The 2nd of January we left Sydney again by plane to fly to Melbourne, the city of the Australian Open Tennis Tournament (which we unfortunately just miss since the tournament starts in the end of January, how sad!). Our stay in Melbourne was very laid back; we slept, lay in the parks, visited some museums and went to St. Kilda’s Beach, a very good place to mingle with young trendy people, like us. 😉 To skip a long unclear story of all our experiences in Melbourne, this is what I remember most of our stay; The old style amusement park near St. Kilda’s Beach with wooden rollercoaster from 1910 where a guy rides the train standing to hit the brakes when necessary (unbelievable!) – The architectural icon by Daniel Libeskind in the citycenter, a (too) complex building but from the inside very interesting (unfortunately I think it distracts the visitor from the art it houses) – The national art museum that is really the opposite of the Libeskind creation because it respects the art much more – The Crown plaza with the biggest casino ever where I unfortunately lost some money – The enormous well maintained Parks surrounding the city center, where you can lay in the grass all day long – The poolcafe where we played too many games of pool in a dark room with bad loud music and many Chinese youngsters doing the same – the observation tower which took us all four days to find while we passed it at least 3 times – the weather that was as sunny as Sydney but also less hot due to the cold wind every day – the trams cruising the streets every 10 minutes making the city alive.
On the 6th of January we left Melbourne in our brand new rental car, a white Hyundai Getz. The idea is to drive to Adelaide, a city around 1000 km to the west, in three days time, following the Great Ocean Road. There is no problem finding our way here on the left side of the road (maybe because of our experience in New Zealand) so it doesn’t take long to reach the highway. When we hit the first highlight on the Great Ocean Road it becomes clear that we are not the only tourists in this part of Australia. The beautiful beaches are packed with people, the water is unsurfable if you don’t want to die hitting other surfers and parking a car is one of the biggest challenges of your day. We decide to drive on and skip all the tourists by finding our own highlights, like a good hostel for the night. Another tough exercise apparently, since all the motels, hostels and campings we pass are screaming; NO VACANCY! By the help of a really nice woman at the information center we arrange two beds in a cozy hostel near the end of the Great Ocean Road. We meet Israelian, British and dutch people and have a good time playing pool that evening. To finish our drive to Adelaide on the 8th of January we really have to hurry because there are only 2 days left and still 800 km to go. We drive and drive, passing some interesting highlights like the 12 apostels, the London bridge and a Gorge, but most of them are so crowded with tourists that we feel very sad being one of them. When we finally leave the Great Ocean Road behind us the amount of cars on the road reduce from 100 to 1 per minute. Spotting our first wild kangaroos, koalas and beautiful Australian sunset, we fall asleep in our car because the only available hostel asks a ridiculous amount of money.
A very sleepless night later with lots of mosquitoes and almost no oxygen in our car, we drive to Adelaide to return our vehicle. Because we depart to Alice Spring by train tomorrow we have only one night to spend in this American style city. The best thing to do seems to eat the best Southern Australian pizza and join the pubcrawl that night (Yahoo, it is saturday night!). When we see our beds again around 04.00 am the only thing we can do is try to sleep 3 hours, before we have to catch the train. What a night!
After more than 26 hours in the Ghan, the transcontinental train crossing Australia from south to north, we finally arrived in Alice Springs this afternoon (the 10th of January). The train was comfortable, air conditioned and provided a shower, but after 26 hours it is good to be outside again. Along the way we passed an endless 3-colored landscape consisting of orange/red sand, green trees and bushes and sharp blue skies, the combination that images the real Australia for me. The sunset from the train yesterday evening was like magic, again! Nothing can compare with the deep red/orange color that fades to yellow, blue and even purple.
So now we are in Alice Springs, the center of Australia and really the middle of nowhere (that is also how it feels while walking from the train station to our hostel). We will be here in this extremely hot climate until next saturday so I am very delighted to be able to inform you that our hostel owns a really nice swimming pool! 🙂