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THE GRAMPIANS NATIONAL PARK AND THE MORNINGTON PENINSULA

Written on: Sunday July 8th, 2007

A journal entry from: The long flight away from home.

THE GRAMPIANS NATIONAL PARK AND THE MORNINGTON PENINSULA

Kim (Finnish) and Sven (German), who I met at the formula one race and went to Sydney with moved into the convent after their exams were over until they head back home. It?s been really nice living with some guys and some people who are in to going out and exploring as well as eat real meals. It?s been a lot of fun!

Last week we went back to Warburton which is where I went hiking last time up Mount Donna Buang. We hiked some different trails and ended up getting turned around a little on the trails and in the end cut across the forest to get back to the main road. Once again it was a great workout.

When the guys first moved in we had planned on renting a car for 2 or 3 days so that we could go and do some day trips around Victoria. Renting a car wasn?t a problem, but finding some nice days wasn?t so easy (the weather has been really awful lately, with rain and overcast everyday and highs of about 10 degrees). We finally picked up the car Monday night so that we could go check out The Grampians National Park bright and early the following morning. The park is a large rocky mountainous area that spreads for many km horizontally and is surrounded by nothing but flat land. It is located 250km North West of the city and takes about three and half hours to drive. We ended up only managing to get up and leave after 9am, and it took us 3h to get there.

Once arrived we went to the park information center and got some maps of the things we could do (since we didn?t have any internet at home, we did really have any idea what there was to do there, we just knew it looked cool). We got a map showing 4 of the main spots throughout the park which you could drive to and then do short walks to check it out. The road heading up into the hills was really nice and really twisty, Sven was having a blast driving (my stomach wasn?t having as much of a blast, but it was a fun ride). The first spot we checked out was just a lookout equal with the clouds looking over the land below. We then drove onto the next spot, where we then walked about a km each way to a nice rock lookout that was looking over a really cool valley. Again it was more less equal with the clouds, so it made for some cool pictures.

We then drove to the entrance of McKenzie Falls, a small but picturesque waterfall dropping through the rocks. They had a really well made path with stairs and rails heading down the side of the rocks so that most people could make it down. It was not the biggest or best waterfalls I have ever seen, but considering the lack of water they have here in Australia and the fact that it was up on top of the Grampians, it was pretty impressive.

We then headed back to city and stopped along the way to get some food. All in all, I would say it was well worth the drive and a nice place to go see if you have time to spare while in or around Melbourne.

Wednesday morning we once again didn?t manage to get up too early and headed out of the house just after 9am. None of us had anything in mind that we really wanted to do, so the night before we decided that we would just go drive down the Mornington Peninsula and see what it was like. The peninsula is a large neck of land that extends south of the mainland and raps around to the West to form a large circular body of water (approx. 40 by 50km) that is protected from the open Pacific Ocean. The bay it forms is called Port Phillip Bay and it is nearly completely closed off except for a small channel (the bay is where I windsurf).

The drive out of the city suburbs was nothing special, but once onto the Peninsula the landscape was pretty nice with many vineyards, rolling hills and beach side towns. After looking at one of the road maps I noticed a spot on the most southern tip of the peninsula called Cape Schanck (part of the Mornington Peninsula National Park). The name alone was convincing enough to go check it out, so we cut across from the bay side down to the ocean side of the peninsula.

Once arrived in the car park we got out to be greeted by some very fresh storm force winds, which I considered to be between 50 and 60knots. We headed down towards the Cape, it was so windy that when in the open the wind would blow you sideways and you could lean straight into the wind without falling over. Once down at the ocean we continued onto the edge of the rocks and around the nearby cliff to get a better look at the open ocean. It was a pretty cool spot and we got some decent pictures before turning around and heading back to the car. It?s always amazing to see straight up the power of the elements unleashing around you (the waves weren?t too big since it was a side-off wind).

Unfortunately, the car was due back that evening before 6 so we had to head back to the city and didn?t get the chance to check out more of the Peninsula. In the end, to my point of view it was well worth renting the car, and being able to get out of the city yet again and check out more of what the Australian landscape had to offer.

Meanwhile, Kim has since left Australia and I think it?s safe to say he couldn?t have been happier to leave. Sven and I went and checked out The Amazing Human Body Exhibition here in the city on the weekend. The exhibit shows real preserved dead human bodies that have been stripped of certain layers of composition (ex: a body just missing the skin, or just showing the organs and/or arteries? as well as bodies cut into vertical or horizontal 1cm slices and spread out over a few meters). It was really something to see, a little weird and possibly freighting for some, but yet still really amazing to see.

There is still two more weeks before school starts again, and Sven is leaving at the end of the week. I am still hoping to manage and go either x-c or down hill skiing somewhere for a few days before going back to school.

Hope everyone is doing well!