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Entries about surfing

The Great Ocean Road.

South-west Victoria, Australia. Hitchhiking, camping and hiking.

It must certainly ring a bell when you hear someone mention "The Great Ocean Road". If it doesn't.. What if I mention the Twelve Apostles? Does that sound familiar? Well, as we’ve experienced last week, pretty much the whole world knows about it and it is THE major tourist attraction in Victoria, Australia. Tour buses of every size cramped full with little Asians passing us by every minute, while we are standing on the side, of what for the most part is a one lane windy 243 kilometers (150 miles) long coastal road, with our thumbs up in the air. It stretches from the cities, Torquay and all the way west up to Warrnambool. The road was built by returned soldiers and is the world's largest war memorial, dedicated to casualties of World War I. Honestly, nobody really talks about this important historical detail. What the GOR is famous for is the limestone rock formations, which are slowly crumbling into the ocean. There aren't really twelve apostles, it’s more like 8. In recent years, a couple of these important landmarks collapsed, one actually with tourists still one them. The London Bridge incident anecdote was told to us by a friendly local giving us a ride. Now called the London Arch, cause there’s no longer a connection with the mainland, that’s the part that gave way in 1990. No one was injured, but it left two tourists stranded until a helicopter came to rescue them.

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Originally we would have liked to walk the Great Ocean Walk. A 104 km walk starting in Apollo’s Bay almost all the way up to the Twelve Apostles. Instead we chose for a combination of hiking and hitchhiking. It turned out to be a very eventful 3 days, filled with amazing sights along the way and unexpected experiences. The first day was spent trying to get out of Melbourne as quickly as possible. We used public transport to get to Torquay, the start of the Great Ocean Road. Bell’s beach, a world famous surf beach was the first thing to check out. The weather was perfect for surfing and we did get to see locals have a try at some nice tricks. Our first ride was with a surf dude, with his over-friendly pup in the back of his 20 year old van, just making his way back home from Bell’s Beach. I thought that suited the start of our trip. There are a couple of free camp sites along the way but they were mostly located of the road for quite some kilometers. Finding camp spots wasn’t an issue. Rides on the other hand proved to be a bit more difficult. Lots of tour buses and tourists in rentals. We basically relied on locals to give us rides and they did, only our waiting times were a bit longer than what we were used to.

One goal I had set out for myself was to spot some koalas in the wild. There are heaps of them to be found around the Kenneth and Wye river area and the Otway National park. So we got a ride into Wye river with a local delivery guy and he told us to go to the back of the camp grounds and look up in the trees. And there they were. My first koalas! They’re usually found hanging around or dozing off in the bigger eucalyptus trees.

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We had to do at least a part of the Great Ocean Walk and decided to tackle the last bit towards to Twelve Apostles. We started at the beginning of Port Campbell National park, where all the good stuff is to be found. The sky finally cleared up and it was the perfect day for a much needed photo shoot of the most important part of the GOR.

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After about 7 kilometres of walking along the magnificent cliffs (with all of our stuff on our backs going up and down the whole time may I add) overlooking the Great Southern Ocean, the Twelve Apostles came in sight. Unfortunately the Great Ocean Walk doesn’t go all the way up to them, so we had to hike a bit along the highway. The first big sightseeing stop of significance was the Gibson Steps. They take you down to the beach, so you can really admire the height of those cliffs and some Apostles in the distance. If the tide is out enough you can walk along to the rest of them, keeping in mind you have to get back in time, there’s no way back up on the other side of the ridge. (I actually think there were signs and it wasn’t really allowed, but we saw folks doing it.) Hitchhiking from one point of interest to another (as they are quite close to one another) wasn’t that hard. It has to be said though the place was over-run by tourists so we didn’t get rides that fast.

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Finally we made it to The Twelve Apostles! They are pretty impressive to see from close by and it was all definitely worth it. Even though we still think it has nothing on the Washington coast though. We should start calling it the Ten Thousand Apostles and rename the 101, The Great Wild Ocean Road.

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The next amazing place was The Loch Ard Gorge. The gorge is named after the ship "The Loch Ard", which shipwrecked at this location. There still is a cemetery you can go visit there. An extensive walk all around the place is highly recommended. Some incredible formations make for some very interesting views.

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The Great Ocean Road and all of it’s wonders ends officially in Warrnambool. There is still much more along the way to see only we didn’t have a vehicle at our disposal, so we had to be content with what was accessible to us and take the rides that were offered to us.
In conclusion, everybody knows what The Twelve Apostles are and would recognize them in photographs. Well having seen them with my own eyes (and we worked hard to get there by hiking the last part of the Great Ocean walk), I can honestly state that the whole area is damn spectacular and they are truly one of a kind. Another great little adventure completed successfully.

Signed,

A Flemish Girl Down under.

Posted by flemishgirl 01:25 Archived in Australia Tagged twelve_apostles melbourne victoria great_ocean_road hiking surf locals wild surfing geelong loch_ard_gorge camping backpacking backpackers surfer hitchhiking torquay koala's kenneth_river wye_river great_ocean_walk warnambool bell's_beach

Anicha

A dear friend of mine made me aware of this powerful word just recently. I had to look it up.

It is one of the essential doctrines or three marks of existence in Buddhism: all of conditioned existence, without exception, is in a constant state of flux, the absence of permanence and continuity.

So basically there is ONE nice sounding word (next to the English version = impermanence) for the saying "Everything is always changing. What arises will pass."
Now how intriguing is that? Try and think of combining this thought with sustainability.
I was planning on introducing what "Our trying to be sustainable as much as possible while traveling" was all about in the first initial entry bit, but it would have gotten too serious too soon. Lots of other organizations or whatever else out there using the term "Sustainable Travel" are talking about using green energy, trying not to leave a carbon footprint, taking alternative ways of transportation, not leaving a mark on a certain place you visit as a tourist. I agree with all that has been said.
But my definition of "Sustainable Travel" would be "Balancing the need to travel with the need to improve my quality of life and the ones around me".

So sustainable energy, what exactly does that mean?
It means meeting our needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs with renewable alternative resources of energy.
Without trying to sound too much like I'm preaching a certain way of life, I just want to show you guys how we try to encompass this into our travel style. It's not hard.. just a couple of basic rules and you're already making a huge difference.
The worst in my opinion is that we can't really go without the use of airtravel. You can look it up if you want (and trust me you'll be surprised), but I don't want to focus on the bad stuff here. Try to go about using airtravel in a positive way while limiting your carbon footprint.
Don't go flying like a maniac back and forward, be smart and save some money this way as well.
Plan ahead and look for cheap online deals. And yes we do pay our extra luggage fee. Don't get me started on that!
Walk more! You'll see a lot more stuff and you'll bump into local events or notice details you didn't even know about.
Hike some spectacular nature and camp anywhere you can get away with it.

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Don't forget about the golden rule: Pack it in, Pack it out!
Go Couch Surfing! It'll save you precious money and that way you don't have to feel trapped in one of those overpopulated hostels. You'll meet locals and get some inside info. You'll make lots of new friends. Some of them will prove to be long lasting friendships instead of numerous meaningless encounters in the crowded and loud hostels.
Eat local stuff. That way you are helping out the local economy and not forcing the prices up.
If the region you are visiting allows it, for example like Hawai'i where we just spent a full month, you can cut your food costs in half by using the old hunting and gathering techniques. Locals went out shooting some wild pigs and turkey for thanksgiving. (We had some. It was delicious!) There is an abundance of fruit in lots of subtropical parts of the world and Hawai'i was no exception.
We've had Coconuts, Macadamia nuts, Noni, Lilikoi and Guava who where in season and to be found anywhere on the island. For FREE!
If it's fallen on the ground, it's yours.

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We hitchhike when we can. It is actually quite easy. Stick out your thumb, whistle a tune and there you go. It should be said that it doesn't always work everywhere and it certainly helps to be picked up if you're a girl or with a girl.
When hitchhiking has proven to be too hard, go and use the public transportation system. Trains, buses, trams, ferries etc..
Try NOT to rent cars. Instead look up if there's a rental relocation program where you are visiting. You'll save money, but your footprint will be larger.
We thought about buying a car in Australia for a year. We quickly abandoned that idea after entering the country. Oz is definitely not one of the cheaper countries. Gas and insurance were two of the main costs and these things tend to be very expensive here.

There are lots more detailed tips that I would like to talk about but this entry is supposed to be about sustainable travel and not only about cheap travel.
Although trying to do it cheap tends to immediately make your travels a hell of a lot more sustainable.
How's that for a trend? :)
Anyways, these are some serious tips on traveling on the cheap folks. Keep them in mind!

Another way of traveling that has brought us to some pretty unexpected, beautiful and far away places (without spending any money what so ever) is this marvelous online organization called Helpexchange.
Signing up costs you 20 euros for a 2 year membership. Think Facebook. You have a profile and hosts have profiles (same with Couch Surfing).
Say you want to go to New Zealand for a couple of months. Go online and check out some hosts.
You work an average of about 5 hours / 5 days a week doing all sorts of different things in exchange for a free place to stay and three meals a day. (some people do it differently, there is no general rule for this, reading profiles thoroughly and emailing your questions are never a bad idea) I'll name a few of our HelpX-experiences, so you would realize how awesome this actually is!
In Greece we stayed in a stereotypical old fashioned village for a month helping out with the olive harvest.

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In Bulgaria we had our own new year's party in our yurt with new friends made in this tiny ass (go back in time a 100 years) old Soviet town. All thanks to Susan our host, who was one of those memorable experiences. She taught us not only how to cob, but much much more.

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In the foothills of the beautiful snowy mountain tops of Bavaria, Germany. My job was to spoil two pregnant, ready to pop, mares and train the little ones so they would be ready for the kids to ride them.

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I'll share more stories with you guys in future entries.
A lot of these HelpX places are in the country side and are focused on being self-sufficient. Some of them are organic farms. Others specialize in something else. But what you can be sure of while using HelpX as a way of travel is you'll pick up new knowledge every day. See how they run their farms. See what they use as an alternative energy source and has proven to be productive for their specific situation. Learn about gardening, flowers, herbal medicine...
Learn how to make your own cheese, soap, wine and beer!
Who doesn't want to do that!?
This way you are taking a little load off of their shoulders by just being there to help out, and you'll get some love and delicious food in return. In our case, you get to see what works for you and what doesn't. We get to test everything out. Big farm or little farm? There are so many different Eco-building techniques. Straw bails, Cob building, Earthships, what's the layout of the perfect solar passive house? You get the idea??
So we can form a more solid idea in our heads of how we want to built our own little paradise on this earth.

If you are going to follow this blog, you'll hear all about our experiences in detail.
I promise you, you'll pick something up. Even if it is just an idea for a recipe.

Please comment or ask about anything you'd like to know.
It's not only fun for me to do this but it makes me feel content that I'm able to share this with all of you

So to get back to the word that caused this whole entry about sustainability.
You'll be gone yourself.. one day too. So promise me one thing.. Make the best of it, will ya?

Love,

Flemish girl

Thanks to my loving husband who takes the time to edit my entries. Thanks for helping me get rid of some bad grammar and typos.

websites mentioned:
www.helpX.net
www.couchsurfing.org

Posted by flemishgirl 22:18 Tagged travel work surfing cheap couch volunteer exchange sustainable hawai'i

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