Monday, 21 of June: We picked up our rental car and drove out to the Blue Mountains. I took them on a hike that I had done with my outdoor education class. We started at Echoes point overlooking the three sisters. This time instead of walking up the 990 “Giant stairway” we choose to walk down and take the world’s steepest railway up. My parents stayed the night out in the mountains while Billy and I took a train back to Sydney.
Tuesday, 22 of June: Billy and I got up bright and early to catch a flight down to Melbourne. Once we arrived we checked into Billy’s first youth hostel experience downtown. We had lunch at a Mexican chain restaurant called Taco Bill’s then walked all around the city. In the afternoon we took the tram out to St. Kilda because I wanted to ride the Luna Park roller coaster with Billy, but when we got there we discovered that the Park was only open on the weekends in the winter. So instead we went to a little cake shop and got some cake and coffee. That evening we met up with my friend Liam and his friend Russ(my friends and I had hung out with last time we were in Melbourne) at the Rooftop bar then went for as he would call it, Tea (dinner) at a hidden little Chinese restaurant that’s known for their dumplings. We foolishly choose the all you can eat deal…delicious but I was uncomfortably full!
Wednesday, 23 of June: We wandered up and down the alley’s to find a little café to have breakfast at. Which is one of my favorite things about Melbourne all of its hidden charm in the alley’s! Next we checked out the Melbourne ACMI- Australian Centre for the Moving Image at Federation Square. It was a museum that had really neat exhibits and interactive sites dealing with movies, video games, and computers. Afterwards we wandered along the Yarra River over to the MCG- Melbourne Cricket Grounds to look around to kill time before my parents arrived in town. We met up with them and did part of the Golden Mile---a mapped out walk of Melbourne’s historical buildings and attractions. We showed my parents the rooftop bar then met up with my Dad’s friend Catherine and her fiancé Paul (who live in Melbourne) for dinner. They took us to a strip of restaurants along the river called, Southbank. During dinner, outside of the restaurants there were giant towers that on the hour spit fire and lip up the whole walk way. We stayed at Catherine and Paul’s beautiful home that evening and they treated us to Haigh’s hot chocolate and Tim tam slams for dessert.
Thursday, 24 of June: Paul kindly drove Billy and me to the airport at 5 am to catch a flight out to Alice Springs for our outback adventure! Once in Alice Springs we retrieved our rental car, stocked up on water, peanut butter and jelly supplies, and had lunch before hitting the long flat road leading us to Ayer’s Rock. The drive took around 5 hours including our stop at a gas station/emu farm and to play on red sand dunes. We arrived at the big rock an hour before sunset so we drove the perimeter of it and checked out the cultural center before driving out to the car lot that was specifically for viewing the sun set. The dessert sky turned a purplish color as the sun sank lower and the rock was illuminated burnt orange. That night we stayed out at the Ayers Rock resort in a hostel dorm.
Friday, 25 of June: We watched the sunrise over Uluru (aboriginal name for Ayers Rock) before starting a full day of hiking. The first hike of the day was around the base of Uluru which was 6 miles. Next up: Climbing Ayers Rock. I was apprehensive at first because there are issues about climbing it being disrespectful. However, once I saw that they had a walking track marked out and realized there was no way my brother would be leaving there without concurring that rock- we began the climb. The first half of the climb up was lined with a chain, because the rock face was so steep. The climbing track was one mile to the highest point which was 1141 ft. From the top we could see the Olga’s and Mt Connor in the distance. Racing the sunlight and on a limited time schedule I made pb&j’s while Billy drove the 45 min out to the Olga’s (aboriginal name= Kata Tjuta: 36 red mounds). Once there we didn’t waist any time hiking at a speedy pace to complete both hikes at the park, the Valley of the winds (4.6 miles) and Walpa Gorge (1.6 miles). By the end of the day we had hiked a total of 14.2 miles up and down and all around! On the car ride out to Kings Canyon, the next day’s hiking destination, we passed two packs of camels in the wild. This surprised Billy because he did not know there were camels in Australia.
Saturday, 26 of June: We got up with the sun again to get hiking in time to return to Alice Springs for our flight back to Melbourne. Today’s hike was 4 miles total, up the side of a canyon, along the rocky canyon rim, and back down. In the middle of the canyon, surrounded by dry red rock was a lush green garden with a river flowing through it, called the Garden of Eden. I think this may have been Billy’s favorite hike, because every time I turned around he was climbing all over the rocks. Having time to spare back in Alice Springs before our flight we decided to drive just right out of town to Macdonnell Ranges. There we did a short hike out to Simpson’s Gorge.
Sunday, 27 of June: The whole family reunited after going our separate ways for the past three days, Billy and I to the outback and my parents to Melbourne and the Great Ocean Road, flew back to Sydney. Billy and Dad spent their last day in Sydney walking across the Harbor Bridge, while Mom stayed back to help me pack and then meet Emma and her Mom for afternoon tea at a little café in Newtown. That evening, my last night in Sydney, Emma, her Mom, and my family went for drinks at the sky tower’s (Sydney’s tallest building—similar to the Seattle Space Needle) revolving bar: The 360 lounge. After a drink there we all met up with Michelle’s family at the Lowen Brau (German Restaurant down in the Rocks) for dinner. It was so nice being there with all of our families! From there we went over to the Observer Hotel, which we were drawn to when we heard the live music from outside. I snuck over to the guy on the guitar and asked if he would let my Dad play one song. He announced for Billy Reedy from Ohio to please come to the stage. My Dad acted reluctant—but he loved it! He played a song called Annie Be Fair and a group of Irish man busted into a jig mid performance. We spent the rest of the evening singing along and dancing. A perfect last night spent in Sydney!
Monday, 28 of June: The day I had been dreading since I fell in love with Sydney and Australia! I kicked off the day with my last hoochie mama’s long black coffee and blueberry banana bread, and then spent the rest of the morning pack and cleaning. In the afternoon, Emma, Scotty, Luke, and I walked down to Janet’s Meat Pies for lunch, I said goodbye to my friend Shona, and then just all hung out until the dreaded time of 4:30 rolled around. They drove me out to the airport…I tried to keep it together the whole car ride but lost it when I had to say goodbye. Throughout my time in Australia I had people I met along the way right me a little message in a notebook that I had. My only rule was that I couldn’t read the messages until I left the people. So once I was on the air plane I read all of the messages from my Sydney friends. The people sitting next to me probably thought I was nuts by the way I would laugh one min and then by crying the next. My parents had had a flight earlier that day to Christchurch, New Zealand, so my Mom picked me up from the airport and I met back up with them at the hotel late when I got in. Leaving Sydney was really hard. I just kept telling myself…you’ll be back sometime don’t worry and instead of saying goodbye...it was I’ll see you later! It was nice to have a whole week of fun planned in NZ to look forward to and distract me.
Next up: Part 3 our New Zealand Adventure!