03.11.2012 - 03.17.2012
After meeting up with our buddy Brad at the Melbourne Airport, we headed into the city for two days of sightseeing. On our first day we happened upon the Moomba Waterfest in Federation Square. Strangely, for the main event of the festival, locals dress up like birds and hurtle themselves into the river. We unfortunately missed the splashdowns, but it was a fun event nonetheless. We also checked out some of the more atmospheric streets and alleyways which are lined with sidewalk cafes. Melbourne has a huge café-culture so we had to stop for a drink before heading back to our hostel - the Nunnery. It was aptly named since the hostel building was a former convent. Nearby was a tennis court so the boys battled it out for almost two hours, Jeff’s first match in almost a year (he managed to get out unscathed).
Downtown at one of the hidden alleyways
A view of the crowd gathered for the Moomba Waterfest
For our second day in Melbourne we walked around St. Kilda, a suburb on the water, checked out the Australian Center for the Moving Image (a museum specializing in film TV, and digital media), and checked out the impressive Melbourne Museum. Melbourne has what at one time was the world’s largest casino, so we spent the evening people watching at the casino and learning how to play craps thanks to Brad (he had to explain it to me at least five times). There’s a friendly rivalry between Sydney and Melbourne for “Australia’s Best City” and while they’re both great- I’d have to give it to Sydney (Sorry Melbourne!)
On the pier in St. Kilda
The Australian Center for the Moving Image
Taken near the casino
After two full days in Melbourne, we picked up a rental car and started driving the 750+ miles to Sydney. Between the two major cities are several national parks, so aside from driving a few hours each day, we spent the rest of our time over the next four days exploring the parks. We headed first to Wilson’s Promontory National Park (aka “the Prom”) where we did some coastal hiking, spotted kangaroos, and saw our first cassowary in the wild (an enormous turkey/ostrich hybrid). The coastal views on the drive into the park were spectacular!
A view of the river at "The Prom"
The Prom- really beautiful views
On Squeaky Beach- aptly named because when you walk on it, it really does squeak
After our hike back up to the viewpoint
The elusive cassowary
A curious kangaroo, he had a collar- likely for monitoring
Our next stop along the drive was The Lakes National Park. We based ourselves in the cute little town of Lakes Entrance where the boys found a cheap golf course and indulged Jeff in his first round in almost a year. We checked out the undeveloped and deserted Ninety Mile Beach, but freezing water made us re-think our plan to swim.
The golf course at Lakes Entrance
On Ninety Mile Beach
From The Lakes National Park, we headed to Croajingalong National Park where we rented a boat and took her out for a spin in Mallacoota Inlet. The inlet is almost totally surrounded by national park, so it was a nice change of pace for us to explore the park from a boat as oppose to on foot or in our rental car. I even parked the boat
At the beach in Croajingalong
Navigating the waterways in our little dingy
Enjoying the ride- and yes, that's me eating Nutella right out of the jar
After a stopover for the night in the small, hilltop town of Narooma, we made it to the most well known site along our drive, Jervis Bay National Park. Around Jervis Bay we visited multiple beaches including Caves Beach (stunningly blue water) and Hyams Beach (the whitest sand in the world - supposedly). After spending the day swimming and gawking at the scenery, we headed to a nearby town for the night where Jeff and Brad managed to wrangle their way into a “club members only” lawn bowling facility. A fairly intoxicated old man showed them the ropes while other club members watched as “the foreigners” botched their game.
A view of Caves Beach
On Hyams Beach- the sand was really white
The lawn bowling field
An education in lawn bowling
After five days of driving and sightseeing, we finally made it to Sydney. It was good timing as the weather started to deteriorate quickly. We had a few hours before our flight to New Zealand, so we gave Brad a quick tour of the big sites including the Sydney Harbor Bridge and the Sydney Opera House, and even squeezed in a ride on the Manly Ferry. All in all it was a great road trip with beautiful pit stops along the way!
After what seemed like a millisecond, our time in Australia has come to an end. In one month we drove from Melbourne to Cape Tribulation covering almost 2500 miles (via a convoluted route) and were impressed with the scenery and wildlife along the way. It is definitely a gorgeous country filled with friendly locals. Our next stop (and sadly the last stop on our around the world trip) is New Zealand! We’ll write more soon!