Happy New Year from Sydney
Dec 31, 2013
Here's our travels from Christmas to New Year
On Christmas Day we had a quiet time. We had a BBQ and then spent the evening trying to stay sober until a suitable time to ring home and wish our families a Merry Christmas.
On Boxing Day we had planned to go for a coastal walk at Noosa Heads National park and set off in the car a little before 9. What we didn't count on was the whole of eastern Australia also wanting to go for a walk in the same place. We retreated to our apartment when after about half an hour we had failed to locate a suitable parking place.
On our return we put ourselves through the torture of watching the cricket, the 1st day of the 4th test. Later on we had the joy of the Aussie's showing a bit of British television. Helen found the Queens speech and Nigel found the Christmas Day episode of Doctor Who. Which would you prefer?
On Friday 27th December we reverted to traveling mode and got up at 5am for our final drive to Brisbane to find the hostel and drop the hire car off before 9.30am. As we were driving into Brisbane on the first 3 lane carriageway we have seen in Australia we went through a very long tunnel.We noticed a sign suggesting that a toll was coming up so we collected our coins ready to pay but no toll booth appeared. We dropped the car off and on checking the Internet we found out that all Brisbane's toll roads are video monitored. This is a similar system to the congestion charge in London. Following this revelation we made a hasty call to the customer services department of Brisbane tolls and have hopefully sorted any problems out.
When we arrived at the YHA hostel a very nice man at reception talked us into upgrading our room to an on-suite and what luck we also found a local cinema about 200 meters away that was showing "The Hobbit" Part 2. We spent the afternoon in the cool darkness of the cinema watching Dwarfs, Elves, Wizards and a rather nasty Dragon.
The hostel we are staying at is a typical city hostel. It's absolutely massive and has an eclectic mix of residents. Whilst the majority of residents meet the youth element of YHA, (we obviously don't quite) there are a number of, dare we say it, OAP's here as well, which makes a good mix of people to chat to. One resident who everybody was politely ignoring but we couldn't help notice has been wandering around the kitchen and dining area in a figure of eight circuit for about half an hour and we assume is ready to pounce on any leftover food.
Following our early start we retired to our bed in preparation for a tour of Brisbane over the next two days.
On Saturday we found that we had a nice temperature in the morning and also a little cloud cover and so decided to have a stroll by the Brisbane river. The river flows through the centre of the city and is similar In width at the point we joined it to the river Thames around Tower bridge.
It took us a couple of minutes to reach the river bank from the hostel and then our stroll turned into a 4 hour hike along the North bank, crossing via a high bridge giving us good views (photo's) to the nicer South bank, we bumped into a lizard (photo) and returned via the supermarket.
We walked about 10km in some humidity and only found out that we had caught the sun when we returned to the hostel and made a late lunch.
The late afternoon was spent watching the cricket and another England batting collapse in the hostel TV room. All the commentators were anticipating that the Aussies were going to win the 4th test.
On Sunday we woke to a cloudless sky and anticipated temperatures hitting 39 degree. After doing battle with other residents in the kitchen we made breakfast and also managed to avoid the melee that was the organised pancake making.
We retreated to the sanity of our room and planned a day of museums, art gallery's and any other air conditioned buildings we could think of but it turned into a lazy day just hanging around the hostel and quietly sobbing over another humiliating defeat in the cricket.
Monday 30th December we caught the air train from the city to the domestic airport and headed to Sydney on a very sociable flight with Virgin Australia which departed at 12 noon. On checking in the large bags Nigel's had mysteriously gained 2 kilograms but luckily the domestic weight limit was 3 kilograms heavier so as they say around here " No worries".
We arrived at Sydney airport, caught the train into the city and had a short walk to our accommodation. We had booked our self contained studio apartment in June when it became obvious that you had to book early.
This was possibly our nicest accommodation on the trip so far. We were on the 19th floor of a tower block of apartments which seem to be a popular alternative to a hotel room. We immediately went to the local supermarket and did battle with the hoards. After stocking up we took a stroll to our planned vantage point to check the view. Our chosen position on Observatory hill didn't give you a view of the Opera house but it did give a great view looking down onto Sydney Harbour Bridge. (Photo) We then retired to the apartment.
Tuesday - New Years Eve - Sydney Harbour
After a great deal of research we had made a plan. We had located a suitable vantage point to view the fireworks which held around 7,000 people on observatory hill. This also gave us an easy getaway and route back to our accommodation which was about a 30 minutes stroll.
The Sydney authorities have provided a web site that assists you plan your campaign. They are extremely strict on consuming alcohol in public, having bag searches before you enter the enclosed vantage point sites. The sites open about mid morning and then close when they reach capacity so the trick is to get in early, stake your claim to a bit of ground and be prepared to make a day of it.
We had a hearty breakfast, made a picnic, ensured our iPads were fully charged, packed our bags and headed down into the city. We arrived at our vantage point at about 3pm. We went through the obligatory bag search and talking to the officials they anticipated reaching 7,000 occupants and closing the site by 7pm.
We managed to find the same area we had recce'd the prior evening, with some shade and a view. (Photo) Within about 30 minutes all the prime real estate around us had been taken.(Photo). By 7pm every patch of grass had a bum on it.
At 9pm the family firework display started, a couple of people who had stood up were immediately shouted at and sat down giving everyone a great view. The family disply lasted about 10 minutes and was a nice introduction to the main event. There were lots of large ariel bombs of different colours and making smiling faces and other patterns. We were surprised as a few people with young families did leave after this display, we thought they would hang on.
The last 2-3 hours dragged on with any effort to move from your spot involving stepping on several people to get anywhere.
The last few minutes and then..........(see video and photos) - AMAZING!
Happy 2014 to everyone!
We toured Sydney on New Year's Day morning. We took the ferry to Manly which gave us an hour on the water in Sydney harbour. We climbed up one of the Sydney Harbour bridge pylons and watch the procession of people walking over the top of the bridge. (photos)
At the end of 2013 Helen had finished War & Peace and has now moved on to Anna Karenina. Nigel is on level 123 of Candy Crush and he's reading the latest Stephen King novel.
On 2nd January were off to the Blue Mountains just outside Sydney to get some exercise before we head to Tasmania .