The Great Ocean Road (And Grampians) Part Deux

Blah, blah blah. I see your comments. First of all, I did NOT break my promise of telling you which country won, I said that I would tell you after I finish telling you about my tour. I still have two days to go! Patience is a virtue, people!

Before I start in on day two I want to complain a bit. I don’t think I wrote about this in a previous post, so just in case I didn’t I’ll write it now. When I first went to Karen’s (Kaz’s) house last month, I ended up getting a cold the day after because of the person who drove me up to her house. It wasn’t a terrible cold, it started out with a sore throat and ended with a bad cough.

Well I am still coughing and it has been worse the last couple days. I am actually kept up at night because I am coughing… and yesterday was the worst day yet. At least the only thing that seems to be wrong with me is the coughing – and it usually only bothers me at night. It’s just a dry cough that just kept getting worse on the Great Ocean Road tour. I feel bad because I am sharing the rooms with other people and I worry that I am keeping them up as well. I also don’t know if this is the same cold lasting this long or if I was infected with another one. There do seem to be a lot of people coughing and sneezing in the hostels, and even in the tours. Colds and other viruses must go around in hostels like wildfire. So yesterday was a really bad night. I think I was up half the night coughing. I went to the pharmacist today and got some cough medicine with something in it that would help me sleep. The pharmacist told me that if I don’t get better in a week, I should go to the doctor. So hopefully I get better!

Onward to better things now. Where did I leave off? Oh yes, day two of the Great Ocean Road Tour. But wait, I just remembered one thing that I didn’t tell you about day one! During our game of Moon in the Spoon that night, we had a spider scare. A whitetail spider crawled out of the firewood. Tash caught it with a coffee mug and put it outside. I do have a picture of it and when I finally am able to get my pictures uploaded you will see that. but if you can’t wait that long you can just google “Whitetail Spider”.

The next morning on day two, we got up super early again (6:30) and headed out on the road. We were going to be seeing some more rock formations in the ocean today, and we’d be seeing the twelve Apostles again in the daylight.

For our first stop we went into Port Campbell National park, where we saw a few more of the natural formations created over thousands of years. They had interesting names like the “Arches”, “Razerback”, and “Lace Curtains”.

There is actually a interesting shipwreck story that goes along with this place. In 1878, a ship from England called the “Loch Ard” crashed along the rocks on this coast. A member of the crew named Tom Pearce was washed ashore where he heard cries for help from a woman, Eva Carmichael, who was still out in the sea. Tom swam out to rescue her, and after a struggle with the tides and the waves, managed to drag her to shore. The two were the only survivors from the ship. When the media picked up the story of the lone two survivors, they tried to pressure the two to get married, because it would have made a terrific love story. Can you just see the headlines? ‘Lovers Meet and Marry after Heroic Sea Rescue!’ Of course, it didn’t work out that way. Eva was just 18 years old when the ship sank, and her entire family sank with the ship and were killed. She wanted to get out of the horrible country that claimed her family’s lives as soon as possible. She went back to England. Tom eventually became a ship captain. His first ship sank. His second ship also sank… taking him along with it. The moral of the story? Don’t ever get on a ship with Tom.

Here are a couple pictures of some of the formations:

   

And because I’m sure you guys are wanting another video… here is a video of what the waves hitting the rocks looked like:

And just for fun, here is a video of what Tash has her groups do when the weather gets very cold. It does actually work to warm you up for a little while at least!

As we were walking along, admiring the formations, Tash had us all try a taste of this wild plant which was growing near the formations:

It tasted extremely salty. I think the Aborigines had used this plant to add flavor to their dishes. Unfortunately, I didn’t write down the name of this plant so I can’t tell you that now, and I don’t really have the money to waste my internet time looking it up!

We went exploring for a while around the national park. We climbed over some rocks that were covered in barnacles to get into a really cool sea cave and then we headed off to see the Twelve Apostles again. Here are a couple of pictures of them in the daylight. It was a bit hazy but it was still beautiful:

  

It was during this visit where we learned that the Twelve Apostles were actually originally called ‘The Sow and Piglets’, but it was changed to the Twelve Apostles at some time in the last century. It was probably an excellent idea to change the name. Can you imagine that a formation called ‘The Sow and Piglets’ would ever have become as famous as the Twelve Apostles are now?

Today we had the option of going on a six minute helicopter ride above the Apostles. This would cost us the low low price of $60 dollars each, on sale from $90! But for $10 dollars a minute, I decided that it just wasn’t worth the price. About seven people in our group did go up. They did say it was spectacular, but I’m sure I was happier to have my $60 dollars. Really, that much money for six measly minutes? Get real helicopter guys!

After we had all finished with the Apostles and the helicopters, we went off to the next famous part of the Great Ocean Road, the “London Bridge”.

I do have an interesting story about the London Bridge. If you look at the picture above you can see a gap between the two rock formations. The gap was actually at one time connected with a hole underneath like the rock formation on the right. This was the reason it was called London Bridge – it did at one time look like a bridge. When it was connected, you were allowed to walk across it to the end and look out into the sea. One day a section of the bridge collapsed unexpectedly, forming the gap you see above. Luckily no one was hurt, but there were two stunned people – a man and a woman, who were married – left stuck on the rock formation to the right with no way to get to land. Helicopters were sent to rescue them and of course the media helicopters were also there, filming the entire thing. The couple was very embarrassed because they were married. Oh wait… did I forget mention that they were married to other people? So, the affair they were having was exposed on the evening news. I can just imagine what the husband and wife of the two were thinking when they saw their significant other on TV at the London Bridge when they were probably expecting them to be at a business conference or golf trip or something like that. Take that, adulterers!

After London Bridge, we set off to our last Great Ocean Road stop – a place called the Bay of Islands where we saw a few more really neat formations. I won’t put pictures up now, but they will eventually be in my Flickr account. Eventually.

Back on the bus, we then headed to our picnic spot for lunch. During the drive Tash told us a story about how on her previous trips she would keep a pet redback spider in a box on the bus. She assured us that she made sure that it was well contained in the (clear) box. It was closed and couldn’t be opened accidentally. The holes in the box were too small for it to climb out of and she was always very careful. She used to pull the box out on the second day of her tour to show everyone. She said that at first, everyone was terrified of the spider and wouldn’t go anywhere near it, but that by the end of the trip people were actually finding insects and feeding the spider to watch it eat. She didn’t keep the spider as a pet anymore, for a few reasons… which I’ll tell you now.

  1.  She had to replace the spider three times. The first time because someone accidentally left it in the windshield of the bus in the hot sun and it died. The second two times it was because the spider ended up being a female, and it made an egg sack. She really didn’t want a bunch of little baby redback spiders running loose.
  2.  She realized how stupid it was to keep a deadly spider as a pet on a tour bus.
  3.  She actually wasn’t allowed to keep a deadly spider as a pet on a tour bus.

If I hadn’t seen the redback spiders at Kaz’s house I probably would have thought, ‘Darn it! I want to see that deadly spider!’ but I was ok with this as I had, in fact, already seen two.

So we had our picnic lunch in a lovely and scenic town and then we said goodbye to the Great Ocean Road and headed for the Grampians National Park, the second part of our tour.

It was a long drive before we got to the first stop of the Grampians park, so we played a few more games in our country competition’. Sweden started to pull a bit closer to the USA and Germany, but it was still a pretty tight contest! Oh, and I don’t believe I told you what the winning country would win. Tash told us that the winning country would get ‘Toxic Slime’. She assured us that was a GOOD thing. But wouldn’t tell us what it was.

We got to Mackenzie Falls, the first part of our trip. It was a short hike to get to the falls, and it was beautiful indeed. More waterfall pictures!

  

And here is a pic of our group… minus Tash. I’ll show you her picture later.

After that it was time to get back on that Groovy Grape bus and head to our last stop before the hostel. On this stop we went on one more easy walk (at least easy compared to my five hour hikes in Tasmania) to get to another fantastic view.

  

Check out this sign I found on this walk. Now, I’m no professional sign reader, but because there are no red circles with a cross through them, it looks to me like the sign is telling me three things:

  1. I should go dancing off the cliff
  2. Jumping into the water backwards to swim with rocks is encouraged
  3. Kids are welcome

What do you think?

After we had finished taking in the scenery we headed back to tonight’s hostel. We were staying at a place called ‘Ned’s Beds’. The place wasn’t run by Ned but it was run by his father – in case you were wondering. It was a pretty nice place; very remote. It reminded me a little bit of Heathcote (where Karen lived) because of all the kangaroos and cockatoos that were everywhere. In fact, when we first pulled up, everyone got really excited because the kangaroos were all over the front lawn. I wasn’t quite as excited because I had seen it all before. I was even able to teach the group one of the facts I had learned! I told them that the kangaroos will always have one head male in their group that looks out for the rest of them and will stand at attention whenever something (or someone) gets too close. Thanks for teaching me that, Karen and Cliff!

For dinner we had a good ol’ fashioned Aussie Barbecue. Guess what was on the menu? Kangaroo steaks! And guess who tried it? Me! So now I have officially tried kangaroo. It wasn’t too bad. The texture was like steak and it tasted a little like steak, but it was different somehow. Not in a way that I could really explain though. I think it just had a bit more of a kick to it. Get it? Kangaroo, kick… I’m funny. I didn’t eat much of it but I wanted to try it. I just seemed a bit wrong to be eating kangaroo steak while watching the kangaroos frolic in the night.

After dinner another exciting thing happened. We saw wild deer! Why is this exciting? Well you don’t see wild deer too often in Australia. They aren’t native here, they are an introduced species. I tried to get close enough to take a picture, but it was dark, and the flash didn’t go that far.  When I got a little closer I did see that there were two young bucks with antlers and everything. When I continued walking even closer, they started fighting each other by clashing their antlers. I figured that now was probably a good time to back away before they turned to me next.

We finished looking at the night creatures and headed back indoors where Tash introduced us to another native Australian custom: the playing of the didgeridoo. She pulled out the long, wooden instrument and told us the Aborigine ‘Dreamtime’ story of how the didgeridoo was discovered/invented. If you don’t know, the Aborigine ‘Dreamtime’ are kind of like the Greek myths. It is when they tell stories about how the world started and how the stars got in the sky, etc.

This dreamtime starts off with one man who was searching for termites. He was knocking on the wood branches of trees to hear if any of them were hollow – if they were he would know that termites were in the branch. He eventually found one and proceeded to break the branch off and put one end of the branch in his mouth to blow the termites out. He ended up blowing too hard and the termites all went up into the sky and they turned into the stars. The man also noted the sound he made when he blew the termites out, and he liked it so much, that the didgeridoo was born.

Here is Tash with her didgeridoo:

She is wearing a miners lantern on her head but I don’t remember why she was wearing it at the time.

After she played it for a bit, she passed it around so that everyone could have a go. I learned that you play the didgeridoo like you’d play the trumpet – you don’t just blow. You have to push your lips together and blow through that, like you are blowing a raspberry without the tongue. I actually did make a didgeridoo sound, but I couldn’t do the whole circular breathing thing that players are known for.

And now for your viewing pleasure, I do have a short clip of Tash playing the didgeridoo:

Well guys, again, this is a really long post! And man is this internet getting expensive. I hadn’t even thought about how much I was spending on it before, but these long, detailed posts are really putting a dent in my wallet! Good thing I don’t do them all that often. I think each of these posts took me about two and a half hours to pick pictures, look at my notes, write everything… yeesh. And internet is 4 dollars an hour!

So this is the end of my post. I will finish my last day tomorrow, and also talk about my time in Adelaide tomorrow. Until then!