‘The Gleat Ocean Load’

I am delighted to tell you: We’re on The Great Ocean Road !!

This is our route directly leading to Melbourne. So what is the Great Ocean Road exactly? Well, it’s a road….that leads along the ocean…AND IT’S SUPPOSED TO BE GREAT!

I dunno, you’re supposed to see a lot of nice sceneries on the way or something. And according to Cadel Evans, it is THE thing to see when around Melbourne. And who wants to disagree with Cuddles??

So, what do you need?

* A car, evidently;

* A solid play list with some nice road music;

* A camera;

* And maybe stop at a K-Mart for some basic necessities like… err, I dunno, … A SELFIE STICK!

I resisted the hype in Belgium, and now they’re totally uncool I decided to buy one. I just figured it might come in handy to take epic panorama pictures from a higher point of view since I’m not that tall to begin with. They should call it a ‘loner stick’, since it’s the best way to take pictures while traveling solo without constantly having to ask someone to take the picture for you.

So once you have all that, you’re good to hit THE GREAT OCEAN ROAD! (yes, people elevate their voice when they pronounce it, ’cause apparently it’s something to get very very excited about)

So we, my farm buddy Pierre and I, arrived on the GOR coming from Warrnambool. First scenery-stop was Bay of Islands. I stormed my way on the viewing platform, aggressively wielding my selfie stick, not knowing where to begin first. There were nice picture opportunities EVERYWHERE! I must have looked like a fat kid craving sugar, I was all over the place. Click, click, click, click … I LOVE THIS STICK!

After 20 minutes of ‘loner stick’ fun, we continued to The Grotto. Only a couple of hundred meters away. Then another couple of hundred to see the London Bridge, then another to see God knows what.

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The Great Ocean Grotto

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London Bridge

Rocks are nice. I mean, rocks rock! But seeing rocks is very much the same as visiting temples in Asia. At first you’re like :

“OH MY GOD THIS IS AMAZING, THIS HAS TO BE ONE OF THE COOLEST THINGS I HAVE EVER SEEN IN MY LIFE. Click click click click. LOOK! THERE! A REAL LIFE MONK! Click click click click. LOOK THERE! TEMPLE BIRDS!! LOOK! TEMPLE BIRDS SITTING ON REAL LIFE MONKS!

– Second one : This is flipping epic! I go could never get tired of this. Give me more, I want more! Click click click click…

– Third: This is so pretty I could dieee. Click click click click click….

-Fourth: So beautiful! Click click click!

-Fifht: Ahh yeah, this one is also nice! Click, click….click

– Sixth: Yeah…Sweet! Click. Cl… (no click)

– Seventh: Click….

– Eighth: (yawn) Yo, you wanna go grab a burger or something?

So yeah, after a while you’re just driving, pulling over, driving, pulling over, driving, pulling over, …. . I don’t know if it was just me, but I wasn’t feeling the rhythm. Mostly I was feeling car sickness.

It wasn’t really the authentic experience I was hoping for. I guess I forgot other people would be there as well. Mostly heaps of Chinese tourists. Once you reach the Twelve Apostles, the high point of the GOR, there are bus loads of them. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Chinese, I’m going there next but it wasn’t until I would go there I was expecting to be mobbed by them. Bombing every picture I take. They come running wrapped up in blankies, wielding their selfie sticks about even taking pictures with a random seagull (…).

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They even dress up for it…

I guess the Great Ocean Road is to them what the Chinese Wall is to Caucasians. Turns out the GOR really banks on the Asian tourists. With menu cards in Chinese, Chinese toilet instructions, Chinese sightseeing maps and welcoming boards. They even put on traffic signs to remind them that in Australia people drive on the left…

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To be honest, at the end of the day I was glad to be back in The Great Outdoors. Cooking our meal in the back of the car, camping in the wild. The day after we decided to take some alternative routes, do some random hikes and this lead us to some very nice places actually. It was much more fulfilling to me. And we end up seeing the most amazing sunset.

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Guess where I am.

Here’s a traveling tip for you: If there’s no Chinese in sight, you’re doing a good job.

Just remember to really take in the moment. And appreciate life.

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Taking in the moment.

But even do that with Chinese around. Life’s too short to let your panorama be ruined by a negative attitude. So if you want to elongate your stay on this globe and keep enjoying the views. Be positive.

… Or use a loner stick.

XO

BTW: Seeing all those Chinese tourists really made me crave Asian food. This pork belly with jasmine rice was TO DIE FOR. If you’re ever in Lorne, make sure to go to Chopstix. They even make their own fans out of chopsticks! You see how handy sticks can be??

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Drool.

No worries, mate.

Here in Oz people keep saying ‘No worries’, whenever I ask or do something. Like… am I supposed to be worried?? Seriously, is there something you’re not telling me?

Turns out I’m a complete paranoid at times. I guess this happens when you’re a little clueless about certain things. You turn a little sceptic against them. If you don’t know something, you think it’ll turn out a certain way and mostly your brain makes you believe it will turn out bad since -generally- it is programmed to protect you from ….

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And all things you don’t know are to be avoided…

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I think it’s from all the horror stories I hear in the news. On our way to the Grampians we stopped in Tintinara, a place not far from the Victoria border where I met this sweet little old lady owning a shop in the middle of nowhere. I was telling her where I was going.

Sweet little old lady: “Oh The Grampians. That’s a lovely place. You’ll like it. A bit dry for the moment.”

My face froze.

Me: “What do you mean dry? Like FIRE HAZARD?”

I started asking her all these questions about bush blazes. I think I maybe scared her a little… Then I felt bad and bought this ridiculous headband. Well, maybe it turns into a thing. ‘Tintiaras’.

Another horror story I discovered was the kidnapping of two young female backpackers in Salt Creek recently. Only 20K from the farm I stayed at! Apparently the girls hitched a ride from this 59 year old dude. They camped on the way to their destination and this is the part where he digs up a hammer, knocks them down and tries to rape them. One girl got away and ran out of the bushes all bloody. And naked. To be rescued by some fishermen. I mean GEE! Could you imagine?

And here I am going to Tasmania soon to live with a 70 year old guy in the woods for a week. I met him through Helpx, the website where you offer your help in exchange for food and accommodation. Amazing reviews and his place looks like a dream place as well. But if he decides to hammer me down then and there, there won’t be any fishermen out there to save me. Only Tasmanian devils, And I’m pretty sure they’re on his side.

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Am I crazy to go there? Or just crazy thinking he might have written his own reviews and is looking forward to eating my kidneys for dinner while drinking the bottle of Shiraz I brought him as a welcoming gift? I mean why would he point out in his bio he’s a vegetarian, anyway? To put me off track, that’s why!

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But what am I supposed to do? To be honest I’m dreading hostels even more. The last time I shared a room with more than 4 people was in grade school when we went on some forest class. A girl threw up on my brand new gym shoes right after dinner. She then accidentally used MY wash cloth to clean it up… Yeah, I didn’t get great memories from that trip. Later I found out two of my best friends made out with my love interest in the back of the bus. AT THE SAME TIME. We were like 10…

So hostels and bunks, not really a fan. But I did live in a shed for almost a month. And slept in a car for a week. Everything else should seem like an upgrade, right? But I do hear people just have sex while you’re lying in the same room with them. I just can’t be bothered. Make babies in your own god damn time. Or at least rent one of the single rooms. It’s worse enough I had to spend Valentine’s night in the passenger’s seat of a Skoda in a free camp called ‘The Sawpit’ -doesn’t really sound like a place you get out in one piece- with campers all resembling the profile of the famous rapist of Salt Creek…

So yeah, after Melbourne I’ll probably head further down under and go to Tassie (that’s slang for Tasmania). If you don’t hear from me in a week send a helicopter over St Mary’s and look for a vegetarian guy named Helmut having a blonde for dinner.

*** Users warning: Even though all blog posts are 100% true and non-fiction, I do tend to enlarge certain emotions. I have learnt that once you’re on a road, things don’t seem so scary and everything just happens really organically. So NO WORRIES

XO

FYI (since everyone is asking) : No, I’m not homesick yet. I’m just really happy.

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Hiking in the Grampians

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I was only adjusting my cap…

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Home

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Where we cook our road kill, err, road meal.

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About to saddle up for The Great Ocean Road

Camping the Grampians

 I’ve been getting some good comments on the blog, thank you for that. But I am wondering if it lives up to the expectations enough. I mean, maybe I should be putting some useful travel info in here. Places to have a stop, things to see, stuff to avoid, … some useful tips next to my everyday stories and quests. Since this is pretending to be a guide for people who desperately want to travel but don’t know where to start, right? Because they’re too lazy to look into things properly or they just don’t like to prepare too much cause it spoils all the fun. I mean when you watch your favorite tv show, do you want to know in advance how it ends? Then why would you do the same with traveling? Or life in general?

The way I travel is ‘on good fortune’.
I just hitchhike my way from one adventure to the other, basically. Not literally since it almost got two backpackers killed a few days ago in Salt Creek! I mean hitchhiking figuratively speaking. Like surfing someone’s wave for a while to roll from one adventure into the other. I always had the luck of meeting a person to take me on an exciting road, dropping me off at the next intersection where I continue from there.
I guess if you’re just clueless enough, the uni will give you an extra hand. I mean the universe not the university. And it saves you loads of research. Don’t worry you’re using people. You’re not. Lots of backpackies do it and put ads up on Gumtree (it’s a very famous and useful advert website) to find travel companions because a) their basic travel skills aren’t developed enough, b) they feel lonely, or c) because two heads think better than one. Two wallets definitely afford more than one too. Just make sure you don’t cling on to someone for too long, you still have to make your own journey. Not follow someone else’s.

So this national park -The Grampians- where I’m currently at is apparently the mekka for climbers. Didn’t even know that until someone pointed this out on my FB after I checked in..  Errrr I just ended up here on my way to Melbourne. Me and Pierre (my French buddy from the farm) were looking for a free camp (they’re free camping spots for backpackers and they’re awesome!) At least this one is awesome. We arrived and saw two wallabies having a picknick right at our spot. You don’t have to make reservations. You can come and go whenever you feel. And if you’re lucky there are even showers and toilets.
We just came here to get our hikes up and found it through an app called Wikicamp. Gee, Gumtree and Wikicamp you basically know the two tools to make you a real backpacker. Is this a great guide or what??

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We’re not pro campers or anything. We just sleep in the car. I’m writing this while the handbrake is sticking into my spine. I’ve just watched the stars fade out through the windshield and felt inspired to write this while little bugs are flying into my screen, trying to eat all the letters. Yes, I’m typing all this on my phone. It’s bugs galore over here.
There are definitely some snakes out here too.

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And spiders. And the shingleback lizard.

oh my!

This is the one. Funny looking creature. With his stumpy tail, it looks like it has two heads.

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(This is what happens when I can’t sleep…)

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You’ve read a few of my inserts. You’ve seen how my brain works and likes to link certain happenings to certain familiarities. Mostly movie scenes or quotes.

Well in real life my brain also likes to look for connections to make. I believe some things in life don’t just randomly happen. I see connections flying all over the place. Maybe they’re not always there. But I like to believe they are. For instance what are the chances you travel all the way to the other side of the globe to arrive on a farm to find there not only an organizer with all your favorite DVD’s. But also an iPod belting out all of your favorite songs. Songs that defined some serious moments in your life. It almost felt like I had arrived in an alternate universe where I don’t just take a walk Down Under, trying to define my future, but am actually being forced to a trip down memory lane as well. Some of the songs I heard on the farm couldn’t have possibly been there… And yet they were coming out of an iTunes play list. Vomiting them out. Catapulting me back to some defining moments in a not so far away history.

Why did I want to come to Australia, actually? I can think of a couple of reasons, but I only made those up right after Oz crossed my mind. Was it a subconscious thing? To send me to a place where I would look at things from a different perspective? I mean, Australia, the land Down Under, a land of antipodes, … Sounds like THE destination for it…

Sometimes I feel like the universe is playing a trick on me. On all of us, actually. To see if we really see. I think it is constantly putting things in front of our nose. Making things clear to us, making us see connections. Only it’s mostly what happens when you hold a carrot in front of a rabbit’s nose. His eyes won’t see it cause he is too focussed on the surroundings instead of seeing what’s in front of him.

Woow, I got a bit spiritual there, didn’t I?

These forest scents most have gotten to me.

Or probably it’s from all the thinking while hiking. The hikes here sure are beautiful. The Grampians is definitely a must see. Make sure you go all the way up The Pinnacle. It’s quite challenging and for the energetic hikers among us but the top view is spectacular. Also on the way up there you’ll encounter some pretty amazing backgrounds to feed your Instagram…well ahm… feed. Also make sure you see The Canyons and The MacKenzie falls. They’re a beaut.

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En route to the Grampians

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MacKenzie Falls

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Grand Canyon

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The Pinnacle

The day after Pierre and I felt like hiking some more and we went to Cape Bridgewater. It was a 11K hike (return) along the cliffs and coastline eventually leading to a lookout where you can spot a colony of 650 Australian and New Zealand fur seals. You have to take some binoculars with you. Or a big camera lens. And water. And sunscreen. And a rain coat. And a towel. We had all kinds of weather going there, including some harsh showers on the way back. It felt like a mini hail storm. But the walk is very pretty and mostly flat. You can even do it on thongs.

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“Where are the seals, I CAN’T SEE ANY!”

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Cape Bridgewater

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So to answer my initial question: Is this a even a guide? Damn right this is a guide! A guide to show you you don’t need a guide at all. A guide to send you on your way to explore yourself, eventually leaving you with a bit more of a clue of what life is about. What YOUR life is about. Just follow your nose and go with the flow. You’ll be fine. And if you’re not, you will be eventually. Not all things go well or as smooth as you would have hoped.  Just remember something good (or even better) will come along soon. Just keep those beady little eyes open and make sure you don’t miss it.

Always remember to write your own story. Don’t follow chapters others lay out for you. Make it a beautiful story to tell, guys!

XO

PS: Follow my daily adventures on instagram.com/evarielien
Peace!