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Torquay, surf coast

Saturday, February 28th, 2009

I saw the heat forecast for this area today, rented a car for the day, drove to Torquay (home of surf mania for Victoria) and went surfing.  Then I explored a few other beaches near Torquay, ate dinner on the beach and watched a spectacular sunset.  Perfect way to spend a hot day here, even if it never got as hot as forecast.  The surf wasn’t that good today but it was nice to just be out there.

When I got back to Melbourne, I took a slight detour before returning to my hostel.  Driving around the F1 grand prix circuit in Albert park, a couple times.  They have setup all the advertizing boards and put in the safety barriers now so it’s pretty cool driving around it.  Not something you can do in many places, I did walk around part of the Monaco track but driving is quite a bit better!

I should get a new camera this weekend so no more of my excursions go un-photographed, that is my goal for tomorrow.

Mornington Peninsula, Phillip Island, r.i.p. camera

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

Today I spent driving around the Mornington Peninsula and Phillip Island with a few other  people staying at the hostel.  The weather was wet in the morning, dry later on but cool and windy enough to need a jacket all day.  The coastline is nice, but not quite as appreciated by me as much after just being on the great ocean road especially since the weather was overcast and chilly.

London Bridge

Phillip Island is home to fur seals and little blue penguins, but these areas are extremely over commercially developed with massive new building with exhibits in them and the opportunity to see the penguins come in from sea at night costing $25, an absurd amount in my opinion.  Having seen these penguins for free in large numbers in New Zealand I did not give them any money here.

The day did not have a happy ending as while we were exploring one beach on the island, my awesome Canon A720 camera slipped out of my pocket into the water.  I don’t know how, it was in the same pocket of my jacket I always keep it in with no previous issues, but it did!  My memory card survived but it was the end of camera dammit.  Now I have to find a camera I like and buy it as quickly as possible, taking time and money, too much of both.  I’m planning to be in the Grampians on Monday and I have to have a camera when I’m there. 
Here’s the last picture of the aprox 5000 I’ve taken on the camera…

Smith beach

Great Ocean Road

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

I’ve spent the last two days taking a tour of the great ocean road on the South coast of Victoria. Most people who take a tour of this do it in one day, which after taking the (recommended) two day version I can’t imagine doing it all in one day.

The Trip:

Day 1, the drive started at 7am. A few hours of driving inland to reach the far end of the great ocean road. Driving through flat dry farmland, nothing to see there. Driving to the far end of the road from Melbourne first instead of doing the traditional route meant that the whole time, none of our stops were packed full of other tour buses. In fact most were pretty devoid of anyone but our small (20) group. Anyway, once we reached the far end of the road the first site of the coast was this. Logans beach.

Logans Beach

Not bad as a starter eh? Next was back inland a bit to a wildlife reserve with Koalas and Kangaroos.

Koala Kangaroo

Then we were driving along the shipwreck coast (named for, duh, the amount of shipwrecks that happened here), seeing the bay of islands and the bay of martyrs with high cliffs and stranded rock formations offshore. Very windy, that and the vegetation reminded me of the South coast of New Zealand.

Bay of Islands

The main stop along this section of coast is the “12 apostles” rock formations. (Purely a marketing term, and there’s actually 13). We got there for the sunset, which wasn’t one of the spectacular ones there but was still nice.

sunset at 12 apostles

Next morning we got started out at 7:30am, off to see the London Bridge formation and then on to a gorge where a famous shipwreck occurred with only 2 people surviving out of nearly 60. This gorge has several caves, a wonderful sheltered shady beach and high cliffs all around. Quite beautiful.

Loch Ard Gorge.

Loch Ard Gorge.

After that it was back to the 12 apostles, this time in full daylight.

London Bridge

12 apostles

We then drove through the green coast, seeing some rain-forest. Something I had no idea existed in the part of the country. Complete with the largest tree ferns I’ve seen on this trip by far.


The last section of the drive was the surf coast, this is the original part of the great ocean road with the design apparently based on US highway 1 the Pacific hgwy. I drove along that in September and the roads are similar. The road hugs the ocean all the rest of the way, with stunning overlooks around most corners. Beach after great looking beach, stunning coastline. The shades of blues and greens in the water are amazing along here. One stretch of this coast line also has so many Koalas that we saw 10+ in the trees just driving through on the bus without stopping.


surfer @ bells beach

The drive along the whole coastline is about 250km, and like I said before I can’t imagine doing it in one day. There’s so many stops, My group spent 2 long days seeing stuff, we didn’t stop at everything but we did plenty and had time to explore quite a few spots. Excellent tour and guide. This being the first real travel I’ve done since I’ve been in Melbourne, it was very refreshing to be exploring again, around (a great group of) travelers currently in the traveling process and making new friends. A great change from the sloth like behavior of many of the residents at my hostel in the city here. I took several hundred pictures over the 2 days, I’ll sign off with this classic image of Australia….


St Kilda

Sunday, February 22nd, 2009

Well after spending the weekend planning stuff for the next few months/continents of the trip, Sunday afternoon I decided to take a break from that and go explore St Kilda.  After stopping at a different one of the excellent bakeries than last time I was there, enjoying that just as much as the previous one, I walked to the other side of St Kilda (eating my fruit tart), away from the beach where the centre of town is.  Equally as nice as the part I’d been to before, with far fewer people crowding the streets.

On my walk through town, I stumbled across live jazz in one cafe, and then some middle eastern band playing at a Morrocan restaurant.  The amount and diversity of the music scene here is fantastic.

In the morning I’m getting up bright and early for the 2 day tour I’m taking of the great ocean road, recommended to me by several people here.  I’ll have plenty of pictures to post when I get back from that.  My days left here are going to be increasingly full with all the surrounding areas I want to see before leaving for Tasmania and the stuff I need to plan/book for the rest of the trip.  Easier to do that stuff now that when I’m moving around with no certain internet access.  Now I’m off to bed so I can wake up in time for the bus in the morning.

six months in

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

I have been on this trip for 6 months now and so far it’s just about all been fantastic, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, New Zealand and Australia.  However the last few weeks haven’t been up to the previous standard.

The two weeks before I ended up in the hospital, I hadn’t really done much, hadn’t had a desire to do much and didn’t have any of my usual desire to go new places and see new things.  Then I ended up being ill, culminating with the hospital stay.

Basically what happened was once the Australian Open finished, which had my complete attention for 2 weeks, instead of shifting my attention onto something else I just slipped into some kind of slumber.  I suppose this was bound to happen at some point on this trip, and since I’ve been in the same place for 6 weeks now it was probably inevitable here.

This trip is all about discovery and experiencing new things, I just had a momentary lapse of concentration I guess you could call it.  The worse thing about it was I didn’t realize it was happening until I was in the hospital, time to think I suppose.  After that I had to reconnect with something, so the evening after I was discharged from the hospital I sat on the floor of my room, the only place no one was around, pulled out the guitar and played around with it for a good few hours, by the end of my impromptu solo jam session I had written a complete song, something I haven’t done in a good year or two.  And it was easier to write than anything I’ve written before.  I reaffirmed the fact that I am a musician and a song writer, that I love doing it and that I am serious about it.  Amazing what a few months absence of that from my life made me discover when I picked it up again in a focused way.

So after that reaffirmation, me other realization kicked in full gear and I started going into travel planning overdrive, and I do that very, very well.. hehehe.  In one day I booked 3 flights, and made a basic outline of my next 2 1/2 months in Australia.  I’m going to Tasmania in 3 weeks, back to Melbourne for the Grand Prix at the end off March and then off to Perth & Western Australia.  I also have a list of all the things I want to do and see in Victoria while I’m still here, 3 weeks is enough time but I’m glad I came to this realization now and not in another week or two!

Ironically, after months of living in hostel dorms, most of the time not knowing where I would be 2 nights in the future, living out of a backpack, carrying said backpack around, dealing with people not speaking any English and all the other daily things that go along with travel I’m not sick of that stuff in the slightest, in fact I relish it.  Sort of perversely it was the fact that I didn’t have to do most of those things the last few weeks that got to me.  I got too comfortable and lost perspective.

Now I feel great, I have regained my appetite for exploration with vigor.  I also get my permit to busk in the city this week, so I can spend the time I’m not off exploring the rest of Victoria, playing guitar and hopefully making a bit of cash.  6 months gone, 7 more to go, never been looking forward to it more.

Albert Park

Sunday, February 15th, 2009

The weather here the last couple days has been absolutely perfect, just some haze in the air from the bush fires, and this weather is supposed to keep up all week long.  I spent today enjoying the fact that I’m no longer ill, kept it local by walking all around the lake in Albert Park, near my hostel, where the F1 Grand Prix is held in March.  I walked down the pit lane.

The city from Albert park

F1 pit lane, Albert Park

Then down to St Kilda, sampling a pastry at one of the famous bakeries there and then checking out the beach for a while.  Perfect day for it, not quite hot enough for me to actually go swimming though.  I also actually remembered to take my camera out with me today, so rare since I’ve been in Melbourne.

St Kilda beach

A trip to the ER

Thursday, February 12th, 2009

So my health on this trip so far had been great, no sickness, nothing even minor really.  Up until the last week that is.  I was pretty under the weather for a few days, thought I’d kicked whatever it was that I’d caught by myself until Monday night when my throat and mouth started swelling up a lot.

That led to me going down to the ER Tuesday morning, being admitted that night and spending the next 2 days in hospital.  It wasn’t anything too serious, just a bad case of tonsillitis, being on anti-biotics for 2 1/2 days cleared it up and this evening I am back at my hostel feeling fine.  All in all nothing catastrophic, a couple days of complete and utter boredom at the hospital and a chapter that doesn’t need to be written again on this trip.