I left Alice Springs and boarded The Ghan for one of the great train journeys of the world! Twenty four hours in a semi-reclining seat next to Dutch guy with very smelly feet didn't apeal too much so I spent much of the journey in the cafe. Well it had better views from both sides and was a lot more social. People came and went and at one stage of the evening there was a bit of a party atmosphere going. The train staff were friendly too and kept giving us free food! Out of the window was miles and miles of bush with very little else but it was an experience and gave you an idea of the vastness of the country. I did try to sleep in my seat for a couple of hours but the stinky man next to me hired a dvd player so that was flickering all night. as soon as they announced that the cafe was reopening for breakfast that was me gone. We finally pulled in to Adelaide at about midday. It would have been nice to have been able to collapse on the bed and sleep but I had too much too do and organise.
Adelaide was quite different from Perth - much older and less trendy. I met up with some very long distant relatives - Gwen, Sera and baby Seb - and spent much of the weekend out and about with them. This was wonderful as they were able to take me to places I may never have discovered. We went out to the wine region and to Maggie Beer's farm (no I didn't know who she was either but she is a very well known tv cook in Australia!) We had a lovely and interersting lunch in the cafe and then went to see a demonstration in the 'famous' studio kitchen. Now I know all about how to cook with verjuice. On the Sunday morning we went for a stroll along the beach and spent a bit of time in Glenelg, a lovely seaside town. It was incredibly busy being a hot summer Sunday but we managed to sit and have a coffee in one of the many trendy coffee shops (not as good as the chocolate cafe we discovered the evening before - I hope they open one of them in London and soon!) Gwen and I had a cultural afternoon in the city visiting the Immigration museum and also the Australian art in the gallery. Both really enjoyable. And to complete the weekend Sera and Gwen cooked a wonderful meal including apple crumble which I hadn't had for months!!
An early morning start for me the next day. I had booked myself onto a 3 day tour from Adelaide to Melbourne via the Great Ocean Road. The guide Sean was a complete contrast to the one we had in the Red Centre. He was so much fun and he barely stopped laughing. He sounded like Tommy Cooper. We headed out of Adelaide and towards the Grampian mountains, our first port of call. We stopped for lunch in a small town called Horsham which may have been named after somebody but I reckoned it just looked like it's namesake in Sussex. We stopped off for a climb up Hollow mountain which was rather steep but it did have great views. Very Scottish. When we reached our accommodation for the night there were hundreds of kangaroos grazing in the fields behind. Most of them shot off when they saw us and our cameras creeping towards them - following each other like sheep only hopping. Two of them decided to have a boxing match which was hugely entertaining to us! It went on for some time...
We picked a couple of new group members increasing our size to 12 - again so much better with a smaller group. One of the newies was a tad strange though - she said ahe came from Persia but she was very dressed up for a hiking trip in the Australian heat. You should have seen the make-up! But as we started our morning trek up to the Pinnacle she marched on up, way ahead of the rest of us. Again the views were fantastic from the top and great for photos. We stopped of at several points of interest along the coast - great surf!! There were various landmarks such a London Bridge (so called due to the fact it had fallen down a few years ago). It is actually a rock formation jutting out into the sea. There is now only one arch left and the only two people who were on it when it fell was a couple who were having an affair and thought they'd have a day out. All on tv camera! We also saw the 12 apostles - more rocks in the sea. There are only about 8 or 9 of these remaining but they make great photos espcially at sunset.
Our final day began with a visit to the Otway Fly Treetop walk. This was similar to the Tingle tree walk in WA but there was a lot more of it. Loads of walkways and towers to climb right in the trees. We stopped for fish and chips in Apollo Bay, a lovely little seaside spot. Well I had shark with my chips. They certainly know how to do fish and chips in this country. Next was a stop at a caravan park. This was just so we could view 'wild' koalas. We managed to see quite a few but they were high up and fast asleep which is what they do best. Great seeing them like that and not in cages though! We were so lucky having seen kangaroos and koalas (and I heard a kookaburra that morning) and had constant sunshine and a fab sunset but then it all went a bit wrong. As we continued along the ocean road we were suddenly halted as there had been an accident just before us. A motorcyclist had tried to overtake on a bend and probably at great speed and slammed straight into another car. He apparently then flew into a cliff and then landed in the road. His hells angel mates waited for the ambulance team to confirm his death then grabbed the bloke's jacket and sped off back up the road on they're Harleys. Most strange. Anyway the upshot for us was that we stranded there for the next four hours being as the bus was too long to turn around. There was a beach in eyeshot but the police would not allow us to cross the scene. One feisty Norwegian girl climbed down the cliff face to get ther ane others followed. I decided not and chose to hang around and eat the remains of the previous evening's barbecue and had a viewing of the luxury campervan parked up behind us. Wow! The owners had sold their house in Perth in order to buy it and tour around Australia. I wondered which cost more - the house or the van! It even had a stylish shower room at the back and insted of a rear view mirror, cameras! Talk about a home from home. The bed was made up like something from a show house with silk cushions!
Shame we missed our final couple of stops of this incredible journey - surfers' paradise and the surf gear shops that go with it. We finally arrived in Melbourne at about 9pm.