Hello again and apologies for the complete absence of any updates. We are about to leave new zealand tomorrow so hopefully I am going to catch you up on the last 6 weeks or so.
First stop in australia was melbourne, just in time for the boxing day test! Of course this was all in the plan and tickets had been purchased for days 2, 3 and 4 of the cricket, but we had been unable to buy tickets in advance for boxing day. Regardless we set off for the MCG anyway and within two minutes of leaving our hostel I had purchased a ticket for the game at a fairly reasonable price... after a bit of bartering! 9 hours later and we were leaving the MCG having witnessed possibly the best England displays against australia ever! The atmosphere in the ground was unbelievable and it only got better as the match progressed. We managed to associate ourselves with the barmy army, sitting in their section behind the bowlers arm, and the support for the team was unbelievable. (In christchurch i was wearing a barmy army t-shirt and an english man came up to me and thanked me for winning the ashes - saying that without the barmy army we would never have played so well!) After the game each day we would head to the barmy army official pub (singing long into the night) and every now and then news would filter through from one of the players saying how good the support was that day. It was a great experience being involved in that kind of support, as was watching the cricket at the MCG. It is an incredible venue to watch sport. For the most part we were around 10-15 rows back from the front, a great place to watch cricket, however on day 3 i made the long climb up to the top of the top tier and had a birds eye view of the game. Its ridiculously high! So after 4 days of constant partying and singing my voice was very much worse for wear and it was a shame there was no cricket on my birthday but all we could manage was to go out for a meal and then back to bed!
New years eve was a fun occasion, spent all day on st kildas beach in the scorching sunshine and in the evening went to Federation Square where fireworks went off from all around. It was packed with families and tourists and was a really good atmosphere.
Next we headed up to cairns. There isnt a huge amount to do in cairns and we mainly relaxed by the pool in our hostel, recovering from our mad 9 days in melbourne! From cairns we headed down to airlie beach, a nice seaside town from which you can take cruises around the whitsunday islands. We went on a 3 day cruise, staying on a tropical island for 2 nights and inbetween visiting beautiful beaches, snorkelling on the reef and even having a brief introductory scuba dive. This was an amazing trip with beautiful scenery around us the whole time.
Unfortunately due to the floods we couldnt see much more of the east coast. We flew into brisbane hoping to be able to work our way down the coast from there but we were unable to leave the airport so ended up staying the night there and flying straight down to sydney. Here we did the usual tourist things, visiting the opera house and harbour bridge (plenty of great photos!). We had a couple of beach days on bondi and coogee beach, both beautiful beach with huge waves! At bondi the waves must have reached 12 feet and I got thrown around but it was all good fun. Sydney is definitly up there with one of my favourite cities I have visited but unfortunately it is so expensive.
We left australia having had a great 3 weeks and headed for christchurch.