Kia Ora! (Welcome/hello in these parts)
I've now travelled down to the South Island via an amazing scenic 4hr ferry for 15 pounds..I'm in Picton first town you hit and tomorrow we're off to trek the Queen Charlotte Track 71km in 4 days...it's then Kaikoura on the east coast to swim with dolphins then Christchurch to see the 'River Avon' and stay in jail (an old jail converted into a hostel) then a flight back to Auckland in the North Island to meet Maff who'll be flying in from the UK!!
However I'm yet done with Oz...for those that are interested I left my last Oz blog in The Great Ocean road so will finish off with that first...
So the road itself is most famously known for the 12 Apostles although there are very few these days due to the erosion you'll notice my hat and scarf were worn along the way as it certainly wasn't Aussie style weather.... sun, sea and surf it wasn't so don't be mislead by all those adverts!! Thankfully however it did improve as we travelled north on route to Melbourne our last but one city stop as a group...
With a population of 3.7 million Melbourne oozes 'uber' coolness and I could quite happily live there...we stayed in a campsite on the outskirts in old fashioned E.O.E style a good hour from the city..great!! We managed to see most of it though we went out in the city and to one of the other great suburbs St.Kilda you're right Nadine well worth a visit..some of us (Stu you hobo!) enjoyed the night more than most...shopping in Brunswick St was top notch and the whole bohemian lifestyle suited most of us, it certainly was multiculturalism at it's best and I would highly recommend a longer stay, a must see is on St.Kilda pier at sunset as lots of penguins swim ashore..."beauuuutiful" said in an Aussie accent of course... the next day we were treated to a stop in Ramsey trip which would have been good 20 years ago when I watched 'Neighbours' I hadn't a clue who lived where now.
OK next was Wilsome prom..now many of us expected a prom as we know it..no a National Park by the sea was what we got and once again I was amazed at so much natural beauty, the Aaussies certainly know how to look after there land. We spent two days trekking, playing on squeaky beach and watching wild possums and wombats roam the land. Nan you would have loved it! (I took lots of wildlife snaps for you.)
So the end of our E.O.E trip was nearing and we were all becoming slightly apprehensive. Steve and Kirsty suprised us to a day trip to the capital, Canberra, we suprised then by spending the afternoon in a pub and were late back to the truck...ooops, I wouldn't go there again it was very clincial and felt purpose built for the government no life or soul there atall. I managed my second haircut in 8 months, that was the only highlight!
After our day trip to the capital we were now only a couple of days away from the finish line. We rounded off the trip with two more bushcamps one of which was my groups last cook duty naturally we went out with a bang. Lou read out her poem she had been working on for days...my line read ' Rachel is a Police lady many lessone she can teach you'll never find her drunk and snoring on a Vietnam beach'...I don't know where she got that from but thanks Lou! I won't bore you with the whole poem as many of you don't know anyone on the truck but it was a nice conclusion to the trip. So after our final cook duty I woke up fully clothed in Pollys tent so naturally we went out with a bang! (Poll thanks again for your assistance in my scrapes!) slighty tired and weary the truck then rolled onto our final camp via a nice secluded beach whereby Johno and Polly foolishly kept their clothes on and were naturally thrown into the sea, great sports may I add!
And now our final bushcamp, or should I say garage sale. basically the truck was cleaned and all manner of things were found, claimed and binned! I managed to acquire a new mosi net and sleeping bag (cheers Stu!) others weren't so fortunate and ended up labelling all the tins of food left over on the truck, I volunteered to hit all the seats with a stick to get rid of the dust (always thinking exercise of course!) all in all a good effort all round. It was then presntation time and we gave Kirsty and Steve a jet boil each their next trip is Alaska to Rio so they'll need a hot cuppa. Throughout the ups and downs they were excellent to be with and I can't thank them enough for taking us all so far without any hiccups! After a few tears it was off to the local for a swift lemonade (yes lemonade) followed by an an early night for the last time in preperation for the final day with E.O.E.....
T-shirts on and we all looked like a bunch of clones (nothing new there) We had about a 40km drive into Sydney and picked up Dr. Nick, Jen, Nicole, Sos and her Mum, Irene on the way (they had jumped ship a few days earlier to see family and the sights of Sydney) I thought it a good idea to decorate the truck without realising it was election time so we rolled into Sydney looking like a party political campaign bus! Nevermind we never do things by half and we certainly made an entrance! Spirits were very high in more ways than one (thanks Jockster and Will for the whiskey shots at stupid o'clock) but hey after 8 months on the road we couldn't finish without some sort of celebration and that we did...we drove across the harbour bridge cheering and screaming but strangely enough when we drove back the truck was almost silent... I and many others were now realising this trip of a lifetime was about to end...
And so the end after a few snaps at the Opera House the truck drove off and we were left ono the pavement bags in tow! Very surreal! polly and I had arranged for 12 of us to stay in a dorm together so it was off to Darlinghurst and hostel life...a few hours later the group was reunited in the Coogee Bay hotel for the final party...it was good fun!
The next few days were spent sightseeing, surfing in manly, coastal walk from Coogee to Bondi and general finding our feet again after being cocooned in the truck for so long! One by one we left and my liver was suffering each day as everyone had a leaving do! by the time my came on Thursday night I was drinking water!
Driving from London to Sydney was incredible...I think I'll sum it all up when I complete this blog after my next two continents... I've made some friends for life and I've seen and experienced more than I could ever wish for in a lifetime, I have no regrets it was worth every penny, every tear and every hangover!! Thank you guys!
I hope I've now covered and given an explanation for all the photos up to Oz, New Zealand will be posted soon.....
So I'm now onto country number 25, New Zealand. I've already written about my first few days in the country with Sara in Auckland and I'm now in the South island with Nicole from the truck. After our roadtrip with Sos and a visit to Wellington we said our goodbyes and hopped on the ferry to Picton. it was weird to say goodbye to Sos having spent so long with each other I keep assuming I'll see everyone in a day or two!
It's now Saturday night and Nicole and I have just spent the last 4 days tramping (Kiwi for trekking!) the Queen Charlotte Track a mere 71km..(approx 45 miles) it was tough, steep at times but the ancient beech forest, coves and bays were breathtaking I often felt like Frodo (without the ring of course) as the scenery was very much Lord of the Rings, simply stunning. We're shattered now but it was well worth it I needed the exercise and detox after Oz! The trek was 3 nights/4 days and our backpacker accomodation was perfect complete with peak views and spas by the waters edge we couldn't ask for more after walking so far each day.
We're back in Picton tonight and have a 7am bus to catch tomorrow to Kaikoura...on Monday we've booked in for a swim with dolphins which maff has stated was his highlight last time he visited the country so I have high hopes with good old flipper! We're in Kaikoura for a couple of nights then Christchurch for a couple before I fly back up to Auckland to meet Maff on the 6th. Nicole then catches her flight back to the UK and that's it for truck folk until our reunion which has already been planned for Manchester next year (handy for me!) central location for most others!!
I hope all is good with you all in the UK Summer has just begun here so I can't quite imagine a wintry England I'm sure you'll all cope with your new Christmas jumpers and babychams!! I'll touch base once more with photos from NZ and a few tales from Maff and I on our roadtrip before I fly out to South America on the 14th of December...
I know I've said it before but TP your updates are quality thank you so much!Mum/Toby (STA) thanks for sorting out the ISIC card! E.O.E'ers welcome to my blog! Nicole P pat yourself on the back QCT you did it girl! Thanks to the usual for keeping in touch always good to hear from the UK the news will never be blase!
Missing you all loads