Though a straight line appears to be the shortest distance between 2 points, life has a way of confounding geography. Often it is the dalliances and the detours that define us. There are no maps to guide our most important searches; we must rely on hope, chance, intuition and a willingness to be surprised.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Melbourne and the Great Ocean Road

Hey! Welcome to the new look BigTrip website! After complaining of not having enough time to update the site, I've felt guilty and given the site a bit of a makeover. Hope you like the new 'features'... like the great mugshot. lol

I'm getting quite a bit of traffic now, so if anyone would like a link to their website let me know. I've also got some context-specific ads on the site. So stuff about travel and donating to good causes... and maybe snakes? ...or diy? ...or beer? who knows. (no further suggestions required!!)

So, latest news is... I've been to the dark side. Yes, I finally encountered the much feted Melbourne. And met up with my sometime travel companion Adrienne. Really pleased with some of the pics we got - all the 'outdoorsy' shots in this blog are from the Great Ocean Road - an amazing two day coastal drive between Melbourne and Adelaide.

The Great Ocean Road stretches from Melbourne to Adelaide and is famous for it's outstanding rock formations, dramatic cliffside beaches and beautiful sunrises and sunsets.

Adrienne and I hired a car for two days and drove down to the Twelve Apostles, one of Australia's most famous natural attractions. The Twelve Apostles is a collection of limestone stacks towering above one of the Road's more remote beaches. They hit the news a couple of years ago when one of their number, originally 50m in height, collapsed into the sea leaving just a pile of rubble.

There were only ever nine to start with, and a few others were looking precarious when we were there so my advice would be to get there now...

Victoria seems just as sports crazy as New South Wales. We stopped at Bells Beach to watch the local leg of a national surfing competition.

The surfing looked pretty good to me from what I saw. It was certainly better than the live MOR rock on offer, which seems to be popular all over Australia. Zzzzzzz...

Anyway, we clocked up about 1000kms and took a huge number of photos so pretty successful all in.

Melbourne itself is another great attraction. After arriving on the first flight on the Saturday morning, first stop was the 90,000 capacity Melbourne Cricket Ground where Richmond (Melbourne) Tigers took on Sydney Swans in a highly charged Aussie Rules Football game.

Wow. Four quarters, 6 points for getting the ball between the big
posts, 1 point if it goes in the sides. Erm... yeah, you can run with the ball but you have to bounce it now and again and you can't throw it but you can kind of punch it i think. You can also kick the ball and if you catch a ball that's been kicked the play stops and you get to kick it yourself... but not when it's been punched i reckon. and there are about 15 dudes on each side... and two referees and loads of linesmen. Really it was just chaos as far as i was concerned but fairly entertaining, helped by a friendly vociferous crowd.

So I, erm... remain to be convinced that 'football' as Australians call this game is any match for the beautiful game. But at least at $20 entry fee, or about eight quid, it's certainly better value than a trip to deepest Paisley for a St Midden v Dundee United game.

So what did I reckon to the Sydney Melbourne rivalry? I certainly have to agree that Melbourne has a well deserved reputation as Sydney's classier rival - if what is meant by that is a lack of beaches and a focus on parks, European style streets and cafe culture. The museums and galleries are excellent, not least the museum of moving images and technology where I was even able to play Horace Goes Skiing in the museum of gaming (happy days!).

The nightlife was pretty atmospheric too. The Melbourne comedy festival had just started and Adrienne and I had the pleasure of seeing the inimitable Ross Noble. I've seen Ross before and knew that we were in for a couple of hours of ball-bouncingly funny improv. I have to say, he has never been so good. I cried like a baby for most of the two hours and had a sore face afterwards. What a genius.

(Two evenings on Victoria's Great Ocean Road, and two amazing sunsets.)

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