16.03.2011 - 23.03.2011 20 °C
We had two full days and three nights in Melbourne before picking up our campervan. We didn't have the best of starts to Australia as our room in the hostel was the worst we have seen in five months of travelling. It is the first time we have had to move room and although our next room was fine it cost us a bit to upgrade. It was our most expensive room since Rio but we knew the cost of hostels here would be high so are glad we were getting the campervan.
Melbourne is a nice city with plenty of huge parks, althouh the city was massive and far larger than we were expecting. Loads of people seemed to either run or cycle to / from work and there was a big fitness culture, which is a bit different to what you see in Glasgow. It is a nice city but there didn't appear too much that we could afford to do as we found it all really expensive.
When we picked up our van we knew we had a massive journey to get across and up to Cairns in the next 31 days. However, we decided to head in the opposite direction and start driving south-west along the Great Ocean Road. Our first stop was in a nice surfing town called Torquay. We had a big improvement with the weather as it was hot and sunny, whereas the sun didn't come out once in Melbourne. We didn't do anything here apart from enjoy the weather.
Our next stops were Anglesea where we went to the golf course to see our first kangaroos and Aireys Inlet where we visited the lighthouse that was used to film the TV show Round The Twist. We then detoured slightly off the tourist road to go wild koala spotting at Greys River. It was successful as we managed to find three of OZ's largest type of koala that are only found in Victoria. They didn't do anything though apart from sleep and occasionally look at us. Linda absolutely loved them and thinks they are the cutest animal she has seen. On the way back to the main road we encountered a massive kangaroo jumping along the dirt track road, but thankfully it jumped up the big embankment as it would have done real damage to the van if we had hit it.
The following day we drove along the south coast to see the famous Twelve Apostles, although now there are only about seven or eight left. These were still impressive though and made a great view. We also saw London Bridge, another famous rock formation along this coastal route, before arriving at Warnambool. We wouldn't go much further west from here apart from going to Tower Hill the next morning. The weather changed to rain so we didn't do anything here apart from a bit of shopping, where I randomly bumped into a guy from Invergordon.
Tower Hill is a nature reserve that lies within a huge volcanic crator. As soon as we drove in we saw emus and kangaroos, then spotted more koalas in the trees at the carpark. We did a couple of the walks but unfortunately didn't find much other wildlife apart from a stumpy-tailed lizard. When we were ready to leave we spotted a koala that had just woken so decided to watch it. It slowly climbed further and further down the tree until it reached the ground about 3-4 metres away from us. After looking at us for a moment it started hopping along a path so we followed it. It didn't seem phased by us as it came over to the tree we were near and again stopped at the bottom looking at us. It climbed up to about head height and again stopped for more photos before disappearing up the tree. After speaking to locals it is appartently rare to see them on the ground and especially so close, so it was a great and entertaining encounter.
We decided to make up some time and take the direct inland road back towards Melbourne. It was a pretty boring drive, with an overnight stop at a city called Geelong, so we have nothing to report here. We also had a day in Melbourne when we returned but only did the city tram tour to see more areas / sights that we previously missed.