St. Kilda

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Although the Urban Central Hostel was an amazing place, I looked for a couchsurfer because I just like to get a non-touristy feel about a place and it’s such a great change to walk in and out of a normal apartment or house instead of a hostel dorm. Here in Melbourne, it was the complete opposite to Adelaide. Within an hour, I had replies from at least 5 people. Most of them didn’t live in the CBD though and so I ended up at a really great place in St. Kilda.
I spent Sunday exploring the waterfront. There was a small market and after that I enjoyed a beautiful mocha at Phamish. Behind that, the two main restaurant and shop strips start. The choice of cute cafés, bars, delicious cake shops or restaurants is too big. I wished I could live here and try a new place every week. It was almost a torture to my stomach to walk past all these people sitting at the tables on the boardwalk and their full and great looking plates. Mouthwatering!!
After that, I walked a quick circle in the Luna park. Probably more something for younger kids. Then, the sun already started to set and I thought I had to hurry to go see the penguins at the pier. As I was walking towards the pier, I witnessed a beautiful sunset.

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I had wanted to go to Philipp’s Island because of the Penguin Parade. I’ve never seen penguins in the wild. But a day trip there was 90$ and I didn’t want to spend so much on that, since I heard that it was extremely touristy. But somewhere I read that there were penguins in St. Kilda too. When I arrived at the end of the wood walk, there was a sign with a picture of the penguins, saying that the penguins only come out after the sunset and that we must take pictures without flash. There is a boardwalk where the people are supposed to wait. It was packed but I still found a good spot.

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I’m glad I didn’t walk out here earlier 😉 I also had to wait about 10min until the first little guy appeared between the rocks. They sometimes came as close as half a meter to the people, which was really cool! There were only about 10 penguins visible that evening but I think everybody got a good view of them. The only annoying thing was the people who still were taking pictures with a flash. Come on! There even was a volunteer with a red light (which apparently doesn’t hurt the eyes of the penguins), to make it easier to take photos. At some point cameras will be forbidden here too, like at the penguin parade on Philipp’s Island (in the end, I did make it there but I liked the experience in St. Kilda much better).

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To get to St. Kilda, you could walk an hour from Melbourne or take a tram. But the system with the key card for public transportation in Melbourne is so complicated and often charges you too much (heard that on several occasions) that I avoided riding public transport by all means. So, I chose the third option: Melbourne’s blue bikes. All you need is a credit card and the rest is explained at the station. I only paid 8$ for a whole week of riding around. Plus, the ride from St. Kilda to Melbourne is so beautiful (ca. 15min) that I’d love to ride to the city to go to work every day, if that was my way to work 🙂 I took Lakeside Drive along Albert Park. So, the whole ride, there is a beautiful lake and a green park on the left and the approaching skyscrapers in front of me.

Albert Park

Albert Park

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Architecture, art, coffee, food – Melbourne.

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On Saturday morning, I still had all my things in the storage room but for now I put my worries about that aside to go hunting for a new laptop cable (I’ve already been without a laptop for a week…I usually do EVERYTHING on my laptop…involuntary rehabilitation. Hasn’t been agreeable.) But I had a good feeling about Melbourne and so even after the third computer store on Elizabeth St had told me that I most likely wouldn’t find this certain plug because it was a special one, I still walked into the fourth one, where he had exactly one of the ones I needed left and he sold it to me for 50$ 🙂 Finally, I was able to charge my laptop and I even have an Australian plug, which I will be able to switch back to my Swiss one.

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Then, it was time to look for lunch and I found a real gem in the Causeway Lane off Burke St. Sushi Monger was packed with people. No wonder, the sushi there was one of the bests I ever had and they offer a lunch deal (2 rolls and a miso soup for 5$).

Afterwards, I took the free circle tram up to the library to do the free walking tour. Again, the tour guide was extremely funny and had loads of stories to tell. I’ve only ever had great experiences on free walking tours! And they just give you a good overview of the city!

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Back at the hostel, I felt the heavy load of my things again. I really had to sell them tonight, because I couldn’t keep carrying them around. A guy had written me, that he’d pick everything up at 10pm. So I just had to have faith that he’d really show up. And he did and bought all the camping gear and the surfboard for 250$. So, all in all, I now spent about 1450$ on my car (which unfortunately only lasted 1,5months but it was still cheaper than just booking tours or renting).

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Michèle and the German girls wanted to leave Melbourne on Monday already. That was way too early for me, since there was so much more to see! So, I tried to find someone on couchsurfing and this time, I really lucked out. Ben lived in a beautiful place in St. Kilda (I will make a special post about that) and he offered me to stay a whole week, which I would have if I hadn’t found a great opportunity to go to Sydney on Thursday. However, I said I’d come back to Melbourne before I fly. Such a great city. But so, what is there about this Melbourne?

First of all, there is a lot of amazing architecture. There is not one street without a special house or bridge on it. Then, there are all the graffitis or the street art on the walls in sometimes very narrow laneways. I think, the city is best visited on foot or by bicycle, because that’s the only way to find the interesting things in the small laneways.

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In case it’s raining, visit the museums! I was lucky to have a week with sunshine, so it was almost a pity to be inside but they were really worth it. I was surprised to find that the Swiss artist Pipilotti Rist is so popular here. Both the Art Gallery (cool fountain along the building!) and the Museum of Contemporary Art (great, cheap coffee cart at the entrance!) were free. So even if you aren’t usually interested in art, just give it a try:)

Melman!

Melman!

Then, I also went to the ACMI film museum. At the moment, there was a fun looking exhibition about animation movies. But I didn’t have the time to visit that too, so I just walked past the looooong waiting line of people and went directly to the free part of the museum. That was one of my favorite exhibitions ever! I went there twice so that I wouldn’t get tired of looking at the things, read, listen and interact. There were old projectors, history of movies, actors, producing, special effects and so much more. There even was a section with old video games (that’s where you could find all the dads and sons :)). Definitely worth a visit! And it’s on Federation Square, which is a nice place to look at anyways. Since the comedy festival was going on, the place was always bustling with street performances too.
If you’re tired of walking, hop on the free old fashioned city circle tram, which drives around the city center (to all my Swiss readers, did you know that in German “das Tram” is called “DIE Tram” because of DIE Strassenbahn. Sounds so wrong.) A tape informs you about all the touristy places.

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When you don’t want to lose too much time or need to go further, rent a blue bike. It’s only 2.80$ a day or 8$ a week and I found them perfect to ride to and from St. Kilda (go along the lake in Albert Park!) or to ride along the water in Docklands or to the other suburbs. In the CBD, I preferred walking because it’s up and down and there are too many people and cars. You have to wear a helmet but luckily, there were free helmets on most bikes. There probably used to be on every bike but people must have taken them…
I loved Victoria Market. Finally, I found cheap vegetables and also the cheapest souvenirs, in case you have space in your luggage.
In Melbourne, I had at least one coffee at a different place every day. There are a lot of cute cafés, that offer cheap (3.50$ to 5.50$ for a mocha or iced coffee), delicious and beautifully crafted coffees, so it would almost be a shame to go to Starbucks (this is the first city I’ve really noticed Starbucks in Australia and it’s cheaper than in Switzerland :)). But like I said, I haven’t gone there yet. Plus, they just opened the first H&M of Australia here in Melbourne. A continent without H&M, I didn’t know that still existed..

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Degraves Ln and Center Place were the most central places for coffee but I really liked the cute places along South Wharf and my favorite so far was Phamish in St. Kilda.

In case you have been reading my blog for a while, you know that I like to go to movie theaters in different countries. It took me two months to finally find the time for it here:) On Monday, Carlton Cinema in Melbourne offers a 6$ deal if you go before 6pm. Afterwards, it’s 9$.I took the opportunity to go watch “Tracks”. I saw the preview in Switzerland and thought that it would be really cool to see it in Australia, since it’s about a female who walked from Alice Springs to the Indian Ocean alone. (But I had forgotten the title and was a bit confused, since everybody I met always talked about Wolf Creek, which is a horror story about people getting lost in the outback. Now I know that there are two different movies:)). Tracks is pretty good, especially if you’ve ever travelled alone.

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For now, I have to leave Melbourne because my new travel mate only has time to travel over Easter but I’ll definitely come back before I leave Australia.

Great Ocean Road

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After toast with Nutella, we started heading towards a cold and drizzling Kingston. We walked to the end of the jetty, looked for cheap seafood and then drove on having a short look at all the pretty beach towns along the way. In Portland, we drove to the lighthouse, where the German girls got to see their first alive wild kangaroos (before we saw a HUGE dead one). Here it was free to walk up to the lighthouse, from where we had beautiful views over the ocean. And guess what? We saw something playing around in the water. Half of us were sure it was a seal the other two argued that it was a dolphin. Until there were more dolphins. A whole group of dolphins swam and jumped past the cliff we were standing on. How lucky we were that they swam past there at exactly that time! As if they had planned a private show for us.

Mt Eccles crater

Mt Eccles crater

We then realized that we had been looking at different things before because the seal was still hunting fish below us:)
Portland reminded me a bit of Albany (both very pretty). If I had more time, I d have stayed there a night or two and visited Cape Bridgewater also.
But we drove on towards the Grampians. In Condah, we found a free campsite next to the Greenhill Hotel Pub. The owner just told us that we always had to lock the gate because of the calves and lambs in there. And really, there were two very cute and curious black calves that watched over us during the night.
After dinner, Michelle and I went inside the pub to ask whether we could wash the dishes anywhere. Since the pub owner was doing her own dishes, we sat down to have a cider. That was lovely in front of a warm fireplace. It was very funny and entertaining to speak to the men in the pub and when we got back from washing the dishes, they invited us to another cider. They gave us the tip, that we should go to Mt Eccles NP instead of the Grampians because there just was a big fire and everything would look burned plus there probably wouldn’t be much water in the falls now.

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To make the night perfect, the daughter from the pub owner gave us a freshly baked fairy cupcake and there was a little kitten to play with too.
The next morning, we’d have had an invitation to go watch sheep shearing but we preferred starting our way towards the Great Ocean Rd and visiting Mt Eccles NP along the way.
It was a bit hard to find but it worked on the second try. Already, we had seen quite a few kangaroos jumping out and about when we pulled into the car park. Mt Eccles is actually a volcanic crater that is filled with a lake. So, we walked up to the rim from where we had a stunning view!! Then, we embarked on a two hour hike, passing a cool cave called “Natural Bridge” and a kangaroo skeleton along a track called “Lava Canal”. Unfortunately, the lava part was pretty boring. Just a lot of bush land and birds. However, 5min from the car park at the other end of the walk, we reached a huge cave. Too bad we didn’t have proper torches with us. The iPhone one didn’t show anything! We could have surprised any kind of animal. I used the flash of the camera to light up the cave for split seconds or have a closer look at the red walls on the pictures. But half way inside the cave, our adrenalin levels were high enough that we didn’t want to continue into the smaller hall after the first big one.
Back at the car park, we found out that there are free showers and a campsite (probably free too?).

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We got back in the van and were ready to leave, while I was thinking how great it was that all this was free, when I saw a guy in an official looking vest wave at us.
Oh, great, we’d probably have to pay for a parking ticket or something now, I thought and opened the window.
And he just remarked “you know your back is still open?” Then he had the greatest fun watching our reactions, I got back out to close the trunk and after that, four embarrassed girls drove past a still laughing guy.

Dark Cave

Dark Cave

Then, we reached Port Fairy and with that the start of the Great Ocean Rd. In Warrnambool, I found Oysters for 6.75$/ half a dozen and they were very delicious too. There also would have been a rebuilt historical village along the seafront. We found it by chance because it is behind the visitor center. It looked cute but would have been too expensive to just go inside for a short time.

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So, we drove on and finally reached the coast again. Already the first lookout point gave view over impressive pillars in the beautiful ocean. We stopped at every lookout point after that, finding beautiful bays with intensely blue and green water. Towards the evening, we reached Port Campbell, with free wifi at the visitor center and a campground for 45$ for all of us at the recreation ground.
The next day started with the highlight from the Great Ocean Rd; the Twelve Apostles. The car park is on the opposite side of the street and then you take an underground passage to get over to the viewing platform. The view was great but it probably would have been a lot better in nice weather. And some other rocks along the coast looked just as impressive. It’s probably just all the tourists who make them so famous.

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The next stop were the Gibson Steps, where we climbed down to the beach and walked along the sand. From down here, the limestone cliffs looked massive!
Now we meet surfers at all the bays we stop, although there usually is a “no swimming because it’s dangerous” sign.
On the drive to the Cape Otway Lighthouse, we saw all these people starring up at the trees. Well, the trees were pretty cool but to extra get out of the car to stare at them?! There had to be something more to this! Soon, we realized that the trees were filled with koalas hanging in the branches. So many koalas in the wild, how cool!!!

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The lighthouse then was too expensive to visit, so we just moved on after a short walk. Then, unfortunately the weather got worse and it started raining but luckily there weren’t too many more lookouts. However, we stopped again to hike to at least one of the waterfalls. The walk to Sheoak (at least I think it was this one) fall was beautiful and adventurous and the fall with its black water amazing!
A little down the road, there was another lighthouse we could walk up to and with that, I guess we’ve reached the end (or start) of the Great Ocean Rd, because there was a big gate with a sign.

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Upon a tip from the lady in the visitor center, we drove 30min up a dirt road to get to a free campground. Probably could have stayed in town for all the petrol we needed for that but at least like this, the girls would finally have a night away from civilization (there’s still cell reception though). It was very foggy but we finally found the campground and the only occupants who were there were some kangaroos. We cooked and after dinner some other vans arrived. We wouldn’t be alone in the fog and loud insect noises after all. During the night, it then started pouring again but luckily, the tent didn’t leak. I was just glad that this was our last night in this van and it wouldn’t be our problem if the things weren’t dry.

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The next day, we pretty much drove straight to Melbourne with only two stops in Torquay (a real surfer city!) and Geelong. There, we strolled along the beautiful waterfront with lots of entertaining things to look at.

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From the freeway, the skyscrapers of Melbourne look pretty similar to the ones of Perth but it was impressive to drive over the big harbor and then see huge cruise ships. We drove straight to a hostel in which a friend of Michèle was waiting. Luckily, she chose that because it didn’t come up on my search with hostelworld. Urban Central is the BEST hostel I’ve ever stayed in (apart from the ones that have this family like atmosphere). But Urban Central has a normal hostel atmosphere with just a great vibe. It only costs 21$ or 24$ a night (depends on the day) and there is so much free stuff! Free breakfast, free pasta and rice and tea…The facilities are clean and nice and the people are really friendly. Plus there was a big locker room where I could leave all my camping stuff (also for free:)). Crazy! I love this place! There even is a bar with really good deals too. I’m not at all used to that after average prices of 30$ at hostels where you didn’t get anything and didn’t have any space. This place makes the choice whether I should stay in Melbourne for at least a week much easier 🙂

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Adelaide, the town I couldn’t fully appreciate due to the circumstances

 Botanical Gardens

Botanical Gardens

The first night at Shakespeare’s hostel I slept well. Funny that Michèle and I ended up in here together, since we both had chosen Romeo and Juliet as one of our exam books. This is the first hostel here that really feels like a hostel. Big and a lot of people you will never talk to. With the ones in Perth I’ve been very lucky, they were more like families.

So, we wanted to leave the hostel as soon as possible but unfortunately, none of the couchsurfers had time and so we had to spend the 30$ on every night.

In the morning, the weather was nice and so we decided to take the tram to Glenelg Beach, a pretty little seaside town. I thought I could put some adds about my car and camping stuff on Gumtree later.

30min later, we were strolling along the shopping strip in Glenelg, looking for something we could have lunch later. Two German girls were with us too, Michèle met them at the airport and they will switch to our hostel tonight.

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Afterwards, we sat on the sand for a while (it was too cold for swimming 😦 ) and then I had my first fish and chips in Australia. That was good, I definitely have to eat more seafood here!

We took the tram back to the city and went to two of the free musem. The migration museum was quite interesting but since the sun came out by then, we didn’t take the time to read all the signs.

Close to it was the National Museum of SA and in there you can find all kinds of stuffed animals and aboriginal art and hunting gear. I would have loved more time in there but it closed at five.
Along the same street, we found the botanical garden, which was very beautiful. No wonder that about five wedding parties chose this to take pictures or have an apéro. Unfortunately, the water lily pavilion and the rainforest hall closed at 4pm. But this park would always be a nice place to take a walk or go read a book.
Afterwards, it was time to do something for my car. Unfortunately, the wifi on the balcony didn’t work well enough (there is free wifi allover Adelaide center but only outside buildings) and so Michèle and I went off to look for a McDonalds. I extra brought my charger since I saw my laptop battery was very low but then off course there was no power plug. So we went to Hungry Jacks (yay, chocolate sundae for 2$) but the plug didn’t work. All that walking around town for nothing. And back in the hostel I realized that it wasn’t the plug at Hungry Jack’s that was broken but it was the little piece at the end of my charger (I hope it’s that and not something inside the laptop..). Great, now that I really need my laptop, I can’t even charge it. Of course this had to happen too! There wasn’t anything I could do now, so we finally cooked a late dinner and then I tried the internet again with my phone. Now that worked but of course nobody replied in the short time I was in Adelaide (but I might have some people who buy my camping things in Melbourne).

Glenelg

Glenelg

The next morning, I tried to call a few numbers of steel companies that buy broken cars but of course nobody picked up on a Sunday.
Luckily, then a couchsurfer called me that she’d have space and we could come but we would be more like house sitters, since she had to go to the hospital for two days. So, we packed our things, took a bus and then carried our things to her house like donkeys (before that, we decided with the German girls that we’d rent a car together on Tuesday to drive to Melbourne, so I really had to get rid of my car on Monday:().
The lady was very friendly but her house was a bit of a shock, untidy to the point that we tried only to touch what we really had to. I didn’t really want to spend two nights there.
We dropped our stuff off and the lady explained what we had to look after and then Michèle and I took the bus back to the city to catch a train to Port Adelaide.
We walked directly to the red lighthouse in the harbor where also the Sunday market was located. I would have loved a nice food market but it was a flea market with a lot of things we don’t have any space for anyways. So we had a look at the Dolphin Cruises (you take a boat up the river to the beginning of the ocean and back again for 1,5 hours). They cost only 8$ per adult (how can anything be so cheap in Australia? Probably it’s not very likely to see dolphins but still, a nice boat ride). We talked to the lady at the office for a moment and then she offered us the cruise half price.

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Just like that (perhaps it looked so obvious that I wasn’t having the best time at the moment?) Anyways, that was the first really nice thing I experienced in Adelaide.

We boarded the boat and just relaxed for the next 90min, observing the other ships and birds. We didn’t see any dolphins but at least I forgot about all the stress for a moment.

We went back to the house, looked after the chickens and cooked dinner. The mattress for sleeping was ok but if I could sell the car on Monday morning and we’d find a rental car for the same day, we definitely wouldn’t hesitate to leave this place and Adelaide.

Port Adelaide

Port Adelaide

I made a few phone calls on Monday morning, firs offer for my dead car was 200$, then for 80$ and 150$ and in the end 250$. That’s what I had to take to at least get a little something back:(. Not what I had planned at all. Now I really will have to find a different but also cheap way to travel here. Will probably also be good, I just have to be able to say goodbye to my VORSTELLUMG first.

We met up with Johanna and Sarah at Peterpan’s travel agency and were lucky to find a wicked van for all of us for that day. I took a bus for an hour and then walked the last 600m through the industrial area to the truck depot. All the while I was hoping that the depot would be open, the car still there and that the guy from the steel company would really come.

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To my relief, there were people on the yard and the first guy I talked to was exactly the guy I was looking for:) He gave me a yellow security west to wear, led me to my car and for an hour, I cleaned the rest of my gear out and unscrewed the kangaroo bar and the roof rack. A guy came by and asked me whether I was a trainee 🙂

Then a tow truck arrived and pulled my now naked car away:( I really would have needed him for another three month!

Famous Adelaide Pigs

Famous Adelaide Pigs

The girls arrived in the van and although it’s big, there was no way I’d be able to fit all my stuff and our suitcases in it. So, I already had to leave a few things behind (also the roof rack but at least following a tip from the truck depot manager, I carried the kangaroo rack another 150m to an aluminum recycling place and they paid me 8$ for it.)

With the help from the girls, we managed to fit the rest of the stuff in the car, then we drove back into the city to get our luggage (4 girls who travel for a longer amount of time…) shopped for food and finally at 4pm we were ready to take off. As soon as we were out of the city, the environment turned into very scenic surroundings. Adelaide Hills or the Barrossa Valley would have been worth a trip too!

We drove for as long as the daylight permitted and then found a simple but great campsite by chance (8$ pp).

Michèle set our roof tent up and after dinner we were very excited to spend the first night in the tent on top of the car (Johanna and Sarah were down in the car and we’d switch every night). Unfortunately, the sleeping surfaces weren’t as comfortable as we’d have liked them to be or even seemed broken. We felt liked we deserved better for the price we paid. Wicked will hear from us!
But now we first try to catch some rest for a new adventure.

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That was the next day but I was happy to leave SA, which mostly brought me bad luck.

 

Hero’s end (Ceduna to Kimba)

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Ever since I reached South Australia, there were these signs telling me that I couldn’t import any fruit or vegetables. But several people I met had told me that they’ve never been checked. So, I thought the checkpoint right before Ceduna would be something you just drive through and they would wave at you to move on. But unfortunately, they stopped me and took my fresh pack of six tomatoes, the potato bag, apples, bananas and my half cucumber I still had away from me L That was probably worth 10$ since fruit and veggies are so very expensive here. Nevertheless, I still bought some oysters at the Oyster Bar after that. They probably would have been cheaper at the sea food shed but that was closed when I got there around lunch time and so I had to take a dozen for 8.50$. They were extremely delicious! I really have to keep looking out for them along the coast!

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Then, I started another 790km towards Adelaide. After a little while, I passed a guy with a carriage and two horses. That reminded me of Camp Green Lake in HOLES but I later learned that this guy is walking across Australia, collecting money against cancer.

I’d have made it to Adelaide by 8pm, passing one town after another that was along a train track and looked exactly the same to the one before. Sometimes I was wondering whether I somehow ended up driving in circles but the town names assured me that I was moving ahead. In my head I was pondering whether I shouldn’t sell my car in Sydney or Darwin after all and try to drive through the red center in the end, since it had been driving so well all this time. Hero seemed to like the long straight roads without hills. Why on earth did I think that? Probably jinxed my car because that’s when I started smelling something burned. I should have stopped then right away but I couldn’t see any warning light flashing and so I kept driving until my car slowed down on its own. Oh no, that couldn’t be good.

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I opened the hood and my motor was smoking. No hose had popped out but when I opened the radiator lid, all the water inside was gone. I refilled some liquid only to realize that it leaked right out again. I checked the same hose that already caused troubles last time and sure enough, it wasn’t connected anymore. That’s when a guy stopped to help me. He tried putting it back on and then a second car stopped to try too. After a while and a few burned arms, they managed to put it back on. Of course, the car still didn’t start. I didn’t expect it to as the motor was still very hot and all the water we poured in kept evaporating. They hooked Hero up to the battery of the other car and after a while managed to get it started but that would just make the water boil. No way I could drive with this thing. Hero wasn’t as much of a Hero as I needed him to be. There still was one hope though. The two guys had to head off in different directions to run some errands but Ash told me that he had a friend who knew about cars and perhaps they could tow me to his farm later and have another look again. We exchanged numbers and they both drove off, leaving me by the side of the road, only having cell reception when there was wind. For half an hour, none of the passing cars stopped until, someone slowed down, who introduced himself as Ash’s friend. He tried a few things again and then was convinced that there was nothing more to do for my car. I thought I’d be a lot more upset when that happens. I was when that hose popped off 10 days ago. But I probably came to terms with the possibility of not being able to drive the whole 6 months myself. For now, I was just glad I had some kind people looking after me. Digger (I only know his nickname), towed me the 30km to the farm. I’ve never been towed before and was surprised that I had to get in the car and steer it behind him. I thought we’d just drag Hero along behind us 🙂

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We made it to the farm without any troubles, where I received a beer and was warmly welcomed by Kerry, Ashley’s wife. They offered me to spend the night with them and would help me sort out possible ways from here. Kerry ushered me into the beautiful house they had renovated and showed me the room I could sleep in. I couldn’t believe it. There was a huge bed in it!!! Then I had a shower and it was so natural for them that I had dinner with them that I couldn’t stop being amazed at how nice people are here!

Neverending farmland

Neverending farmland

I didn’t want to just abandon my car here with all the good things in it but towing is extremely expensive in Australia. I couldn’t have afforded that. Luckily, Ash knows the boss of a truck company and someone would even be driving from here to Adelaide the next day. I still don’t know what will happen from there but it will at least be in a bigger city and give me more time to organize something (also, I needed to get to Adelaide, because my friend Michèle from Switzerland was waiting there for me. We wanted to do the great ocean road together).

For the moment, it would have been 200$ to transport me and Hero to Adelaide but Kerry and Ash were still working on it to make it cheaper for me. I really can’t thank these people enough!

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I had a wonderful warm and dry night and when I woke up I couldn’t imagine how I had lived without a bed for so long. I love beds! Ash and Digger were already out and about when I got up and I first received a wonderful cup of coffee (bless these people!). Then, I re-organized my luggage, so that I’d have all the things ready I’d take into Adelaide with me. The rest I’d just leave in the car for now. I’m hoping that I can sell them somehow because there is a lot of good camping gear in there. All my prized possessions that helped me survive in the wilderness. I’ve never been good in saying goodbye to things (or people) because you will always be able to use these things for something again, right? But really, why should I get upset about a stove, tent or surfboard? I’ll find my way across Australia without these things.

Fast and Furious

Fast and Furious

After that, Ash took me on a tour around the property. Again, never ending fields to every side. We drove around for over an hour, which means that you could probably walk around the 6500 acres for a long time. Somewhere, we found a lost lamb and close to it was a dead sheep, which might have been its mother. Life is though, even for sheep! The lamb was pretty far away from the other sheep and so we rescued it and drove it back to his flock. We can only hope that one of the other sheep will adopt the poor thing.

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After that, I waited for the truck to come by and pick me up and once it did, I felt like in Fast&Furious. My Hero got loaded into the back of the truck and they strapped the tires to the side of it and then my car vanished behind the doors. I climbed into the cabin, which was quite big and there even was a bed behind the seats for the driver (now I know where all the missing truck drivers where when we saw “abandoned” trucks on rest areas).

So, we started driving towards Adelaide and for once I could look down on all the little backpacker cars and vans (my brother and dad would have loved that!). I’ve never been in such a truck before except in a learning simulator at the open house of the army in Switzerland. And there, I felt really dizzy and sick after being in there for two minutes. Luckily, it is a lot more agreeable in a real truck 🙂

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So, the next six hours, we spent driving on country roads, in SA sunshine with Tim McGraw on the speakers. Taylor Swift, if you need new song inspirations, you should probably come travel here in Australia 🙂

We stopped at a gas station for a Gyros and finally made it to the truck depot in Adelaide at 11pm. Greg was then so nice to even drive me to my hostel, where Michèle was waiting for me.

I was so lucky again to have met the right people at the right time who went out of their way to help me! Now I’ll have to spend a few days running around in Adelaide to hopefully be able to sell some of the things in and on the car.

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1100 km of nothingness (Nullabor Plain)

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We knew they announced rain for the morning in Esperance but we thought we’d be fine if we got up at 6am. Who would have thought that it would start pouring out of buckets at 5.30? Of course the tent was drenched again and so were parts of the things we had inside, since we left the window open again (sometimes I guess I can be overly optimistic). Once we got up, the whole tour group was already eating breakfast. They got surprised by the rain in their swags too.

Beautiful sunsets

Beautiful sunsets

Cro and I then soon took off, shopped for more supplies in Esperance and then started driving the 200km towards Norseman, the last town before the long Eyre Hyw. While we were having lunch, Cro received a phone call that one of his good friends from Ireland got hit by a car over in Perth and so he wanted to go back there as quickly as possible. Which meant that he wanted to hitchhike back to Perth and I was suddenly facing to cross the longest stretch of driving alone. Norseman consists of two gas stations, an information center and maybe 8 houses. There was no way I’d find someone there to come with me. But the lady in the information center said that she’d done the drive all by herself before and that it shouldn’t be a problem. There is a roadhouse every 180km and the road should be quite busy too. While Cro was getting all of his things out of the car at one of the gas stations, a van stopped and a guy asked whether we were alright. He was very nice and said he’d be driving the same way as me and we’d probably meet up somewhere again and also assured me that driving that road won’t be a problem. He drove off and soon after that I started too (Cro is back in Perth now and his friend is fine. Just been unconscious for a while and has a concussion).

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I put my music on and reached Balladonia in no time. At the gas station there, I ran into Luke again, who was eating a hamburger and suggested that we’d continue together for the night. I was glad that I didn’t have to be alone out in nowhere. I followed him for a while and we had the most beautiful sunset in our rearview mirrors. The sky was golden and then red and pink over endless fields and trees. We stopped for pictures before the longest straight road of Australia and then drove to about the middle of it. By then it was almost dark, so we took the first road off the highway that we could find. Here, you can basically camp on any of the rest areas. We found a great one that way a little away from the road (which is good because no road trains will be rolling on to it in the night and you also don’t hear every one of them rushing by). I cooked my dinner and would have gladly cooked for Luke too but he was full from his burger and wasn’t too tempted by my sausages, being a vegetarian. Instead, he brought out his guitar and accompanied my dinner with a concert 🙂 (You probably were picturing an acoustic guitar now, but it was actually an electric one with a little intensifier :)). So, I was enjoying my dinner in the light of my headlamp, out in the middle of trees and nothingness, listening to the songs Luke knew. Life was good 🙂

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And then it got even better, because he asked me how I had planned on sleeping. I told him that I wanted to try sleeping in the car because my tent and I had seen enough rain for a while. He took pity on me, since my car was so full with stuff and too short to sleep in it anyways and offered me to sleep in his van, while he would be sleeping in his swag. I didn’t want to do this to him but he said he’d been wanting to do that again for a long time anyways. So, once he was installed in his little one man tent, I climbed on the matrass in his van and had the best sleep I had in a week. I didn’t hear a sound all night and only awoke to my alarm clock in the morning. If I ever come back to do a road trip like this, it will have to be with someone, so that we can afford a van. How comfortable and practical that is!

So, in the morning, I didn’t have to do any work and was ready to leave pretty soon too. Luke already took off because he wanted to get far too, saying that we might meet up at a gas station again anyways. But I probably was driving slower and stopping more (and I also got stuck behind three oversized trucks for 50km), so that I never saw him anymore.

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Now, everybody who travelled the Nullabor as a couple or with several people came out of it, saying how long and boring it was. I was surprised how many people I saw driving alone . And everyone of them told me what a nice drive this was. I liked it too! So far, it hadn’t been boring at all. The scenery changed about every 100km from no trees to trees and then different colored fields again. It was amazing to see the horizons meet the sky in every direction! And the signs along the road are pretty entertaining too (Drowsy Drivers Die, Tiredness is Fatal..Wow, why so cheerful?). And all these long, straight roads…I hated driving in Europe. 700km from Switzerland to Berlin feel a lot longer than what I drive here. And with all the new music I received from my couchsurfer hosts, I was ready for this long drive. Also, there are a lot of cars on this road. I crossed somebody almost every four minutes, waving to all the drivers (at first thinking, lucky you, you’ve made it so far and then, poor you, you have so far to go :)).

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All the gas stations cost around 2.06$ (ugh, and I couldn’t even split the costs this time), except in Eucla and the town before that it was 1.96$. Eucla is a really nice place to stop for lunch. You can see the ocean and they even have a pool.

I drove on a little more, stopping at a few lookout points. Wow, these cliffs! It was really windy there and I was a bit worried about how I will set the tent up but luckily, inland it was almost warm and not windy.

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Somewhere, I had to change the time 45min (?!) ahead and then later again some amount of time I didn’t know. Therefore I was quite confused what time it was now and couldn’t believe it that it was already 6.30pm at one roadhouse and it was still light out. I met a couple from Belgium who told me that here, the sun didn’t set until 8pm, so I didn’t actually lose the two hours driving time I thought I had lost. I continued through another amazing sunset and then pulled onto a rest area. It was quite big and there was a lot of space between the two camper vans that were already there and me but it was just nice to see their lights later in the darkness, so that I didn’t feel completely alone.

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Back in Switzerland, I thought I’d never survive one night in the wilderness if I wasn’t with an experienced camping person. Now, I could stay alive for as long as the food and water lasts. I have all the supplies I need in my car and it just feels good to not be dependent from cities or campgrounds.

I tried the tent again and that night, luckily wasn’t surprised by rain. I set the alarm to 5.50am to really have enough hours to drive and take breaks that day and then I was very confused when it was still pitch black outside. For a moment I was a bit afraid that it would never get light out again, then I thought perhaps I had put in the wrong time when I changed the clock and only my third thought was that the sunrise was probably just two hours later here. I rested for another half an hour and then packed my things up and had breakfast in the light of my headlamp, being relieved that it gradually got lighter outside. There already were cars on the road and I was ready too, once the sun was finally up high enough.

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And before I knew it, I reached Ceduna and with that civilization (the gas station before Ceduna was actually a little cheaper than the ones in Ceduna). I had officially crossed the Nullabor and wasn’t a Nullabor virgin anymore (that’s what the tourguide in Esperance called everybody who hadn’t done that yet). In the souvenir shops you can even buy certificates that say that you have crossed it. If I didn’t have a car, I’d never have done that and would have just flown to Adelaide (a 10 day tour from Perth to Adelaide would be about 1700$) but there are definitely a lot of nice things to see along the way and it’s a great experience to have to put up with your own thoughts only for a few days.

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Esperance – Where the kangaroos go to the beach

Hellfire Bay

Hellfire Bay

The first two nights are already behind us. Cro really got the full load of camping right then 🙂 We entered Albany Hwy in Perth and were on the same road for 5 hours until we were back in Albany. This route was much quicker and easier than via Wave Rock but much less entertaining. Field after field. Albany still looked nice but quite cloudy. Therefore, we just drove back to the campsite I stayed at before. The group of French people that was there the last weekend was still there. The first dinner was good but already then it rained a little. And then during the night, it rained even more L It proofed that our tent was waterproof enough that we didn’t get soaked but everything was damp the next morning and that it still rained while we took the tent down didn’t help the drying process.

Good that we drove towards beautiful weather. At our lunch stop, we used the car as a drying rack for our things 🙂

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Lucky Bay

It somehow always takes us longer to get to a place than expected and so we arrived in Esperance at 4.30pm. At the information center a sign said that the campsites in the national park were full. We didn’t want to risk having to drive back in the dark and therefore, I asked wiki camps for a place near the town. Yabby Campground was a great place for one night, with a free washing machine!! Unfortunately, I only had washing gel from Switzerland but no washing powder, but the owner gave me some.

View over Lucky Bay

View over Lucky Bay

Another nice dinner (with self-made cucumber salad and discounted tzatziki sauce from Coles for 50c :)). The night was rough though. No rain this time but it seems that always after two weeks, the blow up mattress would rip. I definitely don’t want to keep investing money on these. Exped will have to do for now and Cro luckily brought his own little mattress.

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The next morning, we finally made it into Cape Le Grand NP. Everybody had told me, that here we’d find the most beautiful beaches of Australia and so I was excited what we would find. We first drove to Le Grand beach and campsite because we thought we’d stay there but the beach there wasn’t very special, so we drove on to Hellfire Bay. The bay really did look beautiful with white sand and different shades of blue water but it was quite similar to Green Pool in Denmark.

After a swim and lunch, we drove on to Lucky Bay. The tent area looked pretty empty (and I am sure we’d have found a spot here last night) and since we met the leader of a tour group, who told us that she had all kinds of tips for us for going across the Nullabor, we decided to stay there.

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Lucky Bay already looks amazing when you drive towards it. There, you really see the contrast of the clear blue water next to the white sand and the green bushes. Beautiful!!!

And since the bay is so big, you can walk along the sand until you are completely alone (same in Helfire Bay, we were the only people). So, yes from that perspective it comes pretty close to paradise. However, what concerns me, I wouldn’t say these are the most beautiful beaches. They are stunningly beautiful but in the whole package, I liked Margaret River or Exmouth and Coral Bay just as much. The cool thing about Lucky Bay however is, that there are kangaroos on the beach! And at the campground too. Also little ones 🙂

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There also was a tour group who just came from Adelaide. They had some good tips for us and were a bunch of really fun people. We had a great evening and I even got to speak some Swiss German with two girls 🙂

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