Mooching my way to Melbourne..

Trip Start Nov 28, 2011
Trip End Jun 15, 2012

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Where I stayed
In a cool alpine lodge, then an old people's home..
What I did

Flag of Australia  , New South Wales,
Friday, April 27, 2012

So, at 6am on a chilly Wednesday morning I bade farewell to sunny Sydney and began my trip towards Melbourne – all the way around Australia I had heard people debating the merits of the two cities, with people preferring one over the other, and so I wanted to see what all the fuss was about! Plus, much though I had loved working (?!?) I had really missed the travelly part of travelling, and so a three day road trip to Melbourne seemed like a perfect end to my time in Australia. My tour guide, Woody, rocked up in a pink tutu, so from the start I knew this was going to be a fun trip! After drinking some rather awful coffee from a shop by central station and picking up a few more passengers (there was the grand total of 4 on our tour!) we set off on our merry way to Melbourne, with the first major stop being Canberra - although we did stop briefly to look at a giant sheep along the way, and got to climb inside it (don't worry, it wasn’t a real sheep!).

In Canberra we stopped off at the National Museum to watch a very bizarre interpretive film about settlement in Australia, which we saw in a rotating theatre; and then had a look at the displays about how to work the land Aborigine-style, using fire to encourage regrowth. We then headed up to Parliament House for a guided tour from a very enthusiastic tour guide, who perhaps loved her job a bit too much.. I did try to get Bert down onto the Speaker’s Chair, but apparently that’s frowned upon! After a brief and chilly look at the panorama of Canberra from the roof of the House (well worth doing!) we stopped off at the war memorial – luckily, all the crowds that had presumably descended on the memorial for the dawn service had left and so we could have a peaceful walk around the building, and take pictures of the poppies left on the memorial walls.

We then made our way towards Thredbo, a tiny village in the Snowy Mountains which was to be our home for the night; and on the way we made a brief call into a pub in Jindabyne to watch a few games of '2-up’. This is a betting game that was played in the trenches, but for some reason been made illegal now and Anzac Day is the only day on which it can be played; and the rules are amazing simple – you throw three coins in the air and have to bet whether they will land with more heads or more tails showing. Judging by the sobriety of the crowds playing this game in the pub, they had been drinking since the pub opened (or maybe just carried on drinking from the night before!) and did not seem concerned that they were waving $100 bills in the air as bets! As none of us were feeling that flush, we had a mini bet ourselves, but using sweets as our betting tools – best way of gambling I reckon! Once we got to the accommodation at Thredbo we found it was empty apart from us, which was great as it meant there was no one to judge our amusement at finding a singing deer hanging off the wall.. After a yummy dinner, I taught the others how to play ‘shithead’, a pretty much universal student card game which is pretty addictive once you learn how to play it – I’m sure that my first degree was made up of equal hours of lectures and time spent sitting in the garden shed playing shithead rather than writing essays.. Now, I’m not sure that people will believe this (I would have doubted this part of my Australia tales had I not been there myself!) but despite the fact I was in one of the warmest continents in the world, this card playing took place whilst I was seated in front of two radiators, wearing jumpers and a scarf, and wrapped in a blanket – it was bloody freezing! Naively, I didn’t actually think that it would get cold in Australia, and I definitely didn’t think it would snow here..

But bright and early the next morning, after a delicious pancake breakfast, I found myself taking a ski lift up towards the surprisingly snowy Snowy Mountains, to do a three hour trek to the summit of Australia’s highest mountain, Mount Kosciuszko. I think the only thing I said for those three hours was ‘wow’, which I said pretty much constantly – not only was I impressed that Australia could provide such an abundance of snow, but this was the first time I had ever been on a snow covered mountain (Primrose Hill covered with a thin layer of snow just isn’t in quite the same league!) and I was loving it! I stopped to take photos every few steps, so I could prove to you all who may have thought the same as me that there is actually snow here.. It was also quite warm walking up the mountain, as the sun was still strong in the sky, making it all quite a surreal experience, and definitely one of the major highlights of my whole time in Australia. And obviously, once we got to the summit, I had to build a snowman! Although he was quite a small one as despite the sun, the snow was still rather cold on my hands.. On the way back down the mountain, we spotted a little mouse; and to continue Bert’s tradition of meeting as many Aussie animals as possible he went to say hello to his new furry friend – Bert got a bit of a shock though, as the mouse sank his teeth into Bert’s fluffy head and dragged him off down the side of the mountain! I did manage to save him though – once I’d stopped laughing!

Once we reached the bottom of the mountain we jumped in the minibus and headed straight to Jindabyne to get some lunch in the winter sunshine before making our way onto Lakes Entrance, our stop for the night. On our way there we crossed over an old bridge, built in 1888 – and I think this may well have also been the birthdate of all the other people staying in our accommodation, we were easily the youngest people there by at least 40 years! We were staying in an RSL, which is a bit like the Conservative Club back home – nice food and accommodation, but full of grannies! In fact, to prove it I took a photo of the bedside table in my room, which had a cute old-style lamp and radio, as well as a telephone which looked a bit like an original model from whenever it was the telephone was first invented! (If I had internet whilst I was typing this I would just put the date so you’d all think I was majorly clever, but I’m currently on a bus in the middle of Victoria’s outback, at 3am, and I have no idea when Graham Bell made the first phone..!) But one bonus of the accommodation was that there was a bath there – the first bath I think I’ve seen in about 3 months, as hostels only have showers; and if I had had enough energy I would’ve run myself a lovely deep warm bath, found some candles and got in with a good book and a glass of wine.. But after the morning’s hike up the mountain I barely had enough energy to take my makeup off before bed, let alone anything else!

After an early breakfast the next morning, we stopped off briefly on Ninety Mile Beach which is actually 90 miles long unlike the one in New Zealand which is apparently somewhat shorter than its name suggests! The next stop was Wilson’s Promitory, one of the oldest National Parks in Australia; and just inside the park is an old airstrip which can’t eve be used in an emergency as it’s now used as a home to an abundance of Aussie wildlife – as we pulled into the car park we saw emu’s drinking from a puddle, we even saw an elusive wombat who let us get up right next to him before he wandered off into the bushes! Then when we got onto the airstrip we saw what seemed like hundreds of emus and kangaroos, happily munching on the grass in the sunshine; and to add to the list of all things Australian, we also found some red back spiders under an old tyre! Seeing as they’re one of the many poisonous spiders over here, I made full use of the zoom on my camera to take a picture!

After spending a happy half hour taking pictures of the wild kangaroos and trying to get a good shot of one of them bouncing along on their long legs, we went further into the park past two interesting road signs – one of which warned of 15kms of kangaroos, wombats and koalas all on one sign, but more worryingly was the sign that reminded people that ‘In Australia we drive on the left’ – if people don’t know that by the time they get to the heart of Wilsons Promitory then there’s some serious issues!! Thankfully we didn’t meet any crazy tourist’s driving on the road, and got to the start of our next hike safely. After climbing a rock that looked like a hamburger, we walked along the ridge of the park, surrounded on either side by stunning panoramas of scrubland trailing down to pristine beaches; and made our way down onto ‘Squeaky Beach’, so called because the sand squeaks beneath your feet. After a picnic lunch sitting on the rocks in the wind, it was back to the minibus to complete our tour – a few hours later we arrived in Melbourne, which was supposed to be my last city stop in this trip to Australia; but after having had such an awesome time on this tour I had decided to go on to Adelaide – might as well try to do every state and capital in Australia whilst I’m here!! But before the next minibus based fun started, I had the excitement of doing the Great Ocean Road with some friends, in a convertible – I’m not trying to make you all jealous, I promise..!!
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