One of the scariest parts of our trip was driving from Melbourne to Phillip Island, braking at some traffic lights my foot hit the brake and the brake hit the floor and nothing happened. We were going at 80kph and luckily I'd hit the brakes early because the brakes didn't kick in for a few scary seconds and when they did we skidded slightly. We'd just had the car serviced and they'd replaced the brake discs and a few days later some of the electrics on the car had failed such as the aircon. At the same time I had had this braking problem but when Richard took the car back to the garage they said it was all part of the same problem and we got the electrics fixed. So I wasn't expecting it to happen again but when it did there was no way I was going to drive the car any farther than I had to. Luckily, we noticed a Ford garage and they took a look at the car. At first they couldn't find anything wrong because it seemed to drive normally, of course, you don't have the braking problem when you have a mechanic in the car with you. But, after some tests they found out that the brake discs on the front of the car were not correct for our model of car and so weren't the right size, a problem the garage that had done the service on the car had got over by adding some washers until they fitted!!! This meant that the ABS system was fooled into thinking that the front wheels had locked and so disengaged the front breaks and left us with just rear brakes - not good. We had to have new brake discs fitted which cost a few hundred dollars but we couldn't believe that someone would be so stupid, it could easily have caused a car crash.
Drama over, we finished our drive to Phillip Island and rolled up at the two bedroom apartment we'd booked for the night. It was a really homely bungalow so we decided to stay in for a home cooked dinner before rushing off to see another Penguin Parade. There were a lot more penguins on parade this time and we saw them pottering out of the sea onto the beach and then make a run for the dunes. No cameras were allowed but parts of the beach were lit so we had a better view of the penguins this time. [Richard's whinge: No cameras allowed because too many people are too stupid to switch their flash off. Whereas I could have got some fantastic pictures without a flash and not disturbed the penguins. Grrr. Encountered far too much of this sort of blanket rule making that disadvantages everyone just because a minority mess it up.]
The next day we drove down to the far end of Phillip Island because we'd heard that sea lions could be spotted on the offshore islands but either they were out swimming or our eyesight wasn't good enough to spot them at The Nobbies Rocks. Then we went to a Koala Conservation Centre to see some brown koalas. Koalas that live in the south of australia have thick, brown fur whereas those further north where it is warmer have grey fur. The brown koalas look even more like cuddly teddy bears than the grey koalas. What was great about this conservation centre was that the koalas had a huge amount of space and trees to roam around if they chose to. There were outer fences but once inside it felt like you were in a patch of forest in the wild. There was a boardwalk through some of the trees which meant you had more chance of spotting the koalas which are usually balanced high up in the treetops hiding amongst the leaves. There were also pretty rainbow lorikeets and galahs flying around the reserve.
We stopped for a few minutes as we left Phillip Island to witness some pelican feeding by the local fish and chip shop - I guess it's good advertising. He feeds these wild pelicans everyday and it's not surprising they are so huge with all the fish they must eat.
After that we had quite a long drive to Sale (didn't know Nic had a town named after her!) and only stopped a couple of times at some beaches along the way for lunch and to have a quick look at 90 mile beach which we presume is 90 miles in length - a huge expanse of wonderful yellow sand. In Sale we stayed in a former miners cottage which had a lot of period features in it like an ancient telephone - and no air-con so it was pretty hot and stuffy. Interesting place to stay though.
Very, very long drive today - about 7 hours on the road but being in an air-conditioned car was probably the best place to be because the temperature hit 45°C today and we drove through some areas where the sky was very dark, smoky and weird shades of red and purple which we assumed was due to forest fires although we didn't see anything it was quite eerie. We had decided to have a long drive today so that we could have a rest in Batemans Bay, spending two nights there in a reasonable motel. For once my haggling paid off and we $16 off a night between us for the two rooms. It wasn't a luxury hotel but it had a nice, if small, pool that we made use of and we got hours of pleasure from the bedside lamps which were touch sensitive - one touch to turn them on, two and three to make them brighter and four to turn them off again - just like magic! You can tell we aren't in Sydney yet though as the pub shut at 10pm on a Thursday night. We didn't grumble too much though as we were really knackered from the long drive.
Only a short drive today and luckily we'd booked somewhere to stay in downtown Sydney (Chinatown) for a couple of nights so we knew where we were going but we did have to battle with inner city traffic a bit which involved not being able to stop outside the hotel apart from to drop Tref off and then driving around the block multiple times until he reappeared and got us into the underground car park. We had only hours to get ourselves ready for a purple party but it was good to be back in Sydney>.