Bus Trip From Hell

Trip Start May 30, 2005
Trip End Sep 30, 2006

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Thursday, October 27, 2005

Most organised trips that I've been on have been great. There has been just a few people and the camaraderie between travellers has been amazing. Until now. For starters the bus was full, that's 23 other people and a driver to trapse around with. Secondly when I tried talking to a few of the other 'younger' people, that's the 18-20 year olds that are probably travelling with Daddys and Mummys money, they just blanked me. Probably because they already had their friends and they didn't need to talk to anyone else, or maybe it's because they were just rude. Who knows. At least there were some sensible fun oldies for me to mix with, goodness I've never felt so old.

By forgetting all about the company and just getting on with the day I was able to enjoy myself. It didn't start brilliantly though, having to get to the bus for 7:30, driving around half of Melbourne and then along "Australia's most boring road, Melbourne to Geelong" as Ben put it. Even after the first 'proper' stop I was beginning to worry that I'd made the wrong decition. We stopped to have a look at a memorial arch over the road, I think to comemorate the fact that the road had been built at all, weird and dull.

It perked up though when we arrived at a bit of parkland where some Koala Bears live. Although I couldn't get close to them it was still brilliant to see them in their natural environment, and naturally they were asleep.

A walk around a small part of rain forest was almost ruined by four young Irish girls from the bus yabbering on about nothing at the top of their voices, saying how crap the forest was and slagging off the bus driver's sense of humour (although to be fair it was a little strange). I just let them all go ahead of me while I pretended to be interested in a leaf and had a much calmer time of it.

The highlight of the trip though was to visit the twelve apostles. These are large sandstone stacks that sit just off the coast and have been formed by the natural errosion of the coast line. They looked great in photos but just amazing close up. Absolutely unreal. I decided to get my picture taken with them so handed my camera to some random tourist.
"Could you take a picture of me please?"
"Sure no problem", came the irish reply as she pointed the camera directly at me.
"Ermmm, can you get the twelve apostles in the picture?"
"Sure no problem", as she was about to take a picture of them.
"Ermmm, can you get me in the shot as well?", eventually she just gave the camera to a man, I should have done that in the first place.

I loved this area, especially when the driver took us to Gibson's steps where you can climb down onto the beach itself. You can see one of the apostles from the beach, but you need to walk along for a bit to get a close view and to see a second one hiding behind the first. The most amazing thing about this section was that no-one else walked along the beach. I couldn't believe it, but was delighted to get it to myself. I did get a bit of a surprise when a big wave came in and I didn't have anywhere to run to as I was up against the cliff side, I had to jump on a rock there to avoid getting too wet. Maybe the others were just more sensible than me!

After this I was dropped off at Port Campbell. I'd been promised that I'd be able to see 'London Bridge', which is another similar formation, but when the bus driver said that it was only 20 minutes walk away along the cliff side I didn't mind and got off the bus. A Kiwi girl got off the bus at the same time. We ended up staying in different hostels, she'd phoned ahead so stayed in the YHA with a grumpy man at reception. I decided to splash out and spend an extra 5 dollars and stay in a hostel on the seafront. This turned out to be a grand move as it was a lovely big house and with only 4 people actually staying in it that night. I got a whole dorm room to myself, bargin!

I asked several people how far London Bridge was and how to get there, I was rather alarmed when the first person told me that it was 10 to 15 Kilometers away, yikees. After asking a few more people the consensus was that it was only 5 Km. The bus that I was due to catch in the morning also goes past London Bridge, therefore I'd need to walk with my pack in the morning and catch the bus there. Just as well I left a heap of Junk in Melbourne.

I met Fiona the Kiwi in the morning and we set off. Straight away we came to a problem, we came to a stream and fiona said, "Oh no, we can't get across here it's at least a foot deep".
"Let's just take off our socks and shoes and walk across"
"But our feet will get wet!"

I didn't have enough time to make the 2Km detour to stop a little bit of water getting on my feet so I just started taking off my shoes. I think she realised at this point she'd be walking alone if she took the detour. We walked along the cliff path, absolutely stunning views, amazing. Then rather sadly after only after 20 minutes we were forced out to walk along the main road as the path came to an end. This was rubbish and took us another hour. It was worth it in the end though, rather similar to the apostles but mighty all the same.

I decided to get up to the bus stop 10 minutes early, just to make sure. I crossed the road, took my pack off and then looked up the road to see my bus coming towards me. I waved him down and jumped on. Talk about lucky. He did explain later though that if I'd missed him one of his mates would have been passing afterwards driving a tour bus, and would have been able to take me to Port Campbell then phone up the driver to head back to pick me up! afterall I was the only person on the bus in the end.

This all turned out to my advantage, he asked me if I'd seen Loch Ard, which I had. Due to this he said that he'd drive straight to the twelve apostles and give me a little while to get out and have another look. That was really nice of him since the light was different as I was seeing it again in the morning. After this I jumped back on the bus at the pickup point and I was off on my personal tour again, he was pointing out loads of view points along the way, it's just a shame that we weren't able to stop anywhere else along the journey.

I arrived in a cold Apollo Bay about 4 hours early. It didn't take me long to have a walk around the town and have my lunch. In the end I just ended up sitting at a picnic table near the garage that I'd be meeting Ben and waiting. Not long before 5 O'Clock he turned up in his old banger, oh my, we would be driving for almost 500 Kilometers that night and I was afraid that we'd never make it in his heap of junk. I crossed my fingers and got in.
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