Category Archives: Travel

The Roadtrip Part Two

P1000587

We awoke to a gloriously sunny morning in Apollo Bay, with cows grazing in the fields opposite

where we had pitched our van-tent. We got up fairly early as the tent became hot during the morning sun and we were also keen to be on our way. We packed up our makeshift home and bid farewell to our home for the last 14 hours.

Wicked Campers have a deal you can take advantage of to get an extra day free if you send them a naked photo with you and your van, so the order of our second day was to get the naked photo taken so that we could confirm our extra day. The problem with doing this was that we needed something clever to cover some of our modesty and also, five girls getting naked on the side of the Great Ocean Road would probably attract quite a lot of attention. We therefore set about finding a private area in which to take the photo and perhaps some leaves or something to artistically lay over ourselves.

P1000608

We eventually stumbled upon a spot whilst we were looking for a petrol station and got the photo taken on the GoPro, however; it didn’t come out very well. I therefore sacrificed being in the it and took a photo which managed to earn us our extra day of road tripping. Due to this, we were able to take things slightly easier and also deviate away from the Great Ocean Road. One thing I will say to check is that you have enough petrol to get to the towns with the cheaper fuel because we did get fairly low at one point and some of the more rural petrol stations ration fuel (they will give you enough to get to the next town).

P1000607Once we had our fill of views from the platforms, we decided to explore the beach below the road and spent a couple of hours sunbathing and paddling in the sea – the waves were far too strong for any real swimming, and the sea was freezing. Surprisingly, there were very few others on the beach, so it was an incredibly peaceful experience; so much so, that I fell asleep for a while. Our time on the Great Ocean Road was coming to an end, as we knew there wasn’t far to go until we reached Warrnambool. We therefore climbed back into the van and made a plan for the rest of the afternoon.

P1000619 8

One of the highlights of the Great Ocean Road is Twelve Apostles Bay, which constitutes of a series of limestone stacks. Though the stacks are famously known as the Twelve Apostles, there were originally only nine. Presently, eight stacks remain and this number will decrease over the next few years due to the extreme climate of the Southern Ocean. In the meantime, though, tourists come from all over the place to see the view and are able to experience it through the purpose-built visitor centre and walkways to and from the viewing platforms.

About an hour after leaving Port Campbell, we came to the end of the Great Ocean Road – marked by a wonderful place called Cheese World. Erin and I came to Cheese World in December, but I was far too ill to enjoy it. This time, I made the suggestion that we stop so that we could have a drink and perhaps try some of the cheese they had on offer. We tried some of the award-winning cheese and each ordered one of their ‘world famous’ milkshakes. If you have the time, and enjoy cheese, I would certainly recommend a visit to Cheese World during your Great Ocean Road adventure.

P1000623

We stopped for supplies in Warrnambool and then set about finding a place to stay for the night. Using WikiCamps again, we found a campsite which boasted free camping with koalas in the trees overhead, just outside of Port Fairy. The only downside was that there were no facilities, so it would be a case of going where you could and no showering. I am, unfortunately, not as at one with nature as my companions, so the following twelve hours were a bit of a struggle for me.

P1000626

The campsite was beautiful and there were two other lots of campers staying there. It wasn’t regulated by anyone and you just parked yourself wherever you could find a clearing. Once we had set up camp, we decided to see if we could find any of the fabled koalas, and we were not disappointed. The first koala was pointed out to us by one of the other campers. Unsurprisingly, the koala looked very chilled while he balanced on a branch, completely asleep. We walked on a little further and were very lucky to find a koala with a joey sitting next to her. The joey looked like a grumpy old man and was obviously a little freaked out by the five girls ogling him from below.

Emily cooked dinner for us on the gas stove which came with the van and we sat out all evening eating pasta and drinking goon. Once the bugs began to eat us alive, we reconvened to the tent and Stef told us hilarious stories into the night.P1000629

The second day of our road trip was just as interesting as the first and I think we all had a very enjoyable time. Watching the sunset over the trees, while we were in what was essentially the middle of nowhere, was a tranquil and beautiful experience. Hearing savage koalas in the trees overhead was somewhat less tranquil and rather more like the Blair Witch Project…

The final two days of the road trip will be up in the Road Trip Part Three.

 

Experience Life | Create Adventure

The Roadtrip Part One

P1000524One of the best things about living in Melbourne is the location. I know I complained about the location when I first moved here because it was the main reason for the bad weather, but there are so many things on Melbourne’s doorstep that makes the location actually fantastic.

The Great Ocean Road is a 243 kilometre stretch of road which runs from Torquay to Allansford along one of the most scenic stretches of coastal road in the world. The first time my travels led me there was in December 2013 during my roadtrip with Erin. We began at Warnambool, which is often cited as the start of the Great Ocean Road. Unfortunately, I was incredibly ill during that first trip and was therefore unable to enjoy it as much as we could. Due to my illness, we made haste on the journey so that we could get to Ballarat where a good nights’ sleep awaited me.

My second visit to the Great Ocean Road was, however, very different. I’m not sure who first had the idea, but it was certainly struck upon that we needed to hire a camper van and go on a roadtrip for a few days while we had a little break in our workload and before 3 of our group went off on their next adventure. Stefani found a great company called Wicked Campers who have vans that have been painted with various slogans and spray paint, with tents added to the top, tables added to the inside and a kitchen at the back. Stefani was also hard at work planning the route for our trip which would take us all along the Great Ocean Road and then perhaps on to South Australia or further North into rural Victoria.P1000517

One Monday morning, on a bright October day, with an assortment of bags and Eskies, the five of us showed up to collect our camper van. The van, an old Toyota, was decorated with an array of colours and peace signs, bearing the slogan ‘Hippy Freaks’ on one side, with ‘Smelly Hippies’ on the other. This was to be our home for the next four days. We were given brief instructions on how to erect the tent on top of the van, told where the nearest petrol station was and we were off.P1000530

The first part of our journey was spent getting to the Great Ocean Road from Melbourne, which was about an hour and a half to Torquay. Once there, we were able to really begin exploring.

There are so many coves and beaches which run all along the coast of Victoria. We ventured on to one such beach and were mesmerised by the beauty of the rock formations; caves and cobbles and beach for miles to see. Dayna decided that wading through the sea to get round a headland was a good idea, but was quickly thigh deep in water and the rest of us deigned not to follow.

P1000545Just outside of Lorne begin sign posts to Erskine Falls. We took a winding road up from coastal road and after twenty minutes we arrived in a car park surrounded by trees. The decent to the waterfall was steep and we were warned by those walking back up that though the sight that awaited us was stunning, the climb back to the top would be intense. We did have the thought of perhaps being able to swim in the waters beneath the fall but once we got to it, we realised this would not be possible. Not only was the water dark and dingy, but it was also freezing cold. However, we were able to explore and scramble over rocks – although on a return visit, I will remember to wear better shoes.

Our fellow tourists were not wrong when they told us the climb to the top would be difficult, but we persevered and got to the top, perhaps a little more sweaty than we would have liked.

We pushed on to Lorne, which was practically a ghost town compared to when I had previously been there during Falls Festival. The shops were quiet and we took our time looking around. My favourite stretch of the Great Ocean Road begins just out of Lorne and continues for the next 140 km; the most beautiful and breath-taking views I have ever seen. On a day like the one we had – bright and sunny – the views of the coastline extend for miles. The road winds in and out of rock face and bush, with houses suspended on stilts looking over the Bass Strait.P1000572

The sea was a little moody due to the wind but it was still the most brilliant blue colour and the contrast between it and the sandy coloured rocks made for many a perfect photo opportunity. We were able to stop at lookouts and marvel at what lay before us before clambering back into the van to continue the journey.

We began to think about where we would stay for the night and Dayna suggested using Wikicamps to find a cheap or free campsite where we could park our van and erect our quarters for the evening. The campsite we settled on was just on the way out of Apollo Bay and had a wonderful view over a river and farmland. It was $9 each for the night which was pretty good considering the facilities (shower and toilet), as well as the location.

The tent went up just as the guy we picked the van up from said it would and it was incredibly spacious inside; plenty of space for the five of us to sleep. Without much further ado, we created a nest for ourselves, got our goon and clambered into the tent. None of us really stopped to check the time and were therefore very surprised to find that it was barely 7pm and we were all feeling incredibly tired after our day of travelling. The wind picked up and we were glad of our shelter. After chatting for a few hours, we got into our sleeping bags. Needless to say, we were all asleep by 10pm.

Our first day was probably our busiest so the remaining days adventures will be up in The Roadtrip Part Two.

 

Experience Life | Create Adventure  

Life in the Southern Hemisphere

photo 1 (3)I am pleased to report that I am feeling much more settled in Melbourne. I am even beginning to call my house here ‘home’ instead of just constantly referring to it as ‘the Darling House’. When I first moved in, I would spend whole days on my own in the house, not going out because of the weather, lack of things to do, lack of money or lack of people to do things with. I spent a great deal of time wallowing, and not doing much of anything else.    

After a month in Australia, desperate the start doing something with my time along with earning some much-needed money, I signed up to a hospitality agency. The agency provides staff for different venues around the city to help out at sporting events, conventions and private parties. I was fairly shocked to receive a call from them, after submitting my CV, as I have absolutely no experience in hospitality. However, I was given the job on the spot and began working at events in the city centre almost straight away.photo 3 (4)

Through work, I have managed to start meeting new people, which has been a godsend because for a little while I was feeling very lonely and really wanted to cut my losses and head back to England (around the time of my last post). Working for an agency is great because you end up working with lots of like-minded people e.g. travellers looking for enough work to save money and then continue their travels. The people I work with are from all over the world and all have so many different stories; work is never boring because of this.

Meeting new people means I always have something different to do and new suggestions for places to try. Grabbing a knock off drink or something to eat is a great way to realise that your job is actually not that bad, even when your feet have been torn to shreds by your new shoes. We went out as a group to the local bar outside work and got to know each other better, enjoying spending time together away from work.

photo 1 (2)Through the combination of iPhone apps and advice from people I’ve met, I’ve tried out some fantastic places to eat and drink; notably Huxtaburger in the CBD, which sells arguably the best burgers in Melbourne. It is set up with a sort of American diner-feel, with a selection of burgers named after characters from ‘The Cosby Show’, including Bill, Sondra and Rudy. The tag-line is ‘Hot Beef. Cold Beer’, which describes the simplicity of the joint perfectly.

The reason I rate it? It’s so unusual to find such a good veggie burger in any restaurant which boasts about the best burgers in town on the menu. Huxtaburger has accomplished this hands down. Not only is there the perfect veggie burger on the menu ‘Sondra’, you can also opt to have the tofu pattie in any one of the burger options. With generous toppings smeared between a brioche bun, it’s like heaven in your mouth with every bite. Worth noting are the crinkle fries, which go perfectly with mustard and complement the burgers ingeniously. With three restaurants around the Melbourne area, I thoroughly recommend trying it out as soon as possible.

Having tried Siglo, may I also offer up another fantastic rooftop bar in the CBD, Campari House, on Hardware Lane. Stefani and I went to Campari for lunch and drinks on a brilliantly sunny, but windy, Monday afternoon. Anyone who has been to Hardware Lane in Melbourne knows that it hold an incredible array of restaurants from a baguette shop to an atmospheric Italian restaurant. Campari House boasts seating downstairs as well as upstairs, with slightly different menus in each area. We chose to climb the jailtime stairs with interestingly decorated walls to the rooftop bar, where we were rewarded for our efforts with a vast selection of wines, cocktails and beers along with a delicious gourmet pizza menu. We were also sheltered from the wind.photo 3 (3)

I would recommend Campari House as a great place to go for lunch during your working day or for drinks on any balmy evening. There are plenty of tables and an interesting prospect (though no view over the city), of the tall buildings around you, and the faint city noise below. We both opted for pizza – mine was eggplant (aubergine) with smoked mozzarella. The combination was stunning and I enjoyed every last bite, washed down with a glass of white wine – recommended to me by the barman.

We then stopped for macarons at La Belle Miette, just because we could.

photo 2 (3)My parents came to Australia in August which gave me a huge pick-me-up. I spent the weekend with them in Hervey Bay along with my uncle and my grandparents and it really helped me gain some perspective and help me realise that what I was doing was the right thing. I decided to move here, so I need to make it work. It is a comfort to know I have family a short plane journey away too (though Queensland is surprisingly far from Melbourne). I was never any good at keeping in touch with my parents when I lived in Ascot, but I’m really enjoying the contact since I’ve been here. Little reassurances go a long way.

I have now spoken to my housemates – eventually we all came out of our rooms and now spend quite a bit of time together. We are a quirky bunch, and all of us from somewhere different; I’m English, Luke is Australian, Simon is a New Zealander, Marcel is from the Czech Republic and Ronnie is from India. I don’t see Marcel and Ronnie much because they work all of the time but Simon and Luke are around quite a lot and each of them are interesting in their own way. Everyone looks out for me too, to makes sure I’m eating correctly and getting my life on track a bit more or even bringing me McDonald’s in bed after a heavy night. I’m very lucky to have them.

I have had plenty of time to think about what I’d like to do going forward, but things are still very much up in the air. Due to the nature of my lease, and my mental state at the moment, I think it unlikely that I will complete my reigional work in order to stay in Australia another year. I am, however, incredibly keen to see more of the country, so I hope to accomplish that over the next few months, but also find a job which fills more of my time.

I will continue posting photos and updates about my adventures, and would love to know if you are reading them. Please leave a comment to let me know what you’d like more of and perhaps suggestions of what I should do in and around Melbourne.

 

Experience Life | Create Adventure

 

Communication

P1000405

Moving to the other side of the world can be particularly difficult when you have lots of friends at home who you’d like to keep in touch with. I am so close to my friends and family that being away from them is a real heartache. I remember when our family first moved to Australia; making phone calls was expensive and coordinating times to speak meant calling to check whether someone was free – you couldn’t just send them a text. If the person wasn’t there, you’d have to wait for a better time to speak. This meant that you would speak to your loved one once a week if you were lucky.

Then came emails. I have been writing emails to my grandparents in Australia since I was about ten years old. This was an incredible chance to write long and rambling messages about what I was doing at school, the trips I had been on and everything you’re supposed to be able to share with your grandparents. I have always really enjoyed writing, especially making family members happy about receiving a thank you letter or a letter of correspondence, or even a postcard.

P1000400

Perhaps one of the best inventions of the last few years, though, is Skype –  seeing and talking to your loved ones around the world from your computer. It’s equipped with an instant message function so that you can check whether someone is online before you call them. Skype has been a life-saver for me since I moved to Australia because moving to a new place can be incredibly lonely. Knowing that there is someone at the other end of the computer, phone or iPad is so comforting; hearing news of home, letting friends know what you’re up to and keeping up the banter you had when you were with your loved ones in person.

Of course, the physical distance is hard, but once you start making friends in your new city, the loneliness begins to ebb and the need for communication begins to lessen. It’s important to remember that your friends from home have their own lives. It’s also important to be considerate of time zones and not expect friends to be awake too early or late. Once a balance has been struck things get easier and compromises don’t seem as difficult.

As a traveller, next to staying in touch with friends, money is probably one of the most important considerations – mostly so that you can afford to stay in the city you’ve given up so much to move to. P1000396

Luckily, there are so many free apps and websites which mean that you can communicate with loved ones with little or no expense. I have already mentioned Skype and email, but also find myself using WhatsApp; so much better than texting because it’s free and you can have group conversations. This works better as well because you can send messages and photos and then get a reply when the person on the other end has woken up. It applies for pretty much any phone you can download apps from in any country.

Another thing about being a traveller is always being on the go. When you are staying in a hostel, hotel, with a friend or moving around often, it’s inconvenient using your laptop to Skype or Facebook someone so I completely recommend making sure you are able to use a mobile with a good data plan on it (because it’s often not possible to connect to wifi). Since arriving in Australia, I have been using an iPhone which, of course, has FaceTime on it; another great way of communicating with friends, who essentially all have an iPhone or iPad… Thanks Apple. P1000408

One of the biggest mistakes I made when I moved abroad was that I didn’t realise how much I would miss home. I didn’t think I would need to depend on those at home as much as I have had to in the past few weeks. I am lucky to be blessed with very patient friends who have made sure I’m ok and convinced me that going home is the last resort. I am meeting new people in Melbourne and really enjoying their company but I will always want to talk to my friends from home. Communication is about balance and giving as much as you are given. However, it is so important to remember to live your new life because otherwise the temptation to throw it all in and come home will be too much.

So, remember to stay in touch – I love hearing from you all and your communication is invaluable to me. 

Experience Life | Create Adventure

Adaption

I’ve mentioned before that moving abroad in the way that I have is something that was a very alien concept to me. I like to have routines and know exactly what is happening and when, I like to know that I have a job to go to and friends I can call upon to do things with when I want to. Another thing I really liked about my old life was having all of the equipment I needed in order to cook the meals I had become accustomed to.

As a traveller, generally you will not have the money, nor the inclination to eat out constantly. This paves the way for cooking in the home or hostel you are residing in, but that means that you have to extend your ‘make do’ attitude to the things you are making because of the limited kitchen equipment you will have at your disposal.

During my first week here, while I was staying with Erin, I made pizza. Now pizza is one of those things which I have refused to buy from the supermarket since I learned how to make bread. This is largely due to the fact that supermarket-bought pizzas not only have a lot of salt in them, but they are also quite sickly to the taste and very unhealthy. It’s much better to know what you are putting into your food, but also for the food you are eating to actually taste nice.

photo 1

When I was fourteen, we made pizza from scratch in Food Tech at school. From then on I used to make pizza very frequently, putting my own toppings on and trying to make different types of crusts. I think my friends would say, it became a specialty of mine. When I was nineteen, I began working for Thermomix, and one of the first things I made in the Thermomix was the pizza, this included making the tomato sauce.

When I got to Australia, having been using a Thermomix for about 4 years, I felt a bit lost on the cooking front. I also found that the same things aren’t available here and shopping in Coles is different to shopping in Waitrose because everything is in a different place.

Eventually, I got together all of the right ingredients I needed, and took them home. I found the correct bowl and I kneaded all of the ingredients together by hand (which took about 12 minutes as opposed to the Thermomix’s 3). I then encountered my first real problem; the house was too cold for the yeast to work. Problem easily solved by covering the dough and putting it in the oven on a very low heat.

IMG_0118

The next issue that I arrived at was that there was no rolling pin. No fear, as this time we’d already had half a bottle of wine (… each) and the empty bottle could be used as a rolling pin! Hooray, perfectly rolled pizza.

Obstacle number three was the lack of baking trays. Usually I would combat this by using baking paper to cook the pizza on with the oven rack serving as a skeleton for the paper. We didn’t have any baking paper so I ended up using heavily floured casserole dishes, of varying size, for each pizza. I then decorated as accordingly.

IMG_0150

One thing I will say is that cheese is much more expensive over here, and isn’t as good. The mozzarella here is not sold in water as it is in the UK – it’s vacuum packed and isn’t made up in the same way so doesn’t shred as well.

The pizza was pretty damn fine, even if I do say so myself. Maybe I’ll put the recipe up for you sometime…

Another recipe I would usually do in the Thermomix is nacho cheese sauce (for nachos) because I like to make it with very fine pieces of onion, jalapeño and tomato. The base of the sauces is a white sauce, which requires constant stirring and whisking to make sure it’s a smooth as possible. It needs to have all of the flour completely incorporated so that you can’t taste it, so I would cook it for around 10 minutes in the Thermomix; on the hob it took about half an hour.

photo 4

One thing I will say I love about Coles, or Australian supermarkets in general, is the vegetable and fruit section because the avocados (well, produce in general) in Australia are amazing; they are always ripe so if you want to make something with an avocado, you don’t have to preempt yourself by a week in order for it to be ripe in time.  I bought the avocados and on the same day, I made an amazing, vividly green, guacamole which I can’t remember having ever made from scratch before. So, at the end of the day, I suppose it’s all about adaption.