So, after dropping our camper off in Christchurch we had a day to explore the city which was recently rocked by a 7.1 earthquake. Like slowing down to look at a car crash, we were morbidly looking out for all the damage, but 2 months on they'd pretty much tidied the place up (the main shopping area/city centre was the worst hit apparently) and anything that was "evident" just looked like roadworks. There was a section of shops that had their condemned notices up, and there was a satisfying pile of rubble for us to gawp at, but that was about it really! That evening we drank our lovely posh bottle of wine from one of the wineries we visited alongside one of the most disgusting Japanese/Korean meals we'd ever had...bit of a downer! But we did spend the night in a hostel that used to be the jailhouse, so that was pretty good: who'd have thought a prison could make such a nice hostel?! Of course all bedding/kitchenware etc was striped, a nice touch!
We then flew back to Auckland, then immediately off to Sydney, where we stayed in a great part of town called Glebe- lots of nice little coffee shops, one of "those" areas!
Visiting the main sights of Sydney we did have to slightly pinch ourselves, as it's one of those places you've seen SO many times in photos, but to actually stand in front of the Opera House or the Harbour Bridge doesn't seem real. And who knew that the Opera House is tiled? I thought it was just painted white...
Anyway, we really enjoyed Sydney as a city, and managed to stuff ourselves full of amazing food at every turn: street food markets, the Sydney Fish Market, a few beers and ice creams along the way to keep us going ; ) Is quite a pricey place, but hey, we'd just spent 5 weeks in NZ getting over that constant niggle!
After a couple of days in Syndey, we flew up to Cairns, having changed our original plan to head north up the East Coast all the way to Darwin, as it's heading into the wet season and by the time we got to the top it would be humid and constantly pissing it down: lickily some Aussies in Fiji informed us of this and we changed everything around. Also, the jellyfish are slowly but surely appearing along the coastline now, so we are trying to avoid them, obviously. With one type, if it stings you, one of the "symptoms" you may experience is to "stop breathing"...a pretty major symptom in my book!?! In true Aussie form, their attitude to questions regarding the likelihood of being stung is, "Aah, you'll be right". And I'm standing there, unconvinced that I'll "be right", especially when they then go on to say that you'll get a 'free' helicopter ride if you need to be whisked off to a hospital...excellent.
So, we've been up in Queensland for about a week now, and I think it has yet to really charm us. To arrive into Cairns from Sydney was a bit of a shocker. It's a "city" but I think it's kidding itself on that front, and some of the characters lurking about the place were straight out of some piss-take of Australian life...plus you can't go in the sea because there are crocodiles (???!!!). But we were there to go to the Great Barrier Reef, so we mostly ignored Cairns and went off on a glorious day to the reef on a lovely boat. Chris saw a sea turtle and a shark, and I sunburnt my ass. Result.
Anyway, it was a great day at sea, and we were once again quite lucky with the weather as the next day it peed down. We left that day for Mission Beach, about 2 hours drive down the coast (on the Greyhound that is, as have decided that we've done our bit with the epic driving and the even more epic purchasing of petrol!) and it rained the whole way. It then rained the whole time we were at Mission Beach (ho hum!) and into the next day...but once we arrived into Townsville and jumped on a ferry to Magnetic Island, it cheered right up and we've been sweating and batting off bugs left right and centre ever since...as for the almost-punch up with some bloke on the bus, it's really not worth telling the story in full, but basically there are some strange people on this island (and by island, I may mean Australia!) and we had the misfortune to meet one of the oddest and most irritating one of all...what joys!
So Tuesday we'll be off on a sailing trip around the Whitsundays (sorry!) so that'll be nice ; ) Will try and keep you posted more often than not, and hopefully Queensland will prove itself to be slightly less uncouth than it has appeared so far...plus the FLIES here are driving us nuts, so if they would like to take a hike anytime, that would be much appreciated! OH, and we've had cuddles with Koalas, snakes, lizards, birds, crocs, and an echinda, so are well n truly Steve Irwin-ing it up (will be off to Australia Zoo in a bit too! hoorah!) Bye for now! x