Today was great fun- we started early, leaving our chilled out hostel and getting ready to go back to school. I've been meaning to do surfing lessons for ages- coming from Australia which is famous for it's surf, it's a bit embarrassing to think I've never stood up on a surfboard. Well, today was the end of the old lame Carly and the start of a new life- gnarly Carly.
After a quick lesson on the basics of surfing our instructor drove us all down to the beach to become one with the surf. Our group was made up of four Canadians, one rather jolly Brit, my sister (this was her third surfing lesson) and myself. I had high hopes that, being the only two Australians my sister and I would come away the reining champions of surfing 101. After squeezing into a damp wetsuit and grabbing a board I ran Baywatch-style towards the surf, or tried to. Geez the boards were heavy, and the sand was to soft to really run so I kind of just hobbled down to the waters edge before dipping a cautious toe into the water. Warm! Well, warm by Melbourne standards- anything above 10 degrees gets my vote. The waves were the perfect size for beginners and keen to show off the surfing skills that come naturally to us Aussies sat o my board and awaited my first wave. It was beautiful, rolling up to the group at the perfect speed, breaking at just the right time, I did what I had been taught- down on the board, paddle, paddle, paddle as fast as I could go and…. Dumped. The nose of my board caught the wave and I was dragged under. By the time I got my bearings and swam to the surface I could see the Canadians and Stell riding the wave all the way to the shore. I looked across at the jolly Brit who looked at me with slightly crossed eyes and said, "Wet, isn't it?" Oh the humiliation.
I did end up catching quite a few waves, and standing up on a couple too. Stell was fantastic, catching loads of waves and riding almost all into the shore. Such good fun, everyone had a great time- even if you're no good at it, it's a great laugh and a sweet as beach bro.
Out of the wetsuits, into towels and back to the van. An hour and a half south we came to something that I had really been looking forward to- Black Water Rafting. Barely dry from surfing we were asked to don yet another wetsuit- these were much thicker and came reinforced at the elbows and knees. We were also given wetsuit material jackets and boots for extra warmth, and headlamp adorned helmets. I felt like a real caving pro in my new gear, and after my success in the surf, ready to take on the caves. Our guides drove us to the cave opening and gave each of us floating rings to use on the underground river.
I had an absolute ball. The caves were stunning but the main attraction was the glow-worms on the caves ceiling. Our guide actually summed up the whole experience quite well.
"So you all paid good money to be here, 50 feet underground with three strange women in cold, wet, unlit caves so you can look at the glowing poo of a cannibalistic maggot that, once it finally becomes a fly, lives for a few hours, finds a mate and shags itself to death. Nice choice."
This for me has been an absolute highlight, you will never be able to float down an underground river in the pitch black, staring up at what looks like a clear nights sky, which is actually burning poo. The guides are great fun, and obviously love what they do- how could they not?
After a few hours underground it's strange to come up into daylight, we were driven back to base and treated to hot showers, soup and a bagel. We loaded ourselves back into the van and started plugging the YHA address into the GPS- then looked up and saw it just across the road, nice location.
Once in dry pj's I started feeling a bit more human- we've spent the evening wandering around feeding our fruit scraps to the local farm animals. Two friendly goats and one very bossy and beautiful doe. I nearly died of laughter when Stell, looking up from feeding a goat spotted a sheep on the hill running towards her. She let out a scream at started bolting downhill away from the smallest sheep in the paddock. Poor thing just wanted some apple.
After all the excitement and some more Black Books it's time for bed, exhausting day- but tomorrow's going to be insane!