The Saturday after we got back from Kosciuszko, I headed into Queanbeyan and picked up some maps and a camping guide for Australia. Normally I'm all for doing everything online but being on the road lately and not wanting to pay for internet has definitely put a crimp in my online style. Most of the hostels have some sort of internet. Usually it's free to get on some computer for a period of time. Wireless is almost always pay-per-use though. There have been a couple very kind cafe's that have free wireless for anyone to use. Macdonalds, unfortunately, is the only other reliable source of free wireless that I've found. I feel bad using the wireless and not buying anything so I've only used it when I've gone it to eat something but I have seen a couple people just stroll in and set up their laptop. Armed with the maps of the major regions of Australia, I highlighted the path I'm most likely going to take for the rest of the trip. I had originally planned to fly into Sydney, drive down the coast to the Great Ocean Road, all the way back up the coast to Cairns and then back down again. That's a lot of driving and a lot of sightseeing in places I would have already gone. After some good recommendations, I've changed my plans to go through the Great Ocean Road, up to Adelaide, across to Dubbo through Broken Hill, up to Cairns travelling on the inland highways and then down the coast. It will be more driving that I was going to do originally but I will be able to see a lot more. Coming down along the coast goes through lush green coastal country and going through Broken Hill to Dubbo will get into dry desert country without having to actually go into the outback. From Canberra, I headed out to the coast to Bateman's Bay. The drive was nice, changing from dry, dusty areas to lush green foliage down by the coast. There was a bit of rain almost the entire way down which made driving a little more sketchy. Just before Bateman's Bay the road comes down out of the mountains and is a very steep road of switchbacks. Before most corners were signs of trucks tipping over and very slow speed limit signs. They were for good reason though. I spent a little bit of time almost sideways going down these hills. After that adventure, I sure paid attention to how fast I was going!! Bateman's Bay was a small town with a main strip running parallell to the water. I headed straight to the Information Centre and they gave me some good information on where to get wireless, where to eat and where to sleep. I chose a little caravan park called Pleasurelea down the beach and headed out there to sign in. They had a strange welcoming party here but I felt welcomed nonetheless.Out for a quick 10k run along the walk beside the highway and the beach and then I was ready to figure out the next day's adventure.I had originally planned to go from Bateman's Bay to Eden or possibly just past and then camp there for the night but I got a little excited with all the driving and just kept going. I filled up on fuel in Orbost and then continued right on to Bairnsdale. I probably could have made it right into Melbourne from there but I didn't want to arrive in t big city later in the day with no plan.
I found Mitchell's Caravan park after taking a wrong turn and heading a bit down the highway. It was a decent park, with facilities better than Pleasurelea. I chose a camp spot in their field, which wasn't a big task since there was no one else camping there.
I hopped into bed early and caught up on all my journal writing. I had been ok up until the day we hiked Kosciuszko and then everything fell apart. I have never been a big journal fan but I wanted to remember where I went and what I did on this trip. I'd never be able to do it otherwise. I've been experimenting with short videos on my camera, talking about where I am, showing a bit of the scenery or what I'm looking it. It's nice and easy for times when I can't sit down and write something out in my journal or on the blog.
I didn't think it would get very cold that night but still zipped right in my sleeping bag. I'm using a -1 rated down bag that packs up quite small. I wasn't freezing but I sure wasn't warm. I had another blanket in the car that I pulled out and threw across my bag and I'm debating getting another. I think I will be in hostels until it gets a bit warmer and dryer.
I didn't mind getting up early though, as the sun was rising and there was a trail right beside the campsite waiting to be run.
The trail goes from one bridge beside the caravan park to one a couple kilometres down the river. It's hardpack dirt most of the way and is quite pretty. There are a few docks along the way that may be used for fishing. I took a few quick shots along the run but I had to keep moving to get warm!
As a side note, I totally think the girl's running and picture taking idea in Yes, Man! could take off. After the run, I did a bit of organizing of all my gear in the car. It's a wonder I haven't lost anything in there yet. It's not pretty. I guess as long as I keep it in the car, I'll be able to find it eventually.
I was a little worried about getting into Melbourne with all the toll roads and freeways everywhere. It definitely is a big city but it's not too bad getting around. Maybe I'm getting used to it? I remember just a week and a bit ago coming through Sydney and totally being freaked out. Just follow the GPS, it knows all!
I'm not sure what I was expecting but it was definitely a disappointment to come out of the lush, green coastal valleys into Melbourne.
I was unsure of where I was going to stay in Melbourne at first because where are no caravan parks close by and I'd have to find parking for the car if I stayed at a hostel. I found the Melbourne YHA that had free underground parking though which solved my dilemma. After Manly Backpackers in Manly, this YHA is super nice!
Tomorrow I'm off to see the wizard.... I mean to adventure around in Melbourne and meet up with a couple of aspiring LIP's (location independent professionals)!