After five weeks in warm Bali and Queensland, Australia, we've felt the chilly conditions in Sydney and Melbourne this week.
My mind is still tuned in to the Northern hemisphere - I struggle to believe that the weather gets cooler as we travel south.
We'd walked a lot during two days in Sydney last week, so we decided to take it a little easier in our remaining few days. That said, we still managed a lot of steps, which we always seem to do in cities.
Although we'd been through the Botanic Gardens, Sally pointed out that we hadn't actually looked around them. We therefore started Monday with a leisurely stroll looking at trees and plants. Does this suggest we're getting older? I can't remember being keen to do such things in my twenties!
We then visited the Museum of Sydney, which we were a little disappointed in. Although not expensive at £7 ($10) per person, we thought it could have been better. Perhaps we've been spoiled by the big museums in London?
Our last day in Sydney started with a walk in the CBD. It's interesting watching the workers rushing about, especially now I'm not one! I also notice how cold the business districts can be with the tall buildings blocking out the sun. Perhaps that's the reason for the head cold I left Sydney with.
We rested our legs in the afternoon, watching Mama Mia, Here we go again at the cinema. It won't win many awards, but you can't but enjoy a movie filled with ABBA songs! We met up with a friend from the UAE in the evening and had a lot of fun, and even more wine.
The next morning was a flight to Melbourne, foregoing the bus to save time. We explored the city a little on foot and then caught the free tourist tram. The late lunch at our accommodation went wrong when we fell asleep - the late night before and early flight catching up with us.
Our next three days were with old friends whom we'd met in Jamaica. We hadn't seen Sharon for 22 years, and for Simon it had been 16 years. We got on with them as if we'd only seen them a short while before. It's funny how that happens.
Seeing a new place is great, but being shown around by people who live there is better still. Not only do they show you their favourite spots, but you find our about their normal life at the same time.
With Sharon, we saw the views from Arthur's Seat, Dromana, travelled down the Mornington Peninsula, stopping at the beach at Tootgarook near Rye, before seeing the plot of land where she's contemplating building a new home. We stayed with Sharon and her husband, Darren, and had a home cooked dinner. There's nothing better when you've been on the road for nearly six weeks.
Amongst other things, we went with Simon to the Black Spur highway, winding upwards through incredibly tall Ash trees towards the small town of Marysville. We learned of the events of 2009 when bush fires destroyed 90% of the town's buildings, and tragically 45 residents lost their lives. The town is gradually rebuilding it's population, but there are many empty lots where homes once stood, and those gaps told a sad story.
We stayed with Simon and his wife, Sam, so more home cooked food for us to enjoy that evening. The following day we watched an Australian Rules Football game, and I tried out my skills with the ball at half time. I may be biased, but I thought I did quite well, although I'm glad we weren't doing any tackling. Simon's son had a match the following day, and now has a broken wrist!
Another highlight for me was following the Melbourne Formula 1 course. It's a street course, so you can drive around the circuit simply enough. The next race is in March 2019 and I'm intrigued to see how those streets are transformed into a super fast race circuit.
After our final night with Simon, we picked up a rental car for our drive down the Great Ocean Road. My plan had been to rent a campervan, like a real backpacker, but having seen frost on the cars we decided it was too cold. The relief on Sally's face was palpable.
Day one of the Great Ocean Road was fabulous. In fact, it sums up quite a lot of our trip to Australia in that you are bombarded with fantastic scenery and nature at every turn. We drove the section from Torquay to Apollo Bay, and even the rain and the chill wind didn't dampen our enjoyment. And the next leg tomorrow is promised to be even better.
Daily diary and costs
I'm including a list of what we did during our week and the approximate costs - I'm using this part of my blog as a mini diary for myself, but feel free to read if you're interested.
Week 6 - what we've done:
Monday - Sydney. Enjoyed the Botanic Gardens a little more, before visiting the Museum of Sydney.
Tuesday - Sydney. Walked the CBD, then watched Mama Mia at the cinema. Dinner with our friend Katy - home way too late.
Wednesday - Melbourne. Flew from Sydney to Melbourne. A little exploring of the city on foot and by tram.
Thursday - Melbourne suburbs (Cranbourne). A day with our friend Sharon and her husband, Darren. Arthur's Seat lookout and the Mornington Penisula.
Friday - Melbourne suburbs (Mordialloc). A day with our friend Simon. The Black Spur drive and Marysville.
Saturday - Melbourne suburbs (Mordialloc). An Aussie Rules football game, a tour round the bay, the suburbs and parts of the city. Dinner at Sandringham Yacht Club.
Sunday - Day 1 of driving the Great Ocean Road.
Week 6 - we spent a total of £797 / $1,125 for 2 people on:
Accommodation £221 / $312
Meals/Coffee/Snacks £358 / $505
Transport £181 / $256 Flight from Sydney to Melbourne, airport transfers and 1 day car hire
Attractions/Fees £34 / $48 Sydney Museum and Cinema
Toiletries £3 / $4