Wow, this trip from Dunkeld to Bungendore was quite an adventure! Yesterday we arrived in Melbourne in the morning after taking a bus from Dunkeld to Ballarat, and then a train from Ballarat to Melbourne. We left Melbourne at the end of the day around 8pm. We took a night train to go to Bungendore, where we are going to do some wwoofing.
To sleep in the train, we are trying a new technic. Marie is lying on the fllor and I try to lie on the seats. Not so bad. We manage to sleep a bit in the train!
The funny part of the story is that this train doesn’t go to Bungendore. We have to stop in Goulburn (at 4:10am!) and wait for the train to Bungendore (at 9:55am). We have the chance to sleep on the carpet in Goulburn’s station! Finally it was not so bad, but we will be happy to sleep in a real bed tonight. If we have a real bed! When you are wwoofing, you don’t always know what you can expect!
We are currently at Harry and Iwona’s place for our second wwoofing experience. Harry and Iwona manage 4 Eco Lodges in the Grampians National Park. This park is located a few kilometers away from Dunkeld, Victoria.
An unusual WWOOFing experience
Usually, Harry and Iwona are hosting wwoofers because they need help to maintain the property, the walking tracks, and to clean the Lodges.
But this time, we will have different jobs! Actually, Harry and Iwona have just bought a bakery in Dunkeld. This bakery will be managed by Sauvanne and Romain, a french couple (former wwoofers!) who are settling down in Australia. They have travelled around the country before, and worked in hospitality field. Several times, they stopped by Aquila Eco Lodges and they became close friends to Harry and Iwona. And now, they will manage Harry and Iwona’s bakery. Nice story, isn’t it?
So, on March 3rd, Harry and Iwona got the keys of the bakery. They want to open it again on March 19th. As you can imagine some work has to be done to renovate the place, and we can definitly help with that! Here are our tasks:
Sanding, painting, and vernishing the furniture
Checking the ventilation system of the bakery (for Marie)
Helping to build a new website for the bakery (for Edouard)
And certainly a lot of other things, we’ll tell you!
We have been here now for 4 days, and the renovation is going well! We’ll stay until the opening so we’ll be able to show you the final result!
We should told you a bit more about the Eco Lodges.
They are offring the guests an eco accomodation nestled in the Grampians National Park. Lodges have been designed as a contemporary showcase for living in harmony with the environment. The lodges employ the latest technologies available to sustainable building, such as use of rain water, solar power, self composting waste treatment and are widely recognized for their low environmental impact approach to development.
Harry, wildlife carer
Another thing we didn’t really expected (but which we enjoy a lot now!) is that Harry is also a wildlife carer! He’s taking care of the kangaroos around the property. He also have in the house a nursery where he can take care of kangaroos and joeys found injured on the road. Plenty of kangaroos are hoping around the house, mostly in the morning and in the evening (for breakfast and dinner!). We have the chance to follow Harry while he was feeding them. An amazing experience!
Last important thing: Harry is the son of a baker and he bakes every morning some delicious bread (for the lodges guests and for us too!). Yummy. Marie took the opportunity to learn more about that and to catch some tips!
We are staying a few more days. We’ll give you some more news before our departure. Here are some pictures:
Hard to wake up sunday morning to get the 6:50am bus to Geelong, from where we will catch a train to Melbourne. Anyway, it is always a pleasure to be back on the great ocean road… even better for sunrise !
We even made a friend on the bus: Adrian the bus driver! We were seating on the front row of the bus so we spent the whole trip talking to him. That was very nice. So nice that he even invited us to visit him if we are coming back to Apollo Bay!
From Geelong to Melbourne, the train is crowded… Good thing we booked our tickets a long time ago and have reserved seats. It doesn’t seem to be the case for everyone…
We are back from our trip on the Great Ocean Road! This famous road is located in the South-West of Victoria, a hundred kilometers West of Melbourne. 243km long, this road stretches between Torquay and Allansford.
As usual, we have tried to explore the area by public transportation. We enjoyed most of the Great Ocean Road during the bus rides. But we haven’t ride the whole 243 kms. We’d preferred to focus on the Great Ocean Walk: a famous 100km hike between Apollo Bay and the majestic 12 Apostles.
It was difficult to organize ourselves to do the whole hike with our big backpacks in less than 5 days. Also, we were not really ready to experience camping in Australia. So we decided to stop in Princetown and in Apollo Bay and to do some day walks from these two points. Apollo Bay is the start of the Great Ocean Walk, and Princetown is almost at the end, a few kilometers away from the 12 Apostles.
1st day: Princetown > 12 Apostles > Princetown
18km return to see the 12 Apostles: amazing cliffs with a collection of limestone stacks (don’t try to count, there are not even 12 of them!). The weather was a bit cloudy but still this place is splendid!
Surprise of the day: a tiny snake (a baby?) on our way back to Princetown.
2nd day: Princetown > Gables lookout > Princetown
24km return to reach Gables lookout. Honestly, this is not a place that you need to visit, but it was as far as we could hike from Princetown in one day… The walk to Gables lookout is not really interesting either so you may not want to go there, but we were happy to walk and take some fresh air!
Surprise of the day: Two “not tiny” snakes. The first one ran away when he heard us and we hardly had the time to see it. But the second one was not frightened. It was an Eastern Tiger Snake: a highly venomous snake, but not aggressive… All right, but from now we will stay focused on where we put our feet!
3rd day: Rest
In the morning, we took the bus from Princetown to Apollo Bay. As the rest of the day was rainy, we took some rest.
Surprise of the day: All the coffee places are closed between 4pm and 6pm (too bad, we would have been tempted by a coffee and cake!)
4th day: Cape Otway > Apollo Bay
For our last day on the Great Ocean Walk, we wanted to see as much as we could. So we hitchhiked to Cape Otway, where we started our hike back to Apollo Bay. After these 28 kilometers we were really exhausted but we definitely enjoyed our day. We could see beautiful landscapes (beaches and forest) and a lot of wildlife!
Surprise(s) of the day: kangaroos, a koala, a snake again (unidentified), and a black wallaby on the track. We definitely feel in Australia!
Here we are, leaving Melbourne tomorrow after another week in St kilda.
This week had been quite calm :
Jogging and stretching under the sun at Albert Part (to the F1 fans, this is where the Melbourne Grand Prix takes place)
Walks in the animated neighbourhood (Chapel st, Fitzroy St, Carlisle St)
Walks and sunset watching at St Kilda beach
It confirmed our first impression of Melbourne. Even far from the city center, we found the same atmosphere in these very pleasant streets with lots of coffee places and restaurants. Full of life!
Quick anecdote: we had a TV in our room. We are not big “TV watchers” but one night a good movie was on. We thought it would be great to watch! The movie was actually great but we had to endure the very annoying and too frequent TV commercials. It was a real nightmare… I am not even sure we will watch another movie on australian TV again!
To finish with good news, Edouard bought a small travel guitar! It will be great to fill some of our time-off with music.
Here are a few pictures of our stay in Melboune. Enjoy!
We are still in Melbourne. Resting a little bit. We now moved to another backpacker, the Pint on Punt near the ocean in St Kilda. We are rather satisfied by this backpacker ! We feel much better here than at the Discovery Melbourne our previous hostel… That’s great!
Like we said, we are here to relax. Nevertheless we had a few things to do in order to plan our adventure for the next weeks. And now we are done! At first, we were thinking about planning things for the month of March. In the end, we already know what we are going to do until mid-April ! In fact, we are kind of happy not to have to look for a new place or wwoof every other day…
So here is our agenda for the few coming weeks:
From the 5th of March: 5 days around the great ocean walk doing some hikes and trying to meet Koalas!
Around the 10th of March: 10 days in Dunkeld where we found an unusual place to WWOOF. We are going to help our host to set up a ventilation system for his new bakery. Interesting!
Around the 20th of March: 1 week in Bungendore near Canbera, in a wool growing farm.
End of March : we will try to visit Rhondda (our first wwoofing host) for a weekend in order to help her again with her cider house!
Beginning of April: a 1 or 2 day stop in Sydney. We might meet Matt again if he is around before we continue our trip up north.
April: around 10 days in North Arm Cove, for another wwoofing where we are supposed to do some construction work.
So that should give you a rough idea of what we are going to do next. For us, we have to say that it feels good to know what to expect for a little while. From now, I think we will try to anticipate a bit more to plan our next stops because it is much easier to find a place to sleep or wwoof!
Since we left home, we never really had the chance to stay more than 3 days in the same place. So we decided that now was a good time to do so somewhere. “Somewhere” will be Melbourne! And we will stay for two weeks.
As we write this post, we just finished our first week in Melbourne CBD. And from now we will stay in St Kilda, still in Melbourne but on the coast.
In one week, we had time to walk most of the streets of Melbourne CBD. Weather was a bit cloudy (fall is coming), so we also spent a few time at the State Library to work on the blog and try to figure out what we are going to do next month. We also met Stéphanie an old friend from secondary school in Mennecy. It was good to see her after so long! We shared a few beers and Stéphanie and Felice (her boyfriend) invited us for dinner. Thanks again for the “special lemon” chicken, that was excellent!
Our first impression is that Melbourne is a very nice place to live. Lots of coffee and restaurants, good spots to chill, and an important artistic life (heaps of music bands playing in the streets, street arts, museum, etc.). We were there for the “White Night”. Some kind of light festival that last all night long (from 7pm to 7am) in the streets of Melbourne CBD (a lot like the “fête des lumières” in Lyon for those who’ve heard about it).
This post is also the occasion to talk to you about our everyday life. Yeah sorry… we don’t see amazing landscapes everyday or have amazing stories about WWOOFing everyday. We sometimes live a quite standard life. Let’s see how it goes…
Usually we stay in backpackers, mostly in dorms (4 to 6 people). But sometimes we go crazy and afford a double or twin room (wouhou!). Whatever type of room we choose, we get common facilities (kitchen and bathrooms). What’s great about backpackers is that you will always find all you need to do your laundry or cook your own food (which is practical and make you save a lot of money!). What’s not so great about backpackers is that you might have to share your room with smelly feet Luxembourgers or german teenagers who decided to spend the night drinking in the shared room playing cards… But don’t worry most of the time everything is fine and it is great to meet other travelers to share experiences and tips.
Even if we are backpackers we don’t eat pasta and drink beers everyday. Most of the time we cook our own food. Take advantage of the delicious australian fruits and veggies (bananas, avocados, mango, etc.). But we also eat outside every now and then, appreciate a little coffee (mocha for Ed and chai Latte for Marie, ahah!).
Apart from spending time discovering this huge country, we spend a lot of time working on the blog or planning what’s coming next ! We also like to have a little jogging in the places we travel. It may sounds stupid but doing this we feel less like strangers in the middle of nowhere… Anyway we like it!
Enough for today! We will give soon more news about what’s coming next and maybe share a few pictures of Melbourne.