It has been quite the week. On Tuesday we left our lives as Californians and flew to Sydney. The last week in California was rough…my beloved cat flew to the UK to spend the summer with his grandparents, I left my first teaching job and, with it, the children I adored. There was a final dawn run in the redwoods and there were many many goodbyes to friends. We packed up our entire apartment and loaded it onto a truck for shipping. It was exhausting and draining physically and emotionally. Whilst I reminded myself every day that it wasn’t like I was in Syria, that these were first world problems, it was still a tough week.
I’ve mentioned before that I was reluctant to spend this summer traveling, that I would rather have gone straight back to the UK. Well, six days into our trip I freely admit that I was wrong and the Husband was right because it’s been wonderful so far.
Cue the much happier blogger you usually know and love.
We flew all day Tuesday – SF to Honolulu to Sydney. We got a surprise upgrade for the long flight between Hawaii and Australia, which was such a treat. We somehow lost Wednesday on the flight. I have no idea how that happened, but the Husband’s lovely son, Big Brother, arrived on Thursday morning to spend the entire trip with us. He’s 13, he’s awesome and the Dude thinks he is the coolest thing ever!!
We headed straight up to the mountains, to the Blue Mountains about an hour outside Sydney. We were all shattered from our flights so we kept things easy but the views were so spectacular that no photo will do them justice. We hiked a short way along the ridge from Govett’s Leap – we had the trails basically to ourselves, it was so empty and the views were crazy!
Then we did the touristy thing at Echo Point for the Three Sisters. You can see why all the tourists flock there, it’s spectacular.
On Friday, we drove 4 hours down the coast towards Melbourne. We stopped outside Nowra and hiked in a park called Bomaderry Creek. Hugely different to the Blue Mountains. Those vast views were replaced with trails winding through dense forest, and under overhanging cliffs. The signposting could have been better (!) but it was a great 3 mile hike!
On Saturday, we did parkrun at Batemans Bay. This was Big Brother’s first ever 5k. I ended up running with the Dude, the Husband ran with Big Brother who very sensibly walk-ran it. It was a lovely course along the waterfront on a cool morning, and the best thing was watching Big Brother totally smoke his dad with his final sprint!! It was the race’s first birthday so there was cake. I got rumbled with the cake!
There also happened to be a Kayaking Festival on in Batemans Bay the same morning. We’d registered the night before so after parkrun we wandered over. It was a really lovely community event, people were super-friendly. We got kitted out and reminded how to paddle and before we knew it we were out in our double-kayaks on the Clyde River where jellyfish floated around us. (Apparently they weren’t venomous). The 2km race was 4 laps around some buoys. It was awesome fun. I paddled with Big Brother, and the Husband and the Dude had their own boat. We were exhausted at the end (no upper body strength) but with salty faces and wet bottoms we were all triumphant!
Today, Sunday, was not as much fun – there was a lot of driving but finally we arrived in Melbourne. I’ll blog about that next week, once we’ve explored more, but on first impressions I LOVE the place. It’s like London crossed with Portland and I can’t wait to explore in the morning. I’m also dying to do some running – I’ve barely run for two weeks now due to the whole moving/traveling thing and it’s starting to bug me!!
A few things we’ve noted so far.
- We love the Aussie accent, it’s just so cheerful and informal and gorgeous!
- The Aussies are super-friendly too! Everyone seems very laid-back and cheerful. We love this.
- Everywhere is lovely and clean, for which this arachnophobe is very grateful. One spider sighting down…it was big but not heart-attack fodder so I’m okay.
- On that note, I’ve been extremely nervous when hiking about 8-legged beasts but so far it’s been cool. Hiking trails are called ‘walking or running tracks’.
- New South Wales is beautiful, incredibly green and rural. Australia feels a little like the UK – the architecture is often similar, the countryside has looked similar and many of the names of cities and towns are the same as in the UK. It feels like England on acid! Victoria, closer to Melbourne, is flatter and slightly dull, to be honest, but I know we’ve missed the ‘good bits’.
- We’ve been driving the famous coast road and surprisingly it’s not been that coastal, it’s generally inland for the majority of the time. The best section is definitely Sydney to Eden – after that it got a bit boring (forest for HOURS) and then really nothing worth seeing for hundreds of miles. We wouldn’t recommend driving this stretch.
- SO many people smoke here! I thought smoking had ceased around the world but apparently not! People also seem to drink quite a lot too!
- The guys are either super-hot or ‘super-not’. There’s no in-between!!
- Aussie hotels all have electric kettles which makes tea-making very easy. British people appreciate this very much after years of lukewarm tea made with coffee-maker warm water!
- Every single little town has at least two awesome-looking cafes/bakeries/coffee shops. I literally try to spot them as we drive through. We are on a tight budget for this four-month trip so I’m not indulging and it’s KILLING ME!!!! I would love to sit, drink and eat in every single one of them!
We are in Melbourne for the next three nights and two days…and we are ready to explore!