Coming back from the cruise relaxed & happy, we set out into Sydney’s rain to do some shopping and sight-seeing. We hit the Art Gallery of NSW first, and then walked via Hyde Park and the Opera House to the Modern & Contemporary Art Gallery in Sydney’s harbour. Best of all, entrance to the Art Galleries is free!
After a day filled with walking we went to bed early, as the next day, we’d already fly to Uluru!
Once landed, we rented a car, and drove to the big red rock. Before we knew it, we were walking around Uluru, gaping at the different shades of red at each angle.
Now, we left out a little thing; flies… There are A LOT of flies around Uluru. Apparently, we came in the flies’ low season, but still there were many around us. The flies are attracted to your nose, mouth, and eyes, which makes them particularly annoying. I cannot imagine being at Uluru in the flies’ high season, when tens of thousands are flying around! So we were very lucky to have picked this time of year to visit.
We drove around the rock, and enjoyed a nice sunset, before heading back to the hotel.
We started off the next day by walking to the waterhole at the foot of Uluru. This walk is a nice way to see the “back” of Uluru. We really wanted to climb the rock itself, but it was still closed due to winds at the top. Back in our car from the hike, we set course to the Kata Tjula mountains some 50km away. We looked in our back mirror… and saw people climbing to the top! Needless to say, we turned around again… Perfect timing:)
The climb itself was much harder than we expected. We’ve hiked a lot while in Switzerland, but it doesn’t prepare you for this type of climbing. There are no steps at all, it’s super steep, and only a small part of the climb has these handrails. The ground is slippery from years of people sliding back down the rock on their butts and shoes, making it extra dangerous. Still we forged ahead in the heat, excited about the opportunity. And, after 1.5 hours of climbing, crawling, jumping and sliding, we made it to the top!
If you think making it to the top means the hardest part is over, forget it. The way down is even more tricky. It’s so steep you’re basically sliding down the mountain. We tried going down by keeping our centre of gravity low, leaning back and making small steps. This worked at most parts, but was quite taxing as well. But, we made it down in one piece in the end.
So glad we did it!
Tired, we slumped back in the car, to go see Kata Tjula mountains.
Call us crazy, but we actually did yet another hike when we arrived there. Third one of today!
After another hour’s hike, made it to a nice viewing point into the valley beyond.
We drove back from Kata Tjula, stopping at a sunset viewing point for some last good looks at this beautiful area.
We flew to Melbourne the next morning, where Jenk would be our tour guide. He had his university exchange there some years back. He walked us through the city centre, and China town. So far, Melbourne looks quite good!
The next day, we visited the Melbourne New Gallery, the botanical gardens, as well as his old college.
We then drove along, towards the Great Ocean Road.
That night, we stayed in Lorne, watching Jaws and eating Australian cheddar. Life’s good!
The next day it was quite rainy, but it made this waterfall look only nicer.
We stopped at Grey River road, where there were lots of parrots who sat on you as soon as you showed some food. Great times!
We drove further up that road, and spotted a total of 8 koala’s in the eucalyptus trees there. Too cute:)
We then stopped for a hike at Shipwreck beach. Very pretty, but very windy.
Finally, we made it to the 12 Apostles, just in time for sunset.
We waited after sunset in the car (it was too cold outside), until the colony of Little penguins came ashore. We walked back out, and saw the tiny black specks emerging from the sea. Groups of them would waddle across the beach to their sleeping place. Unfortunately, it was too dark for a photo.
The next day, we went back to the 12 apostles, and saw someone making beach art, see below.
The apostles do look nicer in the daylight.
We then slowly made our way across the Great Ocean Road, stopping at nice viewpoints.
Before we knew it, we made it to the end of the road.
We went on to Tower Hill park, an hour’s drive away. Here, you can walk around and see kangooroos, emus and koalas in the wild.
But then, Jos spotted the highlight of Australia’s wildlife up close…
Just as we thought our day couldn’t get better, we hiked up a hill with kangooroos! We saw quite a bit group of them hopping around.
And then… we saw baby emus! They look completely different from their mums, with brown and white stripes.
Happy after such a good day, we drove back to our hotel in Melbourne. Our only stop was this alien looking crater along the route. Nature in Australia is truly unique!
Up next: French Polynesia!