March 30, 2010

the drunken admiral and the castle

Before heading to Hobart for the weekend, we detoured to Mt Field Natl. Park and walked through the tall trees in its rainforrest. Quite tall those trees. That eve we met up with the two guys for dinner at the drunken admiral in the harbor. The interior of the pub was designed like a ship, which gave it a really cool and cosy atmosphere. The seafood we had was delicious. Haven‘ t had that in a long time. Good times Hobart.

Sunday we chilled and since it was a bit rainy... Sunday session at a cool little winebar at Salamanca Place with yummy Indian dinner! After that we headed to a local pub with some live music. But hey, it‘s Hobart, so after dark on a Sunday not much is going on at all.... the pub was pretty crowded and yeah, could as well have been in some rural town in the outback... felt like it! I was expecting a jackaroo walking in the door anytime... Nevertheless it was a fun night out. :-)

On Monday we picked up our second campervan to relocate back to Melbourne. This time it was a four berth van... not a s big as the last one and we think, a lot cosier. Cruising up the east coast again to our next destination ... St. Helen‘s and the Bay of Fires. St Helen‘s is Tassie‘s fishertown and yep, fish‘n chips was beautiful. We also got some freshly caught prawns for our dinner that night.

After our new mates praised the Aussie movie The castle as a must see to get into the true Aussie slang and culture all night, Luke gave us the DVD to watch in our camper. So, yeah we watched it and yeah, it‘s funny and entertaining, even for us foreigners having just gotten glimpes of Aussie life. Basically it‘s a paraody of Aussie small town life in the early 90ies. The serenity, mate!!!

March 29, 2010

convict history

In Port Arthur we stayed at the only caravan park with a bunkhouse and what a bunkouse that was! Walking in the room we were quite surprised... All we knew was that it was a nine bed dorm, well, what we had no clue of was how they managed to put in nine beds in that room... They put in three story bunkbeds. Who would have thought?! Never seen that before and we‘ve seen a lot. The four Asian girls coming in the next eve were likely surprised. Looked kinda scary to sleep in the most top one, since they didn‘ t think about putting up some rails. Hmpf. We chose the middle ones to be on the safe side. All in all the whole camp kitchen, room and the lot resembled more a prison style accom. instead of a cosy campground, basically suited the location of Port Arthur in the end.

After that surprised we went what we thought was the path down to the beach, which was supposed to be right next to the bunkhouse. Ah, after climbing through thick forrest with a dead end just above the water, we figured wrong way and surely enough the path was next to us, just the other way. Beautiful beach it surely is when the sun wold still be up some more time. Dinner called for a Barbie... Chicken and vedgies... yum. That eve we met two Aussie guys in the kitchen and got chatting to them. Funny night with interesting stuff to talk about. And lets not forget the chocolate and the chocolate infused port.... :-)

The next day we spent the whole day at the historic site of the former convict prison. The museum downstairs in the visitor center truly is a little treasure, illustrating the convict history of Port Arthur. One got a playcard which symbolised a certain convict on it, so throughout the museum one could follow the specific concivts personalised history. That was a pretty good idea, I think.

March 27, 2010

presenting one of Australia's most fab beach - ever

The next day we had to drop off our campervan in Hobart. Since we were a little slow in the early morning hours and we still had to rent a car, since our stay got extende, which turned out to be quite difficult as it was either too expensive or they didn‘t have one, so after everything was settled, we basically raced accross the state down to Hobart. Our deadline was 3 pm and we drove on the car park at 2:50pm... Yay. Thanks to the locals who told us about the quickest and fastest way to Hobart and cheers to a speedlimit of 110k‘s! ;-)

An hour later we were on our way up the east coast to Coles Bay ... in a rather small car. Overnight stop in Triabanna, where we shared our room with a nice guy from Italy who we talked to until late that night. Triabanna had mice pest, so we were pretty carefull when opening any drawers or when putting on our shoes the next day. The next day we reached Coles Bay and after a lovely day at the isolated beaches in the Freycinet Natl. Park we checked in the only accomodation there was... and it was a YHA attached to the caravan park ... I reckon they haven‘t changed a thing in that place since the 70ies. Not a homely place but not that bad either. Check it out here.

Packed with a lunch boxes and our bathers we started the hike up to Wineglass Bay Lookout the next morning. The view from the look out high up in the mountain was amazing - turquoise sea and white sandy beach down in the Wineglass Bay. Beautiful. How did Wineglass Bay got its name is a mystery... maybe because it looks like one. We hiked down to the beach and strolled the hour long walk to its end. Stunning colors. What a day! We then continued the three hour return hike to the car pakr via Hazards Beach. We were basically by ourselves walking the whole way. At Hazards Beach we paused for a quick swim in the icy cold sea. Took some courage, to be honest, but that was refreshing! While we sat on the beach chatting we were disturbed by a familiar sounding ring tone.... Hey, who would have guessed that I would have have reception in one of the most isolated places at all?! Ellen just wanted to see how we were going. :-) The hike seemed to last forever, like chewing gum, but finally we reached the car park and off we were to rice and vedgies! Treat.

March 20, 2010

Spirit of Tasmania

Having started out on the Westcoast of Australia, touring all the way straight through the middle and all the way down the east coast... What‘ s been missing? Tasmania. Being said to be the little sister of New Zealand, I was keen on experiencing it for myself. So, a trip under down under was next.

Taking the ferry overnight from Port Melbourne to Devonport, we arrived in sunny Tassie at the break of dawn and continued our journey southbound to the Cradle Mountain and St Claire Nationalpark. A 2 hours curvy drive later we parked our home on wheels in the carpark and got ready for some hiking. Blue skies and sunshine... What a day! I think, we already like Tassie. We chose to hike the Dove Lake Circuit, which took us 2 hrs around the lake framed by stunning scenery and Cradle Mountain. Beautiful! Looks like little NZ I have to admit.

At night we camped in the national park. How chilly that was. Bbrrr. And there we were wondering why all the other happy campers were wearing hats and fleece early in the evening. Lesson learned again. And it‘s chilly at night in Tassie.

March 19, 2010

The little Penguins

After cruising along the Great Ocean Road in a small car we were on for the big challenge.... a campervan it should be. Having been lucky enough to get one of the campervans up for relocation we sealed the deal. The deal - that‘s to relocate a 6 berth campervan from Melbourne to Hobart in 4 days time for $5 a day including $350 towards our expenses for the rental company Maui. Alrighty we surely can do that, what a bargain, since renting a campervan in Tassie would have cost us around $800 for a week. Yay!!

I had to be the only driver since Kat‘s license got stolen and she isn‘ t allowed to drive in Oz, well, at least not be caught driving. We picked up the campervan in Melbourne and ... wow what a campervan it was. That‘ s not a van, that‘ s a house, I dare say. That thing is bigger than some of the hostel dorms I stayed in, honestly. And it got all the toys.... fridge, gas stove, AC/ heater, microwave, TV, shower, toilet, heaps of storage space, two eating areas, three double beds....not bad. :-) The only downer was, it didn‘ t have an outlet for plugging in our ipods.... mmhhh, we were so attached to our own playlists we made the last few days, eh! ;-)

But how will we get from inner Melbourne to Philipp Island, were we planned to spend the first few days in our new „home on wheels“. And will I ever be able to manouver this thing?! Let me just put it that way, we managed somehow to get lost in Melbourne‘s freeway on our way out and had to make our way through the laberinth of South Melbourne - thank god I lived there the last three months, so I kinda new where we were going. After 90 min. we reached Philipp Island, checked in a caravan park right next to the beach and hit the jackpot with a spot right next to the beach.... G r e a t! :-) Our neightbours were pretty impressed by our „home“ and a little surprised that it was just us two crawling out of the campervan... Yeah, just us two! Two girls... Yes! Needless to say, we had to tell our little „relocation“ story a lot of times over the next few days.

At dusk we made our way to the Somerland Beach to watch the famous Penguin Parade. Philipp Island is home to the little penguins who come onshore to breed. Every night at sunset around 30.000 little fellas leave the ocean and come ashore to their nests. Little penguins are only 40cm tiny, weigh around 1kg, the eat 240g of fish a day, mate for life most of the times and are sooo cool. Seriously, we hadn‘t thought we got so attached in such a short time, but they are the cutest things when they surf on the waves to the beach, struggle to get ashore by literally push or encourage each other who to send up the beach first, then after a few attempts and almost half way up the sand, get frightened and run back into the ocean.... Sometimes it took them a few attempts to finally reach the dunes! And always in groups of at least five, we discovered, and they always wait for the next group to arrive before wandering further into the dunes to their nests. We had premium spots right next to the beach - cheers to the nice fella at the visitor center who told us where to sit to see the most of it - and were sitting there in the cold, chilly night until the ranger almost kicked us out. I seriously don‘t understand why so many people come to see the parade and then leave after the first few groups made their way onshore!?!

After we left the bleachers we got the best view of the penguins since they were waddling around the back where their nests are. What noise they make! Too cute.

The next day we checked out The Nobbies and discovered some of our little friends sitting under the bardwalks there as well. The rest of the day we hung out at the surf beach and watched the surfers catch their waves. Always a delight!

We were supposed to go on the ferry to Tasmania that night, but having not booked in advance - who would have thought that the ferry was booked up until end of March!!?! That happens when you live from day to day.... hmpf. Anyways having gotten the night sailing out of Port Melbourne the next night, we had to stay another day on Philipp Island... Oh well, hanging out at the beach isn‘ t gonna be too much pain, is it?

Problem was, we clever backpackers, got another campervan relocation back from Hobart to Melbourne the next week, so we had to catch the ferry back on the 19th or how are we gonna get this thing back on time?! No chance...first available seats and vehicle space will be on the 26th. Oh well, after a few phone calls and discussions we got another campervan to relocate a week later! Yay! So, our planned trip to Tassie just got extended another week. 2 weeks Tassie lays ahead of us. Whoo hoo!


March 18, 2010

Great Stormy Ocean Road

After 5 months constantly working in the city a roadtrip was way overdue. So, we flew to Adelaide to hit the Great Ocean Road back to Melbourne, via a little detour through the Grampians Nationalpark.

Heading out of Adelaide we had a short stop over in famous Hahndorf - an early German colonial settlement town gone fairly famous for its typical German looking township. It was a cute little town indeed, Old European style houses line the street and of course, the typical German restaurants aren‘ t missing. Looking at the menu we were wondering who would want to eat all this sausages, pork, sauerkraut, spaetzle and te lot in ONE meal!?!
After that we headed towards the Victorian border, beware the time changes 30 minutes between South Australia and Victoria - we almost missed that one. After 700k‘s on the road we arrived at the Grampians. We chose to stay at the eco YHA for that night, which turned out to be a hidden jewel. Great athmosphere, like at a hut in the Swiss mountains, in that awesome little hostel. After a night of red wine, skip-o card games and guitar music we hiked some of the shorter walks the next day. Unfortunately the weather wasn‘ t at its best, with overcast skies and a lite drizzle, so look out views weren‘ t that great at all. The hike up to the Pinnacles didn‘t look to great considering the rock/climbing wold turn into rock-sliding, so we turned around half way. Well, now we have another excuse to head back there for a long weekend later on. On our way out of the Grampians it was all bright blue skies and sunshine.... How stunning would the park have looked under that conditions. What a shame.

Warnambool - the starting point of the world famous Great Ocean Road - was our overnight destination. The hostel was reminding us of our old wokring hostel back up in Ayr, not so nice, but what can you do, hey?! That eve at twilight we headed to Tower Hill reserve, that‘ s a volcanic area and in there heaps of wildlife gets alive at dusk. Nature at its best! And it was. We drove in there to the car park and immediately were greeted by a kangaroo sitting on the roadside, watching us... They always just sit there and watch, as if they can‘ t care less - before they run into your headlights, that is! We walked up into the forrest with no other people around - a bit creepy alright and saw emus, kangaroos and koalas. Cheeky kangaroo from the beginning seemd to follow us around, since one time we crept closer to the black kangaroos in the hills, while we were watched from behind by kangaroo and its mate! I reckon they followed us around, we couldn‘ t help checking over our shoulders from time to time... they were quite often there! Creepy. One time I was already hearing the heavy, loud thonk-thonk of a kangaroo jumoing around, when cheeky-roo came running around the corner, literally stopping with a screeeeeetch (imaging cartoon here - seriously) like oh oh people here. Ok, let me come closer... stare at them....hmm, closer... Thonk-thonk... Oh oh too close! It almost run into me, that‘s when I got a bit scared and side stepped so the roo can pass, that scared the roo and off it was into the bushes. Kat swears that the kangaroo would have come up right beside me and would have just stared at me! Talking about a new profile pci, hey! ;-) Rather not! We were pretty pumped after that nature close up and personal....

The next day - our trip along the Great Occean Road - it was stormy. Hmpf, not what we expected for the stunning scenery, but it made it all the more interesting, I‘d say. Lucky us, up until the 12 Apostels we had sunshine to get really stunning views of this ragged coastline. What a stunning scenery!! We were blwon away... Literally almost, since it was sooo windy on the edge of the cliffs. Huge waves hit the cliffs and created an amazing atmosphere. Needless to say, the planned and highly anticipated helicopter flight over the GOR didn‘ t happen that day either.

Our last night we spent at another eco YHA - another jewel hostel - at Apollo Bay. I easily can image spending more days there just chillaxing and working a few hrs in the hostel (for accomodation, of course)... no probs at all. :-) The next day we planned on spending the day at the world famous surf beaches of Shell‘s Beach or in Torquay. Oh well, our prayers weren‘t heard, as it poured down rain all day until we arrived in Geelong that avro. At least we had a nice sunny eve in Melbourne. Spending the night at our friend‘s flat out in one creepy Melbournian suburb with delicious chicken satay.

Visualize it here.

March 06, 2010

Melbourne.... what happend there?

And there I was thinking it was bad that it was pouring down rain in Adelaide... what happened in Melbourne is a total different story... thank god I was here after all....

I wonder when it's gonna snow in Melbourne then? Hopefully not.

the grape escape

After arriving in Adelaide the day before yesterday we went on a small wine tasting tour to the Barossa Valley.

The first winery was very small and since the day was really beautiful they set us up outside the cellar door in their nice yard under the gumtrees. Quite idyllic site for wine tasting right? The winery owner explained the process of wine making to us and we went on to taste some of their fine wines. Delicious food and excellent wine.

Throughout the whole day we went to three more wineries and tasted some really good wines accompanied by some yummy local nibbles. I always thought that I was more a Shiraz fan, but come to think of ... well... tasted some... I think I might favor more the Merlot. :-) One of the highlight definitely was tasting the Chocolate infused Port.... having already tried that last October from some English lads, expectations were pretty high... and it was beautiful.

After having tasted wine throughout the whole day you cold say that we were pretty tipsy in the end. LOL. Coming back to Adelaide we hit the night life and checked out some really nice acts at the on going Fringe Festival.

view more pics here

March 02, 2010

Goodbye Melbourne.... Hello Roadtrip...

From Melbourne to Adelaide. Kangaroo Island and all the way back via the Great Ocean Road in - truly backpacker style - a campervan along the coast with stunning scenery, wildlife, beaches and national parks to Melbourne. After a short stoppver taking in Mornington Peninsula and on the ferry to Devonport, Tasmania. Through Tassie on the road to Hobart and another week filled with nature and wildlife around the beautiful island under down under. There's more to come, so stay tuned....

Sooo excited....