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Monday, February 28, 2011

Anna in Wonderland - The Grampians part I

The Grampians is a series of mountain ranges 235 km west of Melbourne. Yes, we were getting closer to home. And it was getting really cold, too! We arrived during sunset and saw heaps of kangaroos.

The next day we started exploring. First we went to see the MacKenzie Falls

After that we did some walks and saw some amazing scenery.... 

Space to breathe!

More pics coming up soon!

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Friday, February 25, 2011

One Action-Packed Night in Adelaide

We arrived in Adelaide late in the evening and tried to find a good spot to camp for the night, where the van would be left unnoticed. Finally we drove to a rich suburb with nice houses by the beach and parked  the van next to the beach.

At night we woke up to strange noises outside. Finally we went outside to take look what is going on. There was a girl lying on the ground next to her car. She was unconscious and silently weeping. We couldn't wake her up. In the end we had to call an ambulance. We found some pills she had taken in her pocket. The paramedics called the police. The police wanted statements from us. We said we just got there, because it's not allowed to sleep in your car. Obviously they didn't believe us, but they let us stay.

In the morning we took a walk along the beach and saw some nice houses where I wouldn't mind living in. It was a quiet Saturday morning.

Back in Melbourne people often mock Adelaide. But I have to say, I really liked the capital of South Australia. Perhaps spending a month in the middle of nowhere had something to do with it. It was nice to be back among civilization for a change. 

Adelaide is the fifth biggest city in Australia. Still, it is about twice as big as Helsinki. It is known as the wine capital of Australia. We did a short walk around the city centre and visited the Central Market, which was really nice.

In the afternoon we climbed Mt Lofty. It was a really nice place with waterfalls and all the trees in autumn colours. The climb was hard, even though we didn't go all the way up. From the lookout you get nice views of the surrounding Adelaide Hills. But when we got there, it was too foggy. Later we drove up to the top to take a photo of Adelaide at night.

Next we started heading towards the Grampians....

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Monday, February 14, 2011

Wine Tasting in Clare Valley

Before arriving in Adelaide, we stopped in Clare Valley for some wine tasting and a bike ride.

The Clare Valley is one of Australia's oldest wine regions, with more than 40 wineries and vineyards. We only visited one this time. It was a jesuit-owned winery called Sevenhill, and it was the oldest one in the area. Very picturesque and charming place.

We hired some bikes and went for a 40 km bike ride. After spending 3 months just sitting in a car, some exercise felt good. 

It was a really nice day, beautiful place and all the trees in autumn colours. 

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Friday, February 11, 2011

Six Feet Under

It was time to head south towards South Australia and Adelaide. The scenery was flat and arid with little vegetation or settlement. 360 degrees of nothingness except for the long straight endless road.

Nice sunset at a rest area where we stayed one night. 

On the way we saw a few big salt lakes. 

Yeah, I shouldn't have let him drive!

One night we stayed at a small, eccentric town of Coober Pedy, 850 km north of Adelaide. The town is known as the Opal Capital of the World. Many movies have been filmed in the arid, apocalyptic landscape. At first glance the tiny township doesn't seem very fascinating. All you see is dust.

On the surface, the town doesn't seem very interesting.

This is because 85 % of the population lives underground to escape the extreme heat of the summer. They have underground churches, shops and hotels. The aboriginal name Coober Pedy means a white man's hole in the ground. Well, of course we had to try it out and we booked a hotel room for the night. The hotel was nicely built, way more than six feet under, dim, dank, but warm, which suited me, as the nights in the van started to get colder and colder the more south we went. This time we didn't have time to spare for mine visits or other attractions. We had dinner at a nice Greek restaurant and retired early to our cave.

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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Kings Canyon

The next day we drove to Kings Canyon. Kings Canyon is a part of Watarrka National Park. We did a 3-4 hour walk around the top of the Canyon. It was a hot day, and the walk started with a really steep climb that the locals call 'Heart Attack Hill', but it was one of the best walks we did during our trip, if not the best. 

The walls of Kings Canyon are 300 metres high. Needless to say, the views were AMAZING. 

Beehive rock formations called the 'Lost City'. Doesn't look like it belongs on this Earth. 

Wild watermelon!

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