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Published: January 5th 2012
Happy New Year from Oz.
Christmas in Melbourne was a quiet affair with a good lunch in the warm sunshine at the waterfront followed by a free bus-ride back to the campsite to watch an almighty thunderstorm with bullet like hailstones. The small shiny surfaced caravan pitched next to us was covered with dents, making it resemble beaten copper. The roof of our van is too high to get a decent look at so hopefully it’s made of stronger stuff or part of my excess has just disappeared.
Boxing Day saw us at the cinema watching of all things Mission Impossible, partly as a result of the other shows all pre-booked and sold out. In the film the Americans in the form of Tom Cruise predictably saved the world (again) but it was entertaining stuff all the same. Next day we went to Melbourne cricket ground to watch the Aussies take on India and it was great stuff with wickets tumbling and excellent seats to view it all. In Scotland you can’t watch 5 day tests, principally because the chances of 5 consecutive dry days, well even Tom Cruise and his team couldn’t manage that.
Melbourne we headed west onto the Great Ocean Rd.along with half ofAustralia who fill all the campsites and hotels to bursting at this time of year. This resulted in that we could only find a campsite in the remote Cape Otway Peninsula which meant a bush camp full of Koalas up the many gum trees, but also loads of kids playing cricket beside our van with Liz stressing out in case the van took a few boundaries. Whilst staying there we took a stroll to a nearby hill with a lookout point. There was a reasonably well defined path most of the way and after an uneventful walk up we started the descent back to camp following the same route. Halfway down we were very alarmed to hear aggressive grunting coming from a nearby bit of scrub. Knowing that wild pigs are not uncommon, we very swiftly retreated and took a slightly different path back to camp. Sometime later Liz was re-telling the story to the campsite manager who laughed and told her that what we had heard was Koalas mating and even made a passable mimic of the noise to try to convince a sceptical audience. Now apart from
snoring, I have not heard a Koala make any other sound, but later that night we did hear the same aggressive grunting coming from some of the trees in the camp and even we know that pigs can’t climb trees, can they?
The Great Ocean road is famous for its so called 12 apostles which are limestone stacks that have been eroded out of the cliffs. 12 apostles is a misnomer as no matter how hard you try you will not count 12 of them. Apparently they used to be known as “the sow and her piglets” until an enterprising tourist officer had the bright idea of re-naming them to boost visitor numbers (which it did 10 fold). In the UK a great career awaits him as an MP. Despite the dodgy name it is a very spectacular coastline.
For the New Year we ended up staying at a place called Port Fairy which is named after the ship of a Scots seafarer who did something or other around there sometime long ago. Port Fairy was a lovely little place with a working port which shared its space with pleasure craft of all sorts but had a large
number of wooden hulled yachts which got Liz all excited. They also had their own version of the Dunning duck race, but being a bit of a posh place they used full size replica wooden ducks. Additionally in the place of the duck maidens were lads on surfboards (which I (Liz) think is a much better idea); the rest of it was just the same. On the 2nd
day we were in Port Fairy the winds came down from the north with the temperature soaring to 40 degrees in the shade and we had to abandon an attempt to go for a swim in the sea as there was no shade and out of the water you just fried, even the locals were complaining about the unusually high temperature. The blazing heat lasted only a couple of days (it dropped to a more comfortable 32) but its forecast to get very hot again in a few days time so we are keeping an eye on it to make sure we are in a campsite with electricity for our air-conditioning to function. 40+ is too hot, however we seem to have acclimatised pretty quickly as I now find anything under 28
degrees as not that warm. As this is the maximum it will ever reach on the one hot summer’s day inScotland I don’t know how we will cope when we get back home.
Finally for this blog we have wandered north a bit to a place called Echuca on the Murray River. Houseboats and paddle steamers are the order of the day around here as the pictures show, we have enjoyed sitting on the riverbank watching the ever changing scene. We are planning to head further up the Murray and then over the Alpine region of the Great Divide and back to the coast east of Melbourne. Next entry will probably be our last as we have just over 3 weeks to go.
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