Friday, March 14, 2008

The Great Ocean Road (And Grampians) Part Deux

Blah, blah blah. First of all, I did NOT break my promise of telling you which country won, I said that I would tell you AFTER I finish telling you about my tour... so, when I get to the END of the tour, I will tell you! Patience is a virtue, people!

Before I continue with the story of my tour... I want to complain a bit. I don't know if I ever wrote it in my blog, probably, but just in case I didn't... when I first went to Karen's (Kaz's) house last month, I ended up getting a cold the day after because of the person who drove me up to her house. Not a terrible cold, it started out with a sore throat, then it ended with a bad cough. Well folks, I am STILL coughing, and it actually has been worse the last couple days. I am actually kept up at night because I am coughing... and yesterday was the worst yet. And it's strange, because that is the ONLY thing that seems to be wrong with me, the coughing, and it usually only bothers me at night. It's just a dry cough... and it just started getting worse on the Great Ocean Road tour. I feel bad because I am sharing the rooms with other people and I worry that I am keeping them up as well...

Now, I don't know if this is just the same cold lasting this long... or if I just got another one. I do notice that there tend to be a lot of people coughing and sneezing in the hostels, and even in the tours. Colds must go around in hostels like wildfire. Anyhow, like I said, yesterday was a really bad night, I think I was up half the night coughing... so I went to the pharmacist today and got some cough medicine with something in it that would help me sleep. The pharmacist told me that if I don't get better in a week, I should go to the doctor. So, hopefully I get better!

OK, onward to better things now! Where did I leave off? Oh yes, day 2 of the Great Ocean Road Tour! But wait, I just realized one thing that I didn't tell you about day 1! During the night, I think during our game of Moon in the Spoon, we had a spider scare! A whitetail spider crawled out of the firewood... Tash caught it with a coffee mug and put it outside. I have a picture of that too, and when I finally am able to get my pictures uploaded you can see that... but if you can't wait that long, it looked just like this:

OK, so the next morning, we got up super early again (6:30) and headed out on the road. We were going to be seeing more rock formations in the ocean today, and we'd be seeing the 12 Apostles again in the daylight.

First, we went into Port Campbell National park, where we saw a few more of the natural formations created over thousands of years... like the Arches, Razerback, and Lace Curtains.

There is actually a interesting shipwreck story that goes along with this place. Many years ago, (1878) a ship from England called the 'Loch Ard' crashed along the rocks on this coast. One man, Tom Pearce (a member of the ship crew) was washed ashore, when he heard cries for help from a woman, Eva Carmichael, who was still out in the sea. Tom swam out to rescue her, and after a long fight, dragged her to shore. The two were the only survivors on the ship. Of course, when the media picked up the story of the two survivors, they tried to pressure the two to get married, because it would have made a terrific love story... can you just see the headlines? 'Lovers Meet and Marry after Heroic Sea Rescue!' Of course, it didn't work out that way. Eva was 18 years old when the ship sank, and her entire family sank with the ship and were killed. She wanted to get out of the horrible country that claimed her family's lives as soon as possible... so she went back to England. Tom eventually became a ship captain... his first ship sank. His next ship also sank... taking him along with it. The moral of the story? Don't ever get on a ship with Tom.

OK, just a couple pictures of some of the formations:

And because I'm sure you guys are wanting another video... here is a video of what the waves hitting the rocks looked like!

And just for fun, here is a video of what Tash has her groups do when the weather is very cold... And it actually works to warm you up for a while!

As we were walking along, admiring the formations, Tash also had us all try a taste of this wild plant which was growing near the formations...

It tasted extremely salty... possibly the Aborigines had used this plant to add flavor to their dishes? Unfortunately, I didn't write down the name of this plant so I can't tell you that now... and I don't really have the money to waste internet time looking it up!

We went exploring a bit around the national park, climbed over a bunch of rocks that were covered in barnacles to get into a really cool cave... and then we headed off to see the Twelve Apostles again! Here are a couple of pictures of them in the daylight... it was a bit hazy but it was still beautiful...

During this visit, we learned that the Twelve Apostles were actually once called 'The Sow and Piglets', but it was changed to the Twelve Apostles some time in the last century... it was probably an excellent idea to change the name, because I can't imagine a formation called 'The Sow and Piglets' would ever have become as famous as the Twelve Apostles are now...

Now, today we had the option of going on a 6 minute helicopter ride, above the Apostles. This would cost us the special low price of $60 dollars each, on sale from $90! But, at $10 dollars a minute, I decided that this would be just a bit too pricey for me, so I didn't go. About 7 people in our group did go up, and they said it was really neat, but I'm sure I was happier to have my $60 dollars... I mean, for 6 minutes? Get real helicopter guys!

After we all finished with the Apostles and the Helicopters, we went off to our next famous part of the Great Ocean Road, the London Bridge!

I also have an interesting story about the London Bridge... If you look at the picture above, you can see a gap between the two rock formations. Well, the gap was actually at one time connected... with a hole underneath like the rock formation on the right. This was why it was called 'London Bridge', because it did look like a bridge. When it was connected, you were allowed to walk across it to the end and look out into the sea. One day, the first part of the bridge just collapsed (forming the gap you can see). Luckily, no one was hurt, but there were 2 stunned people (a man and a woman, who were married) left stuck on the rock formation on the right... with no way to get to land. Helicopters were sent to rescue them... and of course the media helicopters were there, filming the entire thing. The two were very embarrassed... but it was OK, because they were married. Oh wait... did I mention that they were married to other people? So, the affair they were having was exposed on the evening news... I can just imagine what the husband and wife of the two were thinking when they saw their significant other on TV, when they were probably expecting them to be at a business conference or golf trip or something like that. Hah! Take that, adulterers!

After London Bridge, we were off to our last Great Ocean Road stop, a place called the Bay of Islands... we saw a few more really neat formations (I won't put pictures up now, but they will eventually be in my Flickr account. Eventually.)

Back on the bus, we were headed to our picnic spot for lunch, and during the drive, Tash told us a story about how on her previous trips, she used to keep a pet redback spider in a box... on the bus. She assured us that she made sure that it was well contained in the (clear) box... it was closed and couldn't be opened accidentally, the holes were too small for it to climb out of... and she was always very careful. She used to pull it out on the second day of her tours to show everyone. She said that at first, everyone was terrified of the spider and wouldn't go near it, but that by the end of the trip, people were actually finding insects and feeding the spider to watch it eat. She didn't keep the spider as a pet anymore, for a few reasons... which I'll tell you now. :)

1 - she had to replace the spider three times... the first time because someone accidentally left it in the windshield of the bus... in the hot sun... and it died. The second two times, the spider ended up being a female, and it made an egg sack... and she really didn't want a bunch of little redback spiders running loose.
2 - she realized how stupid it was to keep a deadly spider as a pet on a tour bus.
3 - she actually wasn't ALLOWED to keep a deadly spider as a pet on a tour bus.

If I hadn't seen the redback spiders at Kaz's house, I probably would have thought, 'DARN IT! I want to see that deadly spider!' but I was good, as I had, in fact, already seen two.

So, we had our picnic lunch in a lovely and scenic town... and then we said goodbye to the Great Ocean Road and headed for the Grampians National Park, the second part of our tour.

It was a fairly long drive before we got to the first stop of the Grampians park, so we played a few more games in our 'Country Competition'... and Sweden started to get a bit closer to the USA and Germany... but it was still a pretty tight contest! And still, you won't learn who wins until the END of my trip... hahaha! Oh, and I don't know if I told you what we would win... Tash told us that we would win 'Toxic Slime'... and she said that it was a GOOD thing. Now you are all as curious as we were!

OK, so we got to Mackenzie Falls, the first part of our trip. It was a short hike to get to the falls, and it was beautiful indeed. More waterfall pictures!!

And here is a pic of our group... minus Tash. I'll show you her picture later.

Well, it was time to get back on that Groovy Grape bus, and head to our last stop before the hostel.

On the final stop, we went on one more easy walk, (compared to my 5 hour hikes in Tasmania) to get to another fantastic view.

And, check out this sign I saw on this walk. Now, I'm no professional sign reader, but because there are no red circles with a cross through them, it looks to me like the sign is telling me three things....

  1. I should go dancing off the cliff
  2. Jumping into the water backwards to swim with the rocks is encouraged
  3. Kids are welcome
What do you think?

Now we were done with the views, and headed back to tonight's hostel. We were staying at a place called 'Ned's Beds'. The place wasn't run by Ned, it was run by his father... in case you were wondering. Anyhow, it was a pretty nice place... very remote, it reminded me a bit of Heathcote (where Karen lived) because of all the kangaroos and Cockatoos that were all around. In fact, when we first pulled up, everyone got really excited because the kangaroos were all over the front lawn. Well, I wasn't, because I had seen it all before. ;) I was even able to teach them something I had learned... that the kangaroos always have one head male in their group, that looks out for them, and stands at attention whenever something (or someone) gets too close... thanks Cliff and Karen!

So, for dinner, we had a good ol' fashioned Aussie Barbecue... and guess what was on the menu? Yep, kangaroo steaks! And guess who tried it? Me! Yes, I have now tried kangaroo! It wasn't bad... the texture was like steak, and it tasted a LITTLE like steak, but it was different, somehow. Not in a way that I could really explain... I think it just had a bit more of a kick to it. (Haha, kangaroo, kick... I'm funny.) I didn't eat much though, I just wanted to try it... but something was strange to me about eating kangaroo steak while watching the kangaroos frolic in the night... hehehe.

After dinner, another exciting thing happened. We saw wild deer! Why is this exciting? Well you don't see wild deer too often in Australia, they aren't native here, they are an introduced species. I tried to get close enough to take a picture, but it was dark, and the flash didn't go that far... and when I got a little closer, I saw that there were 2 young bucks (with antlers and everything) and when I got a bit closer, they started fighting each other... clashing their antlers. I figured at about that time that I should probably back away... before they turned to me next!

We all finished looking at the night creatures and headed back indoors... where Tash introduced us to another native Australian custom... the playing of the didgeridoo. She pulled out the long, wooden instrument, and told us the Aborigine 'Dreamtime' story of how the didgeridoo was discovered. (If you don't know, the Aborigine 'Dreamtime' is kind of like the Greek myths... where they talk about how the world started and how the stars got in the sky, etc. )

It starts off where one man was searching for termites, knocking on the wood branches of trees to hear if any of them were hollow (hence knowing that termites were in there). He found one, and broke the branch off and put one end of the branch in his mouth to blow the termites out. He ended up blowing too hard, and the termites all went up into the sky and they turned into the stars. The man also noted the sound he made when he blew the termites out, and he liked it so much, that the didgeridoo was born.

Here is Tash with her didgeridoo:

She is actually wearing a lantern on her head (like miners have) but I don't remember why she was wearing it at that time.

After she played it for a bit, she passed it around so that everyone could have a go. I learned that you play the didgeridoo like you'd play the trumpet... you don't just blow, you have to push your lips together and blow through that... like you are blowing a raspberry without the tongue. I actually did make a didgeridoo sound! But I didn't do the whole circular breathing thing...

And for your viewing pleasure... a short clip of the didgeridoo! Not me playing it, though.

Well guys, again, this is a really long post, and man, is this internet getting expensive. I hadn't even thought about how much I was spending on it before, but these long, detailed posts are really putting a dent in my wallet! Good thing I don't do them all that often... I think each of these posts took me about 2 and a half hours, possibly a bit more, to pick pictures, write everything, look at my notes... yeesh. And internet is 4 dollars an hour... yipe.

But, this is the end of this post, I will finish my last day tomorrow, and also talk about my time in Adelaide tomorrow. And no, you won't find out who won the contest until tomorrow. HAH!


Dad said...

Great post Karen. Loved the pictures.
My moneys on the USA winning the contest. It just seems hard to believe that toxic slime could be a good thing.
Hope you're feeling better.

PMH said...

So, Bear...what's it like to have an "Australian Cold?" Does it feel the same as the U.S. cold? Hehe
Sorry you are feeling 'yuucky' but if it makes you feel any better, I have a cold too.

Man, you just can't stay away from those spiders, can you? Or maybe you are actually drawing them to you, hmm?

I like the picture of you on the rock. So, did the helicopter put you up there?

Feel to you soon. Love ya! Mom

Karen said...

Oh! I climbed up the rock mom! If I remember on my next post, I'll put up pictures of me climbing back down.

And the cold is still there, as just a cough. So I don't really feel yucky or bad guys, just have an annoying cough. That will never leave!!!

Lisah0822 said...

AWESOME POST!!!! i really really love how you add the stories and history about the placed you've been. pictures are so pretty.

k, i'm backed up, so 2 more posts for me to read :-)

sorry your sick, i have that dry cough too. it sux

stacy122982 said...

Yes, I too have that cough...mine is FINALLY going away...doc called mine whooping cough...I didn't keep dad up that much though...

Nicola said...

Here i am! And holy moly have i missed a lot!!! I like the light on that womens head and it is going to drive me crazy that you dont know why she has it!