So now feels like a good time to write this entry, although maybe an hour earlier would have been better, as I think the alcohol from last night is now well and truly out of my body which means all those random ideas I had to add in this entry appear to have gone now too!
Anyway I flew into Australia last Thursday and have now had a week or so to get settled in here, that said I still haven’t truly got rid of my jet lag and keep feeling all drowsy in the middle of the day. However going back further, my last evening in Buenos Aires was pretty cool. I met up with some guys I’d met in Uruguay, and they were going out for a meal with some other friends who were heading home the next day.Their friends managed to know someone from the hostel I was staying in the previous week in Buenos Aires and he was heading out too. It’s weird how things all link in like that sometimes. Even more to the fact we went to the same restaurant that I went to on my first night in Buenos Aires with the Dragoman trip. Anyway it was a good meal with a huge steak as is required in Argentina. Also at dinner I met a chap who was also called Alex from the UK and had Ukrainian grandparents! It was amusing swapping stories about the poor quality of our respective Ukrainian schools. After the meal I headed back to the hostel even though the others were going out, I had a load of things to sort out before my flight the next day to Australia.
The following morning before heading off to the airport I was checking my bank account and found that the car hire company I used the week before had cashed the credit card transaction which was meant as a security transaction if something bad happened to the car, I was leaving for the airport in about 5 minutes and had no time to sort it out before I left. This has kinda stressed me out and put me into a bit of a bad frame of mind for the past few days. It still hasn’t been sorted yet.
The flight was good though, I’m not sure if I was in the normal economy section or not, but I had really nice leg space for the first time I remember, and I managed to get a few hours sleep towards the end of the flight. The flight time was quite good, in theory for avoiding jetlag, but it didn’t really work out like that in truth. I flew out at 1pm Argentinian time and arrived at 5pm Australian time on a 14 hour flight, so I should have just slept for ages that night and been fine. Hasn’t really worked like that and for most of this first week I’ve been wide awake before 6am and then been getting really tired in the middle of the day.
I stayed in Sydney for 2 nights before taking a 3 day safari trip from Sydney to Melbourne. That first day in Sydney I pretty much didn’t do anything, I’m heading back there for 10 days around New Year so there was no point in taking up time doing things on that first day, and just got myself orientated instead. I really wasn’t a big fan of the hostel though. It’s a Base hostel and they’re a chain brand throughout Australia. They run a lot of events which looked pretty cool, but they charge for absolutely everything, and Australia is expensive enough as it is without having to worry about Breakfast and getting charged for wifi!
Saturday morning I started the 3 day trip which was pretty cool. There was only 8 of us on the trip so it was a nice small group, and the leader ‘Squater’ was quite a character too, and certainly had an extensive knowledge of everything we saw. The first stop was Canberra, which is quite like Washington DC in layout and style, but quite a bit smaller. It seemed a nice place, however it has a reputation for being a boring place. I guess it is about knowing the right areas to go, I’m heading back there in a few weeks to meetup with a friend, so I’ll get more of an opinion of the place then as we just had a few hours in the capitol. We went around the Government Building and drove around the area quite a lot. It was interesting finding out about how the Australian political system works and comparing it back to ours and some of the hassle people are making out of potential political reform back home.
After this we made our way to Thredbo, which by Winter is a Ski Resort, and has the largest mountain in Australia. The next morning we took the ski lift up and were intending to walk upto the top of the mountain, however the weather was really bad, at about 5c with quite a wind chill factor ontop of that, in fact it was actually snowing whilst we were up there! We managed to find a snow drift and get appropriate photographs in the middle of the Australian Summer!
After this we made our way down towards the coast through the Snowy River National Park, this area was really deserted and we had to take a satellite phone just incase anything went wrong. Unfortunately the bad weather from the mountains followed us down through the river, and it was really quite cold out here. We ended up eating lunch in the van rather than on the river side! As soon as we got out of the valley the weather brightened up, only for it to catch us up once we stopped at our overnight point for dinner!
The final day of the tour we went to Wilson Promontory NP, this is the most southerly point on the mainland of Australia, and the scenery was pretty cool with sweeping mountains and the Pacific Ocean on one side and the Southern Ocean on the other. Also we spotted a load of Emus and Kangerooos on the way in and out of the place too. We took quite a cool walk upto a rock which gave us some really nice views of the valley. After that we pretty much drove straight to Melbourne and all of a sudden the 3 day trip was over.
I’m pleased I took that trip as it took me away from the usual trek that people take in Australia, and got to see some things out of the way. The trip set me back quite a bit for 3 days mind. The group was quite a laid back mix of Dutch, Brits, Danes and a Swiss chap, we all got on quite well I think, although the trip was really quite tiring with really early mornings every day.
So I’ve been in Melbourne for a few days now, and I’m staying in this hostel through over Christmas. I’ve walked around St Kilda, and walked the Grand Prix track at Albert Park – it looks quite different in it’s every day form without barriers etc! With making tracks being my everyday job there was lots of little elevation and camber changes I kept noticing too! Then yesterday I wandered around Melbourne a lot and saw a bit of the city which looks really nice.
I bought my flight tickets to New Zealand and Fiji, so I’m going to be spending 5ish weeks in New Zealand from the 11th January till mid February then another 10 days in Fiji after that before heading back to Australia to see some other places. I’ll have 6 weeks then to see where else I want to. I think I’ll try to get off the typical run up the east coast for quite a bit of that time to see some places a little more isolated and out of the way, but it all depends on finances really.
Yesterday evening the hostel put on a quite a cool – drink beer – see some penguins at dusk – drink beer trip in St Kilda! Oh and eat a $1 pizza! I think that’s the first cheap thing I’ve found in Australia! I like little trips like this that the hostels put on as it’s a really good way when travelling to meet people aside from just randomly picking someone whos hanging around in the common area to start talking too. We enjoyed a beer on the beach watching the sunset, but it was bitterly cold with a really high wind coming in of the ocean! But well I got a few more good sunset photos to annoy you all with so it’s well worth it! Then we saw a few penguins just after dusk, although they insisted on hiding in dark holes in the rocks, and with flash photography not allowed taking good pictures was kinda difficult! I called it a night early due to being too sober to get drunk with out spending a fortune! It’s £3 for the cheapest mediocre beer here in a bar and usually nearer £8 for a good one!
My general thoughts on Australia are kinda mixed right now, but I’m also really aware that’s heavily influenced by the people who I’ve met and done things with so far, or the lack of. And the fact I’ve just come from South America, and this just feels like home and easy. The trip was cool, but whilst I’ve been in the cities I’ve been predominately been doing things on my own so far. There’s less of a traditional traveller that I’ve met in other countries here so far, and more of the Ibiza partier around, although less so in this hostel, it was very noticeable in the one I was in Sydney. I’m going to have to start paying more attention to hostel choices in future. I guess in BA I was doing most things on my own too, but I always met people to go for a few beers with in the evening. I’m sure it’ll improve though and with a good 5 months still left travelling it’s not of much concern really. The hostel here is doing a Christmas BBQ Lunch which I’ve signed upto, so that’ll be cool too and looking forward to that, and of course I’m going to the first day of the Boxing Day test, the next Tuesday is back to Sydney in preparation for New Year!
Well that’s about all for now. More soon.