Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Melbourne Surprise - July 16

Melbourne Surprise - July 16, 2011
waiting at the Cairns airport

how come Cary gets the window seat?

flying into Melbourne
Cary, Bryce & I flew to Melbourne from Cairns.  We arrived, quickly got their luggage, as I only took carry on, and grabbed a cab.  We went directly to our hotel, the Ibis, where Kim, Darrell and Chris were waiting.  They were only expecting Cary & Bryce so when I knocked on the door, Kim screamed and just couldn't place me standing there in Melbourne!   Darrell was next to lift me off my feet for a great big hug and then Tina had her turn for hugs.  It was incredible to be all together again, this day seemed a long time coming!
After many hugs we quickly grabbed 2 cabs to Etihad Stadium for the footy game.  Cary had pre-ordered tickets  before she left Canada, so we all had great seats together.  We watched the St. Kilda Saints and the West Coast Eagles.  The Saints won 76 - 64.    
walking into Etihad Stadium

huge stadium

 Everyone moved around in the seats to get in a little visit while watching the game.  I was glad I had gone to a game back in Cairns as it helped to understand the rules.  We did learn some new information as the gentlemen behind me was very helpful.  The 'ruck' is the jump ball activity where there are 3 eligible players from each team.  We chatted a bit as he had been to Canada and had seen an 'ice hockey' game.  He said he got seated again after the third period for the final period, only to realize there wasn't another period!  He thought that was very strange, and truly I think hockey is the only sport with 3 periods.  We watched all 4 quarters, 30 minutes each.  The game ended about 10 pm.

sisters together again

Footy game
Back to our hotel with more chatting and discussions about our road trip tomorrow to the Great Ocean Road.
Sisterly chats & hanging out

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Great Ocean Road - July 2011

G.O.R. - July 17-18  with Cary, Bryce, Kim, Darrell & Tina

After getting our rental van, a KIA Carnival, we loaded up for our road trip.  With maps in hand and me at the wheel, we were on our way.  Since I had 6 months experience driving on the left hand side of the road, they thought I was the best choice as driver.
Cindy at the wheel... what's it doing on this side?

The 'little' bus
We made it out of  Melbourne with only having to do one 'hook turn'.  A hook turn is a right turn from the left land across the tracks, weird!  Our first stop was an information center and fruit stand in Geelong.  Then we stopped at Belis Beach with it's amazing rugged cliffs and black & orange sand. 
long way down, and UP!

Sisters on Belis Beach

Bass Bay
Our next stop was the golf course in Anglesea to see wild kangaroos.  For first timers to Oz this was a highlight and confirms they are really down under!

Can anyone guess what this is???
We stopped at a few lookouts over Bass Bay and eventually to Split Point Lighthouse at Airley's Inlet.  The awe-inspiring and powerful Southern Ocean was amazing to watch.
Split Point Light house
We stopped in Lorne for lunch, for energy to walk down the steep 220m muddy steps to Erskine Falls.  It was worth it as the lower falls were breathtaking. 
Erskine Falls
Another wildlife stop, this time to see the wild koalas in Kennett River.  This was a first for me as I had only see them in the zoo.
Koala in the wild

"Jump!!  oh it's only a koala."
The great ocean road started to get more windy as we approached Apollo Bay.  It was starting to rain as we arrived at our evening destination around 4:30 p.m.  We stayed in the Best Western Motel suite as it had 2 rooms, a living room and kitchenette.  Lots of room for all of us!  Once settled in we walked across the road in hopes of seeing the whales that were in the bay.  No luck as it was dusk and drizzling. 
Bought some groceries for breakfast in our suite and went for supper at Apollo Bay Seafood.  It was interesting picking a restaurant with so many people and so many food desires and avoidance's.  One last stop before going back to our room, the Bottle Shop (liquor store) for some evening refreshments.

Great view
home for the night

Day 2
Fed and clean we left by 9:00 am for a brief stop at the beach trying to spot the whales again.  Still no luck.  I drove again today and our first stop was at the light house at 'Cape Otway Light Station'.  We spent almost 2 hours there exploring the area and climbing the light house. 
"Try & get a picture of the whales!"

keep looking, they're out there

cool rock formations
Cape Otway

steep climb up
looking out over the Southern Ocean

Noon we were on our way for another quick stop to see more wild koalas.  The girls wanted to make sure they got a GOOD picture!  LOL
Typical Canadian tourist!  It's only a koala!
The '12 Apostles' were our next stop.  These limestone stacks rose up dramatically from the Southern Ocean, as well as other rugged rock formations.  'The Stacks' and the Loch Ard Gorge also drew us in.  The tragic history of the shipwrecked 'Loch Ard' was very interesting.
This is what's left of the '12 Apostles'

'The Stacks'

Loch Ard

We stopped at Port Campbell for lunch at '12 Rocks', catchy name!  Went into a few shops and the information center before deciding we'd go to one more look out on the G.O.R. and that was the 'London Bridge'.  It really isn't a bridge anymore as it collapsed in 1990 so all we saw was its remnants.
London Bridge?!??

By 5:00 pm we were heading back to Melbourne.  We arrived shortly after 8pm, after refueling the van, we parked in the nearby car park.  We put on 591km in 2 days!  Kim, Darrell and Chris's delayed luggage finally arrived.  We ordered in pizza to go with our refreshments.

Delivery Dinner

Monday, August 15, 2011

Chillagoe weekend

Chillagoe weekend - July 9 - 10 - Day 1
Gone by 9 am west up the Kuranda range, stopped at Henry Ross Look Out, then Barron Falls before stopping in Kuranda for the morning.  Walked along the streets and into the shops.  Cary & Bryce were buying lots of souvenirs and gifts.  Had a picnic lunch in the park, where a bird pooped on Cary!  LOL though she didn't think so!!  Some more shopping at the Heritage Markets before meeting Scott on his motorbike.
SHOPPING!!!  Oh look shoes!!

Kuranda candy- that's one big lolly
Heaven for some - Hell for others

Headed out again on our drive to the sleepy historic town of Chillagoe along Wheelbarrow way.  We went about an hour and half west of Mareeba on a mix of bitumen and gravel roads, passing a few road trains along the way.  Scott was in heaven riding his motorbike today. 
Australia outback

Arrived at the Hub, the local meeting place, we got a map of the area and booked a cave tour for the morning.  Stopped at the Eco Lodge and dropped off our luggage in our 2 suites.  We drove to the Balancing Rock and then the Wullumba art site before going to the caves.  We did Bauhina Cave and Pompeii Cave on our own.  They were very narrow and rocky descents.  Brody, Darby, and Bryce went exploring in the first cave further than the rest of us.  We all went in the second cave and it opened up to a huge cavern.  Good thing we had our torches as it was very dark.
hiking in the outback

The Balancing Rock

trying to read the aboriginal writing on the rocks

The small entrance hole

Big stretch for some!
inside the cave

Heading into a cave

There was a very beautiful sunset and a very clear sky for looking at the stars after supper.
Sunset in the outback

Day 2
Breakfast at 7:30 am that we pre-ordered the night before.   Bryce tried veggie-mite, 'okay' but, he didn't take a second bite.  Loaded all of us into the Kluger and made our way to the BP Fuel and Historic Ford cars.  We didn't make it far as Cary spotted a kangaroo bouncing by, then another.  She was very excited as it wasn't a dead one on the side of the road.  Eventually got to see the Fords and a Falcon GT in great condition.
9:00 am tour of the Trezkinn Cave along the steel catwalk encircling a huge central mass of limestone.  Our ranger, Bob, led us through the well lite cave with information signs along the way.  There were several steep and narrow flights of stairs.  We learnt stalactites come from above and stalacmites grow up.  We saw some magnificent formations including the 'chandelier'.  We saw the 'column' where a stalagmite & stalactites meet and grow together.  We saw seashells, as the caves are from the coral reef 400 million years ago.  The brilliant sparkling calcite crystals were my favourite!  The caves were discovered in 1967.  Cary didn't like seeing the few bats hanging around.  We all had a great time exploring them this weekend!
Cary chasing kangaroos

'72 Ford Falcon GT

waiting for our tour

watch your head - even Cary


Amazing limestone

Long way up the lime caves
Did a driving tour at the smelter before leaving Chillagoe.  I read the information as we drove through the old smelter site.  
Smelter - where iron ore was melted