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Down UnderAustralia Day

On 27 January 2004 from Melbourne, VIC | comments closed

Yesterday was Australia Day, celebrating the discovery of Australia. In the morning I went to City Hall to hear the Governor’s speech, to see the raising of the flag and to watch the march pass by. In the afternoon Anke (a Dutch girl) and I went to Government House, which is only open on Australia Day, creating a long queue to get in and walk through. But it was pretty interesting to see. Afterwards we watched a few buskers and other activities along the river. In the evening there was music at Federation Square and lots of fireworks above the city, so we watched that before getting a few beers in a pub.

Today I checked out the jobs in Melbourne in the morning, but I could not find anything really interesting. In the afternoon Mark called that he found a job for me in Ballarat, something we talked about when I was there. So the rest of the afternoon I read a book in the park and in the evening I sorted out my photos in an internet cafe. The most interesting photos of Victoria are online now.

Down UnderGold Rush

On 25 January 2004 from Melbourne, VIC | comments closed

On Thursday evening there was a campfire at the hostel. In most places in Australia campfires are restricted because of the high risk of bushfires, so I was glad there was one here. I had a great time chatting with the other guests and just looking at the sky full of stars. Because Halls Gap is in a valley far from any industrial zone there is very little light polution, and it was possible to see a lot of stars. I even saw a shooting star (finally, I am usually just too late to see them).

On Friday I relaxed at the hostel until I was picked up by the tour that was dropping me off in Ballarat, Australia’s largest inland city (about 70.000 inhabitants). During the Port Arthur tour in Tasmania I met Mark and Margy, an Australian couple living in Ballarat. Since I was passing through I took them up on the invitation to drop by. With a few beers we chatted all evening.

On Saturday morning Mark dropped me off at Sovereign Hill: one of Victoria’s most famous tourist attractions. It is an open-air museum with the atmosphere of Ballarat in the 1850’s, according to the same principle as the “Zuiderzee Museum” in the Netherlands. I spent more than half the day there, just wondering around the old gold mining town, viewing live demonstrations, visiting the mine, and panning for gold (no success). Afterwards I shortly visited the Gold Museum, and took the train back to Melbourne.

Today was another typical Sunday: pancakes in the morning, socialising at the hostel, shopping in the afternoon (almost all shops are open on Sundays here), and more socialising at the hostel.

Down UnderGrampians

On 22 January 2004 from Halls Gap, VIC | comments closed

Yesterday was a fairly busy day here in the Grampians. I did my laundry in the morning, and afterwards Theresa and I went for a triathlon: hiking for 4 hours, biking for 1 hour and swimming for 15 minutes (the lake was not very nice). In the evening we cooked some pasta and I finished the ice-cream (great stuff, it is already soft right out of the freezer!).

I am staying at Tim’s Place, a really nice and cosy hostel. I like the smaller hostels better, because of the more homely feeling; it is easier to get to know people here. Today was a day to relax, with a brunch and a short (1,5 hours) hike in the Grampians. Tomorrow I will be heading back to Melbourne to be there for Australia Day on Monday.

Down UnderGreat Ocean Road

On 20 January 2004 from Halls Gap, VIC | comments closed

Early Monday morning I got picked up by Dave for a tour of the Great Ocean Road and the Grampians. I wanted to do a 3-day tour but that one was either booked full or cancelled. He still wanted me to go on his tour though and even offered I could do the tour I wanted for free if I did not like this one. I agreed with that, since the weather forecast was really great and I wanted to get out of Melbourne. After switching bus drivers in Melbourne we headed off to the Great Ocean Road. It is really just a long coastal road with lots of beaches along the way, some viewpoints and some spectacular rock formations at the end. Because so many people rave about it and it is considered one of Australia’s must-have-done’s, my expectations were quite high. It did not manage to live up to those expectations. It is a really nice coastal road, no doubt about that, and the rock formations like the Twelve Apostles, The Arch and London Bridge are quite spectacular. But it really missed the dramatic cliffs, secluded beaches and hairpin bends I had expected. Basically it paled in comparison to some of the coastal roads I have taken in South-West Turkey, in between Olympos and Fethiye.

Almost at the end of the Great Ocean Road we switched tour groups, because the first bus was getting back to Melbourne and Theresa (a German girl) and I were going on to the Grampians. We stayed the night at a small hostel, where the owner had made a nice BBQ dinner and taught us how to play the didgeridoo (I have no natural talent for that, as expected). Except for the mozzies (mosquitos) it was a lot of fun.

This morning we visited some sights in the Grampians, making lots of photos with people (me as well of course) standing on the ledge of a cliff. The weather was great (sunny, 30 degrees), and the photos are really cool. We had lunch at McKenzies falls, and afterwards the rest of the tour group switched busses to go to Adelaide. Theresa and I got brought back to Halls Gap in the middle of the Grampians, where I am planning to do some hiking, biking, laundry and eating lots of ice-cream, since there is a freezer here (most hostels do not have one), so I bought a nice 1,2 litre package, which should be enough for 2 days ;-).