With my car gone, I have now been looking for people with cars on gumtree and couchsurfing to do a road trip with. The first guy I met up with didn’t seem very trustworthy though, so I passed on that opportunity. Luckily, because that gave me the chance to meet Ave. He is an Asian student at the culinary in Melbourne and said that he had never done a road trip and only camped in the living room and therefore needed someone with travel experience. He seemed nice and like we’d get along and so we set a date to leave the next day.
Our first stop then was Philipp’s Island, since it was along the costal route anyways 🙂 We got some free samples at the chocolate factory and a delicious iced chocolate and then drove on to the penguin parade. It already looked like a tourist trap from the outside. I think it said something about several thousand people coming every evening. We waited in one of the lines, paid the 24$(!!) and then proceeded to the center where you could buy expensive food and souvenirs. Everywhere were employers who reminded us that we had to pack our cameras and phones away since we weren’t allowed to take pictures anymore (thanks to the people who disregarded the no flash rule over the years!).
We saw a few penguins on the walk down to the beach. At the beach, you sit in a huge kind of amphitheater that overlooks the ocean and wait for the sun to set. There are small lamps and their light reflects on the bellies of the penguins who come out of the water in big groups and then run across the sand in the funny way they are moving. But they really are too far away to see the whole penguin. It’s more just the white bellies. But the quantity of them is impressive! It got a bit better when we walked back to the entrance about 45min later since you can spot the penguins all along the board walk (once you can squeeze past all the other people who are also looking at them). So, all in all, the penguins at St. Kilda were a better experience, even though there weren’t as many. Perhaps Philipp Island used to be better when it wasn’t as famous.
Of course, now it was dark which made finding our camping spot for the night a bit more difficult. But we found a nice one near Inverloch, next to a lake. And since Ave had brought half of his kitchen he could prepare a delicious Chinese dinner for me 🙂
The next morning we drove on to Wilson’s Promotory. This time we were lucky, because it only started raining the minute we got in the car. Before the national park, we stopped in Coral Creek to have a look at the cute “museum town”. They rebuilt old houses, like it used to be during mining times and here the entry is free!
It was a pity that we had the worst weather of the day, while we were at the beautiful Squeaky Beach. Also the other beaches and mountains look really nice and from the huge campsite in at the southern end, you could do a long hike to the southernmost point of continental Australia. We could have explored ‘the prom’ for a couple of days but decided to move up north to try to get better weather. Our goal was Lakes Entrance because several people in Victoria had told me that this was such a beautiful place and everybody went on vacation there. So, I was a bit disappointed when we got there because I had seen so many prettier towns and places in Australia. And of course, all the campsites were full. After the 5th try we finally got a tiny, overpriced site. After dinner, we walked along the water but in my opinion, it still didn’t look special. Perhaps because it was Good Friday and most things were closed.
Unfortunately, the next morning the weather was worse again and so we only quickly walked to 90 Mile Beach. We wanted to walk to the end of the island to see the point where the ocean meets the river, but it was just too cold for that. So, we got back in the car and made our way to the Washington of Australia; Canberra. There we visited the war memorial. It is a really good museum and when we got out, they were holding a memorial for a soldier, so we got to hear the Australian anthem too.
Then, we found a great 10$ campsite in Gundaroo. However, the night was so freezing, that even breathing was hard and we switched into the car at 3am. The next day we were really surprised that we didn’t have a fever or pneumonia. I guess we will be staying in hostels from now on…
We then spent half a day driving to the Blue Mountains. EVERYBODY seemed to be going there and so we got stuck in a traffic jam but the wait was definitely worth it!
Of course the parking lot at Echo Point was overcrowded. Just our luck, because therefore we had to go find a space in Scenic World, which was for free. There was a very long line at the gondola but we just marched past that because we wanted to walk from here to the famous Three Sisters (at Echo Point). The views were stunning, I couldn’t stop wowing!!!
This path is very easy and therefore was full with people but it was nothing compared to the crowed at Echo Point. I guess I know why our car was stuck in traffic for an hour…
The lady at the visitor center told us that we still should do the Giant Stairway (most people would only do that and then walk the same way back) and then walk towards Leura and back on the Cliff Walk. This would be about a 3 hour circle.
So, with hundreds of other people we pilgrimaged down the never-ending 900(!) steps which were carved into the rock or just normal steel stairs. It was pretty steep at times. This just doesn’t come out in the pictures. The views were still amazing.
400m lower, we reached the bottom of the stairs and started walking on the path to the left, suddenly being alone in a rainforest. The path went up and down but was really nice and I couldn’t believe the people would just walk back up the same boring stairs. I was a bit worried about how we’d have to get back up though. After an hour or so, we finally ran into another group of people who were really happy to see us. The nature felt pretty wild and lonely down there, as it was late in the afternoon.
We then reached a waterfall and that’s where our way up began. Phew, it was mostly just steps too but not as vertical as the way down.
At some point, we ran into 70 year old Henry, who lives near here and goes walking at least once a week. He basically jogged in front of us while my legs started to feel heavier and heavier. I was very glad when we finally reached the top :)! Henry told us, that the hike to the bottom of Leura Falls was wonderful too but unfortunately, we couldn’t do it that day, as it was getting dark. We should either do this the next day, or even better, the National Pass walk from Wentworth Falls.
We said goodbye to Henry and then started our way back on the Cliff Walk (again an easy track). Every time it went downhill again, we were whining because we knew we’d have to walk it back up again. Our poor legs! They weren’t used to that after sitting in the car for so long. But the views are just so amazing, I’d do it again right away!!
And the Blue Mountains really looked more and more blue as the sun was setting. Back at Echo Point, all the tourist buses had left and now there were only about 10people left. Private view over the Valley 🙂
We then just had to walk 20 more minutes back to the car (probably would have been 15 but it wasn’t easy to find the way in the dark, as we walked through town now and not along the cliff.)
Finally at the car, we drove through Katoomba to find a hostel. Katoomba is a very cute town that really has a holiday feeling to it. I could easily stay here for a few days 🙂
It took us 4 tries to find a hostel that still had a room and so we ended up at Nº14, which was nice and cozy.
Since it was Easter, we wanted to treat ourselves to some nice food and ended up at the Station Bar. I had the best pizza in Australia so far. Pretty similar to how it would taste in the Italian part of Switzerland. Mhhhh!
On Easter Monday, we drove down to Wentworth Falls. This time, no traffic jam and as it was only about 9am, we found a parking spot in the actual (free) car park 🙂
It said that National Pass would take us 4 hours and again, a lot of steps but we set out for the walk anyways. There were a lot of steps but it was definitely better to start the way we did, so that we’d end up at Conservation Hutt (the climb there was more steady) . And the walk was incredibly beautiful and varying. Amazing waterfalls, followed by overhanging cliffs, rainforest, more waterfalls, the path carved into the cliffs and waterfalls again. And this view! All in all, this was even better than the walk yesterday.
At the restaurant Conservation Hutt, we rewarded ourselves with iced coffees and then walked the remaining 15min back to the car. About 10 of these minutes we were walking past all the cars that were parked along the street now. I already could see us sitting in traffic again on the way to Sydney but surprisingly, the traffic jam was still on the road going up to the Blue Mountains. We reached Sydney in late afternoon. It was easy to find a hostel. However, it was really hard to find a parking lot. Parking has been very expensive ever since I reached the East Coast and I am slowly starting to think, that I am better of without a car.
Eventually, we found a place and then headed straight to the fish market, which by now was closed. We found some oysters anyways, in a beautiful place with a view of the harbor. Then, we walked to the Opera House and for the first time in a while I consciously realized again that I was in Australia 🙂 (I guess the weather over the past weeks just hasn’t been living up to my image of Australia).
The next morning, we went back to the famous fish market and bought several different things to try. In the end, I thought I could never eat fish again, I was so full. And that with a seagull stealing one of our sashimi!! Watch out for these beasts!
Then, it was high time for Ave to drive back to Melbourne since he had to get back to uni and I headed back into the city to enjoy the ongoing art biennale and SUNSHINE. Finally, I could wear short clothes again 🙂