Welcome to Central Califor-Er Southern Australia!

Trip Start Sep 01, 2010
Trip End Dec 01, 2010

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Where I stayed
Greg's house
Original Backpackers Hostel Kings Cross
Mt Eliza at Brits house
Joanna Beach

Flag of Australia  , Victoria,
Friday, October 29, 2010

We arrived in Sydney at midnight. Got our bags, sneaked a blowdart gun through customs, and jumped on a train to Kings Cross. Man, culture shock. The air felt so perfect, not too hot, not too cold, and our bags were so heavy with Balinese Purchases and Duty-free liquor I thought my arms might fall off at the shoulder socket. and we began walking along the hostel row knocking on doors. Fortunately, we were received by a night manager at Original backpackers and were given $28 beds in a 6-man room. wow...we just spent in one second what would last us 3 or 4 days in Bali. There was some adjustment needed. They were watching Lost in our room...it was all just sort of surreal...We headed to Kings cross to get a quick bite and discovered we wished we'd brought some sleeves with us. I ran across to a 7-11ish place and got a bottle of water- for 3$! then we got mediocre pizza and veggie wraps from a late night food place and watched people walk by in Formal attire...people dress up to go out places in this world...I forgot about that. high heels and fur? what are those?  Then a really drunk guy asked us some really deep questions until his friend came and dragged him away. It was all really weird. I felt like I was in America, but while we were away they changed random details, like calling fries chips and saying "how ya doing" instead of "hows it going" It was like maybe I went back in time for 6 weeks to Bali, but I accidentally killed too many mosquitos altering the future so that when I came back the present things were just slightly off. Haha!
We crashed out and got up at 10am (three hour time change didn't help us get an early start) and we began our mission of figuring our situation out. First step, a car. We were majorly on the fence about whether to buy a car and sell it back for only a slight loss at the beginning of peak tourist season in Dec or rent a car which would end up costing waaaay more but with a lot less risk. We looked at some of the options to buy and realized we didnt really want to put up more than about $4000 which would buy us an older car with more likely problems, so without putting down about $6000 we felt the shape of the car wasn't going to be great. So we went to Rental Row where there are about 10 caravan rental offices in a row. We met a really good salesman names Gaz and I never trust a good salesman off the bat, so we went around trying to beat his offer and turns out he really did have the best deal. (but not as good as he was trying to make it out to be, lets be real.) either way he got us into a high-top campervan with good insurance for about the same as a smaller van most other places. but still, $65 dollars a day was more than we were expecting for sure. We definitly splurged as we were originally planning on living out of a stationwagon and camping, but it will be nice to have a little house on wheels for 6 weeks.

Our heads started to spin when we visited the ATM and realized we had somehow blown through $700 dollars each in three days when our budget was $500 per week. Oh man. The dollar took a dive RIGHT before we got here and went from being about 70cents to 98cents for the aussie dollar, and on top of that things are priced higher, so really were at a loss. Gas is about $5 a gallon (and were in a camper) a six pack of corona is $20 (there are cheaper options but that kind of blew my mind) The toll road in melbourne is $13...I mean...its just eating through our money at an alarming rate. (granted we didn't buy the corona and we spent at least half an hour extra on surface streets avoiding the toll roads)

Back to the subject, We got my cell hooked up, headed to a pub for a beer, and then collected our bags from the hostel pack storage and took the train to pick up our van. Gaz told us it was a 10 minute walk to the camperman campervan lot, so we opted to walk...well, we went the wrong way, we had about 15 minutes before they closed, my spine felt like it was going to snap in two, and the phone was not hooked up yet to call a taxi or the place and tell them our situation. Finally exasperated i threw down my stuff and and said, i'm going to get help. I went to a salon and some girls helped me get the number for a taxi. Not knowing when it would show up, i sat on the curb with two giant packs, two smaller packs, a giant surf inflated board bag, and a carry on with fragile oddly shaped gifts...I mean packing light was really a thing of the past. I started to go through the red tape of activating my SIM card while Ryan began walking. The cab never showed up (pretty sure it drove right past me) and eventually a guy in a truck pulled over and loaded up the stuff. Then told me he was taking me to camperman. Wrong order guy. I learn that Ryan had flagged a taxi down after getting conflicting directions from various people and you should have seen how far this place was! Gaz, you really are just a salesman cause...10 minutes? really? Liar!

We got set up, had some subway, and got on the highway to Melbourne. It really seems like things have been backwards and just all out disastrous in many ways this past week...why didn't we fly into melbourne? stupid. How did we spend $1400? scary. Why do we have so much stuff? not a problem anymore though with the van. So we set out into the dark night. The signs on the road are so funny...The lure into wanting to take a nap in a serious way..."Tired? pull over"...."POWERNAP NOW!" (thats my favorite)...."Napping doesn't Kill you"...."Only sleep can revive you."  Along with the occasion billboard with a mangled car accident and a tag line saying something like..."Even a Micro Sleep will Kill you" (amend *my favorite i saw today is Drowsy Drivers Die) So, after we both felt slightly drowsy we pulled over at a rest stop (first one had a creepy cemetery so we went up a bit farther)
I must also sadly mention i saw my first Kangaroo...as roadkill. I threw up a quick temporary mental block on that though, so...I still got excited when I saw a live Wallaby. Next morning I bought produce from a local farm stand in an effort to stock up on cheap snacks for the road. We later discovered Aldi market which is like the trader joes meet food for less with really cheap but healthy food which will sustain us through the rest of our trip. (I finally got spicy mustard!! I almost finished a whole bottle already!) We made contact with my family in Melbourne and a plan began to take shape. We headed to my Mom's long time friend Brit's house in Mt Eliza and arrived in time for dinner. She made the most AMAZING  spicy seafood curry and we had a lovely chat with her as she is incredibly entertaining and comes out with some very odd and wonderful statements. Thankfully she had a box of warm clothes for us that we sent ahead of time and we threw on long john and ski socks as the radical climate shift from Bali took our blood some getting used to.

It is spring here so still a pretty chilly...We were sent to bed at 8:30 and after layering up and running around freezing, we got a nice sleep until Brit woke us at 6:30 (she said it would be 7:30, but jumped the gun) which was 3:30am Bali time! But it was worth it cause we took some pictures in her garden (Dad he petastrum trees are seriously two stories or higher...long story, but she wins that battle for sure) Then we walked with her adorable dogs down to her local beach which was stunning. Little colorfully painted cottages line the pristine shore where people store bbq setups and boats and then in summer can just fling open the doors and hang out.
then we walked around the neighborhood and looked at all the beautiful homes and saw tones of parrots! I guess this is pretty normal, but they were just chattering away climbing around some trees fighting with the bird who apparantly lives there...it was pretty cool, although now ive discovered there are amazing birds all over Aus and its a pretty common thing.

We headed to Brit's son Gregs house and he took us down to his house house in Phillip Island. Brits kids grew up in Manhattan Beach which is how she and my mom met and he is a surfer who moved to Phillip Island for the amazing waves when he first came to Australia. He had a really cool house on Cape Woolamai which has really famously good waves. He suited me up with his wife's board and got us set up with tons of great info and a surf books about Aus and let us stay in the house for a few days! It was great, we checked out the island, built fires, I got to cook! It was so nice to be in a house...and have hot showers!! Ryan fixed his board, poor board :( bali dinged it up quite a bit...and I washed every article of clothing we have for a fresh start...We played a really fun drinking game based on snakes and ladders and got an chance to get the van (now names Old Bessie or just Bes for short) set up for out future camping experiences. WE drove all over the Island in beautiful sunshine and checked out the nobbies (where birds were nesting....it was hectic with squaking gulls) and checked all the surf spots (super windy, not much swell and COLD!) went on a Koala walk which sadly had no koalas due to what looked like a fire. and on our way out on the road again went to see a pelican feeding! Now pelicans are one of my favorite animals...and after this, maybe top of the list after dogs of course. These things are AMAZING! Huge birds...40kilos which is like 80lbs roughly. They just beat the crap out of each other with their beaks getting at these fish, and they're feathers are stunning in the wind...Love them. They would get locked in tug of war with their beaks for a few minutes over one fish...and they have a spot over their eye that makes them look dumb as dirt (looks like a cartoon eye...or a glue on googly eye), but if you look closely they have really intelligent eyes. I love them at home cause when you surf they dive bomb and cannonball in the water right next to you if there's a fish and the plop  cracks me up. also, sometimes when you surf a wave, they'll surf with you gliding along the air current...its really cool, but the ones at home are mild compared to these crazy guys!

We headed then up and around the bay through melbourne's shipping yard to avoid the $13 toll road! and down the other side to the "Great Ocean Road" We made our way to a surf spot and Ryan, who was dying to surf went in solo...I still can't bring myself to get into the freezing water and am basking in the glow of Bali still...I walked along the beach and beautiful path looking around wondering where Charlie is when i need him :( he would have loved this beach with all the dead birds and sandy wet Golden Retrievers. We then found cooked some dinner and found a caravan park which was closed, so we parked outside and slept free on the side of the road, which is illegal, but we figured we had a good excuse. Up at dawn we headed on the road and I could not stop saying how much it reminded me of driving up PCH from Santa Barbara to Big Sur. Soooooooo similar...with equal parts rolling hills and stunning livestock and farm land, and Craggy ocean lined Cliffs....with quaint little towns dotting the coast... It was so familiar I really felt like I was at home, but without Charlie so it was a little sad. Photo opp unedr the great ocean road sign where i put on a stupid outfit and did an interpretive dance in the middle of the road while ryan took pictures on rapid fire. Hahah! they were super funny, but may not be able to be seen...will explain later :( We Stopped at the Ottways national park and did a rainforest hike. Which, at first I was really skeptical about calling Gum tree forest "rainforests" but with all the amazing ferns lining the ground I eventually decided these were in fact rainforests. Plus i guess the air just felt so dry compared to Indo it lacked that misty feel...but with all the birds it definately sounded like a jungle and if you imagine hacking through with a machete...I can see what they mean. We goofed around in the trees for a while and took some super funny photos that will hopefully emerge :(

That afternoon we made it up to the 12 apostles (there's really only like 8 left, but may be some more joining) These are stunning rock formations which we were lucky to see in the sunshine I hear, and hard to explain, but if you google it I'm sure there are some really stunning pictures. We then went on to do the 7 land features after this and they were all really cool especially the last one (which not many people have the patience to drive all the way to, so I got in a quick meditation solo in this fabulous spot) Its called the grotto and is a little open air cave with a hole and some funky colored neon green tide pools with clear turquoise ocean and blue sky behind them. We liked this spot a lot and took a really cool shot of us which...sadly, may not be added.

We went down to Joanna beach for free camping and unfortunately no waves or fires. But it was a really nice spot for a break and good jumping off point for (despite a late start) triplet falls hike and another possible Koala opportunity. We headed up some back roads through really cool windy rainforest and ended at this nature walk, now infamous in the history of our trip. We walked through the beautiful forest and made it to this giant water fall and luckily with all the rain it was really rushing...a lot of wide flat rocks and some more sheer drops, but as I followed some signage saying it was rare but possible to spot the elusive prehistoric platypus, Ryan decided to take a panorama of the falls...The next series of events requires a bit of explaining...The panoramic setting takes a shot and then moves it allowing you to line up the next frame and so on until you take three separate photos which it then turns into one. Ryan, not liking the job he did lining the three shots up selected "delete all" to delete the three shots and.....yup. you guessed it....all 750 photos from the trip. Stop time....drain blood. We both just sat in silence for a minute while I remembered to breathe and I've never seen Ryan get misty eyed before, but he felt so bad I was worried he might launch himself into the falls. Meditation in my life is precisely for moments like this. I just focused on how amazingly fortunate it is to have this blog!! we logged in our minds what we really lost, and by comparison all our best photos and a full album of the whole trip is right here...I seriously found myself going through all the stages of grieving a loss starting with denial and dismissal, anger, sorrow and ending with truly finding peace and moving on over the next couple days, but after contacting travel pod, they are able to fast track all my shots to my computer, and turns out we may be able to recover them (with the exception of 100 or so that I copied over) And honestly who needs 700 pictures! If we get them great, if not the job of narrowing it down is done! gotta stay positive ;) I think this is an appropriate time to say one of my favorite expletive phrases: "Shit Happens".

So, here are a few photos of Koalas until next time. These little buddies just lifted my spirits right up and made it all seem trivial. They perch, drunk for Eucalypt toxins, in precarious places sleeping 19 hours a day and awaking to munch and Snort and scream (we heard this from a guy right before he then dozed back off) and these branches are swaying around over the road...not sure if you get the full effect of how odd this is, but i love these guys.

Cheers! Good on ya!

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Chris on

Berit you and your trip are amazing! Write as much as you can, you will
cherish it later. I am hanging on every word.

Kathy on

"Drowsy Drivers Die" was my favorite Australian road sign, too! But I recommend skipping the Corona (think about it--how much does it cost to ship it all the way to Australia) and drink Australian beers. Victoria Bitter is great!

Shannon Jacobson on

Just got your info. from Julie...and I now have to go back and read all about it! Glad to hear you are well.

Dad on

I can truly empathize on your picture loss as I thought back to my Rte 66 trip where I took 1700+ pictures and wondered how I would have taken their loss. Thought you handled it extremely well. Proud of you. Take lots more in the weeks you have left. Look every day for your blog. Enjoy.

Kevin Dalit on

Australia!! So stoked you guys made it!

beritjansen on

Oh of course! we def. skipped the corona...just thoight it was funny considering how cheap it is at home! the aussie beers are qutie good...

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