A Travellerspoint blog

Lazy beach days

sunny 30 °C

So for the past two days it has been hot, sunny and glorious so I have had the days on the beach.

Yesterday was a trip to the beautiful Manly. This area is on the other side of Sydney, across the water and the best way to get there is via the ferry, regularly run by the Transport for Sydney people (the same ones that run the excellent trains and buses) and I got on the 10am ferry for the 30 minute trip over to Manly.

After a very smooth crossing with gorgeous views I arrived in Manly and it was a short walk down to the long sweeping beach with clear blue waters. There were signs warning of the currents and also that there had been a shark sighting earlier in the morning! Despite this I went for a swim in the surprisingly cold sea and I am still here to tell you all about it. I stayed on the main beach until lunchtime but after a sandwich I moved around the corner to Shelly Beach, stopping on the way at a couple of coves for snorkeling. This part of the beach is an aquatic reserve and I was able to see all manner of sea critters, in particular I got to see a large eastern blue grouper and several other smaller groupers. On the walk round to Shelley Beach there were a couple of water dragons to see as well.

There I stayed for the rest of the afternoon until the heat got a bit too much and I went for a short walk to Little Manly Point. This is where an old gas works was but this has now all been demolished and a nice park is now in its place, before getting dinner of king prawns cooked in garlic then the ferry back to Circular Quay where I was able to get some nice photos of the Harbour Bridge at sunset.

Today the sun was out in full force again and I was off to the very famous Bondi Beach and also to complete the walk from Bondi to Coogee. A short train ride to Bondi Junction and a bus down to the beautiful beach, this one being larger than the one at Manly but with the same stunning blue water and warning signs of currents. As I wanted to get started on the walk to Coogee I only paddled in the sea then started my walk along the coast path.

The walk took me along some really stunning views, both of the sea and rock formations, together with those ever present brightly coloured flowers. At places I was able to clamber down the rocks to go rock pooling where I was able to find crabs, fish, starfish, oysters and sea anemones, all in minature! I stopped for a swim at the gorgeous Tamarama beach and was able to first hand witness the huge waves that the surfers make use of and also the strength of the current, as it pulls back against my legs. Once rested, I carried on along the path past Waverley Cemetry, Clovelly and Gordons Bay.

By this point I was really beginning to notice the heat and that I was getting quite hungry! Keeping hydrated is not a problem around Sydney as there are water fountains everywhere but I gave myself the goal of getting to Coogee before getting something to eat. Although I passed a couple of other beaches I didn't stop, but I was able to see one thing that I hoped I wouldn't, large spiders!!!! There were a number of them but they were all at a distance and happy on their webs so no threat!

I reached Coogee and went in search of lunch. I decided on a restaurant on the seafront and opted for a Souvlaki Special, described on the menu as three pieces of skewered chicken, chips, pitta, salad and some dips. So I was expecting three small pieces of chicken on a skewer, a few chips, a couple of lettuce leaves, slice of pitta and dips. What I got was a huge mound of food, 3 seperate skewers, a large greek salad complete with olives and feta, more chips than I could eat and a full pitta bread sliced up. It was utterly delicious and the best meal I have had so far on my travels. Needless to say I have not needed to eat for the rest of the day!

My evening finished with a quick trip into Circular Quay after dark to see both the Harbour Bridge and Opera House all lit up, together with a cocktail from the outside opera bar. Tomorrow the weather is due to get a little cooler so I am off to the Blue Mountains, which requires an early start for the 2 hour train trip but I am looking forward to seeing a different side to this area of Oz.

Posted by FranRobinson 05:11 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Exploring this superb city

semi-overcast 25 °C

This morning I woke to cloudy skies and once up I set off for a bit more of an explore of the city. First stop was to The Rocks area, a few stops up the train line. The train system in Sydney is very good with clean, frequently running trains which are double decker so never too crowded. Even the seat backs move so that you can face the direction of travel, a great idea! I needed to pop to the shops as I was looking for a waterproof pouch that I could store mynphone etc in when I went swimming, but to my increasing frustration nowhere seemed to have anything and the people in the shops were not being very helpful, I must have visited every outdoor shop in Central Sydney! A replenishing coffee and cake later and I decided to leave the shops behind and walk across the Harbour Bridge.

I got a whole different perspective on this amazing feat of engineering while walking across, there is an option to walk up one of the pylons but this was not for me, even at the height of the roadway you realise the bridge is really quite high. Once on the other side of the bridge I walked along the harbour side, taking in Luna Park, some very colourful plants and flowers and beautiful residential areas with some very modern houses mixed in with some pretty, smaller, older houses. Even the clouds had started to break a little giving way to some sunshine.

Once I reached McMahons Point I caught the ferry across to Darling Harbour, the ferries are also run very well, are quite cheap and efficient. Once at Darling Harbour I was aware of big black clouds and within a matter of minutes of stepping off the ferry there was a thunderstorm - the weather really couldn't make its mind up today! However, Sydney has thunderstorms I like, they last about 5 minutes then the sun is back out and the pavements are drying in a matter of minutes, they also help to calm the humidity. I walked round Darling Harbour and Cockle Bay looking at all the lovely restaurants, most offering fresh fish on the menu and onto Barangaroo.

Barangaroo looks like the edge of the financial district but there also is a lot of regeneration in the area. It was strange to see squat little buildings from the 1800's bang up against skyscrapers. It does look like the older buildings are being left though so it is quite nice to see the contrast. Once I had walked round the headland of Barangaroo I had that great view of the bridge again and I continued walking round through an old wharf which had already been regenerated into smart apartments and restaurants. Again they had left a large amount of the old wharf equipment in place and it was great to look at some of the old machinery. So much of this has been lost in the UK and it was lovely to see how it has been incorporated here.

As I started to head back to Circular Quay it started to rain a little again so I took shelter under the bridge at Dawsons Point Park. In the distance, just behind the Opera House there was a thunderstorm and I took a moment to watch the lighting fork into the Harbour. Heading onto Circular Quay, the sun was back out so I decided to walk into the Botanic Gardens and read my Kindle for a while before heading back to where I am staying.

I have learnt today that despite the weather being very changeable there is still tons of things to find in Sydney, very different to Melbourne! Tomorrow the weather is due to be a bit more sunny so I am hoping to head to Manly Beach and some sea swimming and snorkeling.

Posted by FranRobinson 03:29 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Sunny Sydney

sunny 30 °C

I had my last day in Melbourne yesterday and having checked out of the apartment I was staying in and bags safely stored at Southern Cross station I took myself off to St Kilda, there is sweeping 5km beach with a lovely bustling end with restaurants, pier and the famous Luna Park. A walk along the pier was rewarded with seeing a little penguin hiding between the rocks ( they live in St Kilda too! ) and some rosella parrots up in the trees.

Although I have enjoyed my time in Melbourne I have to confess in not finding the city quite to my taste. This changed a little when I went to St Kilda and as I walked through the area of shops I decided to have lunch and had a delicious slow cooked pulled lamb burger - one of the best burgers I've ever had!

I then took advantage of the trams to get back to Southern Cross station to pick up my coach to Sydney and wave a fond farewell to Melbourne. I was booked on the 10pm Greyhound coach and with a 12 hour journey ahead I was well prepared with neck cushion, eyemask, earplugs and blanket. The coach was surprising comfortable with lots of legroom and reclining seats and I was able to get quite a bit of sleep. After 9 hours a change of driver at Canberra and another 3 hours onto Sydney, it was clear that the weather was much better here with not a cloud to be seen and warm sunshine at 9am. We arrived bang on 10am at Sydney Central station - how I would like to say that about the trains in the UK!

One stop on the railway and I was at the apartment that I am staying in while here. This apartment is beautiful and spotless, the host friendly and helpful - Airbnb really is a very good idea. After a cup of coffee I decided to venture out to the Botanic Gardens and my host told me the best way of getting there also taking in a couple of other parks on the way. The area I'm staying in is fairly quiet with some lovely architecture and once at the first park I took some photos of Ibis ( strange looking birds ), thinking there wouldn't be many. As I ventured further into central Sydney it was clear that they are everywhere!

After a delicious brunch of coffee and eggs benedict I then moved onto the larger parks, taking in the war memorial and spotting more ibis and rosella parrots. I then headed into the Botanic Gardens, these are beautiful, on a par with the Singapore gardens, with numerous colourful flowers, trees and wildlife, including eels and fish in the pond and wild sulphur crested cockatoos.

The Botanic Gardens end at the harbour and under gorgeous clear blue skies and sunshine I was rewarded with seeing the very famous Opera House and Harbour bridge. Obligatory photos taken I moved round to the Circular Quay and over a pint of cider, and a view of the Harbour Bridge I watched the boats go to and fro to Manly.

A quick wander round The Rocks market and with sore feet I decided I needed a salad for dinner to try and be healthy and headed back to the apartment. This evening I have spent reading my Kindle on the balcony while the sun went down and I listened to the frogs!

I find it quite unbelievable I am here seeing all of this wonderful stuff. I would urge anyone to get an opportunity to come out, it's amazing!

Posted by FranRobinson 03:19 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Land of Kangaroos, Koalas and Penguins

rain

So I have just completed two days of trips out of Melbourne where I have been lucky to see yet more amazing wildlife. Sadly the weather has not been all that good but what I have seen has been great.

Yesterday was a trip to Phillip Island, famous for its colony of little penguins. The trip was run by Bunyip and very well run, there was a fairly long drive to Churchill Island first, a smaller island off Phillip Island which is set up as a heritage centre showing life as it was when the first settlers came over. This was a bit touristy and with the weather dull I retreated for a coffee and slice of chocolate cake in the cafe which was delicious. The island was nice to see a number of waterfowl, namely cape barren geese, ibis and plovers.

Next was onto the Koala Conservation Centre where the koalas are rehabilitated but allowed to roam free and a number were seen, together with one that was awake (quite rare!) and enjoying some eucalyptus. No matter how many I see they are still very cute! Next on the list was a beach trip and finally the sun was peeking through. This beach was the beautiful Woolami beach and with not many tourists and a stunning long beach it was a lovely sight.

After this we moved onto Nobbies - an area of countryside and sea set aside just for seabirds, penguins and lots of wallabies. This is where the famous penguin parade takes place, but as this only takes place after sunset we had some time to wander round the boardwalk, trying to spot the baby penguins in the burrows and numerous different types of seabirds, including some birds of prey. As it started to get dark it was down to the beach to wait for the penguins.

It is clear that the authorities have the penguins welfare at heart. There are lots of rangers telling people where they can and can't sit, photography was absolutely not to be used and specific areas had been roped off. The penguins are wild and come in from their days fishing to head for their burrows. As it was dark it is difficult to intially see the penguins waddle in from the sea but then you spot the white bellies moving and large groups of little penguins come up past people squawking as they go! After this it was back to Melbourne and a late night about midnight.

Today I woke to pouring rain which did not let up for most of the day. I was off to Wilsons Prom today, the southernmost tip of mainland Australia and the start was a long 3 hour drive, although on the way we saw a number of wallabies grazing on the side of the road. Once there the rain eased a little for a short wildlife walk where wild kangaroos, black cockatoos and an emu were seen.

The next stop was a walk up Mount Bishop but the rain had got much heavier again and I got soaked, although the view at the top was impressive. A walk back down and a cup of coffee gave a chance for the rain to ease a little again and some sightings of parrots and a kookaburra up in a tree. A quick trip to Squeaky Beach to end the day before the drive back, a very pretty little beach with some amazing rock formations, white sand, a chance for a quick paddle and a sighting of an Albatross.

Although the weather has not been good the past couple of days I have still been very lucky to see some great wildlife. Tomorrow night I move up to Sydney and I am hoping for better weather and more lovely walks.

Posted by FranRobinson 04:21 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

The Great Ocean Road

sunny 31 °C

An early start this morning as this was the first of one of my booked excursions. This was along the Great Ocean Road with a company called A tour with a difference, they turned out to be very good and I would highly recommend them.

We headed out to bells beach about 40 minutes from Melbourne and the beginning of the GOR. The weather was overcast and cooler than yesterday and that meant we got a nice surprise when we got there - wild kangaroos in the field opposite! Photos taken we then had a cup of coffee and some Australian delights of tim-tams and lamingtons before we were back on the road and down to another beach although the weather remained cool so no paddling!

Next stop was a small wooded area where a number of other tour buses had already arrived and it was soon clear why there was so much excitement, wild koalas in the trees and parrots that if you held food in your hand would come down to eat out your hand.

We got back on the GOR and continued driving, stopping at various stunning lookouts, eventually ending up in Apollo Bay for lunch. After lunch we went to head back onto the road but it was clear someone had been messing with the temperature gauge again as the weather had turned hot and sunny and the degrees were quickly climbing.

I was grateful then for the next area which took us more inland and was a really lovely walk through a cool temperate rainforest, there were not too many other tourists around, a refreshing smell of eucalyptus, cool air, lots of shade and stunning tall trees and tree ferns.

It was then an hours drive onto the most famous part of the day, starting with Gibson Steps, a long flight of steps leading down to a beautiful long sandy beach leading to the start of the Twelve Apostles. Then back on the road for the quick hop onto the rest of the Apostles. Worth noting there is no relevance to any religion here, nor link to any Apostles, these are tall rock stacks jutting out to the big blue ocean - but there isn't 12 of them either! There were also an awful lot of other tourists at this stop and I have to confess that the heat and the crowds were getting to me at this point.

The next stop was welcome relief then and in my opinion the prettiest beach of the day - Loch Ard Gorge. Made famous for a shipwreck for which the the beach is named after where the only two survivors came ashore and clambered out (before they had steps). This lovely beach didn't have so many crowds and a beautiful jade-coloured calm inlet sea.

Finally we moved on to dinner at Port Campbell and a stop at London Bridge, no not a railway station but another rock formation that look a little like a bridge. It is seperated from the mainland but was once connected until one of the arches collapsed in 1990. Remind anyone of the nursery rhyme?

On the 2 hour drive back to Melbourne the day ended with a huge storm and lighting. It has been a fantastic day and wonderful to see more of this amazing country.

Posted by FranRobinson 03:32 Archived in Australia Comments (2)

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