From the City to the Great Ocean Road

Trip Start Apr 10, 2006
Trip End Feb 07, 2007

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Monday, April 24, 2006

Monday 24 April - Friday 28 April (and slightly beyond...)
John, Laila, Lynsay and I headed back to Melbourne on the Monday. We decided to stay at the Greenhouse hostel, the same one we had stayed in before, for our two nights in the city. When we got there John headed off to do some email stuff and us 3 girls went to have some lunch and then go in search of Brunswick Street to see some cool shops.

Brunswick Street is an alternative strip of shops which reminded me a lot of The Lanes in Brighton. The kind of people and the types of shops were very similar. Again, I didn't really buy anything except a present for my newborn God son, who was born last week and a congratulations card for Zoe and Graham, the proud parents. The only other shopping I did was of the window variety.

We headed out for drinks that evening but I wasn't really feeling up for a big night out as I had started to develop a cough and was fearing an outbreak of flu or some other evil tropical disease caught during our Asian adventure.

The following day (Tuesday 25) was Anzac Day - a national holiday in Oz which is a day of rememberance for those who fought and died in various conflicts around the world. We were woken by the sounds of various band instruments being played in the huge parade that was passing right by our hostel. We made our way through the crowds that had gathered to see the members of various military organisations, both young and old, and to pay their respects. When I saw the older members of the parade who had been decroated with various medals I couldn't help feeling quite moved. Some of them must have seen some horrific things during the wars they fought in. I admired their bravery but felt quite sad for the bad memories that some of them must have been left with. Rememberance days are a good thing.

We crossed the Yarra river which runs throught the city centre and had breakfast at a cafe by the river. I had French toast with maple syrup, which is basically eggy bread with sweet, sweet maple syrup poured all over it. 'T was very tasty.

Later that day when the parade had finished and the crowds had dispursed we met Ben outside the National Gallery of Victoria and went in to see the guest exhibition which was by Camille Pissaro, and impressionist painter from the 19th century. I enjoyed some of his later work but must confess that not all of it impressed me a great deal. After we had soaked up some more art we went to see another comedy show. This time we saw Dylan Moran, an Irish stand up comedian. He was also very funny, but in a very different way to Daniel Kitson. Personally I preferred Daniel Kitson more.

That night we attempted to have a few drinks but Anzac Day seemed to mean that literally EVERYTHING closed early. Consequently we were forced to head back to our hostel, far less anaebriated than intended (not that I had any intensions of getting drunk as my cough was worsening and alcohol didn't seem like the best of medicines).

The following morning (Wednesday 26) we checked out of our hostel bright and early with the intention of getting started on our road trip along the Great Ocean Road by 10. Our plans were slightly hampered by a small case of lost car keys and consequently we were a few hours late getting started. Best we don't say much about the lost keys, isn't it Laila?!

It was a beautiful day to go on a road trip and we were very much looking forward to seeing the GOR (Great Ocean Road), which we had already heard so much about. Although the weather was fine, we stopped at some surf outlet stores on the way and bought some jumpers. We weren't used to these cooler temperatures after the heat of Bali and Singapore and had little in the way of things to cover our arms. We reached the GOR by late afternoon and were immediately blown away by the amazing views of the ocean. We were heading for a seaside town called Lorne, where we had a hostel booked for a couple of nights. The road to Lorne was long and very twisty. The GOR is fabulous to drive along, if a little scary at times because of the sharp turns and long cliff drops. We were really lucky with the weather which allowed us to see for miles and miles and really showed the area at its best.

We reached Lorne by early evening. Our hostel was great - little wooden chalet-type buildings set on a hillside amongst some forest. We had a dorm to ourselves too, which is always good. The main type of wildlife in the area was the sulpher crested cockatoo. They were quite tame and extremely noisy. I would even go so far as to say a little bit sinister, particularly when they would perch on our verranda and stare at us as we walked out of our front door. I can only imagine what might have been on their minds...

Lorne is a pretty seaside town which is clearly one of those towns which comes to life in the summer months when tourists are rife. It was good to be there when hardly anyone else was. I can't imagine it seeming as tranquil during high season. We ate bar snacks at a local pub that evening and Lyns, Laila and John drank booze (I was enjoying the pleasures of cough syrup!) before heading back to the hostel for an early-ish night in anticipation of an early morning the next day.

As promised, we rose early the next day, headed into Lorne for some breakfast and then headed off in search of the 12 Apostles (for those of you not familiar, the 12 Apostles is a famous formation of rocks dotted along the coast by the GOR near a place called Port Campbell). The GOR continued to amaze me as the terrain changed and the views got more beautiful. Again, the weather was great so we were set for another day of seeing for miles and enjoying the sunshine.

It took us around 3 hours to reach the 12 Apostles (which is hardly anything when you are travelling over here as it is such a massive country) and it was well worth it. You see pictures of them on postcards and in books like the Lonely Planet all the time but it just doesn't compare to seeing them in the flesh (or rock I should say).They were awesome and I felt compelled to take lots and lots of photos (which John will hopefully put on the website when he is not at home being ill). While we were there we also saw a tiny little black snake which was struggling to make its way across the pathway. I was very brave and stood right by it, but kept a safe distance as I was convinced that despite its puny size it would carry enough venom to kill 400 men.

When we had finished taking pictures we headed for Port Campbell for lunch before turning around and heading back the way we came. We intended to seek out a place where you could do a tree top walk which was somewhere on the way back, in the vast Ottway National Park. We found it with little trouble and once we had paid the nice man by the entrance we set off into the forest until we came across a series of walkways which were made of steel and supported largely by cables, resulting in a strange swaying when you stepped on to the walkway. We bravely stepped on to the walkway which would take us higher and higher into the tree tops. It was very pretty but the height was a little distracting at times. A few cute and furry bits of wildlife would have been welcome to take my mind off of the forest floor getting further away from us, but none came. At our highest we were around 50 metres off the ground (may not sound much but don't knock it until you've been there, only supported by steel grates and cables!). The final climb was up a big tower which was bad but not as bad as I thought it might be - John and Lyns were far more cowardly than I was and this was a comfort to me. They wouldn't even let go of the railings. I chuckled to myself and re-evaluated my own fear deciding that things perhaps weren't as bad as they seemed up in the tree tops!

When we were tired of admiring the tree tops we got back in the car and headed back to Lorne where John and I cooked a hearty dinner of sausage, mash and onion gravy. We had the pleasure of meeting our first possum before we went to bed. It was nibbling away at a tree outside our dorm and was very fat. I was shocked at how big it was, I actually thought it was a koala at first, but apparently the koalas are even bigger. Unfortunately I had the mispleasure of hearing the possums call later that evening when I was on my way back from the bathroom. It was an evil cackling type noise which scared the poop out of me and made me scuttle back to the dorm calling for Laila to identify the evil noise I was hearing (I didn't know what it was at the time). Apparently the Koala's call is even creepier. That's certainly something I look forward to hearing next time I am alone in the dark.

The following morning (Friday 28) we were up early to check out of the hostel. We went in to town to get breakfast but no where was open yet so we decided to head to Erskine Falls (about 10km out of town) to kill time until the cafes opened. Erskine Falls is one of numerous waterfalls in the area but is apparently one of the only ones which still has water in it after the drought of the summer. The falls were very pretty, but I'm sure that they would have looked twice as impressive if the water level was full (some people are just never satisfied!). I was well and truly ready for my breakfast by the time we got back to Lorne. I had a very nice toastie which set me up for the mornings travels back towards home. We had a quick look around some of Lornes shops and a little look at the lovely beach before heading off.

On the way back we stopped at a lighthouse at Split Point. Those of you old or young enough to remember a childrens programme called Round the Twist may have recognised the lighthouse as it was the one used to film that series in. We took great pleasure in taking lots of photos and recalling the theme tune to Round the Twist before we headed off. We were heading for a town called Queenscliffe where we would get a ferry across the bay back to the Mornington Peninsula to save the job of driving all the way up to Melbourne and then back down the peninsula to Red Hill (around 3 hours driving time).

Quennscliffe was a very sleepy little town which didn't look like it got much busier in the tourist season. It's population seemed to be largely over 65 and it was dotted with buildings which had a distinctly old feel to them. It was quite cute though and we had a nice lunch there before getting the ferry across to Sorrento. We saw some dolphins following alongside the ferry on the way across which was nice (and a welcome distraction from the slight queesiness I had - I don't really have sea legs). We had a little look around the town the ferry dropped us off in, Sorrento, which is a nice seaside town where Lynsay worked for a while before she met up with us, and then we headed back home to Red Hill.

We had a great time on our little road trip and saw some awesome sights, but it was nice to get back to Ben and Laila's. By the time we got back it seemed that I had managed to infect all my friends with various germs - all of which they were very grateful to receive, as you can imagine! We headed out to a hippy market in the hills just north of Melbourne the next day (Saturday 29), which had lots of nice food and natural products and things, but we welcomed a few days of just chilling out at Ben and Laila's from Sunday (30th) and for most of the following week!

When we do some more exciting things we will be sure to update the site. When we get to a computer which allows us to put photos on, we will also do that. We are planning to fly north to Cairns next week on Wednesday (10th) as we are finding these cooler climates poor compared to the heat of Bali. Cairns is around 30 degrees at this time of year - just right for our needs we feel!
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johnandtamsin on

Re: Photos
Hi guys,

We have taken some really cool photos of the stuff we've been up to, but unfortunately are having some problems uploading them. Basically, because we are burning the photos to CD without compressing them (on Kodak machines), when we come to put them onto the website the files are huge and take forever on these slow foreign machines. Ian - is there a way around this, bearing in mind the internet cafe's don't like you saving the files to the hard disk to compress them! Any ideas would be appreciated.

Apart from that, glad you're all enjoying the website. It is really cool to log on and find comments from you all at home - much appreciated.

Glad to hear the weather is good over there - we are looking forward to getting back in the sun next week as well.

Take care all - John.

chrissie0 on

Re: Re: Photos

chrissie0 on

Re: Re: Re: Photos
Hi both- I'm glad there are some photos - I can escape from here now!


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