I've been very fortunate to have met some great friends in Australia who have brought me in the fold of everyday Melbourne lifestyle. Most days I feel like a local. I have regular hangouts, favorite grocery stores, game nights. As much as I want to deny it...ultimately I'm a tourist and sometimes I got to do touristy things with other tourists.
I wanted someone to share in the merriment of seeing a kangaroo for the first time (old news to the Aussies). I wanted someone to be as indignant as me when the weather changes on a dime (Aussie gear is practically waterproof).
New Zealand was a great time of reflection. I appreciate my solo travel experience. New Zealand, however isn't Australia. The Australian journey is longer, destinations are further apart and overall it's just a wee bit more dangerous.
Traveling gives you a great opportunity to meet new people...and sometimes it's a great chance to reconnect with people. Enter one of my TFFs. One of the awesome people I met while on one of in Austria happened to have Australia as a bucket list item. Camille lives in France but none of his friends back home were serious about making the trip. Isn't it kismet that I was in Australia, and looking for travelling buddies?
The American girl and the French guy toured eastern Australia together years after originally meeting in Austria. I mean, I can't make this stuff up.
First up, Ocean Road.
The Great Ocean Road is a long road that, you guessed it, travels along the ocean. It was initially commissioned as part of a program to give jobs to World War I veterans. The program not only gave jobs to veterans, but it made more accessible the area that was previously considered bush, made a transport link for the timber industry and opened the region up to tourism. Damn Socialism.
It was a beautiful drive along the coast, we had our playlists ready. This particular excursion was about the journey, not the destination.
About 30 minutes outside of the Twelve Apostles, the clouds darkened. The notorious 4 seasons in a day was upon us. We got to the Twelve Apostles about 20 minutes before sunset. Camille was a little nervous about the weather. Apparently, when the sky is clear it's a sight to behold. I tried to find the silver lining (see what I did there?). The dark ominous clouds and random lightening strikes made the rock formations look all the more 'bad-ass'.
I got some really cool footage. I've told you before that I don't "do it for the 'gram", so I'd like to think I stayed out there taking pictures and not seeking shelter because I was trying to express my artistic vision.
Yeah but shortly after this shot, the rain and wind set in.
We waited out the worst of the rain before we driving back. I was surprised to see this 'white stuff' on the road that wasn't there before.
That's hail. Bi-polar Australia Weather at it's finest. There was lightening and thunder in the distance. Watch the vlog below for full affect. Needless to say, the drive to the hotel was a slow one.
The next day we started the drive back to Melbourne. We stopped leisurely where ever there was a sight we thought would be cool.
Kennett River had been recommended to us as a great place to see Koalas. So we made the stop. Upon arrival there were several tour groups covered in tropical birds. I wanted to be be a covered in birds.... so I moseyed on down to the little shop beside the entrance and bought a bag of birdseed. The moment I stepped out of the shop with the little white bags, a little orange and green bird was on my shoulder.
I took all of 5 seconds for me to be covered with birds. Another two seconds before the realization that I don't know much about birds. As pretty as they were... these were wild animals. I wanted one bird to come to me. I had a whole flock on and around me. They were eating the feed faster than I could pull it from the bag.
There was a group of high school students (apparently on a field trip) next to me. They had their phones out and some of the birds flew to them in search of food. When the birds realized the kids had none, they flocked back to me. I felt overwhelmed with the amount of birds and needed a decoy. So I offered them bird seed. Yes, I was willing to offer up these children to the birds to save myself. I have already admitted that my pilgrimage isn't always on the high road. Stop judging me!
Sure enough once the source of food was dispersed, I was able to get quite a few good shots with the the birds.
I had seed left so I decided to pour a bit more in to my hand. Then this cockatoo landed aggressively on my hand and tried to make me drop my seed bag. When he saw that I was unfazed by his shenanigans the m$%$# bit me! ...and broke the skin!
I was no longer impressed by these birds. The old adage is true. Once bitten, twice as shy. Now whenever I see a parrot, it gets some real side-eye.
We didn't even get to see the koalas! (...yet. We make up for this later on)
We continued back to Melbourne. While Camille drove, I WebMD'd 'What to do when you are bitten by a bird'. It was probably my karma for trying to sacrifice the school children. Lesson learned: Henceforth, I will (try really hard) not (to) use people's children as decoys.
All in all, we did a two day road trip from Melbourne to the Twelve Apostles. Arguably you can take more or less time, but for what we wanted, two days was sufficient. The we made a few stops the first day, but the main objective was to reach the Twelve Apostles at sunset. The drive back was easy enough and we got to see things we skipped on the drive out.
PS. one of the interesting things I noticed on the drive.. the mansions were all across the street from the Ocean. I didn't see any beach front properties along the drive. I grew up in South Florida, so I'm pretty used to the beach being obscured by McMansions along A1A. A lot of the Australian coast has been preserved. I hope that trend continues. I would highly recommend the journey to anyone looking for a nice scenic drive.