The Grampians, Halls Gap and Mckenzie Falls

I slept in the car again last night as it was too dark to find hammock space in Port Fairy, so I reclined in a dark spot off of the highway with a six pack of cold beers and the radio to keep my company. I had a wonderful evening howling along with the songs.

The next day I drove through the heat hoping to find cooler air up in the Grampian Mountains, but it was hot there too – 43 degrees Melbourne and probably the same or hotter inland.

But I did find this to swim in…

Mckenzie falls, for me the reason the Grampians came in to being. There is a big sign saying ‘don’t swim’ as you descend to the falls but it would have been a crime not to on such a hot day. The basin is deep and if I had had anyone to show off to I’d have been leaping off of high things, but as it was I just swam about steaming off the heat of the day until the sun went down.

Then I went and sat here…

Which was a lovely place to ponder for a while.

Later on I managed to find a place to pop my hammock up in a wooded clearing, I paid the $14 camping fee as it was going to a good cause and slept for 12 hours straight.

Diving

I parked the car in a parking bay by the side of the road and looked out at the panapoly of stars in the sky, the lack of light pollution here means there is no shortage of stars. I could hear the sea in the distance but had no idea that I would wake to the sunrise that greeted me.

After breakfast of yoghurt and strawberries I headed off into the heat of one of the hottest spells I have experienced so far. The temperature in Melbourne was 43 degrees and it would have been around the same here as just getting out of the car was like walking into an oven.

I stopped off at a few tourist attractions like the 12 Apostles, of which there are fewer now as they are collapsing – these are giant rock stacks in the sea that are impressive and worth a view, the last time I saw geology like this was in Mauritania, another dry place. The string of tourists stopping off at each attraction made me feel a bit like I was on a production line but the views were worth it.

Now I don’t like to complain about the heat as I do have readers in the chilly English winter that would swap their mothers for a day of heat, but I felt the need to find some cooling down. The answer came in the form of a dive shop, I drove past, reversed, hopped in and within an hour I was diving off of a place called Warrnambool amongst the surging swells of the kelp strewn bay.

The dive was fun after I settled in to it and after twenty minutes I found myself reclining as the strong swell threw me backwards and forwards off of the reef. The other divers were searching for Crayfish but I felt happy enough to just bob about in the cool water, when we got out my temperature was cool enough to handle any heat.

After this I drove to a wonderful place called Port Fairy and jumped into the sea in a lagoon that allows for good swimming due to the lack of surf.

Right now I’m in another YHA piggy backing the internet connection, it’s what a Cyber Gypsy has to do to get online around here…

The Great Ocean Road

I think I have gotten the hang of why the Australians use the word awesome so much, it’s because so many things are called great that they need a word that is greater than great. The awesome ocean road perhaps, well it lives up to it’s name. Australia is awesome, the word doesn’t feel out of place here, it would feel out of place in the considered and ancient rambling hills of Sussex, not in the vastness down under.

The road was built as a living monument to the returning soldiers from the first world war and was constructed when blokes still used picks and shovels and went home for big cow pies. It is a great construction that would be great to ride on a motorbike as it clings in serpent fashion to the side of plunging hills, but for me I am cruising it in a hired Nissan and it’s still a lot of fun.

I drove through the heat of the day with the windows open and found myself a beach to run along, when I was hot enough I doused myself in the ocean surf and found a coffee shop to kick back in. At the moment I am in one of the comfy Ozzy YHA’s using the internet connection as I have told a friend I will help him out with some work, the only thing that is missing at the moment is him.

There are lovely little secluded beaches around here that you have to hike to and this is where I spent the sunset, in a tiny bay that you could only get to by descending through a gulley that would have been home to Aboriginal people over 10,000 years ago, they don’t spend much time here now so it seems which is a shame.

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Tomorrow I will head towards the Grampian mountains, but at what speed depends on what I find on the way. Time goes slowly here and will do when we’re gone.

Australia Day

Fireworks, a gig in Melbourne town centre themed around ‘a cow jumping over the moon’ for some reason that remains beyond me – although one of the performances was by a cabaret group that sang about ‘cash cows’, a metaphor for the greed destroying our little planet etc etc, so maybe that had something to do with it.  It was all good fun, but it’s just the way cities promote themselves these days and most large cities seem to have the same script to read from.

What was a far nicer experience for me was cycling around a very sunny Melbourne in the early evening light on a public holiday. The city was virtually deserted so I had the whole place to myself, the often surprising architecture of melbourne University, the gorgeous bright clean light reflecting off of the cluster of tall buildings making up the centre of Melbourne. I had my little moment communing with Australia and whatever that is meant to be as I peddled slowly around it’s deserted streets. We like each other, I’m glad.

St Kilda

St Kilda is a beach resort near Melbourne that reminded me of Brighton in a modest way. I think it’s esplanade is called Brighton so I don’t think it that unfounded. There is a salt water pool here that I popped in to get some ozygen into my brain -the pool was so salty that I found myself wretching after even a little water crept into my mouth, you really needed googles as well as the water felt toxic as it obviously had products in it that the sea did not have. This was supposed to be a ‘spa’ pool and I did feel envigorated after a swim.

The sunset from St Kilda is amazing, but one thing that drew my attention was the vast stream of light coming from the ‘Eureka’ building in Central Melbourne. This beam of light looked almost mythical, as if Indiana Jones would be waiting underneath with an Indian feller and a crock of gold.

Melbourne City centre is as to be expected of a city of it’s size these days. they make use of the river, have lovely trams that circle the city that you can book up as restaurants if you have a bunch of people up for it and some lovely big buildings, but it’s all starting to look a bit like one big city, just choose your location for it.

Bowling…

My daughter Isis and I were having a chat about possible film plots about unlikely pastimes becoming fashionable – I mean if Boules can be a game for youngsters in France why not Bowls, instead of it being the bastion of old age why not make it a game for the hip and trendy.

I told an Aussie guy about our possible film coup and he told me that the film had been made and the film was called crackerjack, not only that the sport of barefoot bowls had taken off big time in Oz amongst the hip and trendy.

Damn, here they are hipply bowling…

Thunder and Lightning

I dropped my lady off at the international airport as she was flying back to the UK and sat watching the plane take off in the early evening light from the domestic terminal where my flight was due. It’s a strange sensation departing to different parts of the globe as I set off to Melbourne on the evening Virgin Blue flight.

We had lightning off of the port wing as we flew through thunder clouds. The pilot was calm as he flew around the piled up clouds as if he was avoiding a puddle in a road, it made for great viewing.

I arrived in Melbourne to be picked up by an old friend from many years back and set up in the nice Melbourne burb of Preston for the weekend.