Melbourne and The Great Ocean Road

We were excited to land in Melbourne after a long couple of weeks driving up the coast. We had only planned on spending a couple days in the city before heading out for the Great Ocean Road.

We spent a couple days wandering the city on foot. We had a wonderful time exploring the narrow alleyways that contained random graffiti art and lots of delicious little sidewalk restaurants. If you don't know where to look, you could walk right by these food streets. Luckily for us we stumbled upon them and were grateful we did.

View of Melbourne from the bridge

One of many graffiti alleys

Restaurants galore!

Delicious lunch

We also strolled around Federation Square and even jammed out with some buskers putting on a little show.

Playing the bongos with some buskers

Pig dog?

When Thanksgiving rolled around, we were feeling a little homesick. We found a TGIFridays that was serving a full traditional American Thanksgiving dinner. It wasn't the best Thanksgiving dinner we'd had, but it did the trick and it was a nice way to celebrate all of the things we were thankful for. After dinner we got absolutely drenched by a rainstorm while walking back to our hotel. It was definitely a Thanksgiving we will never forget.

After our three days in Melbourne, we hiked our way to the rental car office and hoped for a better start than our last road trip. We headed towards the Great Ocean Road. It was really cloudy and rainy for the first couple hours of the drive, but luckily the rain stopped and the clouds made for some pretty pictures.

We decided to stop and stay the night after driving for a few hours.

The next morning we grabbed some breakfast at a local bakery and hit the road again. We stopped a few times to take some pictures on the way to the Twelve Apostles. When we got there, the weather was beautiful and we spent some time walking along the little trail along the coast to get some pictures and enjoy the sunshine.

Maps are a must.

Roo crossing

After we left the Twelve Apostles, we headed back towards Melbourne on a different route. We stopped in the small town of Colac, where we met up with our friends Clay and Amy that we met while traveling in Ireland. We had a nice lunch catching up with them and even got a little tour of their town before heading back to Melbourne.

The Great Ocean Road drive was gorgeous. We wished we would have planned more time for the drive. However, we were super excited about our next destination, New Zealand!


The Great Road Trip Adventure

The Car

On the fifth day we were in Sydney, we packed up our stuff and headed for the rental car office to pick up our car for our road trip up the East coast of Australia. To be honest we were a little nervous to be driving on the opposite side of what we're used to. Also, when we booked our car, we requested a manual car since it was much cheaper than an automatic. So shifting with the left hand would be an added complication. When we got there to pick up our car, we lucked out. The rental car company happened to be out of manual cars, so we ended up getting an automatic for the lower rate. We also declined the insurance since it costed an additional twenty-some dollars a day. Those of you who know Scott would know that this is taking a huge risk, but we promised each other we would be extremely careful.

So we got in our miniature Hyundai hatchback, got buckled in, took a deep breath and put it in drive. As we pulled out of the parking garage, Scott decided to pull over to the side of the road to make sure he was situated to drive. And have it be our luck…sssssccccrrrraaaape! That was the sound of the front passenger rim scraping and scratching up against the curb! We looked at each other and started laughing hysterically! We got out to look at the damage and sure enough the hub cap was bent to hell. Oh well. We would just have to hope that they didn't notice it when we returned the car, but at least we hopefully got the only damage over within the first two minutes of the road trip.

Ready to go!

We put our first destination into our Google maps and hit the road. We drove across the Harbour Bridge headed towards Port Macquarie, which would be our first stop of the trip. On the way we saw signs for kangaroo crossings and even saw a koala hanging out on the side of the road. When we got to Port Macquarie we checked in to the Ozzie Pozzie hostel, which turned out to be a fun little hostel. We walked down to the water and checked out the painted rocks on the trail and then joined some other hostelers for some pizza for dinner.

Painted rocks

Sunset in Port Macquarie

Massive birds

The next day we drove up to Byron Bay, stopping in Coffs Harbour for a dleicious lunch at a little sidewalk cafe. When we arrived in Byron Bay we were told almost all of the accommodations in the town were booked up for “Schoolies,” which is the equivalent of Spring Break in the U.S. Luckily we were able to get into a hostel, but it was a ten bed mixed dorm. After we checked in we went for a walk on the beach, had some hamburgers for dinner, and explored the town. Later that evening we spent some time talking with a Kiwi who happened to work at the hostel. He was able to give us some great advice for our New Zealand trip. When it was finally time to hit the hay, we headed to our dorm room. Well come to find out, I was the only component that made it a “mixed” dorm, being the only girl in the entire room. Luckily one side of the room was filled with some shy, pre-pubescent looking German boys, so that's the side I slept on, while Scott shared his side of the room with some drunk, rowdy Aussies, including the weird, random, old dude. Add the smell of 9 guys and no air conditioner in one room in the Tropics, and it made for one bad night's sleep.

Lunch stop

Say cheese!

One of the monstrous critters we came across in Australia.

We left Byron Bay and headed further North. We made a stop in Coolangatta around lunchtime. We luckily came across a bunch of elaborate kites that were being flown on the beach. We spent some time walking along the beach looking at all of the colorful kites. We also grabbed some delicious pastries at a little bakery across the street from the beach.

We got caught in a horrible rainstorm.

After having a pretty bad night of sleep the night before we were very relieved when we got to our next destination, Brisbane. We booked a private room at The Kookaburra Inn for the next three nights. The inn was nice and quiet and not too far from all the fun areas in Brisbane.

Scott had done some research and found that Australia has a pro baseball league. Our first night in Brisbane, the Brisbane Bandits happened to be playing the Sydney Blue Sox. The game was fairly close to our hostel and the tickets were very inexpensive online, so we decided to go check it out. We put the address to the stadium in our google maps and headed out. When our Google Maps said we were less than one minute away and we were in a residential area we started to wonder if we were being misled by Google again. There was not a stadium in sight. We just getting ready to turn around and head back to the main road when we saw a parking sign for the Brisbane Bandits game. So we followed the signs and to our surprise we arrived at what looked like a little league game. We turned out to be at the right place, it just turns out that the pro team plays on a field that was smaller than a high school stadium in the U.S. We decided to stay and watch for a while, but were not thoroughly impressed and end up leaving the game early.

Scott's new Brisbane Bandits hat.

We spent the next couple of days in Brisbane checking out the city. We browsed the shops, came across a suitcase rummage sale, and checked out a fun little market near the river.

Rummage sale

On our last day in Brisbane, we headed to the Australia Zoo that was made known for the infamous croc hunter Steve Irwin. It was a little expensive to get in, but was worth the fun.

We met this little fellow on the sidewalk

Up close and personal koala time

The next morning we continued up the coast stopping along the way at lots of little beach towns, stopping and staying the night here and there including the little towns of Hervey Bay, Yeppoon, Airlie Beach, and Townsville.

The pier at Hervey Bay

Townsville at night

Finally after eleven days on the road, we reached our destination of Cairns, where we spent the next three days. In cairns we took a day trip to snorkel the Great Barrier Reef followed by an authentic Aussie barbecue back at our hostel.

Cairns Harbour

Delicious seafood lunch.

On the ferry to the reef.

Getting ready to snorkel the reef!

Scott enjoying some sunshine

Sausage, Kangaroo, Crocodile, and Emu

Didgeridoo lessons at the BBQ

At the end of three days in Cairns, we hopped on a flight to Melbourne.


Aussie! Aussie! Aussie!

We took a red eye flight from Bali direct to Sydney, Australia. When we landed it was a little bit of a relief. This was the closest feeling to being home that we'd had in a very long time. It's a little ironic considering how far we actually were from home, but nonetheless, it felt very similar to landing in the U.S., but everyone had accents.

We chose to stay at the Wakeup hostel, which turned out to be a great location for getting around the city, and neither of us had ever been so excited to do laundry, which the hostel also had available.

Excited to have some clean clothes!

We were also very excited to see some familiar faces. After we checked in to our hostel, our Aussie friends Rob and Emma picked us up to show us around the city. We had met Rob and Emma during our tour in Ireland back in July, and had all become pretty good mates (as the Australians would say).

With our friends Rob and Emma

They took us on a drive to some of the best beach spots, showed us some of the fun neighborhoods near our hostel, and then we went to have dinner and drinks to finish off the night. We had a wonderful time and are so grateful to have met them in our earlier travels.

Cerveza time!

We love these two!

Unfortunately, our second day in Sydney, the weather was horrible. We decided to explore the city on foot and got blasted by wind and rain. We did however get to see Darling Harbour in the evening after the weather had calmed down a bit.

Scott getting some good use of his rain jacket.

When the hot Australian sun finally decided to come out, we joined a group of people from our hostel for a walk from Coogee beach all the way to Bondi beach. We found that Sydney had a unique vibe that felt kind of like San Francisco and San Diego's love child. Later that evening we met up with our friend Rob and his girlfriend at a local pub to have drinks and play trivia. We weren't so great at some of the Aussie trivia, but nonetheless we won a free pitcher of some pretty terrible beer, but it was all good fun.

Bondi Beach

We also walked down to the Harbour to see the iconic Harbour bridge and the Sydney Opera House. We didn't get to make it out to Manly Beach, which is supposed to be amazing. However, we plan on checking it out when we return to Sydney for a couple days at the end of our journey.

While we were in Sydney we also mapped out the rest of our trip which entails a two week road trip up the coast to the Great Barrier Reef, a trip to Melbourne, a drive down the Great Ocean Road, and sixteen days in New Zealand. So far we love Australia and couldn't be more excited about our trip to New Zealand, and we will be driving a right side drive car…so watch out Australia!

Just some Kanga-Bangas we saw at the grocery store:)