A Travellerspoint blog

Adelaide - apparently the City of Churches

Whilst I tagged Adelaide onto the end of the Great Ocean Road post I think it warrants a few standalone lines in the blog:

Adelaide is indeed known as the City of Churches however this was not the reason the Fool ended up here for a short stopover. That said the architecture, religious, commercial and domestic was varied and interesting. A couple of houses of worship have been selected for your delectation:

One of many in the City of Churches

One of many in the City of Churches

The biggie, all lit up!

The biggie, all lit up!



Arriving in most towns/cities at 6.00am is usually a nightmare for backpackers as 1) tired and irritable is usually the dominant mood and 2) the hostel is not open to receiving guests, even those with bookings, with open arms until late morning. Imagine my surprise then, when Ravi and I (with Marina in tow) entered the Backpack Oz hostel to be greeted with a friendly face, an understanding host, free wifi and breakfast. At that point I had yet to see the 12 berth dorm the initial signs were positive.

Following a breakfast of tea and toast Marina began to exhibit signs of advanced boredom so, whilst Ravi settled himself into the hostel fabric on the grounds of a dicky tummy, the Fool and Marina set out on foot to try to see most of Adelaides points of interest in one day.

On the advice of the hostel staff we marched upon the museum and university district where the old, ornate buildings rubbed shoulders with the glass, steel and concrete structures so favoured by designers and architects for the last 30-odd years. Given that Marina is an "architect in the making" her snapping pictures of what seemed like every other building was understandable. We also ventured into some of the large retail area for fun and fuel.

An ex-turtle

An ex-turtle

Traditional totem poles

Traditional totem poles

The massive tree in the front grounds of the University

The massive tree in the front grounds of the University

Still trying to replace my missing folicles

Still trying to replace my missing folicles

Marina makes an arresting sight...

Marina makes an arresting sight...

Next on the agenda was a trip on Adelaides only tram line, down to the seaside "resort" of Glenelg, or to spell it backwards, glenelG.
The journey lasted a leisurely 30 minutes which took us through a relaxing tour of the suburbs however when we disembarked at the coast we were hit by what felt like gale force winds which almost blew Marina over. After about 30 seconds she decided that she had been there long enough and was ready to reboard the returning tram. The Fool pushed on to the beachfront and then tackled a walk to the end of the low pier which afforded great views of the energetic waves heading to the shore but was very, very exposed. Returning to dry land I found my travelling companion cowering in the lee of the tram stop, her eyes forlornly focussed on the back of the recently departed tram. A steaming hot coffee and piece of cheesecake courtesy of Ronald McDonald soon revived her spirits for the return to the relatively temperate city centre.
Glenelg - crikey it were fresh!!

Glenelg - crikey it were fresh!!

Proof that GlenelG is spelt correctly.

Proof that GlenelG is spelt correctly.


Later that evening Marina departed for her flight to the east coast and Ravi hunkered down to recovering from his action packed schedule and to thinking about home, his degree and his future career in medicine.

For the next couple of days the Fool took the opportunity to wander the streets and appreciate some of the older architecture standing shoulder to shoulder with contemporary buildings, along with the modern street art and sculptures. The time both flew and dragged as my flight to Alice Springs grew nearer and, to be honest, the british type weather was no help as it lulled me into a false sense of security about coping with the Aussie spring and summer.

Adelaide street sculptures

Adelaide street sculptures

Adelaide pipe art

Adelaide pipe art

I enjoyed my time in Adelaide without really digging too deep, the hostel is definitely to be recommended to those backpackers following my footsteps, and the relatively temperate weather should definitely not be used as a barometer for travels either north to the red centre or south and west to the Coast and Melbourne.

Dressed in what was appropriate cool weather clothing I headed to the airport to catch my flight to Alice and a totally new and surprisingly extreme set of climatic conditions!!

Posted by RoystonBoyston 03:32 Comments (0)

The Great Ocean Road experience

The indirect bus to Adelaide

Having decided it was time to wrench away from the comfort of Melbourne the Fool ventured to the Greyhound depot to check out departure options and decided that heading east to Adelaide via a Great Ocean Road trip was as good an option as any (the publicity blurb said you get to stay in a lighthouse - sold to the big kid!).
The next morning I was collected from the hostel and transferred into town to the minute offices of Bunyip Tours where I mingled with other trippers, many of whom were heading off to Ramsey Street to meet Karl and other members of the Neighbours cast.

Eventually we got underway and, as is always the case, the makeup of the group decides what sort of trip you are going to have. We had a mixed bunch indeed with Matt, our excellent and upbeat driver/tour guide, along with Susanna, a most enthusiastic and exuberant german lass learning the tour guide ropes, a pair of young german sisters, Nicole and Sandra, Ravi the trainee doctor and the grown up couple of the bus Mike and Sarah from the UK in England, the elegant Chloe from la belle France, Elena and Enzo from Italy (the latter having no english skills having forgotten absolutely everything from his schooldays) and last but by no means least, crazy click click click Marina the photo machine from the fatherland. Oh and yours truly of course.
Our_gang.jpg

Being a journey along the great ocean road meant that we were, naturally, going to see a lot of beaches and so this proved to be with a number of stops to break the journey, take photos, munch on the snacks Matt doled out and to use facilities (early stops included Torquay, the home of the Rip Curl surfing brand, Bells and Lorne Beaches and Apollo Bay).
Proof_I_was_there.jpg
Our first feature stop was for lunch at the Cape Otway lighthouse and was disappointing on two scores 1) we dont stay overnight in this or any other lighthouse on the tour any more and 2) lunch was pathetic, cold sausages, potato salad and salad greens. The vegetarians fared even worse with some stuff which nobody could identify rolled into balls and deep fried. This turned out to be the low point of the whole trip and Matt was good enough to apologise for the poor quality of the fare which is contracted out by the tour people. The lighthouse itself was pretty neat although being outside up at the top in a fairly brisk wind was quite testing for the Fool. We also stopped to shoot some friendly cows and the wild koalas which reside in the trees nearby before heading into a rainforest for a short walk, craning our necks skywards, and then on to the shipwreck coast, the Gibson Steps, the site of the Loch Ard wreck and our first glimpse of what remains of the twelve apostles.
Cape Otway lightstation

Cape Otway lightstation

Watching you watching me!

Watching you watching me!

Beach at Gibson Steps

Beach at Gibson Steps

Overnight was in a neat hostel nearby and dinner was provided by a cafe/bar across the road. Advertised simply as Pizza and following on from our poor lunch I was not expecting much!! As it turned out our group were treated to one of each of the pizzas on their menu and boy, did these babies come with loads of toppings. We had trouble finishing the lot but somehow we managed it (even the hawaiian and vegetarian versions got devoured).

Early start the next morning began with a return to the Apostles for more photos and stops at the Bay of Islands and Bay of Martyrs including a visit to the collapsed "London Bridge" sandstone rock formation (it requires a lot of imagination to see the resemblance between the broken sandstone rocks in the sea and our famous landmark).
The remaining apostles

The remaining apostles

Loch Ard gorge

Loch Ard gorge


Reaching Warrnambool we headed inland via Tower Hill, a pretty impressive volcanic caldera for our sandwiches, and then on to the Grampians National Park where we were greeted by a crazy dog that chases the tour bus, installed in excellent acommodation and where Matt prepared a feast of a bbq (including kangaroo meat) and we enjoyed a few beers in the bar.
BBQ kangaroo, thanks Matt, deeeelish

BBQ kangaroo, thanks Matt, deeeelish

Final day dawned and, after a brief stroll around the area to spot the wild roos it was back in the bus and off to Mackenzie Falls. At this point we were able to confirm that Susanna will never make a photographer as, despite having the Fool pose with arms outstretched for many minutes "catching" the waterfall, she is a simple point and click girl, indeed she is somewhat of a rival to Emma at the Milford Sound incident. With the weather playing up our visits to a couple of spectacular lookout points (including Reeds) were in fact white outs with visibility barely 5 metres and it worsened during the rest of the day, raining whilst we enjoyed excellent coffee and a cockatiel and 'roo-fest at Gariwerd before visiting the interesting Brambuk Cultural Centre, dedicated to the history, art and music of the aboriginal people. As well as an opportunity to see various short videoes documenting traditional dances etc there were a number of didgerydoos available which prompted much raspberry blowing, hilarity and laughter by most members of our party.
MacKenzie Falls II

MacKenzie Falls II

Do you like my feathery beard

Do you like my feathery beard

Go on, just try me!!

Go on, just try me!!

Some of the group blowing raspberries into sticks.

Some of the group blowing raspberries into sticks.

Culturally enlightened we then headed through a monsoon from Arrarat to Ballarat where several of us hung around for the night bus to Adelaide whilst the rest of the party returned to Melbourne.

Arrival very early in Adelaide proved no problem as the hostel was open and happy for Ravi and I to take breakfast. As she had the whole day to kill before an onward flight Marina came with us and decided to bless us with her company - a prospect that Ravi, nearing the end of a long and eventful tour of Oz, feigned sickness and insisted that he stay in the hostel to recover whilst I accompany Marina around the city. At this point it is only fair to point out that Marina, in addition to having a puerile sense of humour and a crazy laugh also appears to suffer with acute attention deficit disorder making her easily bored and borderline hyperactive. Needless to say traipsing around large areas of Adelaide with her constantly taking photos of anything that DOESN'T move proved somewhat challenging however the inclement weather when we reached the seaside at  Glenelg (spelt the same backwards or forwards) at least muted her for a short while. Later that day Marina departed to sunnier climes however she was to reappear at Rainbow Beach later on the tour! Ravi saw out his last couple of days before heading home to continue his medical training and, hopefully, decide which hranch he wants to specialise in.
Adelaide street sculptures

Adelaide street sculptures

Still trying to replace my missing folicles

Still trying to replace my missing folicles

Glenelg - crikey it were fresh!!

Glenelg - crikey it were fresh!!

Adelaide pipe art

Adelaide pipe art

As for me, I wandered around the city of churches for a couple of days before flying to the Red Centre and a completely different experience.

Posted by RoystonBoyston 01:32 Comments (0)

Australia

The Fool arrives in Melbourne

The night flight from Christchurch passed without incident, immigration and customs were trouble free and then, suddenly, the Fool was legitimately in Australia. Despite the early hours arrival on a Sunday morning there was Tewell (aka Tool Man) a buddy from last years visit to Nashville ready and willing to chauffeur me around his home city.
After a quick pitstop at a nearby MaccyD's for a well overdue latte and catch up it was off up the road to a nearby park to tramp around, successfully spotting wild kangaroos - all this within an hour of touching down.
First wild roo sighting

First wild roo sighting


After registering and dropping my stuff off at the St Arnaud hostel (defo a contender for a Fawlty Towers award) we wandered into the CBD for the first time while Tool Man gave me a local's sardonic take on such buildings/constructions as their version of the Eiffel Tower and the beautifully ugly buildings around Flinders Square. As well as pointing out one of only 2 Starbucks in the city we also saw the iconic MCG (albeit from a distance) and Flinders station, which is a beaut, and Tool Man gave me some tips on what else to see and how to get around.
Melbourne pays homage to the Eiffel Tower

Melbourne pays homage to the Eiffel Tower

Modern architecture has a lot to answer for!

Modern architecture has a lot to answer for!

Flinders station

Flinders station


My hostel was located in South Yarra which is a pretty central location for forays by foot, bike or the tram system to all points of the compass. The clientele were truly a cosmopolitan group consisting of backpackers like the Fool and those with visas and looking for work in the area or already in gainful employment. A core group of mainly english people formed the nucleus of those who had been at the hostel a while and they seem to have stayed in most of the dorm rooms at one time or another due to the owners rotation policy (the owner didnt fare well in the compliments stakes and seemed to be, shall we say less, than popular with the long termers). Personally I thought that she was ok (if a little terse) and that the hostel represented good value. Many of my fellow backpackers were from the german regions of Europe and proved to be a hospitable and friendly bunch, happy to swap experiences of future places I had planned to visit.

Most days I would wander into the CBD in search of something new or interesting to photograph, eat, drink or buy, my route being through the Kings Domain park and alongside part of the Tan Track, a purpose built running/jogging/walking fast/amble whilst talking to your friends circuit for those souls who wear lots of lycra under branded or running club vests and expensive garish runners (trainers). Whilst I did vary the pace of my daily constitutional I never ventured close enough to be mistaken for a keen, fit or energetic person.

Highlights of my time included:
· Using the free bus and tram around the extremities of the CBD
· Strolling around Victoria Market (closed on Sundays and Tuesdays)
· Exploring the park for hidden gems such as statuary, the music bowl, fountains and even possums
· Day trip with Tool Man down to Phillip Island to see the awesome, cute and entertaining Little Penguins. They are actually Fairy Penguins but it's no longer PC or acceptable to call them that. Be aware that they journey to Phillip Island is longer than you would think and takes around 2-2.5 hours each way.
· Aussie Rules game day with the 3 amigos, Max, Chris and Liam, going to the MCG to watch the two worst teams in the league, followed by a cultural walk into the city centre where we had a beer at the only rooftop bar in the CBD - and it decided to rain on us!!
· A day trip on the tram to St Kilda
· Meeting and spending a day or two with Kate from New Zealand, especially the boat trip to Williamstown when it rained all day and the highlights turned out to be 1) finding a kitchen shop with funky gear and excellent prices (Kate's highlight, I was just happy to be out of the bloody rain) and 2) getting a hot and tasty pie from one of the many bakeries there!
· The trip around the war memorial in the Kings Domain, particularly the info and insight from one of the veterans working there.
· Meeting up with the lovely Karen Duffy from the NZ Stray tour for beers and a really good stand up comedy night.
· Catching up with Brooke (again from the Stray trip), again for beers and then to the movies to see the latest Batman flick - me, not Brooke, she watched some girlie dance thing with her sister!
· The bizarre weather in the city where every day is pretty much guatanteed to include three if not all four seasons.
· My first ever visit to a dumpling house (Max took me to the place he and the guys went to pretty much every day of their Uni life and the word "cheap" doesn't do it justice).
Getting the best view at the Sidney Myers Music Bowl

Getting the best view at the Sidney Myers Music Bowl

Commuters

Commuters

Me and Warnie when he was chunky!

Me and Warnie when he was chunky!

The Four Musketeers reunited!

The Four Musketeers reunited!

CBD from St Kilda beach

CBD from St Kilda beach

Spotted during our very damp river trip!

Spotted during our very damp river trip!

The Comic and The Fool

The Comic and The Fool

There were many other things I did or saw during my stay as Melbourne is crammed with interesting little curios but this Fool doesn't want to go on too much - needless to say, kind reader, if you do get to Oz make sure that you visit Melbourne.

My stay in Melbourne, as seems typical when I arrive in a new country, was probably longer than necessary however the city is a very cool and cosmopolitan place and I wanted to catch up with Tool Man and Max, Chris and Liam, the three amigos from Miami Beach last year. Once we had met and caught up I got the usual itchy feet syndrome and, as I was spectacularly unsuccessful in procuring a ride with other travellers or a relocation vehicle, it was off to the bus station to buy a ticket on a three day trip to Adelaide via the Great Ocean Road.
Melbourne CBD on my last night!

Melbourne CBD on my last night!


Farewell Melbourne, if I do return to the land down under I will revisit thee!!

Posted by RoystonBoyston 04:35 Comments (0)

The Stray Tour - final legs

Lake Tekapo, Peel Forest, Christchurch and Kaikora

After leaving the majestic surroundings of Mount Cook the last couple of days of the Stray bus tour were pretty much just stops on the way to either Christchurch (hereafter called Chch by those of us who have been there) or back to Wellington or Auckland for international flights to Fiji, Oz or home.

Our first stop was at Lake Tekapo where, not surprisingly, there is a fairly large lake after which the small town was named. More interestingly it boasts an observatory (not visited as we were passing through), a quaint stonebuilt church by the lake, a statue celebrating the importance sheepdogs of the region had and, somewhat incongruously, an activity centre comprising an ice skating rink, hot pools spa and an inner tube ice luge built around a cafe/restauant. While many of the crew donned beachwear and lounged in the warm waters Mira and Killian (the latter dressed like a ninja) ventured onto the ice skating rink for a number of circuits, both displaying a remakable ability to remain upright, albeit at vastly different speeds.
The Ninja ice-skater - Kilian

The Ninja ice-skater - Kilian


A tribute to sheepdogs at Lake Tekapo

A tribute to sheepdogs at Lake Tekapo

We left out Taiwanese duo (Mira and Sherry) in Tekapo and headed, via a supermarket, to our overnighter at Rangitata in the Peel Forest. Given that the resort is geared up for white water rafting and that we were out of season the place, whilst large, well appointed and comfortable (with skyscraper triple bunk beds) was quiet - ideal for watching dvds and cooking a major sunday roast (chicken and beef with loads of veg and proper gravy - oooh northern lads love gravy!!) followed by an excellent chocolate pudding prepared by our host and cooked by our group.
Brooke tucks into another helping of chocolate cake

Brooke tucks into another helping of chocolate cake

The next day trip from the Peel Forest to Christchurch started very early due to the need for Stray to get the bulk of the bus crew to Kaikoura for the moneymaking whale watching/dolphin swim/albatross spotting tours. The drive was, not surprisingly, quite picturesque as we traversed New Zealands largest flat area (blah blah blah million hectares) and uneventful given that ET's shortcut actually worked!

Chch
After being dumped at the Antartic Centre out by the airport (Stray don't venture into the remains of Christchurch these days) Mark and I shuttled it into the town with Steve, a friendly and very informative driver who pointed out things we should try to see during our stay.
The "Around the World" hostel is run by the very friendly and efficient Lee who offered a warm welcome, guided tour of the homely establishment and concise info about where to go to see the best (and worst) of Chch.
A first afternoon stroll around the city centre proved somewhat confusing to any Fool that has not seen the aftermath of a significant earthquake before and expected to see a large wasteland. Whilst large sections are still blocked off to the public it is still possible to see into these areas - cranes abound as the taller buildings are in the process of being carefully demolished and numerous single/dual storey structures will eventually be razed to the ground. There were no buildings canting over at extreme angles, few piles of rubble and a sense of calm order as the city systematically clears the areas marked for a return to parkland.
The most unnerving thing about the whole situation is that mother nature saw fit to shake the ground for some 20 seconds and in that time killed a good number of the population, made around 10,000 families homeless and yet there is no scorched earth, no gaping chasms or flattened neighbourhoods. The damage to all of these buildings is largely unseen, being structural rather than visible with the result that people will be bringing down the old and building the new for the next 10-20 years - ironically making this a good time to be in the building and associated services sectors.
The cathedral in central Christchurch shows her scars!

The cathedral in central Christchurch shows her scars!

The ReStart container mall in Chch

The ReStart container mall in Chch

Coming down, piece by piece!

Coming down, piece by piece!

Once one has walked the Red Zone there is pretty much nothing else to see in central Chch at the moment.

Kaikora, crayfish and chips.
Having had a recommendation from E.T. to go out boat fishing with Gerry the Fool hopped the Atomic shuttle bus up to Kaikora to reunite with Crazy Emma and Frida who, despite my arrival at 10 in the morning, were still in hibernation mode in their room at the cold hostel. After an excellent coffee (and Emma's obligatory piece of carrot cake) at the Why Not cafe Gerry met us at the hostel, took us to his place literally down the road where he introduced our captain and mate for the day then it was off down the main street to the jetty, the three of us perched in the boat on the trailer behind Gerry's tractor, waving to the odd passerby, looking like a cross between a royal visit and a bizarre nautical themed float in a parade of one! Once we headed out of the lee of the slipway it became evident that the weather gods most certainly was not going to shine on us. Strong winds, choppy seas and almost artic temperatures combined to freeze and soak us as we battled out to check the crayfish pots (not surprisingly we were the ONLY boat of any kind to venture out with all commercial trips being cancelled). Many of the pots contained numerous crayfish, all but three of which were too small to keep and were literally thrown back into the sea to grow into someone elses dinner. The highlight was pulling in a pot which contained a large octopus which, whilst being wrestled from the cage, managed to attach one long, tentacled limb to Emma's leg which had her leaping around and squealing very loudly in the small boat. After crayfish duty we tried a bit of fishing but, given the cold and the conditions, we didnt need much encouragement to call it a day and head back to Gerry's for some wine whilst he prepared and cooked our catch. The wine flowed like water as we watched the cooking process from under umbrellas and continued when we retired to his converted shed/dorm, our captain regaling us with stories of his many sea based misadventures (he has a prosthetic or false foot, is missing a number of fingers and bears plenty of scars leading me to believe that his early years might have involved him being used as shark bait!).
Back at the hostel we tucked into the largest of our catch (by its size estimated to be about 70 years old and worth about NZ$150+) accompanied by chips freshly cooked by the fish and chip shop across the road. There was plenty to feed all three of us and it tasted exquisite!!
The deadliest catch - caught!

The deadliest catch - caught!

Next morning we did the coastal walk to get up close and personal with the seals before we ran into John from earlier on the bus tour and he shared our lunch of the remaining two crayfish with even more chips before I said my farewells to the lovely Em and Frida and bused it back to Chch to see out my time before the flight to Melbourne.

Farewell to Chch
My last few days in Chch comprised rewalking the streets of the red area of the city taking more snaps, an improptu coffee with Mira at the Jailhouse hostel,sharing info, experiences and stories with the fellow hostellers at the Around the World and last night drinks with Momma Bev before an early morning transfer to the airport and the flight to AUSTRALIA - the next leg of the Fools tour.
Farewell drinks with fab Bev

Farewell drinks with fab Bev

Looking back I have thoroughly enjoyed my time in Kiwiland, taking in magnificent scenery, unique experiences and meeting and travelling with awesome people (backpackers, tour bus drivers activity hosts and guides, and friends from previous travels). I would love to list everyone but, to avoid offending anybody this old brain of mine might omit, thank you to each and every one of you for taking part in my two island adventure - you know who you are and you are all, without exception, fabulous people.

FAREWELL NEW ZEALAND AND HELLO AUSTRALIA.

Posted by RoystonBoyston 18:33 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Mount Cook

Glaciers, icebergs and a birthday.

The departure from Queenstown was a milestone in that we had passed the high point in the frenetic Stray Tour schedule and the majority of us started our wind-downs towards onward flights from Christchurch, Wellington or Auckland.

The journey to our overnighter at Mount Cook took us back into the mountains and through some incredible scenery - particularly because the scale of the terrain was simply enormous. What were described as "tussock hills" were in reality massive undulations in the earths surface, diminished to "normal" in one's mind only because of the lack of anything manmade which could act as a yardstick of measurement. When the odd telegraph pole was spotted it was so insignificant in the wider scheme of things that it barely registered.
Mount Cook looms in the distance

Mount Cook looms in the distance


The nature of the terrain is such that, once Mt Cook comes into view, it is constantly part of the horizon, regardless of the twists and turns that the road has to take.
Our arrival at the fantastic acommodation in mid-afternoon gave us sufficient time to book in and then embark on a walk to see a glacier which runs into a small lake. The route crossed all terrains and, rather fortunately, afforded most of us with a clear view of an avalanche on the middle slopes of the mountain - another first for the Fool. Whilst watching at some distance was pretty cool it was the sound of the event which really made an impact as, despite our being some kilometres away, the crack and rumble of the event reverberated around the mountains making it seem very close by. Although we only saw one avalanche there were several others that we heard but could not see, a reminder of the potential dangers of hiking in the avalanche season.
Avalanche!!!!

Avalanche!!!!


The end of the Glacier walk at Mount Cook

The end of the Glacier walk at Mount Cook


Buzz moves the icebergs on

Buzz moves the icebergs on


Along with the views the walk gave us the opportunity to forge new friendships along the way, discovering the hidden skills and talents of our companions. One such person is the amazing Liz from Holland who, during our trek, revealed her professional acomplishments (a criminal defence lawyer and subsequently a university lecturer) along with a surprising number and variety of other talents (a love of all forms of dancing, a very short term cougar, tarot card reading and a professional belly dancer!!) and her wonderfully individual and engaging personality.
Having returned from the walk we celebrated the birthday of one of our two Taiwanese ladies, Mira Lo, with a choccie cake organised by ET, washed down with an ice cold beer.
Next morning there was just enough time to visit the Edmund Hillary museum which, whilst compact, provides a very real and understated account of the build up to Hillary and Tensing scaling the Everest peak. With some of the original vehicles on display and a small 3D cinema this tribute to a very humble man and his epic achievement is a must-see part of the Mount Cook experience.
Farewell view of Mount Cook

Farewell view of Mount Cook


Sadly all too soon it is back on the bus to head towards Lake Tekapo across the flatlands of the South Island.

Posted by RoystonBoyston 22:25 Comments (0)

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