So here's Part 2 of the blog...
After picking up our car we drove into Melbourne. What a mistake that was! We got caught in rush hour traffic and spent 3 hours trying to find a motel for the night that we didn't need to take out a loan to pay for! They were charging ridiculous prices and after driving around the city a few times had enough and drove straight out. Our next stop was due to be Wilson's Promontory so we decided to head in that direction and find a motel on the way.
Well, 10 pm and in pitch black with the rain lashing down we still hadn't found anywhere. Every town we got to, everything was closed and so we seriously were beginning to think that we would be sleeping in the car. By chance we stumbled across a motel in the middle of nowhere and rang the bell in the hope that someone was awake. Luckily he was and we managed to get a room for the night. This place really was in the middle of nowhere, if you ask me now to point it out I wouldn't know where it is however our room was actually really nice. I even managed to watch the Man Utd game against Newcastle live in our room at 6 in the morning!!!
We continued towards Wilson's Prom which is a National Park only to find a sign on the way which said Wilson's Prom was closed. We were almost there when we saw this , so good of them to inform people well in advance. We later found out that this was because of a cathedral fire. We weren't really that disappointed as there are no shortage of parks in Oz. We simply changed our plan and headed to Croajingalong National Park.
Amazingly we managed to find a motel - which actually was a house for our stay. I'm not kidding, we had a huge kitchen, 2 bedrooms and even a garden! It was bigger than my flats in London put together! What made it even better was that the owners - a lovely old couple - were so friendly and gave us lots of tips about where to go. That night we bought a couple of pizzas and sat in front of the TV with wine to prepare ourselves for our adventure into the park the next day.
We woke up bright and early and headed to Genoa Peaks for a walk to the summit. The walk was around 90 mins to the top from the car park and in parts it was very steep. For the final part of the walk you have to climb up rocks and metal ladders to get to the very top but are then rewarded with the most stunning views. The peak is 490 meters above sea level and from their the view of the surrounding park and ocean is stunning. We were still on cloud number 9 and didn't really notice the 90 mins walk back to the car park. What was even more amazing was that during our entire 3 hour we didn't see anyone else, so we had the entire mountain to ourselves. We followed that up in the afternoon by driving to Shipwreck Creek which is a small secluded beach enclosed by cliffs on either side for a stroll and again we were entirely alone during the whole time we were there.
And after a very enjoyable few days in our huge house we headed towards Sydney on Saturday with a view to spend a few days at Jervis Bay. This area is full beaches and parks and as it was Saturday and the weather was beautiful we couldn't find anywhere to stay and so we continued up towards Sydney and stayed in a lovely motel along the way. By this time we had also decided that we wanted to go to the Hunter Valley (Australia's wine region) for a spot of wine and cheese before heading back to Sydney and so took a slight detour. This also meant that we could drive along Kangaroo Valley - which actually doesn't have any kangaroos - but is an amazingly beautiful drive through the mountains. All through the valley you come across little towns which really are stunning and you wish you had enough time to stay in each one - but unfortunately you just have to move on. We did make a quick stop at yet another national park, Fitzroy Falls, with yet another amazing waterfall and views. However, due to the dense fog we knew that we weren't going to see much, but were hoping that we might get a glimpse of the Lyrebird (if you haven't seen the clip on You Tube check it out it's amazing) or some Platypus - but in both cases we were disappointed.
Our disappointment didn't last long as we were soon in the Hunter Valley and looking forward to trying wine and cheese. There are so many wineries in the region that you could easily spend 3 - 4 days just going to all the different ones - we just spent a day and tried lots of wines, cheeses, chocolates etc and by about 4 pm were a little worse for wear...so in the evening we needed a lovely meal to enjoy with our lovely bottle of Merlot - and yes McDonalds it was!!!
By the time we returned to Sydney on Wednesday we had driven around 5,000 miles (jointly in our caravan and our car) and so I guess that our final real adventure in Australia was to do the Sydney Harbour bridge walk (across the top). I think once you actually do the walk and hear a guide talk about the bridge you realise what an amazing piece of engineering design it is. If you remember, I wasn't really that impressed with the bridge when I first saw it however I now have a lot more respect for it. The walk itself is a little over-priced and the views are not really that much better than just walking across the bridge but I guess you can't come to Sydney and say that you didn't do it.
And so our Australia adventure came to an end yesterday when we arrived in Auckland. To be honest I think we both fell in love with Australia. Not so much the cities but once you get out of them it really is a beautiful country. I swam with turtles in the Great Barrier Reef, watched crocodiles in the wild, walked on numerous secluded beaches, drove along some of the most scenic roads, saw amazing sunsets, walked along the top of the Sydney harbour bridge, climbed a mountain and even spent a night in the rainforest - and still I have only seen a small percentage of this amazing place. It's no wonder people come here for a holiday and end up staying forever.