The Great Ocean Road
If you didn’t know, Australia is pretty freakin’ huge. If you want to get around the country you’re probably better off flying if you’re in a hurry. For those of you with more time, driving The Great Ocean Road is unavoidable if you want to travel the south East to West or vice versa. Since I didn’t really have the luxury of money or time, I decided to just book a day trip through my hostel to see the 12 apostles and a bit of the coastline.
The first stop we made was at the sign above, for some coffee and cookies. The ride to this point was nearly 1.5 hours from Melbourne. We then drove through miles of charred woods to get to the next stop. The most recent bushfire in this area was around last Christmas (2016). We entered into an area with bare trees and to our surprise, the damage isn’t always because of fires. The Koalas eat the eucalyptus off the trees and it doesn’t grow back. If you’re lucky you can spot them up high in the trees and take a few pictures.
If you want you can also pay to give some food for these beautiful red birds. They will come and sit on your head or your shoulders. It was pretty cute, though it wasn’t our tour that offered this. I wonder why…
Then it was lunch time! This lighthouse has a pretty interesting history. Apparently it was the first of its kind, and was put in place to keep boats from crashing into the rocks below. The family that lived in here were nearly completely isolated. I can’t even imagine living out in the middle of nowhere and having the nearest town miles away. You are able to go up, but be careful it’s really steep. I haven’t even mentioned the wind yet! The wind was so strong you could almost get knocked off the side. It was hard to get a good picture while clutching the camera so tightly in fear it might blow away.
I spoke with a group of young people who came from different countries in Europe. Somehow I didn’t quite fit in as they already had their little clique. It was also around the time of the time of the inaguration of Trump so the bus driver, and everyone else in the van, made jokes at me and brought it up many times on the trip. Rather than talk about the otherwise boring long trip check out some of the pictures of various stops along the way. Keep in mind, the farthest we went, was a beach just a bit further West than the 12 apostles. Or well, I’m not sure what to call them anymore since a few of those apostles have fallen.
Attack on Bourke Street
While walking around taking pictures on my tour I had spotty service. One message did seem to come through at one point from my friend Emma. She seemed panicked, asking me if I was anywhere near Bourke St. She knew I was staying in Melbourne and in that area. In my head I’m thinking, “Well no I’m out on a tour like 5 hours away from my hostel? What’s with the urgency?” Turns out a driver went on a rampage and plowed through the busy shopping street side-walk. This driver, according to the news, was mentally unstable, but it wasn’t terrorist related. I had planned to walk around Melbourne, but after seeing this I’m glad I was far from Melbourne for the day. When I got back the city was on lockdown. The city trams weren’t going near Flinders St, there was tape blocking a good chunk of downtown, and there weren’t that many people walking around. My hostel, was in the same building as the police station and it was also blocked by tape and police. After telling them that it was my building they let me in. but no one else was allowed through.
I called a girl I’d met in Thailand last summer that is living in Melbourne at the moment, to see if she wanted to get some drinks. I’d gotten dressed and even put make-up on, something I rarely do when I’m in travel mode. We were going to meet halfway between my hostel and a few blocks north of Bourke St, but every time I tried to cross to go North, I was turned away by police. It was now around 11:30pm and I walked like 10 blocks West to when I could finally go North. I sat waiting at the corner, watching what I can only assume to be a prostitute, while waiting for my friend. I say that she was a prostitute because she was dressed super nice and lagging down any guys that passed her asking where they were going and well, you can pretty much guess what she says next. After 45 min and 5 missed calls I decided to throw in the towel and just go back home. While walking home the road blocks were still going on, but it looked like they were wrapping things up.
The next day I walked around Bourke St and saw a mass of people placing gifts in front of the H&M with pictures of the victims of the tradgedy the day before.
The mood all around was pretty somber. I did nothing but walk around the museums and the gardens around Flinders st with the friend that stood me up, Tataya.
As a disclaimer: This didn’t happen recently, this happened January 20th. I am just THAT behind in my blog posts. Sorry ._. But hey! I’ve got about 10 days left of Australia and then I’ll move on to writing about the USA!