CJ - Having driven down from Ningaloo Reef back to Canarven where we were to catch a plane back to Perth, we were somewhat surprised when we arrived at the airport (if you can call it that!!). The airport was just a runway and a hanger literally with one small building where you checked in. The planes that were standing on the forecourt where tiny planes with no engines just a propellor so you can imagine how worried we were when we thought we were catching these back to Perth which is a couple of hours away, nevermind the fact that we didn't think our luggage would fit in the planes!! But we needn't have panicked, our plane soon pulled up equipped with twin engines and we were all happy!!
Perth is a lovely city if not a bit remote, it's one of the world's most remote cities I think. It's easy to get around, is very clean and everyone is so friendly, which is what we've found in most of Australia! We stayed in Perth for a couple of days and found a few things to keep us amused one of them being to hire bikes for a few hours and to explore the city and surrounding areas. Me being one who likes to try out new things suggested hiring a tandem bike which we did! Let's just say riding a tandem bike looks easier than it actually is, it certainly took me and Mum a few goes before we could even get it moving together!! But soon we got the hang of it! We then spent the afternoon cycling around the outskirts of Perth along the riverbank and then up into King's park which is a very well kept park that you can explore on foot or wheels! We did a spot of nature and flower spotting then cycled back along the river to Perth. It was just good to be doing some sort of exercise again as that is certainly something that I have been missing since I left the UK.
On our last day in Perth we took a ferry out to Rottness Island, Rottness being a Dutch word for Rats!! This island was originally discovered by the Dutch who found some furry rodents on the island that they thought were rats and consequently named the island Rat/Rottness Island. But in actual fact, these rats aren't rats, they are Quokkas! They have long thin tails like rats but are much bigger and cuter, well have a look at the photo! We spent the day exploring the island again by bike, more exercise, well there are no cars allowed on the island and it was quicker than walking and this way we covered off more of the island. But we each had a bike this time, no tandems, once was enough!!
From Perth we then flew onto Melbourne for a couple of days before heading down to do the Great Ocean Road. In Melbourne we met up with my Aunt and Uncle who happened to be visiting some friends and were then heading up north to Darwin. It's so bizarre that you can be on the other side of the world and still meet up with friends!! We couldn't have chosen a busier time to be in Melbourne though, Grand Prix weekend!! The first day we walked into town and wondered what was going on and were informed that a parade was happening that morning for the Grand Prix so some roads were being blocked off for the drivers to drive along. We decided to stay and watch this as there were some quite good viewing spots, although what we didn't realise is that once you were inside the barriers and the race circuit, there was no getting out until the parade was over later that day, so for 2 hrs we were stuck inside the barriers hardly being able to hear ourselves speak from the noise coming from the Grand Prix cars!!
Eventually we got out from the parade and headed down to Philip Island via Mount Eliza where my step dad stopped off at the Business college to have a quick coffee with a business colleage who also happened to be out here at the same time as us!! Philip Island is home to a few nature attractions, one of which is the Penguin Parade! Every morning at dawn hundreds of tiny Fairy penguins troop out to sea for the day to fish, and then troop back in again at dusk. There are various viewing platforms infront of the beach where you can wait for the penguins to come in at practically the same time every day, and then watch them waddle up the beach to their burrows! It was an amazing experience just to see these tiny animals in their natural environment, and them not being in the slightest bit bothered about us being there!!
The next day we then headed off out on a 3 day drive along the Great Ocean Road. It really is an incredible drive. I guess what makes it so spectacular is that on one side you have the amazing views out over the ocean and along the coast, and then on the other side you have the cliff tops towering down on you! You really need to see it in person to appreciate the views you can get along the drive! We stopped off at most of the small towns along the way, although a lot of them if you blinked you missed them. We did however see some kangeroos at Anglesea on the golf course!! A most bizarre scene, people teeing off surrounded by kangeroos!! And then at last we saw some koalas in the wild, I've been in Oz since Dec and this was the first time that I had ever seen a single one in the wild, at last!! But it wasn't just one, there were quite a few up this track that we had been told to drive down, where koalas were normally sighted, all sleeping in the trees and not doing much else!! They seem to spend about 15-20 hours a day sleeping, and the rest eating, not sure when they get time to do anything else!!!
Our last stop along the Ocean Road was the 12 Apostles, which are 12 huge rock formations along the edge of the coast. They used to be joined onto the main land but then the land was eroded away leaving these 12 huge rocks standing in the ocean!! Again this is another sight and sound (the ocean makes an incredible noise), that you really need to see to appreciate it properly, certainly a spectacular sight that I won't forget in a while! The next morning we then also had a look at Loch Ard Gorge which is just along from the 12 Apostles, and is named after a ship that was tragically wrecked in the gorge. Only 2 people managed to survive the storm that caused the ship to crash into the rocks, a very sad tale.
Back to Melbourne now where I have to embark on finding a job, the money has now run out and I'm not sure how much more bashing the credit cards can take, whilst Mum and Peter fly onto Sydney and then back to the UK next week.