Friday, March 14, 2014

Australia - Days 4-6

Base Camp (a.k.a. Melaleucca Surfside Backpackers)

Day 4 was a bit rough due to continued lack of sleep.  I was able to skype with my parents though, so that was nice. I also got my bank account set up and got a bank card.  It is a bit confusing how it all works though - hopefully I don't get charged fees on stuff.  After a 3 hour bus ride to Port Stephens we were at Base camp.  I stayed in one of the tents hoping that since I would only have a 1 tent-mate (versus 9 in the cabins) I would get more sleep. *Spoiler Alert* I didn't get more sleep, I got less.  I forgot how NOT sound proof tents are - they just don't have quiet zippers!!  Plus, the people in the other tents (about 2 feet away) were not quiet inviduals.  Anyway, we went down to the beach after supper and the clouds went away and we got to see the moon and the stars - it was really pretty and we had the beach all to ourselves.

On Thursday morning (day 5 for those keeping track of such things) we went to the Stockton Sand Dunes.  It was so neat!  The dunes were beautiful and they actually have a lake underneath them!!  My Dad would have loved to drive the 4WD truck over them - my truck was all girls and I'm pretty sure Mitch made it extra rough just to hear them squeal :)
Stockton Sand Dunes, Port Stephens

We got to the top of one of the dunes and pulled out the sandboards.  They're smaller than a snowboard and have a round point at the front (but not on the back).  You sit on them and put your hands out behind you to steer.  Due to too many dislocated shoulders from previous trips they forbid trying to stand and go down the dune.  It was such a workout to try and climb back up the sand dune after a ride down.  Despite not ever tumbling off my board, I still left completely covered in sand.  Thanks in part to the sunscreen I had applied before we left, and in part to the wind blowing the sand all over you.  Since we were heading out for a hike shortly after returning from the dunes we didn't bother showering, we just rubbed off the sand as best we could.  The hike up Mt. Tomaree was quite steep (and since I had somehow missed the part about packing shoes for the hike, I did it in flip flops *I can see the shocked look on your faces now, me in flip flops).  The path was paved with bricks most of the way, and the majority of the rest had metal, grate steps/paths, so it really wasn't that bad.  The view from the top was so amazing, something you see in calendars or movies shot in exotic locals.  Pictures just don't do it justice.
View from Tomaree National Park, Port Stephens
After lunch we all headed down to the beach to get some sun.  It was so stinkin hot down there I couldn't believe it!  What a difference being back at camp on the shaded lawn and being on the beach.  The water was rather chilly, but since it was unbearably hot it felt so refreshing.  I didn't last long because I felt like I was getting burnt and with little sleep in the last week and lots of activity I was feeling really tired.  I headed back and got a nice shower (no more sand in my hair).  We had an amazing dinner and everyone sat around chatting for quite a bit afterwards.  Caryn (from Wales) was keeping us girls quite entertained.  Most of us then helped clean up and somewhere in the middle of dishes it started.  You get a group of girls together and someone starts singing a Disney song - there's no stopping it.  :)  We sang so many random songs (and not all Disney) - with Jeff arriving halfway through and adding to the chaos.  Once it was dark everyone headed down to the beach for a bonfire, but I decided to take my chances and skip it in order to get some sleep before everyone got back.  It worked, I did get more sleep than usual - I might need to invest in some stronger sleeping pills, because the ones I have don't seem to work all that well.

Friday morning, day 5 we packed up our stuff and then set out for the marina to catch a dolphin watching cruise.  I do love being on boats and getting to see dolphins was an added perk.  Boy did we see dolphins!!  There were so many of them and we even got to see a baby dolphin!! They like to swim along with the boat and jump in the waves so we got to watch them for quite a while.  The boat had a slide off the back so at one point we stopped and they let us use the slide.  The water was incredibly cold, but it was fun.  So now I'm back in Sydney for the rest of the weekend.  Paid a ridiculous $8 for a small load of laundry, but what can you do - I needed clean clothes.  One of my current roommates is from Germany and she's very sweet. We've got a 3 hour walk tomorrow morning, so hopefully I can get some good sleep tonight.  Being a light sleeper sure makes group travel interesting....and not in a good way.

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