Published: March 2nd 2012
March 2nd 2012
Though the weather wasn't the kindest, we enjoyed Hong Kong despite the efforts of our tourst guides! Duty free at HK airport is about the size of Westfield Shopping Centre at White City, vast. All we bought was water for the flight only to have it confiscated at the departure gate as you are not allowed to take any liquid on board even though we bought it 5 minutes before and about 10 yards away - great start, however our suitcases were within limits and our arms have grown a couple of inches because of the hand baggage which we even more stupidly didn't bring the wheeled variety. Really bumpy flight so impossible to sleep, quick change at Melbourne and then another hour to Adelaide.
We were met by the lovely Margaret who looked after us for the next couple of days, taking us out and showing us around her lovely city which we both really liked, clean, compact and friendly. This was really good of her as we hardly knew each other. During the summer last year I had taken a group of ladies on a walk of City of London gardens and Margaret was one of
them. She was doing a house swap in Oxfordshire for a couple of months and on a similar previous visit, had got chatting to one of the ladies in the group whilst enjoying a coffee somewhere and they had become good friends and whilst walking around the City of London we became good friends.... Funny old world sometimes!
Col as usual gets on well with the language, when we go to the restaurant that evening, the friendly Australian girl said Hi, how you doing and Col replied, no thanks, we want to eat in?!?!?! She gave up on us and the wine is brought to us by a man who asks if we want the lid, why? asks Col, in case you want to take it away ........
On day 2 in Adelaide, Margaret took us to McLaren valley famous for its wine with a coffee stop at a high spot over looking a stunning beach. We sampled several, the winery's are lovely and the one we enjoyed most was Hugh Hamilton's the black sheep of the family apparently but a beautiful setting and lovely wine all with great names that you won't forget
like The Flouzie, The Scroundrel, The Ragamuffin, The Madam, The Trickster. Beautiful day with the temperature hitting about 35 degrees. Unfortunately, the cough that Sal had picked up a couple of weeks before was still persisting and a mixture of jet lag and coughing half the night was beginning to get to us so after a chat with a pharmacist, it was off to the doc, she didn't tell us much we didn't know but it put our minds at rest and $75 lighter we left her surgery!
Margaret lived in a circular building which was half apartments and half hotel where we stayed and it was near the beach at Glenelg just a short journey by clean efficient tram from the city centre at Adelaide. Glenelg is a beautiful place, the small town has lots of interesting little shops (more chemists in a small space than we have ever seen), loads of places to eat and drink, a very smart marina and everywhere just seemed very clean and a good place to be. The beach was spotless and you could sit there and watch the sun go down. We both agreed we could spend more time
here and get the chance to explore more of Adelaide and the wine region(!). Next day we got the tram into Adelaide, hitched a ride on a golf buggy from one end of the shopping mall to the other to pick up our hire car. Back to the hotel to pick up the baggage, a quick coffee with Margaret and her walking group who had done their morning exercise and set off on our journey, joining the Princes Highway heading round the coast with the plan of arriving in Sydney on 7th March (today being 24th Feb).
Once out of the city the road was fairly quiet, we thought we would be closer to the sea but it was just vast expanses of countryside, sheep and cattle from time to time and even some emus and alpachas and a wallaby. We set Tom Tom for our destination of Robe and it was 54 miles before the next event! We love the way Australians are to the point, lots of signs about taking a break if tired and some of the driving would be monotonous but the big hoardings said Don't Drive Like A ........W followed by a
picture of an anchor! Or Don't drive Like a...... Then a picture of a cockerel!
Our first motel in Robe was to be fairly typical of them, they are roomy and equipped with kettles, toasters, fridge, crockery and cutlery, this one also had a full cooker. On arrival they give you fresh milk which is nice. Lovely view over the lake from our veranda so as we were feeling tired we went and got some fish and chips and with a bottle of wine bought at Hugh Hamilton's the day before, we ate some of the best fish and chip we have ever had and watched the sun go down.
Robe was one of the first settlements in 1840's and amazingly in 1850's about 16,000 Chinese landed here and walked 400k to the goldfields.
Fortunately it wasn't until we were leaving the following day that we read the note apologising for the infestation of millipedes! Robe is a pretty town with a lovely beach and as we were to find all along the coast, the colour of the sea is spectacular, all shades of blue and green and the sand as
golden as can be. Mount Gambier was one of the places we travelled through and is built around 3 extinct volcanos ( how do you know it is extinct?!) The main one is now full of water and supplies some of the water for the town but it is the bluest of blue water we have ever seen and famous for it.
Yellow signs from time to time tell you that you are in koala/kangaroo/wombat country, unfortunately all we saw were a couple of dead skippys at the side of the road. We had been told about a place that was good to see pelicans which was just a short journey off the highway, it then involved a 10 minute walk over some scrub land where there were loads of flies and it was so hot and guess what not a pelican in sight! We found a few later on but not the flocks we had expected.
Next stop Port Fairy for a 2 night stay, temperature was still going up, hitting 40 degrees at one point, it felt like your skin was frying! There were 2 weddings going on in this small place,
god knows how they were surviving in full wedding garb. Fab coastline and we could watch the surfers who were fantastic, had a chat with a cray fisherman and watched the sun go down, tough life eh!
Bad news for us (!) but food has been excellent and that went for Port Fairy too, huge choice and all presented beautifully and very tasty, so don't worry Monica I am still your doughnut buddy! Motels don't offer breakfast but plenty of places to find brekky as they say with huge choice of what to eat.
Next day we start our journey on the Great Ocean Road, we were doing this over two days with an overnight in Apollo Bay before arriving in Melbourne, day one offered very few views as we were driving but lots of pull ins were you could stop and then view the amazing coastline, which is very rugged with colourful limestone, hardly anybody about just the swish of the sea, pounding away and eroding the rocks. One of the formations is called London Bridge and it did, until 1990 look like 2 arches of old London bridge and you could walk
across it. One couple did this and then one arch collapsed leaving them stranded on what then become an island rock. It took a couple of hours to get a rescue organised by which time the media had arrived but the couple disappeared ASAP as they were until that point enjoying an extra marital relationship and didn't appreciate the interests of the waiting media!
Feeling a bit sleepy, we decided a power nap would be good at the next pull in, however when we arrived and saw the name of this particular bay we changed our minds, it was called Massacre Bay!
Cough persisting so went to a chemist to have a word with the pharmacist, something about a pharmacist in shorts and sandals that was a bit disconcerting but he told us that they currently have a huge amount of people suffering with the 100 day cough! Not great news but gave us some jollop to try.
We really enjoyed the journey from Apollo, lots of pretty little towns and fantastic views of the spectacular coast line most of the time, the road was built by soldiers returning after World War Two and fortunately they realised people would want to see the views and put in loads of places you can stop and view and access the beautiful beaches and often watch the surfers who were fantastic to watch. The temperature halved to 20 degrees, much nicer. We spotted a couple of koalas in the trees which was great.
Melbourne was our destination and we really like this city so were looking forward to 2 nights here. There is nothing particular that you would come here to see but the city has a great feel about it, very busy, vast amount of restaurants, many on the southbank which has a great buzz, lots quirky modern architecture which is also colourful. From a tourist guide point of view it is bad news but as a tourist it is a fantastic place, they have great tourist offices with loads of info, city ambassadors wearing their bright red shirts that are easily spotable around the city to help you on your way. The have a great tram, bus and train system and one of the trams using the old style vehicle does a loop around the city with commentary which is free and there is also a bus service which does a free tour around the city too, we did both and they were really good we then walked down through the old arcades and alleyways around the city centre which we really enjoyed.