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Published: January 21st 2008
Amazing Koala Bears
They are so dang cute!
We’re back on the mainland of Australia after having taken a 6 AM flight from Hobart to Melbourne which included getting on the wrong bus and having to run to catch the right one. With all our luggage in tow! It is good to laugh at ourselves.
We arranged for a shuttle bus to the airport at 4:45 AM and they said they would pick us up around the corner from our hotel. While we waited there, a shuttle pulled up in front of our hotel. We quickly brought our stuff back down there and loaded it on the bus. After a few moments, the driver looked at our vouchers and told us we were on the wrong bus. We got out and grabbed our luggage, only to see the shuttle we needed pulling up down the block around the corner. That’s where the running started. It’s tough to make good time loaded down with luggage at our age, but we made it and headed for the airport.
We arrived in Melbourne and rented a car for the drive west of the city to a small town called Port Campbell. The drive there was along the famous Great Ocean
MJ and a Koala Bear
They are nocturnal but this one was awake.
Road. We both agreed we had never seen ocean water that color before. The Greek Isles have water the color of cobalt blue, the Florida Panhandle has emerald green. This was a marvelous combination of ocean greens and blues. Hopefully the pictures will do it justice. The drive winds along the ocean for many miles and it provides stellar vistas. This is one of the self proclaimed surfing capitals of Australia, and more than a few of the board-owning types were out there trying their luck. Not only is this a surfer’s dream but we suspect an Orthopedic surgeon or Neurosurgeons dream and or nightmare.
We truly hope that we never forget the beauty of this drive. We suggest that you fly to Melbourne, rent a car and make this drive.
After a four hour drive, we arrived at the Daysy Hill Country Cottages just outside Port Campbell, which provided a view of the countryside and the gentle “moo” of the resident cows across the road. We loved staying here because it was quiet and we had our own kitchen.
We drove down the coast to look at “The 12 Apostles,” which are rock formations just a
Time to change trees.
few yards off the coast. They are quite striking and rather large. They stick out of the surf like giant chess pieces. Some are over 70 meters (over 200 feet) high. The day provided brilliant sunshine along with some incredibly obnoxious flies, which were seemingly all around and constantly flying in our faces. This cut down on the viewing time of the rocks. We spoke with some Australians who confirmed that the flies are quite numerous and bothersome, especially this time of the year. We inquired about a spray to discourage the flies and bought the product when we returned to Melbourne. We have read that the flies are quite troublesome in the Outback. We’ll keep you posted on this issue.
While staying in Port Campbell, we took a drive east to look at the Otways Tree Walk. This proved interesting as it was a walk some 50 - 60 meters above the ground on some well constructed metal walkways. It provided a nice view of the forest, which unlike the surrounding areas, appeared to receive plenty of precipitation. The trees there were quite tall, but not nearly as impressive as the giant redwoods of northern California.
The Great Ocean Road
Photos do not do it justice.
On a lunch stop on the way back to Fort Campbell, we stopped in Lavers Hill and were able to get a close up view of the King parrots and one Crimson Rosella that the restaurant had just outside the back door. They are beautiful birds that have deep green feathers with a red vest. It was an accident that we ran into them but this restaurant must have had 30 of them hanging out in the nearby trees. The owner told us that they are all over in this area and that they are rather lazy so people find them in their backyards looking for food. He puts out birdseed and they never leave. They are free to do so but you can see them sitting in his trees with no plans of going anywhere.
On our way back to Melbourne, we stopped at the Otway Lighthouse, which was built not only to serve as a lighthouse, but also was a vital telegraph outpost to Tasmania in the middle of the 19th century. The most amazing part of this visit was the drive from the main highway to the lighthouse which contained trees with koala bears. We spotted
no fewer than 20 of them in a few kilometers. MJ was able to get within a few yards for some very nice photos. They are just as cute as they appear in pictures and TV.
We spent the night in Geelong, which is 60 kilometers west of Melbourne. When we arrived, the hotel did not have a room for us. We showed them a voucher from an online company which showed we had paid for the room. A few phone calls later, the assistant manager booked us into a one bedroom apartment just a few blocks away. Nice room upgrade indeed! Would this have happened in the U.S.?
The next morning we arrived in Melbourne. It is a very cosmopolitan city with a great skyline. We acquired tickets to the Australian Open and made our way to the tennis center. Our grounds passes allowed us to see some very interesting matches that day, including a five set men’s match. This intense match was between Stephan Koubek and Paul Henry Mathieu. We were rooting for Koubek, although he lost in the fifth set. Mathieu went on to play Rafael Nadal and lost in another interesting match. We thoroughly
Another great view
...of those Apostles....
enjoyed this event, and left thinking if we could go to Wimbledon or the U.S. Open someday.
We had left our luggage that morning at our hotel. We could not check in as it was too early. When we returned that night, we were told that they had no rooms for us. Once again we showed them the pre-paid voucher for the hotel. Once again we were upgraded to another hotel. What are the odds of this happening two nights in a row?
The weather for the last two days in Melbourne was mostly cloudy and rainy. We took in a movie one afternoon, and wandered about, enjoying St. Kilda’s, the neighborhood where our hotel was located. For those of you familiar with Seattle, St. Kilda is similar to the Wallingford area, with its shops and restaurants.
The streets of Melbourne and St. Kilda are clean and full of people. The tram system allowed us to move about fairly quickly. A tram pass costs about $6 a day and allowed unlimited travel on the tram, which reaches many parts of the city and the surrounding area.
All in all, another great week. And now we fly
An amazing drive up the coast, located near Port Campbell.
to Ayers Rock and the Outback!
More fun facts about “The Land Down Under”:
Foreign animals, when introduced, have frequently done well. Rabbits, brought over in 1788, have done entirely too well, multiplying until by the middle of the 19th cent. they became a distinct menace to sheep raising. In 1907 a fence (still maintained) 1,000 mi (1,610 km) long was built from the north coast to the south to prevent the rabbits from invading Western Australia.
In 1788 the first British settlement was made—a penal colony on the shores of Port Jackson, where Sydney now stands.
Most Australians are of British and Irish ancestry and the majority of the country lives in urban areas. The population has more than doubled since the end of World War II, spurred by an ambitious postwar immigration program. In the postwar years, immigration from Greece, Turkey, Italy, and other countries began to increase Australia's cultural diversity. When Australia officially ended (1973) discriminatory policies dating to the 19th cent. that were designed to prevent immigration by nonwhites, substantial Asian immigration followed. By 1988 about 40% of immigration to Australia was from Asia, and by 2005 Asians constituted 7%
Ok, just one more
We loved looking at this
of the population. Also by 2005 roughly one fourth of all Australians had been born outside the country.
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