GREAT OCEAN ROAD ADVENTURE:
Wednesday in Melbourne I decided to go for a long run through the city to get a good idea of where everything was...I ended up running to Federation square, through the Botanical Gardens, then back throigh the Italian district known as Lygon street, and over to the Royal Parks area..Long run, however, while I was running I started thinking...I'm here in Melbourne, I really want to do the Great Ocean road. My hostel is dead, noone is around...I figured let me make a few calls and figure some things out, possibly I can do this on my own, worth a shot! I spent the rest of the day organizing myself, sending emails, making calls...specifically to a few friends who live and tour Australia. My friend Scooter who I met on the road, bless his soul, sent me a full on itinerary to do by myself, for one day on the great ocean road, he made a suggestion that I do it by motor bike, instead of renting a car, it would be faster and easier....the only problem is...I dont have a motorcycle license, and while I felt comfortable driving one...where would I rent a bike, without a license....he made a few calls for me, I made a few calls to places like "vicroads"...and low and behold...I beat the system and rented a motorcycle to do the great ocean road. I spent the rest of the day freaking out, thinking about all the things that may happen, and nervous about driving on the left, road signs ect...I did stalk out a few language schools in the hopes I get my visa, and dropped off my resume. Tuesday evening, I packed a small bag with some gear which included...sunscreen, travel towel, bathing suit, change of clothes, and my passport. Wednesday am at 5am I locked my suitcase up in a locker, paid for 2 days just in case...and went to go get the bike...the guy gave me a quick over view of road rules, had a map...and AWAY I went!
Took me an hour and a half to get to Bells Beach, Torquay, which is the surfing Capital. Every easter they have the Classic Surf competition, I only stopped there for 20 minutes, they had some surf competition going on, which looked cool, but I was on a very strict itinerary, as I needed to do about 200k before it got dark, so I could get to where I wanted to crash for the night. My next stop was the memorial arch, with a big sign saying Great Ocean Road, it was fabulous, because I could park the bike anywhere, and had tourists take pictures for me, as you will see in the accompanying photos. I stopped in a town called Lorne. After I left there, I noticed a koala park, I am obsessed with koalas, I figured I couldn't hold one...wasn't on my itinerary, but stopped anyway had a coffee and fed some king parrots. The weather was absolutely beautiful, wasn't too cold. The best way to describe the driving was like being in Siena with the hills, After being on the freeway with the bike, I didn't think much about the hills, it was truly really easy to manage, the only downside is that is was quite cold at times, which i'm sure could have been rectified with proper gear...which I didn't have, and it is tiring, extremeley tiring. My back was starting to hurt, so the frequent stops were helpful...it was about 20 t0 30 minutes between certain stops I planned for myself, with the bigger drives spread out. Took me awhile to get to Apollo Bay for lunch, had fish n chips on the beach, contemplated surfing there, but then thought...better to keep going for now. My directions and the itinerary were spot on...I got to see the 12 apostles, I stopped for a rain forest trek which took about a half hour, but was really refreshing, stretching out especially, then loch and gorge, london bridge....and by that time it was about 4:30pm, my entire body was killing me, and I had planned to make it all the way back to Apollo Bay to sleep, which was quite a drive ahead of me, and it started to rain....
I wasn't freaking out...but I was thinking...I'm not making it back to Apollo Bay, I gotta just find a random place around here, check in, and leave early in the am back to Melbourne. It started to rain harder...and thats when God sent me Ashley...hahaha. Ashley, or (Ash) is a 34 year old, 6'2 aussie who was raised in Melbourne, he works for the courts around here, and his best quality...is that he knows how to drive motorcycles in the rain...He spotted me pacing around my bike at London Bridge, and came over and asked me if I needed help. He was with a few friends, they were on holiday staying somewhere near where I wanted to go. I told Ash, I was actually not ok...that It was getting dark, and I wanted to get back to Apollo, but felt nervous about the pouring rain...Ash drove my motorbike to Apollo, with me on the back and his mates following us in the car. I figured either I stay out there in the pouring rain, or...get where I need to go. They dropped me off in Apollo, I checked into the YHA, and slept ridiculously hard. Next morning woke up early, packed up the bike, no rain, light outside and headed back to Melbourne! It was truly along with the rest of amazing experiences I have had here in Oz, something very special, and invigorating. I will always be able to say I did the Great Ocean Road on motorbike, and I saw all I needed to see, and again met great people along the way.
Melbourne is very different from Sydney...in a lot of ways...some good, some eh...I would say at this point I could live and work in either city and be very happy. The big difference is the lack of "water" in Melbourne...However, culturally...in my opinion Melbourne is exceptional. The arts, museums, festivals, cafes are absolutely fantastic. I have plans for a run with Mr. Ashley (my savior) tomorrow morning and then the Salvador Dali exhibit, which I am really looking forward too. The fact that he runs a 3:12 marathon...is a little uncomfortable...but a slow jog can never hurt anybody...;) I leave for New Zealand on monday at 6am, which means I need to be at the airport around 3:30am, so I have no hostel booked, and will sleep in the airport for a bit, get into Auckland...get to a computer, apply for visa...and then go and enjoy the north and south island....
Excellent fun in Melbourne...very smart, and very glad I came here on my own. Was the right decision.