DOWN UNDER PART III

Day 9, 12/30/14 – Apollo Bay

It was nearing the end of the year and time for us to explore a new part of Australia. With the car we rented the day before we drove along the Great Ocean Road to our next destination, a small beach town called Apollo Bay.

I think now is a good time for me to mention that Australia – even though it is a whole other country on the other side of the world – reminded me a lot of home in California. Which can be nice for a homesick lady like myself! The Great Ocean Road was as beautiful as the Pacific Coast Highway back home. I remember feeling like I wasn’t away from home at all on that drive. Does this mean I appreciated the Great Ocean Road less? Possibly. But I don’t think that’s a negative thing. It just means I’ve experienced great beauty and great beaches in my life. And who doesn’t want that??

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Great Ocean Road
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#photobomb

We stopped in Lorne for lunch and ate at a beach side cafe and it was pure bliss. I don’t remember what I ordered (aside from a glass of champagne) but I do remember the warmth of the sun, the scenery, the company. It was all good.

After lunch we set out on a quest to spot koala bears. Wendy and Andy knew of a place where they just hang out in trees and you can see them up close and personal, in their natural habitat; another cool thing to see outside of the zoo! There were a lot of koala bears to see and, naturally, even more people trying to snap pictures of them. We were probably there for 15 minutes when we decided it was time to continue on to Apollo Bay.

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A wild koala bear … taking a midday nap

In Apollo Bay we stayed in a hostel. This was my first time staying in a hostel and I was pretty indifferent to the experience. It was a lot cheaper than a hotel (obviously) so it was a good choice from a planning standpoint.  When we got to the Apollo Bay Eco YHA we were all pleasantly surprised with how great it was (likely setting my expectations far too high for any other hostel I stay at in my  future…). Each couple stayed in their own room that had a queen size bed, some hooks to hang your towels and what not on, a small desk, and a patio overlooking the downtown area. Not too shabby for a hostel, I’d say! There were shared bathrooms – that  is never preferred – but wasn’t bad at all. YHA also had a huge kitchen, large common rooms, a TV room, and a giant deck. Luckily we were able to snag a common room every night we were there to hang out in.

Mike’s family stayed in this night to play  games but I wanted to explore the new town we were in so Mike and I went out to dinner at a cute little tapas place. We ordered a bunch on small plates (including lamb intestine, yummmmm… #not) and sangria.

Day 10, 12/31/14 

New Years Eve

One of my biggest fears is the ocean and up until this point I didn’t have to worry about it too much. Don’t get me wrong, I love the beach and enjoy swimming, as long as it’s in a pool or a lake – a “controlled” body of water! The ocean’s massiveness and general unknown-ness freaks me out so I was hesitant to try stand up paddle boarding in the ocean on new year’s eve.  Actually, hesitant is an understatement. I was downright scared to do it but, here’s the thing about traveling with a family that isn’t your own (or at least for me), you can only complain or say “no” so many times… SUP in the ocean it was!

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Catching a wave! …almost
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Practicing in the bay

Thankfully we started in a little bay and then made our way out to the ocean. I caught one wave (with some major assistance of the instructor) and every time I feel off the board I desperately scrambled back onto it as quick as I could, seeing an image in my head of a giant shark’s mouth coming right for me, but, aside from a few minor panic attacks, it was fun and I’m glad I did it.

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Beach bums reading

After our lesson was over, we just hung out on the beach for a while and soaked up the sun. Then we went back to YHA to get ready for a fancy new year’s eve dinner. Here we tried kangaroo (which was sugar glazed so, sweet and a little chewy) among other good food. After dinner, we settled into a common room for games and to celebrate the new year on the deck with champagne and fireworks.

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Kangaroo!

Day 11, 01/01/15 

New Years Day

I don’t remember making any specific new years resolutions last year (unlike this year), probably because we were still traveling and I knew it would be a feeble attempt to work out and drink less.

Our stay in Apollo Bay had come to an end and we were heading back to Melbourne to pack for the last leg of our journey. On the way back we stopped to see the 12 Apostles, which are quite amazing to see in person! Then it was on the road again to get back. I don’t remember much about this day aside from the Apostles and a little roadside makeshift picnic we had on the drive back because we were all hungry and had a bit of bread, cheese, grapes, and nuts in the car.

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Two of the Twelve Apostles

To be continued…

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