Tag Archives: vacation

Camping in The Grampians National Park

Camping in the middle of the Australian winter probably wasn’t the best idea I have ever had but I did not have the option to wait until the weather warmed up again.  Thankfully our local friends who brought Megan and I down to the Grampians were well versed in the art of Australian camping.  They provided us with all the necessary camping gear as well as “swags” which we later found out is a special Australian style sleeping bag.  The drive from Melbourne into The Grampians did not take long at all.  If my memory serves me right the drive was not more than two hours (although Google maps disagrees I am not ).  When we officially entered into Halls Gap, a specific area within The Grampians,  we more or less randomly chose a road and began to drive down it.  We finally came to a fork in the road where one of the roads was the blocked off by a small gate warning against flooding; beyond it were fallen leaves, a few big rocks and some fallen branches:

The other road was free of warning signs and road blocks so naturally we decided to take the road less traveled.  This included squeezing the car between the gate and a random post not far from it.  Our side-view mirrors just cleared the wooden posts on each side.  Then we bumped along the road until we found a decent spot to park, climbed out and scavenged for a good camping ground.

After clearing a sizable area and erecting our tents we attempted to cook.

The boys clearing out the area:

Cooking ended up being a more tedious task then we anticipated because we had forgotten to pack any kind cooking implement.  We tried a few different techniques such as making a “frying pan” out of a cut up beer can and some sticks but the metal melted and warped before we could properly cook the meat.  We ended up getting so desperate from hunger that we just speared our kangaroo steaks with some skewers, the one thing we did bring, and roasted it that way.  For dessert Megan and I had brought an American campfire specialty to share with our Australian friends: smores.  It was funny listening them repeat the word in confusion because they had never heard of it before.  We made each of them a gooey chocolaty sandwich and they loved it!  Around bites of melted chocolate and marshmallow they kept repeating the word “smore” in their accented English trying to commit the word to memory.  Next came the campfire stories but as we were doing this camping trip “Aussie style,” as the boys referred to it, there were certain requirements that needed to be fulfilled.  One of which was to listen the to the renown Australian poem A Man From Snowy River (if you would like to see the whole poem: http://www.wallisandmatilda.com.au/man-from-snowy-river.shtml).  No one had brought along a copy of the poem but thankfully that wasn’t a problem because one of the boys knew it by heart.

The next morning we had a bit of a sleep in before cleaning up and heading to a few of the famous sights in The Grampians which were absolutely gorgeous!

**Note- I did not take any of the photos in this post.  Photo credit goes to my friend Scott Hodges.**


Why Are You Going to Adelaide?

The week before leaving on a four day weekend trip to Adelaide people kept asking me “Why are you going to Adelaide?” as if it were hole out in the middle of no where.  With the amount of people making this comment I was starting to worry I was wasting my money. Especially when I was asked to do an extra security screening at the airport and the security guy conversationally asked me where I was going.  When I told him he scrunched up his face, laughed and said “Adelaide?  What are you going to do in Adelaide?” I wanted to ask him if he was serious.  When I met up with Megan at the end of security line I relayed what the security man had said and started to wonder if there was some infectious disease across Adelaide that had left it a barren waste land of nothingness.  Why else would everyone be asking us the same bewildered question?

When I arrived in Adelaide it did not take long to understand the reason for the relentless question.  Adelaide city itself is fairly small, at least compared to Melbourne, and quiet.  There is not much to do and as far as I could tell the night life was lacking.  But even though it was quiet city it was still charming.  The amount of old Gothic cathedrals were astounding and could entertain an architecture junkie or photography fanatic for hours.  The fresh food market itself kept Megan and I entertained for hours!

It might not be the most bustling city in Australia but if you have  few days to spare I think its worth the trip.  Its charm won’t be lost on you.  The only thing I caution is not to book for your stay for too long.  On the fourth day I was itching to return to my beloved busy Melbourne.

The highlights of my trip were:

A half day trip to Sterling.  I hopped on the public bus and took a thirty minute ride outside the city to a small town called Stirling which held Sunday markets.  I love little markets like this and it was nice to see families conversing with each other one eye on their children the other on their dogs.  It reminded me very much of being home.  They sold everything at this market from art and clothes to food and special honey (I tried a concoction of Vanilla bean creamed honey.  It was fabulous!) I also treated myself to amethyst tear drop earrings as a little reminder of my Australia trip when I return home.

Another half day trip to Hahndorf, a small but famous German style town outside of the city. This place was adorable!  I felt like I had magically appeared in Germany somehow.  All the the little shops with their thatched roofs and welcoming open doors poured German music and aromas out onto the sidewalk to lure you in for a quick look around.

   

  


Australia- O-Week, The First Circle of Hell

Am I still in America?  I am pretty sure I haven’t left.  Sorority recruitment, that’s just the American name.  Here its called O-Week.

O Week started off nice and simple.  A quiet lunch for all the freshman and their parents (and the exchange students), a traditional speech from the principal, tearful goodbyes as the parents left and then shy introductions among the new students as we waited in a room for the activities of O-week to start.  Then they descended.  First it was just one guy storming into the room screaming at the top of his lungs: “SIT DOWN FRESHERS!” (Freshers here is their word for freshman).  Then in came the rest of the group: “WHY ARE YOU SITTING, FRESHERS?! STAND UP FRESHERS!……. WHY ARE YOU STANDING?  SIT DOWN FRESHERS!  STAND UP FRESHERS!  TURN AROUND FRESHERS!”  So up and down we sat and stood like little stupid monkeys.  Finally when their voices started to strain they quieted down and happily introduced themselves as the student leaders of O-week.  Then they put on music danced and individually introduced each leader.  Okay, I thought, so they just want to pretend they are in America with those crazy Fraternities and Sororities.  In my mind I allowed them that little bit of leeway.

Bad. Idea.

We were then instructed to change into clothes that we don’t mind destroying and removing any and all jewelry that we don’t want ruined.  Then we were lined up in the courtyard, blind folded and led down a path.

“Oh, dahling you forgot to put sunblock on!  Silly Fresher!”  A clump of something sweet-smelling and too sticky to be sun block was smeared down my cheek.  “Oh and don’t forget the other cheek!  Silly Fresher!”  The stuff was then smeared on to my other cheek.  It was about at this time it came in contact with my mouth and I was able to identify it as Strawberry Jam.  With a now sticky clumpy still blindfolded face I continued down the path.

“What’s that on your arm, Fresher?” Something thick and infinitely more sticky than the jam was globbed up and down my arms.  In seconds the smell hit me and I had to hold my breath to not vomit- Vegemite.  The wind kicked up at this point lodging my hair into the Vegemite and then into my mouth.  For those of you who have never experienced Vegemite the best I can describe it was that it smelled like canned cat food and I think it tastes about the same.  Needless to say, it’s hard to stomach.  Now mix that with strawberry jam and your own hair in your mouth and I was proud of the fact I didn’t puke all over the girl in front of me.

“Drink up, Fresher!”  I smelled the Goon before it washed over my head ensuring that the sickening concoction forming on my face and arms was now most assuredly in mouth (and up my nose a bit).

“Get down, Fresher! That’s it! On your stomach, Fresher!  Now crawl!  Keep going, Fresher!”  A tarp filled with honey or jelly or something of that nature came next.  And yes, I crawled through it- hands and knees and stomach.

“Get up, Fresher!  Keep going!”  Up I blindly went, dripping now with various semi identified liquids.

“Down again, Fresher! Get down, Fresher!” Tarp number 2 seemed to be filled with chicken noodle soup- I could be wrong though.  Finally when it was all over we were allowed to remove the blindfolds, hose off and walk back stinking and dripping to our rooms for a proper shower.

I thought that would be the end of it.  Turns out that was only day 1.


Welcome to Australia!!

I have been here for about a week now and I officially LOVE it here.  Classes do not start until the 27th of February so until that time the university and it’s residential colleges have created different programs to help students meet eachother and see the city.  The first of these programs was called Melbourne Welcome which was specifically for international students.  Ialmost did not sign up for this program and now I am so happy I did!  I met so many great people and the program its self was really amazing.  Everything was very well planned and organized and all the costs were covered by the initial fee of the program.  Most of all, I was really impressed by the student leaders.  I am pretty sure this whole thing was created by them and if so I am even more impressed.  Besides making the program a success I felt like all of the leaders, who are the same age as the rest of the students particiapting in the program, were the epitome of the kind of people who should run these kinds of programs.  They were all very outgoing, helpful and friendly and I feel that it was because of this that rest of us had as much fun as we did.

   

Besides the program, I feel that I have been more or less intitiated into the Australian life style:

1. I have gotten my face roasted by the sun because I only had only put on SPF 15.  I went out yesterday and got a huge bottle of Sports SPF 30.  Now every morning when I wake up one of the first things I have to do is put on sun screen.  I feel like I am in Africa all over again!!

2.  Instead of being whistled at, a guy stuck his head out the window of his car and said “G’day” to me.  They actually say “G’day” here!!!

3.  I have learned the secret to the Australian lingo that seems to bewildering to Americans.  Its actually quite simple- Australians seem keen on cutting words in half and adding “ie” at the end.  Hence “barbie” for barbaque, “shorties” for shorts, “brekkie” for breakfast, etc.  And I also learned not be offended when told not to wear a thong to the night clubs here- they were referring to flip flops.

4.  I was enthusiastically welcomed to my new room by a HUGE hairy gray spider.