Good DJs, and a nice dancefloor. Brilliant. Kebabs and bed. Sunday the four of us had a big brekky before they had to fly home. I love me a big brekky – eggs, bacon, sasausage, beans, tomato, mushrooms, and toast. Altho their bacon sux – they need to learn american bacon.

Later sunday i met up with Sarah and we headed out of Sydney to the blue mountains. We stayed in the Katoomba YHA sunday night – it was super nice – and did a bit of hiking monday. Our hiking included ridge walking, rainforest walking, and leeches. Yes, i had 2 leeches on my foot and Sarah had one. Looking back on it, it was funny how we both freaked out .. i got them off of us using a stick – it wasn’t too hard. Sarah’s leech was huge compared to mine, and i eventually squished it, but it didn’t die. It just squirted out all its blood but then crawled away. Ooooewww!

Monday night we stayed in Sydney, had a couple pints of Kilkenny (mmmm…), then got up early tuesday for our flight to Alice Springs.  We booked a 6 day outback adventure tour from the middle of australia down to Adelaide on the coast.  You can read more about that in the my Australia Outback entry.