Exploring Down Under with our campervan “skippy”

December 18th 2017, we are at the Victor Harbour library while it is warm (30Celsius) and rainy outside. Great to update our blog and post some pictures. In the mean time the Victor Harbour City Band arrived and is playing Christmas songs. (see our Christmas Greetings).

We arrived in Melbourne on November 27, 2017 after a 5 hour flight from Noumea. No time difference, no jet lag! We picked up our camper van near the airport, did some food shopping and were off to our first campground just outside Melbourne.

“Skippy” ready to go 🙂

We spent 3 days in Melbourne before travelling to the Great Ocean Road, in the direction of Adelaide. Melbourne is Australia’s second largest city with a population of about 4.5 million people. We found it to be a delightful city. Plenty of nice restaurants, a lot of “green” places and nice museums.

Picture of the Royal Exhibition Building taken from the Melbourne Museum.
We were just in time for a tour of the Royal Exhibition Building. It is a Unesco Heritage site since 2004. It was built in 1880 for the International Exhibition and was visited by 1,5 million people. It was also the place where Australia’s first parliament sat in 1901.
The building was extensively renovated during the 1990’s and is still used today as a commercial exhibition venue.
Melbourne’s Chinatown was established during the Victorian gold rush period in 1851 when lots of Chinese came to Australia in search of gold.
We enjoyed a lunch at HuTong dumpling bar.
Melbourne CBD (Central Business District) has a good public transportation system

We visited the Ian Potter Centre and the Heide Museum of Modern Art with its sculpture garden.

In the Presence of Form II from Anish Kapoor (1993), one of the works in the sculpture garden of Heide Museum.
Rings of Saturn, Inge King 2005-6. The Heide museum consists of 3 exhibition buildings built by John and Sunday Reed. It all started with an old dairy farm which they bought in 1934 and which became a gathering place for artists like Sydney Nolan and Albert Tucker, called the Heide Circle.
During our walk in the sculpture garden we saw our first sulphur-crested cockatoo. Since then we have seen lots of them in flocks of 30 or more. They are very loud and curious.
And we also spotted a pair of Rainbow Lorikeets, It is one of the most commonly observed bird in Australia and I thought for a moment that they were probably escaped parrots not knowing Australia counts so many different parrots.
On our way to Great Ocean Road the weather changed from a sunny 32 Celsius to a cold 14 Celsius and rain. A storm warning was in effect for the WE.
A good thing we were not at sea, much better to watch the storm from the land.
One of the many lighthouses along the Great Ocean Road.

Great Ocean Road was built between 1919 and 1932, right after WWI. The road was to be a Memorial for the soldiers who died in WWI but also a way to employ the returned soldiers. More than 3000 soldiers carved the road with picks and shovels along Australia’s most  rugged and densly forested coastline. They were helped by the jobless during the Great Depression.

Our first kangaroo siting on the golf course in Anglesea. We have seen many more since but I still enjoy watching them jump away.
Another cockatoo, a Galah or rose-breasted cockatoo. They are very common in Australia and we have seen them in flocks of 20 or more.
The sun is back out along the Great Ocean Road.
Our first Koala sighting in Otway Forest Park. When we walked up the hill we were told there were many out there but we could only spot this one. They can hide very well in the many gum trees (eucaliptus trees).
Sooo many different parrots in Australia, this one is the Crimson Rosella
… and the Australian King Parrot.
The superb blue wren.
Lavers Hill Beach, along Great Ocean Road
Finally some sun and blue skies along Great Ocean Road. It was worth the wait.
Twelve apostles, limestone pillars some rising 65m out of the water. The cliff faces erode about 2cm each year.
We feel so lucky to be able to travel along this beautiful scenery.
London Bridge, you could once walk across the double-arched rock but in january 1990 the outer span collapsed and fell into the sea. Two people had to be rescued from the far limestone stack by helicopter.
Loch Ard Gorge, it was here that the Loch Ard hit a reef and sunk while transporting immigrants from England to Melbourne in 1878. Only 2 of the 53 people on board survived.
When we left Otway Ranges we saw a car at a standstill in the middle of the road. We thought an accident happened but it was just a french tourist all excited about the koala in the tree along the road. Soon a crowd gathered around the tree.
Took way too many pictures, they are soo cute !!!!!!

Koalas are not bears but marsupials. They are mostly found in eucalyptus trees (also called gum trees) as the leaves make up most of their diet. Because this diet has limited nutritional and caloric content the koala sleeps about 20 hours a day. They were heavily hunted for their fur in the beginning of the 20th century and are therefore still listed as “vulnerable”. The biggest threat to their existence now is destruction of their habitat for agriculture and urbanisation.

In the Grampians we hiked the Wonderland Loop, about 10,5KM up to the Pinnacle.
Beautiful rock formations along “grand canyon” to Silent Street.
Silent Street
Arrived at the Pinnacle we were greeted by several crows. One was really interested in having a conversation with Stefan…
Of course we did not miss the McKenzie Falls, the biggest ones in Victoria.

While we were in the Grampians we also visited the Brambuk Aboriginal Cultural Centre. Here we learned how the immigrants (Europeans) treated the aboriginals. The stories are horrible. Land was seized and children were taken away from their families till the 1960’s because the government thought they could give them a better education. The missionaries wanted the aboriginals to dress like Europeans, sing English songs and play European games. Not a beautiful page in Australian history.

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The Naracoorte limestone caves are the only UNESCO heritage site in South Australia and definitely worth a visit. This was a perfect reflection of stalagtites in the water below.

Stalagtites so thin they are called straws.
The Australian white ibis, its sister species is the Sacred ibis. There are many in South Australia, sometimes they will even come close to look for food.
Sleepy or shingleback lizard, this one was crossing the road while we were driving in Coorong National Park. Apparently it has a blue tongue but we could not verify that. Its short stumpy tail is similar in shape to its head, this to confuse its predators. This has lead to its common name of two-headed skink.
Walking in Coorong National Park along the salt creek.
Definitely one of my favourite birds, the pelican. We have not seen pelicans since we left the Galapagos in May 2016. The Australian pelican is a medium size pelican with a wingspan up to 2.6M. It apparently has the longest bill of all living birds. It mainly eats fish.
Our “crossword puzzle”bird, the emu. The emu is Australia’s tallest flightless native bird and is 1.6 to 1.9M tall. The female lays about a dozen green eggs and the male incubates the eggs and cares for the chicks on his own. I like this bird 🙂
The Pink Lake in Meningie. It’s pink colour comes from the high salinity in combination with algae beta-caratine.
Visiting the South Australia museum in Adelaide. The museum is free and very nice.
While in the Botanic Garden in Adelaide we saw yet another kind of parrot, the Eastern Rosella. It looks like somebody tried out his box of coloring pencils on this one…
Aboriginal art in The Art Gallery of South Australia.
More aboriginal artwork in the Art Gallery of South Australia. The museum has a wonderful section on Aboriginal art and documentaries on the lifes of Aboriginals in Australia. I heard here for the first time about the nuclear bomb testing from the British in South Australia between 1952 and 1957. One of these places was Maralinga. Apparently these tests were done under the greatest secrecy on the land of the Aboriginals. The National Apology from the Prime Minister in February 2008 for the wrongdoings to the indigenous people did not come too soon… here you can read more about it

On thursday we take the ferry to Kangaroo Island where we will spend Christmas with our friends Katie and Karel and kids. New year eve we will be in Sydney.

2 thoughts on “Exploring Down Under with our campervan “skippy”

  1. hey,
    prachtige foto’s! Weer een ervaring rijker. Nu weet ik ook waarom Daan zo graag terug keert naar Melbourne en zich thuisvoelt in Australië.

    geniet van zalige en vreugdevolle kerstdagen Down Under.

    Mieke

  2. Leuk!weeral genoten van jullie reiservaring.Mooie foto,s.Wij wensen jullie het beste voor de laatste dagen van 2017 en voor 2018 nog veel reisplezier.Groetjes Liliane en Andre.

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