Published: May 1st 2009
April 25th 2009
So we escaped from the city, heading south for nowhere in particular. After the stop at Botany Bay we drove a bit more to the seaside town of Kiama. Kiama’s big attraction is that it has a blowhole in the rocks. Well, you gotta have something I guess. We stayed on a campsite called ‘Surf Beach’ which was located on the headland between Surf Beach and Kendall Beach! It was here that the sea started to turn rather nippy. Baltic, some might describe it. The waves were really cool for the body board, as one rebounded from the shore it met one moving in the opposite direction and collided. On the body board you kind of skip over the top. I see why everyone surfs out here. They get the body-boarding out their system when they’re kids. I bet surfing’s fun.
From Kiama we drove to a place called Narooma. We had hit a spot of bad weather. It was rainy and windy. Not conditions you want when camping. The view of the beach and the sea from the tent was excellent but the campsite was crap - no camp kitchen or working BBQs so we left.
Being all cool with my body board
We continued on our journey south and crossed the Victorian boarder, stopping shortly after at a town called Mallacoota. The site in Mallacoota was by a lake. They called it a lake, it wasn’t really if you ask me it was just an inlet from the sea. Anyway, on the lake there were pelicans that would roost on the posts for mooring boats. I like pelicans, they’re so weird looking.
Things are different in Victoria. For a start, Woolworths is called Safeway. And Vic Roads, the transport authority, is completely obsessed with everyone taking "powernaps". There must be a sign every 2km along the road. "Feeling Sleepy? Powernap Now!" along with many other punchy slogans. There are designated Powernap areas on the side of the roads. I was expecting beanbags and soft music but it was just a place to pull up the car. How dissapointing.
From Mallacoota we went on a very long drive of about 500km (in an attempt to escape the rain) all the way to Wilson’s Promontory National Park, where the most southerly point on the Australian mainland is located. Having visited the most easterly point at Byron Bay we felt compelled
to visit the next one. Unfortunately it wasn’t going to be as easy as in Byron. As we neared ‘The Prom’ as it’s known, the weather got worse and worse until it was driving rain. We arrived at the park entrance at about 5pm, and you have to pay for your time in the national park so we elected to sleep outside of it that night. We found a nearby rest area and parked up. It was in the grounds of the town community centre which they very trustingly leave unlocked so we were able to get boiling water for cooking, use the toilets and do the washing up. Not a bad night in the car; we were pretty knackered from the drive. The next morning we drove to the park headquarters and checked at the park office what the go was with walking to South Point. Unfortunately it was a 17km hike. One way. Being the adventurous explorers that we are, we decided to go for it. We wouldn’t make it there and back in one day so we would have to camp overnight. As we don’t do this kind of thing often (and don’t intend to make a
habit out of it) we don’t have a hiking tent, so we brought our regular tent which is a four man dome measuring about 3x4m and weighing about a tonne. Even travelling as light as possible we also needed a blanket, food, all our water and something to sleep ON. We’d get no sleep on the cold rocky floor so we brought an air mattress we had stuffed in the boot. Once our backpacks were packed they were full and as heavy as they were in Asia. But you know us, we’re adventurous explorers.
The beginning of the walk led us around the beautiful and deserted coastline. We walked across some stunning white sand beaches which made us feel rather like we were in Lost. After a couple of hours the path took us inland through some really eerie burnt forests. These were from controlled fires, but there were actually some really bad bush fires through The Prom in February which we saw evidence of while driving through. From here on the walking got harder and harder and harder. It was really tough going with all that weight on our backs and towards the end it seemed to be
all uphill. We were sure that around every corner would be the camp.
I was beginning to empathise with Burke & Wills.
At least the weather was on our side - cool and sunny. Finally we made it to the camp which was just a clearing in the trees. We pitched up, inflated the bed, scoffed dinner and collapsed asleep before it was even dark. We were awoken about 7pm by a scuffling in the porch of the tent. As I peered nervously out my torchlight shone on a cheeky possum holding a dirty dinner folk in his paw and licking it clean (no table manners those possums). We brought everything into the main tent but it didn’t stop him scuffling in and out of the porch all night. We barely got any more sleep that night because it was FREEZING! We shivered under the thin woollen blanket even with all our warmest clothes on. The next morning I had some seriously impressive blisters, however we decided to push on to South Point which was only an hour away.
Real Burke & Wills stuff - the quick dash to the gulf and all of that.
empty stomachs and sore feet we arrived at the most Southerly Point of the Australian Mainland. We trudged back to camp, ate breakfast, packed up and headed home. We were taking a more direct and less scenic route back but this time the weather was not on our side. Showers kept falling and once again it was a constant uphill towards the end. Exactly at this point we looked over the mountains and saw an almighty rain storm sweeping towards us. We got soaked and really rather cold. At long last we emerged into civilisation - a car park from where a shuttle bus returns to park headquarters. We caught it and limped back to the car. And this is where we depart from Burke & Wills because we made it back and they didn’t. Loosers.
Rather marvellously there were free hot showers at Tidal River, as it was called. Rather less marvellously they were crawling with millipedes, but beggars can’t be choosers. Keen to leave we hopped in the car, cranked up the heat and drove in the direction of Melbourne, stopping for a fantastic chicken & chips on the way. We stopped that night in a rest
area after having gone out for a curry to celebrate our victory.
Bright and early the next day we continued on, past Melbourne in fact, to Torquay at the start of the Great Ocean Road. We did want to go to Melbourne however we had hit the Easter holidays and were not yet ready to tackle the big city after our ordeal. Plus, there was a big surfing comp about to start in Torquay that we were keen to catch. Yes, we know nothing about surfing but what better thing to do while travelling round Australia? The competition was The Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach, just down the road from Torquay. Apparently it’s rather famous in the right circles. Certain friend of mine will be impressed to hear that in Point Break, at the end where Swayzee is running from Keanu/committing suicide/surfing the best break in the world ever, it’s supposed to be at Bells Beach. It was filmed in Hawaii, but that’s not the point.
We stayed, for the most part, at Torquay Foreshaw Caravan Park which was pretty decent. Over the Easter weekend they jacked up their prices from $30-50 a night, so
we elected to stay one night in a rest area and the other two in nearby and cheaper Jan Juc Caravan Park before returning to Torquay.
It was pretty enjoyable watching the competition. You had to pay to watch, which sorta sucked. It was $11 for a day pass or $33 for an event pass. We figured we’d be around for the duration so bought the event pass, which meant we had to wear attractive fluro wrist bands for 2 weeks. The weather was typically Victorian and unpredictable. One day was pure shorts and t-shirts weather and others were more like scarfs and hats weather. I didn’t envy those boys (and girls) jumping in the water and paddling out to sea. It was a bit dead to start with with no crowds, cold blustery weather and pretty crap swell. It was called off a few days because there were no waves to surf. They put the women and the kids on first, with the women’s final over Easter weekend. The crowds were massive, the beach was packed and there was a good atmosphere. We brought down our picnic blanket, sat on the beach and watched the action, trying to
avoid getting wiped out by the incoming tide.
The best waves were after the Easter weekend, when finally they brought the men out. This was more like how we’d imagined pro surfing - big waves, cool tricks and generally fun to watch. It was funny seeing kids running up to the surfers for their autographs when to us it’s just some bloke in a wetsuit. Apparently they’re famous if you’re in the know. A Queenslander won the comp (yeah!) and we watched the presentation of the Bell trophy, which legend has it you can only ring if you’ve won the Rip Curl Pro.
The other news during the fortnight was that we bought ourselves a laptop! I am typing on it now infact. Finding internet was becoming an expensive hassle. Now we can get free WiFi in MCDonalds or a cafe if we’re feeling flash. When not at the surfing we have used it almost constantly for playing the free games that came on it and for watching DVDs that we’ve been renting!
Finally we managed to drag ourselves out of the lovely town of Torquay and into the city of Melbourne! We are staying
in a campsite in the northern suburbs, about 9km from the city centre. We didn’t want to drive the car into town because they really sting you on the toll roads. Driving through we got charged $12 because we don’t have e-toll! Besides, hostels are too expensive and don’t have parking. Anyway, it’s heaps easier getting into town here than it was in Sydney. There is a tram stop within walking distance (20 mins) which goes right into town, and through into St Kilda, which worked out handy...
We went in on Monday (20th) for a bit of sightseeing. First we went to Federation Square and then on a self-guided walking tour from the guidebook. Melbourne is pretty and really rather nice to walk around. There are interesting alleyways to walk up, pedestrian crossings everywhere and tram stops everywhere too. From the walking tour we caught the tram to the southern suburb of St Kilda for “Neighbours Night”! It was in some dodgy British Pub with expensive drinks, entry fee was extortionate but it was worth it, we had a bloody good, incredibly cheesy, night. It was purely set on for British Backpackers, which is pretty horrendous - almost
exactly like student nights infact. You go in, sit down and there are bits of paper on the tables on which you write questions for the “stars”. After a near 2 hour wait they brought out 3 of the actors: Dr Karl Kennedy, Irish Connor (who has not even been in it in years) and new guy Declan who plays an 18yr old but is actually 22 and therefore it is ok for me to think he’s quite nice. Then they put some of the audience’s questions to the actors. Two of ours were asked of a total of 4 or 5, so we must write pretty awesome questions. The first was whether Connor was actually Irish. His accent is terrible, I don’t know anyone who has seen him act who ever thought for a minute he is genuinely Irish. Turns out he is. Maybe it’s Pierce Brosnan syndrome. You know - he really is Irish, but has a terrible Irish accent.
Our second question was for Dr. Karl. We had given Mike an embarrassing illness, suggesting it may have come from a member of the Neighbours cast, for which we required a diagnosis. I don’t know what ever
happened to Doctor/patient confidentiality because Karl made Mike stand up on his chair so he could warn all the girls in the audience away from him and suggested the origin of his illness may be from Bouncer - the Neighbours dog.
After the Q&As the actors come round so you can take your pictures with them! Sounds embarrassing but you’ve gotta get into it hey. I managed to successfully offend Connor for the second time that evening by being a little over zealous in my conviction that he should have returned to the show when (according to him) he was asked back. He replied “I do have other things on, you know”. Yeah, right. Sad git hanging around Neighbours nights trying to make himself feel famous. Karl was clearly the star of the show and the one everyone wanted to see. He was loving the attention, I get the impression he goes to every one of these events.
Afterwards (that’s right, the fun’s not over yet) Karl’s band (you heard me) “The Waiting Room” performed. It was a little like watching one’s father up on stage (one’s, not mine. That would be beyond the imagination). Fortunately the audience
was drunk enough for this not to matter and it went down a storm.
We’ve had another couple of trips into the city since then. We cruised around the (free) city circle tram, which is a bit like an open topped bus. It’s not open topped or a bus, but there is commentary about the landmarks which you pass. We also visited the Old Melbourne Gaol (jail) where we saw Ned Kelly’s death mask and the gallows from which he was hung!
Alas, misfortune has befallen us and our car has crapped itself. It will cost us $2000+ to fix which is more than it cost us. Gutted. Problem is, we’d have to fix it to sell it. If we scrapped it, it would cost us more than $2000 to buy another half-decent car and it would take us ages to find one we wanted. Then there would be all the paperwork to fathom. Besides, we want a Queensland plated car because we intend to sell in Queensland and that should make it heaps easier. Plus, no guarantees we wouldn’t just buy another dodgy car. We figure this way we will end up with a car in pretty
good nick, because nearly everything in it is new.
There are more photos below