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ENGLAND - RUSSIA - MONGOLIA - CHINA - NEPAL/TIBET - INDIA - SINGAPORE - AUSTRALIA - NEW ZEALAND - FIJI - FRENCH POLYNESIA - EASTER ISLAND - CHILE - ARGENTINA - URUGUAY - BRAZIL - PERU - ECUADOR - U.S.A - SPAIN - ENGLAND
DEC 2001 - JAN 2002 - FEB 2002 - MAR 2002 - APR 2002 - MAY 2002 - JUN 2002 - JUL 2002 - JUN & JUL 2003
'Smell the stinky Seals'
Australia - FEB 2002
'Look at the ichle dolphins'
Friday 1st February 2002 Kangaroo Island

The Possums had all disappeared by the morning and surprisingly hadn't t tried to join us in our tent. Clare, Sarena and I went for a jog, dodging dozy Kangaroos. Then the 4 of us went for a walk through the Bush and found an amazing deserted Beach at the end of a river that we followed. On they drive out of the Bush Beau spotted our first Koala. It was massive and had chosen the smallest weediest tree to sit in. A bit stupid then or probably so lazy it is waiting for the tree to grow up as high as the others rather than climb them!

The problem with Kangaroo Island, and a lot of Australia, is that you need a 4wd to explore it and Betty isn't up to the gravel tracks. So we set off around the island on the best roads we could find and ended up on the north east tip at Emu Bay, and then to the main town of the island, Kingscote, to do some food shopping and camp up for the night. I actually managed to find some 'English' Marmite in the supermarket, its called 'Our Mate' in OZ, but tastes just the same. Great not had marmite since Everest.

Sarena cooked us dinner, that could of fed the entire campsite.

Well we got up early and went for another run!! I happen to be getting quite good at this exercise merlarky and ran quite fast. When we got back to the van and I had used up most of my inhaler...... we then decided to go on a really fantastic trail through the woods that took us to the most beautiful deserted beach - fantastic. Saw my first fat Koala in a very unsuitable skinny tree and he looked very dopey.

Went to Emu bay for a look around in the afternoon, I am still amazed when I see a harbour,bay etc at how clean and crystal clear it always is, it's like tap water and you can see all the fish etc below nothing like Southampton Docks! We took a couple of arty photo's then headed into Kingscote and set up camp for the evening. I cooked dinner and did enough for five thousand as my friends would vouch for if reading this..... obviously my mums fault

Saturday 2nd February 2002 Kangaroo Island

Decided that there is not much left for us to visit on the island, so after a jog we tried to book a ferry back to the mainland. All ferries were fully booked today so we headed back to the ferry town of Penneshaw and camped up for the day. The weather was pretty bad, windy, rainy and cold so we couldn't even chill out on the beach.

Sat in the tent and updated my diary whilst the others where trying to have a serious debate it all sounded very adult, so I stayed in the tent! Then went for a walk along the beach while Sarena updated her diary, while scrambling over the rocks I heard a farting noise. and found a Fairy Penguin trying to hide itself in a crevice. Keeping my distance I walked around the rock and nearly trod on two more. Bonus, they charge $30 for a guide to see these on the island. I sat and watched them for a while then headed back to the camp to join the others for a Pizza.Unfortunatley everyone else likes Marmite (or Our Mate) so the pot I bought yesterday has already gone. Bugger!

Heard some news that our friends Nigel and Leanne have had a baby, so we also phoned our old neighbours Tracy and Darren as theirs was due as well. No news though, maybe in the next few days. I spoke to Shelly and Deon as well to find out whats going on back at home, not a lot! But it was great to talk to them.

Got up early again for another jog and I decided I would maybe/probably attempt the half marathon with Clare and Toby, so we thought it would be a good idea to get some sponsorship again (don't worry it's not until June) and I thought I would donate the money towards Cancer Research as my Stepfather now has been diagnosed with the disease so get your wallets and purses at the ready!!!! Shit I can't run for buggary but I'm gonna have a go.

Did quite well at my run today but need to up the distance - I will be the next Zola Bud if it kills me.

Can't understand why my thighs are still the same shape? surely I should be looking like Naomi Campbell my now.

Anyway after I had regained some sort of composure I had a shower and packed up the tent - Toby and I have now become the tent occupiers as we find the van far too hot in the morning's. We then headed down to American River but the weather was really awful and quite cold so we just stuck our heads out the door then went straight to a cafe for some hot coffee. Beau had made a booking for the following day to catch the ferry back to the mainland so we drove back to Penneshaw campsite - situated next to the ferry terminal for the rest of the day. We spent a couple of hours in a debate about S&M and how Beau thought it was wrong and they were all freaks whilst Clare and I argued that each to his/her own as long as it didn't affect other people, this went on far too long and ended up getting nowhere. Beau went off for a walk and came back with a lovely coloured shell that he had picked off the sand and then placed it lovingly on the dash board for the night. In the evening we went down to the Pizza bar for dinner then came back to some wine and plenty of fags ( something I really need to pack in if thinking of doing the marathon) maybe after this packet..........

Clare told us that Nigel and Leanne have had a little baby boy which was really fantastic so Toby and I ran down to the nearest phone box to find out if our friends Tracy and Darren have had their baby yet - but still no baby (I reckon on a girl)

Sunday 3rd February 2002 Victor Harbour

The ferry was at 11:30 and we have decided that we won't go jogging on Sundays so we packed up and I took everyone to the spot on the beach where I had spotted the three Fairy Penguins. They where still there. Then we just hung around the ferry terminal. I have been teaching Clare chess (thanks to Chris and Jackie for the chess set for Christmas) so we had a game, She's getting pretty good, so I will have to give up soon before she beats me.

The Ferry crossing was bad. The weather hadn't changed from yesterday so the sea was pretty rough. We all felt sick during the 50 min journey, but Clare was the firsts to vomit once we reached the mainland (Sarena soon followed). Things don't look good for our ferry trip to Tasmania!

Took a short drive to the nearest major town , Victor Harbour, It is very touristy but not geared up for backpackers, more for families. We found a Hostel though, it was empty and very sparse but at least had some beds so we booked in for the night.

Clare and I went to the Cinema and watched an over the top film called Spy Game, had a lettuce sandwich, and went to bed.

Hoorah no jogging today so we just packed up the van and headed down to the port ready to catch the ferry - I was sat in the front of the van with Beau and decided to have a look at Beau's lovely shell only to find out when picking it up that it still had a horrible hairy looking crab/monstor thing hanging out of his little house. The poor thing was half dead due to being out of his rock pool and having to sit in a hot van all night! so before we did anything else we all went down to the beach to go and find an appropriate pool to rehome it in, this was quite funny seeing 4 adults saying goodbye to a little hermit crab.....We later went down the ferry port to wait for our transport which ended up being nothing like the first ferry we caught and was a very basic boat that carried the huge lorries full of cattle. We had to sit outside (no option) and the crossing was really very bad which meant the poor cattle were getting very distressed and shitting everywhere, all over the cars and vans below. We all felt very very sick (shouldn't have had to chocolate drink before boarding) and were glad to get on the other side where both Clare and I were promptly sick - which made us feel instantly better so went off to find some food!!

Went to the nearest town - Victor Harbour which seemed quite nice and went looking for a hostel for the night as Beau was feeling a bit ill, had a mans cold!! I had smoked my last cigarette that morning and was determined to smoke no more so was feeling a little smug. The BP was not a nice place and had as much atmosphere as a 90th birthday party, it was empty which didn't help and was quite spooky. We were all quite tired and just wanted a bed to sleep in so Beau crashed out for the rest of the day whilst Toby and Clare went to the cinema, I sat in the kitchen reading my new Stephen King novel.

Monday 4th February 2002 Policemans Point

Jogging day again today. Had a great run along the coast, bit hilly though! After breakfast I popped down the only Internet place in town as I have to pay the Tax Man, Arrrrrrrgggggh, it was very painful, so I cheered myself up and also bought some tickets for the Australian Grand Prix and a Guitar, Horrrrrayyy. Now we can really annoy the girls.

I took the guitar to the park and sat and played it for an hour whilst the others went looking for second hand jumpers (its bloody cold in OZ!). Whilst playing away to myself I made 50 cents from an appreciative man who was listening to me, Suppose the Tax Man will find out about that too!

Our next stop off is an old Volcano called Mt Gambier, so we headed off by the afternoon, but did not make the entire journey so camped up at a deserted place called, Policeman's Point. The kids are all back at school from their summer holidays now and Australia seems deserted!

Spent the evening playing the Guitar with Beau and photographing the beach while Clare cooked us a fantastic meal, Beef Stroganoff. The best dinner so far.

Woke up early again and went for a jog which I found a little easier that before and managed to do 40mins which is the longest time yet!! did some sit up's then packed and left that horrible place. Clare and I went and used the only Internet place in town then joined the boys back at the van at lunch time. Toby had found a second hand guitar which was really good, so now we can learn some songs and start singing in the evening's. The funniest thing was Toby went and sat in the park after he had bought it and was just messing around when someone came and gave him 50 cents - fantastic! he is making us money already....

Clare and I had bought some second hand jumpers as the weather is really very chilly in the evening's and we are all really surprised at how cold it is for the summer time. We then drove to a campsite called Policeman's Point which was on the way to Mount Gambier, our next destination. We were the only people on the whole campsite so had a good choice of places to pitch our tent. Clare cooked us a wonderful dinner that we all munched down with gusto then played a few tunes on the new guitar - Clare and I did the washing up in the laundry room and found it was a great place to sing - great acoustics. It took nearly 45mins for her to get the courage to sing in public (me) but when she did it was amazing!! she has a fab voice.

Tuesday 5th February 2002 Mount Gambier

Clare didn't make the jog this morning, I think she prefers running in the evening, So me and Sarena ran along the beach for 40 minutes. For a change there where no clouds so it was already getting pretty warm.

Its only a couple of hours drive to Mt Gambier from here so we just hung around all morning, doing washing and sitting in the sun playing guitar, heaven!!! I think Sarena is feeling second fiddle to the guitar already!

Got to Mt Gambier later in the day, the usual block built towns, but this town is built at the bottom of a volcano so the scenery is outstanding. Especially the lake that has formed in the bottom of the volcano's crater as its the bluest water I have ever seen.

We found a great campsite but seem to be losing our ability to sneak to people in, never mind! This one is only 5 bucks a night. Finally it was my turn to cook.As Clare's meal last night was so good I decided to do an interpritation of it with chicken and mash potato instead... it wasn't too bad! we got invaded by a mad Dutch guy who was testing out his English on us, then it was back to the guitar.

Got up at ridiculous o'clock again for another run, this time on the beach but without Clare as she was really tired - later drove to Mount Gambier

The town of Mount Gambier is built around a huge old volcano, you can drive up to the top and see the most wonderful blue lake that has formed in the bottom. We found ourselves a campsite to park little Betty in and settled down to a wonderful meal cooked by Toby's own two hands !! it was really very good aswell so Toby can't get out of doing any ooking in the future as he seems more than capable..

Had more renditions of some obscure guitar tunes played for the next few hours.

Wednesday 6th February 2002 Mount Gambier

Damp dewy morning, Mt Gambier is just like England, very green. Had a great Jog, 7km around the Blue Lake, really enjoyed it, unlike Sarena who didn't look very well by the time she got back to the camp site.

Spent the rest of the day in town, so I just surfed the net for guitar music as I had no desire to go around shops (again). I did manage to brave a book store though and found a great 'Teach yourself Spanish book', olé! A few Spanish phrases later and we were back at the campsite for Beau's delicacy of the evening, Pork a la white wine. We must be the best fed campers in Oz!

Got up early for a jog around the lake which was about 7km, alot of it being up hill. I failed miserably and couldn't run for the whole 40mins and had quite bad asthma so I walked some of the way then ran for the last 10mins.

Not feeling so good today and suffering from a really bad headache that is making me feel sick etc so just had a slow stroll around the town. Really very freaky people in these parts, this was noted by both Clare and myself whilst walking around a shopping centre looking for a birthday pressy for Beau. I saw a few bearded women and some very very strange looking men all of whom were listening to the local 'Country and Western' band they had playing live in the centre.

Had another wonderful dinner made by Beau - really eating very well!! oh and some more guitar strumming

Thursday 7th February 2002 Warrambool

Nasty drizzly morning, but not for jogging as I managed to knock 6 minutes of my 7km time from yesterday. Sarena didn't even attempt to run.

Everyone seems tired today and we seem to be loosing a bit of enthusiasm for travelling along the coast of Australia from camp site to camp site. I think we need a change, Hopefully Tasmania and the Grand Prix will get us going again.

After mooching about for several hours whilst trying to decide if we should check into a converted Jail for a night. I decided to take the bull by the horns and drive us to the next town, closer to the Great Ocean Road and the twelve apostles. It started to rain pretty hard on the way, but we made it to Warrambool in a couple of hours and after checking in and out of a really grotty backpackers in town we found a very nice one for the same price by the sea.

Sarena is suffering from a headache and Clare with a bad back so their is not much conversation going on and we spent the rest of the day doing our own thing. Like trying to learn Spanish and updating this diary. It poured down for the rest of the day so we stayed in the backpackers.

Couldn't run today as my head hurt sooo much but couldn't sleep cause I felt guilty about not running - how bloody absurd is that

Everyone is feeling low, the weather is shit which isn't helping so we packed up after b'fast and drove down to the town to have a look at a BP that used to be the local jail. It was a really interesting place but very expensive so Toby made the decision of driving to the next town and stay there for the night which was fine by us. Rained very hard all the way which was like being in England, and found ourselves in Warrambool after a few hours all wanting to have a lay down and rest. The first BP was a pile of shite so we found another one just down the road for the same price which was really nice and right next to the beach.

We had a real bed with a duvet!!! god it was lovely and the place was huge but the best bit was they had a massive TV with free DVD hire- cool.

Beau had lost his only pair of trousers and wanted to buy some more - he didn't want to go on his own so I volunteered to go with him so him. Thought it would be a difficult event but turned very easy much to my surprise! and Beau had himself a lovely new pair of action slacks. It rained all afternoon so we just ate and read then went to our lovely beds.

Friday 8th February 2002 Warrambool

The plan was to get up really early and leave for our road trip along the Great Ocean Road, but the weather was so bad and we were so lazy that we got Beau to book us in for another night while we stayed curled up in proper beds (with duvets!)

It rained for most of today so we spent the time infront of the Backpackers home cinema system and watched Shrek, Bridget Jones Diary and LA confidential, whilst being invaded by a load of Aboriginal kids on a school trip who kept everyone up until 1 am

Well another day of not going for a run but this time it was because the weather was so awful and it was great being snuggled up in a fluffy duvet whilst listening to the rain outside.

Clare and I had the best morning ever sitting in our sloppy clothes - we watched Bridget Jones Diary (I thought was fab) then Shrek and LA Confidential - all day!! whilst it rained again and was quite cold outside.

Two bus loads of kids arrived at 10.30pm and then ran around the place till 1.am completely pissing us all off and enforcing the idea of not having children.

Saturday 9th February 2002 Apollo Bay

The weather seems to clearing up a bit. Sarena and I managed a jog before we packed up, around the screaming horde of Kids. We popped into town and got held up in a carnival as we had parked on the main parade street. So after watching some quite impressive floats, but mainly very bad ones we set of down the Great Ocean Road.

The first major attraction along the road, the 12 apostles, was a bit of a disappointment. Which I think was due to the fact that we have spent the last 5 weeks looking at some of the most stunning coastline in the world that this tourist infested part held nothing for us.

We made our way into Apollo Bay and deliberated on where to stay as it was still raining enough to make us think about pitching the tent. But after checking out the 2 grotty and expensive backpackers we decided that the tent was the best option and that Beau and Clare should sleep in it. Which they very surprisingly agreed to do!!! It was too wet to get the gas stove out so we headed to the nearest Fish and Chip shop for a slap up meal and then to the pub for a game of pool and to watch classic Rock music on the video Juke box (Iron Maiden , Judas Priest, Kiss e.t.c)

Went for a jog today, without Clare Bear but found it hard again and walked back for the last 10mins - not getting any easier for me.

After B'fast we went back into town so that Clare could get a couple of things for the bifday boy, Toby found a music shop to get Beau some fiddly things for the guitar and then got trapped in the town for the next hour as we watched a carnival parade past. The best bit was a big group of bikers on their Harly's and leathers drive past , I want a bike......

Set off for the Great Ocean Road stopping at the 'London Bridge and 'Twelve Apostles' - very beautiful but would have been more spectacular at sunset or without all the stupid tourists that always do stupid bloody crappy things and pee me off!!

So after the apostles we carried on along the most bendy road ever in the world, which was pretty nasty for the person sat in the back (me) and felt very sick. The scenery was spectacular though and we stopped off to see some falls etc. The weather was getting grotty again and I certainly didn't want to spend the night in a tent if it was going to rain again, but Beau and Clare said they would - ha ha suckers. Oh bless them, after Beau making a few passing comments on how we said we preferred the tent so we should sleep in it kind of thing, he agreed with Clare that it was only fair they slept in the tent.

We went out that evening to a local 'pub' that had as much atmosphere as a funeral parlour and wasn't made any better by me loosing 3 games of pool - so out of practice, wouldn't have happened in Nepal. The pub was supposed to have a disco starting at 9.30pm and Clare and I wanted to stay and listen but the DJ didn't start setting up till gone 10pm and we were both getting quite drunk by now. I was pleased with myself as I didn't have a cigarette, not even fancy one whilst drinking which was my biggest test.

Sunday 10th February 2002 Torquay

Rained and blew most of the night and funnily enough Beau and Clare got no sleep in the Tent. I Slept like a baby. And felt even more smug when I got them out of the tent early to pack it away before even more rain came and as soon as they got out it turned sunny . ha ha.

It is Beau's Birthday and Clare has booked them into a double room at a Backpackers in Torquay for tomorrow night (shhhhh don't tell Beau!) which is only 40 km away. Good job too! As we headed back out onto the Great Ocean Road that twisted an turned along the cliff edges, the weather got better as did the scenery, but not Clare's stomach who was suffering in the back of the van from the winding road.

We got into town with 3 of us in the front of the van and found the campsites very expensive, so by the third campsite Sarena jumped in the back and with the curtains closed we pitched up right at the back of a caravan park just out of town. The place seemed very subdued and strange, but I couldn't work out exactly why.

Sarena made a Chicken salad and we all sat around singing and playing new songs we have learnt.

Oh dear it pissed down all night and blowing a gale whilst both Toby and I slept like logs.......

We made them get out of bed so we could pack the tent away before it started raining again, so they crawled out looking very miserable and tired. Funny thing is the sun came out as soon a we had put the tent away - oh dear Beau is grumpy monster today.

We set off for another fun-filled adventure carrying along the Great Ocean Road which was even more bendy so Clare started feeling pretty sick as she was sitting in the back today so we stopped at some falls for a looksy which were very pretty. Found a campsite just outside Torquay for the night and I cooked dinner for the evening and then settled down to an evening of singing and guitar playing.

Beau's bifday tomorrow!!

 

Monday 11th February 2002 Torquay

Beau's birthday today! The rest of us got up early as usual and went for a jog, then we loaded the van up with balloons and woke Beau. As the Van door opened all but a few of the balloons flew out and across the caravan park.

Beau didn't know it but we had surf lessons booked for him at 10 so we packed up and went into Torquay town centre and to the Backpackers that Clare had booked for us. I did the surf lesson too. It was only a couple of hours worth of lessons with quite a strange guy called Mick, but his little tips where useful and by the end of the day I could stand up on nearly every decent wave, albeit a bit wobbly. After his lesson he let us keep the boards and wetsuits for the rest of the day so we walked over to Bells Beach which is famous for Surf comps and tried our hand at some massive waves. Unlike the pro's that were surfing though we couldn't even paddle out to the big waves before being knocked off our boards so resigned ourselves to some more modest surf. Great fun, but absolutely cream crakered.

Beau wanted to cook a curry for his Birthday, but the cramped Backpackers Kitchen seemed a little too much for him and I don't think he enjoyed the cooking as much as he had hoped. Tasted bloody good though!

Sarena checked her emails to find out that our hold Neighbours in Molesey have had their Baby, 'Ellie Ray'. So we tried to phone but no one was at home.

CONGRATULATIONS TO TRACY AND DARREN!

I also managed to find an old stereo in the Backpackers so copied my 'Learn to speak Spanish' CD to tape for the van.

The 3 of us got up early for our morning exercise, Clare and I have started Power walking now as we are both suffering from bad backs and think it's from all the running - might not make the half marathon after all!. Toby and I started blowing up balloons in the tent as soon as we got back (all 30 of them) and then stuck them to the outside of the van. It wasn't a good idea as they all started to blow away, so we ended up running around the field chasing balloons first thing in the morning. We ended up piling them all into the van on top of Beau and then when he opened up the back door we caught him on camera with all the balloons flying out and a dopey grin on his face - It's birthday boy Beau!

I gave him our pressies with consisted of a fly swat, a Aussie hat with corks, 2 new pairs of ear plugs, capo and a slide for the guitar. Clare had booked him up a surprise surf lesson and a double room at backpackers so we had to get a move on as we had to be there for 10.0clock. We turned up on time and chucked all our bags in our rooms ( we had a double as well) and then went next door to the surfing place to get Beau sorted out. Toby decided he wanted to have a go as well so they both got themselves a couple of wet suits and boards ready to hit the water... Clare and I followed them down to take to photo's and video of our two surfing studs... mmmm lets just say wet suits didn't do them any justice!

We left them doing there thang for a few hours whilst we went shopping for curry ingredients - Beau loves his curry. At 2pm we went back down to the beach to pick them up and found the bay they had moved to but couldn't find them amongst the surfing dudes in the water. Clare noticed 2 figures laying on their boards out for the count on the sand which turned out to be our fit young hero's!!!!

They were absolutely knackered, so we took them back to the BP where they could rest there weary bones for the rest of the day. I used the Internet and found out from my mum that Clare had had a baby girl!!!!!!!!! wahey fantastic new - but she had gone through a terrible birth from what my mum had written, but mother and baby are ok. Later that evening Beau cooked us a lovely curry which was hard work due to the amount of people in the kitchen, but it tasted wonderful - can't get decent curry in Aussie, my dad would not approve. Toby and I went down to the payphone to call Darren and Tracy but just had the answer machine so she must still be in Hospital. Presented Beau with chocolate birthday cake which we all demolished.

Tuesday 12th February 2002 Queenscliff

Continued our journey to Melbourne Its only 100Km from Torquay but we only made it 20 km to a city called Geelong. Sarena and Clare finally made use of the rollerblades we had been carting around with us since we bought Betty. After 10 minutes of pottering up and down the promenade in them they decided they didn't want them anymore. Women!

Decided not to continue to Melbourne today so detoured south to a small town called Queenscliff. Its really nice (as most small towns are in OZ) but they offer a days snorkelling and swimming with seals and Dolphins, so we Booked up for tomorrow and found a campsite nearby.

I managed to find a moment to listen to my Spanish tape only to discover that someone in the backpackers must have messed about with the stereo so after a few minutes of the Spanish alphabet I get a news report and a nirvana song, never mind at least I will be able to pronounce A to G in Spanish really well!

Badly sprained my ankle in the evening after falling down a hole in the campsite. The others just sat there and laughed at me rolling around the floor in agony... B'stards! Never mind a good excuse not to run in the morning and hopefully we will be swimming with dolphins...

We left the BP at 10am and headed towards Melbourne stopping off in Geelong for a look around, very very pretty and looked continental down on the sea front. Clare and I finally used the rollerblades that we had on top of Betty and attempted to give it a go - I found it quite hard as I was only used to rollerboots and was glad to hand them over to Clare who found them equally as hard.

Decided to carry on up to a small town called Queenscliff for a look around and found it a lovely place so decide to stay. We found a company down on the bay who did a afternoons snorkelling with seals and dolphins which we all thought would be fab so decided to do it the following day. I was quite worried as I was really scared of going in the water with all the fish etc but wanted to see the dolphins, will have to wait and see....

We then all went on a little walk along the harbour and pier where Clare and I came across a puffer fish on the pier walkway all puffed up and still alive, we felt so sorry for the little tinker and decided to try and get the thing back into the sea before it died. It was quite funny as we were surrounded by men fishing off the sides watching us whilst we tried to pick up this big bag of air on a little piece of paper acting like a couple of squeamish girls as soon as it wriggled!! We managed to get it back into the water but it went off swimming upside down (not a good sign) After our daring rescue attempt we went back to the campsite for some dinner and a listen to Toby's Spanish tape he had, then had an early night.

Wednesday 13th February 2002 Queenscliff

My ankle felt fine by the morning but claimed that it still hurt which got me out of jogging and left me to hang around all morning.

We had booked a snorkelling trip for the afternoon and so drove down to the harbour at 1 to get fitted out with wetsuits and snorkels. I was pretty excited as I have never snorkelled before but Sarena, who hates fish, was looking very anxious. She didn't make any complaints though as we suited up and boarded the boat.

We headed out to a small man made ridge in Port Philip bay, the smallest nature reserve in the world, which apparently has more species diversity than the Great Barrier Reef! I couldn't wait to get in the water and swim with the fish-ees. Sarena too got in with little fuss, but her face showed that she was very scared. Beau, Clare and I stayed with her as we swam around the reserve. Then we swam through a hole in the reserve and out into deeper water. At this point a big swell from a passing boat caught us and Sarena panicked. Once she had calmed down she actually seemed to enjoy herself and even started swimming through sea weed and stuff. Amazing.

The captain of the boat then took us to an old sea platform that was inhabited by 30 or so seals. Quite keen to get in and swim with them I jumped off the side of the boat. The impact made my flippers fall off though and it was some hard swimming to retrieve them and out them back on in the current. The seal were great , but very smelly if you took your mask off. The pups where the best as they came and played with us twisting and circling around everybody.

Bad News! A message came through the boats radio saying that a school of dolphins have just swam further out to sea. But then 6 more where still spotted in the bay. After a while of searching I spotted them and the captain let out a tow rope off the back of the boat. We grabbed old as they towed us into the group of dolphins, about 6 of them . They swam right with us for ages and we managed to get a great view of them swimming under our feet. There was one baby in the group that stayed by its mothers side all the time.

What a great day, swimming with wild dolphins, I reckon that s much better than the tame ones that you can feed at other places in OZ.

Clare finally got through to her sister Tracy who seems to be constantly engaged on the phone and camp back to the camp with an interesting story that Tracy was eating out at a Chinese Restaurant in London (maybe Kensington) and overheard some people taking about us travelling...

...Who was it???? Could it of been you????

What a day!

Went for a power walk in the morning whilst Toby slumbered the morning away claiming injury.... then went down to the harbour ready for our afternoon of snorkelling.

We got ourselves kitted our with wetsuits, flippers and masks and then boarded the boat ready for the afternoons adventures - absolutely shittiing a brick and really want to go back to the safety of my tent. We were given a brief on how to use the snorkels etc and then taken to a wonderful man made harbour type place out in the ocean that had been built in the war but never finished but now a huge flock of ....................... had taken residence. The water was quite shallow and extremely clear - perfect for snorkelling, so we all got ourselves ready by spitting in our goggles and then slowly getting in the water. I was now very nervous and the others were already swimming around waiting for me to move my butt. I slowly lowered myself in the water which was surprisingly cold and then tried to relax which I was finding really very hard, the good thing was that the wetsuit meant we could float quite easily but it was hard to stay in an upright position whilst I was learning to lower my head in the water and breathe. I actually started to panic a little for the first few minutes as I couldn't get to grips with breathing and swimming under the water but I had all three of them around me at all times helping and making me relax and actually start to enjoy what was happening below me. I didn't get scared to death when I saw some fish as they were really very pretty so when the instructor said we were to swim through a hole in some rocks into the blue yonder I was a little bit daunted but ready to give it a go. We all swam through and I even touched some seaweed and slimy rocks, something I would never had done before!! Big panic, a big old boat went past and I caught all the swell, the water went into the snorkel so when I came up I could get my head above water as the waves were quite big which meant me flapping around madly whilst the others held onto me and told me to calm down. They were all being really really nice and I just know I couldn't have done it without them...

We all swam back to the boat after half an hour then headed off to a wild seal colony that were gathered on a old bit of platform where we could get back in the water and swim with them all, now that was fantastic and they were all so inquisitive especially the baby ones who swam really close whilst sumersaulting and watching us with as much interest. I was really starting to enjoy myself and was by now very excited about swimming with the dolphins, so off we trotted to the wide open sea with all our eyes peeled. We soon came across a group of about 6-8 of them and were told to jump out the back of the boat and hold onto the rope they had trailing behind, we were not allowed to let go or be fined a lot of money - dolphin protection regulations, and we were not allowed to touch them. It meant the dolphins would stay wild and we weren't intruding, but letting them come to us if they chose to. We were told that they have a protective coating that protects them from disease so I don't understand how some of the company's eg Monkey Mia lets you feed and touch them - very very bad.

Anyway I'll step off my soap box....... We were holding on for dear life whilst these dolphins swam around us and below us, we put our heads under water with the snorkels on so you could see them sooooo clearly and they came so very close. I saw a baby dolphin with it's parents swimming either side and to be honest when they swam directly below me I became really emotional !! it was such an experience one which I will never ever forget. Afterwards we all bundled back on the boat and watched as the dolphins swam at the bow, jumping and diving - they were close enough for me to touch.

After we had sailed around for a while we anchored near a deserted beach and had some fruit whilst some of the people climbed on top of the boat and jumped in the crystal blue water. We then went back to the harbour and grabbed our clothes all very excited and completely gobsmacked about the whole thing. Beau admitted he had became very emotional and was still feeling quite tearful - at least I wasn't the only one!! We were all hungry by now so we went to the local fish and chip shop to grab ourselves some goodies then went back to our campsite to talk about our best day........

Can't thank the others enough for looking after me - specially to Big Beau as he was probably the last person I expected to be looking after me when I was scared!! but Clare and Toby were with me holding my hand all the time and I love them all for making me feel less shit scared and enjoy the day. Now let's go Scuba diving.........

Thursday 14th February 2002 Melbourne

Time to move on. But today was the 200th anniversary of the discovery of the Bay so to celebrate they where sailing a replica of the 'Lord Nelson' into the bay. We stayed to watch the boat as it sailed up through the bay, except for Sarena though as she was too engrossed in the un happy lives of Jennifer Aniston and Julia Roberts in some girlie magazine and totally missed the boat. We then headed on into Melbourne.

We drove straight to the ferry terminal to book some tickets to Tasmania. Unfortunately they are all booked up until the end of February, so we are going to have to change our plans a little.

Our only task left for today was to find a camp site, On the way we ended up in Albert Park so took Betty for a spin around the Grand Prix Circuit, ( click here to view video (616kb)), I reckon we must of got up 40 kph on one of the straights! We finally managed to find a campsite 10km north of the city centre and got away with our usual '2 person' trick! and then all headed of for a valentines movie. 'Behind Enemy Lines', what a load of crap!

After our usual routine of packing up we went down to the shoreline to watch a replica of the 'Lord Nelson' do a sale past as it was the 200th anniversary for the discovery of Port Philip Bay - can't believe they only found this place 200 years ago!! We then drove to Melbourne, we all found it quite strange being in a big city again and driving was a bit scary.... we made our way down to the ferry terminal where Beau and Toby went to book some tickets to Tasmania. We were all a bit half hearted about being in the City and were all a bit daunted about the whole thing.

We found a really cool campsite and once again we got away with only paying for 2 people!! fantastic. We then went down to the cinema where I was hoping to watch 'shallow Hal' but Toby wanted to watch 'Behind Enemy Lines' which I have to say was a pile of shite.... But I ate enough Pic a mix for 10 people which made up for the bad film - ooops promised the dentist I would stop eating sweets.

Friday 15th February 2002 Melbourne

Spent the day in Melbourne town centre. Beau and Clare have not been to Melbourne before, so we left them to go exploring on their own whilst I just wandered aimlessly around, oh how I hate shops! Sarena went off to find a birthday present for me and I found out that the Globe World Cup Skateboarding Championship are being held her over the weekend. Cool

Its Friday night so we all decided to go out and maybe catch some live music ,as we saw some good bands last time we were here. No such luck but Beau and I managed to get pretty drunk on just 3 pints of beer, bonus! We even found a Kebab shop on the way back to the campsite!

Bla Bla I hate shopping, I hate shopping.......

 

Didn't find anything for Toby so it was a wasted day and do not want to be in the City anymore.

Went out to the big lights in the evening for a couple of drinks and ended up getting a little bit wobbly but not as much as Beau and Toby who only had 3 pints and were both really very drunk. We were going to go and watch a live band that was advertised but when we went to the pub it turned out to be one bloke with a premixed tape whilst he sang along - cross between Neil Diamond and Leo Sayer - very funny.

Saturday 16th February 2002 Melbourne

Got a message that our friends Jon and Vicki (from Perth) will be in Melbourne on Sunday and its another friends birthday, Jilly. So we are going to stick around and meet up for a meal tomorrow night.

For some reason we ended back up in the town centre. I didn't do anything except wait around for the others. Then we headed back to the campsite and spent the rest of the day chilling and trying new songs on the Guitar. I found home and left a message for Joy and Spit.

Walked around town looking for a present for Toby again but just couldn't find anything he would want or really needs - I thought women were difficult!!

What on earth am I going to get him?

I hate shopping!!

 

Sunday 17th February 2002 Melbourne

Its the final of the World Skateboarding Championships, No one else was that interested so headed off on my own. Sarena accompanied me into town (she hasn't found a birthday present for me yet. - how bad!)

The competition was cool, if your into skateboarding I suppose. And I got to see Tony Hawks perform an aerial 900 degrees spin on the Vert Ramp. Only the 8th time in the world it has been done (first for OZ)! - hope that excites you as much as it did me! Anyway got to see some other gnarly skating full of tech and air. Totally dope dude! There was also some Aussie girls trying to rap outside which was quite amusing.

I didn't quite get to see the final round in the street skating comp as I had to meet the others for Jilly's birthday meal. Nevertheless I hung on as long as I could then ran across town to meet them all.

Went out for a great Vietnamese meal, not to expensive either. I can't remember the last time we went to a proper restaurant. The to a 'proper' pub, except for the fact that it had free pool and a huge outdoor, free, cinema in the beer garden , showing the Johnny Depp film, 'Chocolaté'

Didn't do anything special really .... went into town again whilst Toby went to the Skateboarding thingymajig - aha came up with an idea of what to get Toby and made a few phonecalls to sort out a surprise........

Oh I am a clever clever girl he will really like this

Went out in the evening with Jilly, Vicky and Jon who were in the vicinity - Clare had made contact with them a few days previous and found our they were heading our way and that it was Jilly's b'day, good excuse for a bloody good piss up!! Went to the backpackers they were staying at and had loads of cuddles before we headed to a Chinese restaurant for some nosh and had a fab time - Clare and myself got a trifle drunk and she wanted to go onto a nightclub with the rest of them after we had spent a couple of hours at the pub and some cracking games of pool. We spent another 1/2 hr looking for the nightclub to drop Clare for her dancing but we couldn't find the bugger so we went back to the caravan site and then straight to bed.

 

Monday 18th February 2002 Melbourne

Not much doing today. I am determined not to go near any shops as we now plan to go to a national park and mountain range called the Grampians tomorrow for a week or so. Beau and I are learning proper Classical Spanish guitar so have spent the whole day trying to work out a song, in between a bit of laundry and eating.

Didn't really do much today but read quite a lot of my Stephen King novel which wasn't that good.

Tuesday 19th February 2002 Melbourne

Went back into Melbourne in the morning then met up with Sarena back at the campsite Beau and Clare spent the whole day in town, doing some if the touristy things and returned quite late and quite drunk. I phoned my friend Damien in Brisbane as it is his birthday today, and then thought I'd give Mark a surprise ring. This was the Mark with the dog , Thorn, that we met camping on the beaches at Albany. He was very surprised to hear from us and told me of his new job in Perth, but is still roughing it as he hasn't found a job yet. Beau and I started fighting over playing the guitar so we decided to both play it at the same time! ( Click here to view video (912kb))

Oh my god into town I go again - but this time I bought a couple of pressies for Toby, wash bag ( he had lost his a while back) a cook book......and a new cap all of which were really hard to find for some reason???? I want to know why you can't find a man's wash bag without products in them and why do you pay loads more dosh to have an Adidas cap WITHOUT the name 'addidas' written all over it- grrrr

.Beau and Clare came back from town at about 10.30pm quite drunk! disgusting, I had been sat all afternoon worrying about them and they staggered back giggling like a couple of teenagers! - lucky devils

Wednesday 20th February 2002 Halls Gap

We left Melbourne today, wahhey, and headed for the Grampians as we plan to do some walking for a week while we wait for the Grand Prix.

The Grampians are stunning. I am so glad we are out of the cities again. So clean and fresh and full of wildlife. We actually managed to see our first Kookaburra as well. I always thought they where shy birds but more and more appeared around our campsite and they were soon dive bombing campfires for freshly cooked sausages. There was also a massive group of Kangaroos near by (what's the name for a group of roo's?) some even had Joey's in their pouches.

It got pretty cold and windy during the night so we sat around a neighbours campfire whilst Beau played proclaimers on the guitar. He was quite chuffed that the campsite ranger told him that all music had to be stopped by 10pm, as someone had finally acknowledge his playing as music!

Fantastic we finally left the campsite but had done well for not getting caught, only been paying for 2 people all this time....

Make our way into the Grampians which was breathtaking and headed for a tourist information place to get some info on treks. We then camped up in a beautiful campsite surrounded by mountains and wildlife, both Toby and I saw our first Kookaburra sitting in a small tree next to the tent - what a fantastic looking bird, a lot bigger than I imagined. It was really very friendly and came very close to us which was fab and one point we were surrounded by pink and white macaws, red and blue parrots, Kookaburra's and loads more birds that I didn't know. Clare and I went to the little shop over the road and just as we got to the other side a huge group of kangaroo's (big ones) came lumbering across the road and walked past us, all of them coming so close we could have touched one. The wildlife is second to none in Oz but in the Gramp's it was just amazing to look up in the tree's and see a mass of colour from wild birds that we usually see in cages back in England. Later that evening we met up with a young lad who was camping opposite us and we gathered around his fire for a good yarn and a play on the guitar. Us girls decided to go to the loo at one point but Clare was wrapped up in her sleeping bag so decided to hop all the way to the toilet block whilst I filmed her journey. Well I can honestly say it has to be the funniest clip of video ever in the whole world as all we did is laugh hysterically, especially when I filmed her on the loo and she caught me ( click here to view video (592kb))- should have heard the scream!! Oh how old are we.....

Thursday 21st February 2002 Natimuk

The night was very windy. It was great fun in the tent as the sides battered and swallowed our heads all night. We had to leave the Grampians today (already) as Sarena has organised a birthday surprise for me, for tomorrow, and we have to stay at a place called Natimuk about 90km east of the Grampians.

We had a lazy morning as there didn't seem to be a check-out time, and then headed off to Natimuk. Looking on the map I could see that Natimuk was by a lake, so guessed that I would be doing some kind of water sports thing. I thought my suspicions where confirmed when Sarena directed me to the towns campsite right next to the lake. The problem was that the lake was completely dried up and the campsite deserted. Time to rethink my surprise. Beau and Clare spotted a backpackers in town so we decided to stay there instead to celebrate my birthday and have a break from camping. Lee(anne) and Tim who owned the backpackers where really nice and made us fell at home. We were the only guests and had a free run of the place. It felt great to sleep in a bed again.

Actually kept dreaming I was suffocating in the night as it was so windy it was blowing all the sides of the tent inwards - I woke up with the the tent walls covering my face and head. Got up a few times in the night to retrieve our stuff that had blown across the campsite so I didn't really have a goodnights sleep, Toby thought it was fantastic that the tent was eating us alive saying it was like being in the stomach of a whale.... mmm now how is that supposed to make me feel better?

Clare and I worked out a trekking agenda for the next 9 days covering nearly all the Grampians treks - not bad for Sheila's. Then made our way to Natimuk where were to do the climbing etc for Toby's birthday - very difficult to arrange anything concerning Toby as he has to know exactly where he is going and why...little bugger.

A couple of hours later we drove into the campsite that was situated next to a lake or should I say a large field as the lake had dried up 2 years previously. The campsite was pretty basic and Beau was not happy about staying there but we erected the tent anyway then headed off into town for a look around. Clare found a backpackers that looked really nice so I went and had a look around - wow, absolutely fantastic. It was an old house originally owned by a couple of old ladies who taught piano and was built just under 200 years ago, the place was still done out in the old fashioned way and was full of character. The garden was like being in an old English country garden and had chickens and ducks etc. I fell in love with it straight away and grabbed the rest of them so they could have a look, Clare was excited because of the piano in the lounge area. We spoke Lee to who owns the place with her husband, Tim. Lee who turned out to one of the rare special people you sometimes come across in your life and someone you would never forget. She is 36years old and has to walk with a stick, she has to have morphine injections administered from her husband because of the pain she is in from her back and has to urinate from a tube made from her intestines coming out of the side of her tummy. She got sick 3 years ago and has now had 12 major operations, she unfortunatly won't be getting any better. Lee used to run 100k's all the time before she fell ill but can now only walk a few metres a day- BUT she has the most resilient and amazing personality even with all the adversity! she really makes you sit back and think about how lucky we have it and would I be as strong as she is being. Her husband, Tim is of the same cloth, he is fantastic, witty and adores his wife.

Makes you think when you moan about little things and then watch Lee who doesn't moan about anything but she just takes the piss out of herself having to hobble around everywhere - have to rethink my priorities.

Well we all ended up staying the night and playing Leo Sayer songs in the lounge before Toby and I retired to our double bedroom. Lee gave us the expensive room for the same price as a dorm room( birthday treat for Toby from her) it was beautiful and felt like being in a country cottage.

Friday 22nd February 2002 Natimuk

Happy Birthday to me, Happy Birthday to me! Got loads of presents from Sarena, Beau and Clare, then got rushed down to a climbing shop for the surprise. A days climbing and abseiling in the 'Arapiles', apparently one of the top 3 rock climbing places in the world! Cool!

Our climbing guide, Nicky, took us for the day, she was really laid back (and fit) and Sarena constantly went on about her body (me and Beau just stared). We spent a whole 8 hours climbing and abseiling, Beau got pretty scared on his first abseil, which he showed by emitting some horrible smells. But after the first descent he was fine. We had some great climbs, one that I fell of a couple of times. It was Perfect. Thanks Sarena.

When we got back to the backpackers Lee(anne) and Tim had organised a BBQ for us and Leah even baked me a Birthday Cake. So we spent the night drinking and eating and Beau found a lifelong friend in Tim as they swapped Poo stories all night. Then Tim offered us a free night in the backpackers so that we could look after while they went away for a night. How could we refuse! What a great Birthday, I always seem to land on my feet.

Wahey Toby's b'day

Got up and made everyone a cuppa then waited for the b'day boy to eat his breakfast before handing him his pressies. He was really chuffed with all of them especially the miniature crunchies Clare and Beau had got him!

We then went down to the climbing place to meet our instructor for the day who turned out to be a blonde called Nicky - mmmm don't remember them telling me about this!

Toby had now guessed what our day had install for us and seemed quite excited about the prospect which was good... Beau and Clare had both decided to give it a go so after we had collected our climbing gear we headed down to the large rock we were to climb. We all had a really good day and even Beau did some absieling which was fantastic even though he was shitting himself at the top - he was a very brave soldier. The climbs got a lot harder as the day wore on and us girls couldn't do the last couple - as far as I could see there was no way you could haul your arse up that flat surface towering vertically into the sky ..... so after 7hrs of climbing and jumping off the top of a large cliff we decided to call it a day and go back to the BP's

Thought of the day - must do squillion sit up's each night to have any hope of having a stomach like Nicky's - she had a stomach like a wash board.

We got back to the wonderful house for a BBQ that Lee and Tim had prepared for us that tasted wonderful and then Lee put the finishing touches to his b'day she had baked before presenting him with it, sparklers and all!!

Lee started looking in pain by the end of the evening so she said her goodnights and retired. Tim asked us if we would like to stay another night free of charge, so that they could go and visit some friend's 2hrs away and we could look after their house!! they trusted us enough, which was really very nice. We all had a fantastic evening and decided to head for our beds at midnight.

Saturday 23rd February 2002 Natimuk

Unfortunately Tim and Lee(anne) couldn't contact the friends they where hoping to stay at for the weekend, but still offered us a free room for the night. This made us feel very guilty so we offered to make them a huge curry in return. Well I offered although it would be Beau that has to make the curry.

Spent the rest of the day doing nowt, just updating my diary and reading in the glorious sun. What a life!

Beau made a fantastic curry, probably his best yet

Wow had a huge lay in which was soooo nice and then had some breakfast (supplied) and watched an old black and white movie starring Alec Guinnesss - fanbloodytastic. Lee and Tim couldn't get intouch with their friends which was a real shame, Lee hadn't been outside her town in 4 years due to all the hospital stuff she had been through.She couldn't be in a car for more than 2hrs and then would need her morphine shots, they tried ringing up until midday then decided it was going to be too late to leave. They were disappointed and we were disappointed for them, but they said we could still stay the night free of charge as they had messed up our agenda as well ( as if we had to have our arms twisted behind our backs to stay another night!!!!!) we decided to go into town to buy supplies for a curry ( Lee had said she loves curries) so Beau and I went into town to stock up and bought a couple bottles of wine and a thankyou card for Tim and Lee. Beau cooked a wonderful beef curry for all of us and a treat for them .

Sunday 24th February 2002 Grampians

Time to go back to the Grampians for a weeks waking through the mountains. We aimed to leave early before it got hot and do some short walks. But didn't make it to the Grampians until about 10am.

We did a short walk up Mt Zero and then attempted a longer one at midday to the summit of Mt Stapylton. It was very hot by now and the walk actually involved some rock climbing to get to the summit. Obliviously we are all professional rock climbers now so found it very easy, although the heat was starting to take it out of us.

Clare and Sarena had organised the whole weeks worth of walking routes and had one more scheduled for today so we left it until 4 pm in the hope that it may get a little cooler. It didn't, so we seated it all the way to the top of Hollow mountain to shelter in some wind formed caves. But on reaching the summit we could find no sign of any caves that gave this sun drenched rock the name Hollow Mountain! I rested on a rock which seemed to be the perfect invitation for one of the massive bull ants to crawl into by pants and bite my sweaty bum (right in the crack). Ooowwh that hurts!

For a late start we managed to get in 6 hours of solid walking so were very grateful to find a campsite and pitch up for the night.

Got up early to prepare for our first day of the trek but didn't get into Betty until 9ish - said a huge farewell to Lee and Tim thanking them for there hospitality and giving out lots of hugs, I will miss those tinkers.

Got to our first walking spot at about 10ish and started with a short walk to Mt Zero which I found quite hard due to the heat but I loved climbing the rocks. We then did our second walk of the day which took us up to Mt Stapylton which was absolutely fantastic and involved a lot of climbing and was quite dodgy in some parts. Clare got quite worried at the prospect of coming back down as she has a fear of falling over so she was becoming a little agitated . We found some really cool caves and the views were spectacular!! we passed some old people who were doing the same trek and we were all really impressed that they were giving it a go ( not all the way to the top) - I was knackered.

We all made it back down OK but my back was stating to pull so started to get a little worried about that - given up running now as it is causing back problems. After a quick lunch of a b'fast bar and dried fruit we the went on to Hollow Mountain campsite where we sat for a few hours to wait for the worst of the sun to go over before attempting another climb. We left at about 4ish in the end which was still blinkin hot! but this climb was really hard due to the amount of rocks we had to scrabble up. Made it to the top in the end after about 2hrs of hard graft and the views were once again fantastic so we sat on top for a little while watching some climbers before deciding to head back down, oh and Toby got bitten by a huge ant ( on his arse) which amused me greatly.

Finally made our way to a campsite and watched the sun set on the mountains around us which turned the most beautiful colours - pinks and oranges before we flaked out for the night.

Monday 25th February 2002 Grampians

Today the girls had scheduled a 5 hour climb to the top of Mt Difficult. We actually managed to get up early and set of before the sun was up. Not long after we set off on the walk Sarena complained that her back was pretty bad and so returned to the campsite, Clare followed her. This was obviously a climb for the men! Mount Difficult! Mount Bloody Knackering more like, it was a constant scramble over rocks for 5 km's to the top. I think the girls had planned all this.

We battled through and managed to return to the girls by midday. There was another walk planned to a waterfall, but thankfully it had dried up so we didn't bother and headed of to Smith Mill campsite ready for some more walks tomorrow.

Shite day today as my back started playing up after about 10mins of walking on our first trek of the day to Mt Difficult so I left the boys to it for there 5hr walk and made my way back to the van. Clare wasn't in the best of moods that morning as both her and Beau are really not morning people - both seem to be very grumpy and snappy. Only towards to each other I hasten to add.... so Clare had a bit of a strop on and came back with me to the van. She decided she didn't want to walk anymore up the mountains as she found the decent too scary so decided on hiring a mountain bike for the rest of the week, had to make me laugh though bless her as I don't know where she was going to put the thing each day etc. But she said she would cycle onto our next destination bla bla, so off she went to Halls Gap to find out about prices only to return 10 mins later saying she had gone the wrong way ...... god she makes me laugh daft puppy. We sat down and read our books until the return of the boys, then made our way to Smith Mill campsite for a night of getting stoned and talking about absolute bollocks - I have to say that Beau won that night.

Tuesday 26th February 2002 Grampians

The girls had planned shorter less strenuous walks for today. The first was to the major attraction of the Grampians, Mackenzie Falls. This waterfall had not dried up and was pretty impressive. We spent a good couple of hours taking photos and walking along the river. Fortunately we managed to get there early and got back to Betty just as the hordes of backpacker buses arrived, bloody backpackers ;-)

Took a drive to a reservoir, lake Wartook, and then headed to a place called Reed lookout and the balconies that had an amazing view of the Grampians. We all agreed to come back here for sunset, and headed off to Halls Gap to stay at a proper campsite with showers and hot water.

Spent the whole afternoon in the towns swimming pool. Its an amazing setting in-between all the mountains. Then had early tea and headed back up to Reed Lookout for the sunset. It wasn't the most spectacular sunset we have had in OZ but watching the full moon rising up through the purple sunset sky was amazing, something you can't capture on film.

Phoned Mum to thank her for my Birthday present and find out how everyone is, then finally got through to Tracy and Darren to congratulate them on the birth of their baby, Ellen

Got up early for another day of walking making our way to Mackensie Falls for our first trek of the day. Really worth the effort as whole thing was really very fantastic, after a couple of hours we walked back to Betty only to come across loads of backpackers walking towards us heading off to the falls - pheeeew missed the buggers.

We headed of to Lake Wartook for a quick looksy before driving up to Reed lookout and the Balconies - wow is all I can say, the view reminded me of how it would have looked in prehistoric times, just blankets of green mountains and blue lakes in the distance and not a one man made object as far as the eye could see.

Went back to Halls Gap campsite for the night and had a well deserved shower as we were all starting to hum. I settled down and read my book for a few hours before joining Toby and Beau in the pool which was also in the campsite. I really can't swim and just spend the time messing around which was pretty much what the boys were doing anyway!! they were trying to stand on the floats for as long as possible and were frolicking around like a couple of teenagers.

We then went back up to Reed look out to watch the sun go down for the day and it was really worth it - we had the sun going down in front of us leaving the most wonderful colours and then had the full moon behind us.

Phoned Tracy and Darren and finally got through which was fantastic and found out all about the birth of little Ellen and how the family were - fantastic to speak to her.

Wednesday 27th February 2002 Grampians

Off on a 4 hour walk to Boroka Lookout in the morning. Unfortunately we lost the trial and ended up walking in the other direction to the Pinnacle which is a huge overhanging rock high above Halls Gap town where we are camping. Sarena still has a bad back so stayed back at the campsite. The rest of us spent an hour hanging out on one of the rocks on the pinnacle and then descended back town to the camp, getting our first sitting of an Echidna (porcupine type thing) and arriving back at about 1 pm to some sandwiches lovingly made by Sarena.

Spent the rest of day finishing the current book I am reading and updating my diary.

Still had a dodgy back so headed back to the van after at least attempting the Boroka Lookout walk so just read my book until the rest of them returned.

We all just did our own thing for the rest of the day then Clare and I had a farting competition as we both had really bad wind, both of us didn't ever fart in public or infront of our blokes until we had all got together but now there is no stopping us!!! Managed to get the Kookaburras to eat from my hand.

Thursday 28th February 2002 Grampians

Took a short walk in the morning, around a place called the Grand Canyon, near Halls Gap. This was a very touristy walk as there are paths and steps built along the track, nether-the-less it is worth walking. We then drove south to Rosea Campground, Betty is really struggling on the hills, she keeps backfiring and missing at first I thought it may be dirt in the engine, but it sounds a bit more serious than that now. I think we better get her checked out before we go to Tasmania.

There is a long walk from the Rosea Campground to the top of Mt Rosea , which was pretty cold at the top, and then back around the other side and through a forest. This was definitely the best walk in the Grampians and at 16km one of the longest day walks and also one of the highest with the best view all round. The forest walk back was quite gentle so we could spend time looking at the wildlife instead of watching our feet. 6 hours later we got back to the campsite and then headed off to Borough Huts campground, as this one had a water supply.

The weather was turning bad again and its starting to get colder in the evenings so we lit a huge fire with half the dead wood of Australia. Then the Parrots flew down and started eating from our hands

Went for another walk in a place called the Grand Canyon which took a couple of hours in the morning before heading to another camp ground for a 6hr walk. This was definitely my favourite walk, it consisted of climbing over under and through some huge rocks, boulders and tunnels which I always really enjoy! the view was spectacular. We walked back a different way through a wonderful forest which had some stunning birds flying around, then walked through a rain forest which had some enormous ferns.

When we got back to the van we moved onto another campground which had some water then went hunting and a gathering for some fire wood - Beau came back dragging a small tree behind him.... it was getting wet and rainy again so it was nice to sit around a big fire.

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AUSTRALIA MAR 2002 >

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