The past few weeks have been incredibly busy. I’ve worked more hours and driven more kilometers than any other month in my life. I finally have some time to kick back and relax- and write a blog entry. This specific article is about our road trip to Melbourne. You may have seen the pictures already on my Flickr page since I uploaded them when we got back from our trip.
Hayley and I rented a car in downtown Sydney and drove it 1,600 kilometers (1,000 miles) to Melbourne. If you look at the Google Map, it doesn’t actually look like we went that far. That just shows how insanely large this country is.
On our first day, we drove the south Sydney coast- known by the New South Wales’ tourist department as the “Grand Pacific Drive.” The modern Sea Cliff Bridge is hard to miss since you drive right over it. Not knowing the area, we pulled off at the local beach and unsuccessfully tried to find a scenic point to take a picture. The consolation prize was a lizard the size of an iguana.
After stopping in a few other small towns, we drove through the dense eucalyptus forests out to Pebbly Beach, which is known for its beach dwelling kangaroos. The kangaroos were lounging on the north end of the beach when we arrived. Tamed by the constant human interaction from beach-goers, we walked right up to them and said hello. The male put the moves on Hayley, showing her his nasty roo teeth. It reminded Hayley of our monkey encounter six years ago in South Africa, which you can read about here. Hayley backed away slowly, saying “mike… Mike… MIIIIKE!!!” while I laughed and took pictures. Best husband ever, I am.
Back in the parking lot, people were feeding the some wild birds bread and bananas. We saw Rainbow Lorikeets, King Parrots and Crimson Rosellas, all of which are common parrots in the region.
Hayley loves their little blue heads.
We spent the night in Bateman’s Bay and in the morning we visited an animal rescue facility called Birdland. They care for all sorts of Australian animals, including wombats, wallabies, kangaroos and koalas. I tried to feed a few, but it didn’t go so well. First, the beady eyed emu ran towards me and tried to eat me instead.
Next a cockatoo tried to eat my finger along with the seeds. Finally, the ostrich tried to take the entire bag of from my hand, spilling the remaining bits all over the ground.
We drove out to the quaint town of Central Tilba and hiked up to the lookout point- the views were stunning.
Most of the lower New South Wales and Victoria coastline is farmland.
We arrived in Eden and checked into the Heritage House. The motel room was very nice and spacious, which is exactly what you need after spending an entire day crammed into a Toyota Yaris. Eden is a small fishing town on the coast and we ate fresh fish and chips from the local wharf.
The following day we went wine tasting at the Wyanga Park Winery. The owner runs the bar and is a clever fellow with a dangerously crude sense of humor. For us, that meant good company. We talked, drank and had an excellent time. We purchased a bottle of delicious Riesling for the road. We also inquired into the quality of a local restaurant called Miriam’s. “Of course it is good,” he said. “My daughter owns it!” Yes, Lakes Entrance is that small.
Behind the bar.
Following the advice of Mr. Wyanga himself, we drove out to Raymond Island to see wild koalas. Raymond Island has a population of 500 people who share the island with over 250 koalas. Arriving on a weekday, the island was empty and we had the trails to ourselves. We saw around 20 koalas in their natural habitat. It was seriously the coolest thing I’ve seen since leaving South Africa.
I love these furry little marsupials.
We drove into Melbourne, dropped off our stuff at the hotel and hopped on a bus to the Botanic Gardens. We walked around the park and had tea and scones in the café.
Not a bad spot for a picnic.
We made our way through a few other parks (Australia loves its parks) and walked through the CBD. We both thought that the city felt like a cross between London and San Francisco. It has hip restaurants on every corner, trollies that run on all the main streets and old London-esque buildings.
Hayley (in real life) and Tyler (on the Internet) both referred to this as the Willy Wonka river.
On our final leg of the trip, we drove the “Great Ocean Road” from Melbourne to Port Campbell. The road is exactly what the name implies, a long and winding ocean road that provides some of the best views in the world. We saw many amazing things from dense forests jutting out of cliffs above the water to wild koalas in the Otway reserve. Despite the build up from post cards, tourist magazines and friends who have seen them, the massive “Twelve Apostles” were very impressive.
The Twelve Apostles, although there aren’t really twelve.
We checked into the Parkview Motel & Suites, and were upgraded from a motel room to a two story town house, literally. The owner was very welcoming and the unit was perfect; I cannot praise Parkview enough. If you ever drive the Great Ocean Road, do yourself the favor. The suite was just like staying in a very nice house, only better.
We ate dinner at a nice restaurant in town and I had a delicious Prickly Moses Stout, a local brew, with my meal. It was very delicious. The following day we drove back to Melbourne and checked in to our hotel, nothing too exciting.
On our final day, we met our college friend and fellow expat Desiree in downtown Melbourne to catch up. We ate at a very nice café on the river and discussed this and that. We said our goodbyes, burned some time at the local mall and drove to the airport to catch our flight back to Sydney.
Pretty sweet trip.