We’ve been on the east coast for over a week now but have been out and about so no time for an update. It will be a bit backwards as we are starting with last week rather than all the stuff we’ve missed out in Thailand (Koh Jum) and Singapore.

Arrived last Saturday and Tim met us at the airport. For the first time since Kenya we experienced RAIN :( And except for today (Tues 6th) Sydney has been grey and damp with one outstanding thunder and lightning storm. The day after arriving, we walked around central Sydney – easily done as Tim lives very central – just 20 minutes from the bridge. It’s a lovely city with a mix of high-rise and old Victorian-style buildings, and with the bridge, water and old buildings it really did remind us of Newcastle – albeit on a much much larger scale :-)

On the Monday we picked up a hire car and went for a week driving tour of south east New South Wales with Tim. We packed in quite a lot starting with the lush Blue Mountains National Park. Katoomba YHA is great, a wonderful art deco hostel. Becs in particular got very excited by the cable car descending into the valley, whilst Paul went on the steep train instead. The place, whilst obviously touristy, seems well designed in terms of paths etc that discourage people from trampling all over the place, eroding the plants etc (see the pics of sandstone cliffs and rainforest, as well as the thick mist that thankfully burnt off before our walk). The walk was lovely, though not so lovely for Tim towards the end when he discoverd about 6 leeches had attached themselves to his ankles – see pic of thin leech that we observed looking for a meal, compared with fat leech that was later removed from Tim!

After a stay overnight in Bathurst with an evening drive around the Bathurst motor racing circuit (a public road when not in use), we headed down to Canberra. This is a very open plan city and full of galleries and museums, and we visited the National Gallery as well as a cheeky evening visit into the Parliament to watch a deserted argument reading of some bill or other. We were amazed that they would let us in after hours, but if an evening session is in place then they are able to usher the public in.

Down to and Canberra we headed to Mt Kosciuszko, the highest peak in Australia (2228m). Luckily there’s a chairlift up the steep valley but there’s still a 13km roundtrip walk to the summit. Becs loved the chairlift! They had provided a walkway all the way, so the 13km was done very quickly and the mist and rain managed to hold off for most of the walk (see the pic of Tim and Becs at the summit).

The rain continued but as we arrived at Narooma on the coast we woke up to a clear warm sunny day at last. Walking on boardwalks around the river mouth and to the beach, Becs spotted huge stingrays swimming in the shallow water, quite an impressive sight. There was some good snorkelling around about as well, although the water was a bit chilly! Narooma was lovely and chilled, with a 1930s picture house where we saw Pan’s Labrynth with about 5 other Naroomians.

We headed back up the coast towards Sydney, stopped off at Bateman’s Bay (a bit disappointing but very nice food) for the first night of camping (caravan park cabins and YHAs for the previous nights) and Kiama with it’s beautiful and rugged point that has a big blowhole that shoots water spray into the air as the waves seem to get sucked up into it. There was a 2-4m swell coming in and someone had decided to install a sea water swimming pool in the rocks, filled up by the waves breaking over the edges.

We’re back in Sydney now and spent yesterday (Monday) around town inspecting the skeletons at the Australian Museum – oh and the exhib of BBC wildlife photographer of the year 2006 which had some absolutely breathtaking pics, and mooching around the NSW Art Gallery. Today is a chill out day as we’re planning our next road trip, uploading some pics and updating the blog. Hope that you have time to enjoy browsing the photos. We’ve taken so many with our new camera that it was difficult to whittle them down.

More news soon

Love Paul and Becs

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