The 2 most common elements in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity - Unknown

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Saturday, Mar 2

- arrived at SYD after a 14 hour flight

- destroyed the immigration barrier gate but they still let me in

- took the train to our hotel QVB Sydney. Dropped off our bags and headed to Bondi Beach.

- walked along Bondi and then went for breakfast at Porch & Parlour. Delicious egg labneh.

- walked some more along Bondi and started the Bondi to Coogee trail. So hot.

First we encountered Tamarama Beach. Need to find shade.

Made it to Bronte Beach - shade! Found a nice natural rock formation giving people great shade.

- took the bus back to the train. Grabbed a slurpee at 7-11. Jet lag catching up to us.

- went for a drink and a light snack at Since I Left You.

- saw some *huge* bats flying around in the trees above us. May have been the 'flying fox'.

- walked over to see the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. Looked awesome all lit up at night.

- made our way over to check out the Pride Parade. A lot of people. Couldn't really get that close. Found a wall to stand on and catch a glimpse.

Sunday, Mar 3

- woke up early to catch the Manly ferry from Circular Quay

- grabbed a smoothie in Manly and back to the harbour to meet our SUP Yoga crew

- Did some SUP Yoga to help us recover from jet lag.

- went to Manly Beach. Volleyball tournament going on. Lots of surfing. A very Australian scene!

- had lunch at Manly Beach Shack and then walked along the beach. A *lot* of people in the water getting tossed around by waves - like a giant, natural, wave pool.

- stopped at the local liquor store and picked up some bottles of wine. Made our way back to the room to rest up.

- went to the Botanical Gardens. Right at the entrance we ran into some colorful lorikeets.

Checked out the carnivourous plant exhibit. Saw some big spiders.

Walked through the rose garden, past the pond, and over to Mrs. Macquaries Chair (view of the bridge and the opera house).

- walked back down and right up to the Opera House. Saw the scene going on at Opera Bar.

- had some wine and cheese in the room and went for dinner at Din Tai Fung. No giant rats.

Monday, Mar 4

- Went to Single O CBD for coffee and breakfast. Watched the beginning of the Sydney work day routine.

- Walked back through Hyde Park.

- Went and met Jana in her 'white' Toyota rental car.

- Drove to the Blue Mountains. First stop was Echo Point & the Three Sisters. Full of tourists, but a great introductory view.

- Bought groceries at ALDIs (disappointing).

- Picked up meat pies and cookies at Hominy Bakery (delicious).

- Checked in to our house on the edge of Katoomba (nice place).

- Went on a hike (Grand Canyon walking track). Saw parrots, many lizards, a pheasant, and a turkey. Very nice hike through a lush canyon.

- Ordered pizza from Station Bar. Took it to Cahill Lookout, right by our house, for sunset. Beautiful view!

Tuesday, Mar 5

- Checked out Katoomba Falls from the lookout. Saw the aerial tram.

- Drove in circles looking for Katoomba Cascades (different waterfall!). Saw a kookaburra.

- Walked around Leura. Went to the Leura Gourmet deli.

- Drove to Jenolan Caves. Didn't see any kangaroos. Very impressive cave entrance.

- Met Stu and Sara, our cave guides. Suited up in coveralls, we walked over to the sinkhole.

At the sinkhole we absailed down to the cave entrance. Stu kept us entertained with his many jokes.

"you can't pull her by her hair in this country!"

- On the tour we squeezed into some tight spaces we didn't think would be physically possible, including the 'mailslot' and the 's-bend'. Touched 'Lucky' the rock, holding everything together.

- Stopped at Hassan's Wall which Chris told us was 'on the way'.

- Stopped at LollyBug on the way back so Jana could buy the world's hottest chips. She ended up being scared off by the claims on the package.

- Came home and played games. Went to the Yellow Deli for dinner. Best value on the trip so far!

Wednesday, Mar 6

- Went to the Flying Fox hostel to meet Ross and pick up some mountain bikes. Made us appreciate our accommodation.

Met his dog and chickens. Helmet was too small for me.

- Took the train to Blackheath. Biked to Hanging Rock. Another beautiful view. Got very windy!

Too chicken to jump over the gap and get to the end of Hanging Rock. But alive to write this.

- Took a different way back, and biked to Govett's Leap lookout. Another awesome view. Got a little wet.

- Went to Altitude for lunch. Had a *massive* sandwich (not).

- Took the train back to Katoomba.

- Went to the liquor store and picked up supplies for Uluru.

- Had dinner at Basil Nut.

- Picked up groceries for Uluru at Coles..

Thursday, Mar 7

- Early morning start, back to Sydney airport. Flew to Ayers Rock (AYQ).

- Picked up our 'surprise' rental car, which turned out to be a really nice 4x4 SUV.

- Picked up supplies at the supermarket, and then drove to Ayers Rock Campground and checked into our cabin.

- Chris and Jana played games outside, and heard an interesting party bird ("whoop, whoop").

- Made dinner in a rush, "because the universe doesn't wait."

- Drove to the sunrise point to watch the sunset. First encounter with many flies. Regretted not buying face nets.

- Made it back to the campground store just in time to buy face nets. They would come in handy.

- Took a walk to gaze at the stars. Encountered a dingo on the way back. Chris and Jana could hear it's nails clicking on the road.

Friday, Mar 8

- Woke up early and drove to Kata Tjuta, also known as The Olgas.

- Battled the crowds at the Kata Tjuta sunrise dune viewing platform.

- Hiked the Valley of the Winds trail. Beat the heat by doing it early. Windy, and lots of flies, but some nice views.

Met some locals who had heard of the Calgary Stampede. Jana apologized for Vancouver knocking Melbourne off the 'most livable city' list.

- Went back to the grocery store. Listened to an intense digeridoo guy "I'm one with the dij".

- Jana and Chris played games.

- Went swimming at the Sails of the Desert pool. Some interesting birds were dive-bombing the pool.

- Came back and made spaghetti. Went to the Field of Light. Some annoying Spanish women talked loudly as we walked through the field, but eventually managed to get out of earshot.

Saturday, Mar 9

- Yet another early start. Donning our face fly nets, we biked around the base of Uluru. Lost Jana at the end, who attempted to go around twice.

- Came back and had lunch. Jana went to the cooking demonstration and the astronomy talk. She said they could be better.

- Picked Jana up at the grocery store and checked out a couple more swimming pools - but ultimately decided to swim in our own pool.

- Watched the sunset at Uluru, at the busier sunset spot this time. But it wasn't that busy.

- After sunset we waited for darkness, and took in some spectacular stargazing, including a shooting star or two.

Sunday, Mar 10

- Went for a swim and defended our breakfast from the birds. Caught our flight from Ayers Rock to Melbourne. Saw the salt flats below us on the way.

- Stocked up on liquor and beer at Dan Murphy's and drove down to Torquay. Checked into our Airbnb and went for dinner, walking along the local promenade.

- Stopped into Blackman's Brewery. Pretty busy, and tough to figure out how to get service. Eventually landed a beer, and drank it while we waited for our table at Roku Den.

Witty beer related puns we amused ourselves with:

"He was hoppy he drank that beer."

"Jana's very witty when she drinks"

"You don't want to have the yeast funny pun."

"Could you take any lager to think of one?"

- Some good sushi and frosty Sapporo at Roku Den. The chef gave us some special wasabi.

Monday, Mar 11

- Went for breakfast at The Pond.

- Went to Bell's Beach. Not too many huge waves today. Looked a bit like a retirement community for surfers.

- Drove to Lorne. Walked around and ate at The Bottle Of Milk. Delicious burgers.

- Pressed on, stopping in Kennett River. Walked along the road to look for koalas. Spotted our first koala on the trip. This one was more than just a ball of fur, we could see his face.

- Walked on up the road, and spotted a few more koalas in the trees. Or at least, we spotted people, who had spotted koalas.

- Bought some groceries and ice cream in Apollo Bay. Saw another koala in the tree.

- Drove to the Blue Wren Airbnb in Horden Vale. Spotted some koalas in the trees right away! Watched those for a while.

- Sat on our deck and drank wine, ate chips, and kept an eye out for more koalas.

- Made quinoa salad for dinner and then went to Mait's Rest in pitch dark to look for glow-worms. It was a bit of a failure, as it had been raining and the glow-worms were hiding. We saw 2 glow-worms, but many spiders.

Tuesday, Mar 12

- Woke up early to beat the crowds to the Twelve Apostles. Tried to get there for sunrise, and we would have, had there been a sun on this rainy, cloudy, very windy morning.

We definitely beat the crowds though, as we pretty much had the Twelve Apostles to ourselves.

- Next up was the Bay Of Islands. And then the Bay of Martyrs. More rock formations. More waves.

- Went to Forage On The Foreshore for breakfast. Delicious french toast with caramelized bananas and quark cheese for Jana and I, while Chris had a gross looking, flat, green souffle.

- Backtracked and went to The Arch. And then London Bridge. And then the Grotto at low tide.

- We finished off at Loch Ard Gorge where we stayed for quite a while. There was some amusing people watching, as we watched tourists being lambasted by waves while they had their backs turned. One girl almost had her shoe swept out to sea. The crowd enjoyed this.

- Went to Apostle Whey Cheesery and sampled some cheese.

- On the way back we took a scenic detour, which turned out to be a bit of a dead end. "No through road".

- Back to the airbnb for some koala spotting. Saw another 4 or 5, including the closest one yet.

- Made dinner and a giant spider emerged from the stove.

- Watched Bachelor.

- Chris alerted us to 2 koalas on the lawn in the dark. "They're moving their hands." " quiet...don't disturb them."

When we shone the flashlight, the 'koalas' turned out to be a rock.

Wednesday, Mar 13

- Woke up and saw a herd of small deer in front of our house. Went koala watching again, and saw the most active koala, one that was climbing upside down along a branch.

- Pushed back our ferry time and decided to spend some time on Johanna Beach instead. And by 'spend some time' I mean 10 minutes. We were still in a bit of a rush but this was a very nice rugged, scenic beach that we had all to ourselves.

- Hay puns, when a hay bale truck pulled out in front of us:

Jana - "Hey, it's not that bad."

Chris1 - "That's the last straw."

Chris2 - "I can't think of one, I'm gonna need you guys to bale me out."

- Drove to Queensclif to catch the ferry to Sorrento. Saw some dolphins and seals along the way. Had a picnic lunch on the way over.

- Went to Sorrento Back Beach to look for kangaroos. It was a bust,

- Drove to Cape Schank. Beautiful views. Walked the boardwalk below the lighthouse.

- Went to Greens Bush park in the Highfield area for another attempt at finding kangaroos. Success! A great place for kangaroo viewing in a natural setting. Largest population of Eastern Grey kangaroos. Saw a joey in a pouch. Hopping around, eating, sleeping, doing kangaroo things.

- Drove to our Airbnb in Balnarring. Walked to dinner at Fonatlinas. Realized it was BYO so we popped into a bottle shop. Good wood fired pizza.

- Saw a ring tailed possum on the way home.

Thursday, Mar 14

- Went to the grocery store to buy 'only crackers' and once again left the store with a whole lot more (sushi, dips, meats, milk, chocolate milk, licorice, chips, etc, etc).

- Took in a winetasting at Quealy Winemakers. She was really generous and gave us 6 wines to try. Bought a bottle of sparkling wine.

- Drove to Philip Island and stopped at Pinnacles Lookout / Cape Woolamai. Caught a glimpse of our first echidna. Jana excitedly pointed it out to some locals, who were not interested in the least.

- Had lunch at the Pinnacles, and then Chris tried to walk in the dangerous zone. "But there's a sign!", Jana exclaimed. To which Chris replied, "But there isn't one over here."

- Carried on through the rest of the loop and encountered several wallabies.

- Pushed someone's car out of what seemed like a not very precarious position, while the 2 women with them just stood and watched.

- Another stop at the grocery store! Only bought vegetables this time.

- Leftovers for dinner and then it was off to watch the penguin parade.

After killing time in the gift shop, we sat in the front row of the Penguins Plus seating area.

We sat and waited for dusk and the 20 minutes Cantonese speakerphone explanation to finish.

It took the penguins a while to warm up, arriving later than expected. But when they did finally show up they started coming in larger and larger groups. They were pretty cute wobbling back and forth to their nests as they made their way up the beach.

Some of them were really fat because it was moulting season, and they had to stop and take a few breaks along the way.

The official penguin count for this night was around 680.

- Saw a bandicoot during the PENGUIN parade.

- Saw a bush tailed possum on the way out.

- Came home and went in the lukewarm tub for a bit.

Friday, Mar 15

- Checked out the Pyramid Rock Lookout. Might have been a great place for whale watching in a different season.

- Hit the road towards Yarra Valley. Went to Many Hands winery for lunch. Sat out on their deck. Really good gnocchi.

- Stopped by The 4 Pillars Gin company. Had a paddle of 3 gins. Liked the one that was 60% alcohol.

- Next stop was the Napoleon Brewery & Cidery.

- Went to Meletos for dinner, had pizza and pasta and wine.

Saturday, Mar 16

Found the bikes out of the shed at our airbnb and prepared for a 20 km ride to Medhurst winery in the Yarra Valley.

About a km into the ride the chain fell off my bike and we questioned whether we should continue on.

Chris had a mountain bike that was the Australian equivalent of a Canadian Tire mountain bike. Jana had an awkward bike with the handles way lower than the seat and I had a heavy old cruiser.

We pressed on another kilometer and then went into a bike shop to see about getting a ride to get dropped off with our bikes. Instead they gave us a route that used the Wartenburg trail for part of the way.

Set off on a gradual but long climb followed by a decline but then we reached a road with vehicles passing us at 80 km per hour and more hills.

We finally made it to the winery, slightly sweaty. Everyone watched us walk the bikes up a long steep driveway.

We retrieved our bag with a few local delicacies and found our way to the buffet which had locally grown foods, meats and cheeses. We sat on a picnic blanket, eating our lunch, listening to the music, and taking in the views of the winery surrounding us.

At 230 we took part in a wine tasting, and upgraded to some reclining chairs which felt nice to relax in on this warm day.

Thought we would stop at another winery on the way home but it was closing in 15 minutes and it turned out to involve another steep hill climb so we gave up on that idea and began our 20km journey home.

It turned out that the way home was even more uphill than the way there, and Chris ended up pushing his heavy bike uphill for a lot of it.

Ordered some Indian food for dinner and watched Bachelor.

Sunday, Mar 17

An early start for our drive to Melbourne. Hit up the Lune croissantarie which had a long line out front. Next was the Queen Victoria Market which wasnít too exciting. Kiosks full of things made in China and grocery store produce. Went for coffee at Market Lane.

Returned our rental car and took the tram to our apartment. A bit of confusion about where to meet the person giving us the key.

Our 36 TH apartment had nice views of the CBD.

CM: Went to the Melbourne Grand Prix. Arrived shortly before the F18 fighter jets roared across the lake and then ascended straight up into the air, disappearing above the clouds.

As the race began, I walked around the course absorbing the sounds of the F1 and the insane speeds that the cars were zooming by.

Kept walking around the course, taking in different vantage points. Long straight sections. Tight turns. Tried to meet up with Gaz but he was in a section that was too crowded.

CB: Jana and I checked out the library and then visited the Melbourne Gaol. The admission included a self tour of the old jail as well as an interactive tour that included getting arrested and locked in a cell.

To celebrate our escape, we went to Milk the Cow, a licensed fromagerie, for a flight of wine and cheese pairings. And then onto Piparido for some gelato.

We all met up at the hotel and then went for dinner at The Quarter, sitting outside in street. Since Chris missed out on the gelato the first time, we went to another Pipparido location so he could try it.

Monday, Mar 18

Went for breakfast at higher ground, maybe the 2 nd best breakfast of the trip. Had the ricotta pancake and eggs with cauliflower.

Made our way to the Block arcade and checked out a few shops. Then onto Degraves and Hosier Streets to check out the graffiti.

Walked through the AMCI building and Federation square. Then made our way across the river and walked through botanical gardens.

Went for a drink at Ponyfish Island in the middle of the Yarra river.

Next up was ArtVo, an interactive gallery where you take pictures of yourself as part of a 3d mural. The "letís go shopping!!" one of Chris was a hit, along with koalas, magic carpets, breaking bridges and Uluru.

Went for a late lunch at Cargo in the Docklands area and had a view of a harbour.

Headed back to the hotel and went down to relax in the hot tub. Turned on the jets, no one else was using it,..for a reason,.it turned out to be freezing cold.

Checked out the Atrium on 35, admired some of the views but decided not to stay for a drink. Went onto City Wine for a glass of wine, Punt Road Chardonnay and Changing of the Winds Syrah (otherwise pronounced shira or known as a shiraz in Australia as we learned).

Went for dinner at Rice Paper Scissors, our favorite dinner of the trip. The best dish was the tofu on compressed watermelon.


"There's less alcohol in wine because the 12% is spread out over a larger volume."