Monday, 25 January 2016

Foreign Land

This is one post worth remembering. I want to start things off with the William Blake quote 'I have conversed with the spiritual sun. I saw him on Primrose Hill' for reasons I'm still sketchy about, and I just want to add that this is the first of my posts to be written and 'internetted' outside of Australia. Am I chuffed about it? Of course!
London, England (taken 2016)

Whilst this isn't a rant about location, I'll add that it does lean towards a special kind of achievement; something far more personal. I am channeling a lot of Never Ending Footsteps right now. Presently I'm in London, commencing an eight week experience around western Europe and Morocco and I want to share with the many that I've never been in a better state of mind.

Ups and downs are always a given for anyone with a passport. My flight out of Melbourne was delayed by three hours and my chosen hostel is anything BUT a hostel. Both legs have been aching up a storm on a daily basis (nomadic side effect) and for some reason I brought this really messed up shampoo. Some serious and trivial bits there. With all of that ranted about though, everything else has been absolutely amazing!

I gave myself three days to get things rolling in London. Those three days now feels like a week. Plenty has been achieved for myself and for others (I have a 'travel for those who can't complex'), but one thing about this trip that I want to share is the total lack of anxiety I'm rocking.
Primrose Hill, London, England (taken 2016)

Opportunities for that hateful creature to rear its head have come and gone. When I was going through the departure gates back in Melbourne (my beautiful niece kept a smile fixed on my face), when I was flying (Omani mountains are a wonderful site to look down upon) and especially when I was walking out of Paddington Station for the first time. Right now I'm most certainly going through a very special thing.

Overall, what I wanted to share is my joy! Worded through out January 26th (first in a little Italian cafe and then in some British Museum featuring a Rosetta Stone), my excitement at kicking my anxiety (hopefully for good) and especially at this pivotal stage of my journey I've titled The Dorito Tour on the Facebook has been all to welcomed.

All of this, I want it to last! Many more big steps are to come, such as crossing language barriers and entering environments so very different to what I'm accustomed to, but am I pumped to keep sharing. HELL YEAH!
London, England (taken 2016)

Happy travels kiddies and all the best! 

Thursday, 14 January 2016

The Fourth Try

The Grampians, Victoria

Tours can’t do everything; that I will cement on this blog thing I write for fun. Considering all of the good times I’ve had in the past, they can’t take us everywhere, they don’t devote the right amount of time to each intended destination and sometimes you’re like to find a dickhead or two on the bus. Back in 2014 the cousin and I made a stop at Halls Gap (253km northwest of Melbourne) with a tour, which wasn’t bad whatsoever, and the plan was to do a little bit of bushwalking in the Grampians, or Gariwerd to the indigenous.

The Grampians, Victoria (taken 2016)

Bushfires put that plan out unfortunately, and so we had to leave without really seeing the place for what it was, which is breath-taking for anyone interested. Because of this we endeavoured, both separately, to go back and see the place in its entirety. With a combined total of three attempts, it was the fourth that proved the most fruitful and ensured the name of the Facebook album and this post. Additionally, all I can say is TAKE YOUR OWN WHEELS!

Setting ourselves up at Tim’s Place, a small hostel close to town and the roos that take over the footy oval at day’s end, we made it our mission to see as much as possible in the three days we had at our disposal. At the time (the start of January) bushfires were still a real threat to everyone in the area but fortunately none came into being, but still, BE vigilant.

The Grampians, Victoria (taken 2016)

Walks in the Grampians are many and have their degree of ease and difficulty, so following the rules and having a good pair of walking shoes will go a long way. When commencing your visit, make a trip to the Visitor’s Centre to get the lay of the land and any tips; the staff are so helpful. Just about all of the walks cannot be accessed by wheelchair, pets are forbidden and children need to be supervised. Also, be wary of branches and even trees falling over on your chosen pathway. This was our reality on day two!

The Pinnacle, the first walk we did, is an experience that I cannot recommend enough. Starting from Wonderland Carpark the walk, lasting 2.1km, leads the good traveller up to one of the most magnificent views you’ll ever see in Australia.

Pinnacle Walk, The Grampians, Victoria (taken 2016)

The sight is wide and lasting to the memory. This is where the camera will prove itself most vital to the visit, and for any with a panorama setting, go crazy! This was where the new Samsung became my newest of best friends.

One option of returning to Wonderland Carpark is to go via the Grand Canyon which was most popular when we were about. Both steep and rocky, but in its own way quite easy, this walk could appease just about everyone. Said everyone were also very cooperative towards each other and that’s one positivo we can all have on our side.   

Grand Canyon Walk, The Grampians, Victoria (taken 2016)

Since this Sheep is all about encouraging safe travel, DO NOT CLIMB UP THE SIDE OF THE ROCKS! One guy decided to prove this with a pair of thongs on (flip flops to the readers in the UK), and had the cousin and I not seen him driving like he had a burnout planned, Mr Thong’s high chances of having an accident probably wouldn’t have crossed our minds.          

With that shared, another of the favourite walks taken was the MacKenzie Falls and Fish Falls venture which was highly recommended by the Tim of Tim’s Place. 

MacKenzie Falls Walk, The Grampians, Victoria (taken 2016)

Making our way to MacKenzie Falls Carpark (and avoiding a fallen gumtree on the mountain) we took this one thinking that it’d be a loop, so no doubling back would be needed (all round it was meant to last 7km). This would’ve been more easily accomplished had someone remembered to bring a map (yep, my badness) but we made it work. MacKenzie Falls’ allows visitors to get some great shots but if the water is covering rock pathway just don’t risk an accident.

MacKenzie Falls Walk, The Grampians, Victoria (taken 2016)

In previous posts I’ve commented on how the land and locations I visit can inspire my own creative writing (Keep River, Khao Sok National Park). I’m happy to say that this was the case yet again. After gazing at MacKenzie Falls, a magnificent display of what nature can achieve, we went walkabout towards Fish Falls, another worthy camera moment (go at the right time and you can have it all to yourself). Moving along the river and cliff faces, and just before a few tree branches fell on our tracks, I was definitely getting the creative juices going.

Fish Falls Walk, The Grampians, Victoria (taken 2016)

One of the many positives about Halls Gap is that some of the walking options are close to the front door of where you might be staying. From Tim’s Place we could get to the town for eating purposes (lot of great cafes about), but also to some shorter and incredibly easy walking trails. These you might be able to handle in your thongs, which is what I did because a massive blister had taken up residence on one of my toes.

Venus Bath is tranquil if reached at the right time of day and via the Botanic Gardens. The cousin made the walk on the first night alone because I was still sleeping off New Year’s (for anyone involved, my dog and everyone else’s dog hates fireworks, and if I’m not mistaken there was a total fire ban on the eve of 2016 so HINT HINT!) but she was good enough to take me along for the second visit. 

Venus Bath Walk, The Grampians, Victoria (taken 2016)

There’s a no swimming rule for most of the walks (MacKenzie Falls and Fish Falls come to mind) but I’m almost but not completely certain that you can have a dip in Venus Bath. If you’re lucky you will see a roo hopping about with a joey in the pouch.

All of this, along with visits to the Brambuk Cultural Centre and the Halls Gap Zoo (in which I got a look at some barbary sheep before seeing wild ones in their native Morocco next March) can be done in a few days. This is all done with the power of having your own wheels, and realising that tours can’t take you everywhere. I’ve had so many good times in the past and met some awesome people but this is what travelling independently, or with the best baby cousin ever, can achieve. Just don’t forget your water bottle.    
The Grampians, Victoria (taken 2016)