Monday, 9 January 2012

Canberra to Adelaide

From Sydney I decided to join a trip that would take me to some different places in Australia that not every backpacker would get to see; a 21 day Sydney to Darwin safari. I left Sydney early on the 4th and we drove straight to Canberra, the capital. To be honest, I wasn't overly enthralled by the place, but I can't really judge as I was barely even there. Firstly we had a look around the war memorial, then had a driving tour around the city before going to the new Houses of Parliament. None of these things were of particular interest to me let's be honest, but I least I can say I visited the capital. It was, however, interesting to learn a bit more about the Aboriginals who live in the area. After a few short hours in the city, we headed up to Thredbo alpine village where we spent one night in a ski lodge. It felt so strange to be in a ski resort in the height of summer when there was no snow to be seen, but none the less it was quite a nice change from your standard hostels.

Summit of Mt Kosciuzko
It was another early start the next day to catch the first chairlift before walking to the summit of Mt Kosciuzko – Australia's highest peak at 2,228m. The walk from the top of the chair wasn't too challenging approx 13km return but after not having done much exercise realistically speaking since I started travelling I was a little concerned as to how I would find it. I have to admit I was quite pleased with myself in that I didn't tire too quickly and was able to reach the summit without any breaks. It never ceases to amaze me how different the landscape is all around Australia. As I walked up Mt Kosciuzko I felt like I could quite easily be walking in the Lakes with the similarities of the landscape: that was the first time since getting to Oz I could say that. Whilst sat on the chair lift down (we couldn't walk the whole thing due to time restrictions) I was envious of the several mountain bikers who went past below – the trails looked pretty good and I was itching to be on a bike. Every day I get more and more excited about New Zealand! For the rest of the day we travelled down along side the Snowy River passing several more dramatic views into the state of Victoria towards Lakes Entrance where we stayed for the night.

The next morning we headed towards the most southerly point on mainland Australia, Wilson's Promontory National Park. Most of the group walked straight to Squeaky Beach, but Kevin and I walked to the southerly tip at Pillar Point and the views were spectacular. Crystal blue water and bright white beaches surrounded by rolling hills and rock formations. It really was one of the most picturesque areas I've seen. We joined the others on the beach for an hour or so before leaving. Our guide “Squatter” pulled into an air field shortly after leaving the beach and for the first time since arriving I actually saw kangaroos! I was beginning to think they didn't exist but sure enough we spotted several Eastern Greys along with Emus and wallaby holes. By the time everyone had got their fair share of photos it was time to leave and finish our trip to Melbourne. That night we had a few drinks as a lot of people in the group were only going as far as Melbourne.

Saturday morning, and yet another early start! My trip is split up into sections so it was another group from Melbourne to Adelaide (but some carrying on from Sydney). I'd noticed someone that I recognised waiting for the same bus but I couldn't for the life of me place his face. It was only later when the bus had arrived and we were loading our gear did the girl he was with come over to say hello that I realise it was Sian and Paddy from back home! I knew Sian was out here but had no clue as to where she was or what exactly she was doing. It turned out that the two of them were on the rest of my trip through to Darwin; it really is such a small world. That day we drove along the Great Ocean Road – sadly it was pretty cloudy so we didn't get to see it in its full glory as it were. We stopped at Bells Beach – the most famous surfing beach in Oz – and there were tonnes of people out in the surf. Another random thing we saw was the lighthouse from the kids TV programme Round the Twist – I used to love that show! In the afternoon we headed to the cool temperate rainforest in Otway national park – here we did the tree top walk around the forest to get a better look. That night we were supposed to watch the sunset over the 12 Apostles but sadly it was very overcast and raining so we didn't make it.

12 Apostles
Instead the next morning we got up early and beat the crowds and went to see them. The rock formation was really cool, it just looked amazing. The sky was still pretty cloudy but when the sun shone through on the rock the effect was really nice. With all the different landscapes I'm seeing I'm beginning to wish I had a much better camera as even though some of the pictures I take look good they don't do anything justice! From the 12 Apostles, we carried on to London Arch (formally London Bridge until one half collapsed) the Bay of Martyrs and the Bay of Islands – all impressive sights. In the afternoon we went to the Mackenzie falls and crossed into the Grampians National Park with a few more lookouts along the way.

Before the final leg of the journey to Adelaide, we walked up Hollow Mountain in the northern part of the Grampians which I really enjoyed as there was a bit of scrambling involved. This place looked great for climbing and you could see several routes where people have bolted in. Sadly there was no time for climbing and after reaching the summit we quickly descended before the rain started. For the rest of the day we travelled along the highway crossing into South Australia and on to Adelaide. We made a quick stop in Bordertown where there are some rare white kangaroos but other than that we were stuck in the bus!

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