Our final big outing before returning to the UK was to a very extensive nature park in the hills above Adelaide known as Cleland Wildlife Reserve.
I was delighted to acquaint myself with so many new species. These marvellous animals, many of which belong to the marsupial family, were quite timid at first as they have had a very negative history with amphibians* brought in from abroad. However we soon fell into a rhythm of communication and I am so glad to have broadened my knowledge and understanding of this continents indigenous communities.
In fact, I got on so well with one little fellow that the Runner arranged for him to come on a visit – a bit like a cultural exchange programme I believe British young people sometimes do with counterparts in Europe.
Overall my Australian Adventures have been an excellent experience and I would encourage anyone who has not yet ventured that far afield to do so. Tye and the rest of the gang are really quite envious and I have to be a bit careful of how much I wax lyrical about the whole thing!
*Find out about the introduction of cane toads to Australia
I told you how I enjoyed the gardens in Melbourne, well I was even more astounded by the offering in Adelaide. Whilst I don’t think they were necessarily more extensive their Victorian counterpart, there was something superior about the layout and offering in general.
The water features were greatly varied from lakes to waterfalls and fountains. I was particularly enamoured by giant Lilly pool tucked away in greenhouse. I actually took the opportunity to recline momentarily and breath in the smells (and I must admit I did also sample a few flies while I was at it!
On reaching the end of the Great Ocean Road we turned inland and headed to the Grampian mountain range. The weather had turned unseasonably cold and wet as we set off our road trip, which the others mentioned negatively on frequent occasions but I was rather appreciative of. However, even I have to admit the further drop in temperature on this leg of the journey was quite a shock to the system.
The mountains themselves though, did not disappoint. Whilst it was rather fresh, it was lovely to take a dip in wild fresh water again at McKenzie Falls after only seeing salt water for days.
I was also very interested to learn at little about the Aboriginal culture while we were there. Their interpretation of the seasons seems far more appropriate for the climate there than the arbitrary winter, spring, summer, autumn that humans usually focus on.
From Melbourne we rented the most hideous coloured car I have ever seen to travel along the Great Ocean Road. Sometimes I find the names certain places are given to tend to overegg the reality, but in this case I did feel it was most apt. The ocean, the rocky structures it has created and the length of the road itself, are indeed very great.
We stopped for lunch on Bells Beach, which is apparently a famous spot for surfers so I was very disappointed not to see anyone performing this perplexing activity in front of me. The Dancer and Runner had prepared some sandwiches which I would have partaken in but I managed to make myself quite a feast from the flies which appeared as we settled down and were rather bothering them. I think they rather appreciated my quick tongue getting to work so efficiently!
From Dubai we travelled onto Melbourne where we arrived early in the morning and in comparison it seemed very cool. We headed straight to the botanic gardens, which were wonderful, full of new and exotic flowers and lovely lakes. I spent quite bit of time here and, while the others went into the city for some lunch, I connected with a number of my Australian cousins which was a learning experience for us all.
In the following days we explored the city more widely and I found it really quite marvellous. I got to experience more transport options as they have a comprehensive tram network which enables one to cover the length and breath of the city quiet easily.
Having had such an active time I was very pleased to have my own room in the hotel – a real luxury after sharing with so many others back at home. I must say I did sleep incredibly well and did not seem to be affected by this notion of jetlag that the humans lament about at great length!
I have written before of my experiences of different transport methods, but I took to even greater heights this month as I flew with the Dancer and the Runner to Dubai and then onto Australia. I found the air stewards most helpful and particularly appreciated the personal audiovisual system which enabled me to enjoy my own choice of film rather than having to go with the consensus of the group, which is what happen back home!
Dubai itself was a real revelation; so different to anywhere I have been before. The traditional dress, which I got to try out as you can see here, is wonderful but I’m not sure I could wear that much all the in that heat. I didn’t accompany the Dancer, Runner and their friends on outings during the day as I was concerned for my skin in the intense sunshine and I was not convinced that even factor 50 lotion would be sufficient as obviously it was developed for tougher human skin than mine.
The evenings spent with them all were very pleasant. Their garden had many shady spots for relaxing and the South African Braai was another new experience that I thoroughly enjoyed. I got to try a range of new meats but they had also catered for my specific diet with a range of local fly and bug options.