So Melbourne from the start.
Travel day was long, when you thought you have flown pretty much half way round the world (Thailand) Australia can't be that much further. How wrong were we, its almost as far down as it was around!! 24 hour trip to Melbourne and we meet lizzie, as we were waiting we were having a little guessing game as to what lizzie would look like and how we'd spot her, should have know better as she's got the standard Loughran look and we spoted her in the car coming from a mile off (slight exaggeration, with my eyes) Actually could have been mistaken for Gem, scary. As we said lizzie was amazing had tone's planned and loads of recommendations for us so we just about held out through the day chatting (and drinking lots of tea and coffee) when we were finally hit by the travel and crashed out at about 8 o'clock, nice early night ready for the first big day in Melbourne.
Oh yeah before we go any further i would like to let you all in on a little secret. The brave miss Pike who had given up her hairdryer and straighteners for a life on the road had a lasted a whole month (all very proud) in Thailand had then used Lizzie's for the first time and in and instant we had gone to the shop and back again sporting some of Remington's finest. The Hair-doing strike was over. Curls no more.
So up bright and early for breckie with lizzie and her sister Genny (my second aunty, I think) and then into the car heading south of Melbourne to Phillip Island, Pretty famous for Penguins and Surfing and the Moto GP (Impressed DadofLea?) All very excited we drive over the bridge and get suckerd in to the first place we come across. FREE CHOCOLATE SAMPLES. Practically running into the chocolate factory we soon realised we had been sold a massive con (Thailand wiseness had worn off already) 1 free sample, but what seemed like a showroom for chocolate, needless to say we bought afew bags. Onwards,Firstly we stopped at the Woolami Beach, very famous for surfing, I could feel the bug building inside me instantly and wanted to learn. So we sat and watched the surfers and had a little pick-nick (im leaving that spelling in of "picnic" because lea says its too funny not to share!!). We head south of the island to a spot which is renowed for seals, Unfortunately we didn't see any, but we did see tons of penguins. All very cute, and soooooo funny, Also lots of fantastic scenery of the island. Heading north again, we stopped at Cowes for some fish and chips, I had Shark, lea had Snapper, was so good to eat some proper chips, gonna have to try hard not to live off them as they were lush. Headed back south to the penguin night show. This was hilarious, After sunset all the penguins come in from the sea and find places in the bushes to sleep. So you basically sit there and watch, but the best bit was the walk back up from the beach. All the penguins were walking along side us in little groups. We particularly like the little fat one's who had to keep up with the group but kept falling over at the back. Very enjoyable. Oh yeah missed something funny off this little story, when we arrived at the beach (due to conservation we were quite a bit back from the sea) so as we arrived late (naturally) we were like (well mostly blind me) " wow look at them all just standing around waiting" after watching them in awe from a couple of minutes on of them fly's away. We were shocked to say the least, "I didn't realise penguins could fly" Leanne looks at me, Those are seagull's. Do'h
With plans to head into Melbourne for the morning, we were unfortunately too lazy (mostly just enjoying the comfy bed and hot shower, God i sound like we have been in prison) So we just woke up late and strolled down to the beach by lizzie's house. Stunning beach again (think it's a pretty common thing that all the beaches are picture perfect) And we chill out, even venture into the water. Nice relaxing morning. It's the biggie coming up though. The family get together. So we come back from the beach and everyone is already there. (Late again) So here goes........... Me, Lea, Ruth, Dennis, Lizzie, Sharron, Gloria, Alison, Locky, Genny couldn't be there but her daughter and grand-daughter were there. Very cute little girl. Oh yeah and Elwood lizzie's dog. Good food and a few drinks (and more tea). Will have to fill you in on the family details when we get back, but needless to say everyone looked the same.
Today we hit the city, up early and into Melbourne city for the first time. Moomba, is a massive festival that happens in the city in march (i think it's for the close of summer, leanne said thats not true matt you just made that up - the word moomba means get up and have a good time - its an old aberigini word. check her out bill bryson!) So loads and loads for us to do. Firstly on a geeky note, so many skyscrapers, Melbourne is a massive city built up city so me and lea were kind of holding our breath ready for the pollution to kick in, it didn't. It was a little surreal, it's like being in the centre of london with on a couple of cars on the road and hardly anyone around. Very strange. So we made our way down to the river (again similar to london) on the tram which was cool. As we walked along the southbank river (again similar to london) we decided to cut through the Crown Casino (it was huge) to get to the festival, i was worried as we had flip flops on and might not be allowed in, i should however have been more worried about the giant woman security gaurd who used her gigantic arm as a barrier blocking entry to lea - quizzing her on the spot for a date of birth. gutted as we had no ID (for young leanne) on us. so retreating away from the lesbian looking woMAN on a powertrip (obviously secretly fancying leanne!?) we walked round. We had decided to treat ourselfs to a little tourist type thing and went up in the Eureka tower (landmark skyscraper for Melbourne). Hopped in the elevator and wizzed up to the 88th floor, (took 30 seconds and my ears poped twice) at about 170 meters we could see right across the city and suburbs. Obviously both of being architecture geeks we loved it. We then continued our trip towards moomba. Festival was really cool, loads of food and stuff to do, lea chickened out of the reverse bungee thing (where you are in a ball and they fire you up, secretly i was relieved) We pretty much just spent the whole day watching water skiing, skatebording, vollyball and some serious people watching. Ended the day with an amazing firework show but we were both really gutted as we had an amazing spot on the river to watch them but our camera had gone flat. So i'm afraid you guys will never get to see them!!
Up bright and early again (not getting the usual lazy lie-in's here) Ruth and Dennis came to pick us up and we headed into the hills to the Heale wildlife sanctuary. Ruth (alot like grandad) is comparatively quiet to Dennis and we had a real tour on our hand today. Ruth led the way with the picnic when we got there chicken drumsticks, bread and salad followed by beer and wine (11:45 am i'll let you know) was really tasty little surprise as we skipped breakfast for extra sleep time, (also lea not to be rude even ate chicken straight off the bone, wonders never cease) So entering the place Dennis quickly grabbed a volunteer and gently persuaded him to give us a private tour. We spent about four or five hours going round this place and it was amazing, we saw every type of Australian animal and bird possible all but the Tasmanian Devil (oh yeah its a real animal, not just a cartoon). We even got to stroke a Rock Wallabie that was just wandering around, very cute. As a little souvenir we bought a little Koala (teddy not a real one) he is gonna be our lucky charm for the road trip. We aptly called him "Kenny the Koala" (for those of you that dont know......lea has a teddy she has had her whole life called "Lenny the Lion", unfortunately due do lenny's old age we could not get him insurance so he had to stay home. So lea needed a new teddy in her life, However lenny if you read this you have not been replaced, you just have a friend). We went to Sharron's for dinner and boy did she feed us, we had a fantastic mixture of curries, the family was very impressed as lea quite happily applied a spoonfull of the old family chillie pickle to her dinner, didn't even break a sweat. Good job. I got a Little freaked out as one of sharrons kids Dan had a school photo on the wall and mum it was almost identical to the one in your lounge. Scary
So the big day finally arrived..........................We bought a Nintendo DS (had to give it straight to lizzie to charge as we didn't have a plug socket in the van, talk about your all time anti climax's of buying something), oh yeah and we picked up our van!!! Its at first we were torn between tears of joy and sadness. The 10 year old van pulls up to the front of the hire place and we are like cool look at that, big graffiti of Shazam (cartoon) on the side and a really hippy retro look to it (just old, not done intentionally) We head over to have a closer look (note down all the dents and chips with the hire guy) her shows around the inside................. So theres the sink, front seats, bed/backseats, oh and heres the engine. Sweet, Sweet. All sorted a little shock as it is pretty ropey but we told ourselves it will be fine, its cute........(and the turn around of opinion began) So we head straight to Torquay start-ish of the Great Ocean Road (tipped off there were some wicked surf shops there) we pretty much drive all the way down the GOR we were one major town from the end. Stopped at some nice little spots on the way, finally pulling into Port Campbell for the night. Just got there in time to see the 12 Apostles at sunset, very pretty but we were sure there aren't 12 anymore. So our first night in Shazam and this is where we were really converted from being a little freaked out by how small it was to thinking, you know what it's cute. Everything we needed so close. We headed out into the town for some food after the long day driving to be met with a tumble weed and some swinging saloon doors. Pretty much the whole town was closed (at 9pm) we managed to sneak a pizza in (mind you they locked up whilst we still in there).
First day and night done in Shazam, we were loving it. Up bright and early and back on the road we basically just drove back the way we came (going back to lizzies in Melbourne suburbs for a night). Today though we had alot more time to stop at the nice places we saw the day before. After making little stops at remote beaches we made two discoveries 1- The beaches were so empty, we stopped at more than one that we were the only people on 2- and i quote "The sea is so massive, i can't get my head round it" (more leanne's than mine). Arrived late at Melbourne, but got to drive round the city at night which was cool, very excited to have our first go on the new black DS when we got in but pretty much crashed. Little 2 day round trip in Shazam = 650km. Man this is gonna be a long drive.
Stocked up the van with all the essentials the next morning and parted ways with lizzie ( p.s thanks for everything) and hit the road again. Headed straight to Lake's entrance, recommended by Dennis for a night stop over (driving over here isn't helped by the fact they drive so bloody slow strict 60/70 mile an hour) Saw amazing views of the lake from the top of the hill. Tonight was our first proper night as campers, we made dinner on the gas stove and everything. Check us out,
Mum and Dad (Loughran) you might wanna hide the keys when we get back, we've got the camping bug!!
Next stop Merimbula to learn to surf.........................
Pictures coming soon
love you all