A Travellerspoint blog

May 2013

Victoria Road Trip

overcast 12 °C

This week we hired a car and did the Great Ocean Road (a famous stretch of the coast not far from Melbourne built by returning soldiers after WW1), the Grampians (national park with impressive rock formations) and the Mornington Peninsula (peninsula south east of the city).

We picked up some travelling buddies on gumtree to share the cost so Simon, a 28 year old Aussie joined us for the Great Ocean Road and Chris, a 19 year old German joined us for both the Great Ocean Road and Grampians. We met them at the car hire garage and thankfully they both turned out to be normal and fun. Alice successfully negotiated the Melbourne hook turn and we made it outside the city without getting lost.

We blasted down to Torquay, the starting point of the Great Ocean Road and the weather wasn't as good as it had been. It was quite cloudy and very windy. There wasn't much to see here so we moved on quickly, stopping for a photo under the memorial arch across the road. At Airlie's Inlet we saw the lighthouse featured in the kids programme Round the Twist and then drove to Teddy's lookout for great views of the road winding along the coast. We also saw our first rain drenched koala - it wasn't doing much but cute nevertheless. In the afternoon we looked at the dry Erskine waterfall and then found some more koalas including one which was actually awake. As we arrived into Apollo Bay it started to rain again so we decided to sleep here for the night. We were the only people in a huge hostel so we could play pool all night on the free table. It was also our first taste of a timtam, a famous Aussie choccy biccy - bit like a Penguin but better.

The weather was better on the second morning so we got up early and did a quick walk in a rainforest near Apollo Bay with some massive trees. We also spotted a bandicoot (maybe?) before moving onto Cape Otway where drove down dirt tracks looking for views of the nearby lighthouse. On the way back we saw a koala by the side of the road climbing up a tree - most active one we have seen so far. We timed our visit to the Twelve Apostles well, arriving for sunshine between showers. Having seen photos of this, to see it in real life was spectacular and our photos just don't do it justice. We also saw Gibson's Stairs and Loch Ard Gorge which were impressive rock formations but not the same wow factor as the Twelve Apostles. Just past Warrnambool, the end of the "Road" we visited Tower Hill Reserve, a national park within a volcanic crater which was a stunning location. We saw our first wallabies, kangaroos and emus - Alice couldn't stop taking photos. We stayed in Warrnambool, watching our first AFL game on TV which was a close entertaining match but helpful to have an Aussie with us to explain some of the finer points.

We left Simon in Warrnambool and the three of us continued inland towards the Grampians, stopping at Dunkeld where we met a very old lady in the tourist info who must have been near 100. She had no idea about our touristy questions but it was great to chat to her, especially once she had worked out how to turn on her hearing aid! Onto Halls Gap, the main town in the national park we visited a cultural centre before trying to drive up the tallest peak. It was too cloudy at the top and freezing so we didn't bother scaling the last 2km. Next stop was Mackenzie Falls, an impressive waterfall with great mountain scenery. The cloud had lifted by the afternoon so we went to the hilltop lookouts - fantastic views across the Grampians and surrounding plains but again our cameras couldn't quite capture the view. It was a short walk to the Balconies, an overhanging rock formation, where we jumped over a fence for pictures of us on the rocks to be labelled "rebels" by local school kids! Final call was to the Grand Canyon, an awesome short walk along / up a towering rock canyon. We decided against continuing on up to the Pinnacle, the peak of the mountain, and saved that for the next day, arriving back at the car just as the rain started again.

Final day in the Grampians started with drizzly, windy weather, but we headed out for our walk up the Pinnacle nevertheless, leaving the car at the hostel and walking from Halls Gap. Despite the weather this 10km walk was still enjoyable, with lots of interesting rock formations to see - the best one was walking up 'silent street', a narrow gully between rock faces. We got very lucky at the top and arrived at a gap between the clouds and had good views from the Pinnacle. Took a few quick pictures before finding somewhere to shelter from the freezing wind! It was a much shorter route back (even with a short detour when we lost the path!), straight down the hillside into Halls Gap. After a quick lunch we were on the road back to Melbourne, a 2hr drive along the highway for 250km, then another 1.5hrs negotiating rush hour traffic in Melbourne for the last 20km - not much fun in the rain and spray!

We had the car for another day so decided to do a day-trip down the Mornington Peninsula on Thursday. Picked up two new passengers for the day, German girls who were sightseeing in Melbourne for a few days. The girls were really friendly and gave us lots of tips from their travels around Aus and NZ. Yet again the weather was wet and windy, so in the morning we just had a brief stop in Mornington and at the top of Arthur's Seat to look at the grey views. Stopped in a town called Sorrento for lunch. This was a really nice place with interesting shops and cafes leading down to the harbour. We were both jealous of the enormous pile of nachos the German girls had in a cafe for lunch - our packed lunch of cheese sandwiches just couldn't compare! First stop after lunch was Point Napean National Park, at the very tip of the Peninsula. Unfortunately it started bucketing down with rain as we arrived at the car park so we abandoned any idea of the 6km round trip to the very tip, and moved on. We did brave the weather for the nearby 'London Bridge' rock archway, which was only a 300m walk instead, and got some classic windswept photos. The sun appeared as we arrived at Cape Shank, so we managed a longer walk to see the headland and lighthouse, with amazing views of stormy seas and skies. Final stop of the day was the Darling Park vineyard for some wine tasting. Alice was disappointed to be driving, as she only got a tiny sip of each wine and I finished them off. Some really nice ones, but a bit too pricey unless you were planning to buy by the case...

All in all we have had a fantastic road trip, despite the weather. Would be great to do it again in Summer though and make the most of the beaches and get better views from the mountains.

Posted by duncan-alice 18:08 Archived in Australia Comments (0)


sunny 23 °C

We arrived in Melbourne early on the 2nd May. Despite having to declare some food and muddy boots (which were cleaned for free!) we weren't exciting enough to be filmed by the Border Force camera crew! We took the exorbitantly priced bus to the town centre and then a tram and bus to Steve and Louise's (friends from Edinburgh) where we happily spent a couple of hours on their balcony catching up. We then went into the city centre to organise bank accounts, sim cards etc and to walk around the CBD. The house is a 3 storey townhouse with 3 balconies and we were lucky enough to be able to stay in the en-suite guest room with an amazing power shower! Definitely one of the better places we have stayed at so far.

We both took to Melbourne immediately and the weather in our first few days definitely helped - it was sunny with no humidity which was a welcomed change from sticky Asia. The city is very relaxed and seems to offer everything...parks in the city centre, great public transport, close to mountains, beaches and sea, amazing bars and restaurants. Sport plays a big part in life here with cyclists and Aussie rules footy pitches everywhere.

Originally we planned to stay here for a couple of months, find some work and settle in one place however plans quickly changed...Alice got a bar job trial on day one and thought she had it in the bag but almost as quick as she got the trial she was told she was no longer needed. I applied for some office jobs but failed to get any so we cut our losses and decided to move onto plan B. We'd loosely thought about working in the countryside before arriving here and after the challenges of getting a city based job for such a short time we found a small organic farm about an hour and a half outside the city happy for us to do some work in return for board and food for a couple of weeks. We're quite excited about doing this adventure as we would never do this at home! We'll update you on this and how it goes in a couple of weeks!

Back to Melbourne, having changed our plans we intensified our sightseeing to cram it all into a few days. Despite Melbourne being in late Autumn the weather for our first week was mid 20s so we took advantage of this to do several self-guided walking tours, exploring the CBD, waterfront, botanic gardens and sport precinct. They were really good tours with enough info about the city to keep you entertained. We also hit some of the museums in town which were interesting. Our favourites were the immigration museum and old gaol but the Ian Potter Centre (art museum) was also very good. We happened to time our visit with a free guided tour so a lovely old lady took us through Aboriginal art and more modern Australian art explaining it. It only lasted about an hour which was enough for us but was nice to get a bit more background about a few paintings.

We've loved the contrast of the Queen Victoria market to Asian markets which we had had enough of by the end. Here you can buy fresh fruit, veg, fish, meat etc and we've had fun shopping there for a couple of meals.

Last week we did a road trip outside the City (see next entry) and yesterday, our last day in Melbourne, we cooked Steve and Louise an Asian extravaganza and then went to the MCG to see an Aussie rules game between Collingwood and Geelong. The stadium, which holds 100,000, was amazing and was over two thirds full. The game proved very entertaining with only one goal between the teams and the lead changing numerous times in the last quarter. Definitely a sport I could sit and watch for hours and hours and wouldn't mind giving it a try!

We're both sad to be leaving Melbourne as it seems like an amazing place to live, definitely one of our favourite cities.

Posted by duncan-alice 18:08 Archived in Australia Comments (0)


sunny 33 °C

So we are yet again very much behind with the blog...apologies to all of our readers! Also, sorry no pics at the mo, we are having problems uploading them again, but will try to add some at a later date. We are now in Melbourne, which is a fantastic city. But more of that later, first of all I had better update about another fantastic city and our last port of call in Asia...Singapore.

We spent a great two days in Singapore. Really liked the city, which had a very relaxed, modern atmosphere compared to other Asian cities. We arrived on the 30th April late morning and a short hop over the Causeway from Johor Bahru in Malaysia. Spent the first day exploring the colonial area of the city. Checked out the Raffles Hotel, walked down the Padang to the riverside and along to Clarke Quay and then relaxed for a while in the park at Fort Canning. Then we headed across town for a short tour round Little India before heading back to the hostel.

Went back out into the city in the evening, and had a lovely night down by the river. The buildings looked impressive lit up at night, and there was a great atmosphere with lots of people out and about. We both felt a little underdressed though, next to all the Singapore ladies out in dresses and high heels on a Tuesday night! The restaurants along the river looked fantastic, unfortunately our budget didn't quite stretch that far so we ended up with a pretty decent meal in a mall food court for a fraction of the price!

Second day in Singapore we started out with a trip to the Changi prison museum. The museum gave a good history of the life of POWs under Japanese rule during WW2, but I didn't find it as emotive as some of the other similar museums we have visited, such as the Death Railway one in Thailand. Back into the city for the afternoon, and a wander round China Town, with lunch at the 'Hawker market'. Then we finished the day with a trip to Orchard Road to see the infamous shopping district...there certainly were a lot of malls! Didn't buy anything, but it was nice to wander round in the AC for a little while.

Then off to the airport for our evening flight to Melbourne, goodbye Asia...hello Aus!

Posted by duncan-alice 18:07 Archived in Singapore Comments (0)

(Entries 1 - 3 of 3) Page [1]