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.
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.
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?).
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.
Then, we reached Port Fairy and with that the start of the Great Ocean Rd. In Warrnambool, I found Oysters for 6.75$/ half a dozen and they were very delicious too. There also would have been a rebuilt historical village along the seafront. We found it by chance because it is behind the visitor center. It looked cute but would have been too expensive to just go inside for a short time.
So, we drove on and finally reached the coast again. Already the first lookout point gave view over impressive pillars in the beautiful ocean. We stopped at every lookout point after that, finding beautiful bays with intensely blue and green water. Towards the evening, we reached Port Campbell, with free wifi at the visitor center and a campground for 45$ 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.
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!!!
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.
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.
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.
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 🙂