Australia: VIC: The Great Ocean Road: 27-28/04/04: big rock formations along the coast

The Great Ocean Road is one of the nicest parts of Victoria I have seen so far. Big rock formations, little islands, huge cliffs, bays, natural arches, beaches, … Every so many kilometres, there was a lookout point, and some walks.

This part of the coast is also called “shipwreck-coast”, so I wanted to dive some wreckdives. But: the wind comes from the wrong direction. It was southerly wind and they need northerly wind (so they say). Again, due to the wind, my wreckdives can’t be done (see New Zealand were it was just the opposite). Anyway, I have some dives scheduled in South Australia in a few days.

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Australia: VIC: Melbourne: 26/04/04: I finally reached it!

Melbourne is known for its cultural events and its eating out and drinking wine.
After suffering some stress on the road (untill now, I only saw a few cars on the road, so I had to get used to the 1000’s of cars in Melbourne area, and reading the map at the same time), I strolled around in Melbourne city.
ANd definitely, there are little pubs and restaurants everywhere and people go out of the offices and enjoy the restaurants during their lunch break. I will definitely enjoy a (hopefully) nice restaurant this evening.

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Australia: VIC: Phillip Island: 25/04/04: PINGUINS!! and koalas

This time, I couldn’t resist. Near Melbourne, there is this Island which is one big National Park. You can see koalas, pinguins, … in their natural habitat. But of course, you have to pay an entrance fee for it.
The pinguins come back on shore after sunset. It is quite funny: you have all these people sitting on these steps looking to the sea untill finally the pinguins come out of the Ocean. They wait to form bigger groups and then cross the beach towards their nests.
I wanted to dive around here but the seals are food for the great white sharks, so better not dive here!

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Australia: Driving around

I am now getting used already to the left-driving, although some traffic rules are different than in New Zealand. The only thing what is sometimes confusing are the direction signs (they are given way too late, or not at all! It was easier in New Zealand).

And of course, you have the animal-crossing signs here as well. In NZ, you had to watch out for crossing sheep, kiwis, or pinguins (yes, I saw the sign but never the pinguins). Here in Australia you see all the time the sign to watch out for kangaroos, or even koalas (they don’t move when they sit in the tree, so I wonder if they would ever cross the street!). Untill now, I didn’t see a kangaroo yet, except a dead one on the street.
Entering Victoria, I started to realise the remoteness. I was driving a long time in this foreest (on the highway) without seeing other cars, houses, … And if you pass a village, they are extremely small. This will be much more once I enter the outback.
In NSW, there was a lot of police on the road controlling for speed. And here in Victoria, you see continuously signs along the road that warn you to be carefull and not to fall a sleep. To stop from time to time for a “power-nap”. I think, Mc Donalds is sponsoring these signs as well!
Trucks seem to drive quite fast here (they overtake me, even if I drive the maximum speed limit).

Australia: Victoria: dramatic weather change

The weather seemed to have changed dramatically. Like I mentioned, I ended up in a storm: this morning I read in the newspaper that 150 mm of rain fell down here in 24 hours. The whole area is suffering a very big draught, so they are happy with the rain. But some roads and land (what remains from the super-dry grass) can’t seem to handle this amount of rain now: there are some roadblocks, so small detours have to be done. And you see quite some grassland under water. But at least, people could fill their watertanks now (lots rely on rain water for their home-water).
Due to the draught, there are water restrictions: even washing dive gear is not allowed everywhere.
A mountain village close by went from 29C on Friday, to snow on Saturday night: the first snowboarders seem to be happy 7 weeks before the official start of the skiing season.
I absolutely noticed this drastic change in weather: I was walking around in Tshirt and shorts, and now back to my winter-clothes of New Zealand.
But I expect in about 2 weeks time, I will be back in T-shirt when crossing the outback of Australia.

Australia: NSW: Eden: 24/04/04: Diving the tugs

The sun has disappeared, but no problem to go diving. On the program were 2 wreckdives: The “Tasman Hauler” and the “Henry Bolte”. Both are around 30m deep.

Most of the divers had their drysuite on, so I was a bit afraid to be cold, but no problem with my 7mm suit. The visibility was not super, but still OK for me.
These boats have been stripped before they were sunk, so full entry is possible, especially the Tasman Hauler: You can enter the engine room, lower deck, the bridge. There is also a lot of sealife all over the vessel: soft corals, jewel anemones, gorgonias, …
The Henri Bolte has broken up severly, but still large parts of the boat are recognisable.

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The only part of the dive I regretted was that for the first dive I was teamed up with divers that emptied their tank even before mine was half. So it was a rather short dive. The second dive was shortened due to deco-time. I think I have to stop diving for a few days, so my body can get rid of the excess nitrogen.

After the dives, I headed off towards Melbourne, which is still over 500 km away. But a storm came in (wind, lots of rain) and I stopped driving at about 300 km before Melbourne. Hopefully I can sleep a bit tonight (strong wind is making the van move a lot).