Nice as Melbourne was, I also wanted to explore a bit of the Victorian countryside, so after a weekend of partying in the city we hired a car and headed off to the Grampians, a mountain range and national park a few hours to the north-west of the city.
All through my trip I’ve been fantastically lucky with the weather (except for a very wet week while studying Spanish in Xela), and the run continued as we arrived in Halls Gap. Yet again, there was not a cloud in the sky, and the town was empty (being midweek and before the tourist season begins), so as we had the place to ourselves, we hiked up into the mountains to reach some stunning views across the whole area. On the way we came across this curious little fellow – a little skink with a funny stubby tail – sitting in the path.
A couple of times on the walk we saw kangaroos leaping away from us into the distance, but it was a bit frustrating that they all seemed to be so shy. But as we came back into town, it turned out that not all of them are that wary of tourists – as walked back to our hostel, we had to cross the cricket pitch, only to find it full of kangaroos nibbling away at the grass, seemingly oblivious to the locals practicing their bowling all around them. I’ve seen them in zoos before, but getting to them so close in the wild was an amazing sight.
Next stop on our little country road trip was the Great Ocean Road. It was originally built to provide work for servicemen returning from the First World War, it definitely deserves its reputation as one of the finest coastal drives in the world, as it hugs the huge sandstone cliffs on and off all the way back towards the city, with huge Southern Ocean waves crashing against the coast, creating some cool rock formations along the way, most famous of which are the 12 Apostles.
The other highlight along the way was Cape Otway – not so much the cape itself (you can’t get into the final bit with the lighthouse without paying), but the roads along the way, which are full of koalas, occasionally nibbling away at the leaves, but mostly just sleeping away along the branches. All in all it was the perfect mini break from the city – beautiful mountains, a lovely coastal drive, getting to see both of the iconic Aussie animals in the wild ( as well as getting to stuff myself with pies, something I’ve missed from back home that turn out to be even more popular over here!)
You can see all my Grampians & Great Ocean Road photos here.