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.

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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.

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.

Settling into Melbourne life

So now we were in Melbourne it was time to try getting a job until we were ready to move on to Sydney. We were finding lots of jobs were going and lots were looking for casual Christmas staff so it was just a case of printing a tonne of resumes out and scattering them throughout the city like mad men.

Printing isn’t really that cheap but we found the library in Melbourne to be an easy place to do it and 15¢ wasn’t too bad but later we found a cheaper alternative was office works at 8¢ a page. We planned out where we were going to hand our resumes, like a strategic plan of attack. We tried the obvious shopping centers due to amount of stores they have inside. Westfield is a good one and Melbourne central, a glass dome building built in the 90s which has encased an old shot tower from the 1800s we got a few great pictures of this unique contrast in construction (to be added). Check out Melbourne central

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With our resumes we stuck to retail areas but I did try a few cafes and bars due to my experience in hospitality but a lot of the time they want minimum experience of 2-3 years and if the company sells alcohol or has any gambling machines then you need an RSA/RCG (responsible service of alcohol/responsible conduct of gambling) license and for this you have to have it within the state you work so if you had an RSA in WA you would need to get a new license in NSW and they vary in price but aren’t cheap being around the $80-100+ mark.

A lot of employer’s seemed ok with working holiday visa travellers but you should ways check before handing your CV in as it’s just a waste, we did bend the truth slightly to help us get more of a chance by saying we were staying for the 6 months but we really needed work for 2 months and then it’s Sydney for Christmas and New Year. This isn’t great and it probably does effect travellers reputations when looking for work as they are more likely to not hire but we were in need of work.

Enough of the job stress we took a break and headed over to Carlton Park where we went to Melbourne museum, they had outdoor rain forest area which was cool but very humid and a Skeleton of a blue whale – standing next to that made me realise just how small we are and especially me. I got in free for concession which was great as it wasn’t really worth the money Sean paid ($10) however they do have exhibitions on regular and I think they are (or have done by the time I write this) having a James Bond exhibition. Check out Melbourne museum.

After a long depressing day of job hunting we packed it in and snapped back in to holiday mode, we booked another 3 nights at space hotel since it was so good and we didn’t want to be moving just yet. We checked out the blue moon bar connected and they had a good vibe, cheap drinks and good food so we chilled out watching surfing on the big screen to further our taste for Australian life before heading back upstairs to our dorm to enjoy a great nights sleep..zzzzzzz

Hello Melbourne

Above our heads the seatbelt light was flashing, everyone buckled up and shortly after that it was touchdown. We had arrived in Melbourne! Due to it being a domestic flight everything went pretty quickly in the airport we were reunited with our luggage and jumped straight onto a shuttle bus which dropped us outside our accommodation.

For the next two nights me and Ash were staying at Space Hotel. This is the best hostel style accommodation we have stayed in to date. It was $85 a night for a double room, very clean and modern. The toilet and shower facilities were shared but very clean and there was plenty of them. The shared kitchen was very spacious with plenty of cooking utensils and cooker hobs. There was also an outdoor balcony and indoor dining tables. Within the building there was also a nice little gym and movie lounge. To top it of there was a nice area on the rooftop for kicking back and enjoying the city view as well as a jacuzzi. We dumped our luggage in our room then went out to explore Melbourne.

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Hosier Lane was a short walk from Space and enticed us with its graffiti covered walls. It’s become a very popular tourist spot due to the ever changing artwork covering the walls. It would be a great place for a fashion shoot, everywhere you look there is colour. Some of the graffiti had been freshly done and the smell of spray paint was still lingering. Our first  impressions of Melbourne was “cool” it was certainly a quirky, hip place to be. We already had an idea of the size difference compared to Perth, it is a much bigger city. Bigger buildings and bold statements everywhere, some of the architecture was awesome. There’s a mix of old and new such as the abstract shapes of buildings surrounding Federation Square and the older buildings such as Flinders Station.
We chilled out in Fed Square and watched the sunset behind Flinders Station. The sky had a beautiful pink and orange hue to it.

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Perth and WA is always going to be special to me. I’m glad we spent nearly 5 months there as we experienced so much and met some great people. We have so much more yet to see and have not regretted anything.