Goodbye 88 Days of Pruning… Hello Sydney!

You’re probably as sick of hearing about the horrible weather and vineyard work as we were doing it but you’ll pleased to know our 88 days of regional work are now over.

In case you were wondering why we decided to endure this work for such a specific length of time then here’s the answer. To obtain a second twelve month working holiday visa in Australia you must undertake 88 days of regional work. A second visa can only be granted if the work is undertaken in a specific postcode and in one of the industries set out by the Australian government. Anyway, we’ve done all the above so we can apply for a second visa if we want to, so yay!

88 days regional work in Australia = ✔ would we do it again? The answer is no. However, we're proud of ourselves for sticking it out to the end and putting up with one despicable boss, monotonous pruning, repetition, 5am starts, cherry tomatoes, oranges, rain, hail, spiders, lizards, spider bites, blisters and bent fingers ✊. We have met some lovely people along the way and we can officially say we have earned the right to apply for a second year visa in Australia, if we so wish – YIPPEE 🎉. Kingston, Penola, Hillston and Bundaberg goodbye foreverrrrr 👋🎉. . . . #88days #regionalwork #Australia #backpackers #southAustralia #vinelife #shnips #happy days #itsover #getmeawine #byekingston#Bundaburg #Kingston #Penola #hillston #bye4now

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Although we’ve learnt that we don’t want to work outside again, particularly in a hailstorm, we’re glad that we’ve done this regional work even if we wouldn’t go as far to say we’d do it again. At times, it was a little dull and yes there were times when we were sat in our van in the evenings when the wind was so strong it felt like we were going through turbulence on an aircraft wondering if we’d ever be finished.

However, in the last three months, we’ve had the opportunity to live and work in places we may never have even visited and explored many others. Been within 50 yards of Kangaroos, Emus and even Camels. We’ve met many interesting people from different walks of life to ours and made friends with some who are. After all, this is why we went travelling in the first place.

But most importantly we got to live in a town that has a massive sculpture depicting a lobster…

…and we met the son of the man who built it. Claim to fame.

So, with our days complete, it was time to hit the road once again. First stop was Mount Gambier, familiar to us from our time in Penola and on this occasion the scene of an altercation with a barber. My innocent decision to get my haircut was met by the most rude and pedantic barber ever. Having somewhat reluctantly agreeing to giving my barnet a chop, I sat down, asked for a five around the sides and to take some length off the top but keeping it to my enduring style.

Clearly, he took offence and decided to bring out his bubbling attitude and sarcasm in order to respond to my instruction by saying that by taking some of the length off it wouldn’t be same anymore. Taken aback, by this needlessly pedantic comment, I responded by saying “well of course it’s not going to be exactly the same”… before being allowed to finish off and shoot down his ridiculously obvious comment he cut in with a sarky comment and facial expression that I assume was done to prove some sort of point.

Anyway, I decided that this sarcastic, pedantic and rude barber was not worthy of my pruning money. As I stood up, slightly riled up by this point, I uttered the words ‘I don’t think I’ll bother with this’, which was met with forceful agreement from the barber who decided to grab me by the apron and rip it off. At this point, I managed to refrain from retaliating physically but instead delivered a verbal riposte on my way out. As I left the shop, my rage saw me stagger and I only just managed to avoid a head on collision with a lamppost.

Boy, that escalated quickly…

The next day we made our way to Warrnambool via the terrible Portland and the nice Port Fairy to relax in our caravan park’s heated pool & spa. A better kind of heated!

Fully relaxed, we started the next day early to start the Great Ocean Road. If you are the dedicated reader of Big Days Out then you’ll know we had hoped to embark on this journey when we first arrived in Australia but thankfully we finally have made it. Unfortunately, like much of the last three months, we were subjected to abysmal weather, which made the viewing of the first part of the Great Ocean Road quite challenging. Nonetheless we ploughed on and enjoyed the limestone cliffs and formations created by erosion including London Bridge, Thunder Cave and of course the Twelve Apostles.

We enjoyed watching the waves crash through the London Bridge and Thunder Cave, whilst doing our very best to take photos at the Twelve Apostles. Unfortunately, the wind was so strong it was quite difficult to breathe. Despite this, it was an amazing sight. Part two of the Great Ocean Road took us from the limestone coastline into the rainforest with a winding drive through the Cape Otway National Park. Less sightseeing here but most certainly a very enjoyable drive but the best was yet to come.

Having made our way through the rainforest to Apollo Bay, our stop for the night, earlier than planned, we decided as the weather was now glorious to head on another 40km to Lorne and we’re glad we did. Personally, the section from Apollo Bay onwards towards Melbourne is the best section of the Great Ocean Road and it truly lives up to its name.

Twisting, turning, descending and ascending on a road that hugs the cliffs whilst overlooking the Southern Ocean crashing into the rocks in uninterrupted sunshine was truly fantastic.

At the time, I said that it was my favourite part of our time in Australia so far and looking back I still stand by that now. Plus, we also saw two great waterfalls: Carisbrook and Sheoak Falls.

We arrived in Lorne in late afternoon to discover what turned out to be one of my favourite towns in Australia to date. To celebrate this, we went for a drink overlooking the ocean.

Having enjoyed Lorne so much we stayed a little longer in the morning to enjoy some of it eateries and the beach before setting off. We only drove 40kms on this day but we managed to see Aireys Inlet, Anglesea, Bells Beach, Torquay and the Great Ocean Road Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery because why not.

Aireys Inlet was a small but beautiful spot, particularly from the vantage point at the lighthouse, with views back over to Lorne. Anglesea was a brief stop followed by an over indulgence in chocolate and ice cream at the afore-mentioned establishment. To overcome our sugar buzz, we sat on the cliff top at Bells Beach and watched the many surfers do their thing whilst discussing how the basic principles of surfing seem simple but executing them is probably very difficult. With these thoughts in mind, we drove on aptly to the Australian surfing capital, Torquay, where we discovered another great place so we spent the night.

The next morning, we took a refreshing walk along the beach at Torquay and contemplated our time on the Great Ocean Road. Personally, the stretch from Apollo Bay to Torquay was my favourite part of the journey and one of my favourite stretches in what I’ve seen of the country as a whole. If you hadn’t guessed it yet, I rather enjoyed the Great Ocean Road.

Anyway, onwards to Geelong, a city of over 100,000 in population that is approximately 75km from Melbourne. Here we discovered a massive three-story vintage market, found pick and mix for the first time in Australia and took a long walk in the sunshine along the waterfront. Fish and chips for lunch was followed by the 1-hour drive up to Ballarat, another city of over 100,000 in population relatively close to Melbourne. Ballarat had a slightly grand feel to some of the architecture but was a little rough around the edges. During our brief time here, we were able to enjoy the city-wide International Foto Biennale.

We left Ballarat early the next morning to take an approximately 650km drive to the town of Yass, roughly 60km north of the capital city, Canberra. Although, it was merely a day of driving the first two hours were stunning as we truly got off the beaten track on roads that got narrower and narrower and eventually turned to gravel. The scenery was stunning and at one point we stopped just to take in the surrounding beauty of the hills covered in rocks and boulders.

In Yass, the caravan park was full so we free camped but from previous experience we knew it was bad news as the area around Canberra gets extremely cold overnight. So, with no power and thus a heater we wrapped up in many layers but still nearly froze to death as temperatures dipped below freezing. Morris the Mazda was a block of ice in the morning, we couldn’t wait to get going.

We drove into Canberra early and started the day with a coffee overlooking the river and Capital Hill, home to the Australian Parliament. In the words of Walter Burley Griffin, the man who designed Canberra, “it’s a city like no other in the world” and I’d have to agree. Ironically, we did say it had a European feel to it though. Regardless of that it is very visually appealing in its design, set amongst the mountains and very grand in places, most notably Anzac Parade, which is a long boulevard that stretches from the incredible War Memorial Museum down to the river with direct views across to the old and new Parliament houses.

Temperatures soared to 22 degrees as we explored the city on foot with at least 8 miles of walking achieved but it was well worth it and we thoroughly enjoyed the capital. We’ve placed it behind Melbourne and Sydney but ahead of Adelaide and Brisbane in our list of Big Aussie Cities! Having had such an excellent day there was only one way to finish and that was by driving up the Mount Ainslie lookout to take a view over the city. Quite simply, a stunning view…

A week after completing our 88 days, we’ve now arrived in a warm Sydney, expecting 31 degrees on Saturday… finally! Let the next, hopefully, three months of our Australian adventure begin.

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