The collection contains:
- Great Ocean Road (GOR)
- journey from Melbourne to the Snowy Mountains
- Snowy Mountains
Why we went there – our main goals:
- Great Ocean Road - a wild coast and its natural beauties
- the highest Australian mountain range
- car drive from the Melbourne area to Sydney
The Great Ocean Road
We're leaving the hot Red Centre behind us on board of a plane. We're moving to the southeast of Australia, to completely different weather conditions. Our plans include a quick tour of Melbourne and a drive along the Great Ocean Road.
There wasn't too much time to explore Melbourne, our plan contained only a short stop including one night in a hotel. We took a walk through a few streets in the city center. Several lines of historic trams for tourists pass through the center, and... they are for free. It's good to pay attention because normal, paid trams also function on the same lines. The city seemed very well-tended, my impression was similar to that in Sydney a while later. There are many high-rise buildings and more are under construction. In Melbourne it was always hot and sunny although not so hot as it had been in the desert in the middle of Australia. That was convenient, it did make the transition between the different climates smoother. As a tourist, I fit much more in the countryside than in the city, which explains the smaller number of my urban photos and the brevity of their captions.
So we soon had our fill of the big city and we set out on a journey towards the greatest natural attraction of this part of Australia. We rented a caravan and started out in the direction of Warrnambool, a town on the southern coast of Australia. You can find a dividing line between the Pacific and the Indian Ocean somewhere within that area. But it's hard to find it on the maps and the sometimes, information sources that mention it are even contradictory. I also encountered a version claiming that everything south of Australia should be referred to as the Southern Ocean. Let's say there's probably the same number of opinions as there is of oceanologists, like when it comes to the boundaries between Asia and Europe. Or possibly I simply don't know where to find the right maps.
Warrnambool is an important milestone mainly thanks to the fact that the western end of the nearly 250 km-long Great Ocean Road is located near its city limits. It stretches alongside the coast, mostly overlooking the wild rocks exposed to the even wilder ocean. It passes through or just goes by a number of national parks and other attractions such as tourist resorts, lighthouses and shipwrecks that ended up on the coastal rocks. The arrangement of rocks called "12 Apostles" can probably be considered as the most famous landmark to be seen in this area, although they is no longer twelve of them. The tide is gradually grinding their surface until they collapse into the sea. One day, there's going to be none left. As I said earlier, we did our best to prepare ourselves for the sudden weather changes. A cold wind with the intensity of a gale was blowing from the ocean. Sometimes it was difficult to breathe in the wind, and it got even worse when it started to rain on top of it. After the forty-degree heat of the desert, this was quite a shock for our bodies. Nevertheless, thanks to the storm, the view of the sea waves crashing into the rocky shore far below us became much more amazing. They say this kind of weather is very frequent in this area and that this is also why the beaches are sought out far more often by surfers than swimmers. As the weather didn't show any promise of positive change, we turned off the Great Ocean Road and began another journey that would led us away from this Siberia - in the direction of the Snowy Mountains.
From the southern coast of Australia to the Snowy Mountains
While we're driving along the Great Ocean Road, the weather is so bad that we're happy to pass Melbourne and hurry inland with our camper. Our goal is, besides admiring the scenery, the Kosciuszko National Park in the Snowy Mountains. Aside from occasional stops for food, photography and relaxing or switching by the wheel, we're driving fast, so we'll get to spend the next night below the mountains.
From the beginning of our trip to Australia to our camp below the Australia's highest peaks we saw about three kangaroos. The sad thing is that there was quite a number of kangaroos knocked down by cars lying by the side of the road. But I'm not into taking pictures of corpses, so I had to wait until the camp that I mentioned. There were dozens of them. There was just us, so the kangaroos outnumbered the humans by far at this point. They weren't afraid of us, they were grazing in peace, but when we came closer, to the distance of approximately 5 or 10 meters, they withdrew a bit and maintained such a constant minimum distance. Too bad that we had no such luck with other Australian animals. We had been looking forward to see koalas very much, but we met none for the entire journey, despite the abundance of warning signs by the road saying "Caution! Koalas!". We were told by the locals that even an average Australian doesn't get to see that many wild koalas in a lifetime. But maybe they just wanted to put us at ease so that we weren't sad about it.
After having said goodbye to the kangaroos, we were in for a rather rough car drive (according to the signs, the road isn't suitable for caravans, but ours made it) to the renowned ski resort of Thredbo. Another steep ascent, this time by a cable car, ended at the upper edge of the Thredbo valley. We left the village far below. The Australia's highest peak of Mt. Kosciuszko (2228 meters) is quite flat at its very top in contrast to the familiar terrain of the Alps and other European mountain ranges. Trails here usually ascend or descend only moderately and some are made of iron. It was in the middle of spring, it was nice and sunny, but the winter kept reminding us of its recent existence by bits of snow lying here and there. We had only a little time left because we didn't really mastered the time management that day, so only the fastest of us was able to reach the peak of the continent.