So it hasn’t even been a whole month here in Australia and yet it feels like months. It’s a lot like Canada so in ways not much of an adjustment but in other there’s so much change.
We arrived on Dec. 5th after 3 planes, a 15 & 1/2 hr flight (torture!) and almost 24 hrs of travelling. We stayed in an area of Melbourne called Richmond for our first week. I loved it there! It had so many shops, cafés and restaurants and was only about a 15 min tram ride into the main city. In the first week we explored our area a and the city. Downtown Melbourne is awesome! There are hundreds of people buzzing around and endless things to see and do. I can’t recall the street name but there’s one alley that is lined with small bakeries and cafés, we don’t have anything like that at home. One alley is covered in graffiti but the most artistic graffiti I’ve ever seen layered on top of each other, you could look at the art for hours. We checked out China town, which is massive and had a delightful lunch at a Viatnamese restaurant. They have it decorated for Christmas at the moment with rows of lights and bells hanging. One street has a display of I guess animatronics, it’s the 3 bears in a winter setting and you walk from window to window following the story. They also have an amazing light show using a projector on the city hall building which is so trippy!
We had fun seeing the different going ons of downtown and we decided before we left after the first week to rent a campervan and explore the countryside and sights outside the city. We took our van (named Elvis because of the mural painted on it) and headed up the great ocean road looking to arrive in Adelaide then head back.
The first night was spent driving up the ever winding and turning hillsides just off the coast between Geelong and Apollo Bay. It was dark so we couldn’t see a lot but it was pretty fun flying around in the back of the van I woke up on the tent on top of the van just feet away from a river overlooking a field of cows, palm trees and foothills in the distance. It was quite beautiful.
We set off that day and ended up going to the Gibsons steps which overlook the twelve apostles, huge formations of the coast that are separated. It was pretty beautiful on that beach. It was pure sunshine and gold sand, blue waves that blended perfectly with the sky. The crazy thing is in the 20-30 min walk we did down to the beach and I had my back exposed to the sun and got a pretty bad burn, and on the backs on my knees. I’ve heard there’s less ozone here so you burn quicker and so far it seems to be true. We’ve been all about the sunscreen, sunglasses and hats!
We then drove to the tourist area to view the twelve apostles which was crazy, so many people but we got a great view, breathtaking is the only description.
From there we drove to the Princess Margaret Rose caves just past Nelson. It was 86 steps down to these insanely huge caves. It was quite the sight!
From there we went to Mount Gambier which is an extinct volcano that now holds the bluest lake, literally the bluest water you’ve ever seen! We camped out a night in Panola and met a couple from far win who were so nice and friendly, we had a great visit! Outside of Panola is the Coonawarra wine county where you can just do winery after winery for miles. We did a bunch of tastings which was so interesting, totally different flavors from the Okanagan wine country in B.C.
After many wonderful wine tastings we headed to a “free” camp site in Murray Bridge. It was technically us squatting on the lookout of the town. There was one other truck parked on the hill which was only moderately creepy because it was a guy by himself listening to what sounded like Barbara Streisand. When we said to each other after 3 hrs of him sitting in his truck “I wonder what this guy is doing? Is he camping out in his truck or is he gonna leave” his truck started up and he drove off. Then we got paranoid and started making up ridiculous situations of the crazy things that could happen to us on this unlit hill all alone. Needless to say nothing happened but we still went to bed knives in hand and with a plan
Next day we headed for Adelaide and stayed with my friend Kristols friend there. Adelaide included stopping at a little Germany town with some of the oldest cutest European looking shops and buildings, we did a small set at a comedy show called the Rhino Room- great response really fun room. We went to the Barossa wine valley there even though in some areas there were some fires. Again great selection of wines, sparkling reds (which we don’t have in canada), ports, meads and reislings that are all so different! We had a nice dinner out and we sat around telling stories and laughing.
The day we left Adelaide we will went to the beach and splashed around in the ocean, we should have went swimming in it that day as it was the nicest water and warmest conditions on this journey but we had a plan to make it half way back to Melbourne the evening.
We made it to the little town of Nhill and camped with hundreds if not thousands of chirping cockatoos. There was bird shit everywhere and swooping birds everywhere haha! That night we decided to drink some of our wine and play cards but needed to play in the laundry room as we didn’t have a lantern. We got a little tipsy in the Nhill laundry room and were joined by a mouse who made a nest in the washing machine. NEAT!
Next day we headed from there and headed towards what I called death valley. It’s really the Grampians, a mountain range that had some really bad forest fires hence the burnt and dead looking forest (that smelt like Indian spices). We drove through the creepy trees and winding hillsides to the MacKenzie Falls, a very pretty waterfall that you can hike 2 hours to see if you’re ambitious. We just checked it out on the lookout and headed out again. Back down the mountain side and 2 kangaroos later we aimed for our next campsite and huge and lovely one in Anglesea back on the great ocean road. Our campsite was a one minute walk from the ocean. A beautiful site to see and a wonderful long walk when the tide is out. We enjoyed 2 days there and finally found our way back to Melbourne and dropped Elvis off back at the depot.
A month house rental awaited us in the Thornbury suburb. A wonderful woman who owned it was going home to the U.K for Christmas for a month so we’re here until the 20th of Jan. It’s a quiet neighborhood, we have a little cat to take care of and a garden filled with rosemary, lavender, mint and dill! There’s been a lot more walking then we’re used to and figuring our of public transit since we don’t have our own vehicle to drive here. We’ve already done a bunch of shopping for our “Canadian Aussie Christmas” which entails a BBQ of hamburgers, fries, corn, salad vanilla coke and $3 bottles on wine We’re also hoping to make it to a beach and have to most opposite Christmas then what we’d have at home. It doesn’t feel like Christmas Day without any snow. Feels like Canada Day or something in July haha.
I’ve gone through my bouts of missing home, my family and friends and shed some tears now and then but luckily in this day and and age we have the technology to keep connected much easier.
So Merry Christmas (Merry Christmas Eve to those living a day in the past from us haha!) This is just the start of my great adventure and it’s been everything I hoped so far. I’ll keep a monthly “journal” for mostly myself and my mom haha but maybe there are others interested as well.
Much love and a hot sunny Christmas greeting from Australia!!