Hello All and Happy Channukah!
We have had a good week in Angus and have seen and done a lot. This past week was definitely a week of scenery and animal spotting as we slowed it down a bit and spent time along the Great Ocean Road, Melbourne, Phillip Island and Wilson’s Promontory National Park.
Our first discussion shall be on the weather in Australia this time of year. Overall the weather has been alright. When Sam and I were planning this trip we initially were like summer in OZ, it will be sunny most of the time and hot. Boy were we wrong! For the post part medium to high winds have followed us everywhere we have gone (it is SOO fun eating dirt and sand with your meals), but there have been those exception days where the wind has paused and we have been able to sit and not worry about being blown away. We were also wrong about the SUN part of the trip. This past week alone we have experienced the coldest temperatures yet in this country to the point where we had to dig out our remaining winter clothes, hats, gloves etc. to stay warm and get some sleep at night. Gratefully we purchased an electric kettle for $7 back in Adelaide which has been our savior for making hot drinks, hot instant oatmeal, and hot water bottles (we use our nalgenes) to keep us warm at night. One of us has more of an issue with this than the other since Sam is part polar bear and has only been cold one or two nights thus far, never resorting to the hot water bottle. Luckily, as we write the sun and warmth are trying to return and our bodies are trying to recover from a bit of a sun burn from hiking a mountain yesterday.
Second discussion our animal count: No, this is not the number of animals that we have hit with our vehicle (not covered by our insurance here for Angus if we do hit one), nor is it the number that have tried to kill us (still stand at two with Sam, his Emu friend and the spider, but we have yet to hit the farm for the wedding). Our animal count is just a list of what we have seen in the wild as we drive and explore. We have seen: Kangaroos, Wallabys, Koalas, sheep, cows, horses, an echidna, cockatoos, crimson rosellas, galahs (still Kailey’s favorite), rainbow lorikeets, emus, kookaburra, lizards, a skink, bats, penguins, wombats, dolphins, crabs, and many other water and terrestrial birds and insects. Still on Kailey’s list is to see camels. We searched hard in Western Australia, but never saw any, even when we crossed the desert and there were signs for them being a road hazard. Sam’s list includes seeing a shark…hmmm not sure what kind or how big, but a request for a shark there is. We both would like to see some whales off the coast, but it may be the wrong time of year for that.
The Great Ocean Road:
Is just as magnificent as Kailey remembered it and Sam was in awe by it. We will let the pictures do most of the talking, but we highly recommend this drive! We started it at the beginning in Warrnambool and broke it up in chunks staying the night in Apollo Bay and Angelesa. We did most of the tourist lookouts from The Grotto, the 12 Apostles to Gibson’s Steps and several others in between. We walked the beach at Apollo Bay and were entertained by Kangaroos around Angus and us in the evening as we ate dinner in Angelesa.
We spent one day in Melbourne and were mainly there to see our Aussie friend we met in Florence, Italy, Danielle. Danielle was traveling Europe when we were and we ended up following each other throughout Italy most of the time we were there. We also found Starbucks in Melbourne and preceded our awesome river side dinner with lattes :-). Dinner was a lot of fun since we went over to Federation Square to meet up and found it full of Christmas trees and a giant jumbotron that showed the view from a camera angled down at the square. Quite a bit of playing around and taking pictures of the jumbotron followed. Danielle then met up with us after we told her to find us amongst the trees and we walked down to a restaurant by the river to have a bite to eat and catch up. After dinner we all walked along and got a brief tour of Melbourne and the Remembrance Memorial before heading back into town to catch our respective buses. On the way back we walked past city hall and saw that it was all lit up to look like a holiday present! We stared a bit more and noticed that in fact a laser light show was being projected onto city hall that included musical accompaniment and laser animation. It was a holiday show and it was awesome! We stayed and watched it two times through blown away by the cool, fun, and impressive show that was just being put on for free and for fun. Good on ya Melbourne!
We arrived in Phillip Island hoping to escape some of the crazy weather that we had been witnessing the last few days. Our hopes were not rewarded, the wind picked up and the clouds rolled in during our arrival. We drove around the Island to start our adventure and headed out to the very end of the Island which is a national reserve known as the Nobbies. It is a spit of land where you can see Australian fur seals a lot of the year, but today all you saw was wind and driving rain! We returned back to our caravan park and settled in for the night not knowing what was about to unload. Now it’s not like we had not been in wind and thunder storms before, but this one was ridiculous. I swear we survived a mini hurricane in the van somehow and thankfully we were alright, but sleep deprived come morning. Fortunately we did not have to drive anywhere and could sleep in and decide what we wanted to do for the day before our date with the little/fairy penguins that evening. We ended up spending the day taking little hikes around the island and we went back out to The Nobbies without the driving rain and walked around in the wind there. By the time evening came and it was our time to see the penguins (you’ll have to google them as no photography or video is allowed due flashes of any sort damaging their eyes) we were all bundled up for winter again and excited. We did the Penguins plus package that got us a better viewing spot, a free warm beverage, free guide books and half price on our green screen photo. It was Kailey’s second time seeing the penguins and to her it is one of the best things in the world. Sam also thought that the whole experience was super cool and seeing them in the wild definitely beat seeing them in any zoo or wildlife park until this point. At the Penguin Parade we also picked up Squeaky (a little stuffed penguin) as he had a sweater on that was knitted for the oiled penguins that they rehabilitate ever year (yes all you knitters we also picked up the pattern of how to knit them. Now I need to learn to knit and we can all make penguin sweaters… maybe in all sizes for all 17 of the penguin species… I am imagining a whole factory here 🙂 ).
Wilson’s Promontory National Park:
After two days on Philip Island we then spent two days in another favorite spot of Kailey’s Wilson’s Promontory National Park. It is a whole peninsula that is an amazing wild experience. In 2011 they unfortunately experiences massive flooding and landslides (this seems to be a theme around the world lately) so part of the park is still closed as they rebuild and recover more. The closures didn’t affect us at all though. You could still get out and hike mountains, walk the beaches, go swimming and go wildlife spotting. We did all of the above and it was just awesome and relaxing. In this park alone we saw: crimson rosellas, wallabys, kookaburras (they sound like monkeys at night), a skink, lizards, galahs, cockatoos, and WOMBATS :-). We had a short but good time there and Sam is already talking about “When we go back… :-)”
Angus got a boo boo:
Yep, it finally happened today as we were driving the Alpine highway from Willson’s Promontory to Eden (7hr drive). There was significant roadwork going on and cars were not paying attention to the speed reduction signs. We were going the required 40km in the work zone and zoom past us goes a car in the opposite direction throwing gravel everywhere that was loose from the workers fixing the road. Angus got one right in the lower center windshield (called windscreens here) and it made a divot and has a nice star cracking that we suspect will only increase in the days to come. Fortunately, we are covered by the fancy insurance plan that covers windscreens so all is well and Angus will get a new one when we return him in 5 days for his mini counterpart.
Currently we are in Eden, New South Whales (our 4th State) and we have driven 7150 kilometers. We have stopped in Eden because this is one of the places that Kailey researched in her masters work and being that she had no funding during school we just had to go see the place and all it has to offer since we are in OZ. She’s been planning on going here ever since we started planning the trip. To make Eden even more awesome, she has kept in contact with the Eden Killer Whale Museum and we are being showed around town tomorrow to see all the whale stuff with an awesome museum staff member. Kailey is super excited, so look for a possible blog on this adventure alone!
~Kailey and Sam