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Published: November 25th 2009
(Day 588 on the road)
To get from Alice Springs in the centre of Australia to Adelaide down in South Australia, there are three main options if you don't have your own car: Catch the bus ($180, 20 hours), catch the train ($150, 24 hours), or catch the plane ($60, 2 hours). Well, that wasn't a difficult decision since I have long given up my self-imposed no-flying dogma, and so a mere two hours later Adelaide greeted me with temperatures of around 13 degrees. Nice in a way after 40 degrees around Ayers Rock, but freezing nevertheless, especially as I haven't had any cold weather for as long as I can remember.
I had been in Adelaide pretty much ten years ago when I spent a university-semester in Perth , but could not remember a single thing about the city. So I discovered it all afresh, and being based in a hostel run by a Swiss woman and which included free use of her private sauna was always a perfect way to end a day of busy sightseeing. Especially Adelaide's small but very well presented migration museum deserves to be mentioned, as does the lovely area along the river, where I
spotted some wild pelicans.
I was also busy looking for a lift to get to Melbourne, and I got very lucky as it turned out by teaming up with Chris from England. Chris is 52 years old, has worked for the last 30 years or so in a blue-chip company until he accepted a voluntary redundancy package (golden handshake), and is now travelling the world for a year or so. We got along very well as we soon found out, and it was as relaxed and fun as any road trip across Australia could be. Leaving Adelaide we had met German Karina, who had also hired a car on her own. We drove side by side for a few days until we realised that we might as well return one of the cars and travel together in one vehicle.
Our first stop en route to Melbourne was the Grampians National Park, just a few hours south-east of Adelaide, but worlds apart from the city. We spent a wonderful full day of hiking and trekking here. If you go, make sure you visit a spot called the Balconies and the amazing Boroka Lookout, where the breathtaking picture of me
sitting on the cliff was shot. There weren't many people around at all in the area; it was blissfully quiet and relaxing after busy Adelaide. The eco-friendly YHA hostel we stayed in was great (it sported a huge herb garden and chickens providing free eggs for breakfast), but unfortunately massively overpriced for a hostel. However, to my own surprise the guy running it offered me a steep discount as I was just about to move to a much cheaper hostel just down the road. Lesson for the day: Even in Australia prices are not fixed and it is always worth asking for a discount.
The next day we made our way down to the sleepy fishing village of Port Fairy, stopping in an often overlooked place called Tower Hill along the road, a volcanic lake surrounded by lush vegetation that sports a great array of wildlife. The star attractions for us were the numerous Koalas roaming around. Well, actually they were not roaming at all but as lazy as anything, just drowsing and sleeping in the weirdest positions up in the eucalyptus trees. Apparently some of the stuff they eat acts as a drug for them that makes them
extremely sleepy. But thanks to Karina's expensive camera and its tele lens we managed to get some great shots of these amazing creatures.
Next it was down to the famous Great Ocean Road, the highlight of the week. I had been here as well before in 1999, and different from Adelaide I could actually still visualise a few places, especially the widely-known Twelve Apostles. Well, at least there used to be twelve of them, but ongoing erosion has reduced them to six or seven, depending on which formations you chose to include in your count. The other section I really enjoyed was a spot called the "Bay of Islands", which is, well, a bay of islands. Apart from the numerous and super-annoying flies everywhere it was a near perfect experience.
Our last stop together was in an area south-east of Melbourne called the Gippsland, with the national park Wilson's Promontory right at the tip of the landmass being the main attraction in the region. It offers very scenic walks and some great views of sweeping bays. Of the numerous secluded beaches here the "Squeaky Beach" was especially unique, as it really makes an amazing high-pitch squeaky sound as
you walk over it due to the composition of the sand.
The next day it was time to say good bye to Karina and Chris and head up to Melbourne to meet various friends and fellow travellers there. We had spent a great week together and it was actually quite hard to part. However, I am going to meet up with Chris again in a week's time for round two of our road adventure across Australia, then tackling the 1000 kilometre-stretch from Melbourne to Sydney.
Next stop: Melbourne (VIC, Australia).
To view my photos, have a look at pictures.beiske.com
. And to read the full account of my journey, have a look at the complete book about my trip at Amazon
(and most other online book shops).
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