Monday, 27 May 2013

Adelaide and surroundings

Our week in Western Australia is over and we are now heading back with the Indian Pacific to Adelaide. Last time we stopped in town, we didn't had time to check out  the city, but this time, we will stay five days.


What people say about Adelaide?


Since we started our trip, we never heard anything good about Adelaide. People in Sydney as well as some young ones met on the road told us that Adelaide is a boring city. True, there are less people living there, probably less pubs and less clubs. Also, Adelaide is a little bit more "lost" in regards to the cities in the neighborhood. So nothing we heard predicted that we could enjoy ourselves in Adelaide.


Visit of Adelaide


As usual, the first step is to head to the tourism office and ask for what there is to see in or outside town without having a car. Again, thanks to an "old" person working there, we got all the information we wanted. Museums in town, free bicycle hire and bicycle tracks, hikes accessible by pubic transport and more. There is plenty to do here, and five days won't be enough to check everything out, that's for sure.




Adelaide's  museums


The main museums in Adelaide are all sitting next to each others. So in one day, we could hop-on / hop-off from one museum to another. The national museum, the art gallery and the museum of immigration. Among them, the national museum of southern Australia is definitely a must see. According to them, it hosts the world's most recognized aboriginal collection, as well as quite interesting collections on local animal life, fossils, rocks etc.
The Museum also has free guided tours, and thanks to it, we could learn much more than  just reading the signs. We learns how the local aboriginal population was living before (what tools they were using etc) but also about how Opals are created from fossils of millions of years.



Cycling


Never seen so far in any of the other Australian cities we visited, Adelaide has this great free cycling hire service. All you need is an ID. They give you a helmet, a lock and you can pick your bike for the day. Thanks to this service, we went all the way from the town to the beach (26km return) and cycled around the several parks that surround the cities.





Hahndorf


Located on the out-scirts of Adelaide, this small town build by German refugees (Lutherans fleeing persecutions) in the 50s is a typical German town in the middle of Australia. This town remembered Tim of that German town were he grew up in. Handorf's main street is the major tourist attraction. Filled with small shops selling souvenirs, crafts and food (of course). We are welcomed to enter the shops, have a look and even sometimes encouraged to take a taste of the local products.




Haigh's Chocolate factory


On our last day in Adelaide, we went to visit the Haigh's chocolate factory established in 1915. This is the oldest and the only chocolate factory in Australia to make it's own chocolate (importing cocoa and building up the cocoa powder). In the early days of business, Alfred Haigh, the founder, was selling ice reams and soda drinks. But when his son took over the family business, he made a deal with Mr Lindt in Switzerland in which Mr. Lindt would teach him how to make chocolate if Mr Haigh would teach him English. Deal!
Now Haigh is quite famous here in Australia and has stores in all Australian major cities. We tried and approved, that chocolate is really good!



Also to visit


Adelaide offers much more to do and see. We also went to the botanical garden, the Central market and it's nearby China town. Also, the state library which is our favorite spot to get warmth and Internet.




The pictures


Thursday, 23 May 2013

Around Perth and Western Australia

This is it, we are arrived in the South-West of Australia. Finally! The journey took us about 34 hours by train, but remained quite comfortable thanks to the good seating.

Arrived in Perth, we are greeted by a dude that works in a kind of Tourism information centre specialised in backpackers. He gives us a map of the city and tells us to come to have a chat with him in downtown. After a short walk from the station to Perth CBD (Perth is quite small), we pay him a visit and go through the different options to visit the south-west. We can visit Perth by walk easily, but going south isn't possible without a car. We had made some research the days before and had a good idea of what a car would cost us... a lot! To our surprise, the guy from the info centre had deals with the rental companies and could get us a car for about $100 cheaper! Of course, we took the offer! We arranged the pick-up for the car on the next day so to have enough time to go around the city.


Perth


Perth is quite a young city, both historically and population wise. There is a lot of work here, and thanks to the gold mines all around Western Australia, it is quite visible that this impacted heavily on the development of Perth over the past decades. It is also no surprises that Perth is the Australian city that hosts most of the Australian fortunes. The best attraction in Perth is the "King's Park".



That huge park (much larger than Central Park in NYC) is offering a breathtaking view over Perth city and we spend there almost the complete afternoon. In the evening, we headed to an Overclocker friend of mine nicknamed "Uncle Fester" which generously offered to host us for as much as we needed. The evening with him and his family went really well, and we ended going to bed quite late..



Perth and the surroundings


The next morning, after picking up the car (a Hyundai i20), we head of to discover what's in the south of Perth. During this 6 days trip down south we drove nearly 2000km!



It doesn't look like it on the map, but here any distance is huge. The landscapes of WA are really beautiful and truly deserve the praises they get. Among the places we saw:

  • West Coast (Eagles Bay, Margaret River, Augusta)
  • South Coast (Walpole, Albany)
In the far south is located the Walpole National Park. This park host immense trees reaching over 60 meters high with some older than 600 years. One of the great things to do in this park aside of walking around the trees, is the "Tree top walk". This suspended walk 40 meters off the ground gives a quite unique experience of what these giants are- truly magical!





North of Perth


For the last day of our trip, we headed all the way from the south to the North of Perth. There, we didn't got lucky with the weather and had to spend a horrible night in the tent with a storm turning around for most of the night - scary! But the tent did its job and nothing got wet, the next day, the sun is almost back and we head to the pinnacles.




The Pinnacles are one of the most famous attractions of WA. Located in the Namburg National Park, these stones growing out of the ground are a geological mystery. Still today, scientist haven't come to an agreement of why these stones are here and what created them, but for us tourists, this is really amazing and fun. The park offers short walks in between the pinnacles as well as a Car safari. We did both.

Before leaving Perth and head back to Adelaide, we came back to our friend Uncle fester to share with him some French pancakes - Salty and sweet - delicious!


More Pictures



Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Tim's first month impressions

This first month on the road has been a great experience. Already one month, and even though leaving sydney seems still quite close in time, to see what we've done since makes it sound far away.
I liked every single thing since the start. The backpacking, the taste of adventure, the sleeping in the tent and especially the camp fires during with the hot tea that warmed us up during the cold nights in Tasmania. Everything so far is great, besides the cold of the Tasman nights maybe, but that's also part of what makes the experience memorable, right?


On the road, but not alone


I don't think that being alone on the road for such a trip would have scared me, but not being alone and doing this with Adeline definitely makes things much more enjoyable. This just not means having less to carry, but also means that many burdens become easier, and there is always someone to motivate the other when power runs off. She did great so far, I guess that she is now feeling much more confortable with the adventure/backpack trip idea and this is really nice. More to enjoy for both of us and less to worry about.



The life away of electronics .... or not.


Thanks to the phone and the 3G connection which allows me to keep in touch with all my "stuff" at least once or twice a week, I can't say that I miss my computer. I definitely miss my macbook, but thats a different story. The investment into a new phone definitely was the right choice. This plus the gadgets from ADATA which for the battery pack where truely life-savers in some situations.

This last week I could play a bit more with my camera and the intervalometer. I'm not mastering yet the art of timelapse, but things are heading the right way. Looking forward for future shoots!
Timelapse video here......



Meeting overclockers


We've met five Australian overclockers so far on our trip. It first started with Dino in Sydney with whom we had a great BBQ dinner with. Then, we met Ducan and Sturt in Melbourne where we went to a local pub for few beers listing to people singing on the piano-oke. Then in Adelaide, we briefly met Ben (newlife) which kindly hosted us while we were in translation. Finally, we recently had the chance to stsay a few days at Uncle Fester's place in Perth for some Epic BBQs, crepes and delicious Kangoroo steacks!




33 percent completed


One month out of three. This also just means about 66 percent of the fun stll left to happen. The coming two month will be for sure as great as the first one. Next stop, Adelaide!

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Adeline's first month impressions

The adventure begins!



The first days of the trip weren't that easy. I wasn't feeling at ease fo sleeping in the tent. It was hard to fall asleep since I had some stomach aches from the stress. I was really not feeling confident and secure to be in the Australian outback.
But thanksfully, things changed. As the weeks passed, we met other travelers and along with Tim, I start to enjoy the adventure at not worry about the rest.


Camping




The camping spots are easy to find. Since we just need to attach the tent in two points for it to hold, a small square of grass it all we need. So fa, no problem.
For me, this is the first time that I sleep over so many nights in a row under a tent. And it is truly cool! Now, I think that I feel probably more at ease sleeping in a tent than in the hotel room or at friends places. Our self-inflatable matrassses with pillows and sleeping bags allow us to sleep confortably and quite well. No back pain in the morning!
Regarding other commodities, Australia can be proud of having great ones. Public toilets and BBQ areas are available in most towns making it easy to clean, and do all the necessary things of the normal life. For showers, if we've reduced the number of showers we used to take per week, we suceeded to keep a good rithme of at least a shower per week which is probably the minimum.


The Landscapes, wildlife and flaura



Since the start of this trip we've been thought some great landscapes. They are all very different and host their own specific wildlife and flaura.


Landscapes:

  • Beaches (all arround Tasmania)
  • Cliffs (on the Great Ocean road)
  • Tropical forrests ( Great Ocean Road, South Sydney and south Western Australia)
  • Eucalyptus Forests (a bit everywhere)
  • Mountains (Tasmania, Flinder ranges, Alps)
  • Plaines and sdeserts (lots of it ... between Adelaide and Perth especially)


Wildlife

  • Koala (means "no water" in aboriginal)
  • Gangourou
  • Wallaby
  • Dophins
  • Tasman Devils
  • Birds
  • Insects ...



Other travelers on the road



On the road we met quite a lot of other travelers Most of them are doing road-trips with campervans or 4WD. There is every style, some are like us. Age wise, there is a bit of everything. Some young and older ones and when it comes to nationalities, if there is a leading quantity of Germans and French, we also saw some Spanish speaking ones.
I'm quite impressed by the amount of backpackers and travelers that you can see  arround here.


The Aboriginals



The aboriginals are the natives of the land. They where here before everyone else and live here since over 40000 years. When the english arrived in Australia, they brought with them all sorts of deaseases as well as alcohol, which all together participated to decimed most of the natives that had close to no-resistence to all of this. Today, there are about 700 000 aboriginals left in the country. Most of them are excluded from the society. They aren't offered jobs and have families that are tortured by domestic violence, un-education and acoholism.


We didn't had seen it that much during our six month in Sydney, but it is stricking to see all of them walking arround, drunk in the more remote cities.
Still a tabou subject in Australia, the government is only trying to make up with history since about 10 years, and it will probably take another decade or two to see an improvement if any.


To summarize this first month on the road ina few numbers:

Distance with mecanic transportation mean: 13 975
Distance walked: 400
Hours spend in transports: 170h30
Days on the road: 32

Saturday, 11 May 2013

How we post pictures on the road

Some of the pictures we take and share with you are taken from +Timothée's phone, but for some other shots, it is always better to use the big camera since shots are sharper and generally better.

The only issue is that on the road, most of the time, our only access to the internet is our phone's 3G connection. But here in Australia, outside cities, 3G is quite slow and you'd better re-size your pictures before uploading them from the bush.

In the process, we also give a little clean up to the pictures, correcting color balance / saturation or giving them a little bit more style. Here is how:

Here is how we do it


To transfer the pictures from our camera to the smartphone, we are using Tim's favorite gadget, the ADATA DashDrive AE400.

Basically this small box below is a USB card reader. But what makes it special is the fact that you can connect to it wireless with your phone and retrieve the pictures from the SD card that is plugged-in.



Now here is how we do:
  1. Take a picture with the "Good" camera 
  2. Insert the SD-Card into the ADATA DashDrive AE400 and turn it on. 
  3. Connect to the Drive with the phone Wi-Fi and navigate with the app to the picture you want to share, and select "Download" 
  4. Ones the file is downloaded, we usually, open it from the Android Gallery, make a few adjustments (using PixlrExpress) and it is good to share on Facebook


Really fast and useful when you can't have a computer with you on the road.

It can be done from within your pockets, and if you connect your phone via USB, it recharges its battery. :)

Hopefully soon, a version of this box will come with a combo of SD-Card reader and hard drive, so photographers can backup their SD cards the same way!



There is also one thing you might have noticed. We love to post panoramas and larger than usual photographs. To tell you how this is done, I'll make a post later on with some more details about it.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Port Augusta in South Australia


For this fourth week on the road, we headed from Adelaide to Port Augusta. This small town located in the state of South Australia hosts about 14000 people and is considered as the gate to the Australian Outback.
To get there, we took the Ghan (name of our Train). This train is quite special as it counts 37 wagons making him something like 890m long. Just impressive


Did you say Port Augusta?


When leaving Adelaide, we asked ourselves "What are we going to do there ... and Why do we have even planned a stop there?" ... we are still not quite sure.
Anyway, now it's too late to change. We have to spend five days, four nights here and our Train to Perth is only leaving on Thursday (since there is only one train per week...).


We arrive here in the evening. First thing we do is find a camping spot for the night and some food. The next day, we head over to the nearby Tourism Office (yeah ... everything is kinda "nearby" there), and got ourselves equipped with some maps.

The Town of Port Augusta is quite nice. It is so to say planted in the middle of the outback, right at the end of the Spence Golf.  Also, from here we have a great view at the Flinder ranges, a mountain chain of 430km long and 1.170m high that almost surrounds the place.



BTW, big thanks to the tourism office that accepted to keep our bags for these four days. We spend about $70 for the lockers in Melbourne ... Grrrrr.

Going around the town


During these five days in town, we got enough time to visit "everything" We even got some spare time to relax by the waterfront.

The city by itself is quite nice. It has BBQs in every corners, some parks and a few supermarkets. Also free drinking water fountains - useful when you are in the desert!


Meeting the Dolphins


Port Augusta is not just that nice little town pictured above. It is also the Spencer Gulf which goes right into the Great Australian Bight. So here, dolphins and wales are swimming up the gulf and can be spotted if you are patient enough.


We only saw dolphins (twice) but no wales. The season for wales is a little bit later in June-July.

Next stop, Perth!


Tonight, we will be hoping back on the train and head to Perth. Arrival time is scheduled at 9:30am on May 11th .... 2 nights, 1 day later. Yeay ... 30 hours on the train!



More Pictures


Wednesday, 8 May 2013

The Great Ocean Road

One of the things to do when you are near Melbourne is to go check out the Great Ocean Road. And so did we.
This road of 243km build along the coast from Torquay to the Apollo Bay follows the Tasman Sea and offers magnificent landscapes of cliffs, mountains falling into the see and spectacular sceneries.

Initially, we wanted to rent a car, but since we are under 25, insurance costs made us choose to go the "coach tour" way. We took a one day tour with a hop-on / hop-off option. That way we could do it in two days and take the time to check out the city or Lorne.

Why this city? Well because of this:



This is what awaited us after a 25km hike from Lorne and the sunset up there was absolutely breath-taking. Definitely worth the stop. But lets stop digressing, and get started with the story:

Torquay


Torquay is the first stop on our Journey. This surfer town is the founding place of the world famous surfing brand RipCurl and also the place where "modern" surfing got its latest technological additions. At 9.30am, the see is already full of surfers waiting for the perfect wave in an icy cold water.




The Arch of Great Ocean Road


This arch was build in 1920. It took about 10 years to build the road, and because it has been build by returning soldiers from WW1, the arch stand here today as a souvenir of the hard work accomplished to build this road. Of course, we couldn't resist to the temptation of taking a cheesy touristic picture of ourselves in front of it! (it's in the album at the end of this post)





Lorne


This is the place where the bus dropped us off. After a quick stop at the information center to get some local maps, we went ahead with the hike. Initially, we just wanted to check out the rain-forest and some waterfalls in the back-country. In the end, we ended up walking for 25km, checking out two of the four waterfalls and reaching the Teddy's lookout where the picture shown earlier was taken.



A hard day of walking but quite rewarding. The next day, the bus picked us back up and we are back as tourists!

Spotting the koalas


Along the Great Ocean Road, there are a lot of Eucalyptus trees, and among them, some that are fitted for hosting Koalas.




It's not always easy to spot them, but +Adeline being quite good at it, it wasn't too hard to get the "perfect" shot. How cute is this?

Lunch Rest in the Rain-forest 


After lunch, our tour bus stopped in a nearby Rain-forest section. We walked for about 30 minutes and while stretching our legs, we saw some impressive 100 meters high rain-forest Eucalyptus trees.

Some of them grew on fallen ones, and ended up having a hole when the lower one got decomposed. 


The hole is sometimes so big that you can stand it it!

12 Apostles 


Last but not least, the 12 apostles stop of our tour bus was the major attraction of the day. Some might say these are just stones standing near the coast, but you can't tell how impressive these are before you've checked them out.




In reality there is not 12. Never was and probably never will be. Originally called the Sow and piglets, these standing stone got renamed in the 50s for touristic purposes and the name stood ever since.

These rock formations are pieces of the coast-line that with the erosion slowly saw the surroundings been taken by the ocean. It is agreed that with the continuous ocean levels rise and continual erosion, there should not remain any apostles standing before the next century.

More pictures...

 

Melbourne

This is our third week on the road. This week, the plan was to stay a few days in Melbourne visiting the city and doing some sightseeing. And then drive along the Great Ocean Road west of Melbourne.

Melbourne

 

 


Before starting, lets give you some facts. Melbourne is the capital of the Australian state for Victoria. It has 4.5M inhabitants that makes it the second largest city in Australia after Sydney.

From what we could see, Melbourne holds its reputation of a meltin-pot kind of town, mixing cultures with arts/fashion in a very different fashion than Sydney. Here, the smell of bureacraty is much thinner in the air.
Most buildings in downtown Melbourne kept the Victorian architecture style as it can be found in many cities in Europe and this is probably what gives the city of Melbourne this so unique style.

Here is what we've seen:
  • The Parliament
  • The federation square
  • The state library
  • The national gallery of Victoria
  • ACMI (museum of images and sound)
  • The old treasury building
  • The Queen Victoria market


Sunday, 5 May 2013

Pictures from Tasmania

Finally, after much struggle to find some proper Internet, we finally succeeded yesterday to get some photos online!
Here they are:

Friday, 3 May 2013

Tasmania, a travel tale with nature


For our second travel week, we decided to head to Tasmania. This small island located in the south of Australia is as large as 90,000 km2 and counts a population 500,000 people. To enjoy our visit of the island, we chose to rent a card for a week and drive to all the different spots.

Driving around Tasmania for a week

Arrival in Hobart

The best way to get to Tasmania, and the cheapest, is to take the plane. There is a ferry departing from Melbourne to Davenport (North of Tasmania) but it takes 11hours. It also costs about the double of a low-cost airline ticket. So, we flew with our favorite company; Jetstar. No kidding!



Arrived in Hobart, first thing to do is to pick-up our car ( a small KIA Rio ...), get used to drive on the "right" side of the road and drive south-east to our first camp spot for the night.

The Tasman Peninsula

To start our visit, we head first down south-east to the small peninsula. We visit there Port Arthur which is an old prison dating back to the times of the colonial age and early Australian settlements. The place was also a strategic point to defend the nearby city of Hobart.
Located along the coast there was not much escape possibilities for the convicts in such place; ice cold water almost surrounds the place.
The price to visit Port Arthur is around 35AUD, not cheap but worth it. It includes an optional guided tour of about 45 minutes and a boat ride.



Out of the 200 buildings that the facility accounted for, only a few are left standing in ruins. Among these buildings, the most impressive one is the prison within the prison. Designed for the most ferocious convicts, it included a small cell in which a convict could be placed for days completely immersed in darkness, cold and zero sound. They say that it was quite efficient.

After Port Arthur, we continue our drive around the peninsula, checking out panoramas and featured spots of our sightseeing plan.

The Tasman East coast

On the Tasmanian east coast, there is one of the most top beaches in the world.You might already have heard of it: The Wine glass bay. To get there, you have to drive all along the Frecynet National Park and then walk for about 2km to reach the panorama spot. Located on the other side of the mountain, the view is stunning!
All along our coast drive, several other panorama spots let us discover magnificent landscapes of cliffs diving into the ocean.



Cradle Mountain

Cradle Mountain is probably one of the most iconic places in Tasmania. +Adeline really wanted to got there but ones again, luck wasn't on our side. The weather quickly changed, and by the time we drove there, it was horrible. Almost no visibility, continuous thin rain showers and wind. We needed to change our plan since hiking with this weather isn't worth any efforts. Next Time ....



So here is out plan B. We decided to got visit some nearby caves (Mole Creek Caves). At least, underground, the weather always stays the same!
Like for the caves we've visited in the Blue Mountains (near Sydney), we can see that these are really old and thus are really worthy to have a look at. The rocks in which these caves are carved-in dates back to times twice older than the first dinosaurs!



And to finish our Tasman tour


To finish with our tour of Tasmania, we decided to drive all the way back from The North to the South-West of Hobart. Again, the weather just got worse all the way down, and its a terrible wind and rain that awaited us down there. So bad that we had to sleep in the car for a night. (too much winds to set-up the tent)

Nevertheless, it all ended up by clearing up a little and allowed us to make some great sunset pictures for our last night on the island.



We spend the last day in Hobart. The famous Saturday Salamanca Market from our to-do list was cancelled because of the strong winds. So we went to visit some of the museum downtown instead.

Others

 

The animals

In Tasmania, the animal life is quite rich. There is no need to go far from towns to see lots of it. Sadly, because of the intense car circulation on the island, this fauna ends up dead on the road and we've been quite shocked to see so much of it. About an animal every 3km in some places!

It's no wonder that species like the Tasman Devil are on the brink of extinction...

Some numbers

Driving distance: 1 700 km
Walking distance: 66 km
Minimal temps: around 5

Some last words

 

In total, we drove about 1700 km by car over our seven days in Tasmania. It is really nice to drive around that island and we will definitely go back one day to see what the Cradle mountains really look like.
The landscapes are beautiful all the way and quite similar in charm to the ones of the Scottish Highlands or some of the New-Zealand / Lord of the Rings like, ones.

A destination you can't pass by if you happen to visit Australia.