Usually when you have a cash flow problem and attempt to book into a hostel they'll throw you out faster than Victoria will leave a restaurant that doesn't serve garlic bread. In Coffs Harbour, however, the Plantation Hotel will allow you to stay for free on the condition that you go and watch the Vanilla Ice gig in their downstairs club. Yes, we saw the real Vanilla Ice, legend of such hits as Ice Ice Baby and...erm...the Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles soundtrack. Wearing our caps 'flip-side' we watched as Mr Ice didn't disappoint the crowd by not staying on stage for too long. Perhaps he was in a rush to get down to the Big Banana.
According to Miss Barnes, the Big Banana wasn't that big; maybe she likes her bananas even longer than 11 metres. Luckily it did resemble the fruit so it didn't fail on all counts. The Big Banana is the most famous of an Aussie folly whereby large sculptures of anything from ants to Vanilla Ice's ego have been sporadically placed at roadsides all over the country; these are cunningly called 'Big Things'. The Coffs banana has rapidly expanded from its humble origin as a motorway rest stop into a minor theme park. Aside from having your photo taken next to a big fruit (like meeting Dale Winton) you can go sky luging (see old NZ blogs for explanation and hilarious photos of Pat) or see an audio-visual 'World of Bananas' presentation. The highlight is the gift shop which sells everything you could ever think of in relation to everyone's favourite phallic foodstuff. Fans of the filthy cucumber are not welcome here.
A diet rich in potassium and the comedy value of huge bananas makes the Coffs locals the happiest and friendliest folks in Australia. Either that or the bananas are just a cover up for a huge marajuana operation. There is a Dutch influence in town given that the second biggest attraction is The Clog Barn, which naturally features a large pair of clogs. Whatever the reason, the friendliness made Coffs an excellent spot to spend New Years Eve and drunkenly watch fireworks over the harbour jetty.
At the weekend we had to split* from Coffs and return to Sydney, where apparently they have a big c*** somewhere. Seedy Kings Cross - where some of the adult shops look remarkably like the Big Banana gift shop - has been our base for our final days of sight seeing before flying to Mumbai. The Sydney Festival first night was a riot of noise, colour and gay weddings. We danced to some jazz in Hyde Park and a 'rave' in Martin Place, but our favourite item was the Airvag; a display of several inflatable, neon lit horns which flooded the streets and sky with confetti. I'm not entirely sure what an 'Airvag' is, but I'm sure you can get one for a reasonable price in a Kings Cross alleyway.
After all that Airvagging, we've spent time chilling out on Bondi and Manly beaches. We also ventured down to the botanical garden; here visitors are rewarded with arguably the most absorbing cityscape in the world including both Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. The bats hanging from the trees in the centre of the gardens were unexpected (nobody ever expects bats). Talking of bats, the Aussie and Indian cricket teams will probably be hitting each other round the head with them after race claims sparked a political war. It's big news in Australia, even bigger news in India.
No more ringing Quantas and changing our flights; we're leaving the land of beetroot in burgers, ad breaks during Neighbours and Airvags (what the hell's an Airvag?) and should be in Mumbai tomorrow night, providing they let Aussie planes in.
Probably won't blog again until we've managed to find some garlic naan.
Catch you in India,
Love Victoria and Tom xxx