Our first few days in Australia were full of travelling and firsts. The first time we stayed in a hostel, our first trip in the greyhound bus, our first visit to a vineyard and the first time we accepted a lift from a stranger (don’t be alarmed).
Our 6hr flight from Bali to Sydney was uncomfortable and didn’t even have in flight entertainment. It was also overnight so as always poor Jack ended up being awake for over 24 hours. I managed a couple of hours, but by the time we arrived at our hostel we were both knackered. We arrived around 10am but couldn’t check In until 2pm so decided to take a wander around the local area and grab a good old McDonalds breakfast. Surprisingly, the sausage and egg mcmuffin in oz tastes so much better than the UK version. After admitting defeat against our tiredness, we wandered back to the hostel and managed to get some shut eye in the TV room. Everyone in the hostel was really nice and we ended up sharing a 10 bed dorm with northerners and 2 Irish guys. Our roomies had been staying at the hostel for months and treated the room like their own – let’s just say, Jack was struggling with his OCD 😂. The hotel was clean but über messy. It was also very funny sleeping in a top bunk again after so many years – mum and dad prepared me well.
After a good nights sleep, we went to catch our coach to Newcastle (so weird seeing so many UK place names in Oz). The greyhound is a long distance hop on hop off bus with wifi and chargers – we were sceptical but loved it. The wifi worked well and the seats reclined so our 4 hour journey wasn’t so bad. We only spent a night in Newcastle, but thought it was very similar to Hythe or Broadstairs. Again, our hostel was clean and we shared a room with 2 others in a room for 8 – so nice and quiet. The owner was a character (polite word for nutter) but gave us a good tip for a breakfast spot.
The next day, we headed towards a little town called Cessnock just outside of the Hunter Valley. As this was a public bus, we were surrounded by pensioners and were the only backpackers- I don’t think many backpackers make the stop to visit wineries 😂. Our hostel was quiet and had a few older people who had been staying for a while but we managed to get a room of six to ourselves for 2 nights – result! There was also a long term resident, Albert the cat, who I wanted to smuggle into my backpack.
The Hunter Valley was absolutely beautiful. On our first afternoon we took a taxi into the visitors centre and visited a few of the local vineyards. Our first stop was to the only vineyard producing bubbles in the region – I was in heaven. Here we were introduced to a fizzy red wine (served cold), which was actually pretty good. We made a friend in Stuart – the guy helping us taste the wine, so bought a bottle to drink that evening with our homemade spag bol. We were both so impressed that you could literally taste 8 wines for free. We did the same again in the second winery (without buying anything) and by the third we were starting to feel merry. The third winery was more boutique and had already sold out of the majority of its wines. We tried two and again decided not to buy a bottle of the delicious red but this time because we couldn’t afford the $100 price tag. We stayed and chatted to the wine maker for ages. After he worked out that we were staying 5 mins from his house, he offered us a lift home as he was finishing up. Not forgetting the “never get into the car with a stranger” line that had been drilled into us, we judged the situation carefully and jumped in – also saving us $20 in cab fares. This guy was genuinely really nice and gave us loads of hints and tips as to where to visit the following day (and a free beer!) – current opinion is that Australian’s are so much nicer than Londoners.
We hired some bikes on the second day and made our way round the rest of the vineyards (being tested by a few hills on the way). After spending more money on wine (which we are currently carrying in our backpacks), we headed to The Smelly Cheese Shop for lunch. The baked Camembert was delicious. We also managed to squeeze in a slice of tim tam cheesecake – thought it was best to soak up the alcohol 😉. On our way back to the hostel Jack ran a flat tire outside a brewery – typical- so we waited to be picked up by the bike guy whilst sipping a beer. Such a lovely way to spend a couple of days!! As we were leaving the Hunter region, we spotted a very black cloud which turned out to be a bush fire. Now you can’t get more Aussie that than.
Heading to Port Macquarie next for some beach action so stay tuned for the next blog post.
Love as always xx