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 – 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.

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.

Formula 1; The Melbourne Grand Prix – Part 1

We left Sydney to do a road trip along the Great Ocean Road starting from Melbourne. Timing was perfect as it meant we were in Melbourne for the Grand Prix. As much as I love watching formula 1, I’ve never had the opportunity to attend one, so what better excuse than seeing the opening race. We pre-booked a 4 day grandstand ticket. Unfortunately the Schumacher and Clark stand were both sold out so going by the location and reviews the next best option in our price range was the Webber stand $320 each.
We stayed in Nomads hostel which is located in the CBD near Grand Central and the free tram to the Grand Prix was on our doorstep.
Thursday was the first day and free entry to the public. As soon as we arrived at Albert Park we thought we would check out our seat for the weekend. It was a good location on the pit straight, we could see the V8 pits and the end of the F1 pits. We also had a big TV screen opposite which would help us keeping up with the action. There was no shade or shelter from the rain so we would have to make sure we came prepared for anything as Melbourne weather is very unpredictable. We caught a few races including historical cars before we decided to go explore.
As it was a free day we invited Josefine to meet us there. We spent a lot of time in the very impressive Action Zone where there was plenty of entertainment. We watched 3 motorcyclists dice with death in a cage aptly named the globe of death. It’s amazing how little space they have yet the three of them are criss crossing each others path whilst riding upside down and side to side. To add to that during the show we had RAAF Roulettes performing a jaw dropping air display above our heads. There was a massive skateboard vert where Tony hawk and friends performed some rad tricks. I couldnt believe that we got to see a legend of skateboarding twice in the space of a month. We also enjoyed Flair motor trials display where there was 2 dudes on motorbikes along with one guy on a bmx and another dude on a unicycle all getting air and tricking of some crazy ramps. Just when you think it can’t get any crazier there was an awesome high wire stunt with a dude riding a heavy motorcycle along a high-wire whilst a talented lady hung beneath the motorcycle performing trapeze-like stunts.
After our adrenaline kick we walked around other areas of Albert park checking out various sponsors and cars that were competing over the weekend. Near the historic car garages we bumped into David Coulthard surrounded by a mob of people.
Before leaving Albert park for the day we checked out the V8 supercar pits before catching the end of a Porsche Carrera Cup Race and boy were they loud!
That night we met up with Josephine and Elisa for food and drink. We had a good old chat about all our adventures past and present and sadly had to say farewell. Josephine was heading to Thailand and Elisa to Perth. Two great people that I’m sure we will meet again.

Melbourne Sea Life Aquarium

What to do on a rainy day? Me and Ash decided to pay Melbourne Sea Life Aquarium a visit. Before paying the admission fee we did a bit of research and seeing as we were probably going to visit some of the other Merlin attractions we purchased a Merlin annual pass.

Melbourne aquarium is the best aquarium I have been to. There is a large variety of things to see. Each enclosure/tank was very clean and well looked after. You could easily spend a full day there, as we did.

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The highlight for me was a massive saltwater crocodile called Pinjarra. This 50 year old MEGA croc measures over 5 metres long and weighs approx 750kg. He was originally found stranded in Queensland so was looked after and used for breeding purposes at Koorana crocodile farm. Now that he’s too old to breed with younger females the guys at Melbourne aquarium decided to look after the giant salty. He now has his own enclosure at the aquarium which is pretty impressive. You can view him from behind glass underwater and also above his enclosure. Crocodiles spend a lot of time submerged under water and very still. The first time we saw Pinjarra he didn’t move much at all apart from floating up to get some air. On one occasion he opened his mouth which is usually a sign of them cooling down. On another occasion he had a big scratch with his hind legs which I’ve never seen a croc do before. He was very impressive and one of the reasons we ended up visiting the aquarium 3-4 times.

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There was plenty of the usual marine life found in an aquarium fish, sharks, rays, octopus to name a few. The walk in aquarium was huge, the biggest I’ve seen. They also had a penguin enclosure with King and Gentoo Penguins. They were very playful swimming very fast chasing each other one minute, then flying out of the water and running along the snow the next.

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It was a fun day and we took plenty of photos. I liked the way throughout the aquarium they are trying to educate people how they can conserve the marine life. It seems that the Sea Life centres do a lot themselves to help conserve marine life and have various breeding, rescue and rehabilitation programmes which is always good to see.

Goodbye Melbourne

“The story of life is quicker than the wink of an eye, the story of love is hello and goodbye…until we meet again”

Jimi Hendrix

Unfortunately time had come to say our goodbyes to Melbourne sooner than we had anticipated. We were sure that we were making the correct desicion for the long run. We wanted to be in Sydney for New Year and we needed to find work.

We were leaving behind our French buddy Antoine so seeing as it may be the last time we cross paths me and Ash arranged to meet him for fair-well drinks. We went out in Fitzroy with a few drinks to wet the palette in Little Creatures. We then headed to Naked For Satan a cool bar that I had previously read about on the Timeout and Urban Walkabout website. It was pretty busy and we soon found out why, when we stepped out onto the rooftop area with perfect views of Melbourne’s city scape. The bar area inside was also pretty cool and the walls of the corridor leading to the toilets were covered in posters of retro porn-like photos of scantily dressed men and women. We had a good laugh, so much so that one drink led to another and another… we still had to pack for tomorrow. We said our goodbyes to Antoine and started walking back to the city. We passed a bar called Black Cat and before you know it, the three of us had a drink in hand again!

We awoke the following morning hangover free and packed up the last of our bits. We had until 8pm to kill time before our Greyhound coach left for Syndey. We left our luggage at Space Hotel and hit the city. We went to the National Gallery of Victoria NGV. Ate a tasty burger at the much loved Grilld before watching Gravity at the cinema. I enjoyed the film, I liked the way suspense was built throughout. The film finished just in time for us to collect our luggage and to get our coach. We were both very disappointed to find that the coach had no WiFi as stated on the Greyhound website. It was going to be a long 12 hour journey. Predictably I couldn’t sleep at all.

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]