Friday, March 14, 2008

The Great Ocean Road (And Grampians)

Well hello there everybody!

As I'm sure all of you know (or will pretend to after I tell you again) I was on my Great Ocean Road tour from Monday through Wednesday, and I just got into Adelaide last night. First, a bit of information for you... Adelaide is the capital of South Australia (one of Australia's 6 states), and is the driest city... in the driest country which is the driest continent. My first impression of Adelaide? It's HOT. Hot, hot, hot. They are in a bit of a heat wave this week... today it was 40 degrees. Celsius. People, that's like 104 degrees Fahrenheit! Yep. Did I mention that it was hot? Also, it is half an hour earlier here than it is in Melbourne. Yep, when it is 2:00 in the afternoon in Melbourne (or Sydney) it is only 1:30 here. Interesting, non?

Anyhow, I'll talk more about my time in Adelaide on another post... first I have to catch up with you on my Great Ocean Road tour! As you may have guessed by my lack of posts and/or phone calls, I didn't have any kind of internet availability on this 3 day tour, and phone service was nil. Luckily for me, I only have 3 days to catch up with you on this time, instead of 5 like on the Tassie tour! I'm probably going to cover all 3 days on this one post... unless it gets too long or I get bored or something, in which case I'll break it into 2.

The tour started on Monday morning at 7:15. I went with a tour company called 'Groovy Grape', and I was in a group of about 24 people, including the tour guide. Our tour guide was definitely an awesome person. Her name was Tash, and she had dreadlocks. She was very easy-going, and a very funny person. She actually reminded me a lot of Elana, and did even more so when I found out about her travels to some of the very middle-eastern and Asian countries that Elana has been to!

Tash told us a bit about the tour and herself before we got started... this was actually only her 3rd Great Ocean Road tour, she normally did the desert tours (again with the desert tours! My last tour guide in Tassie originally did the desert tours as well!) and she said that she and the other desert tour guides used to make fun (light-heartedly) of the Great Ocean Road tour guides... nicknaming the tour the 'cappuccino run' because you were constantly able to stop for coffees or indoor bathrooms on the roadtrip. (I guess that means no good coffee or indoor plumbing on my desert tour... drat!) Then, she told us that when she actually did her first tour on the Great Ocean Road, she mentally kicked herself for not doing it sooner because it was just that fantastic (and probably more relaxing) of a tour. So, that gave us a nice happy feeling that we were going to enjoy the next few days!
Boy, were we ever wrong. After the 2 spider bites and the near crocodile attack, I wasn't sure that we'd ever be able to enjoy ourselves again! Oh... wait... I'm writing NON-fiction here, aren't I? Hah, just seeing if you were all paying attention! Anyway, the first stop on the tour (on the unofficial beginning of the Great Ocean Road... you'll see the official beginning shortly) was Bells Beach. We pretty much only stopped here to see if we could see any surfers doing their thing... Bells Beach is a pretty famous surfing beach in Victoria, and it hosts the 'Rip Curl Pro' event (a well-known professional Australian surfing event) each year. Unfortunately, we didn't see many surfers... The waves were pretty non-existent that day... but here's a picture of the beach anyway. If you look carefully, you can actually see a lone surfer, walking dejectedly along the beach.

Now, we didn't stay long at Bells Beach, for 2 reasons. One - no surfers, and two - it was cold. Yes, I realize I was just a few short paragraphs ago complaining about the heat, but it was just so early in the morning, and we were right next to the sea, and why are you giving me the third degree anyhow? So, we stopped into a cafe for our first cup of cappuccino, and continued on our journey.

We travelled a bit along the road, and stopped at the OFFICIAL beginning of the Great Ocean Road for some picture opportunities.
The actual Great Ocean Road was built by ex-servicemen who served in WWI, and was finished in 1932 after they worked on it for about 13 years. It also started out as a toll road until the government took it over in 1936... and they made it free to use. The actual Great Ocean Road only takes about 3 and a half hours to drive along, without stopping, but most people stop at the towns and tourist attractions, which makes it an all day event. We managed to drag it out over a day and a half!

The official start of the ocean road is marked by a neat over-the-road sign, and there is also a small memorial to the left of this picture to the soldiers of WWI.

And of course, I had to do the picture of ME, under the Great Ocean Road sign. Here I am! Squinting into the sun and trying to stay warm in my brown 'jacket'!

And YES Stacy, I AM wearing my traveling dress! How wonderful that you noticed!

So, after our stop at the beginning of the Great Ocean Road, we started driving on that great, ocean road.

And great it was! It was probably one of the most scenic and beautiful ocean roads I have ever driven down. Imagine being in the car for hours, as the passenger, and just gazing outside the window at beauty like this the entire time!

And I TOTALLY had the money seat... the window next to the road!

It was starting to cloud up a bit for these two pics...

Anyhow, you should get the point by now. It was great just staring out the window.

OK, so by now, the cappuccinos that most of us bought at Bells Beach had finally gone to our bladders, so we had to stop at the next town... the 'trendy' town of Lorne. Tash told us that Lorne is probably one of the most expensive towns along the Great Ocean Road... so what did we do there? Use the bathroom... and leave. Haha...

Hmmm, I believe I have probably given you all the impression that we have only been staring out the window during our drives. Oh far from it! Tash was very good at keeping us entertained. If it wasn't a CD of an Australian DJ who likes to call people and play jokes on them, she had us go up to the front of the bus and tell jokes (I did the wok/wabbit one... haha it was the only one I could remember but everyone laughed). There were mostly Germans and Swiss people on the tour, but we actually had four Americans. One from Manhattan, one from Buffalo (I asked, he didn't know any of my relatives), and one was from Iowa or some other Midwest state... and you all know where I'm from. We also had a Canadian, an English guy, and a girl from Poland. I think that was everyone... yep, so it was a pretty good mix. Now, after we finished with our jokes (and the Buffalo guy told a pretty bad joke for an American to tell... or anyone to tell but especially an American... it was an Iraq joke that definitely wasn't funny) Tash decided that we were all going to represent our countries in a series of contests that would last until the end of the trip. Mostly, she just gave us riddles and had us figure them out... and we were all pretty competitive, maybe because we were representing out countries?

I think the contest was slightly unfair though, because Germany, Switzerland, and America had the advantage of having 4 or more people on their team. Straight off, Germany and America were pretty much neck to neck, with Germany pulling ahead sometimes, America at others. I definitely kicked butt at figuring out the riddles though! I'll tell you which country won the contest after I write about the last day... I don't want to spoil the ending of my blog!

So, at about 1ish we stopped for a picnic lunch on a beach and enjoyed the sound of the waves crashing against the rocks as we ate. I forget what we had for lunch unfortunately... so lets just say... sandwiches.

After lunch... (you guys are going to be so excited!)... after lunch, we drove through this area that is noted for having... KOALAS in the trees! That's right. We found them. I got to SEE a KOALA that was IN a tree, breathing, and not on the side of the road... not breathing.

They weren't really doing anything, just sleeping. Apparently, koalas sleep like 21 hours out of the day. I guess they are kind of like cats that way. But here is a pic of one that I saw...

After the koala, we went on a walk through the rainforest of Maits Rest. It was another temperate cold rain forest, so it was a little similar to the Tasmanian ones... or similar enough that you probably won't want to see more pictures. So... I'll just do one.


There was one major difference in this walk though... no waterfall at the end! It was quite a comfortable and pleasant walk too, it actually wasn't cold!

Anyhow... after the rain forest walk, we went to the hostel that we would be staying at on our first night. We were going to be going to the Twelve Apostles for a sunset viewing so we didn't have much time, but we managed to unpack and cook dinner before heading out. Mmmm, I do remember what we had for dinner... tortillas! Chicken, avocado paste, cheese and lettuce... well, that's all I put in mine. Other people had nastiness like onions and peppers and jalapenos...

Here are some pics of views from our beach hostel:

And finally! After dinner, we headed down to the 12 Apostles... and it was absolutely spectacular. I played around with the settings on my camera a bit, and took like a million pictures because I couldn't see what I took very well in the sunset light (I had to be sure to get a few good ones!) but here are a few that will help you experience what I did that night...

And this one I like, because instead of the sun, you can see the moon above the 12 Apostles... The sun was actually still there to the left, but I couldn't get both the sun and the moon in the picture.

Well... after the sunset, I left the 12 Apostles to make a restroom stop before getting back on the bus to head back to the hostel. And because of that... because I had to take a bathroom break... I missed the penguins coming up onto the beach. The few people that were still there and saw it said that first, they saw just one or two of them swimming in from the water and waddling up the beach... then, all of a sudden, there were 20 or 30 of them! Bugger. I can't believe I missed that. Oh well, at least I did see the penguins once... in Tasmania.

So, after we got back to the hostel, we had a few glasses of wine, played a few games... (one absolutely horrifically annoying game called 'the moon in the spoon'... which went on waaay too long. Especially because it was a while before I got the answer!) and we met a couple of Australian guys who were staying at the place next to ours. And of course, when they found out I was from America, the conversation quickly changed to politics. That happens a lot when I talk to Australians! It doesn't bother me of course, I just think it's funny that that's how the conversation always seems to go...

Anyhow, in case you may not have noticed, I've been rushing the end of this day so I could end the post. It's late, I've been sitting at the computer for a while now... (I spend way too long on my posts! And spend way too much money! Hah, 'free blog'! I guess if I didn't have to pay for internet it would be free!) So, I'll finish talking about this tour on my next post. Goodnight all!


Lisah0822 said...

yay!! your back! ok, first, what the hell kinda bug was that???

2nd, man, i got all excited that i was gonna hear about an almost crocodile attack (exciting because i love croc stories, and i knew you were ok, cuz otherwise you wouldnt be posting).

gorgeous pics as usual. can't wait to hear about the next half of the tour, and how your country contest went (u know, the one on the tour bus)

also, what day do you get back in may? i know u probably don't want to even think about coming back, but on may 13, de'von was chosed to be honored for most improved student. Its going to be at a trenton thunder game, and he's going to get to go on the field, and we will watch from the pavillion. let me know, k?

oh also, de'von was also student of the month. GO DE"VON!!!

Dad said...

Unless I missed something, you never told us which country won the contest. You can't leave us hanging like that.

PMH said... never told us who won the contest and you promised!

I love the koala!

So...did you meet all of the Apostles? Were they just like they were written about?

stacy122982 said...

I am going to the Trenton Thunder case that entices your decision at all...