Monday, September 23, 2013

The Great Victorian Road Trip + Goodbye Melbourne

It’s September 23, 2013. It’s a gorgeous sunny day here in the world’s most liveable city. I’m sitting in one of its many bustling cafes, taking advantage of the Wi-Fi (something my housemates and I never ended up getting in our flat). It’s not a particularly special day, save for the fact that it happens to be my last in Melbourne. The last couple of weeks have been so hectic that the fact I'm leaving has barely begun to sink in. Before I get too sad about my departure let me fill you in on what I've been up to.

After quitting our jobs and celebrating with our respective co-workers, Ben and I set off for a week-long road trip around the state of Victoria. Our mode of transport? This beauty right here.

Our classy campervan (and our ghetto flat in the background)

We got more than a few honks....

Our first stop was Wilson's Prom National Park
, located on the southernmost point of mainland Australia. The Prom was a place we'd heard had heaps of two things: scenic beauty and wildlife. We were not disappointed on either count.

This, my friends, is a wombat.

A wombat doing what they do best: chewing.


This sign wasn't kidding, these guys were everywhere!

Fantastic scenery

Wilson's Prom is also where I spent my 24th birthday. First order of business that day was a morning mini-bottle of champagne!

We spent the rest of the day exploring various beaches around the Park. The weather wasn't the greatest but on the plus side it meant we had the beaches almost all to ourselves. I never thought I would spend my 24th birthday exploring beaches in an Australian National Park with my English boyfriend, but there you have it!

Squeaky Beach, named for the sand that squeaks under your feet as you walk

On top of the world

Soaked but happy!

After a couple of rainy but awesome days spent at the Prom, we headed north to the Mornington Peninsula. We stopped for a swim at one of the beaches in Mornington Peninsula National Park just as a storm was rolling in. It was the craziest sky I've ever seen!

Ben on the beach

After taking the ferry across Port Philip Bay we were on our way to the Great Ocean Road, considered to be the most scenic stretch of coast in the whole country.

Taking the ferry from Sorrento to Queenscliff

On our way to the Great Ocean Road!

Pretty spectacular


I think my favourite part of the whole week was when a local tipped us off to a rarely-visited forest in the town of Lorne, well off the main stretch of the Great Ocean Road. Camping wasn't technically allowed there but we stayed the night anyway, with nothing but the koalas (who scared the crap out of us when they started roaring - who knew koalas could roar?!) in the trees around us for company. The experience of waking up in such a peaceful, isolated spot was pretty much the best thing ever.

Had the place all to ourselves, just incredible

Just Ben, myself and a bunch of roaring koalas!

Now at this stage in the trip something unfortunate happened. Long story short, my camera bit the dust (well, technically it was the sand) and stopped working. Ben was a good sport though, and let me use his.

Right after the incident.

Of course this happened right before one of the most scenic parts of the Great Ocean Road, The 12 Apostles. The Apostles are gigantic, stunning rock stacks formed by erosion.
I had never seen anything like them.

Several more beaches and gorgeous views later had reached the end of the Great Ocean Road. From there we headed to yet another of Victoria's National Parks, The Grampians. The towns we passed on our way to The Grampians were surprisingly small and remote, much more so than we expected. In one town, Dunkeld, we stopped at a cute little bakery to get some lunch. The owner noticed our van, which obviously indicated that we were budget travelers. For some reason it prompted this very kind man to offer us a free loaf of delicious sourdough bread. Needless to say we were big fans of this little bakery in Dunkeld.

Stoked about the free bread

Like the other places we'd been to, The Grampians had plenty to offer in terms of wildlife. I SAW MY FIRST WILD KANGAROOS!

Kangaroos! Can you see the little joey in the pouch?!?!

It was also the first time all week we'd been able to make a fire, which allowed me to introduce Ben to the wonderful world of s'mores.

We also did a wonderful hike while at The Grampians, which had amazing views and cool rock formations.

On top of the world, again

View from 'The Pinnacle'

Ancient and rare Aboriginal cave drawings

Seven days, thousands of kilometers, so many sights... it was one of the best weeks of my life. (And that was just some of one state in this massive, incredible country!) And now here I am back in Melbourne, reflecting on everything I did and saw this week while simultaneously wrapping my head around the fact that I'm leaving this place, possibly for good. 

Whenever you spend a significant amount of time in a place, you know that even if you come back one day it won't be the same. Sure I may come back to Melbourne one day but it will be different. The city will undoubtedly be different. I'll certainly be different. And so while I feel ready to leave and to move on to new things, I can't help but feel a little sad, as you do when a chapter of your life is coming to a close. Still, with endings come new beginnings, and I have a lot to look forward to. First up are the tropical islands of Fiji, followed by a trip home to see family and friends, whom I haven't seen in a year. I will miss you dearly Melbourne, but bring on what's ahead!