27th December 2015- 27th January 2016
We arrived in Sydney on the 27th so we had a couple of days to explore the city before New Year's Eve. The apartment that we rented was in Leichhardt in an outer suburb of the city. It wasn't far from the city, around 10 minutes on the bus which stopped right outside our apartment. We had a long walk into the city on one of the days which took about an hour or so. Leichhardt was a nice area and known as the Italian area. It had a big Italian plaza opposite ours and there were many other restaurants and shops on our road. We stayed at 6-8 Norton Street. The apartment was lovely- and so it should be for $6,500 for one month. It was over 2 floors; two double rooms and a bathroom downstairs and then an open living, dining and kitchen area upstairs with a laundry room and toilet. Both floors also had balconies which were nice. We hired an extra bed and then took one of the single beds from downstairs and me and Nath slept upstairs in the living room so mum dad and grandma could have a bed downstairs in their own rooms. After exploring every part of the city we spent a full day walking up the main road at the bottom of our street trying to buy a car. We wanted to get one before the family got to Sydney so that we didn't have to hire one. After a full day walking we found a couple of places that had cars in our budget. We just wanted a cheap run around so that we would have a car for the farm, as that was a must to work there as it is in the middle of nowhere. We emailed one of the places we saw a car we liked and got them down from $2000 to $1500. We sorted out extra insurance for $300 for the year for both of us and got breakdown cover too. We went and picked the car up on New Years Eve. It was a green 1997 Ford Mondeo Sedan. For an old car it was in good shape and not a lot of mileage so we were over the moon!
We spent New Years Eve at Lunar Park on the other side of the water, just under the Harbour Bridge so we had amazing views of the fireworks on the bridge, over the city and the opera house. It was unreal! We paid about $500 each for all inclusive drinks and canapés in the underground bar at the park. We also got unlimited access to the rides and access to all the clubs and bars with live music on. It is hard to top new year last year in Thailand but this one was equally amazing, in a different way! We spent the night drinking, eating delicious food, we went on the wild mouse, went to the different clubs and watching the amazing 9pm and midnight fireworks. WOW! What a great end to a great year!
We had a few drives out in the car to different places around the city; Watsons Bay, Manly and Bondi, the Royal Botanic Gardens and the Domain. They were all lovely, especially Watsons Bay and The Domain/Botanic Gardens which had lovely views of the city.
Mum, Dad and Grandma Ryan arrived on the 7th January. We got a taxi and met them at the airport. They seemed to be last ones through the arrivals gates and we spent a lot of time hiding! It was so good to see them! I wasn't sure what it was going to be long- a year is a long time not to see people- but as expected it was just like normal! We did so much when they were here. I think we nearly killed grandma! It was pretty warm too, mainly in the 30s so not something they are used to so often. We had a couple of days in the city, exploring and seeing the sights, and obviously eating and drinking! We did everything possible with the bridge- walked the length of it over to Lunar Park, got a train over it, a boat under it and climbed the tower to visit the museum at the top and get amazing views over the city! I loved the bridge- and loved learning about the history! We had time at Darling Harbour and went bowling and enjoyed an amazing meal there overlooking the water. We had a tour of the Opera House, learning all about the history and visiting the different concert halls. The Opera House was lovely! I never even knew there were two separate buildings! I thought it was all just one. We had a day out in the car and visited the Royal National Park where we went to Garie Beach. We had a walk along the bottom of the cliffs next to the sea and explored the rocks for sea life. Mum and I had a swim in the sea too and were knocked around by the waves.
The week after they arrived we went on a mini holiday, from a holiday, to Airlie Beach, Whitsunday's in Queensland. We flew from Sydney to Proserpine Airport which was about 2 and a half hours. Grandma and Nath got checked by the bomb squad because they look a bit dodgy! We got lovely views of the Whitsunday coast coming in and the water looked amazing! We stayed at Island Gateway Holiday Park, just a 10 minute walk out of town. We had three separate cabins all with bathrooms and kitchenettes. It luckily had aircon too as it was still very warm here. We had a free day in Airlie Beach to explore so we did the full coastal walk, in and out of different harbours and past beaches. It was very nice! The water looked lovely! There were a lot of warning signs for deadly jelly fish so me and mum got in the water at a netted part. We still kept jumping thinking something was getting our legs! Mum, Dad and Grandma got the bus back from the end of the walk. It was a long walk in boiling heat and Grandma really struggled with it on this day. I think it was all catching up with her! Me and Nath walked it back and went for a couple of drinks in town before going back to the accommodation and meeting Mum and Dad to go for food at the local pub. Grandma decided to stay back and catch up on rest, which was good for her! It ended up turning into a bit of a sesh at the pub and we were the last ones out, as usual! On the second day we went on the boat trip with Cruise Whitsunday's. It was a full day, setting of early in the morning. We got morning and afternoon tea and a buffet lunch included. We stopped at Hamilton Island to pick people up and then headed out through The Whitsunday Islands National Park to Hardy Reef, a reef in the outer Great Barrier Reef, where we spent the day. The boat pulled up at a pontoon next to the reef which had everything on for the day. There was an underwater viewing chamber to look at the sea life, snorkelling in the reef and a semi-submersible boat trip which went around the reef and explained all the different corals, fish and marine life. We all paid extra to go on a scenic helicopter ride over the Hardy Reef, which included the famous heart reef (a reef shaped like a love heart). The helicopter was by far the best thing about the trip and the reef as you could only really appreciate it fully from above. It was one the best things I have done and we were all in awe! You could really appreciate the size, scope and beauty of the reef from above. AMAZING! We all gave snorkelling a go and got in our wetsuits but it wasn't for Dad and Grandma. The sea was very rough and we just couldn't get anywhere! Me, mum and Nath stayed in until it was time to leave but it was very very difficult. Every time we put our head in the water to snorkel and then looked up, we were dragged out to sea and to to the edge of the swimming zone! The little boat with staff on came out to us a few times to check if we were okay and told us we needed to move back towards the boat. As the sea was quite rough we didn't see the best marine life, but it was still brilliant, just tiring! We had a few drinks on the way back on the boat and then went out for some dinner when we arrived back at Airlie Beach. What an utterly amazing day it was and one I'll never forget! The Great Barrier Reef- TICK! We flew back to Sydney the morning after and carried on with our holidaying there.
We had another day out in the car to the Blue Mountains National Park and Jenolan Caves. The Blue Mountains National Park is a World Heritage listed region in New South Wales, around 2 hours from Sydney. Me, mum and grandma had a nice cosy ride in the back of the car, especially Dads rally driving through the mountain roads! We stopped at Wentworth Falls and Evans Lookout on the way to the Three Sisters at Echo Point Lookout. The Three Sisters (Meehni- 922m, Wimlah- 918m, and Gunnedoo- 906m) are three large rock formed by land erosion. The soft sandstone of the Blue Mountains is easily eroded over time by wind, rain and rivers, causing the cliffs surrounding the Jamison Valley to be slowly broken up, which left the three large pointy rocks. We then went to Scenic World an attraction right in the Jamison Valley. Here we went on the worlds steepest incline railway (which went on going down and back up it was that good). This took you down into the Jamison Valley where we walked along the boardwalk in the Jurassic rainforest. We went down and back up on a Cableway, with great views over the valley and then we went on the Skyway. The Skyway is a glass floored cable car suspended 270m in the air above the valley. You got amazing views of the valley below, the cliff tops and of Katoomba Falls. It was a really good day at Scenic World which we all enjoyed! We still had quite a bit of the day left after so after much debate and bickering (those three are the most indecisive people I have ever known!) we decided to drive to Jenolan Caves. We went on an hour guided tour of Chifley Cave with different limestone formations in. It was interesting and worth the visit, but no more spectacular than any other cave.
On one of the remaining days we got a ferry to Taronga zoo just opposite the harbour, which was a little dull, but the views were amazing. We then got the ferry to Manly to have dinner, which was nice. On the way back the sun had just set and city was lit up all lovely! We had another day at the Wet n Wild water park which was really good. It had a massive wave machine which was where grandma spent most of her day. She absolutely loved it! It was hilarious! Really going for it getting right in the high waves and jumping over them! We got her on one of the family rubber dingy slides with me and Nath too. Me, Nath, mum and dad went on a few of the other slides. Most of them where rubber dingy slides but we couldn't get on them all as it was really busy and we were queuing for quite a while! Dad surprised us all. He agreed to come on a slide with us but then loved it that much he was the one wanting to get on the big ones! It was such a hot day though so very tiring. You couldn't walk on the floor it was that hot. A good day though! A storm came in during the afternoon and the slides shut, but we were ready to leave then anyway.
For my birthday (the big 2-5! Eugh) we relaxed for the day and then went up the Sydney Tower Eye to the only revolving restaurant in Sydney. It overlooked the harbour and city and revolved around at a steady pace so you could take all 360 degrees in. It was ace! It was an all you eat buffet which was nice. After we went back to Leichhardt to the Irish pub across the road with mum and dad and grandma went to bed. We didn't leave the pub until about 3am, maybe later. The only reason we left was because mum got us chucked out! 50 odd year old getting us chucked out! Haha! To be fair, dad went to hug her and we were sat on high stools, as he did she fell off her stool onto the floor! Must have hurt! When she tried to get up, she caught the table and pulled all the drinks to the floor! What a commotion! We went back to the apartment and carried on drinking there for a while until mum and dad fell asleep sat up!
We had the day to recover after my birthday and then it was time for them to leave. The holiday just went so quick! We did fit in so much though and everybody was worn out. We drank nearly every day and ate out nearly every night. I was literally the heaviest I've ever been in my life! It was a brilliant holiday anyway and great for them three to come out. I don't envy the flight! Apart from them being the most indecisive people about everything, it all went smoothly and I think everybody saw what they wanted. It was sad to see them leave and it didn't feel like we had long enough together. Me and Nath went to the water park after they left as we had an unlimited entry ticket, and I kept having a cry! It was just weird them going and knowing we won't see them again for quite some time. I just wish the holiday could have been longer. At the water park we bought a queue jump and went on every slide, most them two or three times so it was a good day to cheer us up. It was Australia Day on the 26th so we went down to the harbour and saw all the displays and celebrations. They had boat shows, air shows and later on a huge fireworks display and music at Darling Harbour.
Sydney has been good! We had a month there but still felt as though there was so so much more to see. I enjoyed holidaying there, but feel I would prefer to live in Melbourne. I may be biased though as Melbourne has my heart! We got to see everything we wanted though, had the best new year, one we will never forget! New Year under the harbour bridge! Who are we?! Amazing! We had a brilliant holiday with the family that we will never forget and we saw the utterly unbelievable wonder of the world- the Great Barrier Reef! I can't believe I've been! We did spend around or probably more than $16,000 on the trip, this included the car and all the trips and accommodation, but still probably pay our mortgage deposit! Best be a once in lifetime trip, we will never afford it again!
We left Sydney early on the 27th for the 10 hour drive to Thorpdale to begin our farming adventure!