The Great Lakes District

Quick Facts

  • Title: The Great Lakes District Multi-Day Hike and Camp
  • Status: Completed
  • Dates: 18th April 2019 to 22nd April 2019
  • Objective: To trek the most popular mountains and gorgeous Lakes District over the Easter long weekend.
  • Route: Self-determined involving Inland, mountainous terrain, lakes and river systems.
  • Approx Distance: 100+ Kilometers
  • Approx Hiking Time: 35+ Hours in Total
  • Accommodation: 4 Nights Camping

Facts and Insights

  • Two of the highest peaks in England were tackled during this endeavor. Scafell Pike (978m) and Helvellyn (950m).
  • England’s longest lake was an incredibly popular destination, Windermere stretching over 16km long!
  • Weather; a low of 5 degrees and surprising tops of 19 degrees! Windy but not enough to close off any trails. Weather took the surprise of all who visited over the weekend, sunny everyday, an incredibly rare sight for all.
  • This was a personal challenge. Climbing almost a dozen mountain tops including the two highest in England has inspired me to undertake other great endeavors throughout the United Kingdom, Europe and in time, no doubt mountain ranges of the world.
  • A colleague said that this was more like an expedition! haha makes me feel like Indiana Jones, exploring and discovering hidden treasures. Although it was only 4 days, the fact that it was a unique and personal path made it the more special.
  • During the hike, I pondered over many thoughts, one of which was the reason why I chose to do this. I think for me, it’s not just a hike up the mountain. It’s not about all the incredible sights that you set your eyes upon nor is it predominantly for my own physical fitness. The journey to me is a mental challenge I choose to face, it is continuing to walk even when your whole body is shaking and aching for you to stop. It is making it to the top, to the finish line without doubt in your mind that you have stuck to your own word. I think everything else, the lakeside views, mountaintops, sleeping under the stars and moon, the physical fitness it brings…they’re all bonuses, incredible and amazing bonuses that come with all great achievements in life.
  • Also, dogs climb mountains too, so many of them! so cute!

Introduction

The Lakes District is an incredibly popular destination for the English not only for it’s natural beauty but also for it’s challenging hikes and mountainous ranges. Over the past few months I have taken my time to plan a personal route (made up of many others whom have come before me) to experience a one of a kind trek through the district. From the early morning’s and till sunset, I spent hiking and during the evening’s I set down my tent and gear and prepared for a night under the stars in the mountain tops! Before you think I’m crazy, I’ve done this before! and with each and every adventure I become better equipped both mentally and physically.

I’ve missed home sweet home Australia for all of her natural beauty. I hope for my friends out there whom are home, they never take it for granted. In so many ways, I will always return home to finish my round trip along her beautiful coast. This to me, is just a little detour.

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The planned route including major checkpoints. But all plans are never solid, charged with my trusty map and compass, I crossed areas with no tracks but just my own.

Day 1 – Friday

What a great idea it was to spend the first night at a bed and breakfast. Arriving at Windermere quite late into the night, there was no time nor the light to hike to the first random checkpoint; plus, the time was spent well making preparations for the long journey ahead. I loved the whole homey feel of the place; an old wooden charm and the warm and inviting fireplace and lighting made me feel right at home. She also had a great history to tell, with photo’s, artworks and decorations dating back to the old days. Bed and breakfast’s are a big thing out here in England, they’re in-between air-bnb’s and hotels because the owners are usually also living in the home, retired and invite guests along to enjoy their home, they also cook you breakfast to top it off. There is also no doubt in the world that the traditional English breakfast that was served that morning was delicious and aided in my survival throughout the first day.

How nice it was to follow the beautiful walls of stone that climb the sides of these mountains. Often would I think about how and who had the job of placing each and every one of them, perfectly in a position that looks as if it has held for decades.

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It was not long after the beginning that I stumbled upon a bunch of young travellers, taken aback on the hillside inhaling what I could clearly tell was a joint. In fact, this wasn’t only a singular occurrence, I saw this numerous times during the hike and furthermore there were groups of people hiking whilst half drunk! How this was achieved is beyond me, I was more worried about not twisting my ankle on the first day of the trip and asking for them to take photo’s of me hah! If it wasn’t for them, all I had was my non-steady Go-Pro to rely on which took longer to set up than I’d liked.

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Day 2 – Saturday

Who knew that after today Scafell would be conquered?! I should of known that, but really, it was hard to know where you would end up by the end of the day. The plans and tracks that had been made, the checkpoints were only a guide, it would take me a few more great hikes to be able to predict how long it would take me to climb any one mountain; and so the sights were set to go as far as one could along the planned route.

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It was an incredibly rocky road to Scafell Pike, and I don’t say that figuratively! Three paths to take up the peak and the toughest of them all had to be taken, but I guess I’d say, for have we really conquered a mountain if we did not take on her greatest challenge?

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Scafell was busy. Like really busy! Forget about a peaceful climb to the top with nature and the birds and bees following you around. Dozens of hikers arrived at any one time, small and large tour groups made it to the top with cheers and clapping heard all around. When I’d finally overcome the rocky pass, my arms were in the air, a big smile could be seen and an aura of one who had just made a great achievement came over me. From a distance, the peak looked really cool, a pile of rocks stacked on the top allowed visitors to stand and sit up there in unison to enjoy a 360 panorama of the entirety of the lakes. It was beautiful, the energy up there was a high and so there I sat and let time pass me by for hours on end.

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The “easy” way down the mountain was towards the lake of Wast Water. It was a long way down which felt like forever but what made it all the worthwhile was the sun setting down against the lake, probably one of the biggest highlights of the entire trip. A warm orange glow encompassed everyone going down that mountain and after achieving such great heights, it was the best way for most to end their day.

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I on the other hand had taken a slight detour shortly before arriving down at the lake. Making my way down to a super small town called Wasdale in search for a place to camp. As luck would have it, the tiny town had a little campsite with food and drinks to be served along with all the amenities required by those who hadn’t showered for days!

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Day 3 – Sunday

I would say that Sunday was the most relaxing of all the days. Despite a slow start to the day (slow because of an alternate far tougher path up a hill), the day was spent mostly on the lower ground or shall I say, on the lower levels of the mountains.

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There was a moment of real peace when I stopped by the riverside, between two adjacent trees that gave off a perfect shade beside the rapids. There I kicked up my feet in the water and took a much needed break from the sun as by then parts of me were as red as tomatoes! (And FYI, if you’re wondering, of course I used sunscreen and wore a hat!).

Another mountain top later we were overlooking yet another gorgeous lake right off the small town of Buttermere. More tourists flocked here to walk around the lake on footpaths meant for child strollers and bicycles. The one ice cream parlor was overrun by eager children hoping for something sweet and cold. I was definitely one of those children and couldn’t resist one myself; with chocolate icing of course!

Close by was the nice town of Keswick. Keswick is a must visit local town in the Lakes District if you do come up here, it’s a really beautiful old town with some great spots to take photos of the streets and town square. I have to also mention how great it was to meet two locals travelling in for the weekend with their dogs, it made for such a great conversation about the Lakes and other hikes to be done. They’d told me how in all their years they’ve been here, they’ve never seen it so sunny all weekend around because of all the mountains and all. I guess I was lucky! or I’d just brought the sunshine with me haha lame joke*

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To end the day, I made my way up as high as I could towards Helvellyn, this was an exciting part of the trip and couldn’t stop thinking about the “scramble” across the Striding Edge, you’ll know what I mean by that soon. An hour into the hike I’d completely lost the pathway but with my trusty compass I was never too far away from one I’d make myself. I put in the extra effort to climb till the sun set further before I pitched my tent, by then and because of the constant upward battle for over 2 hours, I was sweating a heap and there I was, shirtless half way up the mountain without a town in sight as the sun set in the distance.

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Day 4 – Monday

I woke up this morning with the wind rocking the tent side to side. It was 6:30am, cold outside but surprisingly warm on the inside. It really pays to know what is required in a good tent! Despite this, I found it hard to fall back asleep till the sun rose above the mountains. I made the decision right there and then that I was to have my breakfast consisting of some tuna, nuts, a carrot, an apple and some sweets to top up that sugar level. I cuddled back into the sleeping bag to let the food warm me up before I lept out there into the cold, damp and slightly foggy morning to unpack it all.

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Today, I made an incredible head start on the track towards Helvellyn. As the night before I had put in some extra effort to get as high as I could, I was almost at the top before 7am. From up there, the suns warm glow was a sight for sore eyes and so I sat there basking in her delight. Pillars of rock were all around me and as for those who are experience hikers knew, the pillars are a piece of each person who’d made it up there with a rock of their own to place on the mountain. It was a beautiful sight when I added yet another one to the pile. Would you call these checkpoints? I think you would, they’re checkpoints for the individual to be proud of, to have made it so far.

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At the top it was quiet, peaceful and calm. Because I had made it up there so early, there was no one else there. Oddly enough and don’t tell my parents, there were some sweets in a goodie bag stuffed at the peak of a pillar, they looked fresh so I took it upon myself to have some and say thanks to the kind mountain gods, I in turn added some of my own goodies to the bag to pay it forward. Shortly after, I’d basked in the sunlight some more, a couple arrived at the top and we sat against the wall and talked of mountainsides around Europe and the way ahead. For ahead me was yet another challenge known as the Striding Edge!

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Now, the English have a saying for walks like this, they call it scrambling, I’ve not actually heard the term before so I’m not sure if it’s entirely an English thing but it pretty much was rock climbing on the peaks of the mountains ranges! Most people do so monkey-like but not holding 10kg of baggage as I was so I made sure that I climbed on slow and steady, for one slip meant falling hundreds of meters down below. To be honest, I’m not sure why this is even allowed and again to be honest, it was the first time I’ve actually been scared for my life in a long time. Sadly many people actually die from this very scramble (20 deaths in fact and many more injured in 2017 alone!) I won’t be taking on any more challenges like this for now, no thank you! Looking back it was fun and thrilling but I love life too much to risk that again haha

Did I also mention there is a gravestone with a touching story of a life lost because of this edge? In summary, a man climbing these edges fell to his death, his dog was found wandering around his corpse in incredible sadness and distress. The plaque is to remind us all of the strength and enduring love of our companions during great endeavors. And then a tear fell from my eyes.

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The final stretch of the hike proved to be quite merciful and with gorgeous views of Lake Ullswater, there was nothing more that could have ended this trip on a high…

Except, a really pretty town and lamb shanks by the lake!!! Seriously was well deserved after conquering such a beast in which was The Lakes District.

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Thanks for reading my friends. What challenges do you choose to face in life to help you prepare for the worst?

Spring 18′

As Spring takes the stage this year, it marks the beginning of the most festive time of the year 🌻🌸🦋🍓🍹At the same time it is the most vibrant, bright in her shades of green, yellow, red, purple and pink!

It’s often seasons pass without any notice and that’s true of so many things in life, so let’s all take a moment to appreciate the beautiful Earth we live knowing that to even have a seasonal change is a miracle on it’s own.

For me, it will be a bitter sweet moment as I spend my last few months here in Sydney with my closest of friends and family. It will be a challenge to balance the workload that will be coming not only in terms of my relationships and the workplace but also the preparations before the move.

For you, Spring is a time of change. A chance to start fresh and new. Spring is a time to take off that heavy coat that’s been weighing you down. It’s a time to celebrate growth and action, reflecting upon those dreams that you have put on hold throughout the cold Winter.

I hope that we all can enjoy this years Spring because before you know it, it’s winter again…for me it is at least up there in the Northern Hemisphere.

Thanks for reading ❤

The Great Australian Road Trip – In The Beginning at Ground ZERO

It has always been one of my greatest endeavours to complete a road trip around the coast of Australia. After all, Australia is my home and what is a better way to understand more about your home but to travel around it yourself.

This long-term goal will be likely split into 6 parts (as far as I can foresee right now).

  • Part 1 – Sydney > Melbourne > Adelaide (Completed Jan 2017)
  • Part 2 – Sydney > Tasmania (Expected Completion sometime late 2017)
  • Part 3 – Adelaide > Perth (Expected Completion sometime 2018)
  • Part 4 – Perth > Darwin
  • Part 5 – Darwin > Cairns
  • Part 6 –  Sydney > Brisbane > Cairns

Rules of engagement: 

  • All trips taken will be strictly by road only and be using flights as a means to arrive at the beginning or end of the trip.
  • Camping on beaches and grounds will be the number one option when on the road with the exception of when in major cities.
  • Self-made / self-cooked food (including by campfire) where possible unless tasting a local cuisine or delicacy.
  • Plan only the major routes and attractions and plan for worst case scenarios. Leave the rest to intuition and fate.
  • Meet locals wherever possible and ask them for knowledge of local things to do and see. Embrace all cultures, indigenous or otherwise with respect and an eagerness to learn and contribute.

Overcoming my Fears

Biggest fears for this trip include the following – Snakes, spiders, drop bears….well pretty much every dangerous animal that might stalk me in the middle of the night. The water level rising up to my tent in the middle of the night making bringing my tent into the ocean floating. Breaaaakkkkkdowwwnnssss as in mechanically for my car, not mentally, hopefully not mentally. Sadly hitting animals on the road :'(. Obviously crazy people!. Picking up hitchhiker’s (although I maybe shouldn’t hmm i don’t know how I feel about this yet, probably too risky as I am alone). I fear the loneliness might get to me. The looonnngggggg drive, possibly leading to fatigue. Monsters in the dark, including ghosts and aliens and the whole paranormal and supernatural *shivers*…(come on Jason you’re not 5 anymore harden up).

Update Jan 2017: So far I have overcome all of those fears and none of them has stopped me on my track! Shows you how much fears actually play a part in your life when you just jump over them.

 

 

The Great Australian Road Trip – Part 1.1 – Sydney > Melbourne

Quick Facts

  • Status: Completed
  • Dates: 1st January 2018 to 10th January 2018
  • Objective: Sydney to Melbourne to Adelaide
  • Route: Coastal
  • Approx Distance: 2450 Kilometers
  • Approx Time Driven: 32 Hours
  • Accommodation: 6 Nights Camping/ 1 Night Car/ 2 Nights House

Insights

  • We are not on this Earth to live or be alone. To be social with one another is core to our existence whether we consider ourselves introverted or otherwise.
  • Tackling your fears head first is the best way to overcome them (Safely ofcourse).
  • It’s more difficult than you think to foresee where you may end up in life, where you might settle and live, how your relationships will turn out and what career you might set your path upon.
  • It’s possible to live life or atleast short bursts of it purely based on spontaneity and trust in your gut feeling.
  • Always, always make time to take the scenic route, miss a turn onto the highway and drive off the beaten path. You’ll be surprised where it takes you.
  • Simply ask the locals what you should do when you get there, they’ll talk of places and things to do that you just can’t find anywhere else. TripAdvisor is one thing, but a true local is another!

Introduction

And Kaboom! It’s 2018 and we’re off to a good start! First of all, Happy New Year to all the amazing people in my life who have all contributed to my happiness and success over the past few years, I truly wish you all the best. Here’s to bigger, bolder and more amazing years for us to come!

Day 1

For me, however, the journey begins here at day 1. Preparation is the key! So here we are, my stock for the next 10 days (not including my exclusive clothing collection). Please for my sake let me know if there’s something I’ve forgotten ❤

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Sometimes things just work out for the best. Day 1 was a lot about that! Only from missing a turn off the highway did I discover the route through Kangaroo Valley and oh how that was such a beautiful drive. Between Mittagong and Glenquarry I drove through a pass on the Range Road, it’s one those drives that is so reminiscent of what Hollywood movies would portray as a a dreamy road trip.

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It was often that I could not help but stop the car to just enjoy the view in front of me. Think about the image below, imagine yourself standing where I was with a paintbrush and a blank canvas. Maybe this is where inspiration truly comes from, you tell me.

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After following the road for some time I stumbled upon a place called the Fitzroy Falls Lookout, completely unintended as I had not even known it was there. After a short hike, I was presented with this view for the Sunset!

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It was just about dinner time I thought, cheating for the first night I pulled out what mum had packed for me this morning. I was surprised at how empty the lookout was considering the view in front of me. I sat down and had my own little picnic by the lookout.

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And of course midway through my meal I was met with some passerby (I don’t know how to spell that). A Spanish couple here on holidays, 4-day road trip to Melbourne and a family of 5 whom I took a photo for. They had a son who as soon as he saw the book I was reading (Harry Potter) was excitedly talking to me about how he’d just finished it and absolutely loved it; mind you he was like 5 years old. I then proceeded to make my way down the mountain through a series of really fun tight corners. Now, won’t you look at that beauty.

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The next pit stop on the map was Ulladulla. When I got there and to my happy surprise there was a carnival on! Lots of noisy machines, fun rides, carnival games and food littered the park. I couldn’t help but stop for a little walk.

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By this time I found the beach to camp at for the night it was already midnight! Luckily the full moon was out, beautifully lighting up the night sky and sea. There is not much that can compare to the peaceful sound of waves coming ashore throughout the night. I took out some snacks and began by nibbling on some biscuits and a celery stick before I fell into a deep sleep that would prepare me for the next day.

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Day 2

Rolling hills as far as the eyes can see. That’s how I would describe today. But before that let’s start from the beginning. Breakfast in one photo…

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Then off to our next stop, Batemans Bay! Oh, the memories (shoutout to TBL!). I ended up taking a break in this…water gazebo…and didn’t even notice the time go by reminiscing about good old times and just generally enjoying the great sunny weather. Next thing I knew it was half past 12.

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Back on the road I go, on my way to my next destination when I bumped into a town called Mogo. This old mining town has changed a lot in the years and it now boasts over a dozen dedicated antique/gift shops along with a variety of local restaurants serving everything from homemade pies and desserts to candy and well more candy! I was surprised to see most of the shops open and a great buzz in the air from all the passing tourists, I couldn’t help but check out some of the shops, sadly a lot of the things I wanted were too large or heavy for me to take on my flight back home. Back on the road, I made my way down to a town called Narooma. There is where I found what I had been looking for since the beginning of this road trip. Showers. Public showers for the beachgoers coming out from the seawater. Little did they know that I was literally taking a shower, after jumping on the beach of course! The water was super nice! Not too salty, nice and cool, not too cold and calm gentle waves, here’s a photo of that beach, not so much the sparkling clean Jason.

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And another photo from the lookout on the right side of the photo above. The beach I was just on you can see to the left of the photo below. Absolutely stunning!

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Now back on track to Eden taking the scenic routes through Tilba Tilba and Wallaga. Soooooo many hills as green and grassy as the eyes can see, it’s quite dreamy actually. The pictures don’t do them justice, it gives you that feeling of hey… I want to escape everything, I want to build a house on top of one of these hills and have this view every day!

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Now I’ve been to Eden before, twice actually, but not like this. I don’t know why I’d never been up to the lookout but here I was, and there I spent Athens next hour or so having dinner and just overlooking the beauty of nature. Mind you that by this time the weather had totally changed, shortly after arriving a storm began to build and in the distance you could hear it all unfolding. This storm is still raging in the distance and as I lay here in my tent, ready for another night on the beach, I feel that I won’t be able to help being awoken by its distant rumbles.

 

 

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In the light of the full moon, sounds of the waves coming ashore and the distant rumbles of a storm not too far away, good night my friends ❤️

Day 3

What an incredible day. Today was an example of a day where time felt like it was not a problem, that it would go on forever. It’s a point that I make when I travel that I don’t plan things too tightly, that I make sure there is leg room for me to explore what I see in that very moment instead of rushing off quickly to the next (It also gives way to Murphy’s Law).

For example today I reached the town of Griffith’s, I thought I’d stay here for maybe 3 hours before I journeyed off…I ended up staying here for 7 hours and spending the night as well…now how the hell did that happen? I’ll explain further below. I woke up early today, I must have had a wonderful sleep because I was wide awake and ready for the next journey ahead. Half an hour later I was at Lake Conran, a short scenic route I decided to take for no particular reason. When I got there, however, there was quite a few cars and a dozen people doing Yoga on the grass! This is crazy because I’m pretty sure we were far from pretty much anything and here I am watching these people doing Yoga. Well, I didn’t stay long as the BBQs nearby were making me hungry…they had sausages and steak and I had a banana, apple, carrot and a tuna sandwich…not very appetizing once you’ve had it 3 days in a row. I walked down to the beach and climbed some rocks where the waves were crashing up against. To my surprise in the distance were a number of surfers riding some pretty big waves, this was quite a nice scene to just sit and watch and so I did for awhile.

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A little further down and I was at the Snowy River Estuary which was reaaaaaly pretty, I’m pretty sure this was man made right? #factcheck.

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Another little further down I passed a sign saying the old Stony Creek Trestle bridge driving at 100km/hr, I quickly made a stop, literally reversed back to the turn and asked myself (out loud), what the hell is a Trestle bridge??? I guess I’ll find out so I made my way to the dirt road which was quite fun kicking dust around and wearing out my tires (which I would do a lot more later). I get to this bridge and I’m like wow, it’s beautiful! So then I set upon climbing some of its trusses lol just for monkey fun.

 

 

The dirt road back to the main highway was bumpy and posed a serious car bog threat (I’m just making up my own words and grammar now). But hey I kind of felt like I was in a rally car, thank god this was a hire care because the amount of dust I was kicking up when I was drifting those corners was incredible (don’t do this at home kids, don’t be like badass Jason). See back to the main point, when you give yourself the freedom of time you can randomly do things like this, just casually go on a rally course. Okay, that was a bit risky and somewhat irresponsible but yeah well it’s done…moving on! I saw a camel farm way out there as well that was incredibly random; they were grazing on green grassy hills…not dessert like sand dunes…

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It’s about 2pm when I arrive at Griffith and 5 minutes in, I’m already loving this sea town. Fresh seafood restaurants and takeaways everywhere! I’m lying in my tent at midnight getting hungry writing this down but oh hell yeah did I get a fisherman’s basket for lunch Yumm!!

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I then sat by the water for an after snack with my carrot and apple when these black swans come sliding over like a gang rounding me up. So I gave them some carrot and some apple; neither of which did they proceed to eat and only slowly swimming away after that. I realised at that moment that I also wanted nothing more to do with carrots for the rest of this trip.

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I was then about to head off when I saw something really cool in the distance, an amusement park! And I was hooked right back in again, sadly it wasn’t open until 6pm…one look on the other side of the river had me curious though so I crossed the bridge and that’s when I decided I’m going to be here for the rest of the day and into the night. The beach was absolutely gorgeous! And I’ve said this a few times already I know but wow this was my favourite yet. So I spent the rest of the afternoon on the sand and in the sun reading and snacking before I made my way back to the amusement park for some more fun.

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Oh, and plus, I’m bringing sexy back, with my farm hats (super effective against the sun). Gosh, I look like such a Chinaman!

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Oh and also the sunset was on point (y)

 

To retire for the night I am camping on this incredible spot high up in one of these sand dunes on the beach. Imagine this, to your behind you have the town across the long stretch of the river, along with that town is the amusement park. On each of the sides, you have dunes full of sand and those beach plants (Iunno) in the front is the ocean full of waves crashing ashore and up above is a full moon and stars shining so bright. That is where I am now and that is where I will fall asleep tonight. Good night you all ❤️

Day 4

So day 4 comes along and it’s probably the most driving I have done on this trip so far. From berry picking to hiking and making my way right up to Melbourne rural towns I’ve almost made it to midway! The day started late for me as the night before I’d stayed up late admiring the view I had. Midway through the drive, I came across a massive corn field (that is corn right?). Couldn’t help but stop to contemplate whether I should jump the fence and run around inside of it, maybe find a crop circle or something. So tempting but in the end, I didn’t have the guts to trespass. One day I will experience that movie like feeling of running through a cornfield though.

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Shortly after, and hungry, I made my way to a berry picking farm! The farm was actually really cool! I thought I’d only be picking some Strawberries but it turns out there were heaps of others, a large assortment of blueberries and blackberries of many types which were great to eat while I was picking. That was breakfast sorted, berries; and probably some bugs I mistakenly ate with those berries (oh well, more protein right?).

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Then it was the long drive to Mt Oberon where I’d opted for the scenic route. Farm and more rolling hills everywhere. These were the roundest bumps I’d ever seen, so smooth you just want to lay on them. By my gosh were there a lot of farms in those Hills!

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To get up to Mt Oberon’s summit, you first go to this massive camping spot called Tidal River and catch a free shuttle up to the entrance of the hike. When I got there I realised I’d missed the last shuttle up so when that happens they allow you to drive up the mountain and so I did. The twists and turns and the 100ft drops at first were pretty scary but hey remember that we have an experience Rally car driver here so no worries. Once at the top you being your hour-long hike to the summit. Being the first hike I’d done on this trip so far I quite enjoyed the walk at first. It was only an hour each way but if you’re fat and unfit like me out felt like a lifetime with plenty of water and snack breaks, mostly snack breaks (and now you know why the struggle is real). Well worth it though because the view was absolutely amazing from the summit! Comparable to the hikes I’d done in New Zealand which is quite a feat. When I reached the top I was greeted by four Korean travellers who had also just reached the top of the peak so they were ecstatic for all of us congratulating our success when we got up there. We talked about fried chicken and Soju and wished we’d had a bottle up there to celebrate the moment.

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Back down to Tidal River walked along the beach where so many families were playing games and riding bikes around. I camped for the night with what looked like thousands of others, it’s a really beautiful area to camp. So with that, I leave you at day 4 so exhausted but happy to almost be in Melbourne.

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Day 5

Melbourne was just the way I remembered it. I’ll keep this day a bit shorter because for me this was a mid-way pit stop to take a break, catch up with a friend and just generally recover. I arrived in the early afternoon in the posh suburb of South Yarra, okay that’s not fair to say posh but it was quite a peaceful area with expensive cars roaming the streets around most corners and nice clean cut shops lining the main street. I don’t know how else you would describe that. Making my way into the city was easy having both the option of train and tram, I decided to go on the train as I thought the old Victorian style of the station was quite cool.

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Before I knew it I was already at Federation Square, oh the memories here where I’d attended in a flash mob dance with 80 other people. I don’t think I’d ever forget that (shoutout to TBL again!)

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For lunch, i made my way to Roule Galette for some authentic French Crepes which were an absolute delight! It’s a small and cosy French restaurant hidden away in an alleyway, everyone who works there speaks French as well and it just gave the place a really chill vibe. I ended up just roaming the city centre very slowly soaking up the local busker’s music as I walked past or took a seat in the shade. Hours passed like this so fast and the next thing you know I was catching up with a good old friend of mine. A nice cold beer and some fried chicken later we tried out this really cool bar called Storyville! Walking inside really was a bit like a fairytale scene with the heavy roots of trees climbing the stairway, glowing mushrooms all around and Alice in Wonderland type decorations. Eventually, i met up with another friend as well and it was just really nice just to have some good friends to talk to after going about it all on my own in the past 5 days. (Shoutout to JinLu for coming by to say hi and catching up and Christine for hanging out after work and the awesome hospitality of letting me couch crash for the night! Plus the nice breakfast <3)

 

 

 

Continue the road trip on the next post from Melbourne to Adelaide…

The Great Australian Road Trip – Part 1.2 – Melbourne > Adelaide

Continuing from Part 1.1

Day 6

Hot hot hot! Was it really 26 degrees yesterday and today 41? and for the rest of the week back to 21? I don’t understand how weather works, if anyone does, please educate me. Anyhoo because of this extreme weather today consisted of me mostly jumping out of my car for a photo or two of whatever it was and sprinting back to my car which was still on with the aircon on full blast. Have you ever complained that the aircon in the car wasn’t enough? even on full blast and dial maxed to the blue? I have not until this day.

First stop was Geelong, nothing much to see so I didn’t stop (wasn’t worth stepping out into the scorching fire of hell outside), okay so technically that wasn’t a stop. Torquays surfing town was the real first stop and I tell you now, everyone was at the beach today, there was simply not enough sand for the number of people wanting to pitch their tents of lay down to bathe. That is all I saw, 5 minutes later I was back in my car with the (still disappointing) air conditioning.

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Now some of your guys know that i like lighthouses. I think they’re pretty cool, I mean their function and use are pretty simple to understand but I guess it’s just the thought of it in the dark.

“It’s the late 1800’s, you’re out there in the middle of the ocean and your main source of navigation is still a map and your trusty compass. The ocean waves are pounding against your ship from everywhere below, the strong chilly wind is fighting against your every will to keep any direction ahead and then suddenly you see a flash of light; and then another, and of course another follows. The one light in the absolute pitch darkness of the ocean where you have been for months guides you along the coast safely and soundly, a bright beam of hope and warmth.”

Neglecting the fact that I’ve not much accuracy in my historical facts and that the stars and moon had suddenly vanished from the sky those few months in my tale, I think it’s quite an inspirational image (in my mind at least). I guess I’m also a bit warm towards lighthouses because of one of my favourite games called “To The Moon”…but you can check that out yourself (10/10).

Anyways, here’s a picture of the Split Point Lighthouse. (While on the lookout my farm hat flew off my head and I had to fetch it from one of the cliff faces but hey I survived and that’s all that matters).

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The Great Ocean road continued and at about every 10 minutes drive there were cars parked all along the road and lookouts where so many people would go down to the beaches off the coast for a swim. There are literally dozens of beaches along the first 1/5th stretch of the Great Ocean Road and most of them were full of families. Did I stop and get out to have a look? hell naw.

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Shortly passing under the Great Ocean Road Arch I reached Lorne was a really nice seaside town (and trust me, I’ve seen many on this trip *rolls eyes*). It was sort of a combined holiday destination, pit stop and backpackers hut so it had a mix of everything. A cool line of Golden Cypress Trees lined one of the streets which I really liked, shops lined the main road and at the end was a pretty cool bar and rooftop bar which played some loud music that echoed through the town. I don’t think I was cool enough to enter though, everyone seemed to have long golden locks and surfer bodies and I had short black hair with a dad bod. Anyways, the award-winning chunky steak pie was nice!

 

Lookout’s galore! There was a particular lookout that stood out though, this one talked about William Buckley and his endeavours in the early 1800s. The text and his quote kind of touched me a bit, see for yourself.

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“It is sheltered by very high overhanging land so that the sun seldom shines upon it, the tide apparently never receding from it as the depth of water seemed to be always the same”.

I sat there for awhile, looking at the high walls of the cliffs and deeps waters of the ocean and understood him as if I were there 200 years ago.

“I remember a fancy coming over me that i could have remained at that spot for all the rest of my life; but this solitary desire was but temporary,…as it was never intended that man should live alone…”

This struck me hard, being on my own for the past few days on this trip, how right he was how man was not intended to live and at that moment I was excited to continue the trip, ever closer to being home with my family and friends.

Some drive later I reached Apollo Bay and another carnival. What is with these coastal carnivals I asked myself and they seem to be of such popularity as well. I thought hard and well for a moment and realized that apart from all the beautiful beaches and landscape, there isn’t much else to do in towns like these. I wonder, is the carnival some big event for them? is it like something really special when it comes? Do the families, couples and kids all come out to play when they arrive? I think it is all a yes. I giggle a little as I think about my options if I were to take a girl out on a date. “Oh Nancy, I heard about this really cool carnival coming to town later this evening, would you like to join me on some of the rides?” and excitedly she’d accept and we’d have a great time. Of course, this could only be true if girls were real and not some figment of my imagination.

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Pizza was for dinner and I think after all that loneliness of today there was only one really bright side to it all. That I didn’t have to share any of the eight beautiful slices of pizza. Oh how that was like heaven in my mouth, if I was kidnapped and tortured to death after that moment I would have died a happy man. I found it curious however that the price of a Margarita (all cheese) pizza and a pizza with “The lot” (ham, cheese, onion, mushroom, prawns, capsicum, olives, anchovies and pineapple, yes pineapple) were the same price. Of course, i’d go for the latter, who in their right mind would not right? I’m not sure I can be your friend if you said otherwise.

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For dessert, i got sucked into this ice cream shop which had a line all the way up till 10:30pm in the night….like what! Turns out it was Dooley’s Ice cream, apparently multi-award winning ice creams with over 378 awards and 30 trophy’s under their belt! Check out that wall! How could I say no to that? Half an hour later I was slobbering all over my chocolate and amereno cherry ice cream scoops on a cone and yeah, they were pretty good.

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That night, being as it was so late by the time I’d finished that ice cream, I parked by the side of the road and slept in my car.

Day 7

Rocks rocks and more rocks. Today I saw a lot of rocks by the sea, I met a french guy who’s hair was as wild as his ideas for life and an Aussie with two German girls who all worked at a winery which I may visit in the following days, maybe. I’ve yet to acquire the subtle fruity crisp dry oaky finish….okay I’m just saying random words now to describe wine but yeah, that taste. Cape Otway! Yay! another lighthouse, and this time I can see it for more than 5 minutes because it’s not flaming hot out there. Then I realized it was $20 to enter the park area…..or I could go on a little hike and see it from a distance, so I took the long route. I did, however, buy this cool little fridge magnet about why ships are typically called by the name “she”.

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A ship is called a she because there is always a great deal of bustle around her; there is usually a gang of men about; she has a waist and stays; it takes a lot of paint to keep her good-looking; it is not the initial expense that breaks you, it is the upkeep; she can be all decked out; it takes an experienced man to handle her correctly; and without a man at the helm, she is absolutely uncontrollable. She shows her topsides, hiders her bottom and, when coming into port, always heads for the buoys.

I saw some Koalas! omg, are they cute sitting up there on their eucalyptus trees eating and sleeping. The one closest to the ground, I could see him sitting on one thin branch, his butt wrapping around that branch and looking ever so comfortable and stable. I’m not sure if I could do that and still be that comfortable or even be able to walk the next day. Sadly I don’t have a good enough camera to take photos of small objects at a distance so yeah, you’re going to have to deal with this fuzzy one. DCIM103GOPROGOPR4306.JPG P.S did I mention Koalas are so cute?! ❤

And then I reached the great and almighty 12 apostles! Before that, i had taken a walk down to the beach which saw two of the 12 apostles. It was super duper pretty and I definitely recommend you do so if you’re ever in the area. I like the really high cliff face contrasts against the apostles, the cliff wall or whatever I’m making up names kind of looks like the “The Wall” in Game of Thrones if it were covered in Ice but hey maybe that’s just my imagination running wild.

 

Then we have the main lookout for the apostles and well it was pretty beautiful, you could look straight down and almost align the apostles together. Sadly with all the weathering of the apostles, there is kind of only like 7 left. They still look nice and the viewing platform is great for it although there were sooooooo many tourists trying to get their own perfect shot… I’ve never really enjoyed places where there are just too many tourists trying to take photos over and over again. So I bid the apostles goodbye and I made my way along. Oh and I also used that machine thingy to print my own penny, that was cool.

 

Shortly after there were more rocks at the Arch and the London Bridge (which has now since fallen due to natural wind erosion), not to jinx the real one but yeah, probably some conspiracy theory there somewhere.

Side note: Why are there so many flies everywhere I go???!?!? you’d think all the deadly Australian outback spiders would have webs the size of your car to catch them all right? if only they’d stop wasting their time trying to kill us, humans, they’d have plenty of flies for food by now.

A random decision to turn into this dirt road actually led me to one of the best camping spots I have taken upon this trip so far. In fact, I am sitting on a cliff face right now (the next morning) with my laptop on my lap writing three days worth of blog posts with a view which is just amazing. I guess a photo or video will mean a thousand words here.

VIDEO

Day 8

I spent a lot of the early hours today continuing my drive up to Adelaide. Nearing the end of the Great Ocean road and upon leaving Victoria and entering South Australia there wasn’t too much to see apart from lots of dried yellowed brush on the hills in the distance.

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A few small country towns also placed themselves on the great highway, most of which were quite empty and slow. It seemed like these towns were a great place to live the rest of your lives carefree, quiet and peaceful, a friendly and supportive community. I stopped by a small town looking for a place to have brunch. Not too many choices on the plate but I went to the one which looked quite busy (busy meaning more than 3 people in the restaurant at any one time). The food was great! Charcoal chicken and a salad on the side. As I ate I watched quietly, the restaurant owners would greet everyone who came in by their first name and strike up conversations as if it were just a continuation of the days before. When these people asked how the other was doing it really felt like they cared, as if already ready to offer a hand if ever in need.

Crossing the border was one hell of a sight. For hours on end, I would be driving through massive blocks of pine trees, lined perfectly throughout the hills. I was crossing the Palpara Plantation, hundreds of kilometres which were cleared and designated for lumbering. The trees, as densely packed as possible made it impossible for light to penetrate into the plantation floor making the view from the outside looking in, very grim. Dirt roads would lead into the plantation and it would be absolutely pitch black, I don’t think anything could survive in there, an environment only humans could conjure where nothing else lives but these wooden towers. The picture below, which is sadly the only one I remembered to take at the time is an area which wasn’t so bad compared to others I saw on the drive.

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Then I reached Mt Gambier. Whenever you arrive at a town or place with the title Mt you’d think you’d see some tall mound of earth towering over some town, but this was not the case here, I didn’t really see a mountain anywhere. The Umpherson Sinkhole is where I arrived at first, some of you may have heard of it before, recently popularized in some travel videos on Facebook and the such. It’s pretty much a really big hole in the ground created through thousands of years of corrosion in the ground. This big hole was owned by some rich guy with the surname Umpherson who’d made it into a garden in the backyard of his mansion, and then so and so until this day. I was actually quite impressed with it, it was really nice and cool down there and the plants and little ecosystem were buzzing (literally with all the bees) all about. Look how green and lush it is!

 

Another really cool attraction at Mt Gambier was the Blue Lake. At first hearing it you think omg not another one of these, lakes are such common attractions and they usually give lakes common names such as this to attract tourists so I really wondered how blue this lake would be (especially since I’ve been to New Zealand where the blue lakes are seriously blue like the sky blue (Yeah wow)). It turns out that the lake was actually pretty blue! the photo does it no justice though. Oh and the lake was not just any lake, it’s an old extinct volcano ❤ Oh and also someone built this house on the inside edge of it.

 

The sun was beginning to fall now when I hit this crossroad on the Princess Highway. To the left of me in the far distance was the longest strip of wind turbines I have ever seen, on the map I realised it was going to be a 2 hr detour out to the middle of nowhere if I decided to go, and the sun was falling fast, if my car got stuck out there i would have been in trouble but I went anyway. Wind farms have always been really beautiful things to me, so sleek and sexy, an environmentally friendly giant, whats not to love.

 

I bet you didn’t notice my super pro camera technique above where you can see the shadow of my car against the backdrop. You can thank me later for what you’ve learned.

After some Thai food, Pad Se Ew and Fried ice cream. I food coma’ed heavily on the sands of Beachport and slept like a baby.

Day 9

Salt creeks, salt lakes, clay creeks, clay lakes! they all don’t smell very good, do they? or maybe you’re lucky enough to have never driven through one before. The whole morning was spent driving through a coastal area known as the Coorong which leads up to the city of Adelaide, much of it was clay and salt and a mix of them both. From the Granites to the Salt Creek up to the lookout at Jack point there wasn’t much to see but salt, dead or struggling to survive trees and bush and clay.

DCIM103GOPROGOPR4644.JPG Once I got out of there and back to where things actually survive I reached this really cool little park called the Old Tailem Town. An old Pioneering town where you could have a glimpse of how early settlers lived. Super Super cool! It takes over 3 hours to see everything inside the park, sadly I didn’t have time to go in and see the majority of it but here are some awesome pics from the outside. I’ll be back one day Old Tailem Town!

 

And then I reached the beautiful city of Adelaide and the first thing I did was find a place to eat, any place. Ended up having a yummy gourmet hot dog, some calamari rings and chips, ahhh nothing better than fat food to satisfy bad cravings. The second thing I did, because I had arrived in Adelaide relatively early is I went to the YMCA for a swim, spa and sauna <3. The pools were right in the middle of this large park in the eastern posshyyy suburbs of Adelaide, so I had time for a bit of a stroll in the park afterwards as well.

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I was then off to the Botanical gardens where I spent the majority of the rest of the day. The gardens were really pretty! and there were plenty of spots where I just chose to sit down, relax and open up my book to read. a dozen chapters and hours later, the sun was saying goodbye to which would be my last night spent out on this road trip.

But before the night would end a friend would offer to take me on a drive throughout the city. From almost forgetting where she’d parked her car the night took a better turn from there, taking me on a route that would pass through Chinatown, the main road leading up to Rundle Mall and Adelaide’s tiny red light district. We then made our way to the 24 hour and very busy O’Connell bakery and had a drink to catch up at the bar next door. A shoutout and thanks for taking me around Liz!

With the last night of my trip, I decided I deserved a nice break and a good nights sleep. I took up a room in a backpackers lodge as it was quite late and slept on a comfy bed ready for my last day spent in Adelaide.

Day 10

I woke up early this morning, rolling comfortably in bed, quite missing my own one back home. I think when you get the feeling of being ready to go home, that means that you are quite content with where you have been.

Mt Lofty was only a short drive from the city to my surprise. 30minutes from the city and you’re on this mountain top looking over the entire city. The day was a bit gloomy, clouds overhead but that didn’t deter me from enjoying the lookout and taking some short hiking paths on the mountaintop. I was still early so there weren’t too many people about but from what could see, this would be a really nice spot for a family picnic. A small souvenir shop helped me make another cool little penny and the restaurant up top served me a big breakfast with a view.

 

I then made my way down the mountain to the Mt Lofty Botanical Gardens, sat by this tree and enjoyed taking some selfies and reading my book. It was a pretty big botanical garden with not too much to see around the park, after walking for like an hour you’d only manage to pass one or two areas where there were flowers or interesting plants.

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What is a trip to Adelaide without visiting the main downtown road of Rundle Mall? so that I did, making my way back into the city. After driving around looking for parking I quickly realised that the car parks are well priced unlike in the Sydney city CBD. I wondered the main strip of the CBD which if you asked me to describe it, I’d say it’s like a mini Melbourne. If the city could talk it would say that “when I grow up, I want to be just like Melbourne”! With street performers, art decors and savvy shops and events lined up throughout the year there’s no wonder I’d say that.

Note: Look out for Adelaide’s annual Fringe Festival! (16th of February to 18th of March 2018) where the entire city is transformed into one big cabaret, comedy, circus, dance, film, theatre, music, visual art and design centre and street performers from all around Australia get together to take part.

 

Staying for as long as I could, I took my last glance over at the city before making my way to the airport. There, I cleaned up the really messy car before I handed it back to the rental desk and made my way to my flight. Content with the success of this trip and ready to go home, I boarded the plane with a big smile and an eagerness to start what would hopefully be a big and successful year for me.

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Thank You for making it down to here! I hope that you enjoyed the read and that in some way I could help inspire you to take on the challenges and fears that you may face when you attempt anything that you have always wanted to do. For me, this has always been on my bucket list and it is something I have been putting off for a long time using the same old excuses. In the end, I just decided to go and follow my gut. It is with that one line that I continue to believe in, that if we trust ourselves to overcome anything, we can achieve it. A lot of the times we don’t do something because we are scared, because we fear the unknown, that we have not done enough to prepare. We hold back on doing it until it becomes harder and harder for us to complete that goal, to a point where it may feel impossible. At that moment we look back and realise how easy it would have been to start it when we had the chance.

Think about something in your life that you are holding back on right now. It could be something small like going to an event that no one you know is going to or something big like a career change / moving overseas and think deeply about the way that you are disguising the fact that it is actually fear that is stopping you from doing it Maybe you’re saying things like, I don’t really like that event anyways or there’s always a next one or wait till I have my life settled in this and that way before I do it. This is no easy task because it is in our nature to deny that fear has a part to play in why we can’t achieve something.

I wish you all the very best in taking on your goals for 2018! Remember to always dream big and use action as your blade that will drive through the mist of the unknown.

 

Love to all,

Jason L

 

P.S. End + Bloopers + Random

So this is like me the whole time driving on the road trip. Yes, those are pretty much like driving gloves, I don’t know what you call them but if it’s not obvious it’s to help shade my arm against the burning hot Australian sun or else I would have come back with one burnt and dark arm. And yeah, a towel for my legs. #YouLearnEveryDay

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