3 Aussies, a Kiwi and a Brit
Updated: Feb 26
After Cambodia I spent 4.5 days back home with my friends and family before leaving again for my next adventure. Granted I booked these flights before I knew that I would barely have any time at home after Cambodia and in hindsight, a week would have been nice so that I could fully appreciate seeing everyone and enjoy Christmas. One of the hardest parts of being home for a short time was my inability to handle Western food. I couldn't enjoy food to its full extent, which, when your mum is as good a cook and baker as mine is, is disastrous. Turns out almost 4 months without dairy can really mess with a person and when I decided to have yoghurt and milk in my first meal back in the UK I didn't realise how much pain it would cause. I was essentially lactose intollerant and every time I had dairy or anything overly rich it felt like someone was grabbing my stomach and gut and squeezing it until I couldn't move. Not ideal BUT I powered through and managed to eat christmas dinner with relatively little pain. I didn't get to enjoy a cheese board though and that was heartbreaking.
So after a beautiful few days at home, I said goodbye to my family again, cried my way through Manchester airport security (mainly due to the uncertainty of the next year but also turns out I really love being home) and hopped on a plane to Melbourne. Once I got over myself and realised how exciting my next trip was gonna be I was fine. This was 100% due to the fact I was gonna spend the next 2 weeks with some of my best friends. I landed in Melbourne airport at 5am and waiting to meet me was Kelly and Tayla (they woke up at 3am to drive to meet me) and I couldn't be more grateful that they met me with their beautiful handmade sign (pictured below). We then waited for Hayley to arrive and then Petra and finally our group of 5 was reunited and ready to begin our road trip to Adelaide for new year. I met these girls on my Contiki trip in America in 2018 and I am so lucky that we formed a friendship that will forever stick with me. We were only missing Abbie from our group but Tayla had printed out her photo and stuck her on a ruler so she was with us in spirit hahaha.
Our road trip:
Melbourne Aiport - Warnambool
Warnambool - Kingston
Kingston - Adelaide
Adelaide - Horsham
Horsham - Stawell
Stawell - Ballarat
We began out trip from Melbourne to Adelaide with a day driving along the Great Ocean Road. Something I had been very keen to do and was so excited for. Which makes it funny that Tayla had to wake me up when the beautiful views came into sight as me and Petra had dozed off (I blame jet lag and my bodies incessant need to sleep on transport). My first memory of the road trip is also one of the funniest - Petra had had the worst flight ever from Thailand to Melbourne (DO NOT USE JETSTAR FOR LONG HAUL FLIGHTS) and she wasn't feeling her best - this all became very clear when we had almost reached our first stop and we had to emergency pull over for Petra to push Hayley out the car and go and vom on the side of the road. As this was happening and Petra was puking her guts up, Tayla felt it the perfect time to apply some concealer, to ensure she was looking fab of course. This image is so funny to me, and everyone else too but poor Petra didn't start her trip off in the way she had planned. We stopped for snacks and a walk along the beach at Torquay before continuing on to Warnambool down the GOR. We visited the 12 Apostles which are 7 rock formations sticking out the sea (there was 8 but one fell down so I'm still not sure why they are called the 12 Apostles...) and saw some amazing views of the Australian coast, it was the perfect way to be introduced to the beauty of Australia.
The next day we continued the trip by first visiting the rock pools at Warnambool, a lovely little rock pool area where you can dip your feet in the sea and explore - this was my first dip in Australian waters and I didn't get bit by a shark so it was a success!
We then drove out of Victoria and into South Australia and visited a place called Mount Gambia where you can find Blue Lake reserve. The pictures don't do this place justice because it was honestly the bluest lake I have ever seen, I actually gasped when I saw how blue it was - something I've only done at Crater Lake in Oregon and multiple times in New Zealand. It was 42 degrees by the time we reached blue lake and my god I've never felt heat like it. Even the wind was hot, it was insane!!! By the time we reached Kingston, where we were staying that night, it was 25 degrees. The weather fluctuates so crazily in Victoria/South Australia it's mad. We arrived in Kingston and got the obligatory photo with the giant lobster (all over Australia there are random giant sculptures etc so later on we also saw the Giant Koala) and then got a subway of which I have a new found love for because they do pesto chicken and I never knew this (dunno if they do it in UK Subway's...). We then drank rum and played cards against humanity in our hotel room and it was so relaxed and chilled and it was exactly the kind of night I needed after the crazy few months I had had.
We then drove to Adelaide where we spent 3 nights for New Years. We had booked our own little apartment which from the outside looked like a drug den but on the inside was actually pretty nice and perfect for us. We spent new years eve drinking in the Woolshed and despite it being my first night out since August, I do remember midnight and we all hugged each other in a very cute way haha. New Years Day was the most memorable day of the whole road trip fo me though. We spent pretty much the whole day watching telly and just being hungover. We then decided to go to the beach for tea and the sunset and it was sooo beautiful. My first meal of 2020 was a burrito on the beach before the 5 of us sat and watched the sunset altogether and it is exactly how I picture life in Australia. Chilling on a beautiful beach with your mates. The second day of 2020 was just as perfect as the night before, we went to Second Valley beach and spent the day in the sun and the sea - me and Tayla then got extremely sunburnt and were in quite a bit of pain for the next few days. It was beaut and we were well rested ready to leave Adelaide for Horsham the next day.
One thing we could not ignore despite the amazing time we were having were the fires which were and still are raging through Queensland, Victoria and South Australia. We kept regularly updated with the fire news and having Petra with us, our own New Zealand firefighter she explained to me all about the fires and the seriousness of the situation, more than she probably wishes to talk about them with it being her job but it was so horrible seeing all the news over hear, hearing of the deaths of both animals and humans nd the devastation the fires were causing. So many people banded together to help, from Australia and all over the world but I am writing this at the end of January 2020 and the fires are STILL burning. I just hope they stop soon and work can continue to be done to re build everything that has been lost. It is reported that over a billion animals have lost their lives and after seeing Koala's for the first time ever in real life it is absolutely heartbreaking to think about the realty of what these fires have done.
On the way to Horsham we stopped at Pink Lake Reserve. This is a lake where at certain times of the year the water is pink and not blue - the lake had dried up due to the summer heat, and this day was another 42 degree day (reaching 48 at one point) disgustingly hot but we were lucky that you could still make out the pinkness of the salt where the lake had dried up. It was beautiful and so worth pealing myself off Tayla's car leather seats (due to my sunburn) to go and see. We spent the night in Horsham before heading to Stawell to stay the night at Tayla's aunt's house. Tayla surprised us here by taking me and Petra to Halls Gap Zoo for a meerkat feeding experience as our Christmas Present. It was so much fun and meerkats are so funny. All the meerkats there were males so that if they ever escaped, they couldn't reproduce and cause a pest problem in the near by national park haha.
The next day before we left for Ballarat we went for a walk in the Grampians to the spot called the Pinnacles. It wasn't the longest walk in the world but there was a hell of a lot of rock climbing involved and we had prepared with a subway to eat at the top when we had completed it haha. It was the coldest day I had in Australia making me realise that maybe I had gotten used to a warmer climate because I have to admit I was freezing! Not that I get any sympathy when I tell people back home that I am cold over here haha.
We spent the night in Stawell before heading to Ballarat for 2 nights which marked the end of our road trip. Tayla showed us round her home town and we met her boyfriend Pat and his house mates who were all amazing - I have to mention their house that they share because I couldn't shut up about it at the time and I'm still obsessed with it - 4 double bedrooms, with one ensuite room, two reception rooms and a room with a pool table plus a garden area and a pantry - all for less than you would pay for a shit 4 bed townhouse flat in York with barely any garden and wayyy less space. It was such a nice house to be in I couldn't stop telling them haha and Pat made us breakfast after we went out so all in all it was fab! Ballarat was really effected by the smoke from the fires while we were there, you couldn't even see to the end of the street and it wasn't very nice to be outside! We spent our final night together with a film, Honey followed by High School Musical 2, standard, and pizza and it was so cute. It felt like we'd been friends for years and I know that we will plan another trip soon and everyone will visit each others home towns!
The next day me and Petra left Ballarat on the train to Melbourne, Petra to meet up with her friend from camp and me to finally be reunited with Ruth!!