BootsnAll Travel Network

Melbourne and the Great Ocean Road

On Friday, I caught a Country Link XPT train for the 12 hour trip from Sydney to Melbourne. I passed the time reading and talking to people on the train. For a good part of the trip, I sat next to a doctor from the Philipines. She was taking a job in small town that needed a female doctor. Australia appears to have a shortage of doctors in rural towns. While I was in Sydney, I saw on the news that one small town was offering a signing bonus of $500,000 and a $200,000 a year salary for a general practioner. I arrived in Melbourne late and took the tram to the Melbourne International Backpackers where I was staying.

I spent my first day in Melbourne exploring the city and perusing hostel bulletin boards to see if anyone going my way was looking for travel companions. I successfully contacted a 25 year old German girl who had a car and was doing the exact same route I was planning on doing.(Melbourne to Adelaide, Adelaide to Darwin, Darwin to Perth). We agreed to meet at the hostel she was staying at. After meeting her, it appeared I would finally have a long term travel companion and only have to pay for fuel costs as she already had the car. We weren’t sure exactly which day we were going to leave as she was waiting on some electronics she ordered from ebay.

On Sunday I decided to stay at the same hostel as my potential traveling companion as it was nicer, better located in town, and it would make it easier to plan our trip. I was now staying at the The Greenhouse which is near Flinder Street Station. I spent Sunday afternoon exploring the gardens around the goverment house in Melbourne. (Melbourne is the capital of the state of Victoria). I also went to the World War (for both wars) Memorial. It is a very grand structure with various exhibits and a balcony with view of the city. The most interesting feature is in the middle. There is a stone set in the middle of the floor. On the wall opposite the stone, there is an aperature in the memorial wall. On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, sunlight shines through the aperature and falls on the word love on the stone. This time is the anniversary of the end of World War I and is called Remembrance Day in Australia. I ended the day going through the art museum in Melbourne. I probably went through a lot faster than most people as I am not one to ponder an individual painting for too long. I was particulary interested though in one exhibit dedicated to world travel photography from the 19th century.

On Monday events transpired which caused me to lose my travel companion. I was watching television in the TV room waiting for my turn to use the Internet. Someone came in and wanted to watch then news. There had been a shooting near the hostel. A Hell’s Angel had shot three people leaving one dead and the other two in critical condition. Two men had come to the rescue of a lady being accosted by the shooter. The shooter shot all three of them and left the scene. The police evacuated parts of the central business district. After the area had calmed down a bit, I joined a free walking tour which the hostel does each Monday. During the tour, we inadvertantly passed by the area near the shooting and could still see the dead body covered up on the street. Upon my return to the hostel, my traveling companion told me that her friend had witnessed the shooting and she didn’t want to leave him alone for a while. I understood, but couldn’t help but be disappointed. Her friend had been in hiding during the original uproar and had come out when he thought everything was quiet. Unfortunatley he came out just in time to see the shootings occur and I believe was one of the main witnesses for the event. To my knowledge, the shooter is still free even though the murder weapon was found.

On Tuesday, I took a one day tour of the Great Ocean Road. The road follows the coast west of Melbourne and is full of interesting rock formations, revealed by errosion in the limestone cliffs. One of the most well known is the 12 apostles. The 12 apostles are limestone rocks that stick up out of the ocean. They were once attached to the mainland but erosion has taken its toll. I believe there are only about 7 or so remaining as they collapse from time to time. The latest collapse occurred last year. We also viewed London Bridge which was once a rock formation consisting of two arches which looked like London Bridge. In 1990, a young married couple was trapped on the outer arch when the one closest to the mainland collapsed. When they were rescued, the press descended upon them as they often do. The couple was very quiet and wouldn’t give statements. As is turned out, they were young and married but just not to each other. The highlight of the trip was a koala sighting. From the bus we could see a koala eating eucalyptus high in a tree. The bus pulled over and we all ran awing and ooing to the tree. The koala then proceeded to climb down the tree and stare at us. We all started snapping pictures of the koala which was only about three feet from us at this point. It stared at us for a while and then nonchalantly made its way to off to the next tree. We were extremely lucky to observe this as koalas are motionless for 19 hours a day and can usually only be seen sleeping high up in trees.

Today I took an 11 hour bus ride to Adelaide (capital of South Australia). The ride went through some very isolated country as I am beginning to leave the population centers of Australia behind. I will spend a few days here and once again try to find some traveling companions before heading into the Outback. I met two English girls on the bus who may be potential candidates. They are leaving on Monday or Tuesday which is later than I would like so I am going to try to find people leaving earlier. The Outback is not something you want to tackle by yourself (i.e. me renting a car alone) and I really don’t feel like seeing it from a bus.

Interesting Side Note: Melbourne considers itself to be the artistic capital of Australia. To tackle a grafitti problem, the government opened up three alleyways on which people can create grafitti art. The alleyways are full of various spray paint produced artworks. I still saw grafitti in other areas so I am not sure whether this has been successful or not.

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One Response to “Melbourne and the Great Ocean Road”

  1. Kellie Says:

    Wow! Sounds like you’re having quite the adventure. I do hope you can find someone to tour the Outback with. I don’t think you want to go that alone.

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  3. Gashwin Says:

    Haven’t been to your blog in a while … enjoy Oz! I had a blast there.

    I have a college buddy in Adelaide. He spends a month on the rigs in Angola, and a month at home. Let me know if you want me to contact him.

  4. Gashwin Says:

    Oh PS: What did you think of Federation Square in Melbourne?

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