Having enjoyed my first few days of Australia in Sydney, just prior to me flying onto Melbourne, I took a ride out to Botany Bay where Captain James Cook first landed in Australia.
The back story of Botany Bay is, Captain James Cook first landed in Botany Bay, Australia, in 1770 having departed from Plymouth, UK aboard HMS Endeavour. Back then he was only a Lieutenant. Cook’s landing marked the start of Britain’s interest in Australia and the eventual colonisation of the southern part of the continent.
I flew onto Melbourne, where my journey continued with more historical learnings. However, this would become a different experience with a few adjustments to travel plans.
I checked into my YHA dorm and started to make plans for the next stage of my trip. First I started by going for a walk around Queen Victoria Market, there I found a tattoo parlour and decided I’d get a piercing whereby, I was called “A Right Bleeder” whilst reading a magazine and ignoring the giant needle being used and the lack of anaesthetic/numbing cream. I then booked to go skiing on Mount Buller, unfortunately this experience was later cancelled, due to an unpleasant, unforeseen circumstance. I wanted to go to Adelaide and therefore, I booked a tour that would take me from Melbourne, to Philip Island to experience the penguin parade and then over to Adelaide. This would also mean taking in the spectacular views of The Great Ocean Road, a wildlife park and a gorgeous waterfall in the Grampians and Dunn. I will cover the history of where I visited as you continue to follow my journey.
Starting at Queen Victoria Market, this is a very prominent and famous landmark in Melbourne, followed closely by the stadium. The market itself is filled with a wide variety of stalls not dissimilar to Spitalfields Market in London’s East end or that of Borough Market by the Thames river. Queen Victoria Market is the largest and most intact surviving 19th century market in the city. Much of the land on which the Upper Market is situated on was once part of the Old Melbourne Cemetery, the only official cemetery between 1837 and 1854 when it closed. In this period, it is believed 7000 ‘early settlers’ had died in Melbourne, and most buried here. It is believed an explorer called John Batman is also buried here. Occasional burials continued until 1917, and in 1920 it was estimated there was a approximately 10,000 burials here, though the exact number is unknown since the cemetery records were destroyed in a fire in 1864. The historical links between Australia and the UK is immense and I will try and take you through as much as possible.
On my way out of Melbourne, I headed down towards Philip Island. During this journey we stopped off at a wildlife park, I believe was Great Ocean Road Wildlife Park. There we engaged with the local wildlife and I had my first dingo encounter.
Back aboard the camper van, I headed along the Great Ocean Road. Along here we visited The Twelve Apostles, had a walk along the spectacular coastline and visited one stretch of the Great Ocean Road, whereby, in particular, earns the title Shipwreck Coast more than other locations. Encompassing miles of cliff and Southern Ocean, this part of coastline were once fatal sea traps for the unsuspecting sailor. Loch Ard Gorge is one of them.
Loch Ard Gorge and its seascape rivals just about any other location in Victoria. It’s towering limestone structures and aqua blue waters easily distract from what really lies just below the surface. If the weather turns rough, this paradise quickly turns hellish.
Around 700 ships are believed to have wrecked along this coastline, but Loch Ard Gorge – named after the famous 1700-tonne ship Loch Ard; that met its demise against the rocks – is the more iconic of them all. One of the most renowned wrecks is Loch Ard, famous for its demise in 1878. The Loch Ard cargo ship was bound for Melbourne, cruising past the Bass Strait when was hit by a wave of thick fog. Blinding the crew until they hit the treacherous cliffs off Mutton Bird Island. Out of the entire 54 passengers, only two made it to safety, cabin boy Tom Pearce and passenger Eva Carmichael. The two survivors both washed on the beach which is now known as the Loch Ard Gorge to honour the fallen vessel.
The Great Ocean Road is breath-taking in splendour with its dramatic, rugged cliffs carved from the sea and its panoramic views across the rich and azure waters. As you get closer to the golden shores of Port Campbell, you are getting closer to the natural wonder of Victoria’s most famous rock formations. They call the rocky stacks The Twelve Apostles because they stand tall and proud along the shore. Despite the name The Twelve Apostles, there are only 8 left standing as Mother Nature, time and the salty waters have caused several of the apostles to fall.
Following this tour of the coastline, I stayed in a hostel overnight as this was quite the journey to Philip Island by van. During this period and this appears to be a habit on my travels. I fell a little poorly with Bronchitis. This also prompted me to quit smoking as the trip was way more important to me than the cigarettes and it was also the turning point for me to live a more healthier lifestyle at the grand age of 18!!!
The following day I continued down to Philip Island, arriving there in the late afternoon/evening. This is the perfect time to see the Penguin Parade. The camera came out, of course. In the next blog I’ll include what was captured on this trip…