I know I said I don’t have much time to blog any more but I wanted to do this post because it’s about one of those life experiences that you can often only dream of doing. For me that’s what Australia was up until about two months ago.
I love travelling but I’ve never really had the funds to do it. Since school I had a list of countries I wanted to go to but the more out into the ‘real world’ I got the shorter that list became. Australia disappeared from the list pretty quickly. It’s one of the furthest distances you could ever travel from the UK and the cost of the flights alone is enough to put you off.
Out of the blue in August my boyfriend was asked to go there for work. It was a three month outing and I knew it would be a long time apart so straight away we started looking into the possibility of me joining him out there. A slight problem was that I was just about to start a new job so that idea was put on hold. A little bit of time passed before I suddenly came to the conclusion WHAT THE HELL AM I DOING!? I have an opportunity to go to Australia, accommodation is sorted and it’s a once in the lifetime opportunity. That night I booked my flight tickets and the journey began…
Come fly with me
I’ve been on a long haul flight before. When I was 12 I went to Florida with my family. The flight was eight hours. For this journey one of my flights was eight hours. The London to Singapore flight was 12 hours. The Singapore to Sydney flight was eight hours. The Sydney to Canberra (where we were staying) was roughly 45 minutes. That plus stopping time led to the grand total of 25 hours. I felt like I was living in the air.
I left on Wednesday 23 October at 7pm and arrived on Friday 25 October around 7am. They were night flights so I felt I could just sleep the whole way. Wrong. I did get some sleep but it was interrupted by turbulence, mass toilet breaks and food. I don’t think I got more than about four hours altogether. When I did finally make it to Canberra I had another problem. My bags didn’t make it. The connection time between the Sydney flight and Canberra flight had been so tight I had ran through the airport to make it and I had a funny feeling my baggage wasn’t going to do the same. Luckily it arrived on a later flight that day.
Jet lag won’t stop me now
A 10 hour time difference can play havoc with your brain. When I arrived in Canberra I felt unusually awake but my main fear was doing nothing for too long and falling asleep. Once the tiredness comes it’s hard to get rid of it. So from day one I set my self a plan to not go to bed before a certain time and not get out of bed before a certain time. This meant forcing myself back to sleep at odd hours of the morning. In between I would do as much as possible to keep myself active, possibly tiring myself out in the process but I also did a lot in those first few days making my overall stay seem a lot longer.
On day one I got a better picture my surroundings. I was staying in an apartment block outside of Canberra city centre. It was gorgeous and the fact that the weather was so good made it even better. We went for a stroll and came across a sculpture garden by chance which had a much smaller version of the Angel of North in the UK. I have seen Australia’s Angel of the North before I have seen the one in England.
Afterwards we jumped in the car and headed up Black Mountain to see the telecommunication tower where you can pay to go up the top. The wind definitely woke me up and we got some great views of Canberra. Then we got back in the car and headed for the next mountain. This is when I fell asleep. That was a failed mission but in a last attempt to keep me awake before it got dark we headed to a park where Tom had seen wild kangaroos. I had to wake up to keep a look out and when we saw them it was worth it. There was a small group and we tried not to disturb them. A couple jumped away which was also brilliant to see.
We had acquired some tourist leaflets from the visit to Black Mountain Tower. One of them was for Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve. Shortly before I came to Australia there had been huge wildfires, particularly around Sydney. Unfortunately it seemed some areas in the reserve had been affected too because parts were closed off but we still had a choice of trails to do. Naturally we choose the one with the most animals.
We got to see terrapins, some very angry Cockatoos, one my favourite birds the Kookaburra, plenty of lizards and a glimpse of a platypus.
After the reserve we headed about two minutes down the road to the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex and saw some moon rock.
On the third day it was time to get our culture fix. The first place we went to was the National Gallery of Australia and then we went to Questacon – The National Science and Technology Centre. It had a lot of hands on activities to try including an earthquake machine you could sit in. There was also an air hockey game where you played against a robot. I thought I was good at air hockey but the robot always wins. After that the tiredness returned so we took up our culture fix again the next day by walking around the government buildings and going to Australia’s National Museum where we were asked to design our own futuristic houses (mine and Tom’s looked oddly similar). Then we walked around the centre of Canberra which has a massive shopping centre! Yes, that did indeed help with my culture fix.
To the beach!
It was time to get out of Canberra and head east to Batemans Bay. It was a three hour drive and as we were planning to head north to Sydney at some point we decided to book a beach hut for two days. The weather was in our favour and was getting warmer and warmer each day. When we arrived we checked into our hut and then headed to the nearby Birdland Animal Park. It was a very small zoo but it housed mainly native Australian animals like wallabies, kangaroos, emus and koalas. We also got to get up close and personal with a diamond back python and a very hyperactive wombat which I think is Tom’s new favourite animal.
The next day was quite a hot day so we found a quiet beach and sunbathed. We did wear sun cream although we definitely missed a spot because when we returned to the hut we started getting uncomfortable. It wasn’t until the next day when we saw the full extent of our stupidity. We had completely missed the backs of our legs and they were glowing red. It was pure agony for the next few days.
Onwards to Sydney
It was time to leave our beach retreat and head North along the coast. It was a long drive but we managed to break it up by taking a detour to Jervis Bay. Jervis Bay is another nature reserve but is well known for it’s beaches which have some of the whitest sands in the world. We headed for the one right at the end where there were no people and it was like something out of a holiday brochure. I’d like to add here it was Halloween on this day and I spent it laid on one of the most beautiful beaches in the world with nothing to be scared of but more sunburn.
We stayed in Sydney for two nights. When we arrived it was very late so we saved our energy for the sightseeing the next day.
We caught a train to Sydney Harbour Bridge and walked across before reaching the harbour. It was another lovely day and the Opera House looked stunning. I’ve only ever seen pictures of the Opera House and the bridge on TV, particularly around New Year’s eve but to see it in person is something else.
Right next to the Opera House are the Royal Botanical Gardens. We had lunch there and did some souvenir shopping. Then we took a ferry from the harbour to Manly. Got off the boat. Headed to the bar next to it. Had a beer. Got back on the ferry and went back to Sydney Harbour. Sounds silly but we took the ferry to get some great views of the harbour. The beer was a bonus.
We spent the next day driving back to Canberra which was a very long drive and we arrived back late evening.
The next day was my last so I did some last minute souvenir shopping and then we went to Canberra’s centre again for a goodbye meal. I was going back to England alone because Tom still had another month to go. We went to the Playground Martini and Tapas Bar which served delicious food and amazing Martinis. The coconut flavoured one was a particular favourite.
Then it was time to go home. I left on the Monday and arrived Tuesday morning because of the time difference. My body has now officially recovered from jet lag and Tom will be back this Wednesday!