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Published: April 10th 2014
It's been already two weeks since we arrived Down Under, but keeping our blog up to date while driving around and camping has proven to be a real challenge. The biggest problem with that is that our laptop has quite a lousy battery-life, so normally it's out of power after few days on the road, otherwise it would be easy to write the blog during our evenings in the tent. We recently bought a car charger too, but unfortunately we can only use it to charge our phones and cameras.
Up to now we have been around the most southern parts of this vast country, starting with three days in Melbourne. We loved Melbourne, it seemed like a city with lots of culture and art, and in some parts reminded us of London, especially the St Kilda neighborhood where we had our Balinese style apartment accommodation. Only few cities on our long journey have made us think like this would a be a nice place to live in, but Melbourne certainly was one of them. At the moment we are in Adelaide, and it just doesn't seem nearly as cool.
After Melbourne we hit the road again, heading towards
the Great Ocean Road. On our first night at an Australian campsite we were surrounded by white kakadus and another kind of grey-pink parrots flying around and making lots of sounds. After that we have continued to have lots of interesting animal sightings, we've seen koalas sitting around and eating eucalyptus leaves, lots of kangaroos jumping around, a few echidnas (you probably have never heard of those, but it's a cute egg laying mammal that looks kind of like a porcupine), emus, a snake, lots and lots of birds, and yesterday evening we even saw a pack of dolphins in the ocean. We haven't yet seen any of those monstrous huge insects that I thought would be everywhere, even though I did see a large and poisonous-looking spider climbing on our tent fabric when I woke up one night, luckily on the outside.
The Great Ocean Road was the most impressive natural sight here so far, it has quite interesting rock formations and beaches along the route. Many of the national parks and other natural sites here seem to be similar style to the US; you drive around in your car to different lookouts, and then walk on often
paved road few hundred meters to reach the great views. Well, we haven't bothered ourselves with more strenuous walks much either, apart from the one three-four hour walk we did at Grampians National Park. Grampians was okay, it was the place where we spotted our first kangaroos and an echidna, but somehow after so many amazing natural sights I found it slightly difficult to be very impressed by it. It had few beautiful lookouts, and once we decided to make a drive to a picnic area, which our Lonely Planet guidebook mentioned among the Grampians highlights. The drive through a burned forest was interesting, as we had never seen quite a landscape like that; forest full of trees burned into black and orange colors, with new bright light green growth emerging on their trunks - it was pretty. But once we reached the actual picnic area, it made us wonder on what exactly are some of the recommendations on travel guidebooks based..at least I didn't see anything but ordinary forest, a parking lot, and a few ran down picnic tables.
Headed towards Adelaide, we stopped by at Naracoorte, which supposedly has impressive limestone caves, and the possibility to see
lots of bats in one of them. We ended up not taking any of the pricey tours, but just walked through an exhibition of reconstructed extinct animals, and a took a look at the one cave you could visit on your own. Our options to do any bigger walks were limited also by the fact that on the parking lot we realized my sneakers were probably still sitting on the grass of the previous night's campground, and I decided those already once glued together shoes were not worth the 70 km drive back, so I had basically only flip-flops or sandals to wear. Under these circumstances we ended up mostly just driving around by car also in Coorong National Park, which was our next stop. Coorong is a long strip of sand sitting in the ocean, and looks very pretty when you see photos of it taken from the air on the tourist brochures. Seen from the ground level, the views didn't quite reach the same standard, perhaps partially due to the grey weather also. We did see a pink salt lake or pond, though.
Next we arrived in Adelaide, where we rented a room with a Russian woman
and her daughter, who had been living in the city for 18 months, and seemed to hate everything about it; the local people, the weather, the animals, the food, the school - all terrible. The local wine was good, she could give the country that much. Not that we loved Adelaide either, it seemed a bit boring compared to Melbourne. Oh yea, in Adelaide we were also in the middle of "decaffeineaddicting" ourselves, our first day in Adelaide was also our first day without caffeine for probably several years. This may have impacted our general impressions and mood, as for the first few days we suffered from headaches, tiredness, even slight nausea at times. Now we start to see the results: ever since quitting coffee we wake up at 7 am every morning, and feel energetic quite fast, whereas before we felt anything but that before getting our first cup of coffee. I can't yet tell if our energy levels generally throughout the day are going up, but at least we now feel consistently better than we did before when we hadn't gotten our regular coffees. We just started to feel like we don't want to anymore have to depend
on coffee to get ourselves energized on a daily basis, hence this change. I probably won't quit coffee entirely, though.
After Adelaide we've been around Fleurieu Peninsula and Yorke Peninsula, and seen lots of bushlands, kangaroos, and beautiful rocky coastlines. Now we're back in Adelaide for a few nights to run some errands, then we are off to the real desert, we will drive pretty much through the country to Uluru and Ayer's rock.
By the way, at least one stereotypical image we had about Australia has already been thrown into the rubbish bin: we had the image in our heads that in Australia the weather is always sunny and warm. Nope, here in the south it's now autumn, and the weather is rather cool, and often on the grey side. Even though, again, this is quite relative - temperatures during the day still reach the low 20s, but evenings are cool, especially inside some of the non-heated houses. Thankfully we after all managed to bring our warm sleeping bags with us from New Zealand, so we are keeping warm and cozy when camping.
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