We arrived in Sydney late in the evening September 21. This would be our first couch surfing experience. We were greeted by Emily, a nice, beautiful 24 year old who kindly took us in. After hugs and introductions, we walked to her place and ate supper she had prepared. She provided us with her "couch-surfers package" which were maps of cities, bus routes and other free activities around the city. The next day we walked all over downtown Sydney. The botanical gardens were beautiful. Flowers were blooming as spring was progressing. The Sydney harbour, bridge and opera house were more beautiful in person than we had seen pictures of. Markets are plentiful in Australia, and we attended three this day. At night we saw fireworks, for an unknown event, launched in one of their two main harbours. The second day in Sydney we enjoyed Bondi Beach. The water was cold, but the beach was full on this sunday afternoon. We discovered Australian Sundays consist of waking up around 11am, head to the beach, start drinking at 2pm and go home at 8pm. All clubs and pubs remained open this sunday night. We met some of Emily's friends, each nicer than the last, and enjoyed everything about the day.
Upon arriving in Melbourne, we were told this is the city which can experience three seasons each day. This was not an understatement. Sun one minute and rain the next. As we layered on our clothes, we realized we missed the east coast. Melbourne city is beautiful and full of art. The buildings, sidewalks, train stations and government buildings are all well kept, easy on the eyes and very busy. Everything is expensive, but beautiful. The Markets in Melbourne are better than in Brisbane. Fresh, local produce cheaper than in supermarkets. It was amazing! Kind of wish we had something like it in Canada!
Upon choosing the self-drive for the Great Ocean Road, memories of Brisbane's confusing road system came flashing back into memory. We hit several tolls, but eventually made our way out of the city. Bell's beach is beautiful and full of as many waves as surfers on the water. We continued up to see Australia's "Most significant lighthouse" and as we consider it "Australia's most over-rated lighthouse" as the charge was nearly $19 to see it. We took a short walk along the great ocean walk and have a picture from a distance....for free. We saw the 12 apostles which word's can't describe their beauty during sunset. The Gorge was also magnificient, with an isolated beach between rocks and caves.
Phillip Island is southeast of Melbourne and has many activities. The chocolate factory "Panny's" is a popular tourist destination, and happens to also be quite delicious. The Grand Prix is along the south coast of this island, and looks pretty nice from the highway. Nobbie's is known for their sea lions, which were visible through binoculars as faint grey dots. The penguin parade was amazing! We had the priviledge to see pegnuins weighing no more than 1kg swim in from the ocean. They took a while to climb up the beach and jump across rocks half their size. Once across the rocks, we saw them slowly walk through burrows to find their nest with eggs or newborns present around this time of year. We quickly decided if we could adopt a penguin, we would. Unfortunately no photography was allowed so no pictures will be uploaded.