Written by Coralie & Tom
13/03/2009 - 16/03/2009 24 °C
The following day, we were back in the car and heading further along the Great Ocean Road, with our first stop being The Arch. Sadly the weather wasn't really on our side during the day which was a bit of a disappointment as we went to Loch Ard Gorge which is a stunning beach set in a steep gorge where it would have been nice to have chilled out for a couple of hours.
Onwards from there, we went to have a look at the Otways Rainforest and did a 45 minute loop walk through clusters of thick ferns, tall eucalypts, trickling streams and culminating at a very old wide tree. The tree was called (you guessed it) Big Tree.
With most of the day gone, we headed on to our destination for the night - Torquay. Whilst driving, we noticed that quite a few cars had pulled up along the side of the road and were looking at something in a tree so being the sheep that we are, we did the same. And it turned out to be a gorgeous koala, sleeping happily in a tree right by the main road and not more than one meter above our heads, which is really rare as they are very shy animals who normally sit high up in the trees. It was such a treat to see one so close and in the wild, and he was totally oblivious to all the fuss around him!
We arrived in Torquay and found ourselves another little cottage which was really lovely - beef stroganoff for dinner was delicious and the mandatory games of sh*thead began. Claudia bowed out early and took herself off to bed but Tom, Steve and I had some serious competition going on and were still up chatting when Claudia came out a good few hours later begging us to shut up! Oh dear! Another late one...
Our final stretch of driving took us into Melbourne (past the Vegemite factory) where we were booked into a really nice serviced apartment for 2 nights. We got there around midday and went straight into town to drop off the car and do a spot of sightseeing and shopping, for Claudia - she finally got her birthday present from Steve, a good pair of Aussie Ugg boots. Steve and I then went and had a look around the Old Melbourne Gaol whilst Tom and Claudia went and did some internet. The Gaol was pretty cool, if not a little eery! All the people that were hung there have had 'death masks' made - basically, they took a mould of their faces after they died and set it in stone, so every cell you go into has this 'mask' and the story behind the person and how they came to be in Gaol. Some were really gruesome! It was interesting to see though and it was where Ned Kelly was finally imprisoned and hung - in fact, the beam which was used to do the hangings is still there, with the rope! Moving on...
From there, we got the tram down to the other side of town and walked back to the house, through the very modern Federation Square and over the river. At the apartment we met Lee, who Tom and I had met up with in Byron Bay and is an old friend of Claudia's. We all got a bit spruced up for a night out and we went straight to Melbourne's Crown Casino which is HUGE! First port of call was dinner so we went out to the riverside and found ourselves a Greek restaurant - not before getting very lost inside, trying to get out! From there, we went back to the Casino and had a walk around - the amount of money being spent in there was ludicrous - we all decided we were in the wrong business...it was incredible! Tom tried his hand at some Black Jack and left a few dollars down.
We completely lost track of time in the casino - no windows and no clocks does that to you. So we finally left a few hours later and went back to the flat to get stuck into some wine there and good old catch ups. We were all pretty exhausted though so it wasn't quite the late night that we'd all had planned, thankfully!
The following day was our last day in Melbourne - we were all fairly hungover and Tom and I were craving Dim Sum so found a place in Chinatown and headed out in that direction. It was rammed and absolutely delicious! Steve, Lee and Claudia went to St Kilda for the day. We all met up back at the flat for our final night together! Having said we would all have an early one as we had very early wake up calls the next morning, that was never going to happen...especially when the boys went out to top up our dwindling supply of wine! Take away pizzas, we were happy as larry and of course, we couldn't part without a game or 10 of cards...which Steve and I managed to lose specatularly. Rock on 1am....not very amusing when my alarm went off less than 6 hours later...
Sadly, our trip together had come to an end and the day of the 16th saw me leaving to fly to Christchurch in New Zealand, Tom getting on a 13hr bus and going back to Sydney, and Steve and Claudia flying up to Airlie Beach. It was a somewhat teary/half asleep goodbye - having had such an amazing two weeks together, I couldn't help but be sad that it had ended, although I couldn't help but chuckle to myself in the back of the cab at all the laughs we'd had.