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Part 1- Planning, Melbourne and the GOR (Great Ocean Road)
Part 2- Sydney
Part 3- The Gold Coast
Part 4- Bangkok, flights home

Author Topic: Yehoshua's Melbourne, Sydney and Gold Cost Australia, Bangkok & Tokyo TR  (Read 18126 times)

Offline Yehoshua

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Re: Yehoshua's Melbourne, Sydney and Gold Cost Australia, Bangkok & Tokyo TR
« Reply #20 on: November 27, 2014, 09:31:41 PM »
Arriving in Sydney-Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Our VA flight to SYD left at 9:30 am. As I mentioned above, we took the Skybus back to the airport and had an uneventful 1 hour ride.

After collecting our bag in SYD we took the subway to our hotel, the Westin Sydney. It was pretty straight forward, and the closest stop was only a couple blocks from the hotel.

The Westin Sydney, while no Park Hyatt, was a very nice, business-oriented hotel with a decent Executive Club.  Since we were platinum members, we were upgraded to a 1-bedroom suite and given kosher tapas in the lounge our first day.

Our room itself was very spacious and had some nice views from the bathroom. It also had 2 bathrooms, which for a 1-bedroom suite was handy at times.


Westin Sydney Living Room


Westin Sydney bedroom


Bath with a view

Once we got settled, we decided to go to Bondi Junction to go food shopping again. It was a bit confusing once we got there though. There are two Westfield Shopping Town malls across the street from each other. One had a Coles and one has a Woolworths, both of which had different selections of kosher food. One was out of milk and the other out of bread, but after going back and forth a few times we got everything we needed and headed back to town.

That evening we were almost going to go to a classical concert at the Opera House, but it was raining pretty heavily and we only found out about it as it was starting so we would have missed the first half. Oh well.

The Bridge Climb and Sydney CBD-Wednesday, December 7, 2011
We got up early to go climb the Sydney Harbour bridge.  This was one of the highlights of our trip. It was a clear, crisp day so we decided to talk to the bridge climb.


Bridge Climb building


Sydney Harbour Bridge, as seen from a ferry; the climb itself goes from the left side all the way to the flags on top; the decoration just below the flags was actually the New Years fireworks display they were setting up

Okay, the bridge climb is expensive, I know. But some things are worth the price to do once.  The climb itself is not hard. There were some older ladies in our group who had no problem with it at all.

They do make you wear these baggy, grey and blue jumpsuits so people are camouflaged with the bridge and motorists donít notice them. They do allow you to wear a hat (that they provide) and are okay with people wearing a tichel under the hat, so long as you pin it down so it doesnít blow off.

We got some great pictures from the top and had a fantastic time over all.  It was a good thing we went when we did, because not 1 hour after we finished it started to rain again.

Once thing which is nice in Sydney is the plethera of indoor/covered shopping areas. We spent most of the afternoon visiting different arcades and two main malls: The Strand and the Queen Victoria Building. Both of these malls are in really old and beautiful buildings, and most of the stores are small boutiques.


The Stand Arcade


The Queen Victoria Building, or QVB

Darling Harbour was the next stop on our trip. We braved the rain and walked to the harbor for some nice (albeit rainy) views.  We were going to go to the aquarium, but decided that although it was rainy and it was indoors, we really werenít interested. We did get a nice picture of the Australian crest though.


Australia Seal

Taronga Zoo-Thursday, December 8, 2011
Apparently Australia really likes tourists. While Melbourne had a free tourist tram, Sydney had a free tourist bus that we took to Circular Quay to catch our ferry to the Taronga Zoo.

It was another overcast day, but it was perfect for going to the zoo. Besides for one very large group of students on an end-of-the-year trip, the zoo was empty. This zoo had tons of animals that are native to Australia and that you canít see in other countries. We took the aerial tram to the top of the zoo and worked our way down (which is how youíre supposed to do it).


Taronga Zoo, ferry entrance


View of Sydney CBD and the Harbour Bridge from the arial tram at the Zoo

Having missed our opportunity to see a performance in the Opera House, we did the next best thing and took a tour after we got back from the zoo. As music lovers and frequent classical music concert goers, it was really amazing to see this world-famous venue up close and to learn the history behind it.


Sydney Opera House, as seen from the Zoo ferry

We didnít have real exciting nights, as we were generally tired and not interested in going out in the rain (yup, it rained again).

The Rocks-Friday, December 9, 2011
Finally, a sunny day! We spent the morning walking around The Rocks area of Sydney. We went up to the observatory and down to the Park Hyatt. The PH was under construction when we were there, so many of the nicer rooms were closed. That made me feel a bit better that we werenít staying there, but we did see the hotel and would try to stay there next timte.


A street in The Rocks area


Sydney Observatory in The Rocks area

We wanted to squeeze in one more activity during our time in Sydney before shabbos.  Warner Bros had a touring Harry Potter exhibit that was in town at the Powerhouse Museum, and my wife insisted that we check it out.


The one thing you could take a picture of at the Harry Potter exhibit

We also checked out Chinatown on the way. There wasnít really that much to see there, but it was on the way so why not.

After the exhibit we made it back to the hotel, packed up and headed to Bondi Beach for shabbos.

We were staying by some friends of friends who were super nice people. They picked us up in Bondi Junction at the train stop and immediately whisked us to Bondi Beach for pictures before shabbos. While we didnít have time to go to the water (we werenít all that interested anyway), we did get some great pictures in areas that only locals would know about.


Bondi Beach from a view point

Shabbos, December 10, 2011
Shabbos was very relaxing. We spent both Friday night with our hosts and shabbos day with a young couple they set us up with for shabbos day. On the walk to their house we passed by the house of the owner of Westfield Shopping Towns (a frum guy) which I thought was pretty cool.

One thing which I found cool and annoying at the same time was my wake up call Shabbos day. Right outside the window (which was open due to no AC since it wasnít hot) were a couple of kookaburras. These birds certainly know how to make noise. Just before dawn and just after sunset they start their laughing and itís really loud. It was cool to hear it in person, yet it was annoying to hear it at 5:00am on shabbos morning!

Shabbos again ended very late and our flight was early the next day, so we just stayed in another night.

While the weather could have been better our first few days in Sydney, we had an enjoyable time all around.

More coming soon...

Offline 12HRS

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Re: Yehoshua's Melbourne, Sydney and Gold Cost Australia, Bangkok & Tokyo TR
« Reply #21 on: November 27, 2014, 10:13:29 PM »
reminded me of a song.

Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree.

Offline sam28

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Re: Yehoshua's Melbourne, Sydney and Gold Cost Australia, Bangkok & Tokyo TR
« Reply #22 on: November 27, 2014, 10:27:57 PM »
wow keep up the good work .

Offline Yehoshua

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Re: Yehoshua's Melbourne, Sydney and Gold Cost Australia, Bangkok & Tokyo TR
« Reply #23 on: November 27, 2014, 10:39:27 PM »
reminded me of a song.

Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree.
😀,  although it's not funny at 5:00am.

Offline yoruel

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Re: Yehoshua's Melbourne, Sydney and Gold Cost Australia, Bangkok & Tokyo TR
« Reply #24 on: November 27, 2014, 11:02:58 PM »
How do the Ausies BBQ?
Great TR.

Offline morgs

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Re: Yehoshua's Melbourne, Sydney and Gold Cost Australia, Bangkok & Tokyo TR
« Reply #25 on: November 30, 2014, 04:57:10 PM »
great tr-waiting for the rest!!

Offline Yehoshua

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Re: Yehoshua's Melbourne, Sydney and Gold Cost Australia, Bangkok & Tokyo TR
« Reply #26 on: November 30, 2014, 05:00:20 PM »
great tr-waiting for the rest!!
Thanks! Hopefully you won't have to wait too much longer.

Offline Yaalili

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Re: Yehoshua's Melbourne, Sydney and Gold Cost Australia, Bangkok & Tokyo TR
« Reply #27 on: November 30, 2014, 05:36:03 PM »
Nice, any pictures from the bridge climb itself?

Offline Yehoshua

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Re: Yehoshua's Melbourne, Sydney and Gold Cost Australia, Bangkok & Tokyo TR
« Reply #28 on: November 30, 2014, 05:38:32 PM »
Nice, any pictures from the bridge climb itself?
Maybe. I have to edit us out though. They don't let you bring your own camera on the climb, so the only picture I have is from them. The reason you can't bring  your own camera because it could fall and absolutely everything (including people) must be secured to the bridge.

Offline Yehoshua

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Re: Yehoshua's Melbourne, Sydney and Gold Cost Australia, Bangkok & Tokyo TR
« Reply #29 on: December 01, 2014, 11:26:40 PM »
Getting to the Gold Coast-Sunday, December 11, 2011
When I booked the two domestic flights on VA, I remembered that one left at 9:30am and the other at 9:00am. For some reason, even though weíd already taken one flight I thought our flight up to OOL was the one that was at 9:30am.

While my wife was finishing packing a few things, I was ready and waiting downstairs in our hosts house. Our hostess had offered to drive us to the airport, something we were extremely thankful for, as it meant not having to schlep our stuff on a bus and two trains to SYD.

As Iím hanging around, our hostess suggests that I check in online. It was 8:00am. We were planning on leaving at 8:15 to get to the airport 1 hour before our flight. When I went to check in, I got an error that online check-in was only available until 1 hour before the flight.  The system did pull up my reservation though and reminded me that my flight was departing on time at 9:00am!

When I told our hostess of my mistake, she grabbed one of our bags, shouted at my wife to come down asap, and by 8:10am we were on the road driving to the airport. There must be a normal way to go, but we took the local way. We were weaving in and out of small city streets, taking every back road imaginable, and doing it all at top speed! Sure enough we pulled up to the terminal at 8:25am, she gave us AUD$5 for shaliach mitzva, wished us good luck and left.

We, on the other hand, still had much to do.  We raced inside, checked in at a kiosk (you cannot check in with an agent, even 1st class), and ran to the 1st class bag drop. The agent gave us some slack, took our bags, guaranteed theyíd be on the flight (they were), and gave us passes for priority security.

By the time the finished patting my wife down after security we heard them calling final boarding for our flight. It was 8:50am.

We ran! Granted we only had backpacks as our carry ons (since we were in a rush they didnít weigh them at check-in), but it was still quite a sprint to the gate.  Needless to say we were the last ones on, making it just as they were closing the door.  We were out of breath but on the flight.

Iíd like to pause and make note of VAs policy for onboard drinks.  They all cost. All of them, including water. There are no free options. Period.  Since we were late we didnít have time to fill our water bottles after security, so we went thirsty for the 1:20 fight.

Once we landed in OOL we rented a car from Alpha Car Hire.  They were the cheapest place I found and conveniently located at both OOL and BNE.  We got our car in no time and were off on our very pleasant and picturesque drive up to the Sheraton Mirage Resort and Spa.

At the time, the Sheraton was undergoing some much needed renovations.  The first room they assigned us to was on the top floor (best views) which hadnít been renovated yet. It was a suite (we were Platinum members), yet it was horribly decorated straight out of the Ď80s.


Our large and dated room

This was fine for my wife, who, at this point, was blown away with the hotels we were staying in having never stayed at much above Best Westerns, but it was not fine for me. My standards were higher. I went back to the front desk and politely asked if there was another room on a renovated floor.

Sure enough there was, but it was not as large a suite as we had and therefore not considered the best room available. We decided to ďsacrificeĒ the size and moved into the brand new room one floor below.


Our smaller, renovated room


View from new room

Sidebar about the kosher food: As a platinum member, the hotel had emailed me before the trip asking if there was anything Iíd need during my stay. I mentioned that a kosher breakfast would be nice, but we ended up settling for unlimited bread and rolls from the kosher bakery up there.  It ended up being awesome. We only stayed a few days, but each morning and evening they offered to get us a fresh loaf of bread.

After settling in we decided to go to Surfers Paradise to look around. The skys were looking quite ominous at this point, like it could start pouring at any moment.  Sure enough, after walking around outside for a bit it started pouring. Not lightly raining, but down pouring including thunder and lightning.

Since we needed to go food shopping once again, we took advantage of the huge mall there to go to the Woolworths in the mall.  We spent some time walking around the mall, intrigued by some of the stores we saw.


No, the store is not kosher, they just use the same font; the store is called Universal Store


Apparently Australians feel the need to go shooting while at the mall


Xmas, Gold Coast style

The one problem with beach towns like the Gold Coast is they lack rain activities. Sure there are malls and movie theatres but neither interested us much.  When we returned to the hotel and asked the concierge for ideas they suggested board games. As lame as it might seem, we decided to make the most out of the situation and spent the next hour or so playing Scrabble.

We went to bed that night during a rain storm and woke up the next day to clear and sunny skies.

Tamborine National Park-Monday, December 12, 2011
Thank G-d the rain stopped, and we were able to continue with our itinerary as scheduled.  After a late start we were on our way to the mountains right by the coast to explore Tamborine National Park.

Once we got to the area near the park, we stopped at an information office to ask about which hikes to do.  The guy there suggested we take a few short ones and one longer one.  He also asked us if we had salt with us.  Umm, no, we didnít in fact have salt, but why would we need any? Leeches. Lots of them. People pour salt on leeches if they attach to you to kill them.  He warned us to be careful, that leeches could bite through clothing and soft sneakers, but not to worry and they werenít dangerous even if one did start sucking blood.

Our first hike we went on was the long one, Witches Falls hike. This hike starts off right near the road on top of mountain and you hike down. This hike was through the rainforest (first time Iíve ever been in a tropical rainforest) and was stunning. There was thick vegetation along both sides of the trail, yet the trail was (for most of the hike) clearly marked and well maintained.


Witches Falls hike


View from top of hike


Witches Falls hike

We made sure not to rub against any plants to try to avoid the leeches. It almost worked. Once we made it back to our car and we sat down for lunch, my DW noticed two leeches: one on my sock and one on my shoe, neither one had clamped down yet.  I got a little scared and tried to pull them off with a napkin.  At that point they decided to clamp down, but since I was removing them they only got hold of fabric, not skin.

Turns out leeches are really stretchy. I guess this makes sense as they do fill up with blood, so it took some prying to get them detached. I threw them out of the car and remained paranoid about finding another one for the remainder of our little meal.

After this episode, we decided to take a break from hiking and headed to the local glowworm cave. Glowworms are indigenous to only a few areas in the world and Queensland, AU is one of them. The place we visited was actually a glowworm sanctuary (no joke) where they built a cave for them to live in as theyíre dying out (I forgot why).

We took a tour of the cave and learned more about the glowworm than I thought was possible.  Turns out they only have mouths as larvae, but they grow shut as adults. This presents a problem as they canít eat. For this reason, males usually live 4-5 days in total and females live 2-3 days. Can you guess why the males live longer?

Anyway, it was a really cool activity which I think was pretty unique. We werenít there for too long, and after we finished there we went on our next hike: Curtis Falls.

This is a short .5k hike to a beautiful water fall. You could keep going on a much longer hike, but at that point we were starting to get tired and couldnít handle much more than this 545m hike.


Curtis Falls Track


Waterfall at the end of the Curtis Falls hike

Kind of tired, we headed back to the Sheraton to spend some time at the hotel.  By the time we got back it was about 1 hour before sunset. We went to the hotelís beach which was pretty much deserted at that time, and spent some time in the warm Western Pacific.

After the beach we wanted to try the in-pool bar. Again, the pool area was pretty much empty, and it was cool to sit at the bar and get a drink in the pool.

The Gold Coast and Coolangatta/Tweed Heads-Tuesday, December 13, 2011
On our last day in the Gold Coast we decided to drive back down the coast all the way to Coolangatta/Tweed Heads, the city that spans the border between QLD and NSW with the former in QLD and the later in NSW.  On the way we passed Miami Beach and Palm Beach, which got me thinking. This part of the Gold Coast (the part by the water) reminded me a lot of Miami. It was pretty flat, the water was to the east, and it was warm. Whatever.


Miami Beach, QLD


Palm Beach, QLD

The main reason it makes a difference which state we were in has to do with what time it is. Being further north, Queensland doesnít observe daylight saving time while NSW does. Since it was summer when we were there it meant that there was a 1 hour difference between Coolangatta  and Tweed Heads with the former being 1 hour behind.

Itís really cool because the state line actually runs down the middle of a residential street at one point, and theyíve even put up a monument marking the border. When itís summer and you stand on the border, half of you in one hour ahead of the other. For this reason most stores have two clocks. Also, most tours go by Coolangatta time even if they leave from NSW.


State line


I guess it was 12:30 for me?

We spent some time at various parks overlooking the beach. We also went to Chris Cunningham Park to eat lunch and watched people doing all sorts of water sports.


Does anyone recognize this picture? You should...

Once back at the hotel, we had a grilled cheese dinner, courtesy of the hotel's ironing board.


Ironing board grilled cheese

It was a very relaxing day, and we enjoyed our short stay in the Gold Coast a lot.

Final installment coming soon...

Offline Chapshnell

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Re: Yehoshua's Melbourne, Sydney and Gold Cost Australia, Bangkok & Tokyo TR
« Reply #30 on: December 02, 2014, 12:14:30 AM »
great stuff!

Offline Yaalili

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Re: Yehoshua's Melbourne, Sydney and Gold Cost Australia, Bangkok & Tokyo TR
« Reply #31 on: December 02, 2014, 01:22:14 AM »
The ironing board awesome :) - Are we supposed to recognize the pictures if we have never been there?

Offline Yehoshua

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Re: Yehoshua's Melbourne, Sydney and Gold Cost Australia, Bangkok & Tokyo TR
« Reply #32 on: December 02, 2014, 01:43:17 AM »
The ironing board awesome :) - Are we supposed to recognize the pictures if we have never been there?
You have seen it before.

Offline MC

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Re: Yehoshua's Melbourne, Sydney and Gold Cost Australia, Bangkok & Tokyo TR
« Reply #33 on: December 02, 2014, 01:44:46 AM »
Gotta admit, I always assumed your avatar was somewhere along the PCH 

Offline Yehoshua

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Re: Yehoshua's Melbourne, Sydney and Gold Cost Australia, Bangkok & Tokyo TR
« Reply #34 on: December 02, 2014, 01:45:40 AM »
Gotta admit, I always assumed your avatar was somewhere along the PCH
Ding Ding Ding! We have a winner. If the beach off PCH looked like that my picture would be from CA.

Offline morgs

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Re: Yehoshua's Melbourne, Sydney and Gold Cost Australia, Bangkok & Tokyo TR
« Reply #35 on: December 02, 2014, 02:27:45 AM »
Thanks-so far-really entertaining read and great pics. Thanks for the salt tip-I actually always take salt with me whenever I travel because you never know ;D

Offline Yehoshua

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Re: Yehoshua's Melbourne, Sydney and Gold Cost Australia, Bangkok & Tokyo TR
« Reply #36 on: December 02, 2014, 09:03:09 AM »
Thanks-so far-really entertaining read and great pics. Thanks for the salt tip-I actually always take salt with me whenever I travel because you never know ;D
You're welcome, glad you are enjoying.

Offline shmebeble

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Re: Yehoshua's Melbourne, Sydney and Gold Cost Australia, Bangkok & Tokyo TR
« Reply #37 on: December 02, 2014, 09:12:58 AM »
This is great! I am headed there in June and this TR is getting me excited.

Offline Yehoshua

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Re: Yehoshua's Melbourne, Sydney and Gold Cost Australia, Bangkok & Tokyo TR
« Reply #38 on: December 02, 2014, 09:29:47 AM »
This is great! I am headed there in June and this TR is getting me excited.
Thanks. That's the whole idea, to help people who are going. Feel free to ask questions.

Offline @Yehuda

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Re: Yehoshua's Melbourne, Sydney and Gold Cost Australia, Bangkok & Tokyo TR
« Reply #39 on: December 02, 2014, 10:31:49 AM »
Awesome! Really fun to read, good job! Looks like it was a nice trip. Too bad it kept raining :(
Summer Christmas sounds really funny. The state line thing is cool and the ironing board trick is gold! I didn't catch where the pic was from but thanks MC! That's pretty cool!