The End of Our Australian Adventure

After an amazing 12 months of travelling around Australia, sadly it had to come to an end. We started our adventure in Perth, from there we went up the west coast to Monkey Mia and down to Margaret River. We flew to Melbourne, did the Great Ocean road and travelled through to Adelaide and Port Lincoln. From there we drove to Sydney passing through Mildura and Canberra before embarking on a trip up the east coast stopping at Coffs Harbour, Byron Bay, Surfers Paradise, Brisbane, Noosa, Rainbow Beach, Hervey Bay, Fraser Island, 1770 Agnes Water, Rockahampton, Airlie Beach, Whitsunday Islands, Townsville, Magnetic Island and finishing in Cairns diving the Great Barrier Reef.

Now we are settling back to normal life in Birmingham, England and miss Australia in so many ways. Our next step is to find work and then plan some more exciting adventures.

Due to the amount of fun we were having our blog sort of fizzled out but we are hoping to reignite it and maybe even give it a makeover. Some content will be deleted and other bits shall be edited. On top of that hopefully they’ll be a lot of new additions. The blog will no longer become an update for friends and family but a form of help and advice for any people hoping to embark on an adventure similar to ours. We’ll point out the Dos and Don’ts of travelling and the mistakes we made. Reviews of travel agencies, hostels and more.

Let us know if you have any ideas for the blog? What would you like to know?

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Tourists see things, travellers experience them!

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Road trip – Warrnambool to Grampians

Our adventure along The Great Ocean Road had come to an end but we still had a lot more driving to do. Our first stop of the day was an unplanned one, but seeing a sign for Hopkins Falls we decided to follow it. Turned out to be a great little stop with a nice view of a waterfall. At the lookout we discovered a ‘Fotopol’ a brilliant invention! It was basically a permanent tripod for people to attach their cameras. It allowed me to take some really nice photos of the waterfall using a long shutter speed to make the movement of the water look silky smooth. The sturdiness of the Fotopol and the use of my wireless remote combined to create some great snaps.
Tower Hill Reserve was next on the agenda. The reserve was home to an extinct volcano believed to have erupted 30,000 years ago, but now a new habitat for many animals. We walked some of the many trails. The peak climb took us 30 minutes and led us to the highest point of the reserve with views of the surrounding area. The lava tongue boardwalk took us 30 minutes which led us through swamp areas and we spotted lizards, a snake and emus along the way. Journey to the last volcano took us one hour and lead us to the centre of the volcano but to be honest there was not much to see. We spotted a koala sitting in a eucalyptus tree near the picnic area and ash had a brief encounter with a snake near the information centre.
On returning to our vehicle I unlocked the doors and the key broke in the lock! I couldn’t believe our luck, stuck in a national park in the heat. We called Jucy who told us that even though we paid for the full insurance cover the key wasn’t covered. They gave us a number for a mobile locksmith and informed us that we would have to pay. How very helpful of Jucy rentals! We had to wait 2 hours for the locksmith to turn up so we went into the back of the van and cooked up some soup. There we were sitting in the national park carpark enjoying our soup and an Asian tourist took this opportunity to take a photo of us. Eventually the locksmith turned up and managed to cut us a new key for the hefty price of $100. But don’t worry, we did what we do best and complained to Jucy who later reimbursed us. After this setback we quickly got on the road again and headed for Grampians but a bigger obstacle was about to come into play.
The roads were straight and long heading towards the Grampians and we could see the mountainous landscape in the distance. We spotted smoke ahead and soon realised we were heading straight for it. We passed a Fire Marshall who informed us that it was a controlled fire and we had nothing to worry about. He advised us to slow down from 110kmh to 50kmh, to put our headlights on and he’d radio the other Marshall’s to let them know we were heading in their direction. Smoke was everywhere and even though we shut all the windows and vents we could feel the smoke filling our lungs. We carried on down the road only for the smoke to get thicker and all of a sudden we were in a thick blanket of smoke and could not see a thing. I couldn’t see the bonnet of our own car never mind the road ahead of us. The smoke was making us cough and the heat was unreal, even though visibility was zero, it was safer to keep on going. I was driving at walking pace when all of a sudden I had to hit the brakes hard and we stopped inches away from hitting a bollard. It was a bit of a panic but the car was becoming very hot so all I could do is keep moving and Ash suggested beeping the horn as we crawled along the road. Eventually visibility started to improve and there were flames near the side of the road. We could just make out the shadows of some of the marshalls fighting the fire. As soon as we cleared the smoke I put my foot down and wound down the windows, air never tasted so good. It was a very scary experience and one we will not forget. We were very lucky nothing was coming the other way. Ash did manage to film some of it, so we will try and upload some footage at a later date.
We stopped at Lake Bellfield before spending the night at Lake Fyans holiday park in the Grampians. It was a very eventful day and we enjoyed a relaxed evening star gazing with views of the Milky Way.

The Great Ocean Road – Anglesea – Port Campbell

We had an early start for day 2 of our great ocean road trip to make up for lost time. We woke ourselves up with a walk along the beach before driving to Aireys Inlet. We walked a short trail with scenic coastal views and saw Split Point lighthouse which was featured in the classic kids TV show ‘Round The Twist’ (I’m very tempted to watch it again and see if it was as funny as I remember).

Our next stop was Memorial Arch for a photo opportunity. The arch is a big wooden structure above the great ocean road in memory of all the serviceman that helped build the road and served in the Great War. The road itself is the worlds biggest war memorial, first built in 1939 and then replaced in 1973. It was then rebuilt following it’s destruction by fire in 1983. It is a very popular destination, coach loads of people were turning up all wanting a photo so we didn’t spend too long loitering. We then stopped at Teddy’s lookout for another great photo opportunity of coastal views before making a short stop at Apollo Bay for some fish and chips by the beach.

On the road again we drove through endless tunnels made of tree’s before arriving at Cape Otway. There was another lighthouse to see although we had to pay admission for access to the park. Within the park there were a few attractions such as the lighthouse, military bunker, aboriginal shack, small museums and nice views. In 1978 an aeroplane went missing in the area piloted by Fredrick Valentich. The last radio transmission he sent was “the strange aircraft is hovering on top of me again and it’s not an aircraft”….Strange! UFO? To be fair there was not much to see and if we had known probably wouldn’t have paid the admission.

We drove to Castle Cove for more coastal views and on route Ash’s eagle-eye spotted a few koalas up in the eucalyptus tree’s.
Finally we arrived at Port Campbell National Park, home to the 12 apostles – the most photographed stretch of the great ocean road. Our first stop was the Gibson Steps which led us down to Gibson Beach where we came face to face with one of the apostles – A large rock stack in the ocean. We then travelled a few minutes down the road to the 12 Apostles Visitors Centre where there were several lookouts to view more of the Apostles and a great place to watch the sunset. It was great seeing something up close that you’ve only ever seen in tour magazines. We would have liked to take a helicopter ride to see them all but sadly didn’t have time or the money.

That night we stayed in Port Campbell Holiday Park for another night in the van.

Formula 1; The Melbourne Grand Prix – Part 2

It was Friday 14th March 2014, the day me and Ash get our first look at the new Formula 1 cars in all there glory. We made an early start to avoid the rush on the trams and it paid off. Before we even entered the gates of Albert park we spotted Mark Webber being interviewed. Sadly we didn’t get near him but popped off a few paparazzi shots before leaving him in peace. We walked around before settling in our grandstand seats for the first F1 practise session of the day. We had bought some earplugs from my experience hearing a formula ford do a lap a few years ago but to my surprise the cars were a lot quieter, now fitted with their V6 turbos as apposed to the V8 monsters they once had. We sat in our seats for most of the practise before walking to the inside of turn 13 and 14 for a different perspective.  That day we also watched the Porsche Carrera Cup, RAAF roulettes and the deafening F/A18 Jet air displays as well as the second F1 practise session. Hamilton looked to be very fast and consistent throughout the day.

Saturday was another fun filled day. We spent some more time in the action zone before checking out some of the Ferrari’s and Lotus cars around the park. We walked along the V8 pits and went to the autograph stage were I met and had my photo with the Rolex grid girls and Ash met and got autographs from some of the skateboarders but sadly not Tony Hawk. We watched the third F1 practise session, Ferrari road car parade and the over head air displays. Towards the end of Saturday the F1 qualification began so we found our seat and didn’t budge. It was very exciting soaking up the atmosphere, hearing the roar of the engines and seeing some of the pit action. It was definitely better than watching the qualification at home on a TV.

Sunday was the big race day and the day we spent most of our time sitting in the grandstand. Before finding our seats Ash bought me an early birthday present in the form of a McLaren Jenson Button cap. We watched an ultimate speed comparison lap where a 2013 F1 car, current V8 supercar and a     all raced each other. There was also the F1 drivers parade and of course the 2014 Melbourne Grand Prix! I was cheering on Button and Kimi but believed the Mercedes looked very capable of a one, two finish. It was great to watch and we found the screen opposite very handy. We soon found ourselves cheering on Riccardo along with majority of people around us. After the race we managed to fight our way onto the track which was a bit of a struggle but managed to get close to the podium just after the champagne spraying. We watched the speeches, took photos of us on pole position before walking the track towards turn 3 finding some rubber from the tyres along the way.
It was a great weekend both me and Ash had a great experience. I still believe, however that watching the formula 1 is a television sport but you can’t beat the atmosphere and a weekend full of action.

Close up macro photography and Camera equipment

Since being in Australia I have wanted to improve my camera skills. I’m sure I will have plenty more opportunities to practice whilst traveling. I recently bought a new lens attachment for my camera. I wanted a macro lens but sadly my budget will not allow it although I did a bit of research and managed to get a Raynox DCR 250 lens from eBay for about $80. Here are few experimental photos I have taken with it so far:

I still need to improve but it gave me a chance to play with the aperture. The downside of using this lens is that it’s an attachment which increases the magnification of whichever lens you have attached. This means the auto focus on the camera is pretty useless so you have to switch to manual. It can be tricky when taking a picture of something that’s moving and I don’t have the steadiest hand.

I invested in my other camera gear before I traveled to Australia and so far everything I have brought with me has been very useful. There are some things I might still purchase such as an extra battery and a lens filter but so far I’ve had no need for them.

My equipment consists of the following:

  • Manfrotto sling bag
  • Canon EOS 550D DSLR
  • Canon EFS 18-55mm Lens
  • Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Lens
  • LP-E8 Battery and charger
  • USB cable
  • Gorillapod
  • Canon wireless shutter remote
  • Giotto rocket blower

Also now and then both me and Ash take photos using our mobile phone which is OK for a quick instagram snap.

I’m sure there will be plenty more photos coming soon and hopefully I’ll get better at taking them.

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Approaching 1000 views

We’d like to thank all of our 22 followers and anyone that has liked or commented on any of our posts. It’s people like you who make the blog worthwhile and we just hope you have as much fun reading as we do writing.

We have a couple of idea’s for upcoming posts so stay tuned. Not long to go until we leave for the east coast.

Due to the blog approaching 1000 views we’d like to celebrate this milestone with our followers. Are there any questions you’d like to ask? Is there a certain topic you’d like us to blog about? What would you like to see more of?

On reaching 1000 views we’ll post some interesting little doodles about our travels.

If we get 50 followers we’ll post a short video blog. 

3 wonderful winter locations downunder

Winter is here! This is a Halfthew0rldaway first. I’ve decided to reblog this useful post from fellow bloggers Vipbackpackers, I hope you like.

Vipbackpackers's Blog

Winter in Australia is the dry season and that means blue, clear, sunny skies and balmy temperatures that are never too hot nor too cold, unless you’re half way up the snowy slopes of Perisher. Winter is actually the perfect time to go north or to the outback before the sultry heat of summer sets in. Here are three locations to consider for a winter sojourn utilising the very best of the VIP Backpacker network.

Alice Springs, Northern Territory

Winter is a simply glorious time in Alice Springs and central Australia. It’s a fantastic time to get photographs of the incredible landscapes with all that blue sky and brilliant red earth. It’s also a good time to make use of the tours on offer, one of which is listed below (click this link for the full listing), when the temperatures make camping out and touring around quite enjoyable. Alice…

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