Sydney, Gold Coast and Melbourne - trip report

Old Dec 4th, 2004, 04:22 AM
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Sydney, Gold Coast and Melbourne - trip report

We just returned from a fortnight in Aus. Got into Sydney on a Sat morning - flew Cathay from HK. Weather that day was a bit bleak but we still drove around the city to see the Harbour Bridge, Opera House and Pac Ocean from various vantage points. Picked up seafood chowder and ate on a bench watching the water. Lovely day. Sunday went to the Rocks Market which i LOVED. Browsed thru stalls full of lovely knick knacky stuff - forthcoming x-mas was a huge bonus as stalls had a bunch of festive stuff. I bought loads of tree ornaments including shorts clad Santas! I also bought 12 ice cream bowls from a potter whose shop is in the complex - Evan Davis. Amazing crystallines in handmade pottery. Lunch at Doyles - sat inside coz was nippy again but managed to get a table with a view of the Opera House. Had a coffee break after some more browsing at one of the places near the Opera House - was Aus Idol night at the Opera House so we saw crowds going literally berserk at the sight of various contenders - unfortunately I could not recognize any. Monday went out to Bondi and Coogee - steak s'wich lunch "on the boardwalk" so to speak. Again very cold. Spent the afternoon exploring QVB - especially loved the kitchen section in the basement bargain home store. We had managed tickets for a play at the Opera House that evening - this was a high spot for me - actually seeing a performance in the Opera House! Tues morning at David Jones - spent a delightful half hour just enjoying the various x-mas displays in the windows of the store - reminded me of being a child at FAOSCHwartz. Lunch at Cafe Sydney was a TREAT - great food, wine, service, view. Flew to the Gold Coast Tues evening.

Wed at the Gold Coast staying at Sheraton Mirage. Explored the Mirage Marina, lunch at a seafood place opp. Cold weather and overcast skies continued...plans to spend time at the pool abandoned due to chill. Thurs wandered around Surfers Paradise - enjoyed watching the Schoolies storm the place, lunch at an outdoor cafe opp the Clock Hotel. Fri went to the Outlet Mall - GREAT shopping, could not believe prices - bought Nike sneakers, a Just Jeans jacket for my partner, Royal Albert tea plates, ice cream scoops, a cheese board. Outdoor so enjoyed the day. Then to MovieWorld. Sat was the first day of sunshine so hung out by the pool, at the beach and in the afternoon went to Seaworld for a couple of hours.

Sun we flew to Melbourne in the afternoon and Mon morning we picked up our hire car to drive out to Yarra Glen. Took just over an hour at 10:30. Reached our charming acco, Apple Porch by noon. Had planned to go to Healesville Sanctuary but ended up lolling areound the cottage and ejoying the facilites and the sunshine. Did walk down to Yarra Glen marketplace and poked about the tea shop for half an hour emerging with some sundry stuff. Decided to drive to Eltham for dinner - one of the best meals we had in Aus at a small restauarnt called Charmaines on Eltham main road. To die for chocolate tira misu. Tues morning had booked a day of wine tasting. Woke to another overcast sky. Were picked up at 10 and managed to visit 5 vineyards including de Bortioli for lunch - we esp enjoyed the smaller vineyards whose wares are not yet widely distributed, Shantell and Yarra Wood. Also noteworthy is the ability to see the entire process of wine making at Domaine Chandon. Returned at 5 feeling quite buzzed with 6 bottles of wine in tow! Decided to walk down to the Yarra Glen Grand for dinner -hotel is historic and interesting but food just about average. Had booked our hot air balloon flight followed by champagne breakfast with Global Ballooning for Wed morning but seemed weather might let us down as had rained intermittently all day. Told to call pilot at 4:30 Am to find out if the flight was on - after being rudely awoken by the alarm at that unearthly hour the pilot told us there was too much wind for a flight. Set out for Healesville at 11 - was cold but not raining. Loved the sancturay. High spots were the 6 koalas including the 1 we all stroked, the platypus, the Birds of Prey show, a wallaby..not to be missed. Afternoon back to Melbourne.

Dinner at OConnells, a great pub meal, with a fantastic wine list well matched to the cuisine. Thurs morning went to QVM then sat and ate by the river. Dinner at a great tapas bar, Barcelona. Fri spent the morning enjoying breath taking views of the coast then flew back.

High spots of trip - the Pacific - no matter how much you prepare yourself reality surpasses it, scenic and natural beauty through out Aus, wine tasting in Yarra vineyards, Healesville, a small chocolate shop called Cacao in Melbourne, generally loved Melbourne despite many negative reviews prior to trip

Unprepared for - the weather, did not expect it to be so cold and to experience 4 seasons in a day! Everything closing before 6, amusement parks closing at 5 - tough to plan outings as my husband was working part of the time. No vineyard restaurants were open for dinner on Mon-Tues while we were there which was a disappointment. Despite trying 2 weeks in advance for a week night could not get a confirmed booking for the Melbourne Tramcar dinner.

Got to go back for hot air ballooning, climbing Sydney Harbour Bridge, a trip aboard Spirit of Tasmania to Tas, a trip to the Western side - Darwin, Broome, Perth, Port Douglas, snorkelling at the Reef...and in general a country I thoroughly enjoyed skimming the surface of!
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Old Dec 4th, 2004, 09:39 AM
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So glad to hear your trip went well, Hobbes. It's fun to hear how trips turn out when one has witnessed the planning stages.

I'm also pleased that you liked Melbourne. I myself love Melbourne.
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Old Dec 4th, 2004, 02:33 PM
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We also just returned from a wonderful trip to Australia. Thanks to all on this board who offered advice. We spent four nights in Melbourne, three nights at the Gold Coast and three nights in Sydney. Melbourne was very nice. We stayed in South Yarra and enjoyed walking Chapel Street with it's many shops and cafes. We visted the Melbourne museum and especially liked the aboringal sections. We moved on to the Gold Coast and avoided Surfers Concrete except to have a coffee one sunny afternoon to vist the Schoolies in their natural habitat. Quite entertaining, and well behaved during the daylight hours, as they are like Dracula during that ritual, I reckon, and only come out at night. ha ha

We finished the trip in Sydney, staying at the Rocks. We took the ferry to Manly, ate at the Beach House; good food/bad toilets as they share them with the beach goers. We also took the ferry to Taronga Zoo and picked a bad day as the temp. rose to 40+. A nice cloudy day would have provided a better walking atomosphere.

My wife and I have traveled to many countries over the years, and she mentioned to me five days into our trip that the people that you meet and talk to along the way is the reason you go. Australia surpassed anything we have seen in that regard. The people were very friendly and mostly smiling. Sometimes it is the little things that you notice in a trip. I noticed how people would naturally step in front of us during the course of their walk and say sorry. Wow, that is something we would never see in the States.. Great Country, great visit.. Cheers
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Old Dec 6th, 2004, 01:21 AM
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Sorry - I posted this in a hurry and realized today when I opened it how remiss I have been. Many thanks to everyone out there who helped me in the planning stages. This was truly an awesome holiday! Would not have been the same without the inputs, support and encouragement!
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Old Dec 7th, 2004, 02:45 AM
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hobbes and realoc, I wonder if you realise just how much it means to us "regulars" to read your reports and to know that you had perhaps a little better holiday than the people who did it without checking out this forum? We "locals" really want you to get as much value for your time and money as possible -- we know that it's a LONG way for you to come!

Of course, the reason you enjoyed yourselves so much is not really because of our advice, nor even because of any special attributes of Australia -- it's mainly there inside yourselves; you came with a positive attitude, you didn't come to nit-pick or think of how much better things are back home, and, of course, you were primed up to have a great time. And we are so glad that you did! And I bet you have a great time on your next holiday, too, wherever it may be (can I recommend India?)

Come and visit again, won't you? We'll promise you -- no more bleak days!
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Old Dec 8th, 2004, 04:46 AM
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Alan, a simple thought..I wish this forum and in a broader sense this world was full of more people who share your incurable optimism...I will post on your other post also but your idea of sending stuff to the school is amazing...
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