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Round the World Journey

Down Under

AUSTRALIA | Wednesday, 3 January 2018 | Views [260]

My fliget arrived in Melbourne in the morning.  The car hire company sent me an Uber to take me to the suburban business Park pick up. There is discovered that this booking had been cancelled. It was only later that I remembered that I had made a new booking with Hertz....The peril of working between yahoo and Gmail without a functioning pc. I had no cjoined but to takeep another uber the 20 or 30 km to my hotelin northern Melbourne but to my surprise it only cost $32. Mostlocal shops were closed but the tram was running all day and for free so I went downtown.  First impressions weRe good as I transversed a colourful and characterful city past parks, officI also buildings and shops. Starbucks and other places were stocked up so I wasn't going to starve over Christmas. I enjoyed a Christmas Eve service at Hillsong with a good preach by Brian Houston by vc.

Christmas was quiet - in any case I was a bit jetlagged and tired so all I recall is enjoying the warm sunshine in the beautiful botanical gardens which delighted with their subject tropical trresearch,  flora and fauna.

Boxing Day took me to the MCG for the test and I swelted as England toiled. Alistair Cook started a fightback on day 2 and completed it on Day 3 with a brilliant 244*. That was enough cricket for me so I hired a car the next day and drove over 700km along the Great Ocean Road which was magnificent. I particularly enjoyed seeing koalas, kangaroos and emus in the wild visiting a couple of parks and a River walk where parrots took food from your hand. The 12 Apostles rock formation was OK but I just enjoyed the whole coastline. 

I could have stayed longer but had only booked the car out for a day. A German and Dutch girl stopped me for a lift. They had the right idea - camping for a few nights 

 I washould sad to leave Melbourne but took in the National Gallery and botanical gardens again before I did. People were friendly and the city was far more cosmopolitan than I had imagined.

A NYE fliget got me to Sydney by 530 and this time there was a car on hand. I checked into the hotel, a pub, and headed down to the station to take a train to see the fireworks.  By the time I arrived most prime spots were already full but I found  a place close to the bridge. The kids fireworks kicked off around 8 and I had a good view. I met some English girls and had a good chat with an Australian lady who had lived in the UK. It was breezy but not cold so it was not much of a hardship to wait til midnight. Alas most of the view was obscured but I had seen enough and headed home.

On New Year itself is enjowed driving over to the Blue Mountains for wonderfully scenic views of canyons, for rests,  waterfalls and fields. Spectacular if 35 degrees hot. Ino the evening I met up with Eleanor Dearin for drinks overlooking the harbour at the Opera House.  Wonderful. It was good to catch up and find out how she was really adjusting. 

The following day I took a bus over to Featherstone wildlife sanctuary which was really little more than a zoo but I enjoyed seeing more koala, kangaroos,  wallabies, wombats and even a Tasmanian devil. 

Another day at the cricket, well 2 actually, and a day exploring Sydneys historic heart and Bondi beach before a farewell dinner with Elle and I was on my way to Hobart.  It was goodto see the Sydney Sixers at the airport and wish Jason Roy and Sam Billings well.  Hobarts old quarter reminded me of an English seaside town or even Surrey. It is a beautiful city and I enjoyed seeing Tassies unique fora in the botanical gardens and driving to the top of Mt Wellington to enjoy picturesque views. 8 also enjoyed the Big Bash even though Sam Billings narrowly avoided pulling of an amazing win. The only downside was being told that the single occupancy room i had booked was in fact shared. So I had to find an alternativein this busy town.

A drivrange up the coast took me to scenic Eagle Neck View and Port Arthur with its 1830s convict prison buildings casting a sad shadow over this beautiful bay made infamous by a mass shooting in 1996. I found a pleasant farm campsite and pitched my new tent for a good night's sleep despite a shower. At least I know it's water tight.

A longreat drive up the beautiful Great Eastern Road took me past stunning coastlines, hills and vineyards to Coles Bay where I found a slightly more cramped freally national park campsite.

I gave a little to an Austrian guy hitch hiking on the road the next day to the Bay of Fires on the E coast.  We stopped at a couple of places en route but I probably saw less than I would do normally. Binalong Bay was top drawer but the Bay of Fires most unspoIlt. Plenty of campsites but not even a cafe. I left my friend at the Bay and paid for a site with shower, tv and kitchen.

I half expected to see my friend next morning but no sight. It was 100 miles to Launceston but I stopped to enjoy Cascades waterfall, a dairy and various viewpoints including a tropical rainforest.  The ferns were massive,  very green and many orchids. I stopped for coffee half way where I met my Austrian friend. I gave him a lift to Launceston Tasmanias second town. My day was largely ruined however by a $70 finefor parking in the wrong direction which is apparently a state rule.  The threatened rain arrived so I decided to camp in the car.

I had a reasonable nights sleepin the car and the rain held off. First stop Platypus House where for $25 I could get close to these intriguing animals that are mammals but with reptile and bird features.  They are smaller than I thought but very endearing. 

The drive to Stanley was around 200 km but enjoyable thanks to the coastal and inland scenery.  Another day another campsite. This one overlooking a beautiful beach at Staney, the very tip of Tasmania. 

From Stanley south to the east coast and an overnight stay in a reserve on the coast close to Strahan. Due to rain however I slept in the car. The road to Cradle Mountain was beautiful and before stopping I tool in the northern walks where I spotted wombats who weren't fazed at all. The southern side the day after offered great viewsof the lake, a symbol of Tassie. I camped half way across on another  $5 campsite at Hamilton but was put off by noise and slight cold so again slept in the car. I enjoyed meeting at Christian guy with a heart for India and Nepal  and picked up a book abouthat Empart.org that captured me. One more night after viewing the Darkest Hour in Hobart at a campsite by the airport and it was time for a morning flight to Sydney and on to Auckland just in time to miss 30+ temperatures. Adieu Australia for the time being.


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