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.

Sydney – life’s a beach. Bondi, Coogee and more

In Sydney there is a yearly event in November called Sculpture by the Sea. YHA central, a hostel we were staying at arranged a free walk featuring the sculptures. We decided to join in for the chance of meeting some new people and to get our bearings. The walk was from Bondi Beach to Bronte beach with plenty of weird and wonderful sculptures to gawp at along the way. Some of our favourites were a big glass orb that was filled with water which turned the landscape behind it upside down. There was a big 8 foot tall ball made of plastic rubbish symbolising the amount of rubbish found washed up upon the shore. During the walk we came across a giant orange wasp that was dragging a big huntsman spider along the rocks. I later found out that the wasp was called a spider wasp and they apparently paralyse the spider and then lay eggs inside the spider! NICE! It was a good day out and a chance to enjoy the sun. The walk would normally take 40 minutes and is about 4km but it obviously took us longer as we were enjoying the views. It’s a great walk to do even when the sculptures aren’t there. There are some great coastal views and nice beaches along the way.

 

On another sun filled day we headed to Bondi Beach for a relaxing beach day. To our suprise there was a surf competition happening at the time which added to our entertainment. Whilst the competitors were catching some waves there was music, funny australian comentators, charity BBQ and even a little stage area where some of the surfers were sharing their dancing skills with us. The grass bank was very busy, full of people enjoying the entertainment whilst sipping on an ice cold brewsky. There was a dude surfing who had a traffic cone gaffa taped to the front of his board, I don’t know if it helped but he was pretty good. After enjoying a hot dog and an ice cream we checked out the bondi shops and then walked to Bronte beach enjoying the coastal walk once again.

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If you are feeling energetic, you can do the same coastal walk from Bondi but go further than Bronte and end up on Coogee beach. This walk is roughly 7km and takes 1 hour and 40 minutes to walk. On this route you also get to see Clovelly and Gordon’s Bay.

Clovelly has a small beach and a large concrete area either side of the bay. It’s not the prettiest of beaches but a great place to sunbath on the concrete, if you’re not a fan of sand. It’s also a good spot for swimming and snorkelling due to protection from the waves the water is pretty calm. We have seen various fish and marine life whilst snorkelling and they seem very friendly as they are used to people. There is also a local big blue groper fish that is often seen but so far me and Ash have had no luck.

Gordon’s Bay is a beautiful quaint and rocky bay. It tends to be very quiet compared to the surrounding beaches. It’s also another great spot for snorkelling.

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Coogee is our current local beach seeing as we only live a short walk away. It’s similar to Bondi but tends to be less busy and you don’t see many surfers, It’s a great place to chill on the sand and then go for a swim to cool down. Last week i managed to catch the biggest wave I’ve ever body surfed and the wave after that was even bigger and took me out. There’s plenty of places to eat and drink around Coogee and we both enjoy living here.

A 45 minute walk south of Coogee is another lovely beach called Maroubra. It’s popular with surfers and has a great sandy beach to chill out on, It doesn’t get anywhere near as busy as Bondi and Coogee and you’ll find that most of the people there are locals.

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St Kilda beach, The Nunnery, Fitzroy

Sadly Space Hotel was fully booked so we had to hunt down new accommodation. We booked some nights at The Nunnery, it was a bit further out than Space but only a 15 minute walk to CBD. It was a nice little hostel, we stayed in a 6 bed dorm ($34 each) but unfortunately apart from an American girl the other guys sharing the room were very annoying. Sleep was a blessing, as two nights in a row we were woken up numerous times. One of the guys from our dorm was a bit of a party animal and would come and wake us up in the middle of the night. “Come out!” He’d say “We’ve got goon! Come get some goon!” Another guy loved to walk in the room and turn all the lights on and then walk out leaving all the doors open. What a douche! Everyone was very clicky at the hostel so it was very hard to interact with them. At a free BBQ at the hostel we did manage to speak to a friendly guy from Argentina called Francisco.

That day we had a house to view not far from Carlton Park. We knocked on the door and Jess greeted us and let us in. My first impressions weren’t great, the room we walked into was her bedroom, mattress on the floor and clutter everywhere. She was a nice girl, a bit hippy looking wearing an oversized jumper and she had dreadlocks. Her friend was sporting a little pencil tash and to be honest seemed a bit high. His eyes were red and he spoke very scatty. The house overall was very cluttered, the bathroom had vines growing from outside, into the window and down the inside of the bathroom wall which did look cool but neither of us fancied sharing a shower with a load of spiders. After looking around the house we returned to Jess’s bedroom to find that tash-guy had the munchies. He found a bag of nuts amongst the clutter and began to munch away as Jess reminded him that he had a nut allergy. We sat there asking a few more questions and talking about Melbourne in general. Tash-guy stopped eating his nuts as he was feeling sick, which was our cue to leave.

During our stay at The Nunnery and in between the rain we had a nice day were it was 28°C so we went to St Kilda beach. It wasn’t the best of beaches but it was nice to be by the sea. Near the beach was Luna Park with a massive face as the entrance. We checked out some of the markets, walked in the sea and relaxed on the beach.

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We managed to book more nights in the much loved Space Hotel. For our last night at The Nunnery we avoided the noise and the two of us headed to Fitzroy. It was similar to Northbridge in Perth, plenty of quirky shops and bars and a few good graffiti spots. We found a Little Creatures bar which we had missed since leaving Fremantle, we chilled out with a few bottles of pale ale discussing our plans and future trips.

Goodbye Perth, it’s been awesome!

So here we are, an end to our adventures in WA. This post was one we were sad to make. We had enjoyed our time spent here in WA and have some treasured memories that we will not forget. Here’s how it ended.

Our last weekend in Perth and we had planned to have a goodbye meal with Sean’s relatives. Marie and Drew had put on a nice spread for us. It was good to catch up and see everyone but sad to leave not knowing when we would see each other again. We want to thank them for all their help, advise, visits and will stay in touch. Same goes for our housemates Kylee and Ian, good friends couldn’t have expected any better. We had leaving drinks in town, going from a chilled out bar and ending up in a few clubs. It was nice to let our hair down after a jam packed week. We must have danced all night cause I was aching all over the next morning.
Early start too at 7am we had a trip planned to York, about an hour away from Perth. There wasn’t much to see and do especially since it was a Sunday but we made our own fun. Stopping off at a cafe to soak up the alcohol and regain human life, I opted for spaghetti on toast, which tickled kylee and Ian.

Soon after we left and checked out a few shops, found a sweet shop as Ian wanted some ice cream. We all had a selection including bubble gums with a tattoo just for old times sake. The shop keeper kinda freaked us out a bit with her hairy top lip and boggled eyes, I think it was time to get out of there. We then found a cool vantage point up in the hills where we sat over looking the town, a graveyard and vast amounts of nothing but it was a sight none the less.
Later we paid a visit to Ian’s family home where he showed us around, checked out his family photos, his figurine Dragon and even saw our first wild snake out in the garden – not sure what snake it was, Brown with yellow stripe along its side but it was a fast one.

Perth has been a great city to start our trip, we have adjusted to the weather easily, it was not over run with backpackers during our stay in winter, beaches are beautiful and there are plenty of them to choose from, lots of events going on but at the same time if you just want to relax, surf or enjoy the scenery it’s a nice laid back city. Employment was an issue and only I managed to find work and that was a telemarketing job but I can see summer being a better time for work as the tourism industry will probably pick up.
We have bumped into a lot of people that seem to have chosen not to go to WA and many just stay in one state for the majority of their stay in Australia, we can’t understand why you wouldn’t want to explore and see what the rest of the country has to offer. From our 4.5 months in WA we have truly lived as Australians, staying with family, getting a paid job, living with a couple of down to earth Aussies that have become friends and exploring both sides of the state – from the dry lands of the out back up north, city life and the beautiful wine region down south.

Sadly we didn’t get to do everything during our stay. We missed out on visiting Rottsnest Island due to winter weather we were told its much better to visit in summer, it’s a must see place to spend the whole day or even a weekend in the accommodation provided on the island and I’m sure it’s amazing this time of year now since Perth has temperatures of 30°+.

Penguin island in Rockingham was another we didn’t get to visit although we got close, viewing it from the beach.
Exmouth and the Ningaloo Reef was one place we were gutted not to see as it has some of Australia’s beautiful coral reefs attracting a lot of sea life. The cost was a bit too much and we want to see the great barrier reef in Queensland most of all.

With our flight booked to Melbourne (pre paid through STA) we had a 3.5 hour journey, flying with quantas. The flight was long enough for us to watch a film but Sean did have technical issues with his headphones so after speaking to 2 flight attendants who frankly didn’t seem to know what to do, we had to make the lady in front of us switch seats which was very embarrassing but we finally could watch something. I watched the hilarious animation The Croods, a great family film about a family of Neanderthals in the stone age and Sean watched a film starring Sam Rockwell. After a few mediocre bites to eat and refreshments we had finally landed in Melbourne and on to our next adventure…

If there are any questions you would like to ask us, maybe about Perth or maybe just about travelling in general then leave us a comment : ) We are sorry for lack of photos, Sean will be uploading a load so if you haven’t subscribed to our blog already then do so now to receive our updates.

X x

Perth to Monkey Mia: Day 3 – Monkey Mia, Hamelin Pool, Eagles Bluff, Kalbarri

Early start for all of us today, we had dolphins to see!! Myself and Sean were excited to actually see one up close as we have never seen a dolphin before. Kelly did tell us that the chances of us being picked were slim as there would be lots of people there and it was school holidays so normally children or elderly people get picked.

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Now we could either watch from the jetty and get good pictures or stand by the shore and try our luck, I decided to try my luck but got trapped at the side and didn’t get much of a view to be fair, Sean found it hard to get pictures of the dolphins and sadly we did not get picked to feed them but a few people from our tour did. During the feed I saw something near the end of the Jetty and I thought it was probably a dolphin but Josie later told me it was a turtle.

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When the feeding had finished we were told there might be another feed around 9:30 but it’s dependent on the dolphins. We lay on the beach and soaked up the rays for a bit enjoying the view if the boats on the water. The time had arrived and lucky for us the dolphins had decided they wanted some more food. Sean and I made our way over with Kelly but this time we took a bit of a seat back not expecting much.

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Feeding time and a dolphin called Surprise, came over by us to get her fish and people started getting picked and one of those people was me!! It was so surreal but I grabbed Sean’s hand and took him to meet our dolphin. We were speechless after and to be truthful a bit shaky (it was our first dolphin encounter after all). Now that’s another thing checked off our bucket list. Me and sean took a dip in the sea but we’re thinking if a dolphin did come and swim by us we’d freak out and think a shark was there so we got out and soaked up some sunshine.

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We had another animal encounter that day too when an Emu came from nowhere, walking along the beach. It came right up to our bags rummaging around in mine and lindseys stuff, cheeky. We got some great pictures though and it was pretty cool being that close to an Emu especially since they are quite dangerous.

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As the day grew on we left Monkey Mia with a whole bunch of new memories, friends and experiences but sadly part of it had to end so we enjoyed the view one last time before we got in to the van for the last time. We drove to a viewpoint called Eagles Bluff next which had an amazing view over the Indian ocean, the sea was crystal clear and even though we were so many feet high on a cliff you could still see the shadows of sea life from turtles, rays, sharks and schools of fish. This place was so beautiful I wish we could have stayed longer and I wanted even more to just jump into the clear waters and swim amongst the fish.

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After our stop off we had one last trip as a group and that was to Hamelin Pool, home to stromatolites. These ancient living rocks provide the oldest record for life itself, pretty interesting. They give us the oxygen we need that make life on earth possible. There was a walkway for people to walk around to view them as they are a protected life form so we had to be careful but I don’t know if it was just me but the air felt so pure and cleansing, I felt glad we had came to view such an amazing site.

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It came that time when we had to say goodbye to an amazing place and not only that but goodbye to a great bunch of people as 5 members were heading on up to Exmouth. We swapped Facebook’s and gave our hugs and sooner then expected we were met by our new guide Mark who was taking us for lunch and then on to our hostel in Kalbarri. We were really envious of the others getting to go up to Ningaloo Reef and snorkelling with all the amazing creatures but the experience would have to wait for us till we visit the great barrier reef.

The journey was long to the hostel and the van was even more smaller for us so when we finally arrived at the hostel, I couldn’t wait to jump in bed but we were given some bad news that evening that our van had broken down (Mark had cut the radiator pipe!) So who knew when we would be able to move on. We hoped it wouldn’t cut in to our last day but for now all I wanted was my head on that pillow.

Perth to Monkey Mia: Day 2 – Kalbarri, Murchison Gorge, Shell Beach, Monkey Mia

It was an early start leaving the farm and a team effort to get everything packed onto the minibus. We said goodbye to the horses then off we set for Kalbarri National park. It was a beautiful sunny day and once we arrived at our destination we had views to match. A rocky landscape like nothing I’d ever seen before apart from on TV. We walked a rocky path to get to Natures Window a naturally made hole in a rock that frames the river. It’s an iconic attraction and was a great photo opportunity. Lindsay said “is this the window?” which made us all chuckle as it was as if she was sarcastically saying “is that it?” I couldn’t help myself from hanging from a few of the rocks to get some good photo’s. For some reason the film 127 hours came to mind. We all jumped back on the minibus to get a bit closer to Z-bend gorge. The walk was a bit more demanding, at times there was no actual path and a few uneven rocks to climb down but it was nothing too taxing. Nearing the river we met some abseiling guys and for $30 we could abseil down a 30 metre cliff face, which was pretty sweet. Most of the group got involved including Ash whilst those who didn’t took snaps. After that boost of adrenaline we chilled on the rocks by the river before climbing back up to enjoy some more views.

Back on the open road and our stomachs were howling at us like a pack of hungry wolves. Luckily we had some music to sing along with to distract us. My ipod was picked to be blasted out and the first song that came on was “whip it” by Devo. Everyone seemed to find it hilarious especially Antoine who said “this is so 80s”. We stopped at Billabong roadhouse for lunch. No BBQ today but there was plenty of food to make a decent sandwich to silence the wolves. Beetroot, sweet corn, ham, cheese, lettuce, tomato, carrot, tuna and more. Once again a group effort to get everything prepared and put away again.

Back into the oven we went… Ahem, I mean minibus. By this time it was pretty hot but once we got moving it became more bearable. We’d already seen a lot of wildlife whilst being on the road, a lot of roo’s live and dead. Suddenly Kelly, our tour guide slammed on the brakes, turned the minibus around, stopped and then jumped out. We hadn’t a clue what was happening and then we noticed she picked up a lizard. Somehow whilst probably driving about 100kph she spotted this well camouflaged lizard which turned out to be a thorny devil. It was great to see one up close and in the wild. We all took some photos then she carefully put it back.

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Shell beach was really cool, a beach of shells… self explanatory really. No fine sand just loads of tiny shells. There was no one else there and water was so clear and blue I couldn’t resist a quick dip. You could walk a fair bit out and the sea wouldn’t go any higher than your knees. We all got some great group photos of us jumping in the air whilst throwing a handful of shells. Thanks Kelly for the idea.

It was minibus time again like Adventure Time but without Jake the dog and Fin the human. Actually nothing like Adventure Time apart from the fact it was an adventure. More tunes from my iPod followed, one in particular was Heroes by David Bowie. We were excited to see dolphins at Monkey Mia and the lyric “like dolphins can swim” became a catch phrase, us cool kids on the back row sung the whole song. We arrived at Monkey Mia just as the sun was setting. Straight away we saw something in the sea…Dolphins! As if! Wild bottle nosed dolphins just like that, at least 3 of them swimming no more than 10 metres away. It was amazing and to top it off the beach was beautiful.

We all unloaded our gear at the hostel and enjoyed a BBQ. Steak was the dish and I enjoyed it all the more washing it down with a cold beer. That night a few of us chilled on the beach, the sky was so clear you could see the milky way! We sat there star gazing sipping back a few beers it really was a beautiful night. Monkey Mia had already got a firm hold on me with two hands and I didn’t want to leave.

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