Touched down in Sydney 21st December to beautiful blue sky. Crammed into the shuttle bus like 'illegal's' we were on our way to the hotel known as Bounce. It was great, brand new, in the centre of town, huge roof terrace over looking the cbd of Sydney.
Our first day we walked the town to visit the major attractions you see on every postcard of Australia, namely the Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera house, which if you are interested, is much smaller than we imagined but impressive all the same. Once we had taken the standard tourist photo's it was back to the hotel for drinks. We like it here.
The following day we ventured to Darling harbour, which is the latest harbour to be developed and now has a shopping centre and literally hundreds of bars and cafes and the worlds largest cinema screen! The area is really nice and full of street performers some of which you may have seen in our photo's. It has been a bit of a theme on our trip since my 'homeless of the world' project came to an abrupt end in the U.S. Please check out the picture of the man dressed as horse, it doesn't look quite as lame in the photo but trust me it was bad, and to think this guy is competing with sword swallowing and fire eating.
Following the harbour we strolled through 'the rocks' the oldest part of Sydney. From there we hit the high street, which for a while now has been fairly pointless as neither of us have any room in our bags at all. Still it was nice to see the panic on the faces of the Christmas shoppers.
On the evening of the 23rd it was the hotels Christmas party. Free beer and $100 to the best fancy dress. The beer was welcomed with open arms, with people deciding the best way would be just to get a jug each rather than p**** footing around with pints. I'm not sure if it was lost in translation but the fancy dress 'competition' comprised of an Irish guy with a Santa hat and a Danish girl with a Christmas themed hair band. Who won I hear you cry. It was decided that they were both pretty rubbish and the prize would not be handed out this year, whether Halloween will be a double rollover I'm not sure.
It didn't stop us though, the Christmas spirit was alive, and with that and the best part of 10 pints we headed out. I do not have full recollection of what happened from there but we did wake up in the correct hotel and in the correct dorm beds and the photos found since incriminate nobody. Success.
With our lack of space i.e. no space for any presents we decided we would treat ourselves to a nice romantic meal in Darling harbour, we picked a really nice restaurant and enjoyed the fireworks over the harbour.
As with every other person in Sydney we decided Christmas day would be best spent burning on Bondi beach. Thousands of us, all there on Christmas day! Nothing really stops on the day here, buses run, shops and bars are all open, all felt a bit weird to be honest.
Boxing day or St Stephens day for our Irish readers, we headed to the Royal Randwick races, which was free entry although it might have well as been boxing day at leopardstown with the amount of Irish there.
I remember we questioned if we needed our sunglasses as we left, it turns out we did, it turned into a scorcher and of course we were there sans sun cream. My nose could have stopped traffic, it was so bright red that night. Edel on the champers we headed to place our bets. I won't bore you but we had many second places. One race to comment on was when a Dutch girl explained to Edel they don't have horse racing there, she showed Edel the horse she was thinking of betting on, a 14/1 shot with seemingly no chance. Edel told her any horse can win and she should go for it with me standing behind her smirking, knowing it had no chance. As sure as my nose would peel it romped home, winning doing handstands.
With Christmas out of the way we got our Greyhound bus ticket and headed up the coast. First stop Newcastle. A harbour town with good beaches. We visited Nobby's beach enjoyed an ice cream but couldn't go in the sea with the presence of 'stingers'.
Next stop Port Macquarie, another beach day working on our tans. Treated ourselves to a really nice hotel and ate amazing homemade hazelnut ice cream!
From there we headed to Coffs harbour, where we would be spending new years eve 2010. Spent the evening supping some bubbly on the beach watching the firework display and then onto a bar to bring in the new year.
On to Byron Bay, which we had been looking forward to and had got many good recommendations for, the weather was glorious and we headed, of course, to the beach. Whilst swimming I saw a woman miming, I assumed that she hadn't shaved her legs. Of course she wasn't she was miming that, she had just been stung by a blue bottle jellyfish and as this clicked in my little brain, I too was stung. Ouch! I ran up to mummy, I mean Edel, she said I should get some ice from the life guard. I did and it was all fine. That night we had a few drinks and a few bets, which you can do in the same place here. Even had a couple of winners, which of course you use to buy more drink.
Brisbane is a busy city with a man made lagoon beach on the river called Streets beach. Which is all I can really tell you, as for the next 2 days it rained and it rained morning to night. We did manage to sneak out to purchase our first box of 'Goon' for the hostels BBQ night! We know it simply as a box of wine. 4 litres with extra 10% free for 12 of your Australian dollars. The next day, armed with a headache that would open a pups eyes it was onto Noosa on what would be our last stop before the world famous Fraser island. We were told we were in Noosa, I say told as you couldn't actually see through the wall of rain. The day went something like this. Pub.Food.Cards. In the evening after secretly drinking the rest of our Goon or 'Gooning' as it will be known from here on in, I came second in a killer pool competition, I mention this only because I was robbed of victory not through my own doing but through that of an incompetent referee. I'm starting to doubt she even had, whatever the pool equivalent of the Fifa license is. We played a lot of pool that night and drank Strongbow, lots of it. The next day Edel woke feeling fine, why then I ask did I awake with a carpet sample instead of tongue, a bass drum where my brain should be and absolutely no colour in my lips or the rest of my face for that matter. I think the barmaid over served me drinks. Edel says I'm just a light weight, I'll let you make up your own minds.
9am bus journey's are not my favourite, especially when you can't speak for fear of filling the aisle with second hand goon. Sorry, too graphic. To make things better though was that 30mins into the journey, the driver announces we probably wont get to where we are going as the road is flooded. Sure enough an hour in we stop at a service station where we waited 4 hours to find out, that yes indeed it is flooded and no one would be going north for some time, 12hrs we were told. So it was all back on the bus for the trip back to Brisbane! Hoorah!!