So yes, it's been a bit manic, but we've found some fantastic places, all of which are fairly easily accessible from Sydney...
Jervis Bay and around-
Jervis Bay is around 200km down the coast from Sydney. You could hitch, we just bypassed it on our way down to Melbourne as we knew we were coming back.
Dan's parents, Rod and Janet, were kind enough to take us to stay in a house near Jervis Bay just after the wedding. This gave us a little time to explore Booderee National Park and even spot our first kangaroos.
Everybody keeps telling me that kangaroos are everywhere in Australia, but despite looking quite desperately, we hadn't yet managed to spot any. As with the koalas however, I was a little embarrassed by my initial excitement as we came across more and more over the next couple of days. If you're in the area and haven't had any luck yet, a sure place to find them is on the golf course at Sanctuary Point.
Being driven around in a hire car, it was pretty easy for us to find some of the nicest beaches, but if you don't
have that luxury, there are enough people around that it shouldn't be too hard to get a lift.
My personal favorite was Cave Beach. Being a little walk away from the carpark seems too weed out many of the area's less intrepid tourists, leaving us of the more robust variety to relax in peace, swim in the surf and on this occasion ponder the meaning of these aboriginal objects (any ideas?) standing in the sand.
of having to have the coastguards called out, then I'd rather Dan's parents weren't there to witness it.
Hyams Beach, recommended to us by Carmel, was a little less quiet than the others we found, but (according to the locals) it has the whitest sand on Earth. In fact, on an overcast day when the sky and sea are just as light as the sand, the whole effect is very surreal and you feel as if you are wandering around in some sort of blindingly bright dream.
|Hyams Beach- I had to shut out a lot of the light as my camera was also blinded!|
My main advise for visiting Hyams beach, other than trying not to go in holiday season, is to wear sunglasses as I'm pretty sure I've gained a wrinkle from the squinting.
A family Christmas in Sydney-
There were also a couple of nice traditions that I hadn't encountered before... firstly, and most excitingly for a poverty stricken vagabond like myself, was the distribution of scratchcards to everyone at the table. The rules are that if you win over $500 (I think) then you share it with the table, but anything less than that you keep. I WON $10!!! So yes, that was very exciting indeed. The other tradition, was to hide a set of fortune coins in everyone's Christmas pudding. Now, I've come across people who hide one coin before, but this set, with different pieces for things like 'marriage', 'wealth' and 'peace' make everyone at the table feel like they are the lucky one (Dan and I were happy to avoid the marriage coin- there have been enough comments since Ben and Bridget's wedding as it was!). They didn't set the pudding on fire, but then Australians aren't known for wasting their alcohol.
Exploring the city on Boxing Day- so much blue sky!
The Blue Mountains-
|The view from the Three Sisters lookout platform.|
|A shiny bug! :)|
|The endangered Blue Mountains Tree Gnome.|
Dan and I had one spare day before we had to fly out, so we set out 'early'**. A day isn't long enough to do the Blue Mountains justice, but we had a good (if a bit sweaty) time walking from the Three Sisters, down the Giant Steps (there's more than 800 of them), through the rainforest below and then up more steps the other side.
The Three Sisters lookout platform was absolutely rammed with tourists (it is holiday season after all), but as usual, the further we walked, the less people we found,so that seems to be the way to escape.
I'd imagine you'd have a much more peaceful time elsewhere in the Blue Mountains if you had longer to explore. It would also be a great place to hike and camp as there are plenty of trails and alternative places to explore.
The end of our time in Oz (for now)...
|An accidental but (I thought) rather artistic shot of the surf at Manly Beach. I'm sorry but my battery died soon after!|
Now, going a little stir crazy in Sydney airport (which has free wi-fi by the way), I'm tentatively considering how feasible hitchhiking around the whole of Australia would be. Next time I'm in the area...
*Dan's brother Ben was getting married to the lovely Bridget (hence the actual important reason behind our trip). Congratulations guys, your wedding was beautiful and I'm so happy I was able to be a part of it.
**Ok, I think it might have been more like 10.30am...