Sunday, January 30, 2011
I didn't want to leave Australia without getting a chance to see the outback. So I booked a walk in the bush to the Wilsons Promontory, a beautiful nature-preserve about 4 hours from Melbourne on the southern-most tip of mainland Australia. The geography is a combination of coastal dunes, dry low-lying grasslands and jungle-like mangroves. At the southern peninsula are spectacular ocean views from the top of rocky cliffs.
I booked the trip on my first day in Melbourne, but a couple days later I changed hotels and called the service to inform them of my move. I guess they didn't convey the message to the driver because on the day of the trip I waited for an hour while the driver was parked in front of the wrong hotel. I was lucky because they were about to leave without me when I called to inform them of their mistake. Of course by the time they picked me up everyone on the bus was pissed off thinking it was my fault. So I turned the charm on full-blast and over the course of the drive I won them over.
On the way to the Prom we stopped in an artists colony called Fish Creek. It was a beautiful area, nestled into the rolling farmlands of Victoria. I heard the song of an Australian Magpie hiding up in the treetops. It was a very curious and unique sound. As I was commenting on it a local hippie walked by and stopped to talk to us about the Magpie and then proceeded to imitate the bird by cocking his neck back and going "KOOWA!!! COOO!! COOO!!! KOOOOWACOOO!!!!!" I think he scared the real bird away.
Wilson's Prom was hit by a bad fire earlier that year, and much of the grasslands were still charred from the destruction. But the area was fast repairing itself and you would see a mixture of blackened branches interspersed with lush green foliage. Upon crossing a stream the surroundings suddenly changed and we found ourselves in an ancient jungle that reminded me of the Jurassic period. Only moments later we emerged into a magic setting as we ascended a path enclosed by twisting branches to a view of the ocean at its pinnacle. Breath-taking.
Finally I went for a swim at Squeaky Beach. It's called Squeaky Beach because the sand particles are so fine that they squeak beneath your feet as you walk upon them. The water was freezing!!! But I went in anyway realizing I had never been in the ocean this far south on the southern hemisphere. I was so happy and reveled in the moment.
Saw this heart made of shells on the beach. Romantic.
As we were leaving the Prom we saw a family of kangaroos so our guide stopped the bus to let us take a peak. I separated myself from the pack so I could get a closer look without scaring the marsupials away. I got really close to one and pulled my camera out to take a few shots. However the kangaroo was lying in the sun and had no interest in being the subject of my photographs. He lazily watched me approach and, although I was only steps away from him, didn't move a muscle. He looked entirely bored. Hoping to get a more exciting photo I made a clicking sound with my mouth thinking that would instill more life into him. The sound seemed to startle him and he sprang up to his full height (I would say about 5 feet) staring me right in the eyes. Woah! I was suddenly face to face with a creature I knew nothing about and he looked hostile. I backed slowly away, trying not to look scared (I did manage to take a photo of him in this moment, see below). As I jumped back onto the bus I realized I came awfully close to getting into a fist fight with a kangaroo.
Before: bored kangaroo
After: the kangaroo wanting to kick my ass.
At the end of the day we stopped in a shop to get some eats. Not sure what chicken salt is.