Australia – Outback, Southern Coast and Great Ocean Road – impressive animals and nature

Author: Jana

Km 14797 – Nelson, New Zealand

ALICE SPRINGS

  • We are lucky with the weather and the desert sun is hidden behind clouds so that we have cooler days for some cycling. We make a couple smaller excursions into the desert surrounding Alice Springs (East and West MacDonnell Ranges).

  • Because of our experiences at the gas station in Tennant Creek, we decide not to continue hitchhiking, but to do a “car relocation”. For a car rental company, we therefore drive a campervan 1500 kilometres to Adelaide. Unfortunately, we only receive a little bit of the fuel money. It’s only an ok deal, but at least half as expensive as a bus ticket.

with Florian and our "washing machine"

with Florian and our “washing machine”

ALICE SPRINGS – ADELAIDE

  • Our motorhome feels like a huge, white washing machine which we – to save some fuel – drive with 90 km/h through the desert.

  • Then all of the sudden: a cyclist appears – in the middle of the desert. Finally, we can help someone as well! Florian doesn’t want a ride though. He tells us, “It is my thing to cycle everything”. So we agree on meeting at the next rest area where he would like to stay for the night. We spend an enjoyable evening, cook something together and exchange cycling stories. By the way, Florian has been in Bandung as well, with Java’s touring cyclists.

  • Because of a problem with our credit cards and the time we spent with Florian, we only drove 130 km on the first day of our car relocation. So from now on, for us it is: driving, driving, driving. For 2 ½ days we rustle through the desert. Of course we also stop at times: for emus, for a huge dried-up saltlake and for the mining town, Coober Pedy, where time seems to stand still. Some houses are built into the hills and others even underground, so that it stays wonderfully cool inside.

Lake Hart – a dried-up saltlake in the desert

Lake Hart – a dried-up saltlake in the desert

ADELAIDE – MELBOURNE

  • It had been one month that I had not been really fit and miffed (2 weeks of that with sinusitis – probably the most challenging illness between the two of us). On time for our departure to cycle from Adelaide though, I am healthy again and we tackle the almost 1000 km to Melbourne. In the Coorong National Park which is close to the coast we regularly have to fight against head winds. The region is scarcely populated. As we ask for water and a hint for camping at a farm, Grant spontaneously suggests us to camp on the lawn in front of his parents’ house. Visitors are rare here and we are kindly welcomed.

  • Just a couple kilometres further, in Kingston, we are warmly received again. This time from the employee of the tourist information office. We can use the free internet and she even makes us a coffee. While we check our emails, she prints us some information about the region – a retreat. We are thankful for these small experiences.

  • In Mount Gambier, more or less in the middle between Adelaide and Melbourne, we stay with Sandy for two nights. He is our host from the cycling network called warmshowers. Sandy is wonderfully easy-going, generous and helpful and even helps us to shorten my handlebar. After so many days of cycling – exposed in the nature and to the weather – being able to stay in a house, with a hot shower and a coffee; this really makes our day and gives us a feeling of well-being and warmth. Especially since along the Southern Coast it has not been so tropically warm anymore and we never stay in hotels in expensive countries. There is a small tempest outside, with rain and hail – exactly on the one day that we take off – we are so lucky!

  • Because of the demotivating headwinds we try to hitchhike while pedalling. We are lucky and Matt stops his pick-up. He gives us 100 km – great! More plus factors for the Australians.

  • In the next district wild camping is forbidden. Thus we knock on the next door and are positively surprised yet another time: modestly we ask for the barn or the garage, but Greg spontaneously invites us into the guest room. He is a milker for a nearby dairy farm.

  • Ahead we bike, still with regular head winds. Wild camping is legal again, but it starts to rain and a little bit of wind protection wouldn’t be bad either. So we approach the next house. Dick opens the door – in underpants. A moment later he comes back dressed. The 65-year old immediately tells us about his disease: Parkinson. He struggles to find words, which don’t seem to cross his mind. But his heart speaks a clear language: “You can stay here. And if my wife doesn’t agree, she has to kick out the three of us!” But Rita agrees, welcomes us warmly, even puts chairs and a table into the garage for us and shows us the toilet and the shower. We learn about the family’s dairy farm. Jersey cows (brownish) give less, but better milk (more greasy and more calcium) than Friesian cows (black and white).

  • Their youngest son Anthony (27) arrives as well and promises to prepare breakfast for us the next morning. And we are not deceived: toast with avocado, tomato, egg and bacon. Yummy! Afterwards he shows us his favourite rock formations along the cliffs and even drives us 40 km to the next village – another couple of kilometres less against the wind.

  • We cycle further inland through Cape Otway National Park with its tropical jungle. Fat raindrops crackle onto the warm road. Again we would like to ask for a roof. But this time we are turned down twice. One time pretty harshly (quote: “Look, I don’t care what you do! Help yourself!”)

  • So we camp and the next morning everything (!) is wet. To be able to dry our equipment, we ask for a garage’s roof again the next evening. As Pete suggests to move the tractor in the garage out of the way a bit, his wife says: “Pete, you are not really going to do that, are you?!” He does do us the favour, but besides that the two of them don’t seem to be interested in us – we never see them again.

  • So we are deducting some of the Australian’s plus factors again 😉

  • We slowly approach the Great Ocean Road – the top tourist destination of the region. We just didn’t realise before, how famous this area was. The landscape is picturesque. In the meantime rather with tail winds we cycle into the bay, out of the bay, into the next bay, and so on. We also take our time to admire the stone formations along the cliffs. At the site of the most famous rocks (the 12 apostles) bus loads of Chinese are dropped off.

Rock formations along the Great Ocean Road

Rock formations along the Great Ocean Road

MELBOURNE

  • Welcome to Melbourne, a huge city: green (also politically), bicycle friendly, multicultural, hip. We stays with the warmshowers hosts with the beautiful names Alex & Jana 😉 They really have the same names as we do. Jana is from Slovakia where the couple got to know each other more than a year ago. The atmosphere is relaxed, we can rest for a couple days. On Sunday they take us to their friends for a barbecue get together and before we know it, we are already on the ferry to Tasmania...

Melbourne – view of the port and Melbourne’s skyline as we leave with the “Spirit of Tasmania” ferry

Melbourne – view of the port and Melbourne’s skyline as we leave with the “Spirit of Tasmania” ferry

ANIMALS & NATURE

  • In Australia, there are many landscapes and animals which we had never seen before.

  • Australia’s “Outback”, that’s how the huge red centre is called, impresses especially with it’s unending vastness (and the solitude connected to it), but as well with it’s red coloured soil. Jungle, coastal, rock and mountain landscapes in South Australia, Victoria and Tasmania are charming as well.

  • But especially impressive is Australia’s wildlife. Of course, many kangaroos and their relatives, the wallabies, jump through the countryside. Huge bats hang from trees, emus sprint through the desert and dingos shyly peek at us behind a bush. Salt water crocodiles, sharks, water snakes and poisonous jelly fish can be found along the North coast of Australia. That’s why by no means you should go and swim there. All in all, Australia is indeed known for it’s many poisonous animals, but the risk to get harmed is quite low – especially if you follow the security measures and warning signs.

  • As we lie in the tent one night, we hear an ear-piercing, undefinable grunting. If we didn’t know for sure that there aren’t any bears in Australia, we would be in fear for our life. We guess it’s wild boars and ask someone the next morning. The noise came from koalas, calling for each other during the night! These small animals make such a loud noise??? Unbelievable!

  • Another night time visitor is the omnivorous possum, which likes to look for our food. It has made sleeping difficult for us during three nights! Ahhrrrgh!!!

  • Remarkable and well masked is the echidna – some kind of hedgehog with a trunk.

  • Besides snakes which often quickly escape when they hear us while we are hiking, there is also slower and less dangerous saurians like monitor lizards or the bobtail skink – short legs, short tail.

  • Furthermore, the domicile bird life consists of an absolute diversity: penguins, parrots, cockatoos, pelicans,

Here are some animal pictures:

Kangaroos

Kangaroos

Wallaby

Wallaby

Bats

Bats

an emu in the Outback (the Australian central desert)

Emu in the Outback (the Australian central desert)

Possum

Possum

Echidna

Echidna

Koala

Koala

Bobtail Skink

Bobtail Skink

Monitor Lizard

Monitor Lizard

Parrot

Parrot

Cockatoo

Cockatoo

Pelicans

Pelicans

Here you find more PICTURES and the ROUTE we took (just click on the respective word)!

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