10.08.2013 - 10.08.2013
I have been temping at Save The Children for a few months now and when I heard they were struggling to find a volunteer to drive some stock from Melbourne to their op shop in Ararat (charity shops are known as op shops here), I put our hands up. It was a perfect opportunity as Dan had been saying how he wanted to do a road trip and to be able to explore more of Victoria for free was an added bonus. As a thank you for giving up our time on a Saturday we would also be able to use the van to detour south to Warrnambool on the coast to hopefully spot some whales!
Ararat is a 2 and half hour drive west out of the city and so it was a 6.30am wake up call for us in order to pick up the van and get there by 10am.
We were so lucky with the weather and got a gorgeous day for the trip, a far cry from the recent horizontal rain and gale force winds we'd been having!
ROADTRIP!!! Woop Woop!
It was great to head out of the city and go on an adventure!
Despite all the signs along the road and keeping an eye out for any hopping in the fields we didn't spot any kangaroos (well not a live one anyway )
What a view!
We pulled off the highway into Ararat and found the shop, bang on 10 o'clock!
The op shop in Ararat is run by a lovely couple in their 80s called Brian and Dot. They set up the shop 16 years ago and have a great passion for what they do and a great sense of humour with it too.
As Dot put the kettle on, we unloaded the van and helped Brian to find space for it all in stock room of the shop.
It was a lot quicker taking everything out of the van than it had been trying to pack it all in! Even with someone horsing around!
As we were unpacking a shout came down from Dot asking if there were any playpens as a customer had come in asking for one, not for their child but because it was lambing season and they needed as many pens as they could find for all the lambs. When we got back upstairs Dot was washing chickens eggs that had been freshly dropped off from a local farm. We were definitely out of the city and in the countryside!
After good chat over a cuppa tea and some chocolate biscuits it was time for us to wave goodbye to Dot and Brian and start heading towards the coast. Dot had heard on the radio that whales had been spotted that week and advised us that sightings were best before midday...it would take an hour to get there so we needed to get a move on!
We'd been given directions to just turn left at the junction and then keep going straight to get to the coast, boy the road was straight!
Within minutes we were surrounded by fields again with sheep and cattle everywhere (other than in this pic).
...and for a moment I thought we were in Hobbiton!
I didn't spot any of these either!
This is Shadwell Hill. Brian's mate had told us too keep an eye out for it and that local students get a kick out of changing the "d" to a "g" on the signs.
We were heading to Logan's Point in Warrnambool which is a bay that is famous as one of the few places were you can stand on the beach and spot Southern Right Whales. Each year between May-October whales come to the bay from Sub-Arctic waters to have their calves and nurse them in the warm shallow water. In 1806 whaling began in Southern Australia and as the whales came into the bays they were easy to hunt. Over the years 26,000 were killed and by the 1920s they were on the brink of extinction with only an estimated 300 left in Australian waters and only 60 of those were female. Despite being protected since 1935 the population numbers have increased slowly and there may only be a few thousand left world wide. It would be a privilege to see one and so we joined the other whale watchers on the raised platform above the beach, binoculars at the ready...
Everyone was on the lookout!
It wasn't long before we spotted a puff of spray come out of the water...
Southern Right Whales are smooth backed whales with no dorsal fins so we knew they were rolling around in the water when their other fins and tail tips come out of the water. Although we didn't see any jumping (breaching) it was still exciting and for Dan who had never seen a whale before it was a special moment "They are so big!!"
It was awesome to see them but even if you didnt get a sighting, Logan's Point itself is pretty spectacular.
It was time to hit the road again in hunt for a sausage roll and to start the mission back to Melbourne.
All the sea air must have got to me as I slept most of the way back. Sleepy eyed I gazed out the window and I was so amazed at what I saw that I sat bolt upright scrambling for the camera whilst excitedly exclaiming to Dan that there was a duck and some chickens waiting to cross the road!! How amazing is that!
It was only as he started laughing at me I realised that they were just garden ornaments! Clearly going a bit quakers!
When we pulled over at a service station for Dan to have a break I thought my eyes had gone funny again, as not 1...2... but 8 cats came out of the bushes. They were in the middle of nowhere at a service station...random! They were wary of people so assume they were strays who had formed a gang that were doing well off all the food from passing motorists.
Strays here look very different to those we had come across in Asia!
We approached the city as the sun started to go down and it was a welcome sight for Dan who had done all the driving!
What a day!!