Grampians – Adelaide Roadtrip

We had clocked a fair bit of mileage in our van and we weren’t even half way. On the plus side we have seen some of the most amazing sights and experienced life on the road by ourselves and there would be plenty more to see.
After leaving our campsite we drove in to the Halls Gap town, it is meant to be the biggest town in the Grampians but there just didn’t seem to be much to see or do at the time of our visiting.
We decided to do one of the driving routes to see some of Hall’s Gap lookout points, the route we chose was the Central Grampians Drive.

We drove along Mt Victory Road and took a turning towards the Boroka Lookout, the road being named Mt Difficult Road was a little worrying and it was very windy but Sean did fine driving the van. We parked up and from there it was a short and fairly easy walk to the lookout point. Once we were there we had a really great view of Hall’s Gap and Wonderland Range. In the distance we could see heavy showers from the black clouds and a large lake in between mountains.

Moving onwards we got back on the Mt Victory Road and stopped off at Reed Lookout and walked about half an hour towards the Balconies, a famous rock formation. On the way we saw some strange rock piles which looked like they had been purposely placed there for Aboriginal purposes maybe but the time it must have taken them to do all of that is crazy and it reminded me of a scene from The Blair Witch Project. The Balconies was another picturesque view, the Balconies were rock formations perched on the edge of a mountain side allowing the public to take a step out into them for the best seat in the house. Our friend we had met in Sydney had a photo taken sitting on one of the ledges but I wouldn’t recommend doing it due to the instability of some of these rocks plus there were plenty of warning signs to put me off.

Our next stop was MacKenzie Falls, unfortunately though due to a recent bush fire in the Grampians it was closed off to the public. We had noticed a lot of fire damage along the way and its shocking to see how much and how big they can get, most of the trees were now dead wood and it would take a long time for things to get back to the way they were again.
We passed through a town called Keith before getting to Adelaide and we just had to stop off for a cheeky photo opportunity for our mate back home called Keith, made us giggle. So farewell from Keith and onwards to Adelaide where we were staying at Christies Beach campsite, the site had a nice view of the beach where we watched the sun setting although it was a bit cloudy to really see much and it was pretty cold anyway so we headed back to the van to relax (after doing the van ritual – sorting van, making up the bed, securing all the curtains and trying to get comfy). Next port of call Adelaide CBD.

The Great Ocean Road – Port Campbell-Warrnambool

Day Three:

We saw the Twelve Apostles yesterday but we just wanted to see them again and go quite early to spend a bit longer and enjoy the sunrise peeking over the rock formations. We were so tired that we just missed sunrise but we still got a beautiful view of the Sun pointing west towards the Apostles which saw shadows of the cliffs loom over them and made for some nice photographs.

We had decided the night before we would have to back track towards Cape Otway to check out the Otway Fly Treetop Adventures as it was too late to go when originally planned – no thanks to Jucy. We drove towards the park looking forward to doing some zip line activities as well as the treetops walk and since we had Merlin annual passes it would cost us nothing….wrongo!! We got there and found out it was free for us to do the treetop walk & nature trail but it was around $100 to do the zip line although maybe 25% off, still very pricey so we gave that a miss. The nature trail was ok, a lot of ferns and trees but a few dinosaurs in between, all very old and in need of repair (the raptors had legs missing). We joined the treetops walk which wasn’t amazing but I liked making it move – the older generation did not. Overall we are glad we didn’t have to pay but it we enjoyed being outdoors taking in the natural beauty.

We found a national park close to Otway Fly Treetop Adventures which has a waterfall – Triplet Falls, named apply for its gradient fall. We had a slight incline to walk but we had fun, especially being rewarded with a picturesque view of the waterfall. Some people had took an unofficial detour to get the bottom of the water to have a swim maybe, Sean tried but felt it was a bit steep for me to be comfortable with. However we had some great views from the three levels, it took us about an hour return and was not too strenuous.

We headed forward on the Great Ocean Road, stopping off at a few more monuments near the Twelve Apostles. The coastline between Cape Otway and Port Fairy is a notoriously dangerous stretch of water. In the days of sailing ships more than 80 vessels came to grief on this 120km stretch in just 40 years. The most famous wreck was that of Loch Ard, hence the lookout name; Loch Ard Gorge. This was our favourite lookout on the GOR, it had a beautiful but small beach which was like a cove surrounded by two huge cliffs. These cliffs created some monstrous waves and you could see why people are not allowed to swim these waters, It did not stop some silly women frolicking around like a beached whale though – a local however pulled her out un-amused. I could have stayed here all day but as the tide came in and started washing people’s belongings out to sea (someone lost there iPhone here) we decide to make hast and drive onwards to some more lookout points.

We saw many more along the way, Including Thunder Cave – a name referred to by the noise made by the waves crashing inside the cave, London Bridge – a famous rock formation named recently due to two tourists in the 90s being stranded when rocks collapsed separating the stack to the mainland.  Bay of Islands and Bay of Martyrs were pretty amazing too with a vast sight into the distance of yet more rock stacks. We realised that in years to come the very spot we were standing would one day be another apostle, this was a crazy thought.

As the sun started to decent beyond sight we got back in our van and drove to Warrnambool, the last destination on the Great Ocean Road. We found a campsite to stay overnight which was quite small and Sean thought, very Bogeny (Aussie term for redneck). We cooked some camel burgers, which just tasted like beef, and enjoyed the starry skies.

We loved the GOR and would miss the beauty of the coastal drive especially the fun windy roads and the lookout after lookout, but we were only a quarter of the way into our roadtrip as we had plenty more to see towards Port Lincoln and then inland towards Sydney. For now though we had to catch some zzz’s after a long adventure filled day. Night John boy.

The Great Ocean Road – Melbourne – Anglesea

Day one:

Our destination: Port Lincoln Shark Diving!!
Vehicle of choice: Jucy Rentals
Booked through Peterpans Travel
Duration: Booked for 13 days
Cost: $57 + $25 (insurance) a day

Ever since we started talking about travelling Australia we have always had two things on our bucket lists, dive the Great Barrier Reef and Cage Shark diving. It’s something we would never get the chance to do again and we just love marine life especially the mysterious Great White Shark (white shark). We went straight to Peterpans in Melbourne and knew exactly what we wanted and booked! So we decided to do the Great Ocean Road along the way and check out Adelaide, yes it would be cheaper to just fly over but we would miss out on all the glorious views, locations and memories of doing this journey.

Our day started…..no wait….3 hours later our day started. We woke early aiming to get our car around collection time at 10am and arrived not long after to find a bit of a queue but not much, about 5 people. An hour of waiting on the queue we start getting annoyed as we really should be on the road heading straight for The Twelve Apostles not in some stark collection office. We realise that a few of the people haven’t even com  to collect cars but enquire about booking one so the people waiting to collect can’t because Jucy haven’t got a proper queuing system and not only that the only 2 Jucy staff that seem to be working then take each person outside to see the vehicle, which take another 20 minutes and at this point we’re tapping our feet, shaking our heads and watching the clock. The staff were slow, to busy having conversations about “how sweet your trips going to be” and less time organising and handling the customers that want to be on that sweet trip!

We finally get to the front of the queue and its been 3 hours and our plans for going straight to the apostles is not happening, it would be after sunset by the time we got there and we did not want to miss out on seeing places on the way. The assistant smiles and says “sorry about the wait is everything ok?” We remind her how long we have waited and how we are a day behind now which we are paying for as we speak only to then be told ” sorry about that, it does work out that most out that most of the time people do loose a day but that’s just what happens” she wrote it in the notes for us to mention to HR but that was it. Thanks Jucy for your amazing customer service. NOT.

So day one finally starts after getting supplies for the van. The plan today is to aim for Anglesea where we would find accommodation before starting the Great Ocean Road in the morning. We decide to stop off in Torquay home of Rip Curl and Bells beach where surf competitions take place annually. There wasn’t much in terms of surf for us to watch as it was getting late and the weather quite cold and I’m guessing the sea is even colder. The area was beautiful though and coastline amazing to see, I always find staring out in to the ocean very hypnotic and calming.

We moved on towards Anglesea where we found a camp site for the night, it was quite dark at this point but it was a nice, quiet location and there was loads of space. We parked our van and took a little look around. We were close to all facilities and we had privacy with help of the trees surrounding our space and we were right by the beach too.
The walk to and from the toilets was fun, my feet were black and I creeped myself out walking back in the dark but the showers were great, clean and the cost of $– a night per van was good.

We headed 5 minutes away from reception to grab some food as we weren’t allowed to use our stove on the camp site. We found a pub that served food and went with the kangaroo roast dinner which was delicious although the cook thought he only had to make one dish, I waited and asked the waitress who had to tell him to make mine but it meant Sean had to eat without me. After the meal we called it a night and walked back to the van to plan day two when we heard something in the shadows. We freaked when we saw a massive kangaroo a few meters away from us, it bounced off eventually into the darkness and we were left aware but delighted. After a bad start to the day it ended pleasant and we hoped nothing else would get in our way that would change this.

Interviews & house hunting

We finally had some good news though as Topshop had called both both me and Sean in for an interview…hooray. We were advised to come dressed to show our own style which wasn’t too hard if we kept very simple. The interview process was long 4 hours in fact, we had to split up in to groups and in to teams of 3 and describe a perfect Topshop employee, next you were given a garment and you had to pick it’s best selling points and last you were all interviewed individually for a minute and you had to sell yourself. It wasn’t a tough interview but we were in need of work so badly we felt like we had not done great at all but fingers crossed.

Next interview was with Merlin Entertainment , I was actually really excited about this interview and was keen to be placed in the Sea Life Aquarium if I got to choose. My interview day had approached and had arrived at the hotel nice and early seeing quite a few people waiting for the same interview, scary. We were all seated in a room together and had previously been told to bring something in that best describes you, I brought my Polaroid camera as I love it and I love have unique moments captured in an instant.

We individually had to stand, introduce ourselves, why we want to work for merlin and what our product was, it was so nerve racking and my heart was pumping so hard I thought it might burst and I could see everyone else was the same too, it was not good. When it came to me I was ok but had noticed how so many others had brought cameras too, I hoped my Polaroid would stand out from the crowd.

Next we were sent out of the rooms for a break and I had luckily made a few friends while having lunch and by the time we settled again in the room we could sit with our friends and had to promote a certain attraction, we had the wildlife zoo and did a talk show to promote it.

Finally it was just a one to one interview and I was able to relax, I had a good interviewer and he made it very easy to answer questions and I was sure it went ok at the end too. This would be a very interesting job to have instead of retail. My other interview was with Luna Park but that was too embarrassing to talk about as they make you perform like a performing seal and I mean literally, I would not recommend going for it unless you enjoy that type of thing but it was an experience none the less.

In the end we both managed to secure jobs and we even had to make a choice too, we both got Topshop but realised it was only a 6 week contract and no longer so I went for Madame Tussauds (Merlin Entertainment) and Sean went with retail giant Zara which paid better and had a longer contract.

Next task was to find a home, not an easy task I assure you. We had looked online for houses, flatshares and even student accommodation during holidays but we weren’t getting anywhere. We checked all websites flatmates, gumtree, real estate and furnished property but everything was above our price range or not suitable for less than 6 months contract and we had a budget of $250-300 with a 3 month contract….We had many laugh in our faces.

We had hit a low and I thought this has got to end so on flatmates I just took the plunge and paid $20 to get access to all property’s, I could actually message New property’s and get access to their numbers and this cut through so much crap and waiting. I got quite a few responses within minutes, some saying no but the majority saying yes and come view property.

We now had a good selection to check out and went out for a day’s hunt. We had 3 houses to view quite close together too so it made it easier. First two were in kingsford, a decent enough area shops very close and coffee beach about 20minutes away. The first was an apartment that looked decent on the outside and don’t get me wrong had a lot of potential inside but it was covered in rubbish and had a bed in the living area and a bed in what looked like a study and we saw about 50 odd pars of shoes in the hall so how many people were living there exactly I don’t know. I need my privacy and cleanliness and this place had none.

Next property was about 10 minutes away and looked really nice and light in the pictures so we were quite eager to see this home. On first approach the gate was covered in weeds and the house looked quite dirty, Sean squeezes my hand in displeasure. We had to enter at the back and found the kitchen area from the photos was no longer white, bright and airy but dirty, dark and dingy even the beautiful garden was now overgrown and dried out looking worse for ware.

We tried not to let this affect our decision as long as the house was liveable and cheap we could live here. The room was decent and the previous tenant, a German guy seemed to really look after the place but we were gonna see the next place and decide.

South coogee was the next location and was a 20minute walk, we got near and the place looked like a shop front (I remembered jess from Melbourne’s apartment and was worried), we entered and a young lady opened, she seemed ok and I remember she was quite sweet in her texts. We went up some stairs and wow a big difference, open space, clean/tidy and light!! The photos online were the same, unlike the previous two. We were shown around and were taken out on to the balcony which had such a beautiful view and we were happy with this place and it was even within our price range. We left her with our interest and had a walk to the beach 2 minutes from the house and what a beautiful beach Coogee is.

We were so keen on this property and being back in the hostel that night made us want it even more, so within a couple of days waiting we were accepted and could move out of hostels what a relief.

If anyone has any questions regarding work and house hunting feel free to drop us a comment.

4 Merlin Attractions of Sydney

Since we are in Sydney for a while to work and enjoy the festive season we plan to try and enjoy the sights and things sydney has to offer…in other words have FUN!!!
So as well as the Sydney Aquarium here are some of the places we have enjoyed since being here:

Madame Tussauds Sydney

The smallest of all Madame Tussauds but the youngest too, being just over a year since opening. Since we had a merlin annual pass it cost us absolutely nothing to enter and we have not managed to see the London attraction we thought it would be a good first attempt.

You have 9 rooms altogether and 60% off the wax figures are Australian so it’s great for learning about the culture. You have History, World Leaders, Sport, Music, History of Madame Tussauds, Culture & Sciene, TV, Film and A-List.

I have to say apart from Mark Webber and Shane Warne I had no idea who most of the sporting hero’s were as they were immortalised at a younger age but it was good to read up about them. The world leaders room was impressive being surrounded by such influential people. My favourite room has to be the music room and the film room as I loved seeing Sandy from Grease and getting dressed up next to her but in the film room you have beautiful Heath Ledger and E.T.

The wax figures were impressive, some needed looking after a bit more but from first glance the faces are so real and I can only imagine how much work goes in to making just one figure. There is plenty to see and do around the attraction with presentations every hour, wax hand making, personalised trophies and videos to show you how the wax figures are made, so for $40 you get to see all this and keep the children entertained but also educated and the staff at the time were nice and didn’t have any issues.

Wildlife Sydney

Wildlife was very interesting, I actually rate it higher then the Aquarium due to the fact I find there is too much to take in at the Aquarium where as in the wildlife attraction there is just enough and the creatures aren’t stuck behind a cage, they gave plenty of space and some even jump/fly around the enclosure quite freely.

The butterfly sanctuary is amazing and if you stand very still you might be lucky enough to have one land on you. The butterflies are kept in a very well heated room to reflect that of their living conditions so it can be quite humid in there but they were amazing to see their size and how beautiful their wings are in colours.

There are many creatures to see here from Cassowarys, Wallaby’s, Birds, Snakes and my favourite Rex the Crocodile. He has a selection of viewing points: one high up looking below, one looking directly in to his enclosure and you even get to see him underwater when he wants to take a dip. We got some great pictures of this and the presentation on him was fascinating as we found out quite a bit about where he came from, why he was here and you can even catch him being fed. Another great presentation was on the Koala rooftop, they tell you all sorts of information about the koalas and what they eat, how the give birth and more, this is another worth while presentation to take part in and at the end you can even pay to get up close to the furry little tree dwellers.

Sydney Tower Eye (Centre Point Tower)

Based in the Westfield shopping center off Pitt Street and found on Level 5, easy to get to and never much of a queue as its open from 9am – 10pm. There is sometimes a slight queue once you enter though which is for the 4D experience in which you get to watch a cinematic view of Sydney and what it has to offer, worth one visit especially with children but you don’t need to see it more then once.

Next you have a security check before entering the lift to get to the high point. You can feel your ears popping as you ride the elevator up to the top floor, gives you an idea of how high you really are. Once we were up we all burst out of the tiny lift eager to see the view, and what an amazing view it was.

You got a 360° view of Sydney and on a very clear day like ours you could see as far as the Blue Mountains as well as Watson’s Bay and Bondi Beach, the people from above looked so small like ants running around the city. The very historical building QVB looked so good from this view and the Bridge in its iconic form nestled in between tall office blocks. You only need to spend 30 mins there to appreciate the view but they do have a cafe and a gift shop so you could spend longer. I recommend seeing the tower both in the day and at night time so maybe visit around 7pm on wards as you will see the sun setting and the lights all turning on to the night so best of both.

Manly Sea Life Sanctuary

The last of the five Merlin Attractions but one to still consider visiting, Manly is just on the note shore adjacent to Watson’s Bay. To get there from the city you are best travelling by Ferry which takes 30 minutes but it is a great journey, very scenic, but is going to be the quickest and cheapest way to get there. Once you are off the ferry you only need to look to your left and it is right on the beach. It is only a small aquarium but it is unique to the Sea Life Aquarium on Darling Harbour.

The sanctuary deals with rescued creatures and ones that need to be nursed back to health for re-releasing back into the ocean. It is a great place to lean about sharks too especially for anyone who has a passion for marine biology, it informs you on the unnecessary harm humans are to Sharks and how killing Sharks will effect the ocean. It really is eye opening to see and I couldn’t recommend it more.

Asides from sharks the Manly Sea Life Sanctuary also has a selection of Lizards, Jellyfish, Sea Horses, Sea Turtles and mini Penguins. The mini Penguin presentation was great to listen to, the lady told us lots of information on the special breed of Penguin, where they live to live and more. While she was doing this the Penguin were being very noisy for such small creatures, trying to get our attention but also to make other Penguins aware what was around them.

I would like to recommend people go visit this attraction as it is always the least visited due to people wanting to go to the bigger aquarium. Being a keen sea life enthusiast I have learnt more from this aquarium and seen more on our impact on the sea life then in the darling harbour site. They had a raft made up of plastic bottles found just on the Manley beach area and it was enough to fit more then a few people on and they apparently tested it and sailed it on the ocean to raise awareness of how much we litter the oceans with. Go check it out and after wards you can enjoy the rest of your day on the beach, visiting the shops and eating good food all before heading back home.

To read our review on the Sea Life Aquarium of Sydney check out our previous posts.

Our big decision

Melbourne weather is very erratic and some say it has four season in one day but today was not the case, we found ourselves walking along the Yarra river in the intense heat. The day was beautiful and the sun was highlighting all of Melbourne’s amazing architecture, there is a real European vibe with the buildings and the vegetation as well as the people walking around and I think that’s why a lot of travellers love it as its a bit of home far away.

Along the river were some great views and as we reached south bank there was a tall ship and historical notes about what the area used to be. We succumbed to the heat and took a seat at a place called ‘Padlocks Ships’, we grabbed a couple of drinks and enjoyed the scenery of people gasping walking past us, wanting our tasty beverages. We sat talking for a while and it was here that we decided however much we love Melbourne we need to leave for Sydney as job opportunities here were not great and we needed work if we were going to stay in Australia till May.

We had decided that the weekend would be the best time, which may sound like a fast decision but if we were going to job hunt in Sydney we needed to be there now. So with that decision made we headed away from the cool shade and back in the heat.

We stopped off later for lunch and wisecracking our brains over what we fancied, every where we looked it was too factor too expensive but then it hit me….I want PANCAKES!!!!!! Sean agreed. We went to Pancake Parlour and the menu made my mouth water. They had basic buttermilk pancakes to double chocolate pancakes with cheer us and ice cream (drool). Once we had ordered we sat back and stuffed ourselves full until we couldn’t move again, this would be our last supper in Melbourne.

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[Travellers tip: if you haven’t found work move on elsewhere, time is a big factor with working holiday visas so contact the company find out if they received your resume and if you have a chance…be honest about your visa situation too]

Music Video Frenzy in Melbourne

ACMI Exhibition Centre

Whilst walking around enjoying the city life in Melbourne we both stumbled upon an exhibition center in Federation Square, ACMI (Australian Centre for the Moving Image), it looked pretty interesting as they were having an exhibition on called ‘The Spectacle – the music video exhibition’ and I have such a huge love for the imagination that goes in to making a music video.

They have a general section that is open to the public for FREE open everyday, that explores moving image, its history and the impact it has had on the world. There was so much to interact with from making your own sound effects to a video to creating visual effects using your body and anyone from children to adults would find themselves engaged for hours. Sean was excited about two things, the fact they had games consoles for the public to play (ps3 withdrawal) and the chance to recreate your own matrix bullet time moment – click here to see ours Video 1 and Video Two.

The most interesting thing we saw out of it all though had to be the frame by frame animation which if you can picture about 5 rows of plastic models and each model was lined up in a circle (30 replicas)but each model was positioned slightly different. Music plays and the whole piece spins around and it gets faster, at this point it’s all a blur until a strobe light comes on making everything appear slightly slower which gives the effect of the models jumping/running/dancing. It was really awesome to see it all come together.

Spectacle – the music video exhibition 26/09 – 23/02/14

I was really looking forward to this exhibition as this is what I enjoyed whilst studying media. The exhibition which is open daily cost us $15/$10 concession. We could take photos but weren’t allowed to film as the videos were copyrighted.

There were screens with headphones at every turn and each screen had a selection of videos although annoyingly enough you couldn’t choose a video you had to just watch in the order. First few videos were historical, first music videos recorded, animated films with music and innovative artists such as Bob Dylan, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones.

Music videos today are an art form of there own, they create a story that makes them like miniature movies and the cinematography creates beautiful effects that make videos just as or more enjoyable then the music itself. We saw how video artists used lights and shadows to create effects, how digital design and animation has become a style favoured by the likes of The White Stripes and Junior Senior to emote a fun, childlike feeling in us all.

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The future for music videos is bright and so many new ideas are becoming influential, artist such as Radiohead are jumping on board making videos that are interactive so the line between video director and the viewer is becoming blurred. Also with social media we saw a lot of parody videos in the exhibition that recreated an artist’s video but using own footage with a comical twist – watch ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic – Smells like Nirvana.

I was so excited to see some of Michel Gondrys work (The White Stripes, The Chemical Brothers and Daft Punk) as well as Spike Jonzes work (Bjork and Fatboy Slim). We also saw music videos we had not seen from artists we knew or didn’t know that made an impression such as Royksopp/The Knife‘s ‘What else is there?‘ and INXS ‘What you need‘ and some home grown talent from Australian artists – Gotye, INXS, The Temper Trap and Nick Cave..

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There was plenty of set designs around the exhibition – The Chemical Brothers – ‘Let Forever Be‘ featuring a repetitive mirror sequence (genius), The White Stripes Lego blocks as seating and A-has ‘Take On Me‘ animation inspired area which meant that visitors could impress their friends with their new Facebook profile pic…I did. Overall the exhibition was a real pleaser, we recommend it for not only music lovers but for something to do when you are bored due to the amount of fun you can have and we enjoyed every minute just a shame we couldn’t see all the videos we loved.

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