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Cairns to Sydney

Cairns, Australia

Well today was spent packing and travelling from Cairns to Sydney in preparation for the New Year celebrations. The flights ran smoothly and we checked in to our hotel in Darling Harbour in time for some dinner.

We ventured out to Chinatown and surprise surprise ate some chinese! Not a lot to report as we were all shattered and went to bed early.

permalink written by  The Wilde Family on December 29, 2007 from Cairns, Australia
from the travel blog: Australia
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Exploring Sydney

Sydney, Australia

We woke up rareing to go and after breakfast of waffles, ice cream and maple syrup we set off to the boats in the marina.

We thought we had come across a bargain ticket of $55 for a 3 day pass all around Sydney, unfortunately it turned out to be $68 for 1 day!! Still we set off for a cruise around seeing all the sights of Sydney, the Opera House the Harbour Bridge, Watson's Bay, Shark Island to name but a few. We hopped off the boat at Circular Quay and explored the oldest part of Sydney "The Rocks". We bought some goodies at the market, sat and listened to a live band whilst enjoying a well needed drink.

The weather here is not as sticky and humid as it was in Cairns, but it is still HOT.

We ventured over to Luna Park, a little bit disappointing as both children were not quite tall enough to go on some rides. The ones they could ride were met with looks of NO WAY, being far too babyish!! Shaun bought a pass and was able to accompany them on some of the faster rides - so that helped ease the initial disappointment.

We caught the last boat ride back to Darling Harbour and once again ventured to Chinatown for (you guessed it!) Chinese - this time we chose a locals restaurant and the food was much nicer. Chris had fun eating duck and veg wrapped in a lettuce leaf - making his usual mess along the way!By the time we had finished food it was 11pm, good practice for tommorrow's big night. So it was home to bed for all.

permalink written by  The Wilde Family on December 30, 2007 from Sydney, Australia
from the travel blog: Australia
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New Years Eve (Part 1)

Sydney, Australia

After our late night we didn't wake up until 10am, so it was off for breakfast, whilst seated at the restaurant two very familiar people walked by taking photos (see picture). The big floppy hats, untanned bodies socks under sandals - surely it couldn't be Grandad Bill and Grandad Two? We will let you be the judge!!

We went in seperate directions today, Shaun, Chris and Sally went to the Sydney Aquarium, whilst Karen went off for her dose of retail therapy. The credit card survived the experience only $250 worse off - it could have been a lot worse!!

Shaun and the children returned from the Aquarium full of the sights they had seen.Chris' favourite fish was a ray shark, the front bit was like a ray and the back bit was like a shark. Sally's favourite were the large Rays, just like the teacher in "Finding Nemo". Shaun enjoyed playing with the urchins (of the sea kind not the kids!), they also got to touch a baby shark!!!

permalink written by  The Wilde Family on December 31, 2007 from Sydney, Australia
from the travel blog: Australia
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New Years Eve (Part 2)

Sydney, Australia

We booked tickets at the Taronga Zoo so that we could watch the fireworks from a good Vantage point and the views were well worth it and because it wasn't too crowded we all got a good view as we got to sit in the amphitheatre that overlooks the harbour.Word of warning to anyone wanting to do this in the future. The ferry terminal is chaos and you get little info on when things are running (if they are at all). It took us 3 hours to get to Taronga instead of the usual 20 minutes, as we missed the last (allegedly) direct ferry.

There were 2 sets of fireworks a smaller display at 9pm (for the kiddies) which was amazing. There were 6 sychronised displays throughout the city and the music was played through the radio so we could all listen to the music that went with the display.

The main fireworks at midnight also used the bridge as the centrepiece, along with the 6 other locations, and went on for 12 minutes. It was spectacular and a real sight to behold.

We met up with Shaun and Sally from back home and had a joint celebration with them and just had to have our photo taken with the flag in!

We had booked a taxi but it was a no show, so we started on a VERY long walk home! We managed to flag a taxi down and eventually arrived home at 3am.The children were very good throughout and Shaun, in a rather drunken moment, promised them some extra pocket money for good behaviour!!

Despite the journeys to and from the zoo we would strongly reccommend the fantastic views and lack of crowds - a really great memory from our holiday.

permalink written by  The Wilde Family on December 31, 2007 from Sydney, Australia
from the travel blog: Australia
tagged Sydney and Fireworks

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Bondi Beach

Sydney, Australia

To start the day off we went to the Maritime Museum where we saw the Captain Cook ship called The Endeavour. We also saw a warship (Vampire) and a submarine with massive torpedos (2m in length).We learnt about some of the maritime history of Sydney including some of the many shipwrecks that have happened over the years.

We then went to Bondi Beach (this time we used a taxi as it was much quicker than the public transport and time was running short). We saw some big waves and the current was very strong so we just played in the shallows and Chris got knocked over many times. You had to watch out for the surfers too!!

We then spent the evening around Darling Harbour which was near our hotel.As this was our last night in Sydney we needed to pack up our things in preparation for the next part of our journey - fly off to Rockhampton, drive to Gladstone and then off to Heron Island!

permalink written by  The Wilde Family on January 2, 2008 from Sydney, Australia
from the travel blog: Australia
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Sydney to Gladstone

Sydney, Australia

This was our last morning in Sydney so it was back to the packing and sorting for Karen. Shaun took the children out to have a go on a bungee trampoline where they both did a backflip! Shaun bought himself a Digereedo and was shown in the shop how to play it - so there should be some interesting music coming from the house when it is shipped back to England!

We caught a taxi to the airport and booked in for our flight to Rockhampton, we then drove to Gladstone and stayed in a hotel for the night in readiness to travel to Heron Island the next morning.

There were some EXTREMELY noisy parrots outside the hotel. Apparently the local council are trying to get rid of them and have chopped down loads of trees thinking they would fly away - unfortunately all it has done is concentrate them all in 3 trees and the noise was deafening.

permalink written by  The Wilde Family on January 3, 2008 from Sydney, Australia
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The Last Australian Adventure: Part 1

Sydney, Australia

Arrived Sydney: 22/02/08
Left Sydney: 06/03/08

The initial plan was to move to Sydney before Mardi Gras, find work and live there until my visa expired but I love my job at the Sporties and didn't see the point in uprooting myself right at the end of my visa in order to go through the whole job search thing again when I had one here to come back to so I did that thing that Normal People With Normal Lives do.

I went on a two week holiday.

Despite the fact I believe that buses were put on this earth to enhance human suffering I decided to get one to Sydney on account of the fact I don't think that my nerves could have withstood negotiating and parking in a city that size after spending so long in places like Broome and Alice Springs. If Cairns terrified me when I first got there then Sydney would be the end of me, they'd find me curled up in some dark corner of Kings Cross weeping gently and dark corners in Kings Cross aren't places you want to be.

I was adamant I wasn't getting pissed the night before either even though the day I was travelling was my birthday. Knowing my luck I'd end up sat next to the fattest person going to Sydney that year thus depriving me of adequate bum space or someone with little or no concept of personal hygiene and I can't deal with that at the best of times, never mind when my liver has gone on strike and my stomach is wishing me dead but Carl, one of the guys I work with had very different ideas. I remember the white russians, the vodkas and the pretty coloured cocktails. I even remember the absinthe shot and the cocktail made of ice cream that a friend of mine tasted before declaring it'd kill me. Then I woke up in my bed fully clothed and shaking just hours from having to board a bus and sit on it for 17 hours.

I dragged myself to the transit centre to alternate between sitting in the air conditioning with my head on the table and kneeling in front of the toilet. Thankfully the bus was half empty and I had two seats to curl up on with my face in my pillow, praying to whatever god that would listen that I would follow them for eternity if they'd just stop the bus from smelling like air freshener.

17 hours on a coach isn't as bad as it sounds though. No, really it isn't. We got two stops at roadhouses for pie consumption and they showed a couple of movies. The rest of the time I slept off the hang over and before we knew it we were pulling into Central station at some god awful hour in the morning. I got a train to Kings Cross, checked into Mates Place backpackers where I cracked open a beer then resumed sleeping because sleeping is good practice for relaxing.

Well, might as well start as you mean to go on.

Dykes On Bikes Bike And Tattoo Show: 24/02/08
Dykes On Bikes. The girls that lead the Mardi Gras parade every year because if you didn't let them they'd punch you.

Loody, who was now living in Sydney with a couple of mates wanted to go the the Bike And Tattoo Show so me and Darragh who'd just got back in from Ireland the same day I arrived in the nation's Not The Capital rocked up to the Hamilton Hotel in Camperdown to check it out. I like bikes and tattoos so I was looking forward to it. Dykes scare me though despite being one, that much estrogen in one place can't be a good thing, and they terrified Darragh who eventually left because he felt intimidated once he realised he wasn't the butchest one there.

I had an awesome day though, it was perfect weather for sitting in a beer garden getting slowly drunk and the two girls who played there, I think they were called Blue House, rocked. I love afternoon drinking.

As promised there were bikes and tattoos as well as a raffle, a wet t-shirt competition, and a singing man who had a great voice but there was far too much thrusting considering he was performing to a room full of lesbians.

Then came the tattoo show which had different categories like best leg, best back etc so when best front came round I was urged onto stage by Loody, two random lesbians and an afternoon with Jim Beam. There's not enough Jim Beam in the world to get me to take my top off though despite the best efforts of the girl with the microphone and the crowd. But anyway, I won and I'm ignoring the fact there were only two other entrants in that category coz I got a shiny plastic trophy thing and $100 worth of pain to be spent at a local tattoo parlour and y'know there were some pretty heavily tattooed ladies there.

And I use the word "ladies" with tongue firmly in cheek.

Ultimate Tourist
There are a number of things that are compulsory to see in and around Sydney or you'll be pointed at in the street and mocked by your peers. One is Kings Cross, with its reputation for being a dodgy, seedy strip of nightclubs, some people say it's cleaned up its act in recent years and indeed it might have. I only got offered drugs three times and a hooker once, which amused me, there were two of them and as I wandered past one of them asked me if I wanted a girl. I politely declined their kind offer of minge and as I passed them I heard the other say, "that is a girl..." Dammit those C-cups always give it away.

Two others are an opera house and a bridge that is conveniently located over a harbour in Sydney. You might have heard of them. They must be photographed repeatedly from every available angle in order to inflict maximum suffering on those who are foolish enough to ask if you got lots of nice photos of your holiday while you hang over their shoulder and give them a full running commentary.

Come on then, lets get it over with...

They are cool though and they make you feel like you're really in Sydney, its something you see so much in other peoples photographs so to actually be standing there and looking at it is sort of surreal. I didn't even realise the Opera House was actually three buildings.

Having a personal tour guide helps, Nat who I know from the pub and her friend Alan who lives in Sydney picked me up and took me on a magical mystery tour around Sydney and out to Watson Bay where you get to see the city as it's sometimes best seen; from a distance.

Another obligatory tourist attraction is Bondi Beach which is just a train then short bus ride away from the city. In a country made entirely out of beaches (sort of...) this is the most raved about beach of them all. Everyone knows Bondi, it's even got its own TV show over here, Bondi Rescue. Most weekends it'll be packed out and you'll struggle to find a piece of sand but we were there on a Tuesday and... well... it's a beach init. Just a beach. It's got water and sand and life guards and that's it. It's not the pit of hell the locals tell you it is but it's not the best beach in the world. It's just a beach and yeah, it's busy even on a weekday, the sand is covered in people and the sea is an all you can eat spectacular for sharks.

We frolicked in the ocean, got dumped by a few waves and sat on the sand, soaking up the Sydney sunshine.

Then we got over it and went to the pub.

The Blue Mountains: 28/02/08
The Blue Mountains are only about 90 minutes away from Sydney and get their name from bluish haze caused by oils evaporating from the eucalyptus trees. Can't really see it through fog and rain though and when we went it was pissing it down but me, Nat, AJ and Alan had a brilliant time anyway thanks to the company and the rum.

First stop was the Three Sisters, accessible from Katoomba. Yes, it's a rock formation, even this far into civilisation Australia can't resist throwing a rock or two into the photograph but it looked fucking wicked with the fog rolling in. You know when you're in an aeroplane and you look out of the window and you see all this cloud but you can't photograph it because it never takes properly and the flash reflects off the window and you get half the wing in anyway?

That. But without the bad in-flight movie and a complete stranger drooling on your shoulder.

After a quick pit stop at the bottle shop to stock up on cans and comedy stubby coolers Alan drove us to the Jenolan Caves because caves are brilliant. I could look at caves all day, they're soooo pretty, I don't know how they can have walls that shiny and textured and expect people not to maul them. It was all I could do not to lick them.

We ended up checking out Lucas Cave, their biggest, with a massive tour group which meant it took longer than the supposed 90 minutes to get through but we entertained ourselves with tourist photos and by freaking the guide out because AJ couldn't keep her hands off the walls.

After the caves we fully intended to drive back to Sydney via Wentworth Falls but two bottle shop stops later and it became apparent we'd missed them and Alan's SatNav on his phone had no concept of No Right Turn and one way systems. We gave up on the idea of the falls because there was plenty of water falling from the sky anyway and returned to the city.

And of course the local bottle shop.

Honourable Mention
The Lindt Cafe at Martin Place has maybe about eight toasted sandwiches to choose from then two pages worth of chocolate desserts that make your teeth hurt just looking at them and would have dentists drooling over money to be made from the potential root canals. It's the kind of menu you read whilst making orgasm noises and trying to work out if you really need all of your teeth, finally deciding that molars are over rated anyway and can I have this side of the menu please? God it's amazing though, I had profiteroles and a hot chocolate which is served as a jug of steamed milk and a little pot of melted chocolate. It's so so very awesome.

I left feeling a little bit sick in a comforting way and completely unable to face anything with a sugar content for at least 24 hours.

Ish. 24 hours ish.

Give or take an hour. Or five.

  • licks chops, rubs belly and eyes up the chocolate bunny*

  • permalink written by  Koala Bear on February 29, 2008 from Sydney, Australia
    from the travel blog: Sod Off Great Big Mission Round Oz
    tagged Sydney and LovinIt

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    How Proud Are We Really?

    Sydney, Australia

    Today is Sydney Gay And Lesbian Mardi Gras 2008, my personal Holy Grail of gay culture and this year is the 30th anniversary of the event that began when a hoard of queers marched down Oxford Street demanding acceptance and equality and the right to bulk buy sequins withour persecution, the things that today we take for granted.

    I love Pride events, they're a wicked excuse to get pissed and they're always massively fun. I firmly believe there is a direct correlation between your anal capacity and your ability to throw a party thus Pride events are generally the highlight of my year.
    Even Oxford has had a go at it for the past few years although it pissed it down in '03 and '04 and one year the neighbours made us turn the music down. Still, I hope they keep trying.

    Anyway, this is a serious post... What...? Stop, come back... I promise it'll hurt less than bum sex...

    A mate of mine refuses to go to any Pride ever, he thinks the march is a waste of time because we have nothing left to fight for and he doesn't see what we have to be so proud of. Ok he has a point, just because we sleep with members of the same sex, what, do we want a fucking medal?
    Another friend says why bother shouting for something we already have - Equality.

    In the UK at least we pretty much have everything we want on a material level if nothing else.
    We can adopt kids, join the army, Section 28 ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Section_28 ) has been repealed, the gay age of consent is now equal to the heterosexual one, we can even “marry” thus giving us the right to messy divorces and bitter custody battles over the cats just like real people.

    No, we don’t have to fight anymore in that sense.

    But all over the world gays and lesbians are persecuted, beaten, even jailed and executed purely on the grounds of their sexuality. What about them? Why are we sitting back smugly while this still happens in the world?

    And we might even have everything we ever wanted on paper but even in the UK and Australia homosexuality is still a taboo subject. There are still people out there who batter us, spit at us and shout abuse at us in the street and only when this persecution has been eradicated, when the bigots have been shown that their behaviour will no longer be tolerated by the community, only then will Pride cease to be a War Cry and become purely a voice of Thanks.

    Thank You to the people who did have to fight. The men and women throughout the years who risked their freedom and even their lives so we could have the right to equality. The men and women who wouldn’t roll over and let the right-wingers and the homophobes walk all over us.

    Pride, to me, isn’t just a party, a celebration of our diversity and strength. To me, Pride is a way of saying “Thank You!” to these people. Thank you to those who stood up for us as a community, who burnt that closet, stood tall and proud and shouted for our rights as human beings.
    Pride is a Thank You as well as letting the world know that we're not done yet. There are still issues to be addressed and challenges to be faced, maybe not on our own doorstep but the problems of our communities around the world are our problems too.

    We ARE here, we ARE queer and we are no longer second class citizens. We have rights and we are equal, people have fought long and hard to get us where we are today and if that’s not something to be proud of I don’t know what is.

    permalink written by  Koala Bear on March 1, 2008 from Sydney, Australia
    from the travel blog: Sod Off Great Big Mission Round Oz
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    The Last Australian Adventure: Part 2

    Sydney, Australia

    I've wanted to go to Sydney Gay And Lesbian Mardi Gras for years, this was on my ever expanding list of Things To Do Before I Die and what better year to go than the 30th anniversary of the event? It's not something you can write about not least because the power of coherent communication leaves you after a few drinks and you end up hanging over the railings brandishing a rainbow flag in one hand and the remnants of a bourbon can in the other screaming "Happy Mardi Graaaaaas!" at the parade as it marches past.

    The atmosphere was electric, I know I'm not even going to be able to write anything resembling a decent paragraph but it lived up to expectations, I got pissed and had fun and was part of one of the biggest pride events in the world.

    It's so easy to get caught up in the moment but so hard to put into words.

    permalink written by  Koala Bear on March 2, 2008 from Sydney, Australia
    from the travel blog: Sod Off Great Big Mission Round Oz
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    The Last Australian Adventure: Part 3

    Sydney, Australia

    Taronga Zoo - 03/03/08
    Maybe it wasn't the wisest idea in the world to go to a place that smells of animals and their shit the day after a big weekend when your stomach is plotting revenge and your liver is advertising for a new place to live but this was the last day Loody would have a chance to go to the zoo before she flew back to Germany for three weeks and anyway, I'd been told this zoo was brilliant.
    And it is. You get the ferry over from Circular Quay thus giving you even more Lets Take Photos Of The Opera House opportunities to torture your peers with then they take you by a cable car system they call Sky Safari into the zoo itself. I'm a huge fan of cable cars or indeed anything that'll get you up an incline with minimal leg movement. Tickets cost about $44 for return ferry, Sky Safari and zoo entry, buy them from the ferry terminal at Circular Quay.

    So me, Loody, Hayley and Jaz (Loody's housemates) embarked on a magical mystery tour with Hayley in the lead brandishing a map. Taronga is definitely one of the best zoos I've been to, you can easily spend a day there and everything is really well displayed and thought out. Even the bird show is surpassed only by the kind of bird show you get in Kings Cross at the seedier clubs.

    As well as things you'd expect to find in a zoo such as animals, keeper talks and the ever obligatory reptile show Taronga has all kinds of exciting things such as statues you can climb on but probably aren't meant to and cardboard with holes cut out that you can stick your head through for a comedy photo op. Weirdly though they also have them old style scales at every turn that you put a dollar in and stand on to weigh yourself.

    So I did and the evil bastard piece of machinery told me I was 70kg.

    Seventy! Can't they program these things to lie?

    I vowed to cut down on them chicken shish things I'd gotten addicted to and jumped off the scales before the keepers threw me in the elephant enclosure.

    Thunder Jet And The Minus 5 Bar - 05/03/08
    There are a million things to do in Sydney that I never got round to doing for one reason or another but the things we did do fucking rocked. Today was my last full day in Sydney and Alan and Nat had spent some time the previous day looking on the internet for stuff to do and one of those things was Thunder Jet which is a very fast boat that quite literally gives you a taste of the harbour and beyond. We got there early, paid our $79 and were told that the front was the roughest ride on the boat so me and AJ made sure we got it.

    It's. So. Cool! They give you the option at the beginning to wear a yellow poncho, we decided not to because at the end of the day you're gonna get a soaking whether you're covered in plastic or not then they speed around, getting into the wash of other boats, finding the biggest waves, spinning you round, stopping suddenly and nose diving into the water so that about 1000 litres of water hits you in the face and sloshes around your lungs. Its fucking awesome! And me and Nat were the only two of us four that didn't have bruising from holding on like pussies ;)

    Afterwards we headed back to Alan's leaving half the harbour trickling off the train to get dry before we went back to Circular Quay and the Minus 5 ice bar. Now this is very very cool, pun fully intended because yes, I'm really that lame. Its a bar made entirely of ice complete with sculptures where they can only serve vodka cocktails because everything else would freeze which is Absolut-ly (ok, I promise I'll stop now) fine by me because vodka is the nectar of the gods.
    It's $30 entry and they only give you half and hour in there but to be honest that's all you need, it's about -13 degrees in there. You'll never bitch about the heat again and thank the dear sweet god of insulation for the thick Eskimo coats or my nipples would have taken out half the ice sculptures every time I turned round.

    I'd spent most of my time in Sydney with Alan, Matt, Nat and AJ which was awesome. Alan is a great tour guide and a top bloke and him and the others just made my time in Sydney what is was, it wouldn't have been the same without them, I had an amazing two weeks.

    And as for the most hyped city in the country, Sydney is an awesome place to visit but I totally couldn't live there without selling a kidney and swapping a limb for a new liver.

    And All The Debauchery Can Be Found In Glorious Technicolour Here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ohfuckkit/sets/72157604103523133/detail/

    permalink written by  Koala Bear on March 7, 2008 from Sydney, Australia
    from the travel blog: Sod Off Great Big Mission Round Oz
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