Sunday, November 22, 2015

Australian Adventures with Friends

I arrived back in Sydney on the 4th November, exactly 6 months after I left Australia last May to train and compete in the UK and North America last Spring. It had also been almost 2 months since last seeing Jez as he left Canada to come straight back to work after the worlds and I had to head home to compete and work in the UK.
Double trouble reunited again

After a relatively easy journey it felt amazing flying in over Sydney and seeing the lights of the city and out line of the coast as we came into land. A quick rally through customs and I soon made it through to arrivals to reunite with my finance and best friend Jez. Shattered from the journey and the excitement of my last week in the UK. I spend the first couple of days settling in and sleeping off my jet lag.

Jez helping me with my Jet lag!

The rest days didn't last long though as first thing Saturday morning (7th Nov) my other partner in crime Dennis Newton and his awesome wife Lisa arrived. They had flown over to visit for a week of adventures in Sydney before continuing onto Tasmania and Singapore for a couple of weeks holiday. So with only 7 days in town we set about doing as many of Sydney's adventures as we could.

Den and Lisa come to visit

The adventure started on Saturday (day 1) at the Penrith White Water course with some kayaking (off course). It was awesome to be back on the water again after several weeks off since Worlds. Especially sessioning with Jez and Den in the warm water and weather of the Olympic course. We then ventured to the Blue Mountains and rode the awesome 'Oakes Fire Trail / Single Track mountain bike route. Catching a train deep into the Blue Mountains and then rallying our way downhill on fire trails before hitting the newly cut single track technical downhill section and blasting our way back to the car. A tour of the main Blue Mountains view points and a few self discovered new ones and Day 2 was done.

I love kayaking with this guy :)

Catching the train to the top

Stretching out some Jet lagged legs

28km blast through the Blue Mountains

Taking on the newly built mountain bike trails

Checking out the awesome views

Apres adventure table tennis

Day 3 saw us venture north to the coast where Jez set to the sky paragliding high above Mona Vale as we kayak surfed, body boarded and swam below. After flying we drove to Palm Beach and hiked up to the lighthouse enjoying the breath taking views of the coastline. Stopping on the way home we had a celebratory birthday Thais meal at the amazing Monkey King restaurant in Newport.

Jez flys high whilst we surf below

Beach life

Recreating the photo from Cayton Bay only a few weeks ago

Surfing with the locals
Followed by a quick swim in the ocean pool
Stunning views of Palm Beach

Really cool rock

Day 4 and it was time to hit the city. Jumping on the ferry we cruised into Darling Harbour in style, a quick walk along the harbour front we then jumped back on the ferry to approach the city in the best way possible. Passing under the Sydney Harbour Bridge and then cruising alongside the Opera House. It feels amazing to be back again. With the customary Opera House selfie done. We then strolled up through the Botanical gardens stopping for lunch before making our way past the Government buildings and back to the harbour through the main streets of town. It was now early afternoon and the weather was hotting up so without much delay we jumped onto the Manly ferry. Finding ourselves in no time relaxing on the beautiful Manly beaches with Ben and Jerry's in hand.

Exploring the city in the sun

Strolling downtown in Cirqular Quay

Den trying to get a different view of the city

Apres city chill at Manly Shelly's Beach

Day 5 and it was time to hit the harbour again. This time from Sydney Yacht Club on a beautiful 30+ foot yacht. In the very experienced and skilled hands of our new friends (Richard, Martin and George). We arrived early to find beautiful clear skies and not a wisp of wind. Another crew was short a few crew so Den and Lisa jumped in another boat and Jez and I stayed to help crew the Larrikin. Luckily as the start drew close the wind picked up and we got to race all around the harbour. It was absolutely amazing to be out on the water in such a beautiful boat again. We can not thank all the guys we sailed with enough for making this experience possible and teaching us all the basics of sailing as we all raced. Competitive as we are though, despite out limited experience and knowledge of the sport, we were all about trying to win the race. Off to a speedy start me and Jez and team Larrikin led from the start until we got to the first bout check point where Den and Lisa snuck around us and then disappeared into the distance to finish the race well in the lead. Our apres race adventure led us back home for a movie and chilled out evening reflecting on another awesome day of adventures.

Setting up the boat before the race

Mid race selfie with the Harbour bridge and Opera House
in the back ground

Mid race on Den and Lisa's boat
Day 6 and our adventure was drawing to a close but not before a few more adventures. First up we jumped in the car and set off on a mission to the Blue Mountains. We had been torn all week between two classic hikes, the Grand Canyon Trail and the National Pass. Eventually we decided on the Grand Canyon walk but we arrived to find the trail closed for repairs so we quickly re routed to Wentworth Falls and the National Pass. A stunningly beautiful walk alongside, up and down waterfalls and traversing across the rock walls of the mountains overlooking the incredible valley below. the weather was perfect not too hot and not cold. The perfect Blue Mountain hiking day, or so we thought.

What a beautiful day in the Blue Mountains

Hiking through the forest

The National Pass

Amazing Waterfalls everywhere
We reached the car park and visitors centre after a fairly hefty uphill slog and settled down the celebrate with some cake and chips. As we finished out healthy!?! hiking snack and went to grab a nice ice cream desert the weather closed in and a massive rain storm hit. The Blue Mountains became the black cloud and the paths became rivers as the train poured down and the thunder and lightning roared up above. It was amazing a proper mountain storm. So with no signs of the storm passing or easing up anytime soon we decided to abort the ice cream plan and run for the car. Little did we know we had slightly miss read the finish of the route on the map and our car was actually 20 mins further down the class 2 river path. In shorts with sun cream running down our faces we jogged, splashed and jumped our way back to the car arriving with big smiles and soaking wet. We then started the journey back quickly realising the Sydneysiders aren't really accustomed to driving in the wet. We arrived soaked to the skin but safely and earlier than planned.

The weather changed!

As the evening set in the weather began to clear which was perfect as our evening activity was a goodbye BBQ for both Den and Lisa and our housemate Mon. Friends from Sydney arrived to celebrate and Jez BBQ'd up a feast. It was awesome. We ate amazing food, surround by awesome people, looking out of our apartment balcony over the Sydney Olympic Park and ANZ stadium.

Day 7 the final day and we were up early again this time to get to the airport to pick up Seb and Vix's our nw housemates and training buddies from the UK. We picked them up and then rallied straight to Bondi beach for a quick swim and body surf session, some Ben and Jerry's and chicken salt chips. It was the perfect end to our adventure trip. As we took our second trip of the day to the airport it was time to say goodbye for a week or two too Den and Lisa as they set off for Tasmania and begin a new adventure this time with Jez, Seb and Vix. First stop the Radical Reels tour that evening.

Surfs up - what happens when we leave the boats at home

Bondi Body Surfing crew