My word, the last few days have been a busy time! I'm now in Adelaide and have begun my WWOOFing adventures, but I won't dwell on that just yet, there's some other stuff to catch up on first.
When last I wrote on this here blog thing, I was about to embark upon a three day tour that would take me from Melbourne, along The Great Ocean Road, through The Grampians National Park, and finally deposit me in a very cold, dark, and rainy Adelaide.
Let's start at the beginning shall we...
The morning started early. After packing up the last of my belongings and returning my bed to it's more appropriate sofa like state, I headed out the door of my home-of-four-weeks for the last time, ready to be picked up down the road at 07:20.
I won't bore you with the specific details of the journey's initial stages as not a lot happened. Jake, our bus driver and tour guide for the next few days introduced himself, outlined the day's activities and told us that we had about an hour and a half before we got to our first destination.
Most of us had an hour and a half's worth of sleep.
Jake's voice over the bus' intercom roused us from dreamland and informed us that we were nearing our first destination, a small beach where we had a wander, followed by some tea and biscuits to wake up.
The beach itself was a pleasant place, another surf beach surprisingly. It had sea, sand, cliffs, footprints, all the usuals really. Except surfers. As we were leaving there was a bus load of kids gearing up for some lessons though so that made up for it, I guess the pros like to have a lie in.
We also took the opportunity to introduce ourselves to each other whilst drinking tea, a wise move considering we were to spend the next three days together, before hopping back on the bus.
"Do either of you two English folk remember the Aussie TV show Round The Twist?" called Jake over the intercom a short while later during the drive.
Of course I remember it, used to watch it as a kid. Phoebe, the other UK lass on the trip didn't have a clue, this made me feel old.
"That lighthouse over there is the one they filmed it at."
Jake then proceeded to belt out a rendition of the theme song which promptly got lodged in my cranium. It stayed there for the rest of the day.
I didn't get a decent picture of the lighthouse from the bus, but if you look really closely at the end of the land in this next picture you'll see a little black thing sticking up. That's the lighthouse where Round The Twist was filmed!
I had to make my own little detour down to the beach at our second location to snap that shot, and I did so purely to satiate your Round The Twist hunger.
Next on the agenda, a short drive from Memorial Arch, was a short stop at Kennett River. Here we got the chance to spot some koalas in their natural habitat, as well as some native birds that, despite being wild, are so used to people that you can feed them. They'll land on your arm and eat out of your hand.
I've told you about my lack of a zoom on my camera so you'll just have to take my word about koalas being adorable when they're snoozing, all curled up in a tree. The birds on the other hand, well...
That up there is a female Crimson Rosella; a rather brightly coloured bird. She'd just nabbed a seed out of my hand and was nibbling it. The other birds kicking around were King Parrots; big green buggers, there's quite a good picture of me with one on my arm on my iPhone.
I'm not going to show you that one though, I wouldn't want to oversaturate this post with feathered friends and I've got another picture I'd like to show off. This time, of a kookaburra.
Once we'd enjoyed the birds and the koalas for long enough we made our way to Apollo Bay for a pleasant lunch before moving on to a temperate rainforest.
Jake took us on a guided walk around Otway's Forest, telling us all about the trees, vegetation, and wildlife. It was a nice little walk during which I took a few photos, here is one for your perusal.
The trees there are quite big. This one is big enough for a person to be in, I was in it briefly.
Since booking myself on this tour I had been very excited about the next stop, there's a very good reason.
Before leaving Melbourne, I bought myself a variable ND filter that I was keen to try out. For non photography folks, an ND (Neutral Density) filter adds darkened glass over the lens allowing longer time for light to hit the sensor. The variable one I have goes as dark as welders glass which as you can imagine, requires a long time for light to pass through it, the up shot of this is that I can try to do arty things with long exposures.
Like this, which in the grand scheme of things isn't fantastic. But I didn't mind, I was rushing this photograph because I didn't have much time left before we moved on. I had already spent most of my time at this location enjoying the actual thing I had been excited about.
See, I tricked you. You thought it was my camera gadgetry that I was excited about, but really I just wanted an excuse to show this picture first and to tell you that I was at the 12 Apostles.
This is what I was really excited about.
YEAH I KNOW!! I GOT TO FLY IN A HELICOPTER!!
The video you see up there contains two clips filmed by me on my iPhone and later edited together in iMovie, with added soundtrack because the rhythmical thrum-thrum-thrum of rotor blades isn't too exciting.
I tried to take some photos up there (hence the gap in between clips) but they came out pretty crap. I also made a time-lapse video of the chopper touching down again which amuses me, maybe I'll share that elsewhere.
The coast along the Great Ocean Road is, as you can see from the video, quite an impressive sight. The next few stops we made were at various points along the coast so I got to see some of them up close.
That last one is a place called London Bridge. It used to be connected to the land, but it fell down. Now you get to replace the Round The Twist theme with London Bridge Is Falling Down. Lucky you.
We ended the day with sunset at the Bay Of Martyrs.
You might agree that it's quite a sight.
Yep! That was another one that let me play with my new ND filter.
So that was day 1 done, Jake drove us all to our accommodation for the night, a hostel in Warrnambool where we drank some beer, played some pool, chatted, and finally slept, ready for the next adventures.
What better way to start a day than by taking a stroll along the clifftops at Warrnambool?
We didn't actually walk over this bridge, but it looked pretty so I thought I'd show it off. Our actual route looked more like this.
Day 2 wasn't quite as hectic and packed with locations as Day 1, this was a bit of a relief considering how tiring the previous day had been. The most prominent activities were walking through and around scenic areas, I didn't take a great deal of photographs either, instead opting to enjoy the scenery for myself.
At Tower Hill National Park, a 30,000 year old volcano, we saw some Emus. They are very daft birds, you can just make them out in the distance.
I was quite impressed with some other birds that were flitting around known as the Superb Fairywren. They're a tiny little buggers, with almost iridescent blue feathers. As they're so quick I couldn't catch one on camera though. I also failed at capturing the snake I saw on camera, I managed to spot it just as it began its descent into a burrow, never to be seen again (much to the delight of some of our group!)
Before heading towards the Grampians themselves, we had a trek up Mount Rouse, another extinct volcano, to enjoy some great views over the lava fields. Then it was on towards The Balconies, or as they are more epically referred to, The Jaws Of Death!
From here we continued on to Mackenzie Falls; an impressive waterfall that allowed me to play around with yet more long exposure photography.
The walk back to the bus from here was rather tiring and pretty much everyone was feeling it by the time we eventually got back there. Thankfully for us, Day 2 was pretty much done. Only one more thing to do; have a BBQ at the hostel.
Jake cooked us up a feast including lamb, chicken, kanga-bangers, corn on the cob and various other veg. The lot was devoured in a pretty short amount of time, accompanied with beer and chatting until it was time to turn in, ready for the much calmer day to follow.
Our third day on the road was only really a half day and I really ignored the camera for most of it. As an apology, I have saved these pictures of kangaroos from the previous day.
Halls Gap, where we were staying, plays host to a large number of kangaroos that strut around as if they own the place.
Really, there are loads.
And seeing as I woke up in the same town as them I thought it'd be alright to include them as part of Day 3.
We started the day with another walk, this time enjoying a 2 hour trek up The Pinnacle, an awesome mountain that's covered in some crazy rock formations.
That up there is called The Devil's Backbone, and if like me you've walked along it to the end, you know why. The drops down either side of the half meter wide rock are pretty unnerving.
As you can see from that image, it was very misty while we were up on the mountain. this became much more evident when we reached the summit. This next picture shows the highest point, and the view offered from it.
Despite being fairly anticlimactic in terms of a view, standing at the top of those stairs and staring forward into a milky nothingness was quite a strange experience.
The walk down the mountain was fun, I took great pleasure in scrambling over all sorts of strange rocky outcrops and generally feeling at home clambering on everything but the path.
After we'd conquered the mountain, Jake drove us back to Halls Gap, more specifically to the Brambuk Aboriginal Cultural Centre where I spent some time learning bits and pieces about the natives. Again, no photos were taken so I won't waffle on about it.
And that was pretty much it. We stopped in Stawell, the next town over for a bite to eat before the tour came to an end.
Myself and another member of the group were to part ways with the others at this point by getting on a coach to Adelaide, the remaining party would head back to Melbourne. And that is what happened.
I spent the next 7 hours on a coach and ended up in Adelaide where I have now been of a few days. But I will tell you about that the next time...