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Showing posts from January, 2014

Tour Down Under

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This weekend we got to enjoy Phil's Christmas present, a trip to Adelaide to watch the Tour Down Under bike race.  We headed over early Saturday morning and hopped a bus that took us to McLarren Vale for the 5th stage of the race.  We claimed a good spot along the road just after the start and took in the atmosphere as we waited for the race to start.  Right next to the start line was a gum tree missing most of its leaves; perched on a branch was a koala taking a nap, unimpressed with all of the racket surrounding it.  Only in Australia.


The race started in a flash of colour and spinning wheels.  The sound of all of those bikes ring by just seconds apart was impressive.  After they passed we boarded the bus and headed down the road to Willunga in preparation for the hill clim portion of the race.  The bikes passed by five times in total before an exciting finish just after the hill.  
We stayed right in the middle of Adelaide City, which made it very easy to walk to the final stage,…

Time for a Cool Change

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Wow, this week was a scorcher.  Four days of over 41 C made it a record-breaking heat wave and let me tell you, Melbourne is not built for the heat.  Most houses and trams don't have air conditioning and the roads start to melt and train tracks start to buckle.  The Melbourne Star ferris wheel is a great example of how poorly this city copes with the heat - when it opened in 2008 it only ran for 40 days before a hot day caused the structure to crack.  Five years later the rebuild has finally finished and the ride is now open, though no doubt anyone who knows the history is afraid of riding it.

It was so warm that the A/C at worked stopped functioning properly and we were #20 on the repairman's list.  Numerous fires also ignited with one large one still burning through the Grampians.  Thursday evening our entire area was blanketed in smoke, and when we looked up what was in the area we we shocked to see this incident map.

So in the midst of all this hot crankiness the Australian …

Lake Mountain

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Summer weather has finally arrived which means it's no longer quilt season, it's time to explore Melbourne season.  Today we drove to Lake Mountain, a bit East of Marysville in the Great Dividing Range near Melbourne.  In the winter months, Lake Mountain is a snow resort but the rest of the year it's one of the Seven Peaks of Victoria that bike enthusiasts like to ride up.  There is a passport with each page dedicated to one of these peaks, and the goal is to ride each one and get the passport stamped.
Phil set off on his bike from Marysville and I took a relaxed drive up to the top to explore.  It was a beautiful area, covered in gum trees of every shape and size.  Unfortunately the area burned very heavily in the Black Saturday bush fires of 2009 so some areas of vegetation were only a few years into the regrowth process.
 Even with this devastation still visible the area was spectacular and the crisp small of clean mountain air was rejuvenating.
 After my drive I explored …

Wave Rock to Perth

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After a beautiful few days in Esperance it was time to start the journey back to Perth.  We decided to break the long drive up by stopping at Wave Rock in Hyden for the night.  It was a four hour drive to Hyden, in the middle of the Wheatbelt - which means nothing around but fields of wheat -  and when we got there it was HOT.  And BORING.  With my already sunburned legs I decided to keep my jeans on, and between the heat and the pain that walking caused I was pretty unimpressed.

I have to give the Wave Rock Tourist Park credit for hyping up the few "activities" in the area.  We decided to drive a few minutes down the road to another rock formation, thinking at least we could be in the air conditioned car for a few more minutes.  Funny though, I haven't a clue what the place was called and even google doesn't seem to know what it's called.  We walked around briefly, but it was not very exciting and it was still very hot so we decided to return to the caravan park…

Esperance

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When Phil first suggested doing the Busselton Ironman I thought it would be a perfect excuse to finally see Esperance.  I'd seen many pictures of its because Solar Turbines runs the power generation facility for the town and the promotional pictures of that site always show beautiful turquoise beaches with kangaroos lounging on the white sand.  I knew Esperance would be gorgeous, and the rest of the amazing places we saw along the way were just salted caramel mixed into the already delicious dark chocolate.
Before heading to Esperance we had to explore the sites of Albany, namely The Gap and Natural Bridge.  The Bridge is a rock formation that was created when the intense waves pulverised the rocks below the formation, and The Gap was created when a former rock bridge crumbled.  The size of these rock formations was enormous, pictures don't really show the true scale.  Most remarkable about this place is the rocks are a direct match with rocks on the North coast of Antarctica, …