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Hello Australia :)

Hot hot hot!! :)

Hello Australia.....Hello sunshine,
How lovely I have to say is it to be back in the sunshine, I arrived into actual Melbourne at just gone 4pm and it was boiling still :) I had not slept well the night before, I have decided I do not like the larger dorms, (it was 12 bed) they are too noisey and people can be so rude.... But mustn't grumble as it is a cheap way to travel, anyhow what I was getting at was I was tired. Following check in, I just took a small walk in seek of a cold drink and a magazine (I didn't need to eat as again Quantus fed me so well! They even handed out ice creams after the meal! Dined like a queen, a flying queen... Haha) and due to my early start for my tour I just showered and got a much needed early night :)
I was up bright and early the next morning as had to be at pick up point at 7.15am, fortunately it was just round the corner from my hostel. There were a few different tour groups being picked up but we were the last group to be picked up, so got talking to a few people then. So this was the Great Ocean Road day tour, little history on GOR for you, it was officially built between 1919 and 1932. It was built by soldiers returning from the First World War as a war memorial (it's the worlds largest war memorial). It starts in Torquay and ends in Warrnambool. Although we only drove to Port Campbell. Our first port of call was Bells Beach, a stunning stretch of coast line, famous for surfing as it holds the professional surfing competitions there. We stopped for tea and biscuits but I got a few snaps of the cliffs and the shoreline, you could see a few surfers on there boards, but just sitting or paddling and the sea was very calm, no giant waves to be seen. We then headed (with a few photo stops on the way) to a rainforest. We did the Mait's Rest Rainforest Walk, it's exactly as it's sounds a walk in a rainforest, which was beautiful. The tour guide explained all the different trees to us, new trees were even growing out of trees that had fallen or on the other different types of trees, very unusual. Some trees were was clearly years old, as they were massive. I even had my picture taken fully standing up inside the trunk of a tree, it had what I would call 'fairy tale' roots, you would imagine magical creatures living within them :) I really enjoyed the rainforest but I was on lookout for snakes/birds etc but didn't see any.... Thank god!
We then drove to our lunchtime stop of Cape Otway, en route we were lucky enough to see wild koalas in the trees, they were all sleeping as it was hot, I even saw a mother and a baby .... So cute! Cape Otway has a lighthouse which is the oldest known surviving lighthouse in mainland Oz (since 1848). It's on a cliff side so generally the first seen lighthouse when travelling from Europe. Such a pretty place, following lunch we got to climb the lighthouse, the views out to sea from the bottom of lighthouse were phenomenal but the views from the top were even better.....amazing. It was very steep climbing the winding staircase but so worth it once at the top :) Once we all had our feel of the lighthouse we headed off to see what the GOR is most famous for the 12 apostles. There are actually only about 9 apostles left due to weather and the sea beating them down. We first stopped at Gibson steps, were you could see the first apostle. You could see it from the top of the steps but once you walked down the steps onto the beach below the view of it was amazing. I believe originally the apostles were once part of the cliff but due to various natural reasons they had eroded away from the cliff leaving the stack. Again stunning. We then drove to the official 12 apostles lookout. The lookout had various different lookout points, and was in the middle of the apostles so either side you could see great views. All I can say is I was in awe at how beautiful the views were and glad I went as it was well worth the visit :) Our last sight of the day was the Loch and Gorge also known as Shipwreck Coast, due to ships hitting the cliffs and becoming shipwrecks :( We then finished the day in Port Campbell, just to grab a snack before the 4 hr drive home. Got back to Melbourne at 21.45 ish....... Long day but it went so quickly and I was sooooooo happy I had booked the trip :) (I booked it out here on the advise of friends I had met in NZ).
The following day and my last full day in Melborne I decided to explore the city itself. You could get a free tram which did a loop of the centre of the city or a free shuttle bus which took you to the sights of the city, but I decided to walk it. Although on occasion I did get lost, and stumbled across something I had not yet planned on seeing, I managed to find my way round. My first stop was federation square which was the main square of the city, this was a vibrant busy place, it had new and old buildings alike surrounding it. St Paul's Cathedral was one of the buildings, a grand gothic building, very striking. I also particularly like Flinders train station another old gothic building :) I then as walking down the main streets of the busy city came across the Town Hall and the State Library of Victoria. I ate my lunch in the beautiful Carlton Gardens which is also the home of the Royal Exhibition building and Melbourne Museum. Two very different building the first being a beautiful grand old building and the second being a modern arty glass building. I then walked to Queen Victoria Market but I got there as it was closing :( it is a very busy food market, however I just saw them packing away! Oh dear! On the upside en route I got to see the Melbourne's City Bath's building. I then took a little break..... It was a very hot day and I was sweating, but managed to do a load of washing and book a trip to Great Barrier Reef in this time ...... Very productive! Then I walked along Southbank by the river (very mordern lively place) and went in search of the Olympic Parks, I was originally looking for the cricket ground to take pics of for my cricket mad family but there was multiple buildings/stadiums and when I decided to give up I noticed a sign saying 'Melbourne Olympic Parks' .... Lucky I took a few snaps then :) I then tried to find the Shrine of Remembrance. This time I thought I found it, a massive column with various statues on and around it, to then wander further through the park to see a sign saying it was 300 yards (or something like that) further on. To be honest I had thought 'was that it', and then I saw the actual shrine and it was breathtaking.... Much what I had expected to see. A beautiful building, set up so you could see it, with a massive stairway leading to it. It had beautiful carvings and statues surrounding it and on the side of the building it had scribed on it ' let all men know that this is holy ground this shrine established in the hearts of men as on the solid earth commemorates a people's fortitude and sacrifice ye therefore that come after give remembrance'. Like the GOR it was originally built as a memorial for those who served in World War 1 however it's now a shrine to all Australians who have served in a war. Very humbling.
Again with everything I have mentioned in this blog entry I can not explain how beautiful things are, I have took pictures but even they don't truly capture the beauty :)
I eventually got back to the hostel at around 8 pm, so again packed, showered and just chilled as my had an early flight to Alice Springs in the morning :) These few days have been like a detox, much what my body needed... Haha :)
Update soon, if I survive camping :)
Love,
Cook xxxxxxxxxxx

Posted by Renae84 23:43 Archived in Australia

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