The walk of the previous day clearly hadn’t satisfied us enough so after bravely showering (the Huntsman Spider which inhabited the shower room was still there), we set off from the hostel in Katoomba and made our way back to near the area where we finished the night before. There is a big tourist attraction here called Scenic World. Scenic World consists of a cable car, the world’s steepst railway – both of which take you down the cliffs to – a ‘jungle level’ board walk which allows you to walk the circumference of the old coal mines which lay around the bottom of the cliffs.
We made our way to the cliff summit which houses the higher station of the railway in order to buy tickets. Milly’s friend from back home, Kayleigh, had coincidentally been to the same place the previous day and advised us to take the trip on the railway as it was more like a rollercoaster than a railway due to its steepness. Unfortunately, by the time we’d got there it was crawling with tourists and Milly was in no mood to share a queue with any of them, so instead we descended to the board walk on foot down the 1000 steps which took you there. The walk down was hard work; in thick forrest at 27c, so you can only imagine what the ascent was like.
We spent a little time around the board walk but with all the tourists about, it made it a bit difficult to see any of what it had to offer. Plus we were literally dripping with sweat from the walk down, so we had a quick bite to eat, did the short tour around to see the various redundant coal shafts and headed back up the steep trail.
After losing half our body weight on the trek due to perspiration we finally made it back to the hostel for a quick shower with Henry the Huntsman before jumping the train back to Sydney.
We arrived back in central Sydney in the late afternoon and arranged to hook-up with the aforementioned Kayleigh in Darling Harbour for a few drinks. Given how large and popular Darling Harbour is we, for some reason (and I’m putting it down to the day’s early excursion), struggled to find it. Good job we had Kayleigh there to point us in the right direction.
Darling Harbour is pretty bloody stunning. It’s like the perfect recipe of boats, museums, bars, restaurants and people all being boiled inside a large salt water filled couldren, which is the estuary itself. They’ve even thrown in a Madame Tussauds for a bit of seasoning.
We strolled around the Harbour for a while and said hello to Kayleigh’s family then headed back to Arncliffe to rest our weary heads.
We do love a good bloody walk so the next day Holly took us north of the harbour to Manly to meet a couple of her close pals Lauren and Sean, who would then take us all on a jaunt around their local bay.
The Manly spit as its known was a wonderful 10km walk which took you along a well-set path with some wonderful views of Manly (which we’ve tried to capture in the shots below) and also to some fairly quiet beaches. Despite the weather not really knowing what it was doing for most the day, we still had a brilliant time and managed to pluck some very helpful information out of Lauren and Sean; they’re both Kiwis and given our impending trip to New Zealand, their knowledge was very much sought!
Again we were on wildlife watch on the walk around the Spit and although we didn’t manage to see any snakes we did see quite a number of Water Lizards, which was a bit of a step up from the tiny Ghekkos to which we’d now become accustomed. There was also some wonderful trees on route which looked like they’d shed their skin (take a look at the pic of trees below), anyone know if this is the work of men or do the trees just get to hot and take a layer of bark off?
Once we’d tired ourselves out from all the walking, we decided the only thing to do was eat cheese and crackers with our beloved hosts and then to go out and party around the quaint town of Manly. The evening was hilarious and we met some wonderful characters; I’d tell you about them but we got a wee bit pissy so don’t remember much of it!
The following morning, which was New Year’s eve, we went for breckie in another trendy (think exposed brickwork and plumbing) Manly establishment which Lauren recommended and she did not let us down. One thing we have decided about Australia is that it pisses all over the UK when it comes to its mentality toward food (barring the donna meat and chips we got on our night out in Manly). You can’t order a meal without smoked salmon or avocado being on your plate.
Lauren then went from friend to foe by encouraging Milly to spend all our money on clothes around town. We may have to call this trip short after she almost emptied one of the shops of all their wares. 😉 Just kidding, she looks ravishing in all her new garments and I also bought a hat. I’m half surprised she managed to fit them all in her backpack.
We said our fond farewells to Lauren (Sean had already departed earlier in the morning) and worried about what to do in the evening as New Year’s evening was fast approaching.
New Year in Oz is kind of a bigger deal than Ron Burgundy. Because they don’t have the snow, Christmas isn’t as big of a deal as it is in the UK and probably the US, so they go balls out for NYE. This lead us to a dilema though; we’d been told off almost everyone that the City is chock-a-block and you have to get there at least 10 hours before if you want to get a half decent view of the harbour bridge to see the fireworks. Fireworks are also illegal in Oz, hence why they go so crazy for them on NYE. We just weren’t up for that sort of a stint as 1. that fucking park warden might see us and 2. we were really hungover.
Luckily for us, a saviour commeth; James Walker. I’ve known James since I was a young whipper-snapper and he now lives just outside the centre of the City with his flat mate, Lisa. He invited us both round for a BBQ and beer and to watch the fireworks from their window. We had to apologise profusely as not only did we turn up late (they still saved us some wonderful BBQ’d grub) but we also turned up without alcohol. Austrialia has some pretty strict alcohol laws so it’s not just like nipping to the local off licence, you have to thoroughly plan your booze consumption and as you may know, planning can often be our achilles heel. Inspite of us coming empty handed and late, Lisa, James and their comrades made us feel very welcome and we enjoyed ourselves greatly, sitting on the balcony and talking about the differences in the respective cultures for the majority of the evening.
New Year’s day came and we agreed to meet Hollie down at Bronte beach which is about a 20 minute bus journey from Bondi junction. Unfortunately, despite it still being very humid, the rain came down so we decided to pop to a rustic little cinema in nearby Renwick. It wasn’t quite Marple cinema, but it did a good job of going close (there was no half time interval where a spotty student serves you over priced vanilla ice cream in a tub). We watched Passengers and Milly summed it up inadequately by saying “there wasn’t as much Cryogenics in it as I would have liked”. My summary is simply “Jennifer Lawrence”. It was a quiet evening to finish off our whistle stop stay in Sydney.
We were rather sad to leave not just Sydney but also our wonderful old but new friend, Hollie (and Teddy of course), however time waits for no man or woman so leave we must! As we had a flight to Christchurch to catch at 9am the following morning.
So what was to come next, we said to ourselves – no Hollie to show us the ropes, no clean towels everyday, no wifi to post blogs…..no bloody sunshine either!
We touched down 2 hours ahead of the Sydney time (13 hours ahead of UK time) in Christchurch, New Zealand. This is the part of the trip we’d been looking forward to most – a full month of living out of a camper van; a full-on rural excursion like we’ve never experienced before.
We layered up immediately as we got out of the airport. For almost the last month we’d not felt a temperature below 22c and now it was a meagre 14c. Obviously this put us both (Milly) in a mood and when we couldn’t find the car rental place for a solid 1.5 hours it made shit a whole lot worse. Add to the fact Mill lost her driving licence in Phi Phi, and therefore wouldn’t be able to drive about the islands this was not going to be a good day. We did eventually find the place, waited for another hour or so in a queue, pissed about with money to pay the deposit but we were eventually provided with our accommodation for the next 32 days! Giddy as fuck, we jumped into what is essentially a Toyota Previa with a gas hob and cool box in the boot and set off on our way to discover New Zealand (and ourselves).
Just as a parting note, wifi is hard to come by in NZ. Fast wifi is even harder so sorry if the blogs don’t contain a lot of pictures or are scarce. We’ll show you all the pics when we’re back. X