Sunday, 3 April 2011

We have relocated!

Hello lovely person,

You are welcome to peruse this blog here, but it is now no longer active. Please head on over to for the new home of Lies My Parents Told Me, where you can read this blog and others by Ashley Fryer.

Thank you for visiting! :)

Ash x

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Melbourne, The Great Ocean Road and Adelaide II OR The Last Australia Blog

Hello one and all,

Apologies for this ridiculously belated post, but I felt I couldn't get the blog back to normal without finishing off the last chapter of my incredible six month adventure! And even though I have been back in the UK for a whole month now, I wanted to share the the last 3 weeks of my trip with you because it was a really wonderful time.

So, I left off in Sydney, having climbed the Bridge, celebrated my birthday, and took enough photos of the Opera House to fill its own album. I spent eight days in Sydney, wandering round wide-eyed (believe me, you never get used to seeing icons like the Opera House) and then flew to Melbourne, via an airline that makes Ryanair look like Airforce One. Melbourne has two airports: Tullamarine and Avalon. A word to the wise - if a city has more than one airport, do the research to find which is closer to said city. Do not choose an airport based on the argument that it has a prettier name, or you may find landing in a field outside a large shed, 55km away from your destination. But I digress.

Melbourne has a reputation for being a more 'European' city, which I imagine is due in part to its cafe culture and pokey sidestreets, which have the obligatory restaurants spilling out onto the cobbles. It has trams (more on that later) and a wonderful suburb called St Kilda, which is known for its hippy dippy culture and seaside loveliness. St Kilda has a rather fantastic street called Ackland St, which is famous for its cakes, so I felt right at home. I stayed in St Kilda for my first few days and split my days between exploring St Kilda itself, and tramming it into Melbourne to explore. Melbourne is quite simply one of my favourite places in the world. Not only because it is beautiful and cosmopolitan, but because it has that vibe that certain cities emanate. San Francisco is another of my favourite cities and I genuinely think it has something to do with the energy around it, the atmosphere, the very feeling you get when you step off the plane - either that or I really have a thing for trams.

Having gorged myself on cake for four days and bohemed around St Kilda, I moved to Fitzroy, a suburb in the north of Melbourne, famous for Brunswick St - another pocket of Bohemia in Melbourne. I stayed with the lovely family of a long time friend of mine, and Lou arrived back from Darwin a day or so later. Fitzroy is another lovely area - gorgeous cafes, folky music nights, vegan shops etc. We had a wonderful stay with our fab hosts and then planned the next part of our journey - The Great Ocean Road.

We opted to do a relocation deal with a car rental company, and got a steal of a deal, paying just $5 a day to rent a 4WD camper van. As a Ford KA driver myself, I am used to driving a tiny bubble of a car and I consider myself to be a fairly confident driver. However when we were walked through the car park to the car we were hiring, I was left speechless at the BEAST I was expected to drive 1200km to Adelaide. It was quite simply the biggest car I have ever seen, let alone driven. But drive it I did, all the way, all 20 hours or so to Adelaide. And it was without doubt, one of the real highlights from the whole trip.

The Great Ocean Road is a road stretching about 150 miles along the coast, starting at Torquay (near Melbourne) and ending at Warrnambool (no, I can't pronounce it either). It has some of the most spectacular coastline imaginable, with breathtaking rock formations such as The Twelve Apostles and London Bridge. It is one of the most popular scenic drives in the world and for good reason. I drove eleven straight hours on that road and barely blinked.

After the Great Ocean Road ended, Lou and I started looking for places to camp for the night. It is illegal to sleep in your car/camper in an ordinary car park and there are fines in Oz for those that do so, but by 10pm, neither one of us cared about the idea of being caught. We picked a random town along the way and pulled up outside a hotel, drew the curtains in our car and tucked ourselves in. By 7am, the sunrise had woken us up and so I jumped out of the back, pajamas and all, to stretch before driving again. It was as I climbed into the front seat that Lou pointed out that the entire hotel restaurant in front of us was staring at us in bemusement, at which point I put the car in gear, waved, and pulled out. It was a fine moment for blondes in big trucks everywhere.

We spent the next day road tripping along to Adelaide, passing The Big Lobster (made ever more famous by Bill Bryson's Down Under) which is a giant concrete lobster in the middle of a town in the middle of nowhere. What makes the Lobster particularly stand out from Australia's weird and wonderful collection of 'Big Things' is that the man who built it misread the plans and used metres instead of feet - so the thing is about three times the size it should be and it stands above Kingston in all its ferocious glory.

We arrived in Adelaide later that day and I was happily reunited with my Aussie family. We spent a wonderful day wine tasting in the Barossa Valley, and I even managed to see the actual Jacobs Creek! Lou then went up to Alice Springs, while I spent time catching up with my pals in SA. I spent Australia Day camping on the Fleurieu Peninsula with my godsister Sammy, and then a couple of days later we had my farewell meal at a fabulous Indian restaurant in Adelaide. I left Australia on the first day of February and so ended my wonderful six months away. I want to end this by saying a huge thank you to everyone I met along the way - every single one of you contributed to what was the most incredible six months of my life. I also want to thank everyone back home - whether you were there when I had a wobble, or there to send me a Christmas card, or even just there cheering me on - I am so grateful to have friends/family like you. THANK YOU.

And to anyone out there who is wondering about travelling - anyone who is stuck, or bored, or lost, or looking for something more - GO TRAVELLING. I cannot recommend it enough. I had my doubts about going out there on my own, but I can genuinely tell you that going was the best decision I have ever made. Do it. Take the leap. Believe in yourself.

Life is out there.

Friday, 7 January 2011


Hello boys and girls,

Greetings from Sydney!! I have been here several days now and I think I am a little bit in love with it. Lou and I had an amazing New Years Eve in Byron Bay, completed by seeing in 2011 on the beach with several thousand other people, dancing and drinking under the stars, followed by a delightful couple of days winding down in Byron before moving on on 2nd. Lou went straight to Sydney, while I took a 36 hour detour to Coffs Harbour, to visit my dear friend Sophie, who came to Oz the same week I did. I had a really lovely time catching up with her and we went swimming in the sea, ate chips and pizza and watched several movies on the couch. Only had one minor freak out when a huntsman spider sidled into the lounge, but thankfully Sophie was a hero and removed said offensive beasty. All in all it was a wonderful few days and 2011 is looking pretty darn peachy so far.

I got to Sydney on 4th and went to meet Lou at our hostel in Kings Cross, which is in the red light district of Sydney, a 30-45 min walk from the heart of the city. Our hostel was not perfect - the cockroaches were particularly unwelcome and though I heard reports of bed bugs, my room seemed to be clear - but I ended up having a good couple of nights there, before relocating to a more central location yesterday. Lou and I went for a long walk around Sydney, via the botanical gardens and took several hundred photos of the Opera House and Bridge, despite the fact it was totally overcast, then walked the longest possible route to Darling Harbour and admired everything from the view to the monorail to the sexy Aussies that come hand in hand with this place. When the day was over we headed back for an early night, as the following day was my birthday and we had big plans.

On the morning of my 22nd birthday, I was given several lovely pressies by Lou (complete with a cupcake card! she knows me so well!) and I opened the cards from my family, which was lovely. Then Lou and I made our way down to The Rocks (the oldest part of Sydney) (and via Starbucks of course) to find BridgeClimb. BridgeClimb was established in 1998, and is the company that allows you to climb the outer arch of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, for the princely sum of $220. Given that my bank balance is looking increasingly pathetic it was never something I would have normally afforded, but thankfully Ma and Pa gave it to me as my birthday present, so I was particularly excited to be there. You get to wear a special sexy grey suit and a harness, which means you can't fall off the bridge (a relief for me since the first thing I had done that day was fall down the stairs in the hostel), and off you go. I was expecting it to be ladders and stairs agogo, and that by the top I would be a magenta version of my former self, but it was surprisingly easy, and with every step the view became ever more magnificent.

We were lucky enough to get good weather, so from our view at the top of the world's tallest bridge, we could see all of Sydney which stretches all the way to the Blue Mountains. It was just breathtaking. Aside from the intricate workings of the bridge itself, which services trains, traffic and pedestrians, the climb itself was exhilarating, and it is truly and experience I will never forget. Unfortunately the only downside was that a single photo of the day cost a ridiculous $26, so I had to sneakily snap some blurry photos on the old iPhone to capture the memories of our fabulous climb.

After BridgeClimb, Lou and I headed out to Bondi (via a cupcake shop) and spent an hour walking through the dodgy parts to get to the beach, which was overall a little disappointing. But the graffiti art that lined that walls behind the beach was really special, so I had a good time anyway. We then headed back to the hostel by which time word of my birthday had spread, and several people were pre drinking in honour of my birthday night out (which I wasn't even aware about). We ended up playing drinking games on the landing in the hostel before catching the party bus to Scary Canary, a backpacker bar in town, where we danced to the very wee hours before weaving our way home. I was very impressed to realise I had returned with the meagre $2.50 I had gone out with, and had singlehandedly failed to pay for a drink all night, which is excellent for my bank balance, but not so excellent for my head. I can confirm that hangovers do get worse as you get older, and I am currently still maintaining I will never drink in excess again. Though we all know how long that mantra usually lasts.

Yesterday Lou and I took the ferry to Manly, which was just lovely. We had beautiful blue skies and lovely white sand, and I happily slept off some of the hangover on the beach. I should point out that I have actually spent the last 6 months wearing the same pair of short shorts, and I have hilariously white tan lines where the shorts go, which has rendered bikini wearing nearly impossible. I had had to accept that I will simply have to wear these shorts until my tan fades, which should be about 2 days after I get home, judging by the weather in England! But anyway, back to Manly. We had a lovely time mooching about on the beach before taking the ferry back and we got some cracking shots of beautiful Sydney in what was the best weather we have had yet here.

Today's plan was to head out to the Blue Mountains to see the stunning sights depicted by our guidebooks and postcards. So we duly got up at 7am to make the 8am train to Katoomba - a journey that takes two hours. Interesting side bar - did you know the trains here are double decker? Even the tubes are on two levels!! It is so weird. So we got on the train all sleepy but excited, and were whisked off to see the majestic splendour of the Blue Mountains, so called because of the eucalyptus evaporating from the gum trees there, which gives the mountains a bluish hue. But a bluish hue was no where to be seen. In fact the mountains in general were completely invisible. It seems Lou and I picked the worst possible day to visit Katoomba, and after walking half an hour to Echo Point Lookout, we were faced with a solid white wall of cloud, and not a mountain or even a small hill in sight. It was very surreal to see such a pure white out, and Lou commented that it looked like we were at the end of the world (and after two hours on a train, it felt it too). But we laughed it off and took pictures of ourselves in the mist, before heading back to Sydney to the sunshine.

Tomorrow Lou leaves for Darwin, while I have a few more days here. I am planning to do all the museums as Lou isn't a museum fan, as well as the Annie Liebowitz exhibition down at the MCA. Then on Wednesday 12th I fly to Melbourne, before Lou joins me on 16th. Really looking forward to Melbourne too! I am having the time of my life out here, it is surreal to think I will be home so soon. Thank you all so much for your birthday wishes on facebook - I am always surprised and touched by the people that take the time to drop me a line! Can't wait to smother you all in love when I get home on 2nd Feb. :)

Until next time my lovelies! xxx

(All photos by me)