A Travellerspoint blog

Geelong to Apollo Bay

GOR - Great Ocean Road - our beginning journey

sunny 15 °C

What a fabulous day! Thanks to all the heavy driving we did the last two days, we were able to get to the Great Ocean Road (GOR) very quickly this morning. The initial leg of the GOR has us passing the waters of the Bass Strait. We stopped first at Bells Beach – a very famous surfers beach. It was absolutely gorgeous. The water was pretty calm; so not a lot of surfers today. There were walkways about the area; saw hikers, backpackers, bikers. Looks like a great spot for the outdoor folks! The bird we picked up in Shari’s grill decided he wanted to stay here as well; he dropped off her car in the carpark here. (Ewwww!)
We continued driving down the highway and stopped at Point Addis. There is a lots of bushwalking in the area; again another great place for outdoors type people. The Great Otway National Park spreads all thru this area and has a lot to offer.
We stopped at the town of Anglesea. We drove to a scenic overlook and was taking pics when a local named Keith came over and talked with us. When I told him I hadn’t seen any kangaroos yet he said that we just needed to go to the local golf course to see them. He was nice enough to show us the way to the golf course. Of course on this particular day there were not the 50 or so that usually hang out there. But we got to see a mother and her joey on the course. They were pretty lazy milling around the golf course. We drove around the external perimeter of the course and saw two more Kangaroos. So finally –Kangaroo sightings!
We then drove down to Point Roadknight. (stopping at scenic views all along the way). This was also a very scenic location. We got out and walked the beach for a while. The beach was a combination of sandy and rocky terrain. There were lots of water pools around the beach. We searched for creatures and mainly found snails. We walked over to the rocky terrain and scouted around; found some interesting shells. It was just a great view; hard to explain – you have to come experience it yourself.
Next stop was Urquhart Bluff. Again . Our next stop was in Aireys Inlet for lunch. We were expecting a big town, but it is quite small. We found a small eating establishment that was “ok”; I had grilled flatfish that was good – of course served with chips (French fries). The place was very slow with their service.
The drive on the GOR continued with marvelous views the whole way down. We arrived at the town of Lorne which is a fantastic spot. This is a nice vacation town that has a lot of charm and character. A boutique-type feel of a town. The information center was quite helpful and I’m glad we stopped there as they told us where to find a local waterfall and awesome scenic vista. We parked and walked a short way around the town. There is a really nice park there that had amongst its amenities a skateboard park and a trampoline park. They had about 12 trampolines that you could pay to go jump on them. It was quite a clever idea I thought. This appeared to be a great vacation town and just based on what I saw would recommend it to travelers to stop and enjoy. Once we left Lorne we traveled into the Great Otway Park to the Erskine Falls. This is a very scenic water fall that drops about 30 m. There is a lot of tropical vegetation in the area which makes it quite distinctive. The information desk also advised us to go to Teddy’s Outlook which offered tremendous views as well on the GOR and over the Bass Strait. When we left Teddy’s Outlook, we took the first back road to get us down to the GOR. It was a quite steep grade so we were laughing the whole way down the hill.

Once we continued on the GOR we basically traveled until we got to Kennett River. The Lorne information center had advised us to take the road behind the Kennett River C aravan (campground) to see Koala bears. We drove up the road (Gray River) for a bit, but we weren’t sure where it was leading us so we decided to turn around. Right at the spot we turned around we looked up and saw our first Koala in the trees. He was so cute!! We continued our drove back down Gray River road and saw a couple more Koalas including a mother and her baby. We are glad we took the time to travel this road. So – I got to see both Koalas and Kangaroos in the “wild” on the same day! Hooray!

We continued our drive down the GOR and have stopped for the evening in a town called Apollo Bay. We have a nice room and it does have wireless internet; however, it cost a small fortune so Shari and I are writing up all our postings prior to signing on to the internet to be conservative. We walked down to the Apollo Bay hotel for our dinner. I was confused by the “hotel” portion of the name. In Australia, “hotel” means bar versus place to stay for the night. I tried the Carlton Draught beer (Aussie); it taste pretty good. I had a beef stir fry for dinner that was pretty good except for some slightly oversalting. Our table was by the window and we were able to look out and see foot traffic and some of the beach. We are now in our room tired after a busy day of exploring.

The GOR is an awesome experience and I’m glad we are doing this tour. I feel bad for the driver (Shari) because the road gets windy and you really have to concentrate and can not enjoy the views as much. Shari however said she is enjoying doing the driving and likes the challenge of the curves so that works out just great. We’ll continue on our journey on the GOR in the a.m. after a good night sleep.

Oh, I squashed a flying ant in Shari’s car and it smelled awful! So the flying ants here are pretty stinky!

I hope all is doing well back in the states. Everything is going great here so far. The weather has been a bit unseasonably chilly; but hey – I am still in Australia eh? It is funny how everyone thinks “I” have an accent… everyone else HERE has the accent – not me!

Posted by cyntiast 03:20 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Gungadei to Geelong

Another long day of travel

semi-overcast 13 °C

Left Gungadei and went to scenic overlook in the town. Quite an amazing view of this small town in the country. Got back on Hume highway and headed on down to Melbourne. Stopped at the infamous Ettamogah Pub - Ken Maynard has an infamous comic strip based on this “pub”. The place reminded me of a much nicer “south of the border” (exists between North and South Carolina). There are some novelties to walk around; museum shop; Dining pub. It was a fun place to stop.

Now my entire visit so far – I have not seen a kangaroo. And the traveling today changed that.. except all the Kangaroos I saw were of the “road kill” version. Lots of kangaroo in that fashion! UGH

Our next stop was to the town of Albury. This is a fairly nice sized town with lots of appeal. It was a busy Saturday afternoon in the city centre. There are shops and outdoor dining pubs. We stopped at a local mall (lots of malls and shopping areas in Australia!) and picked up food for lunch. I went to the bakery and got a meat pie and custard desert. Maybe I don’t pay attention in the states as I try to stay away from pastries, etc.,, but everywhere are fantastic bake shops and pastries in Australia. We took our food to the Albury Botanic Garden. It had finally stopped raining and it was lovely to set out in the sun and dine on our lunch. The garden was beautiful and was occupied by other folks also enjoying the weather. There was a wedding that was about to take place in the garden. We also saw teenagers dressed up and having a tea party in the park. That looked like a fun time.

Now we crossed over into Victoria from NSW. We continued our drive down the highway when a few birds decided to fly in front of us; Sadly.. one of them didn’t make it and actually decided to take a ride with us in Shari’s grill. (we noticed when we stopped at the servo to fill up with petro). UGH.

At one of the rest stops; we noticed that they offered electric grills for folks to cook their dinners. Something I have not seen in the states.

This was a big travel day with lots of time on the road. We decided to bypass going into downtown Melbourne and head on down to Geelong. We could see Melbourne from the highway; big office buildings like Sydney. We finally got to Geelong and could not find a hotel room. We finally found one towards Torquay - A Golden Chain motel. They advertised internet service; but it was basically a phone jack. You had to have your own dial in provider. Of course we didn’t know this until after we’d paid for the room. All the other hotels were booked up in town and we were tired; so we just decided to forego internet for the evening to get some sleep. But would not recommend this motel at all! It was too pricey for the accommodations and lack of service. All in all a good day – just tiring from all the driver supervision.

Posted by cyntiast 03:17 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Canberra / Gundagai

Long day of travel....

rain 13 °C

Traveled from Blue Haven to just west of Canberra to a small town called Gundagai. We pretty much drove straight thru – we did stop at a McDonalds (Maccas) / McCafe at Sutton Forest for lunch. (Yes Chris – (Macca’s as they call it here) again! LOL lots of ‘em here and remember we are traveling with teens) I tried the cake lamington – a white sponge cake dipped in chocolate and sprinkled with coconut. It was quite good actually. The rest stop at Sutton Forest is quite large and Shari said it accommodates the snow Fields (aka Ski resorts) crowds.

We traveled all day in the chilly and sometimes rainy weather.

We stopped in Goulburn, NSW at the Big Merino off the Hume Highway. This is a 15 metre tall concrete Merino Sheep to promote the sheep and type of wool in that area. There is an attached gift shop. (see photo) Another interesting stop.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Merino

Next stop was Canberra. Canberra ACT is the Australian Capital . After stopping at the visitor center, we departed for the Australian War Museum http://www.awm.gov.au/ This is a neat spot especially for history buffs. The building sits at the top of a hill and if you look directly across and down the hill there is the Capital Building. The area in between reminds me of the DC mall area; but in a modified version with concrete slabs instead of grass and roadways on both sides (see pictures). The inside of the museum reminds me of what we have in DC. The Wall of Honour was dotted with Red Poppy flowers to memorialize the heroes of the various wars.
After the war Museum we dropped off Shari’s girls with their dad at the local shopping area. Shari said there was a spot behind the shopping center where you commonly see Kangaroos; but they weren’t there last night. So, still no Kangaroo spotting since my arrival here. YET

The terrain changed a bit during our travels. We were on rolling hills initially and then eventually there was more flat land with mountains or “hills” in the backdrop. The hills in the backdrop are interesting as they have ridges almost like a pumpkin. They would be fun sledding hills! We got for long distances and then there were be intermittent towns that we would come upon. Not sure I’d like to live out this remotely; nice to visit, but not to live for me at least.

We spent the night at the Sovereign Inn in Gundagai. The check in was fun as the clerk had a sense of humor; I was obviously American as I still get thrown off by the “brekkie biscuits” comment – which basically meant there were shortcake cookies in the room. I’ve never been offered pints of milk before either when checking into a hotel room. Of course – it is for our cuppa! All supplies are in the room to heat water for tea. There is a large “hill” behind our hotel which is interesting – I wanna climb it! LOL It was too late when we got here to check it out too much. The room had parking right outside the door. There is a queen size and single size bed in the room. Each bed has mattress pad warmers which was awesome; they call them electric blankets here. I consider electric blankets what you use on TOP of you not underneath. Another interesting difference to note. The room is clean and neat so fit our needs fine; plus it has wireless wifi ($5.50) for the night.

We took a short walk after settling into our room to find dinner. We dined at the RSL {returned services league) club called Gundagai Services Club. These are clubs similar in concept to the American Legion clubs back home; however, the requirements to join are not as strict. We went in as temporary guests. The cuisine served at this club was Chinese. I was expecting a menu of different food options; so that was interesting. I ordered a Sweet creamy corn soup with chicken which was basically egg drop soup with a couple chicken bits. I also ordered a prawn cocktail; which was a bowl of peeled small sized prawns (shrimp) with 1000 Island dressing poured all over them. Shari said that is how they serve prawn cocktails here.

We were exhausted after dinner. I was really tired supervising Shari doing all that driving. I am too afraid to even try driving here - afraid I will go into auto-pilot and swerve to wrong side of road so Shari is doing all driving. Went to sleep fairly early. The end of another good day.

Posted by cyntiast 13:54 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Travel Day - Canberra

We are about to embark on next phase of the Aussie journey....

sunny 13 °C

We are leaving today to travel down to Canberra. Not sure what internet access I will have for the next week to update this blog. Hope all is well at home. Things are fine here. Will update when I am able...

Happy Travels!

Posted by cyntiast 13:23 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Do as the Locals Do

semi-overcast 12 °C

Today was a low keyed “do as the locals do” day. We spent the morning at Shari’s and then left to go run errands and shop. We went to the Lake Haven Shopping Mall which looks like a typical American shopping area, but yet is different. There are the usual clothes and specialty shops and kiosks. The Australian Post (post office) is also located at the shopping mall. We went to the phone store and Shari bought a new phone and I will use her old phone with a replacement SIM card during the rest of my stay here.

The interesting thing that is different is the mixture of grocer vendors in the shopping mall. There was an open stand for chicken – raw and cooked. There was the butcher shop, seafood vendor, and the fruit and vegetable vendor. They were open vendor style; it just seemed weird to walk past a clothing store and then past raw chicken. LOL We bought a chokco to fix for dinner this evening. This green, roundish shaped vegetable looks a little larger than an avocado and has ridges like a pumpkin. It grows on a vine; it is in the squash family. They have a fish that is common down here called the barramundi; I haven’t tried it yet.

We went to the Woolworth’s store next. Folks in Maryland will remember that Woolworth’s was a five and dime store. Woolworth’s in Australia is a large grocery store chain. We walked thru the store so I could see what food might be different than back home. The first thing that really stood out was there was a whole meat section devoted to dogs and cats. Those pets eat mighty fine in the Land Down Under! Other items of interest include of course – vegemite! Custard and creams. Their eggs are not refrigerated, but are stocked right on the shelfs as though it was pasta. I noted before that food is quite expensive; however, this shopping trip revealed that the meats, fruits, and vegetable prices are reasonable – but all processed foods are quite pricey. So the opposite of US where it is more expensive to eat healthier, it is much cheaper to eat healthier in Australia. Might explain some obesity issues we have in the states.

The Aussies have a cheese referred to as Tasty Cheese . Shari had made a pasta dish with this cheese the other night and it was quite good. I wonder what the equivalent of Tasty cheese is in US. This is a cheddar style variety with a very distinctive sharp taste that I have not encountered before.

The liquor store in the mall had some inexpensive wines and very expensive beers. A case of 24 Coronas was $65.99. I don’t know why they price them that way because they don’t use pennies in Australia – it is really $66.

We stopped by the Darby’s bakery on the way home and picked up meat pies for lunch. These freshly baked meat pies (meat minces with gravy as filling) were only $1 each! Meat pies are the equivalent of hot dogs in the US. They are commonly sold at sporting events and are meant to be eaten with your fingers.

http://www.lakehavenshopping.com.au/home/

The weather today is quite balmy - almost like a winter day. Very windy and chilly. Was hoping to take a walk, but Windy Cindy does not like to walk in the wind.... especially when the air is chilly. I almost always get a cold when I do so and I am quite content to stay healthy thank you.

The rest of the evening we will relax and then prepare to start traveling tomorrow. Destinations include Canberra, Melbourne, and Great Ocean Road (GOR).

Posted by cyntiast 22:40 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

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