I've been all over the map the last little while. Arriving in Adelaide after a tour through the outback was kind of nice. I could not be covered in dust and actually have a shower. I was kind of stinky for a couple of days.
There wasn't too much to do in Adelaide. It is a quiet little city. I did two tours around the area while I was staying there. The first tour I went to Kangaroo Island for two days. Even though the temperature was 29 degrees celcius it felt a lot cooler because of the wind coming from the coldest and driest landmass in the world: Antarctica. Brrrrr! The first day we stopped at a few beaches but no swimming was involved. We stopped at Seal Bay for a guided tour along the beach where a colony of sea lions were nesting. I got to come within 10m of the lazy creatures. Sea lions seem lazy but they are not. For three whole days without stopping they go out into the ocean and hunt for food. After eating 3/4's of their body weight in food they come back to their nesting grounds and sleep for three more days. Later that night we all piled into the bus and went down to Vivonne Bay and hunted for sneaky little Fairy Penguins, the smallest penguins in the world. On our way back to our cabin we chased kangaroos and wallabies through a field. They are not very smart animals.
The next morning was amazing. For breakfast we watched the sunrise through the mist of the field with just a few kangaroos still feeding in the background. We headed out early through Flinders Chase National Park, where the vegetation is more dense than it is in the Amazon. We stopped at the Remarkable Rocks which were just huge limestone rocks on the south coast of the island. We set off along the coast again and stopped at a fur seal colony at Cape de Coueric. We watched the more playful creatures through the Admirals Arch, an arch with stalactites hanging from it. Our last stop was a hike up to Snake Lagoon. I didn't see snakes, but we stopped at a creek along the way and waited quietly and patiently for platypuses. And indeed we saw one for a brief moment. We had to climb through a cave to get to the breezy beach. The ride home was not so successful. We managed to blow the tire right off of the bus. We managed to survive that as well as the swerving down across to a side street before coming to a halt in perfect park in a quiet little neighbourhood. Definitely exciting.
A couple of days later I went on a wine tour through the famous Barossa Valley. They are famous for their Shiraz's. I'm not a huge wine fan but I certainly did like the rose shiraz that I tried at Peter Leehman Cellar. On the way to a bunch of winery stops, we stopped at Gumeracha, home of he largest rocking horse. Her name is Rhonda and she has a little baby sitting out right next to her, Rodney. We stopped briefly at the Whispering Wall at the Barossa Reservoir which has spectacular acoustic abilities. A person can talk to another on the other side of the dam and still here them clear as day. You can even whisper, hence the name, and still hear one another.
There wasn't too much else to do in Adelaide but we needed to wait for a few days before our Great Ocean Road tour began. So we decided to take an old tram down to a town called Glenelg. It didn't have much going for it either, other than famous ice cream, a jetty and the Rodney Fox Discovery Center. Rodney Fox was attacked by a great white shark 30 years ago, had over 500 stitches and managed to live through it. Now he is a shark advocate and helps try to protect them. Crazy man.
The Great Ocean Road tour, from Adelaide to Melbourne finally began at last! The first day was mainly driving (as it always is to get anywhere in Australia) but we managed to make it through the Adelaide Hills and into the Grampian Mountain National Park. We hiked down a series of steps to the bottom of Mackenzie Falls and then drove further down the road to the Balconies. The Balconies are a series of lookouts towards the Grampian Mountains. We were there for dusk and got to see the spectacular sunset over the misty mountains. I loved it. It was so amazing!
In the morning, bright and early, we hiked up the Boronia Peak. It was a fairly steep 3.3 km to the peak and we had to scramble at the top but it was definitely worth it. I love the feeling of being on the top of a mountain, high above everything else. Before lunch we headed to the Brambuk Aboriginal Cultural Center to watch a series of videos about aboriginal culture and then finally entered the Great Ocean Road.
Our first stop was the Bay of Islands, which consisted of a bunch of limestone rocks sticking out of the water. Then we moved on to the Bay of Martyrs, which was similar. The London Bridge was a huge limestone rock with a hole in the center. It used to be attached to land but a couple who had been cheating on their partners were crossing it one day and karma kicked them in pants. The bridge fell and they had to be rescued and were filmed on live television. For sunset we stopped at the 12 Apostles, which were originally called the Sow and Pigs. There are actually not even 12 of the Apostles. I only counted 8 and I was told that some have disintegrated by weathering from the water over the years and have collapsed into the sea.
The last day on the Great Ocean Road was a series of stops that looked out into the Southern Ocean. Our first stop was Loch Ard Gorge, where a couple were shipwrecked and stuck at the bottom of the cliffs for weeks before finally escaping. Tom and Eva survived by taking refuge in a small cave nearby. We stopped at Maits Rest Rainforest Walk to hike through a cold temperate forest before we came upon Split Point Lighthouse at Airey's Inlet. As we got closer and closer to Melbourne the stops mainly consisted of general lookouts over the ocean, so I was getting a little bored. Finally we stopped at a place called Torquay, which is the home of Rip Curl. It is where it all began and all the girls were giddy with excitement to stop to shop at the Rip Curl Outlet. I bought a wallet because I need to be a millionaire to shop there.
But now finally in Melbourne I feel like I am at home away from home. It is a large city but it doesn't feel like it at all. It is very easy to get around on the trams and I managed to find a job for when I return here after an adventure in Tasmania for 12 days.
One day I went to an amusement park called Luna Park and rode the carousel! I haven't done that for years. I also bought some fairy floss. Fairy floss is cotton candy for all you sugar lovers out there. I love the stuff. There was also a comedy festival in town and I went along with a skit that my travel buddy picked out. I am not going into detail about this because it is slightly embarrassing (as well as a family show here) and I should have been paying attention when she was talking about it. I also went to my first 'footy' game. A footy game is a rugby game or Australia's version of football. It is a crazy game in which players practically beat on one another for possession of the ball just to kick it through a net. It looked like some guys got the crap kicked out of them and should have been rushed to the hospital, but they got right back up and continued to play until the end of the two hour game. It was amazing! Very exciting!
Now I am in Tasmania for close to two weeks to embrace the cold (ok colder) weather and the mountains!