A Travellerspoint blog

Grampians National Park

sunny

This was it, this was the last of our Victoria adventures and we were lucky enough that we managed to keep some of crew from the Great Ocean Road trip with a few added extras. We knew when we had done GOR that another camping trip was a definite must and one of the best places to do this is the Grampians National Park. Situated 3 hours north west of Melbourne the Grampians is a series of rugged sandstone mountain ranges and forests rich in wildlife that rises abruptly from the surrounding Western Plains. This mini weekend adventure was going to be about exploring the outdoors or "the bush" as the Aussie's like to call it.

Gathering our things in the early morning and heading down to the lobby to wait for Dougo and Erika to pick us up we thought to ourselves, we seem to have packed more than when we did for the 3 day GOR trip. Fortunately, Erika owned a Ford Territory which is a mammoth of a car with a huge boot. It was a squeeze with five of us and all our stuff but we got it in there.

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We planned to have all three cars meet in Ballarat which is about an hour out of Melbourne in order for us all catch up and have breakfast before gunning it down the highway. I chose Beechworth Bakery in the center of town, mainly because it was the only thing that was open at 8:00am, and it turned out to be a good choice as they had plenty of choices and we all chowed down heartily whilst also contemplating a treat.

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Contemplating! What am I saying, it was a done deal. Especially when they were made by John Cleese himself.

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I commented on a particular treat called Snickernoodle with Noreen, because I thought that out of any of us she would be the one to choose it with her bubbly nature. And low an behold she did.

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After completely over doing it at breakfast we headed off on the road to the Grampians, this leg would be the longest part and it wasn't particulary taxing because we were having a good time in the car making countless film and tv quotes and watching the scenary wizz by. Sarah and I had done the trip before when we delivered items to the Save the Children store in Ararat, so we knew what to expect.

It didn't feel like it took very long, probably because we were goofing around and just taking in the scenery.

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When we got to Halls Gap, the small town nestled on the edge of the Grampians National Park area the sun was beaming. The plan from here was to collect our permits at Brambuk National Park and Cultural Centre and then choose our camping spot based on the advice we got from them.

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It was decided the best place for us to camp would be Smiths Mill, located by the Mackenzie River and a short driving distance from the Wonderland walk which would take us to the Pinnacle overlooking the park. The campsite was basic but it had all you need and we decided to take the spot furthest away from the other people staying there. As we set up tents we got a chance to feel close to nature as ants were going about their day climbing up the tree and around the purpose built concrete surface that our tent would be pitched on. The tree had this red goo coming out of it which I imagine might have attracted the ants. Our camp bag had this bizarre looking caterpillar which Sarah managed to capture, can you see his claw like mouth and the yellow flower like spikes coming out of its back.

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By the time we had set up the sun was at its hottest and we jumped in our cars with water and suntan lotion to start our adventure to the Pinnacle Wonderland walk. Before we set off on the walk I tried to do a bit of tour guide prep and Broomy made sure he checked the safety notices, staying true to his profession.

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As soon as we started our walk the landscape began to change and we headed through series of rocky rock formations that looked like something out of Star Trek or some film set. It was great just to take our time and enjoy the outdoors, the company and the gorgeous weather

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The further along the track we went the more interesting the rock formations became and we couldn't resist the urge to climb!

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At one point the rocks got a little narrow and it felt like we were in an Indiana Jones film, it might also of felt like that because we were busting out the classic soundtrack as we walked it.

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Broomy and I managed to stop the boulder from ruining the occasion.

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As we got further and further up the trail the coolness of the winds signaled that we were getting higher and higher and it wasn't long before the trail opened out on to a huge plateau with majestic views. It was smiles all round.

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We were all ecstatic especially me and Nelson.

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After some obligatory landscape photos and goofing around we decided time was getting on and headed back the way we came. It was a great walk to really show off what the Grampians has to offer. If you like your outdoors adventures and enjoy a good walk, make your way down to this one.

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On the way down we stopped of at Bridal Veil Falls, well it should be called a Bridal Veil trickle, but despite this it was a refreshing break especially in the heat.

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Feeling good after the walk we were all ready to get some BBQ action on. Broomy had made it his mission to light a fire without the use of modern day devices and so as we brought out the nibbles he set to work at it.

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There was interest at first. But it waivered.

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Sarah took a moment to go and snap some of our neighbour's.

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We have been very lucky to have met some really nice people, all of which are great company, and so the evening unfolded with ease. I love a good BBQ and chill out round the campfire.

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Some of us liked the BBQ a bit too much

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We managed to make an epic fire and sat round it with some drinks and sing a longs. I introduced Dougo, Erika and Mike to the 4 chord Medley to which the GOR crew accompanied at all the correct moments, particularly the 'Come on Barbie, Lets Go Party" part. Good work team!

The next morning we all rose to see our campsite trash had been ransacked by the wildlife. Turned out the buggers had kept everyone up at some point throughout the night! Breakfast was on and everyone except Broomy, Sarah and me had come prepared with varitable feast! . Once packed down it was time for a quick team talk and so I hatched a plan to try out the Mackenzie Falls walk starting from the Zumsteins picnic area. It was described in the guide book as a medium walk with a few rock scrambling moments to endure. Everyone was keen except Tom and Mike as they had hit it hard the night before. A hats off has to go to them though for taking one for the team and dropping off the trash. Effort Lads!.

The nine of us left headed for Zumsteins picnic area and as we did we could see below us the valley we would be walking through. It looked awesome... and it was.

One of the first things we saw on the track was a Blue Tongued Bob tail which Dougo happily picked up to show us all. He looked quite prehistoric.

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The track was well laid out and it was pretty easy going for most part.

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It was another scorcher of a day so when we got to the rivers edge we all had a go at dipping our feet. It was freezing but refreshing.

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Up ahead were the Fish Falls, and this wasn't even the main attraction. Us lads did as all boys do, we climbed it!

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We decided we had to keep going to Mackenzie Falls as it was only about 1km away and so we headed up stream. And boy were we rewarded.
If you do this walk definitely start at Zumsteins instead of Mackenzie, because the reward of getting to the waterfall and enjoying the cool breeze and water in your face is the business.

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That was the end of our trip as it were, we had to walk back to the cars and by that time we were all pretty shattered and in need of some grub. Deciding to head to Stawell, the nearest town to get some food ended up not being the best plan because on a Sunday after 2pm the chefs have gone home. We decided to split up and said our lasts goodbyes to Ria, Noreen, Nelson and Shane. Sad times... but I'm sure that wont be the last time we see these guys.

I can't thank everyone enough for being great company and helping Sarah and I have a wonderful last adventure in Victoria.

A big, big thank you to Ericka and Dougo for teaming up and getting us back home to Melbourne. We all were asleep at some point whilst one of them drove the 3 hour trip home. Thanks again for providing the carpool.

What a great bunch!

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Stay tuned for more tales.

Dan

Posted by doyledan 05:00 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

Ticking things off the list...

Williamstown, Melbourne Cup and Eureka Tower

sunny

One of the bonus' of living in Melbourne is that it gets an additional public holiday all courtesy of the Melbourne Cup, otherwise known as "the race that stops the nation". The rest of Victoria and the country still has to work but if you're in this great city then you re free to enjoy the day :)

The race wasn't until the afternoon so we decided to make the most of a gorgeous sunny day by taking a trip on the river to Williamstown. We'd been talking about doing this since we had arrived but other plans or the weather had got in the way.

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The first ferry would leave at 10.30 so we took the short walk in good time to make sure we got a seat outside...However what we hadn't accounted for was the fact that most of the ferries would have been hired out for the races and were currently moored at Flemington! There was only one ferry operating and that one didn't go until 11.30am. This wasn't a problem though as it meant we could tick off another thing on our check list before leaving Melbourne by having a drink at the PonyFish, which is a bar that wraps around the leg of one of the bridges that spans Yarra River.

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We had a prime position to watch all the brightly coloured races goers posing on the bridge for photos before catching the train to the races. We got swept up in the atmosphere, having a cheeky morning drink too!

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We also had a clear view of where the ferry was going from so we could time perfectly when to go over to secure a seat on the deck. As we waited for the boat to fill up we took in some of the life on the river...

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And on the boat too...this guy has style! And I LOVE this kids backpack!

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It would take about an hour to go down the river to Williamstown and it was great to see the city from the water...

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It was interesting to see how the use of the river changes from the glitz of yachts to huge cargo ships.

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We had a great view back over the city as we approached Williamstown.

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Williamstown is a quaint place and we weren't the only ones making the most of the sunny day off. Steeped in Maritime history this was one of the first places that was settled in the area and was originally intended to be the site of the city over Melbourne, but I understand access to fresh water was the reason this changed. Even the visitors centre is shaped like a boat.

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It was too nice a day to stay inside so we just relaxed and had a great lunch as we watched the world and their dogs go by (including a gorgeous Burmese Mountain Dog puppy).

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We wanted to watch the Melbourne Cup Race on the big screens in Federation Square, so we decided to jump on the train back into the city. It would be quicker and cheaper than the ferry.

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We joined the crowds and found a spot just in time to see the cup paraded round the racecourse and all the jockeys and horses were introduced

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We had placed a small bet on the favourite Fiorente and you could sense the anticipation building in the crowd as the horses took their places. Everyone's focus was on the screen and the cheers started to increase as they approached the finish line.

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Fiorente won!! :)

Needing a break from the sun we headed for a celebratory drink in the shade before trying to check off another iconic Melbourne attraction by visiting the Skydeck of the Eureka Tower. This big building had been our neighbour as it is just the road over from our apartment although a LOT taller.

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The Eureka tower is 300m tall and the Skydeck is on the 88th floor, which is the highest public viewing area in the Southern Hemisphere. The top 10 levels have glass that are plated with 24 carat gold! There are 3,680 stairs but we took the lift which can get to the 88th floor in 40 seconds.

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It was a great way to spend a day off

Sxxx

Posted by doyledan 04:51 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Derby Day Horse Races

Spring Carnival for the Melbourne Cup

sunny

One of largest events to touch down across Melbourne is the Spring Carnival for Horse racing. Spanning across half of October and into November the whole carnival whips up a buzz of excitement as people get ready to witness "the race that stops the nation". The Melbourne Cup is likened to the Grand National in UK, where all walks of life have a bet on the horses and try to catch the action on the TV.

Before the Melbourne Cup day, there is Derby Day which is part of the same collection of special race days within the Carnival and luckily for us we had got ourselves some tickets to join in the spirit of the occasion. Derby day is considered by many to be the most prestigious day of the Melbourne Cup Carnival and all the ladies dress to impress with a black and white theme whilst the men come suited up.

Sarah and I had done some pre-carnival shopping to try and find an glamorous but affordable dress for Sarah as I was lucky enough to be lent a suit from a friend Abe, meaning I only needed to get some smart shoes. I think you can agree that Sarah done a good job, spending only $70 bucks and looking beautiful with her little fascinator. Especially when some of the ladies going to the races would spend upwards of $500 !!!!

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During the morning of the races we posed for our cover shot.

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We were up early because we had been invited to Dougo and Erika's place for champagne breakfast. They live walking distance from Flemington race course and so were perfectly positioned for us to enjoy breakfast and also make into the grounds to grab a spot amongst the crowds before the chaos unfolded. Broomy had told me about the previous time he went and the story goes that everyone turns up looking their best and as the day goes on, with the drinks flowing people leave not looking their best.

The sun was out at 8am and it we were expecting to hit the high twenties in temperature so the jackets weren't going to be worn for long. We got our stuff together, hailed a cab and made our way to Dougo and Erika's. Their place was really nice and had a fantastic balcony come dining area with standard Aussie BBQ and Dougo was hard at work getting breakfast prepared.

It was a full table as we were expecting others too join, two of Erika's friends Vanessa and Bianca and our friends Mary and Stefano who bizarrely knew Ericka and had planned to come to Derby day with her unbeknown to us. It was only when Sarah was asking Mary about what to wear that Mary mentioned she would ask her friend Ericka who was going and they both realized they were talking about the same person. Small world!

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We cracked open the bubbly before sitting down to eat.

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After a superbly made breakfast we headed out for the short walk to Flemington by the riverside.

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With Picnic rug in a pack, Broomy looked oddly like a door to door salesman

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We made it to the grounds in no time and the crowds were already present.

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Entering the grounds you get the sense that it was a big occasion with ladies dressed head to toe in all types of black and white dresses and everyone having either a drink in their hand or a betting slip.

En-route to the general admission area the girls stopped for photos as we would be splitting up because the others had grandstand tickets.

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Sarah, Broomy and I found a spot near the racetrack to put to the picnic rug and then it was time to get in line for a drink and place our bets for the second race. As with most heavily attended events the queues were long and so Broomy and I picked up enough drinks to tied us over. It did mean that we were double barreled for most of the morning.

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Sarah took it one my level up when she went to the bar

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It was such a gorgeous day and there were so many people in the general admin.

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From that point it was get your bets on and get your drink on! Each of us going up and taking our chances, and for a while it wasn't looking good for any of us...until...Sarah's horse won. Being the slight outsider the odds were in her favor and she bagged a cool $130, which helped her to pay off the cost of the outfit for the day.

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We were all smiles from that point.

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There is always a main event at the races, the one with the biggest winnings and one that everyone wants to get a glimpse of. The Victoria Derby race was no different and as we made our way back from the betting slips we found ourselves by the track edge trying to elbow amongst the crowds as our horses zoomed past.

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After the excitement of the race we decided to get together with the others on the Grandstand so we made our way up to the top and managed to do a shifty ticket switch meaning we could all it together, take in the views and get some much needed break from the heat of the sun.

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The views of the grounds with the back drop of the city were stunning.

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After the last race we all decided we had to go down on the track and get some photos so we made our way down and it was clear that some people had won big on the last race as the winner was 44/1!! Money was falling out the pockets of one guy who passed me! Why wasn't that me !!!! Haha!

On the track we were able to get a great group shot.

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Right at the end I had Sarah on my back and pretended to be a horse but unfortunately for her, her skirt ridded up and the group of lads behind us called out with a big wha hay!!!

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Sarah was a little embarrassed but took it well, I though it was hilarious!

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Broomy was in pieces!

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Despite finding out that his beloved picnic rug had been nicked! No more sales that day!

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We had such a good time that all three of us were shattered by the evening and so the obligatory curry was ordered and we all fell asleep.

Stay tuned for more tales

Dan

Posted by doyledan 00:02 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

The GREAT Ocean Roadtrip!

I cant think of a better way to spend your birthday than with a bunch of mates on an epic roadtrip.

To be able to do this miles away from home, with new friends on one of the most famous and picturesque ocean roads in the world was very special. 29 is going to be an AWESOME year if this weekend is anything to go by :)

Day 1

With the car packed with all the camping gear we could need and supplies from a well timed package from home (thanks Jen!) we set out to meet everyone at the liquor store to get the final essential supplies!

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We had all taken the Friday off work so we could take our time cruising the Great Ocean Road in our convoy of 4 cars and a motorbike!

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Our first stop was Torquay. Famous for its surf culture there is no better place to learn about surfing than Torquay's Surfworld Museum, but we needed to refuel on some yummy snacks and for me some early bday cake at Sticks and Stones before hand.

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A big shout out needs to go to the lovely Carol who welcomed us to the museum and on seeing the size of out group first thought we might be on a school trip which made us all laugh, but on realising that its been a long time since any of us were in school still gave us a group discount so I could go in for free :)

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I wasn't really sure what to expect from a museum on surfing, but we all had a great time. There was loads to look at from the vintage surf boards to a prehistoric fossil of a whale bones.

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One of my favourite parts of the exhibition were a group of surfboards which were letters between a father and his runaway son Maurice, these storyboards are by Gordan Stammers and are based on some of his own surfing adventures.

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Cool cat

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We all lost track of time watching the most random documentary on two Aussie guys who tried to surf across America. That's right they surfed in every state...from riding a surfboard on wheels around Times Square to surfing in a corn field. Looks like they had an awesome time and met some great/weird people.

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We were inspired to give it a go!

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Being so engrossed the morning had slipped away from us so we quickly got the convoy going and headed to the iconic Bells Beach to check some real surfers in action... Not this guy though...

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There must have been about 30 surfers who looked like corks bobbing around waiting to catch the next wave. We all shouted out in encouragement when any of them went for a wave and whooped and cheered when they caught one.

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A parrot!

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And this is Bells Beach itself... The waves here were made famous in 1965 when during a surf competition the swell reached over 20ft, some of the largest waves in a competition outside of Hawaii.

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In a previous blog we mentioned how projects were put together to provide work for the thousands of soldiers returning from World War I, the Shrine of Remembrance was one and building the Great Ocean Road was another. Funded by public donations the GOR hugs the dramatic coastline, revealing bays and cliffs around each turn. Work on the road began in September 1919 and much of it was done by hand by 3000 ex servicemen using natural materials and basic tools. Today it is 241km long running from Torquay to Nelson.

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The Great Ocean Road Arch is actually a memorial for Victorians who served in the First World War 1914-1918. 330,000 Australians volunteered to fight in the First World War, 60,000 were killed and 160,000 were wounded. This is the fourth memorial arch on this site, the first was replaced when the road was widened and the second burned down in bush fires and I think the third went down in a storm.

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We chased the sun to Lorne, pleased that the scattered showers were blowing in the other direction, for some much needed grub. You visit the seaside without some fish and chips!

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Stomachs full we rolled into our cars and headed for Teddy's Lookout point but first we had to find it! After missing the turning we turned round and after several 'woops it was that turning' we soon found ourselves on the very steep road heading up from Lorne, leaning forward willing the cars to make it to the top and wondering whether those extra chips had been a good idea!

We all made it though and what a view!

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On a recommendation from one of my mates at work we would be setting up our first camp at Cumberland River campsite, just 7km further out of Lorne, where you can camp alongside the river which opens out into the sea, with the mudstone rock-faces of the Otway Ranges adding to this backdrop. Beautiful and so peaceful....

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Well until we arrived :)

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No campsite is complete without a sofa!

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Until it pops!

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Goblets and tankards at the ready we settled in for a fun evening.

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Broomy took charge of the firewood and Dan manned the BBQ

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We introduced the group to s'mores, toasted marshmallows and chocolate in a biscuit sandwich (yum yum!) and settled in around the fire for a good old singsong! Dan had gone to the effort of learning a mix of songs including an awesome medley that was so good that even the night warden waited for it to finish before finally asking us to keep the noise down at 11pm.

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Day 2

I was up at dawn and couldn't get back to sleep so decided to go for a wander. A golden glow was beckoning and so I grabbed my camera to go and check out the sun rising over the ocean!

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It was spectacular!

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It was too good not to share but on turning round to head back to camp I was stopped in my tracks by the awe inspiring sight of a huge rainbow spanning the GOR one side to another!

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I ran back to our tent and dragged Dan to the beach so he could see it all too.

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We headed back to see if any of the others were awake and after feeding some ducks, Broomy, Toots, Dan and I decided to head back to the beach for a morning swim!

We had a few odd looks from some people bundled up in hoodies when we all stripped down to bathers and headed in to the ocean. It was freezing but who needs a shower when you have the ocean!

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We were ready to hit the road again! Yeah!

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We took a much needed coffee break at Wye River before making our way towards Apollo Bay. Its nigh on impossible to get a decent shot of the scenes that come around each turn but I can tell you that despite the rain there were still plenty of times we came round a bend and said Wow at the view.

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Fortunately when we reached Apollo Bay we had left the rain behind and it was perfect weather to go fly a kite.

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Despite best attempts it didn't go very well, even singing 'lets go fly a kite' didn't help! But that didn't matter as the group had a great time chilling on the beach, playing footy and generally mucking around.

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This is the best timed photo ever!

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The photo op I missed though was the moment Dan walked face first into a lamp post! I wish I had filmed that :)

After lunch we stopped to check out some of the rainforest that spans the Otway National Parks by taking a stroll along the 800m boardwalk of Maits Rest. This area was named after Maitland Bryant who would rest his horses here during his patrols between Apollo Bay and Horden Vale in the early 1900s.

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Full of giant ferns, moss and intricate networks of intertwined trees and roots, it was like stepping back in time.

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You could imagine a dinosaur coming out from behind a giant fern, although I wasn't prepared for when Broomy jumped out from behind one!

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Again the day was running away from us, and we almost missed seeing the last stop off of the day the Cape Otway Lighthouse.

On the way we spotted our first koala!!

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This is the southern most and oldest lighthouse in Australia, with the light being in operation since 1848. It was often the first indication of land that immigrants from Europe would have seen after being months at sea.

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As we made our way singing 'have you ever, ever felt like this, when strange things happen are ya going round the twist... (Unfortunately after a bit of a google I have discovered this wasn't the light house from Round The Twist!), a gentleman in red beckoned us to follow him into The Telegraph Station.

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This is where we learnt about how messages were relayed and the developments from ships signally with flags to using morse code. Amazingly a message could have been sent from the UK to Australia in half an hour, so people could keep up with the cricket scores of course! With closing time fast approaching we made a dash up the spiral staircase of the lighthouse to check out the view at the top.

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What we weren't prepared for was just how windy it would be!

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Our second campsite was at Bimbi Park "camping under koalas" and it definitely lived up to its name. Even on the roads leading up to it people were pulled over koala spotting, and once you see one you see these balls of fur everywhere! We even had a close encounter with a mum and her baby as she came down from a tree to make her way to another one.

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This was more like camping in the bush and we set up camp to the gutteral soundtrack of our koala neighbours who clearly weren't impressed with our arrival.

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We also got to see our first kookaburra!

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I had heard that there was a glow worm walk that was meant to be good in the area. Turns out it was Maits Rest so we tucked into some BBQ grub and waited for the sun to go down before going to check it out.

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The gang surprised me with some birthday bling, sashes and balloons.

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Our luck was changing and it was starting to rain but this didn't deter a group of us from hopping in the cars to check it out. In hindsight it was probably the worst conditions for me to start driving again in, pitch black, raining and me freaking out about koalas with a death wish! But we made it and armed with torches took tentative steps into the forest. Now we were a bit of a scared bunch so didnt venture too deep into the forest. Every couple of paces we would stop to turn the torches off descending into darkness and hoping to catch a glimpse of the spectacular glow worm show... This didn't happen and although we saw a few glowing specs I am not 100% sure if they glow worms or just white spots in our eyes from looking in torch light!

Slightly disappointed we headed back to camp but were soon lifted by a few drinks and another epic singsong. We huddled around the fire rotating to avoid the smoke. Despite the rain being in full flow we didn't let it dampen our spirits.

Day 3

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This morning would bring out the inner child in all of us as we started off with birthday cake for breakfast and a visit to the Great Ocean Road wildlife park.

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We were a bit early for some of the residents....ahhhhhh

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But once word got round that food was on offer they soon woke up

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From baby dingos to grumpy wombats

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There were all sorts...

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After making sure everyone was sure of the directions "just keep the ocean on your right" we headed to see the 12 Apostles a definite highlight for any trip down the Great Ocean Road. Although there aren't actually 12.

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A very romantic spot

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If the top section of the hole in this stack was slanting in the other direction it would be a great advert for Apple!

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We said goodbye to half of the group who needed to get back to Melbourne, those of us who remained with hangovers now kicking in took on the winding roads to find Erskine Falls, the largest waterfall in the Otway National Park. Not gonna lie it was a bit of a struggle but after stocking up for refreshments and a few chips we carried on and sore heads were soon forgotten when we saw this.

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An epic end to an epic weekend!!

Huge thanks to Dan, Broomy, Toots, Robyn, Ria, Noreen, Phil, Nelson, Shane, Tom and Lauren for amazing bday memories. Hope you enjoy reliving this as much as I did....

Come on Barbie Lets Go Party!!

Where did Tom go?

Meow, Meow, Meow-Meow, Meeeeooowww!!

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Who's up for the Grampians!!

Sxx

Posted by doyledan 03:42 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

Horseback Winery Tour

In the Mornington Peninsula

sunny 16 °C

At the same time I was looking for different things to do on Groupon, an offer popped up for Horseback Winery Tour. Now you might think having a drink whilst being on a horse is a recipe for disaster but we decided to take the risk. :-)

The tour was booked with this company, who were based in Mornington Peninsula which is south of Melbourne.

www.horsebackwinerytours.com.au

The drive out from Melbourne would take about an hour and we needed to be at the winery tour at 2pm ready to leave for our 3 hour tour. In order to make the most of the trip out of the city we decided to leave earlier and stop off for lunch at one of the towns on route. Sarah did some investigating and found out that the annual Main Street Festival for Food, Wine and Performing Arts going on in the small town of Mornington, perfect timing and a perfect stop off point for Sarah and I to catch a break and have a bite to eat.

As we got closer to Mornington we could see hundreds of cyclists whizzing past us the other side of the road going back to Melbourne. They were part of a cycle fundraiser event called BUPA Round the Bay that was organised by my current employer BUPA. The event had cyclists tackling the roads around Port Phillip Bay, it looked pretty tough on some of the hills but I reckon it would have been great fun.

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Leaving the cyclists to their challenge we made our way to Mornington. As soon as we parked up the weather picked up and we could see and hear in the distance the festival in full swing. The first thing we saw was a school band playing some classic big band hits and we wandered through the crowds to decide on our choice of lunch. There was plenty of choice and due to being a little hungry we made an early decision and go for Spanish gourmet caterers with their scrumptious chorizo sausage.

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Some of the other stalls were quite quirky, especially this one where two girls were promoting fresh produce as well as a unique way to make yourself a salad dress.

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After eating we walked up and down Main street listening to music performers and other acts whilst foodies tucked into the multi cultural choices of cuisines. I could see why this area would be popular to live as the sense of community would be appealing.

On our way out we swung by to have some gelato and I tried the unique Ferrero Rocher flavoured ice cream which was delicious.

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The drive to find the winery tour was really easy from Mornington and we came to a small dirt track ready to get on the horse and enjoy the clean outdoors .

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We felt we were doing well for time but everyone was already saddled up and so we quickly signed up, got our helmets and made our way to the paddock to meet our horses.

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The guides introduced themselves and gave us some tips on how to saddle up, making sure to position your feet correctly in the stirrups before swinging your leg over. They also introduced our horses, mine was named Patch based on his patchy exterior and I was told he was a lazy boy with a tendency to coast along at the back, being a beginner behind the reins it didnt matter to me.

Sarah was introduced to her horse name Spanky! Once Sarah got saddled up she walked around the paddock for a bit until Spanky decided she wanted to scratch an itch on her backside, backing into the fencing and proceeding to rub herself with Sarah trying to stay stable on top. It was hilarious! We later found out the Spanky was on heat and had been backing into the male horses as well!...hussy!

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The winery tour guides were really good at rounding everyone up and it was clear that these horses were well trained and looked after. I was glad that the reins were given to you rather than someone walking the horse for you because you get to feel more like you understand the horse and it makes for a more interesting ride, especially when they try and go off track and chow down on nearby bushes which they aren't supposed too.

We had a go at rising trot as we made our way along the track which was fun but quite tricky to get the timing right, I did get in the end but it was a little punishing on my gentlemens parts if you catch my drift. Sarah had ridden in the past and so from what I could tell was taking to it like riding a bike. It was about 20 minutes before we got to the first winery called Green Olive.

Parking up the horses we got a chance to have a few photos with our new friends.

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Spanky had one blue eye which matched Sarahs blue eyes so she was heartened by that.

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www.greenolive.com.au

Green Olive was a beautiful setting and the owners gave us an introduction to the different wines that are unique to their winery. We tried them all as well as the olives and the spreads that were on offer and decided to buy a bottle of Sparkling wine as well as some delicious red onion marmalade, perfect for our future camping trip to the Great Ocean Road. It was a pleasant stop but Sarah and I were kind of hoping to find out more about the processes they go through to make the wine, how they look after the vines etc... which they didn't really talk about.

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After about half an hour of trying wines and having a chill out we all got back to the horses, remembering Sarah's Dads advice "if you're facing the tail end you've had too much to drink" and soon were on our way up the track with a trot here and there on the way, Patch was staying true to his character and we lazily propped up the rear of the convoy and the guides horse would every once and while get quite pushy with Patch to which the guide tried to explain that his horse was a bit of Jack the Lad and bullies the other horses. It was quite funny really.

After another 20 mins we made our way to Mock Red Hill, a cider farm and we were given another introduction into the different types of cider on offer which ranged from very sweet to quite mild, there was some delicious cloudy apple juice that I was tempted to get but decided not to bother as we had the sparkling wine. Again it was a pleasant stop but a little short and not quite so sweet, excuse the pun. :-)

http://www.mockredhill.com.au

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The ride back to the stables was really nice as the outdoor air and the rolling hills in the distance made it very relaxing and thinking about it now, I reckon I could do a longer horseback trip, perhaps as a cowboy!

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Finishing up at the paddock we said farewell to Patch and Spanky, what a beautiful pair.

Stay tuned for more tales

Dan.

Posted by doyledan 05:14 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

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