Sunday, March 30, 2008

Koalas in the Wild

There are points along the Great Ocean Road where you suddenly see cars pulled off to the side and people standing along the road looking up into the trees and you begin to figure out what is happening, there is a koala in view. We stopped three times along the road and saw several asleep, an occasional stretch of a leg here and there. On our last day we stopped at a spot well-known for koala sightings and we saw four or five high up in the trees. Even if I used my zoom on my camera, I couldn't get a good picture. As we walked along the path we saw a very short tree with people gathered around it. We couldn’t believe our luck. As you can see from the pictures, he was in a very low-lying branch. Locals call these creatures smelly and mean, but look how adorable this little guy is.

The Smell of the Outdoors

Several times during our Great Ocean Road trip we commented on how amazing the air smelled. I imagine part of it is due to the eucalyptus trees.


Australia reminds me of the American West in how desolate the road can be. I remember H and I driving to Las Vegas years ago and how spread out gas stations and rest stops were. The same is true, even more so, in Australia. I was getting nervous that we were running low on gas since the towns that had a gas station were not plentiful. We ended up being fine getting back to Apollo Bay but we did try and stop at an interim town that had some very old gas pumps that had this sign in the window of them. It made me laugh. Forget that your almost out of gas, have a burger!

Trouble Ahead

After getting soaked once again walking from Loch Ard Gorge, we decided to head back to Apollo Bay, with a pit stop at Moonlight Head, the site of a shipwreck. The road to Moonlight Head with good weather is winding and a bit treacherous. While we were driving there, the sky decided to open up and it looked from the branches lining the middle of the street, we might be sleeping in the car, stuck on the road. We skipped Moonlight Head and tried to get out of the storm. I felt so bad for my travel companion doing the driving.

Loch Ard Gorge

We had a quick break in the weather and stopped at what ended up being my favorite part of the whole journey. Because it had been raining so hard, this site was not as populated with tourists as the others. It was so beautiful and massive. I tried to take some pictures with people in them so you could get an idea of scale.

Rainbows on the Drive

We tried to press on to see other things along the Great Ocean Road that day, but the weather was vacillating between rain and sun. We did get to see some rainbows as a result of this. We were basically driving through the middle of one that stretched over the road.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Twelve Apostles

The Twelve Apostles is the third busiest tourist attraction in Australia and was the busiest place we visited. From the pictures in the tour book it looked interesting, but the pictures give you no idea of scale. It is massive. We got caught in a major downpour at this site. I noticed from the pictures that I took there that you can see a changing sky.

Tree on Otway Walk

This tree looked like it was bleeding. The colors were beautiful.

Otway Walk Scenery

The Otway Fly

To quote the brochure, “The Otway Fly is a 600-metre long walkway, 25 metres above the forest floor, made from more than 120 tonnes of steel”. It was quite a spectacular since you walked through the rainforest to get to the walk and then you walked above the rainforest on the walk.

If you are concerned that constructing such a thing damages the rainforest, "60% of the walk was built on pre-existing logging tracks".

Friday, March 28, 2008

A Breakthrough on my Birthday

Since moving to the UK, I have had no reason to drive since I walk four minutes and I’m at work so I haven’t tackled the left side of the road. Tonight, as I was leaving work with a co-worker to go to dinner at another co-worker’s home, C threw me the keys and said, “Drive me”. Luckily she has an automatic so I didn’t have to deal with learning to shift with my left hand.

It felt awkward, but went okay, although it required a lot more attention than usual, which made me silent for practically the whole journey. The most awkward part was that the turn signal is on the right side of the steering column. So I probably accidentally turned the windshield wipers on about five times to and from our destination, thinking I was hitting the turn signal. I felt like someone had pushed me into the deep end of the pool, which I needed, and I will be grateful to her for that. I celebrated a birthday in the Southern Hemisphere and got over my initial fear of something. So instead of counting the gray hairs on my head, here’s to writing up a paragraph (not quite a chapter) in the book of life.

Dogs on the Beach

I had so much fun watching all the dogs on the beach in Apollo Bay. Here’s a pic of the glistening water and a dog in the distance.

Easter Morning

I woke up early Easter morning before my travel companions and went in search of a coffee. The good thing about our motel was that it was in walking distance from the beach and the main street where all of the cafes and shops are located in Apollo Bay. I grabbed a latte, put on my iPod and walked along the beach looking at the beautiful scenery and enjoyed an hour to myself.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

So what is a Backpacker Motel?

After my travel companions booked the only room left on the Great Ocean Road at a backpacker’s motel, I had to ask them what that meant. I had this vision of one huge room with a bunch of bunk beds and strangers where you had to keep your purse and your body parts secure at all times. It wasn’t quite like that, but bunk beds were involved. Instead what we found was a series of little buildings with rooms that had communal cooking, lounge, and bathroom facilities. Our room had a bunk bed and a single bed, a sink and a nightstand, no other amenities. What I was most nervous about was the getting up in the middle of the night to hunt down the bathroom, which thank goodness I never had to do. Right after we checked in a family and a single older guy also checked in which made us all feel a bit better. We had “borrowed” bedding from our hotel in Melbourne just in case the place was gross and we had to sleep in the car, but we never had to use it (and it all went back to its rightful place by the way).

So it was pretty obvious when we checked in that the family, the older single guy, and the three of us were not the demographic that the motel catered to. The owner gave us a choice of two rooms, and when she showed us the second room which shared a common area with a bunch of early 20’s males who were all laying about on the porch as one of them scaled a fish he had caught for dinner, you could tell they weren’t thrilled about having some old ladies sharing their housing facilities. We chose the other which was more private. The price was right and I have to say all the young kids were really nice and fairly quiet. I think on the second night we were the ones outside talking late into the night while the kids were all asleep or out. The one great thing about staying at a place like that is that you don’t feel guilty at all not being in your room during the trip. In this case it was for sleeping only. As my UK travel companion says, we had a kip and went.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Can't Get Sick of The Scenery

Here are some pictures on the way to Apollo Bay.

Our Equivalent to Deer?

They also run out into the road at dusk as deer tend to do in the U.S.

Erskine Falls

We made our first official stop along the Great Ocean Road at Lorne, a popular tourist destination. We had a quick lunch outside and enjoyed our view. What is pretty cool about the towns along the Great Ocean Road is that there are none with high rise hotels so they feel smaller and more intimate.

Erskine Falls is close to Lorne. We had seen a picture of the Falls in one of the tourist books and in terms of the waterfall itself, what we saw when we got there was a bit disappointing compared to that picture. I don’t know if that is because the photo is enhanced, if it is a seasonal thing, or if it is from lack of rain. As you can see from the photos, it was still beautiful.

You can walk along the rocks to get up to the Falls. I got about half-way and then it got pretty treacherous and thought I would rather not spend the rest of the holiday getting air-lifted to a hospital. My traveling companions have a terrible fear of snakes and when someone pointed out that a brown snake had just crossed their path, they ran to safety as well, literally.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Here I Am On The Beach in Lorne

My Chuck Taylors have now walked three continents and here they are on the beach. While I like to look at natural bodies of water, I don't particularly like getting in them.

Great Ocean Road - On the Way to Lorne

If you don't know anything about the Great Ocean Road, check out the wikipedia link. I didn't know until doing some research before the trip that it was built as a memorial for those killed in World War I. Pictures probably don't do it justice. The weather on Saturday was absolutely perfect. I took these pictures on the stretch of the road towards Lorne.

Chicago French Toast

On the way out of Melbourne Saturday morning I had to snap a picture of this sign. What exactly is Chicago French Toast? If I would have had time, I would have stopped in and asked. It made me wonder if Australians would get a chuckle out the Outback Steakhouse's menu.

Also note, the pumpkin scones. K and I have discussed how pumpkin is a prominent ingredient here and how we love that.

Friday, March 21, 2008

First Day of the Four Day Weekend

I spent the morning working and then went to the cinema. Again, as I was in England, I was shocked at the price. It was $15.80 Australian for one ticket. For once, my popcorn and drink was cheaper than the admission.

My work colleagues and I found a backpackers hotel that had accommodation available on the Great Ocean Road so we are spending Saturday and Sunday night in Apollo Bay. It should be interesting.

Ice Cream Worth Travelling For

The temperature has finally dropped but last Sunday, with the over 100 degree heat, we made a mad dash for Yarra Valley Ice Cream shop after our visit to Healesville. It was hard to choose a flavor, but I decided to try something different and went for the passion fruit ice cream. It was divine, a mixture of creamy dairy with tart and sweet flavors as well. They sell their ice cream in small batches to a few stores in Melbourne. I noticed that the local gourmet grocery store close to my hotel sells it. The price was also unbelievable. For a small Chinese takeout box (less than a pint) I believe the ice cream was over $10 Australian dollars. I will have to be happy with the memory of my passion fruit cone.

Steavensons Falls Trees

Steavensons Falls

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Fruit Bats

These poor things were hanging upside down moving their wings to try and keep cool, or at least that's what it looked like.

Taking Care of the Dead (?)

We went to a birds of prey show, which was interesting. During this show, the presenter gave the audience instruction on what to do if they hit an animal on Australian roads. If the animal is alive, there are numbers to call to get help so that a place like the sanctuary could step in and help. He also said that if you killed them, that you should pull them off to the side of the road so that one of these birds of prey could have a meal. I understand the point of this advice, but I don’t think I could do it.

It reminded me of a story that someone from the office shared. A woman was driving down the road and saw what she thought was a dead koala in the road. She stopped to move it out of the way, not realizing it was alive and it had a baby and the koala attacked her. They have some sharp claws. I hope this is an urban legend because my natural reaction to the story (not saying it was appropriate) was to laugh. I wasn’t focused on the woman getting her face scratched up. I was thinking about a koala fake-sleeping in the middle of the road. Actually it could have been real sleep because I understand that’s what they do for the majority of their day. But anyway, I would think you might get some unexpected results moving an animal that you think is dead.


We arrived at the kangaroo exhibition just in time to pet the lovely creatures. They have such sweet faces. We got to talk to one of the staff about their population control there at the sanctuary, which led to a discussion about kangaroo births. It's quite interesting. Because koalas and kangaroo give birth to such tiny babies, it is sometimes difficult to know they have given birth until the baby is in the pouch.