26th January

We are now back in Brisbane and heading to New Zealand this evening! Our campervan adventure is complete –we have done the East Coast of Australia! It’s very strange to think that I was still living in a campervan yesterday but now it’s all in the past! I can’t figure out if it went quickly or slowly, Cairns definitely feels like a long time ago but have I really been living out of a van that long?! Anyway back to Melbourne and the Great Ocean Road…

The Great Ocean Road was an amazing drive. The first day was spent driving to Torquay where we played some cricket on the beach and I managed to fall in the wet sand before carrying on to Anglesea where we barbequed bacon and eggs for lunch before hiring a pedalo. I had been wanting to get a pedalo for ages so Ryan gave in and went with me. We had a lovely time until the end when Ryan realise that he had been doing most of the pedalling and I had somehow accidently not been pushing hard enough. I genuinely did not realise though until Ryan decided to stop pedalling! We carried on stopping at the Round the Twist Lighthouse before carrying on to Lorne where we walked along the old pier and got a snack before finding our way around the back roads as the Great Ocean Road had been closed due to a landslide! It added about an extra 100km to our journey! We stayed at a really lovely campsite be the beach though in a little place called Johanna which really did seem to only be the campsite. The sea was absolutely wild there though it appeared to be moving in every direction because of all the currents in it and waves were splashing up as they collided with each other! The next day we drove further along the Great -Ocean Road to the area where all the big sites are. We first stopped at the 12 apostles –rock formations where they have become separated from the land. It was so beautiful, I felt like I was looking at a postcard! We took lots of pictures then as we were heading back to the van we saw an Echidna snuffling his nose through the mud looking for ants. He was the last Australian animal that I was hoping to see so I was so happy to see him. And he was a cutie pie. He’s managed to cover himself in mud looking for ants to eat, and was snuffling around right up by the fence! It’s amazing to think that they are mammals but lay eggs!

From the Apostles we drove to Port Campbell where we stopped for lunch in a cafe, I think it was actually one of the best meals we’ve had on the trip! I had a chicken schnitzel burger and it was delicious! From there we went to London Bridge a formation that had 2 arches but one fell in 1990 leaving 2 people stranded on the other side. Apparently they were actually having an affair so once they got airlifted to safety they ran away to avoid all the press! I wonder what happened there?! We then went to the arch and The Grotto (more formations), and Loch ard Gorge where there are supposed to be shipwrecks in the water. We stopped at the same campsite that night and even went for a jog in the morning. It was absolutely horrible though because the sand was so soft –did not find this one enjoyable at all! We drove back towards Melbourne, stopping at Apollo Bay where we cooked eggs, played cricket, and ate buns. This time the rest of the Great Ocean Road was open where the landslide was so we did get to drive along it all! It was very beautiful with the road going right along the cliff edge the whole way. We stopped at the service station near Melbourne ready for some sightseeing the next day.

We got the train into Melbourne and wandered around a bit. We went to Federation Square we went to the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI). This was fun as there were lots of interactive exhibits to play with. We mixed sound and pictures to make our own versions of movies, filmed ourselves, and started making a flipbook. It was an interesting place but a lot to see there. We got lunch and then went to a shopping centre for a drink where we discovered Breadtop. The most amazing Asian bakery! It was all delicious! We then headed to the park to see Cook’s cottage where he used to live. Only when we got there did we realise that it is not where he lived in Australia but was shipped over from the UK and rebuilt here! This seemed pretty ridiculous to us –why move a house?! We also saw a model Tudor village in the park, and the fairy tree which had been carved by an author who also wrote a book about it. We then got a train home ready for our big day tomorrow…

 

Tuesday = NEIGHBOURS TOUR! We had booked on to a Neighbours tour whilst in town on Monday and we had a great time. We drove past the school –although I didn’t actually recognise as the school before going to the studios where we saw the garage, Lou’s car sales, greasy monkeys and the old thrift store and met DR KARL! Alan Fletcher was so lovely, one of the friendliest people you could ever meet he seemed so pleased to see us all. We had pictures and he signed postcards for us. We then went to the actual Ramsey Street. It was tiny! It was just a little close but it seems so big on TV! We saw all the houses and took pictures –it was pretty exciting to be there. We didn’t get to see any filming though as they hadn’t started back yet. It’s strange that people actually live on those houses and all the indoors scenes are actually filmed in the studio!

After our tour we were dropped off in St Kilda the seaside town of Melbourne. It seemed like a typical British seaside resort with a pier and rides. Except that we saw a penguin on the pier! We had a walk through the town before getting a tram back to the CBD to catch the train home.

So the next day was Ryan’s Birthday! We woke up and he gave him his presents (wrapped in newspaper) a mini toblerone, a gingerbread man, a $1 book on WWII and tickets to the Melbourne Open! We drove into town for the tennis and bought snacks to take in before heading to Melbourne Park. We had a lovely day and I relearned everything that I’d forgotten since Wimbledon. We saw Fish losing to start with, and then moved courts to watch Tomas Berdych, my new favourite tennis player, win! We were sat near a huge group of his fans who were chanting and seemed to have a different song every time. He pretty much became my favourite because of his fans songs (which me and Ryan have been singing on our way back to Brisbane). We had a little wander around after this- there were loads of stalls giving away freebies but we just ended up going to the ones with the short ques. We got free neck coolers and banners. We then went to watch some more tennis and saw Haase win his match. After this we headed to the Imperial leather tent for a cooling foot spray and a goodie bag, Ryan bought some merchandise and we watched tennis on the big screen before realising that the Bryan brothers were playing so headed to see them. They are the best double players in the world and were pretty amazing to watch, they won games within minutes. When they won they bumped chests –apparently their signature move but I found it rather amusing! We watched some of the Federer match on the big screen before heading off. On the way back to the car we stopped in the park for birthday cake. I had great difficulty lighting the candles though as they kept on getting blown out by the wind. I managed it eventually though, and the caramel mud cake I’d bought was delicious.

The next 5 days were spent travelling back to Brisbane although we did stop at a few places on the way back. On the first day we stopped at the sight of Ned Kelly’s last stand where his gang in their armour and the police fought until he was captured and taken to Melbourne Gaol to be hung. It was interesting to be there but there wasn’t all that much to see. Although the train station has been rebuilt as it was at the time and is now let out as a holiday cottage. We didn’t do much on the 2nd day as we had planned to make our way past Sydney, although we did manage to fit a game of cricket in at the service station where we stopped for the night. We spent a lot of the 3rd day at beaches in Newcastle. They had a kite flying fair going on so there were loads of kites in the sky. We went swimming in a lagoon on the beach and it was lovely. There was so much salt in the water that you couldn’t help but float you were so naturally buoyant in it. The 4th day was spent visiting Port Macquarie where we went to the beach which was really pretty. I sat on a rock reading before having a paddle with Ryan. We then ate some fish and chips watching the local cricket team before going on a tour of the Koala hospital. They had the oldest wild koala in the world there. ‘Birthday Girl’ is nearly 25. She first went to the hospital when she was 3 years old and now has been living there for the last 7 years. We saw many koalas there. One with a humpback and scoliosis was renowned for escaping his pen every night! I would love to be able to give a lot of money to places like this. There is only one member of staff so it is pretty much run by volunteers and they don’t get any government funding. We spent the 5th day driving to Lennox heads where we went to Lake Ainsworth where the water is stained by the oil from the tea trees around its edge. The lake was overflowing onto the road and park but was lovely to swim in. After our swim we carried on to Byron Bay where we had a wander, got some food and played some more crickets-which Ryan won again. That night we stayed at a rest stop where we played cards with a Canadian couple who were just starting out on their journey. And yesterday we arrived in Brisbane! We sorted out the bus passes for NZ, spent some time on the internet, got lunch in town and went to see Black Swan. Which is really quite good if a little gory. Today I have been packing ready for New Zealand in a few hours!!

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