Tag Archives: koala

Along the Great Ocean Road

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If you are ever in the Melbourne area of Australia,

a trip along The Great Ocean Road cannot be missed.

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There are several ways that you can explore The Great Ocean Road. There are one-day {quick!} tours, three-day {more relaxed, covering more ground} tours or you can do it yourself. Because we were not renting a car on our own, hadn’t stopped to research what to see and why and only had two weeks in Australia, we opted for a one-day tour (approximately 13 hours including pick-ups and drop-offs).

There are so many tours to choose from and they all run around the same price. So I went to my trusty TripAdvisor for some, well, Trip Advice.

The most highly rated tour was by Outback Billy. What seemed to set him apart was not only his personality, but also the fact that he is a zoologist. He could point out everything along the way. {Did you know that 80% of all of the plant and wildlife in Australia can’t be found in any other country?!} But alas, after emailing him, we learned that he was not available the dates we’d be in Melbourne. {For the record, and your own planning purposes, I emailed him on July 22nd and the our trip was in the beginning of September.}

However, he did recommend that I try Escape Discovery Tours. And I did book with them that same day. They were a little bit more expensive than the other tours; but what I liked about Escape Discovery is that they only do small groups – allowing only up to ten people. They also stopped for a nice dinner (included). All of the other tours I read about made a quick McDonald’s stop on the way back (not included) – NOT what I’m in Australia for!

On August 7th, I checked the status of my confirmation {a minimum of six passengers is required for the tour to take place} and saw that my booking had been canceled. I emailed to inquire about this and was told that they were switching systems and it should have be fixed by the end of the day, that they did indeed have my reservation. We never heard anything again. I did know that most tour bookings are booked at the last minute. So, while in Melbourne, the day before our tour was to take place, I wanted to confirm the reservation was still a go. I opened up my email to find an apology email from Escape Discovery. There was a mechanical issue with the vehicle and they would have to cancel. They recommended another tour company.

That is how we ended up with Go West! We called immediately and luckily, they had just two seats left. The benefits of this company: a small group size {not as small as ten, but not as big as a large coach!} and free Wi-Fi on the bus! At the time of our tour, no other Great Ocean Road tour company offered this. Here is what we could expect:

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Like most of the other companies, Go West picked us up at our hotel. I can’t imagine getting back after such a long day and then having to try to find public transportation back to our home base. I was grateful for the pick-up and drop-off!

This is the “Awesome Bus” that carried us along The Great Ocean Road. Well, that is what our knowledgeable guide, Travis, called it. So who could argue if it wasnt?!

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We had another beautiful day in Victoria! We had been told many times how lucky we were because the weather around Melbourne can be cold and windy or even hot and windy and unpredictable! But because of the mild weather, there were no surfers to watch (very little wind at Bells Beach). Nor did we see any fur seals nor whales which can sometimes come into view. But despite all of that, the views were beautiful!

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WARNING: I took a ton of pictures of Rob on this tour. So be prepared. This is going to be fun! Haha!

 He, on the other hand took photos of Asian tourists taking pictures of other Asian tourists. I will NOT be posting those!

Travis let us know when it would be a while until our next restroom toilet stop. No, Rob did not pop into these trees to relieve himself!

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But… he must have forgotten that Australia Has More Things That Can Kill You Than Anywhere Else. His curiosity got the best of him. He did come out alive!

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We both did opt to use the actual rest stop next to where the Awesome Bus was parked.

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Look at this perched house along our route. I bet there are some pretty great views from there!

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Yes, as shown below, Rob does like long walks on the beach. Or, short ones. Hands off, ladies! He’s mine! 😉 {Notice how he is the only one wearing shorts?! He didn’t bring any pants for the entire trip. That would have made a cold night watching the penguins if they  wouldn’t have given us gear to wear!}

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And this might be one of my favorite photos from Australia. It just happened to be parked at one of our stops.

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There was a lot of hopping on and off the bus, which was good because sitting on a bus all day would have been miserable. Travis had a fun soundtrack playing in our Awesome Bus that went along with our tour. Like playing Please Don’t Call Me a Koala Bear when we were off to see some koalas and then when we got…. On the Road Again…

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We stopped for some morning tea and cake. Rob and I walked along the rocky shore. We found the shapes on the rocks quite interesting:

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On one of ours stops, another American on our tour said, “I can’t believe the color of this water. It’s not what I expected. It reminds me of the Caribbean!”

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We stopped for lunch in Apollo Bay. A menu was passed around before arrival so that Travis could call our orders in to be ready when we arrived. I wasn’t sure what to order but decided to go with the Pad Thai. I hadn’t yet had any Asian food in Australia. And I saw that Travis had written his name next to it, so it had to be good, right?

Nope. Probably the worst Pad Thai I’ve ever had. Rob didn’t really like his sandwich either. The bread was okay, but he found the beef in it to be pretty gross. Oh well, can’t win ’em all. I bet it’s difficult to service all the crowds that stop through on the Great Ocean Road tours. But we did see this cute little dog on the sidewalk. His one black eye and two black ears reminded me of Sophie Jean!

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There was also some koala spotting there. Later, I heard someone say, “Did you see the koala run across the road?!” What?! Apparently, another tourist had scared the koala down out of his gum tree and he ran across the road to a pine tree. I felt so bad for the poor koala. Everyone was looking at him in that tree now and he was stuck there. How would he get to his eucalyptus? I was angry. Why can’t we see wild life – in the wild – from a distance and give them their space?!!

Then it was on to the Twelve Apostles. But there is a controversy of how many there actually are.

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Nonetheless, the rocky shores and formations were beautiful!

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We also enjoyed a guided walk through a beautiful Temperate Rain Forest.

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And viewed the ocean from stunning cliffs.

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At one point, we could take these stairs down to Loch Ard Gorge, where an old shipwreck took place. But with my fear of heights, there was no way that was happening.

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Maybe it doesn’t look like a big deal, to you, but do you see how tiny those people are on the ground?

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Instead, we walked some trails in the area…

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And enjoyed the views from above…

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Travis is a great story-teller. He told us shipwreck tales as well as how this “London Bridge” fell down! (The two pieces used to be connected.)
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In fact, I could tell that Travis had been doing this for a while. It turns out, he has been a guide for every one of Go West’s Tours.

When we got out as far west as we could for the day, we made our way back on an inland road in the dark. Some people slept, others uploaded their photos from the day over the free Wi-Fi. And we did make that McDonald’s stop on the way back. There were other fast food and take-out restaurant options, too. I opted for Red Rooster. If I was going to have fast food, it was going to have to be from some Aussie fast food chain. I got it to go so that Rob could try a McMate at McDonald’s. Jealous of Aussies, I am, though because their McCafe has an actual espresso machine! Silly, I know, but I just can’t do coffee at McDo.

It was another grand day by the sea. Upon arriving back to our hotel, our heads hit our pillows pretty quickly. The next day would be our last in Melbourne and it was time to say good-bye to Barb and Tony. 😦

Other posts on our trip to Australia:

Cheers~
Carrie

It’s Not a Bear. And That’s Not a Bat.

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This is the cute and cuddly Australian animal post!

But first, a topic that is quite important and serious:

Okay, so not that serious, but now you know that a koala is not a bear!

They may look cute and cuddly like teddy bears; but koalas are marsupials. You know, the mammals that carry their undeveloped young {called joeys!} in their pouches. {Well, the females do.} So yes, in that sense, koalas are like kangaroos.

Now… On to the koalas at the Ballarat Wildlife Park.

Koalas tend to sleep 18 to 22 hours per day! Perhaps that is one reason why they look so sleepy and adorable. They need their down time. Therefore, they are not loose about the park like ‘roos and emus. Instead, you can spot the koalas in in trees inside the enclosures.

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But, there are a couple ways you can get closer look!

The Wildlife Park has guided park tours and shows throughout the day. A guide will bring out one of the koalas and tell you everything you didn’t know about them.

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You may even get to pet one!

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The other way to get a closer look is to book an Animal Experience! 254

When we found out it was only around $20 for an “experience” with a koala, we were all in.

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It may feel like it’s a bit expensive or an extra cost to get a closer look when you’ve already paid your entry fee into the park. But it truly is due to the welfare of the animals. They need to make sure that there is a koala who is available, awake and receptive.

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During your koala experience, you can take as many photos as you want. Our koala is named Matilda. {That immediately had me thinking of the song Waltzing Matilda.} She was so sweet! In Victoria, you can’t hold or carry around the koala. That can only be done by trained professionals. That’s okay, because we had heard that they pee on you! Instead the guide will put her on a perch and hand her some gum branches to nibble on. Then you squeeze in next to her and stroke her fur. I will never forget the smell of the eucalyptus leaves as she munched on them!

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The photographer told us not to be shy. He said that we should get as close as we could because she wouldn’t mind the cuddle!photo(3)

The cost of the animal experience is a steal, really, because up to four people in your party are welcome to go inside the enclosure to meet the animal. Trust me, the koalas just might bring about a permagrin, just like the kangaroos!

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The photographer was kind enough to take a photo of us with Barb and Tony and Matilda with our camera.

And here’s a photo of our professional take-home photo:

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Then, it was on to the wombat, which is not a bat at all. I asked my nephew this weekend if he wanted to see the picture of the wombat I held in Australia. When I showed him this photo he said, “Hey! That’s not a bat!”

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Honestly, I wasn’t familiar with the wombat until going to Australia. A wombat is another marsupial! Obviously, we chose to do the Wombat Experience as well, that is why we got to hold Pickles the Wombat.

When I posted some photos for my friends and family on Facebook, some said she looked like a big rat. But she felt was oh-so cuddly!

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Others told me that I was squeezing poor Pickles to death. But that is how we were told to hold her! Just listen in our amateur video:

And I just might still have that permagrin

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Now wombats are not bats, but something we saw later in Cairns are… They are called flying foxes. Figure that one out! 😉

Other posts on our Australia trip:

Cheers~
Carrie