Since our last journal entry about 6 months ago, lots of things have happened. We have seen Iron Maiden in concert at the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne. What an awesome concert!
James (Pete's brother) came to visit back in February for a fortnight after 4 months in South Africa. The two boys went on a lads night away to Warnambool, along the Great Ocean Road & also enjoyed a day trip out in Melbourne. James & I went out for a day trip to Barwon Heads. It was a short, but sweet visit before his return to UK, although a month later he came back to Aus looking for work. Good on ya! He is our new neighbour! Hooray!
We have moved into a bigger cabin with a huge comfy bed, open plan living with lounge & dining areas. The only weird thing is the kitchen is in the bedroom, although it is a very large room, its still quite amusing being able to make a cup of coffee with hardly having to get out of bed. Now that winter is fast approaching it is very handy to switch the gas stove rings on to warm up the bedroom when you get up in the morning, so I reckon there was some thought put into that!
Back in March, Pete & I hired a car, took a week off work and decided to travel the great ocean road. We intended on getting all the way to Adelaide, but with it being such a beautiful and fascinating part of the country, that we only made it Mount Gambia (just over the border of South Australia - a good 5-6 hour drive to Adelaide from there). We packed the tent, enough clothes for a week and some food for the first day & headed off from Geelong.
First stop was Torquay for a bite to eat & a short walk on the beach watching the surfers do their thing & then back in the car off to Anglesea to see if we could spot kangaroos on the golf course. Yes, you read right, kangaroos on the golf course. Apparently there are hundreds of them and they keep breading too! However, we only spotted one! Very disappointing seeing as the trip Pete & James had taken back in February, they had seen loads of them! Next stop was Lorne. Arriving there around 3pm we decided that was enough driving for one day & set up camp in the beach side camping area. Lorne was a beautiful bustly seaside town aimed at tourists. The short promenade area was full of restaurants, café's, bars & expensive tacky trinket shops. We got ourselves a very yummy bbq dinner & enjoyed it just off the beach. We met and got chatting to a group of guys that were on a weekend away from Melbourne uni, whilst enjoying a few beers around the bbq. After our dinner we headed out 'on the town' to see what Lorne nightlife was all about. We had a couple of drinks in the local pub & then a nightcap in the backpackers bar across from the camp ground. It was a great evening!The following day we enjoyed a hearty breakfast at one of the café's on the promenade, whilst nursing sore heads, then took a walk on the pier watching the early morning fishermen trying their luck. We then took ourselves, and our hangovers, to visit the Erskine Waterfall & Teddy's lookout. The waterfall was nice, but as there has not been much rain was not nearly as good as some pictures we have seen of it. Teddy's lookout was a lovely 1km walk from the car park, and looked over the twisting Great Ocean Road & the estuary of the river going out to sea. We met a couple of the guys along the walk from the previous evening, and we pleased to see that they too were hung-over, so sympathised with each other for a short time, then said our goodbyes and carried on walking. One of the best cures for a hangover is a bit of fresh country air & being on holiday!!
On route to our next destination we passed through an area called Little Grey River which we had been told we could see wild koala bears. And just as promised there were at least 10 of them, sleepy heads, just off the main road. One of them was on a really low branch so we got some good photos! It was great. I can finally tick that off my Aussie list of things to see.
Driving on past Warnambool we had a drive round a national park called Tower Hill which was recommended by our buddies from Lorne. We took a slow drive round the park and saw an incredible amount of Aussie wild life. There were kangaroos, wallabies, emus & their babies and even more koalas. It was a mini safari in the land down under!Carrying on driving we stopped in Apollo bay for some lunch of ham sandwiches & potato salad sat near the beach. After lunch we pushed onto the 12 Apostles and stopped for a quick photo opportunity. There are now only 9 of them left as 3 have collapsed with erosion. It was incredibly hot, we didn't want to risk being in the sun for too long for fear of becoming a beautiful shade of prawn pink! We then drove the last 17kms to Port Campbell where we pitched for the evening. It was a small sleepy fishing village. That was the mistake we made, as it was so small it only had a general store & everything you could buy there was at least 50% more expensive that in the supermarkets. So we bought some local cheese & together with the salad bits we still had, enjoyed a yummy cheese dinner. In the evening, we took a walk out along the beach and to the pier where we discovered that night fishing was a very popular pastime. There were some people that had huge fishing rods glowing in the dark when a fish had bit. It looked like star wars meets fishing! We saw a huge ray being caught and then it was chucked back again. That was pretty awesome.
The next day we pushed on to Mount Gambia where we set up camp for two nights. This area is a little inland from the coast and is an extinct volcanic area. There is a blue lake which is the towns main water source. Its blue in colour due to the bottom of the lake being sulphur white, so I guess it reflects the colour of the sky. There is a huge sinkhole where limestone has caved in & the council has made a botanical garden there. Its very attractive & Pete & I both agreed another good use for it would have been a prison. Hee Hee. We visited a local winery called Haig winery. It is a fairly small operation & they only sell their wines through the cellar door. We bought a very good sweet Verdello which tastes a lot like Hanepoort you can get in South Africa.
We decided to play a couple of games of pool, and when all the balls didn't come out of the table we investigated. It turned out there was a small soft toy dinosaur that had been stuffed in the hole! Imagine the park managers disbelieving look, when we went to ask for the keys to the table as a dinosaur was blocking the balls! We took it away as a souvenir. We met an Italian chap here who was cycling his way around the world. He had already cycled New Zealand, was half way round Australia and was then heading off to do America. He cycled about 100 - 150 kms per day. The most amazing thing was the heat in which he was doing it! Each to their own, I suppose!
Heading more inland we drove through to the Grampians National Park & stayed overnight at Halls Gap - a tiny tourist trap. Again, the only place to get food was a very pricy general store or overpriced cafes & restaurants. Luckily we had come prepared this time! It was an awesome camp site, and boasted a large kangaroo population as well as some very cheeky meat stealing kookaburras and a small fox that was incredibly bold and inquisitive enough to come within 5 foot of me when I got up in the middle of the night to have a wee. The afore mentioned meat thieves sat waiting in the trees and swooped down on our camp site neighbours stealing half a sausage with the fork still attached, much to the ladies utter surprise! They then went for the finale and stole a large lamb chop and proceeded to bang it against the fence to try and get the meat off the bone. It was a show worth seeing!
Ballarat was the last stop of our short road trip. The weather was still absolutely sweltering hot. We were in the middle of a 15 day heat wave where temperatures had been over 39 degrees Celsius every day. When you start sweating out of your ear lobes & eyelids, you know its just getting stupidly hot. What is that about? It was almost impossible to drink water faster than we were sweating it out. Ballarat is famous for its gold mining, and has a place called Sovereign Hill which is a bit like a theme park where you can pan for gold and get into the spirit of how things were back in the Pioneer gold digging days.
Back in Geelong, the Australian Football League has started. Geelong won the premiership last year, so there are high hopes for them this year. There are several 'at home' matches and as Pete works at the football stadium, I have procured myself a job on match days up in the executive boxes serving food and drinks to VIP's. Its good fun and I also get to watch some of the game, even though I haven't the foggiest about the rules of the game!
Most recently we have been to see an ACDC tribute band which had a female lead singer, but were very good nevertheless. We started the evening out with a meal at the hot stone grill restaurant. The meal was good, but the restaurant itself was a bit like a school dining room - a little cold and uninviting. The night after I went out with my team at work for a social evening of ten pin bowling. That was good fun and we ended up at the Nash back in town which is a local watering hole, popular for playing pool and listening to up and coming bands.
Back in February we had a lawn bowls evening courtesy of the social club at work. That was a bit different, as I've never played lawn bowls before. I was on the official losing team! Ha Ha.The last few weeks of us being in Australia we worked to take away as much money as possible. We both applied for china visa's to meet up with Clair in June, but unfortunately Pete was declined, so I decided to go on my own. Pete flew back to UK 10 days before me & Clair & I had 10 days in China, I will upload stories & pictures about that soon, so watch this space. We are both off to Ireland next to see what that brings, then back in the UK for Christmas.