A Travellerspoint blog

Up to Brisbane, and beyond.

overcast 30 °C

Now we are at the end of our three week long Aussie road trip, in total, we have driven through 3 states up the East Coast, tallying up over 4200kms on the little hire car, have seen countless old friends.. and a few new ones, we have luckily managed to avoid flooding in Queensland (although we saw plenty of the aftermath), Cyclone Yasi, a rash of bush fires and flooding in Victoria, we have stayed in rooms over 2 pubs, walked along dozens of beaches, drank in several wineries, attended two Australia Day barbies, fed and held koalas, kangaroos, snakes and crocodiles, hmm... getting a bit carried away, here’s what we’ve been doing for the last week:

It took us a few more days to reach Brisbane, driving through more national parks, past golden beaches and breakfasting by gorgeous lakes (it’s been tough). Mike even got himself a gorgeous didgeridoo and some circular breathing lessons- I’m sure everyone would love a wee show when we’re back! Haha! We visited Byron Bay, paradise for all surfers, and stayed in a pub which was definitely the most popular place in town- with flowing beers and a good band, it was a great place to spend the night. We also went through the Gold Coast which is essentially a rash of towns where surfers can go, where schoolies can let off steam before starting a job or uni, and where kids can go to waterparks.

In Brisbane we were staying with the lovely April, another ex colleague from Abu Dhabi, and we had an excellent time catching up and laughing about old times, admittedly- not much else was done, but we don’t care. After a few days we took a lengthy drive up to Yeppoon (on the Capricorn Coast, the irony of driving up the Sunshine Coast in the pissing rain was not lost on us) to see Mike’s old friend Sid who he hasn’t seen for 8 years. In Yeppoon we went to the highest point in the area, visited a crocodile farm, and spent an afternoon feeding kangaroos! But the best part was, of course, seeing Sid.

When we got back down to Brisbane we stayed with Andy, Jenny, and little Lottie who we know from Aberdeen, through Mike’s work. We were able to spend some time with them and have a good catch up, and even catch the first glimpse of Lottie’s Tinkerbell birthday party before heading off to the airport.

We can’t believe it’s time for us to leave, we’ve had an amazing time here, and have enjoyed being able to catch up with so many people.


Posted by lesleymw 13:13 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Making our way from Melbourne to Sydney, and further North

And spending a few days in Sydney

sunny 35 °C

So now our Aussie adventure has started, we are now driving up the east coast towards Queensland. Driving along the coast is absolutely beautiful, with white beaches and hair raising cliffs on one side and trees, hills and national parks on the other. (Of course, as luck would have it, within an hour of driving -for the first time on the left side since before moving to Abu Dhabi- I have almost had a bump with a kangaroo- one of the most scary and surreal experiences yet!) Driving up the highway, we’ve been passing through little old towns that don’t seem to have changed much in the past century, harbours with stunning views and an excellent excuse to dip our feet in cold water, and historic sites which are full of aboriginal artefacts and monuments.


We stopped over in Sydney for 2 days and.... wow! It’s a gorgeous modern city filled with parks and lots of things to see (outdoor cinema by the harbour, stand up comedy at midnight, light shows in the Chinese gardens to name but a few) but the real beauty of the place is the little old buildings lining the streets, most of which are over 100 years old. Sometimes you would have been forgiven for thinking you were in Edinburgh instead of half way across the world!

We spend most of our time in Sydney walking through the massive gardens, by the waterfront (the view of the opera house never gets boring) and having a relaxing time- which again, is very easy to do when you’re in Sydney. We also took the mandatory visit to one of the most famous beaches in the world- Bondi Beach- it’s hard to believe that snow white sand, 3ft waves and crystal clear water is just quarter of an hour from Sydney Harbour- another remarkable thing about the city!


Yesterday we hit the road again and continued heading north, but not before taking a 4 hour detour to the Blue Mountains, and it was worth every minute. Being from Scotland we weren’t expecting to be blown away by some Aussie mountains- we are full of them ourselves after all. But the minute we got to the top, both of our jaws dropped to the floor and we stood corrected. There was peaks, rock formations and thick trees as far as the eye can see, and all blanketed with a thick blue haze (hence the name) which rises from the numerous eucalyptus trees, the whole area, including a few little towns have this haze and the refreshing smell that goes with it, the whole experience is truly amazing.


We continued our drive into the evening past Newcastle, via the Blue Tongue brewery, to stay in a sleepy little town in the Central Coast. I have to say, something that’s remarkable when driving here at night that I’ve never seen before, is the vast number of stars. We used to joke in Abu Dhabi, where the sandy haze is thicker than any cloud, that “the star” was out at night. Here, driving in the middle of nowhere, you can barely see the dark sky for stars, it’s literally a blanket. We’d probably be tempted to sleep outside under them, if I wasn’t so petrified of snakes and dingos!

Posted by lesleymw 16:58 Archived in Australia Comments (0)


Stunning, stunning, stunning.

sunny 32 °C

What can I say? The city is gorgeous, as are the people. Everyone and everything is quirky in it’s own little way- we have had such an amazing time!

For the first time in this trip, instead of going from hotel to hotel, we stayed with a dear friend who we first met in Abu Dhabi, and we had the best time, Peter certainly has the art of entertaining foreigners down perfectly! We had BBQs every night, visited wineries that could fool you into thinking you’re in the Italian countryside- and had the unique pleasure of seeing an excellent Queen tribute band while dancing and sipping wine in the sun (who could ask for a better Sunday afternoon?), forced him to sample haggis on Burns night, celebrated Australia Day, sampled “Bundie and Coke” and a home made “snot block” (folks that know Australia will know what I mean), got a birthday tattoo (mike, not me)and saw Melbourne from a local’s perspective.


We were also lucky enough to meet with some other friends who we hadn’t seen in a while (for those who don’t know, I worked for an Aussie company when we first moved to Abu Dhabi, and most people I know from then have since moved back here) and Mike’s cousin who he hadn’t even seen since they were at school! Definitely a city for reunions!

We have had the most amazing time in Melbourne and we’re sad to leave, I think we would have spent weeks here if we didn’t have to hit the road- but it’s time to go on our adventure up north. Not sure where we’ll be going, all we know is that our flight is in 16 days from Brisbane..

Posted by lesleymw 22:54 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Gili Islands and North Bali

So much for taking it easy!

storm 29 °C

On Tuesday we decided to take a jaunt to Gili Trawangan the biggest island of three small islands off the coast of Lombok. This was the easiest one for us to get to for such a short stay, and we were a little bit concerned when we were heard that it had a reputation for a party island. Needless to say, we shouldn’t have worried! Although the main street was lined with bars, there were only a few- and the street was effectively a dirt track! There are no cars or motorised transportation on the island, the way to get around is by bike or by horse and cart- really the lazy place we had been looking for.

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Mike was luckily able to do a dive from the island and said that underwater was just like a garden- it’s a shame he didn’t see any turtles, the area is well known for them.

We only stayed for one night but were able to take it easy. We were stopped by doing too much unfortunately because of the tropical storms that hit the island on a regular basis- but it was a nice excuse to stay indoors!

On our last day on Bali we visited Pura Tanah Lot which is a water temple a few hundred metres from the shore which protects the island from the sea. It was really beautiful to see- and the stormy seas made it look quite crazy! Then we went to the north of the island to some hot springs- they were pools heated to a toasty 38 degrees by sulphur, which you didn’t notice until you emerged from your bathe covered in orange- we looked like we were using some very bad fake tan! There were three pools in total, each with showers running from one to another from a main temple- and the showers had different strength so you could get a good massage while you were at it!


We then went back to Ubud for a wander around the lazy town, and to see the Sacred Monkey Forest which is full of ancient Indiana Jones style carvings (including the ones of demons devouring children!) and lots and lots of monkeys who like to steal your bag to see if you have any food hiding inside!


I can’t believe we’re leaving already, but so glad that we had the chance to come and see this amazing place!

Posted by lesleymw 13:44 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

We’re in Bali!

A mixture of relaxation and adventure

storm 26 °C

We’ve been in Bali of about half a week now, and it really is mind blowing! This part of our trip is mainly for relaxing and catching up on some rest, the past month has been quite hectic! Yeah, now would be the time to feel sorry for us.

We’re staying in Tuban which is a small beach about 5 minutes walk from Kuta beach- the main “strip” on the island which is full of beers, drunken Aussies (though, we should probably get used to that!), restaurants that open onto the street, and about a million tattoo parlours. It seems we’ve stumbled across the Australian’s answer to Costa del Sol.

But Kuta is still brilliant, you can try some local food- or go to the fantastically named Bubba Gump’s Shrimp House- for the price of a coffee in the UK, go for a fish spa (where the fish nibble off your dead skin- the tickliest, strangest thing you’ll ever feel- but the best pedicure ever), buy a Bintang vest (the local beer- literally every family we see has at least 2 wearers), or fly some kites- we are in the surfer’s paradise, so we have perfect kite flying weather for those of us who would end up on the sea bed with a mouth full of sea water.


Yesterday we decided to go a bit further afield and went towards the north of the island to Mount Batur which is an active volcano. We started climbing up an old trail of lava up the steep side of the volcano at about 4am- made even more pleasant by the fact that it was pitch black. We made it up through the rain and very steep mounds of soft black sand and sharp rocks in time to watch the sun rise over the surrounding volcanoes- gorgeous! And another recommendation for your bucket list! At the top (we’d climbed 1000m) we were able to have a nosey around the craters (each one for each eruption- there’s been about 10) which was quite daunting- especially when you feel the toasty hot steam coming up through the gaps!


After climbing back down we then took a bike ride down to Ubud through lots of paddy fields and temples. Here, each family-meaning extended family- lives in their own temple- it’s really breathtaking to see so many shrines and beautiful buildings lining the roads with fields and trees everywhere else. We cycled about 29km and every village we went through there were kids as young as 2 running out of their temples, shouting “hello!” and putting their hands out for high fives! This is definitely the real Bali- and I can completely understand why people love it, and why Charlie Chaplin was a regular visitor!


Of course, today we are paying for our adventure- when going out for some breakfast (and strong coffee- still catching up on some sleep) we got quite a few strange looks for groaning and having to take our time when it came to stairs and sitting down! We’d have lost any race against some oaps! We may be able to venture out tonight- maybe after a massage on the beach and a tube of deep heat!

Oh! Before I forget- I have to share this! We went to a place where they make the most expensive coffee in the world, that is only made here. But wait till you hear how they make it! They get a cat like animal called a luwak with feet like a human to eat the berries from the coffee plant, wait for it to pass them (yup) and then get the undigested fermented beans out of the droppings, clean them, and grind them for coffee! They only make 500kgs a year, which I guess that’s why it’s so expensive. My only question is- how did they decide to find beans from there?? And yes, it actually tastes quite good- beware those who come round in the future for a cup of coffee! Mwah ha ha!


Posted by lesleymw 16:04 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

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