July 2006, Part 1
We began our visit to Australia in Melbourne, where we visited our next door neighbors from New Zealand (got that?). Then we began driving the Great Ocean Road en route to Adelaide. This is hailed as one of the great scenic drives of the world, and I would not argue with that description. This particular section reminded us a bit of Big Sur in California, without the Redwood trees. (Plus we were driving on the wrong side of the road)
Our first overnight stop on the Great Ocean Road was at Apollo Bay, where we enjoyed an evening visit to the beach. It was conveniently located across the street from the hotel. We took in the sunset (all), watched the birds (Glenn), and got in some digging (Zane).
Further West on the southern coast the rugged coastline yields to some sweeping sandy beaches. As we were here in the off-season most of the little towns and beaches were nice and quiet. Here Zane looks to add to his shell collection at Beachport.
After catching up with our silly friends in Adelaide for a couple of days we flew to Alice Springs in the "Red Center" of the country. Very huge wide open spaces out there. We spent a couple of days exploring the East Macdonnel Ranges. The red rocks and terrain reminded us of Utah - the Gum trees and Parrots did not! Here is sunrise striking the rocks over Trephina Gorge.
Then it was off to see "The Rock" (Uluru or Ayer's Rock) which is probably the most famous of all Australian landmarks. It really is impressive, and during our first evening there we were treated to a spectacular sunset with a full moon rising behind the rock.
The next day was spent exploring Cape Otway and the nearby Otway Ranges which contain some rugged coastlines, a historic lighthouse, and a beautiful temperate rain forest. We got a peek into the rain forest here at the Mait's Rest walk.
The Otway Fly Treetop Walk allows you to stoll 25 meters above the rainforest floor, with a tower that takes you up to 47 meters. A great way to get up into the trees without too much in the way of terror or sweaty palms.
The next morning clouds began to set in, just in time for a spectacular outback sunrise.
Our first ever visit to Australia - what a great place, and so huge! Pull out your map and follow along.