Thursday, 27 December 2012

Kangaroo Island

Day 15


We left Adelaide for the final part of our trip, Kangaroo Island. At Adelaide airport James made a special purchase. For ages, he has been looking for one of those old man Australia hats, the wide brimmed leather ones. But thus far none fitted him big head. I was in Witchery at the airport browsing the rails when James came rushing in saying he had made friends with a lady in the shop next door and a hat had ‘found him’. Yes that’s right, the hat found him. He looked like a kid on Christmas day when he put it on!


James in his new hat
After the shortest and most expensive flight of our trip we arrived, new hat in tow, on Kangaroo Island. The latest rental car was a Nissan Micra, Auto – so no more bad boy racing for James.


Our first stop was Seal Bay, where the beach was covered in sleeping Seals. They go out to sea fishing for three days and then return and sleep for three days to recover. It’s hilarious when they come in from the water, the waddle up just beyond the waters edge and collapse, there is a video of one girl returning below and the phone directly below is a Seal and her Pup sleeping under the stairs, so cute.









We then saw some wildlife on the Koala Walk and more seals at Vivone Bay. James had booked us in at a Wilderness Retreat for the night, which was basic but luckily did not involve camping. After all the wine I was planning on a soft drink night but James had other ideas. 

We settled in at the Retreat Restaurant and proceeded to have a four course dinner, it was all sourced from Island produce and was amazing. James even tried Yabbies, usually he hates shell fish!


After tasting his way through the port list, James decided it was a good idea to go for a nature walk in the pitch black with his new hat and new torch… the walk highlight was seeing a Wallaby weeing.
James and his yabbies

A late night drunken nature walker
Day 16

On our last full day we drove to Flinders Chase National Park and saw the Remarkable Rocks, Admirable Arch and lots more Seals! It was a very windy day – hence the hoods!



It was very windy!


Remarkable rocks





Day 17
For our final day of our trip we decided to go out with a splash and went out swimming with 35 wild dolphins! The water was about 17 degrees which felt freezing at first but as soon as I put my snorkel under and saw a big group of smiling dolphins coming my way I stopped feeling the cold! They are so curious, it was an amazing experience.







 


And that was the end of our trip… we had the best time, James planned it all so well and I don’t think we could have hoped to have seen or done more in 17 days. Now we just need to plan trips to WA and NT and we’ll have seen all the states of Australia… how lucky are we!

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Great Ocean Road and Adelaide


Great Ocean Road

Day 11

After a boozy day, I woke up feeling really knackered but we had to get going early to pick up the next hire car and set off for the Great Ocean Road.

It was a really windy day, with lots of stops to take in all the famous sights. There were some stunning rock formations and dramatic views but overall it wasn’t quite as amazing as I was expecting it to be. Maybe it was because I was so tired and the wind didn’t help! I think James got the most enjoyment from behaving like a boy racer in our Holden Cruze.

However, it did have one amazing feature – WILD KOALAS. I love those furry little things and there was a patch where we saw about 15, including one little fella who was very low down and friendly.




Totally know where I am going...




It was pretty windy...





Day 12

This day was dedicated to driving to Adelaide. For once I managed to stay awake all day as I was DJing on the iPod. Mainly there was a lot of James singing Adele’s ‘Rolling in the Deep’ very loudly.

After some successful map reading we hit Adelaide and had to move onto the iPhone to find our destination and all our city navigation problems from Brisbane transferred over to Adelaide. After an hour and a half of taking wrong turns (that blue dot on the map can be very confusing) we finally found West Lakes, where we stayed with four lovely girls, Arlene, Jen, Jenny and Katie. After nearly two weeks of moving around it was really nice to have some home comforts, do laundry and chill out.  

Day 13

We ventured into the city and could not believe how dry the heat was – I feel like we’ve acclimatised to the humid heat now but Adelaide at 37 degrees was a new experience.

The heat also creates a major fly issue. It is so dry that hundred of flies flock around you and try to invade your mouth, eyes, ears and nose. Apparently they are trying to get some moisture. It’s so gross. If you watch people walking down the street you can literally see them swatting away flies. Hundreds may be an exaggeration but that’s what it felt like.  

We really liked the east side of the city centre and also stopped by the botanical gardens and art gallery. In the evening we went to the beach at Henley and were planning on having fish and chips on the beach and watch the sunset. However the flies were, yet again, such persistent buggers that we ended up sat in the car, with the A/C on, eating our dinner and watching the sunset. Romantic!

While we’ve been here we’ve been streaming some TV shows from the UK, we told the girls about this and they were pretty excited at the idea of watching Take Me Out from Australia, so we cracked open the sparking Shiraz (actually very yummy) and had a chilled night in.

Day 14

After tasting the delights of Tamar Valley in Tassie and Yarra Valley in Victoria it was only fair that we went to Barossa while we were in Adelaide. The girls were seasoned experts on the area so we went to the big famous wineries Jacobs Creek and Wolf Blass, but we also did a tasting at Murrey Street which was a smaller boutique winery. It was a really fun day and we finished it off with a BBQ.







James and the blonds



Next stop… Kangaroo Island

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Melbourne

... Following on from the Tasmania post...


Day 8
Out of this 17 day trip I was given the sole responsibility of organising the 3 days in Melbourne – as I’m more of a city girl and James seems to be all about the outdoors. Did I mention he spent $500 on new hiking gear for himself prior to this trip and has decided that ‘hiking chic’ is going to be his style for the next few years?

Anyway… we arrived in Melbourne and something strange was going on. James was in a bad mood. We’re not sure why exactly, perhaps it stemmed from the airhostess in Launceston making him throw away his just bought coffee before boarding. I would like to admit that it is usually me that has ‘irrational’ bad moods – you know the ones where you feel pissed off but you can’t quite pin point why, or you know it’s over something silly but you can’t help being moody.

We were on our way to the MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground) to do a tour, when we passed Zara. Zara!!! We do not have Zara in Queensland and I like this store very much. We popped in but it was not an enjoyable experience as I had grumpy James in tow saying how silly all the clothes were. Now, I’m not ready to adopt full on ‘hiker chic’ yet so I told James that from then on we just shouldn’t shop in stores that I like together as he ruins it. (I was very patient in BOTH the Hobart and Melbourne branches of Kathmandu.)

The MCG Tour did manage to cheer him up and I actually found it really interesting. We had a lovely older chap named Ray taking us round and he was a fountain of knowledge on all things AFL and Cricket.


MCG


That evening we caught the tram up to Brunswicks St – which is the ‘cool’ area of the city. We had drinks and dinner at Little Creatures Dining Hall, which was awesome.


Day 9
In a plan to redeem himself for the Zara episode, James directed us to DFO shopping village – in fact he was so keen we got there before the shops opened!

After some purchases and a walk along Southbank, we went up to the Eureka Skydeck viewing floor, walked the botanical gardens and saw the Fashion and Ballet exhibit at the National Gallery of Victoria – luckily for James it was quite small! At sunset we returned to the Skydeck to watch the sun go down with a glass of sparkling. After the ‘trendy’ dinner the night before, we went ‘classy’ and dined at Spice Lounge on Southbank, delicious!

I really enjoyed Melbourne as a city. So many people have told me that it is their favourite city in Australia and I can see why so many Brits love it. It reminds me of a compact London, it has a district for any taste or need. But as an honorary Queenslander, it did feel a bit chilly at times! I'm headed back there when my friend Nikki visits in April and I can't wait to explore more, and maybe pop back to Zara. 

Daytime views from the Skydeck

Sunset from the Skydeck

Day 10
I had booked us onto a Yarra Valley Wine Tour so that neither of us had to miss out by driving. It was a full day of drinking, visiting 4 wineries! The tick cross system continued and we shared it with a few lucky people on our trip, including a really nice American family. Yet more wine was sent back to Queensland... including some sparkles, spot a trend?





By the time we got back to the city in the late afternoon we were both feeling on the sleepy side of drunk. So we had a nap followed by a low key evening as we had an early start the next morning, it was time to drive the Great Ocean Road…

Our great adventure - the week in Tasmania

We just returned from our latest adventure, a 17 day trip to Tasmania, Melbourne, Adelaide and Kangaroo Island. James put in many hours of planning in preparation and, although I teased him a lot about his spread sheet, he did an amazing job. We packed in so many different sights, tastes and experiences into our trip. I wrote this blogs tonight on the plane from Adelaide to Brisbane so that my memories wouldn’t be too distant. I’m really wishing I had an iPhone and could have done a quick daily blog and update! I’ll start you at the beginning… For now I’ll post about Tasmania, and I’ll upload the others tomorrow. I hope you enjoy reading about our adventures…

Our first destination was Tasmania, that little island down South that not many young Brit travellers seem to visit on their Oz experiences. Well, if you’ve been to Australia, or live here, and haven’t been to the Tassie state – you are missing out!

I was a bit dubious about a week in a campervan… I’m not usually naturally inclined to camping style endeavours (which reminds me – I must do a reflective blog on camping at Rainbow Beach with my cousins a few weeks ago…) Anyway, as it turned out, I LOVED our campervan! It was so fun touring around in it, it was cosy and it meant you get to carry your clothes around with you all the time, a plus if you are a fan of the last minute outfit change. I’m going to break these next few blogs up into days, starting with day 2…

Day 2
Our first full day was spent in Hobart taking in the views from Mt Wellington, sampling the beers at Cascade Brewery and eating lunch in Salamanca. In the afternoon we parked our camper up at the campsite handily positioned across from MONA (The Museum of New and Old Art). Hobart has been listed as one of the top 10 cities in the world to visit by Lonely Planet and MONA is a big part of that award. It’s adjoining to Moorilla Winery, which is a brilliant idea! Why not get a little bit tipsy before going to an art gallery?! So commenced the first tasting of many for James and me over the next few weeks… It was at Moorilla that we came up with our genius system for deciding on what wines to buy. We get the tasting list and make a ‘M’ column and a ‘J’ column, if I like the wine I put a tick, if I don’t then a cross is given. Same goes for James and if we have two ticks on a bottle we have to buy it! Clever hey? After we purchased the wines we like and arranged to post it back to Queensland (I can’t remember how many, too many wineries ago – we’ll see what awaits us at home!) we ventured into MONA.

MONA is often described as ‘confronting’ and I can now understand why. None of the art work is labelled or explained on the wall like usual practice at a gallery, instead we were given iPhone type devices where if you see something you want explaining then you search for what is in close range on your ‘iPhone’ and it tells you about it. One of the pieces of art that I looked up was a dummy of a body curled up in the foetal position facing the wall. I can’t remember the artist but it had been made to show what the artist felt upon visiting MONA. Essentially, he said that often art is something that is used to show what is possible, what is beautiful and what we dream of – but MONA does the opposite, it takes us into our nightmares and forces us to confront what makes us uncomfortable. For me this sums up a lot of the art at MONA, interesting but not beautiful.  If you go to Hobart you have to visit MONA, without a doubt, but makes sure you go to Moorilla for some wine first! 

At the top of Mt Wellington

Samples at Cascade Brewery

Day 3
The next day we visited Port Arthur to see the convict site. We took a day tour around the ruins and the existing buildings and learned all about the history of the penal prison and a bit about some of the prisoners and civilians living there. It was a fascinating day and we finished it off with a ghost tour in the evening which was a bit of fun but no supernatural sightings!

Isle of the Dead at Port Arthur



Day 4
After an early start we arrived at Freycinet National Park and set off on the 5 hour hike to Wineglass Bay and Hazards Beach. Even though the water was really cold at Wineglass Bay James still plunged in for a swim, he didn't last long. It was stunning but Hazards Beach totally took my breath away. As soon as we emerged from the clearing and stepped out onto the white sand I knew it was the most beautiful place I had ever been to. As it’s in a bay the water is really still and you can’t see any form of civilisation. It’s hard to describe how serene it was, I just loved it.


Wineglass Bay lookout

Hazards Beach



Day 5
If you have read my blog recently you will know that James now thinks himself a bit of a fisherman. After Freycinet we hooned up the coast to St Helens which is known for its fishing, so this was the day that we decided to go out on a boat and see if James could finally catch something.

We met Captain Lionel and his deckhand Wade (who reeked) at the jetty early in the morning and set off on the ‘Keen Angler’. Our first stop was a bit of reef fishing where we dropped our lines down to the reef floor, 65 metres down. As I am used to my light weight pink LadyFish rod, I had to have a reel belt on, mind you so did James – the pictures are pretty funny. As soon as we dropped our rods down the fish were nibbling and we were reeling in! We caught a fair few Gary Gurnets (not what you want to catch – little pests), some Cod and a few Morwong. The big catch of this part was James’ Striped Trumpeter, Lionel and Wade were very impressed with that big bad boy! Turns out he CAN fish!

After a quick change of location, and a cup of tea and a mince pie, we dropped our lines 80 metres to find some tasty Flat Head. James steamed ahead which several fish but I was starting to get sore arms and could feel the sea sickness creep in… I persevered and caught my own Flat Head and a baby shark (we put him back). But after Capt. Lionel made me touch the shark’s skin, and Wade stood close (he had been filleting our fish and now smelt even worse), I began to think the mince pie was a mistake. I bowed out and tried to concentrate on the land and not being sick overboard. James, however, went from strength to strength catching more Flatties and a freaking Gummy Shark – but Wade dropped the Shark and he swam off. James was very disappointed. Then something strange happened, all the birds that had been sat on the sea around the boat flew off. Capt. Lionel and Wade sprung into action – a Mako Shark was circling! Out came the heavy duty reel and rod and a spear! Capt. Lionel tempted the Mako with the bait and hooked him and passed the rod over to James to reel in. I momentarily forgot my desire to vomit and watched as the dark object moved closer to the surface, but then he spat out the hook and swam off… No Mako for dinner.
Once we were safely back on land we headed inland towards Cradle Mountain and parked up in Mole Creek for the night. James cooked up some of the fresh Flat Head and oh my god it was so yummy.

After Capt. Lionel made me touch the Shark

James and his Striped Trumpeter

My Flat Head

The Flat Head tastes sooo good


Day 6
We set off on another National Park hike, this time around Cradle Mountain’s Dove Lake. It was yet another perfect day but I did learn the valuable lesson of why you don’t take your backpack into public toilets – the floor isn’t usually clean L However after ½ a litre of mineral water the problem was almost solved, it could have been worse – like if Wade had been in close proximity again…

That night we stayed in a place called Deloraine where the campsite was situated near a river. Now James has a history of attracting Ducks (see the Montville blog). Shortly after arriving I was on my way to the bathrooms when I notices a group of Ducks hanging out down stream, I thought to myself I bet they are with James when I return. And when I got back, there he was sat in the centre of his friends the Ducks.

Dove Lake with Cradle Mountain behind

The Campervan!!!

James 'the Duck whisperer' Rumbles chilling with his boys


Day 7
For our final day in Tasmania we visited a few of the Tamar Valley Wineries. Kicking of the tasting at 10am we popped along to 9th Island where our cellar door man wasn’t all that friendly. I saw him eyeing up our ticks and crosses so I explained our tried and tested buying method, James also mentioned that we both like a sparkling wine. Then a sparkle appeared in Adnam’s eye and he produced a few more sparking varieties, correctly anticipating more double ticks. Fresh from our fishing trip a few days before, we mentioned the Mako incident and suddenly Adnam was our best friend! A keen fisherman himself, he warmed up and showed us some YouTube videos of Mako’s jumping – they jump! Into boats! What was Capt. Lionel thinking?! We are lucky to be alive, I swear!

Next up, we went to Velo – which is owned by a former Tour de France winner and his wife. We purchased a few more bottles from this charming and modern winery.  Then it was time to bid farewell to our campervan and head into Launceston. Turns out there isn’t that much to do there… we visited the James Boags Brewery for a drink, and took the chairlift over the gorge and walked around a lot... if you’re heading to Tassie I wouldn’t bother taking a trip to Launceston but everywhere else was really amazing, one of the best holidays that I have taken – who knew campervan’s are so great! 

11am tasting at 9th Island Winery


Next up, Melbourne - to be continued...