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January 2002 Daily Diary

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In the morning we got up early, around 8:30 am.  We then ate breakfast, checked the billboards and internet in town and then came back to the hostel and took a nap.  We did not do much otherwise.  We later on walked down to the river and walked around a bit.  In the evening we ate dinner and went to bed fairly early.  So as one can see we had another exciting day in Perth with a little hang over from the night before. We are just too old and not used being out the whole night.


This morning started out by having breakfast and then looking at a van.  The van was ok, but in our mind too expensive.  Otherwise most cars were already sold that we called about.  When we got back to the hostel we started working on our website when 2 girls came by that we had sent a SMS to about a van.  We decided to go with them out of town where the van was parked.  One had to take a train there which took about 15 minutes.  The van was ok, but the main problem was that it had Northern Territory Registration and it would need a new registration within this month.  They first wanted 3500 A$ for the van, but had it now advertised for 2500 A$.  That was still too much for us, so we said no thank you basically.   They had to go back into Perth to do a few things, so we all went together.  We found out that they had an offer from a handler for 1000 A$ for the van.  We offered them 800 A$ but they refused of course.  We then thought about it a little and decided that we should buy the car and register it in Darwin when we get there.  That would be a risk we could take.  So we agreed upon them bringing the car to us tomorrow. Hopefully they come by tomorrow.  Later on we came back to the hostel and did some work on our website and then went to a bar where they were having a free meal and a free drink.  It was meat pie and fries with some vegetables.  It was alright and great because it was free.  A lot of bars have these nights here to attract customers.  After we ate though we came back to the hostel and wrote our diary further. 


Before 8:00 am in the morning the girls from Holland were already there. We quickly filled out the papers and handed over 1000 A$.  We felt a little bad that they had to sell the car so cheap. But the same thing could happen to us. So it is part of the risk one takes. Afterwards we checked out of the Backpackers and packed out stuff in our car.  Then we went to the motor vehicle department to get information on registering the car in Western Australia, but decided against it. First of all it would have taken more time, and second we might have to pay for a lot of repairs.  We hope we do not regret it later, because it is much easier to sell your car with WA plates because one can do everything through the mail or internet.   Later on we bought a road map of Australia, a 3 man tent, and a Latin America Spanish Lonely Planet Phrase book.  Hopefully we will be able to learn a few words of Spanish before we get to South America, at least Maren will be able. We also bought a tent, it was cheap, 25 US$ so we can also do a little camping along the way. It was really stupid to send our camping equipment home!  In the afternoon we went food shopping and then took off to Cervantes where the Pinnacles are.  We decided to park the car at a small rest area outside the park and camp there. It was free, so that was good. Maren was a bit uneasy the whole night because she was nervous sleeping somewhere on the side of the road.  But we had no problems.  It was just cool to have a van that we could sleep in and it also will save us some money on accommodation.


We woke up early and visited the Nambung National Park where the Pinnacles are. These are Limestone Pillars that extruding from the desert. It was quite nice but nothing spectacular.   Along the way we saw some kangaroos along the side of the road.  What one notices right away in Australia is the number of dead kangaroos on the road and on the sides of the road.  They must get whacked by cars all the time.  After Nambung National Park we drove north to Kalbarri National Park where they have some nice walking areas along the coast.  On the way we visited Hawks Head, where one is able to see a nice gorge.  One basically drives up to a look out point and is able to see the gorge.  We also bought a 4 week Western Australia Holiday National Park Pass which gives you access to all WA national parks.  It was a good deal for 22.50 A$ as one day passes cost 9 A$ per park.   A nice walk is the one that goes by the Mushroom Rock Gorge.  They are rock formations that look like mushrooms.  After doing a little walking around on two different walking trails we had a small picnic along the shore and then drove outside the park and camped alongside the road.  We are so far really happy that we bought the van.  Just hopefully it holds up. 


In the morning we drove to Hamelin Pool which is on Sharks Bay.  It is a World Heritage Site where there are Stromatolites which are thousands of years old.  There evolutionary life spans 3.5 billion years.  To the naked eye, or inexperienced eye one would not know what they are and their importance, but they are quite interesting to see.  There we also walked around for a while.  We decided not drive further to Monkey Mia and see the dolphins. We have not had any luck with dolphins on our tour going back to Zanzibar. It would have also been a lot of backtracking.   From the Hamelin Pool we drove to Carnarvon.  Itis famous for it's banana plantations. There we went food shopping at Woolworth's and filled our water bottles up in the bathroom.  After that we went to the beach and took a swim.  The water was refreshing but salty. After swimming we took a much needed shower at the beach bathroom.  The first shower in a couple of days.  We then decided to drive further and again found a spot along the road to park.


In the morning we drove to Coral Bay. The 250 km reef of the Nangaloo Marine National Park begins right here.  We rented some snorkel equipment for half a day. The snorkeling was amazing. First of all one could snorkel right of the beach.  There were lots of fish and coral and the water was perfectly clear.  One did not have to go scuba diving at all.  We both put t-shirts on and a lot of sun block.  The sun really shines down hard and hot.  Before we left we bought some ice, which melted right away in our cooler.  It is just so hot here in the mid afternoon.  In the late afternoon we drove further.  Along the way we were lucky to be able to fill up some water, even though the gas station owner did not really want to give us any.  We also were so thirsty that we bought a 4 A$ 1.25L Diet Coke.  That hurt!  We then drove little more than an hour and camped at a rest area where they had picnic tables.  Maren cooked noodles and tomato sauce.  It was really windy, so we had trouble getting our stove to stay on.  Also the flies were a major pest.  During the night it was really hot and we had trouble sleeping.  During the night we heard a lot of animal sounds coming from the woods around us.  What is amazing about Western Australia, is that one is almost always alone. One hardly sees anyone.  One gets a few cars passing once in a while, but one can go hours or almost a whole day without seeing anyone.  Also the dead kangaroos, birds, and lizards along the road are staggering.  They are sometimes every 100 meters or so. 


The next morning we drove to Karijini National Park.  There we visited the gorges in the early and late afternoon.  The gorges are very impressive and what make them worth while is that one can go swimming in the fresh water pools.  After just walking short distances in this heat they are a well welcomed refresher.  We stayed at the National Park's camping site near Dales Gorge.  There Maren cooked a beans and rice dinner. The flies were a major pest. We were the only ones in the camp ground.  What was nice was that they had gas stoves to use, even though they had no running water at the camp site. 


In the morning we went to Dales Gorge and then Forester Falls where we went swimming again.  Afterwards we left the Park and drove northwest to Port Hedland.  There we did some food shopping and bought some ice for the cooler. We also had a picnic lunch alongside the road next to the salt or iron oar plant.  From there we drove to the Eighty Miles Beach.  We took one of the exits off the highway to the beach.  Absolutely beautiful with absolutely not humans around.  The beach was completely empty.  We collected some sea shells. They were all over the place.  We also found a dead sea turtle on the beach.  The were a lot of turtle tracks imprinted in the sand.  Later on we drove a little further and slept alongside the road again.  Anyplace else in the world these types of beautiful beaches would be packed with people and there would be one souvenir shop after another.  So it is nice to see that this still exists. 


In the morning we got to Broome. There we went to a few garages for an oil change, but decided to not to get one just yet.  We then went to Cable Beach. A really nice beach that had just a few people on it.  We went swimming and buggy boarding.  It was a lot of fun, even though we were not great buggy boarders.  We then took a shower at the bathrooms at the beach and then went food shopping.  We also visited the Gantheaume Point where they have Dinosaur tracks at low tide, Anatasia's Pool (an artificial rock pool), and the cliffs that have been eroded by the sea.  We also had lunch there. In Broome we also visited Chinatown where we checked the internet for the first time in 7 days and also got a nut and bolt to fix a hanging window on the fan.  The internet was really expensive so we just quickly checked our email and left.  In the evening we drove a little north and parked along side the road to sleep.  This time the mosquitoes kept us up the whole night.


Since the mosquitoes kept us awake the whole night we got up really early, just as the sun came up and drove to Fitzroy Crossing.  Just before we got to town the muffler pipe broke in half.  We found a garage in town which could fix it. We also decided to get an oil change. Since the garage could not do the oil change before 9:30 am,  we went to Geikie Gorge National Park before which is just 20 km away. There we walked along the gorge for a while. It is ok, but nothing major.  The flies drove us nuts.  They were all over the place.  We had to wait around until 12:30 for our car to be fixed. We then drove basically the rest of the day, around 700 km.  What is really sad is the state of the aboriginals.  In many of these towns they are all just hanging around at the gas stations all day doing nothing except drinking beer and alcohol.  They just do not have anything to do.


In the morning we tanked at Kununurra WA and had breakfast at the Shell Station.  What is good in Australia is that a lot of the petrol stations give free coffee to the driver. So Kirk got a free coffee.  Of course he split it with Maren.  Later we crossed over into the Northern Territories and drove to Katherine.  When we arrived in Katherine and got to the first intersection, suddenly the engine lost a lot of power.  It did not sound very good. Everything was closed. The time changes by 1.5 hours here in NT.  We found a garage that would look at our van the next morning. So we stayed at a caravan park. There a few Australian guys checked the car and tried to help. One was a mechanic and thought that the sparkplug leads were broken.  So we hoped that we would be able to change the leads in the morning.  We then went swimming in the Hot Springs near the Caravan Park and then drank a few beers with the Australians at the caravan park.  It was quite interesting to hear what they had to say or maybe it was not quite interesting.  We did not sleep well during the night, the mosquitoes bite us all night even though we had mosquito repellant on.


The first thing we did after breakfast was to buy some new leads and then put them on. Well it was not the problem. So we drove to the garage where we had to wait around a long time until they checked the car.  What we notice also was that the front tire had melted and split apart. So 2 things at once. So we had to buy a tire for 85 A$. We later got some really bad news. The third valve on the engine broke and the engine has to be rebuilt. It will cost between 1000 and 1500 A$. So more than what we paid for the van. That really hurts.  What also sucks it that we have to wait around probably a week before it will be fixed. So that hurts even more.  Later we went food shopping,  checked the internet and found a backpackers to stay at.  We thought it would be better to stay at a backpackers when we did not have a car.  Sleeping at campsite for a week would be very boring.  In the evening Maren cooked a great meal and then we went to bed.  Kirk also spoke to his parents which was nice.


In the morning we got up at 7:00 am and drove with the broken car 30 km to Katherine Gorge National Park.  There we walked a 12.4 km walking trail. The hike was good but quite easy.  Along the way we saw some kangaroos and also went swimming.  It also rained when we were coming back.  The gorge is probably nicer to visit when one rents a canoe, but it is very expensive, 21 A$ per person.  Maren had already been here before and had already took a boat tour, so we decided not to do it again. The car reparation is going to be very expensive, so saving money would be good. We like walking anyway better.  In the afternoon we worked on our website finally again. We have not worked on it for such a long time.  In the evening Kirk played some soccer with some people from the hostels and Maren called Anne, her friend in Germany. They have not spoken to each other for the last 10 months.  In the evening we had some dinner and then watched a movie on TV.  Not a very good one.


In the morning we transferred the ownership papers for our van and then dropped the van off at the garage to get it fixed . If we are lucky it will be fixed by next Friday,  but it could be longer.  Later we worked on the website further and ate a big lunch. Kirk later took a swim and a nap.  Maren worked on the pictures and corrected the diary. In the evening we watched the American Music Awards show.  So our day was not very exciting and we did not do much except hanging around and eating. Katherine is small town with about 9000 people living here. And except going to Woolwoth's and going to the movies there is not much to do.


After breakfast Kirk called his mom and then we went food shopping.  We bought a lot things with the special label which meant that it is heavily reduced in price for a quick sale because the expiry date was just around the corner. It made some things really cheap compared to the normal prices, of course we bought more than we had planned.  Kirk noticed that the price of the parmesan cheese came up different on the scanner than was listed on the shelves. It was only a 3 Australian cent difference (1.5 US cents).  But we decided to go to the customer service where Maren said that the price was not correct on our receipt.  The manager behind the counter checked and we were right. To our surprise she gave us the money back and we received the cheese for free.  So that was the major highlight of the day.  Later we worked on our costs sheet, splitting up the costs better.  During this we also watched the first round of the Australian open where L. Hewitt lost in 4 sets.  We then ran off to see the Movie American Pie 2. We laughed hysterically through the whole thing.  Afterwards we ate a spaghetti dinner with presto and then watched TV and again did some computer work.


This morning after breakfast Maren worked on the Website a little and Kirk took a swim.  Later we used our AOL account  for the first time on our trip.  Still it has not been worth having the subscription to AOL, but we were happy that we were able to upload our site for the first time in Australia. Luckily the manager let us use the fax line.  We also got really good news.  Our car would be fixed today and we could pick it up.  Well it turned out not to be true, we later on called before we were about to walk an hour to the garage and found out they had some problems and we would have to pick it up tomorrow.  At least we will be leaving tomorrow, which makes us really happy.  Hanging around and just waiting is not a lot of fun.  In the evening we also did some computer work and watched the boob tube.  There is not to much to watch on TV and it is quite boring. 


This morning we hoped to get our car back.  We ate breakfast and waited around working on the computer and packing our stuff.  At 12:00 am we called the garage and they said the car was not yet ready, and that we should call back later.  So more waiting around.  So we just hung around, went for a swim and did some more computer work.  Later we called the garage again and they said this time they were having trouble with a pipe or something that was to load.  So we would have to wait until 4:40 pm to know when we were going to get the car back.  Well at 4:30 they said the car would be done tomorrow morning with a new inspection.  So hopefully we will be on the road tomorrow.  It is just a real pain when these businesses can not give you a straight answer when they will be finished. For two days they told us the car would be done. So we hung around waiting for nothing, while we could be doing something.  In the evening we just watched some Australian Open tennis and talked to an elderly couple from England. We also drank a beer each, actually Maren drank 1.5 beers and Kirk .5 beers.  We are just praying that the cars will be ready in the morning so we can get it registered and go back on the road. 


This morning we got up as usual here and had muesli for breakfast.  Nice to eat muesli again after not having it for 9 months.  We then packed our stuff again and put in storage and then hung out still 10:30 am when we went into town and called the garage.  Well what do you think happened.  Right nothing.  We had to call back at 1:30 pm to find out again. Kirk then uploaded some stuff and we found out at 1:30 pm that our van would be ready and that we could pick it up later.  They then brought the car inspection papers to us so we would be able to get the car inspected in the meantime.  That was nice at least they brought the papers to us.  We later started walking to the shop when the lady from the garage stopped on the side of the road and gave us a lift. Saved us a 45 minute walk. At the garage we had to wait around a little before the van was ready.  The bill came to 1100.07 A$, around 586 US$. At least it runs well now and the steering was repaired.  It was not in good shape, and if that broke while we were driving it could have been really serious.  So hopefully in Sydney we will get some of our money back.  We are just happy to be able to be on the road again.  We have had enough hanging around.  Kirk is getting fat just doing nothing,  except for pigging out.  In the evening he played soccer. After taking a swim to cool off after the game,  we drove to Edith Falls, which is about 40 km north of Katherine.  With all the luck we are having with our vehicle, another lucky thing happened.  A Road Train drove by in the opposite direction and shot a rock into our windshield. That really sucks.  So we will have to go back to Katherine in the morning to get the small crack fixed before the it enlarges across our windshield.


In the morning we visited the Edith Falls really early, just after sunrise.  We then drove all the way back to Katherine and found a windscreen repair place open.  For 50 A$ he patched up our windscreen. We just hope it holds.  We then drove back up north to Litchfield National Park.  There we visited a termite field that had flat termite mounds. They were pretty interesting, but it did not take long to see them, only a couple of minutes. Afterwards we drove to a Florence Falls  where we went swimming in a fresh water pool.  There were quite a lot of people there to our surprise. It was really refreshing though. We then drove all the way to Darwin. there we just spent a few hours, going out to the wharf and walking along the sea a little.  We also did a little food shopping and quickly checked the internet.  Darwin did not have that much to offer in our minds, so we decided to drive to Kakadu National Park.  We decided that we would camp along the road side, saving some money.  The first place we stopped, we were eaten alive by mosquitoes and we finally took off a couple hours later when we were a little scared when we saw a car stopping near us with a big light shining it all around. So we drove a little further and found somewhere to park our car and sleep.  It was very hot and the mosquitoes were still a problem.


In the morning we drove into Kakadu National Park.  Since the credit card machine was not working we did not have to pay the entrance fees.  We first visited the Mamukala Wetlands and then visited Nourlangie where we took a nice walk and saw some original rock paintings.  We also visited the Warradjan Aboriginal Cultural Center near Cooinda.  We did not go on the Yellow Water Cruise because first of all Maren had already done it and second of all we heard one does not see a lot of crocs this time of the year and it was a hefty 33 A$ per person.  Kakadu is really nice, but probably better visited in the dry season.  After driving a loop through the park we drove back to Katherine where we quickly went food shopping and then drove south to Mataranka.  There we visited the Hot Pools, which again were not very hot.  When walking to the Hot Pools one walks through palm trees where hundred of bats are hanging from the limbs.  It was really cool.  We decided not to stay at the camp ground there because it was a little expensive.  Along the way we drove past Daly Waters and looked quickly from our car at the famous Daly Waters Pub.  We then bought some petrol.  At this petrol station they had hundreds of frogs hopping around the place.  They became a major pest in the Northern Territories.  So again we drove south on the Stuart Highway and slept in our van alongside the road.  


After again getting up at sunrise,  we stopped off in Tennant Creek and did some grocery shopping and drove south to the Devils Marbles Conservation Reserve, a pile of giant boulders that are scattered all over the area.  After visiting them we were back on the road again and drove further south to about 90 km north of Alice Springs.  Maren even drove a little, and you know what happened, another tire blew apart. So we had to change the tires on the van for the first time.  A lot of fun.  Eventually we got the spare on and we could drive a little more towards Alice.  We parked our car at an empty rest stop and cooked our dinner.  Afterwards we slept in the van, all the time being eaten by the mosquitoes.  Kirk slept in the front seat because he thought he might get some better sleep that way.  In the night we always woke up when cars stopped nearby or drove into the rest stop.  One is a little nervous once in a while being out in the middle of nowhere. 


On our way to Alice Springs we stopped and picked a lady who's van had broken down.  The husband asked us to take here to Alice Springs so she could get a tow truck.  She was nice but a little weird to us.  She started talking about how dangerous it is to stop for people on the highway and how one should never do it. What did she just think we did for her?  In town we dropped her off at the BP station and we went to a tire store and got a new tire put on. Now we have 2 new tires on the car.  Well, then Kirk noticed radiator fluid leaking from the car.  Great, another problem.  The mechanic at the tire place said that it looked like something underneath the carburetor had a crack in it.  So we quickly found a radiator repair shop and they said the manifold (I think that what it was)  had corroded and it had to be rewelded.  So we took it to another garage and they told it would take 3 to 4 hours labor plus parts.  So this really started to suck. It would probably cost over 300 A$ to fix.   But we had no choice at this point.  So we left the car there and we were told they would call us later when it would be repaired.  So we then walked around Alice Springs, checked our email quickly and had some lunch.  1 Big Mac each at McDonalds because Kirk found a coupon for buy one Big Mac get another one free.   We then walked a few Kilometers out of town to the Old Telegraph Station.  It is located on the original Alice Springs.   They had a tour every hour by an Aboriginal man who used to live and went to school there.  The tour was interesting, especially when he talked about himself.  He had an European Great Grandfather and was at one point a professional boxer in Sydney.  Afterwards we walked back to the garage only to find out that they would not have the van fixed by tomorrow morning sometime.  They said however that we could role the van outside the garage to sleep in.  They would even leave the gates open so we could use the showers and toilets.  They also provided us with electricity. That was at least really nice. We could charge our laptop and camera.  We then quickly went food shopping where we bought some items that were heavily reduced because the buy date was very close.  We then went back to the van, had dinner, charged our stuff and tried to sleep. In the middle of the night the alarm in the garage went on.  We were a little nervous.  The security people came, but we just stayed in our van, not knowing if it was legal to sleep in town alongside the road in the van.


At sunrise we were awake and at 8:00 am the mechanics arrived at the garage, but it was not until 8:45 am that they pushed the van back into the garage.  They told us to come back at around 10:30 am and it should be done by then.  So we went into town, did some food shopping and checked the internet.  There Kirk found out that he lost his domain name from one of his sell sights to someone else.  This is really bad because Kirk earns money with it and now someone else owns the name.  He has been trying to renew the domain name for weeks but somehow everything went wrong.  So he called his brother Marc, but did not reach him.  So at around 11:15 am we went back to the garage to pick up the van. We had to wait around another hour before it was done. Yes it cost anther 315 A$ to fix.  Hopefully we will not have that many more problems with it. It is quickly getting to be an expensive habit.  We then took off to Ayers Rock. We arrived at there just in time for the sunset.  The rock is really beautiful.  Kirk was just surprised how green the area was around the rock (Maren had already been to Ayers Rock with her father in 1992). Afterwards we went to the Campsite and made dinner and tested for the first time our new 25 US$ tent we had bought.  To our surprise it was really easy to set up and it was fairly good quality.   We also had a sleeping mat we had found at one hostel, which really helped pad the floor.


We woke up at 4:30 am and went to Ulura-Kata Tjuta National Park.  There we climbed up Ayers Rock.  Kirk was surprised how steep it was.  It was not a long climb up, but it did burn our lungs a little. They do not let anyone climb the rock after 8:00 am, it is just too hot.  Up at the top we got some great views of the sunrise and the Olgas.  It was really cool up top.  We spent around 45 minutes there and then went down the way we came.  When we reached the bottom we had a few peanut butter and jelly sandwiches before we took a short walk at the base of the rock.  It was then off to the Olgas.  There we went on a 5.2 km hike to a lookout point in the Olgas. It was a good walk and made difficult because of the heat.  It was very impressive, especially the red color of the rocks.  After that we tanked our van (to our surprise the petrol prices were not that high, only 101.7 A$ per liter, we had expected at least 1.20 A$ per liter) we drove to Kings Creek, right outside the Watarrka National Park.  There we went to a campsite and pitched our tent. It was nice that they had a pool to cool off in, even though it was dirty.  In the evening we ate dinner and then did some work on the laptop.  Maren went early to bed, she was really tired.  By the way on the way to Kings Creek we stopped at a rest stop along the way to have some lunch. There was only one shaded picnic bench there, so we asked if we could sit down.  There was this couple there having a 5 star picnic meal on a private tour.  We were there with left over noodles and a can of beans.  They were really nice though and gave us there leftovers, homemade bread, ham and salad.  They traveled the world a lot, but it seemed like only first class.  But it was really pleasant speaking to them.  Just two major contrasts. 


After a delicious peanut butter and jelly sandwich breakfast at 6:30 am, we started the 7 km hike through and around Kings Canyon.  The hike was beautiful and not very hard.  It was a little strenuous in the beginning but fairly easy the rest of the way. What was really cool was that halfway through the walk there is a fresh water pool where on can go for a nice refreshing swim, near the "Garden of Eden".  It was then off and back on the road south towards Coober Pedy.  We decided to test how far our van could go on its tank of petrol because the prices for the gasoline were ridiculously expensive and to our surprise over 20 cents more than at the Ayers Rock resort.  So with our extra petrol cans we maid it to Stuart Highway where the petrol was much cheaper.  Along the way there were two Aboriginals cars broken down one after another, trying to get petrol of drivers passing by.  We had stopped 2 days before wanting to help and giving some petrol so they could get back on the road again.  However we did not realized it must have been a scam to get free petrol from passers by.  On the same part of the highway, there is no way that 3 different cars would be run out of fuel.  The day before we were lucky that he could not get the petrol out of our with the water hose for some reason, so he did not get any petrol from us.  Again the temperature was over 40 degrees celsius. We drank so much water, but hardly ever had to go to the bathroom.  The water was sweated out and it immediately evaporated.  In the lat evening we arrived in Coober Pedy, where we quickly found a Caravan Park to camp.  We checked the Internet and then ate a sandwich for dinner and set up our tent and went to sleep. 


In the morning we visited the Coober Pedy Lookout (The Big Wintch), the Old Timers Mine and the Opal Public Mines where one can search for Opals what they call noodling.  It was fairly interesting, but the town is really run down and there is not much there.  Kirk visited the Old Timers Mine, which Maren had seen last time she was there.  Basically the town look dry.  Afterwards we headed south to Port Augusta where we walked around and went food shopping.  We then  drove further along the highway in the direction of Adelaide.  We drove quite a bit and about 50 km before Adelaide we parked alongside the road and went to bed.


First I want to wish Bob, a happy birthday.  Hope everything is going well and you have a great day. In Adelaide we first went to an internet cafe and to the South Australian Museum where they had a really well done Aboriginal section.  Adelaide was a really nice city but we had to get on our way so we would be able to drive the Great Ocean road the next day. We also were able to use the internet for free at the Public Library.  The rest of our time was spent driving on the Princess Highway to Victoria.  So not much happened along the way. Oh we had chips again for dinner, really delicious.  Yes mom, for the most part we are eating well.  


In the morning we drove the Great Ocean Road, seeing the London Bridge, the Loch Arch Gorge, The 12 Apostles, and some other really beautiful coastline scenery.  The weather was windy and sometimes actually really cold, a big change from we have been used to in Australia so far.  After driving the winding road we made our way to Melbourne. In Melbourne we drove into the city, checked the internet and walked around a little.  We had to make some phone calls, but we kept on loosing our money because all the public phones coin slots were jammed shut.  So we finally bought a phone card.  Later we drove to Williamstown to a caravan park. It was not very nice, but it was close to the city.   Kirk also called his an old friend Penny from 10 years ago.  It was a major surprise because she was in hospital with her first baby.  Later Maren cooked some rice and we went to bed. 


In the morning we went back to Melbourne City and bought plane tickets to Tasmania for 30.01.02.  They were cheaper than taking the ferry by a couple of dollars and since all the car spaces were full on the ferry for the next two weeks we could not take the an anyway.  We also changed our flight to New Zealand to the 20th of February.  We wanted to change the tickets at STA travel agency, but the girls working there were really brats and not helpful at all. Not what one normally gets at STA travel offices.  We also bought a set of camping pans and pots because we will need them for Tasmania.  We then drove around 140 km to Phillip Island to see the Penguins and the Nobbies .  The Nobbies were really beautiful. On the board walk the sea gulls were all over the place nesting.  We were walking on the path at one point when the one sea gull flew towards us.  It must have been protecting it's nest, but it scared the hell out of us.  In the evening we went to the Penguin Parade. There one is not allowed to take pictures.  The penguins come up the beach every evening when it gets dark. They were very small, but really cute as they wobbled all over the place.  One problem was that it got really cold and windy, so after a while it got tough to enjoy.  But it was well worth the visit, even though it was really touristy.  We left Phillip Island at 10:00 pm and drove around 80 km back in the direction of Melbourne.  We found a resting place to park and sleep.


In the morning we woke up and drove back to Melbourne and then to the airport. At the airport we got our stuff packed and then checked in.  We were then able to charge our batteries and do some laptop work.  That was good because it has been a while since we have done anything.  Also our batteries were getting low on our digital cameras.  Kirk was able to catch up on our diary.  We were way behind.  The flight went quickly and a great tasting but small deli sandwich was served.  The cheapest way to Hobart from the airport was the Airport shuttle.  In Hobart they dropped us off at the information center. There we got some information and bourght bus tickets to Cradle Mountain St Clair National Park for the next day.  Afterwards we went to a Coles to buy some food and supplies and then walked to the Caravan Park.  There we pitched our tent, had some dinner and then took a walk down near the water.  We went to bed early since we had to get up early the next day.  In Hobart we also bought some fuel for our stove. 

In the morning we woke up really early and packed our tent and then walked the 3 km to the bus station.  There the bus took us to Lake St. Clair.  We bought a monthly pass to Tasmania National Parks.  It was cheaper then buying a 4 day pass.  Before we took off on our hike we ate a peanut butter and jelly for lunch.  The first part of the hike was really beautiful along the lake.  The weather was also really nice and sunny. We were well shaded from the trees along the lake.  What was really nice was the variation of the vegetation along the way. The stretch along the lake was 17.5 Km.  It took one to the second hut.  We could have stayed there, but we decided to walk to Windy Ridge Hut which was another 9 Km away. So we hiked around 26.5 Km in 7.5 hours.  There we pitched our tent and Maren cooked some dinner. We were really tired and then went to bed.  Our feet were also hurting bad. 

11:10 am - 20:10 pm

Echo Point Hut: 11 Km - 3 Hours

Narcissus Hut: 6.5 Km - 2 Hours

Windy Ridge Hut: 9 Km - 2.5 Hours

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