Firstly, a happy new year to all, I hope you’ve all had a great Christmas holiday. We certainly have here in Oz.
We flew in to Melbourne after a long, horrible budget flight down from Japan. I have to admit I didn’t particularly want to come to Australia, I’ve been here before and I wasn’t all that impressed. However, Mitch hadn’t been and wanted to see what it was all about, so I decided to be selfless!
I was already regretting our decision on the flight, when I had a small disagreement with some young Aussies sitting behind me, who continually bashed my seat. After asking them politely to stop, and then hearing them slagging me off to their friend, I asked them, “To excuse me as I had been in Japan for a while, a country where people are respectful and polite, I just wasn’t used to being around rude, inconsiderate heathens. But, I guess it was to be expected as I was traveling to Australia”. Oh dear, not a good start!
Don’t worry things improved and my mind has been changed, I bloody love Australia, we’ve both even said we could live here! Melbourne was a fantastic city, we loved it, which was funny as Mitch sent a text next to a photo of him in the Pit Lane on Melbourne’s F1 track, titled ‘Melbourne, it’s the pits!’ his parents quite literally thought it was, and informed my parents we really didn’t like Melbourne it was the Pits! Mean Mitch never corrected them!
It’s a city with lots to offer, firstly and most importantly good wine, which we’ve waited a long time for……..I don’t think we’ve stopped drinking since we got here! Well, it has been Christmas! It’s a small cosmopolitan city, with nice Victorian, tree lined suburbs, a sweeping coast line, lovely parks, great restaurants and a fantastic climate, (well it was when we were there) what else could one need? Oh, perhaps in under 2 hours you can drive to vineyards, beautiful countryside, winter skiing, or have a relaxing drive down the Great Ocean Road to see wild Koalas. Well, that was our week and it was good.
We had to leave lovely Melbourne and began our road trip to Sydney. Unfortunately, due to time constraints we couldn’t drive up the coast route, so instead went on the long and rather boring Hume Highway, 900 kilometres of straight road across the inland hills. But, don’t feel too sorry for us, we did have a few days break from the driving in a peaceful vineyard.
We sunned ourselves while watching Galahs and many other weird and wonderful birds from our terrace and sampled what the vineyard had to offer. We had to do a bit of wine tasting, to buy some bottles for Christmas, as my parents were joining us, we needed to stock up! Another hard job, but someone’s got to do it! Freda also did a little tasting of her own.
We arrived in Sydney a few days before Christmas, staying on the northern beaches in a little place called Mona Vale. The apartment backed right onto the beach, in a lovely quiet residence.
The next day, I went to pick up my parents from the airport. Needless to say they were pretty tired, and I think slightly dreading the fact that I was taking them back to a small apartment, with a frenzied Freda waiting. She had been counting down the days to their arrival for months. My parents had a day to rest up before Christmas day!
It was a bit odd, being in the sun and on the beach for Christmas. People here don’t really go in for all the decorations and stuff, so it didn’t feel very Christmassy. So, to help things along a bit, we had turkey, Christmas crackers and Christmas pudding. But, it’s really not to be sniffed at, a morning swim in the sea and a laze on the beach, was a perfect way to spend Christmas. Freda was very pleased with her presents from Father Christmas,
and anyone with a good memory may recall that, in Japan, Freda lost some of her prized toys, the dogs, guess who managed to find them and bring them all the way from the north pole? She was over the moon, welcome back Jazz and Salsa and our new arrivals Shelly, Paris and the Doodle twins.
Sydney surprised me too, as last time I only spent time in central Sydney, so I missed the best bits. Obviously this time we had a trip into Sydney itself and got the boat from Manly into the harbour. It is quite a sight, as the ferry turns into Sydney Harbour and you see the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House for the first time.
We also managed to meet up with my second cousins, Ben and Pippa, and their lovely families…….Freda was very happy to have lots of children to play with, 6 boys between the two of them, very impressive.
The rest of the days were spent on Mona Vale beach, and the millions of surrounding beaches.
We left Sydney and went up to the Blue Mountains, where we stayed on a vineyard with the most amazing views. Surprised that we didn’t want to spend New Year with the hordes in Sydney? Personally, I wouldn’t swap natures fireworks for anything. We had the most spectacular view in front of us, beautiful food and good company. It was definitely one to remember.
We did have a bit of a wobble, and some of us nearly didn’t get to see 2017, when we decided to take a walk down to the river! The problem was that the river was a 2 hour walk, up and over lots of hills. Dad had the best idea and turned back after half and hour, the rest of us soldiered on, as Freda wanted a dip in the river. The temperature started to soar above 40 degrees……Mitch kept advising us to turn around, but we marched forth. We made it to the river and had a nice dip, Mitch had to be forced to swim as he was too scared of crocs and snakes lurking beneath.
The problems really started though, when we commenced the long, hot walk back with hardly any water. I hear you, fools! Freda needed to be carried, and Mum started to feel sick and dizzy and was in a bit of trouble. In the end I was very heroic, I realised there was little hope of mum making it back alive, I had to make the call, we either had to leave her behind or go find help. A little whimpering voice came from mum, “please don’t leave me here”, just before Freda then started trying to prize a sweet out of her mouth, shouting at her “open it, open it”…..(at first we thought she was trying to give her a kiss, in her hour of need). However, some hikers had passed by previously and kindly gave us their emergency supply of water and the sweets for mum. After witnessing this sorry scene I decided it was time for me to go forth, in the blistering heat, with no water, braving snakes and deadly spiders, to seek help from my very sensible dad. As I was climbing the last hill, I pictured myself being found, hours later, lying face down in sheeps poo, as the sheep watched me, laughing from under the shade of their tree. I made it back, gasping for water, and we got in the car to rescue the rest of the family, stopping at nothing to save them, all very exciting. Later it all seemed like a bad dream when we were sitting in the hot tub with a glass of fizz and a great view of the Blue Mountains.
The Blue Mountains are stunning, I have a feeling that a lot of people head to the one tourist vista to see the 3 Sisters and then get back to town, missing the serenity and beauty of millions of eucalyptus trees, fantastic sunsets with kangaroos hopping past in the distance, what could be more Australian mate. We loved it. Oh, another highlight for me was when my mum, on New Year’s Eve, instead of drinking a glass of water, picked up a glass with a tea light in it that had just gone out. Instead of water, mum slugged a whole mouthful of wax, it was quite a sight. I wonder if she is the first person to ever have done this, we keep wax out of reach now!
With sad faces we went back to Sydney for our last 2 days in Oz. Staying this time in the southern beaches, in a place called Maroubra. I’d describe it as the Streatham of Sydney, a little rough around the edges but with a fabulous beach so maybe slightly trumps (woooops dirty word) Streatham. We spent a day walking from Bondi beach back to Maroubra, a fantastic cliff top walk, stopping at beaches along the way and gazing in wonder at the relaxed paced life the Sydney folk live.
So, I’m an Australia convert, together with my dad who also wasn’t so keen. And not just the county, but the people, I’ve come a long way from the flight in. Tell me where in England would you meet people in your apartment block, who on the same day they lend you their car, invite you to their bbq as well and it just feels as though you’ve been friends for a lifetime? It happened, I love the Aussies honest and open approach to life. So, we’ve had a great time, it’s been a good start to the long and winding road we have yet to travel with my parents! On to New Zealand. But hopefully we may be back ; )