Saturday, April 08, 2006

Bumping out of Australia

Well, had a lazy day yesterday, met up with friends on Thursday night and then with one of them again yesterday. Walked around the St Kilda area. Nice ^^

Anyways, it's time to leave Australia. 5 Weeks on and now it's Home Sweet Home.

I've got stuff all packed up and checked out in the morning. I left my main luggage in the hostel as I went to Victoria Market to pick up some strawberries for my mum. Aren't I sweet? Ok. You can stop puking now. I mean NOW.

Got back to hostel, picked up my bags and went to wait for the shuttle to the airport. I am so NOT missing this shuttle.

Anyway, I reach the airport early and spend some time waiting around for the flight.

Note to Self: I don't like the washroom in Melbourne International Airport. It makes me stop breathing.

On a sidenote. Sometime after I got back to Singapore, I discovered my GBASP missing. Last seen during this flight. sobz. Now I got to buy a new Nintendo.

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Thursday, April 06, 2006

Puffing Billy!!

Day Trip number 2 today.

Highlight of the day is to go ride a Choo Choo Train!! Yay! I'm so so excited over this! The Choo Choo is named Puffing Billy and it runs along tracks restored to look like they were from 100 years ago.

The station, the tracks and not to mention they have Conductors for every cabin, Master Conductor and Station Masters!! They are all volunteers and they sure looked the part in the Railway uniforms.

Had a real fun time taking the train, feeling the breeze, smelling the coal exhaust.

Now a really freaky thing happened. There's this nutty hyperactive girl in my trip. As the day wore on, I suddenly realised that she seemed to behave in the same way as one irritating girl I met on the flight back from Beijing 5 years ago. In fact I was startng to think they are the same person. Save me.

As luck would have it, she only stayed for half a day as she was actually on a trip different from mine. Heng ah!!!! She was actually wearing sheepskin stuff all over and had tights on with boots to finish up. Yuks.

After the train ride, we were given a choice to choose between going to see wildlife or going to the wineries. Those who wanted to see wildlife would be dropped off and the rest brought to the wineries.

I had actually booked the wildlife trip but I decided I have seen one too many Koala bums. Wineries it is.

First is lunch and then we're off to the wineries for wine tasting. Tasted a total of 5 wines (red and white. I don't like wine. Yucks.

We also go to Domaine Chandon to visit the Champagne facilities there as well as to taste the Champagne. I don't like Champagne either.

I guess I just don't like the alcohol running down.... burning feeling, I like not.

Well, at least that probably helped to make me a bit warmer for the day, instead of wishing I had a nice fur coat like Koalas.

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Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Penguin Parade!

Today I'm on a day trip that will bring me to see Fairy Penguins. These penguins are supposed to be the smallest of all penguins. Start the trip off at 1330. Rainy, soaky and generally cold miserable day. Oh dear.

First stop was at a farm place where you could see some local animals. Urgh. It's too cold for that. I stayed in the coach most of the time because I was cold.

We get to Philip Island and see a couple more stuff, grab dinner bites and then we go to the Penguin Parade.

Now, what happens at the Penguin Parade is that every dawn the penguins will leave their homes and go into the sea in search for food. They return at dusk. There is a observation area specially constructed for viewing, but you must only stay within the prescribed area and absolutely NO photography.

We wait and wait. Patience is a virtue. Luck also factors on how many actually return to their homes. I've heard that sometimes just over a hundred return. Sometimes 7 or 8 hundred return.

Anyways, I'm there freezing my butt off, sitting in puddles of water, waiting for penguins to go home. Those penguins are probably warmer than I am and probably wondering why those idiots are sitting out there shivering away.

Wait and Wait.

Finally, the penguins come back home^^ It's really cute to see them and I really wish I'd been better prepared so that I could enjoy the whole event more.

Now to move tactically back to the coach.

Note to Self: If I ever go to Penguin Parade again. Bring a poncho. And Weather gear.

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Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Finally, The Great Ocean Road!

We finally hit the Great Ocean Road proper today. It's the winding twisting part road that leads us along some really great views of the ocean. Unfortunately. Today was yet another cloudy day. If the skies cleared up, the views would be so much much more spectacular. Still no photo opportunity.

We travel along and stop at the highest point to grab whatever photos we could.

We get to the end of the Great Ocean Road in Lorne and there's a memorial arch right there. It's been burnt and rebuilt several times. Apparently, the Great Ocean Road was built by war vets in order to provide them with a job.
Great Ocean Road Memorial Arch

Next we get a break in Lorne, I just wanted to have some tea, so we kinda hung around the cafe. Lorne is an expensive little town. Homes are upwards of AUD 400k here.

How about this for 400k?
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Anyway I tried to order English Breakfast Tea, but they did not have any and the waiter agreed with me that Earl Grey was an acquired taste. He recommended Irish Breakfast which I tried. It's really good tea. Extremely similar to English Breakfast ( I couldn't really tell you the difference) and the most important part was it's not Earl Grey. I thanked the waiter for the recommendation, one good turn deserves another, does it not?

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Arriving in Melbourne

Anyway, after we leave Lorne ( and one of us who was travelling with us stayed in Lorne) we move onto Melbourne.

Along the way, we stop at Bells Beach, it's home to one of Ripcurl Pro World Championship Surfing competition and the event was due to take place the coming weekend. It's also the place where Point Break ( starring Patrick Swayze and Keanu Reeves) was shot.

We get into Melbourne at about 12ish.

I had already booked a bed at Greenhouse backpackers and some of us were going to stay there too. A few more decided to join us and stay at Greenhouse... so we essentially had a bang there as well ^^

Checked in and off I went out again with Aurelie. She'd been in Melbourne before and so she was kinda showing me around the City. I'm going to meet up with my friends in Melbourne on Friday and I have 2 day trips going on Wednesday and Thursday, so this is a good orientation plus sightseeing opportunity.

I'd say I really like the free transport they seem to have in major Australian cities. You can take a free tram and go around the entire Melbourne city.

Rest of the day was mainly walking. We got back to the hostel in time for the free dinner on Tuesdays. As the weather wasn't too good, it was pasta instead of BBQ. Oh well, maybe the BBQ would have been all beef.

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Monday, April 03, 2006

The Great Ocean Views! (Part 1)

And today, we finally move ever nearer to the Great Ocean Road leg of the journey!

Had breakfast and off we zip! The day before, the bus driver told us to throw some salt over our left shoulder because some girls once told him that'd bring good luck. We were hoping for better weather, but I guess all of us forgot to throw salt. Cloudy day AGAIN.

First off, it's Tower Hill. Koalas, Kangaroos and Emus roam free here. We get to Port Campbell for lunch (I had fish and chips but I should have gone cheap and bought stuff at the supermarket) and then we move on to the Great Ocean Road.

Great views of the day include : London Bridge, Grotto, Bay of Martyrs and the Bay of Islands.
London Bridge used to really have a strip of land connecting the rock formation to the mainland. About 10 (or 12 or whatever) years ago, that strip of land actually FELL INTO THE SEA. London Bridge is falling dow... falling down ... falling down!! That's so coincidental it's scary.
London Bridge has fallen down

Anyways when that strip of land fell, a couple was trapped on the island that is now formed. A rescue mission was sent, they were saved, the whole thing hit headlines. The couple ran away from the media and it was found out that they were actually two separately married people who were supposed to be out on a business trip. Ho ho ho ho. Talk about being caught in a big way!

Further on at Loch Ard Gorge, we get to see the site of a serious shipwreck that ocurred about 100 years ago. There were only 2 survivors of that wreck, a guy and a girl and nope, they never did get together. It's pretty nice place actually.. and there's no real wreck that I could find.

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The Great Ocean Views! (Part 2)

Now we come up on one of the most spectacular parts of the trip, the 12 Apostles!

Did you know that the 12 Apostles were once known as the Sow and the 18 piglets? Well, now you do! There was an optional helicopter flight that we could do. I deliberated about taking that ride, and finally decided to do it! It also didn't help me much that the elderly US couple in my group told me that :"Well, if you have never been in a helicopter, then you have to take the ride at least once!"

This isn't a shot of the 12 Apostles, but it's the best aerial shot I have.
Aerial View

I'd say if you have some spare money, go for the helo ride.

Onwards we go to the Otway Ranges, here we get to see some really interesting trees, some of which are massive.

We stop for the night at Apollo Bay. It's a private hostel, basically we have the whole house to ourselves. One of the German girls travelling with us started a fire in the firplace!! Oooh that was so fun to me hehehe!! I was in the room most of the night but the fire doesn't really give much warmth. It still felt really cold in the room but the fire was fun to watch and feed.

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Sunday, April 02, 2006

From Robe to Port Fairy (Part 1)

The second day starts bright and early, we get ready to leave by 0830hrs. Breakfast is provided by the Lodge and it's the standard stuff, bread, cereals and milk. After eating our fill, we start the day.

As the southern cost of Australia is mainly limestone, most of attractions of the trip is to see geological stuff. Rocks, stones and stuff like that. Today is no different, more rock formations and natural scenery. Unfortunately, today is the second cloudy day in an otherwise beautiful trip.

We get to Mt Gambier and there is this absolutely fascinating place called the Umpherstone Cave, which is a sinkhole (that's essentially a giant pothole). Now, what's most interesting about this cave is that it was once used as a midden. Looking at it now, you would not believe it.
Umpherstone Cave - Past Midden, Current Attraction

We also get to see the Blue Lake, however, it was not at it's bluest as that only happens in Summer. The sunlight breaks up the calcium in the lakebed and that causes the blueness. Of course, the cloudy skies does not help any either.

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From Robe to Port Fairy (Part 2)

Further on, we get to see a petrified forest. Well, it's not really petrified, it's more of a calcified forest. Calcium was washed up and encased the lower parts of the forest in calcium. When the forest eventually died and decomposed, only the calcium deposits remained.

Calcified remains of a forest

Our stop for the night is at Port Fairy. There was an optional ride to see seals (need to pay) but none of us took it up. We stay at the YHA in Port Fairy tonight. I had a yummy dinner of bread and instant soup. It was really yummy, I'm not joking. I also had some cream cheese but I was a tad lazy to work on that.

I have to say that I've been quite lazy on the trip heh. Not really going out and doing extra stuff. I guess see so many Koalas did have an effect on me. Or maybe I was really meant to be a Koala.

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Saturday, April 01, 2006

Leaving Adelaide (Seriously Backdated Post)

Ok. I've put off updating this for so long because I didn't want to go through the photos and make them postable. So I've decided that, if the photos appear, it'd be a bonus. Else. TOUGH LUCK.

*Yawn* I'm leaving Adelaide today. My pickup time is at 0715 in front of the Royal Adelaide Hospital. I personally don't like the 0715 timing, but it's better then having to drag my luggage across Rundel Mall at like 5 AM.

I got to the pickup point and waited for the bus. I'm taking the Wayward Bus's Great Ocean Road Journey to Melbourne. As I waited, I got worried about the timing as there is a Daylight savings change on the 2nd of April but I was afraid I got the dates mixed up. Was I 1 hour late? Fortunately, I was not.

I was the very first passenger to be picked up and the bus made it's way through the City, until it reached the Wayward Bus Office. There we did some admin and were on our way.

The bus trip stops at many places along the way so it's sort of a tour on the way to Melbourne as well.

As we head out of Adelaide, we go into the picturesque Adelaide Hills. There's nothing like the Adeliade Hills in the cool morning. It's all misty and stuff. And of course, no trip to the Adelaide Hills would be complete without at least passing through Hahndorf, a German settlement.

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Leaving Adelaide (Part II)

Later in the day, we crossed over the River Murray on a barge. Quite an experience I have to say. Apparently it is more economical to use the barge rather then to build a bridge. Beats me but it's cool.

Then it's off to the Coorong! We got sent to the Coorong Wilderness Lodge where we got a Bushtucker walk by an aboriginal guide. He's kinda weirdish and rudish but it's probably just an attitude he's putting up for tourism. Got some quick lessons on Aboriginal history (50000 years etc), Bush food and medicine and some animal info.

Well, we gotta get going else we'll never get to melbourne. Next up, we get to go to some sand dunes. Oh my goodness the sand in my shoes will drive me mad. I hate sand in my shoes. Nice scenery, but I HATE SAND IN MY SHOES.

Before we get to our stop for the night, we get to see a huge giant lobster called Larry. Apparently, it was not supposed to be this big. Someone just built it wrong. Talk about a BIG mistake.

Our stop for the night at the town of Robe is this place called the Lakside Manor Backpackers Lodge. Oh my goodness, this place is AMAZING! It's so posh and comfy. It's my first hostel ever to boot! Everyone's telling me I'll be disappointed forever! It sure beats many hotels even! People reading this blog, I'm telling you, if you ever go to Robe in South Australia, you WILL stay in this place or I will kick your butt for stupidity.

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