Victoria

12 Apostles

We arrived at the 12 Apostles before sunset – YAAY! So we managed to fulfil part 1 of our mission. Part 2 of the mission was to secure a good viewing spot to make our time-lapse and capture awesome shots of the sunset. BUT before we set up we thought we’d explore the National Park a bit…

There are many beautiful things to see here – we only managed to get to one of the viewpoints. There were others that we really wanted to see (e.g. London Bridge – rock formation) but we couldn’t risk not making it back in time to see the sunset at the Apostles. So we made our way back to the Apostles view point.

It was such a surreal moment when I first set eyes on the Apostles – I had wanted to come here for such a long time that I couldn’t believe that I was actually there! There weren’t 12 of them anymore – nature had taken its toll. I think there were 7 or so Apostles remaining, but even then, it was absolutely beautiful. We set up our tripods and began our shoot. About 30 mins later, there were 3 other tripods set up next to us – we weren’t the only ones eager to capture the sunset… Slowly the crowds formed so we were happy that we had secured a brilliant spot. It was about 10pm and we were still there! It hadn’t gotten completely dark yet – but the wind had picked up and we were beginning to get cold. We saw the moon rising and we actually managed to capture this in our time-lapse. We wanted to photograph some stars as well but it was too cold and it hadn’t gotten dark enough for the stars to be easily visible through our lenses – so we decided to call it a night.

If you plan on road tripping along the Great Ocean Rd – definitely spend a good few hours at the 12 Apostles National Park. There are a lot of view points and hikes that you can do that would definitely be worth it. Seeing the sunset at the Apostles is a must – absolutely breathtaking! Also, spread out your trip if you have the time. We wanted to go to the zip-lining park around Cape Otway but it was raining on the day and we thought it wouldn’t have been as fun.

All in all – one of the best road trip destinations with loads to see along the way. You will definitely be stopping every half hour just to take a photo of the amazing coastline of Australia!!

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Roadtrip: The Great Ocean Road

I have always wanted to drive along the Great Ocean Road in Victoria. That part of the country is absolutely stunning! So, during a visit to Melbourne, my friend Brooke and I spontaneously decided to go on a mini road trip! The weather was beautiful, company was great – what more could we ask for? Well, it was the Australia Day long weekend – so ALL the accommodation was completely booked out! Stress levels were on the rise but we both really still wanted to go! So instead of making our cortisol levels sky rocket, we packed the tent and sleeping bags and hoped for the best, so we set out on an adventure…

Our first stop was Bells Beach – where the Ripcurl Pro Surf tournament is held. The view was simply amazing! There were a lot of local surfers, it was nice to see some surfing action whilst we were there. The surf was insane – MASSIVE waves, seeing this made me understand why the best of the best come here to compete….

We then had lunch at Apollo Bay – which was absolutely stunning! This town seemed more touristy, nevertheless, it was still beautiful. There was a main promenade with the beach on one side and shops and cafes on the other. The beach looked really nice and flat. We scored the front yard of a caravan park to put our tent up – sorted =)

We continued along to Lorne – which has a really long jetty that local folk fish from. We walked along the jetty and when we reached the end we were utterly surprised to see SEALS! And there were TWO of them! They were so cute – rolling around in the water. There was a group of local kids jumping off the jetty and climbing back up via the ladder. There was one particular girl who couldn’t bring herself to do it. After many failed attempts, she succumbed to peer pressure and actually jumped off! On our walk back, a small boy was screaming with delight. As I looked over, I noticed that he was happy because of the little fish he had caught. At the end of the jetty there is a nice fish and chip shop – so if you do want to grab a bite to eat, this place looked ok…

Our mission was to get to Cape Otway Lighthouse before it closed. However, en route we saw cars parked on the side of the road and people walking around, pointing up. Let me set the scene: we were in the middle of the bush, in the middle of nowhere. Hence greatly surprised to see random scattered cars parked along the way with people pointing up. Then the penny dropped! Our friends had tipped us off about the wild koalas on the way to Cape Otway – REAL WILD KOALAS! So we parked on the side of the road and also began to hunt for koalas – it was like a game of bingo, as soon as you spotted one you would call out to your friend! As an Australian, I’d never seen a koala out in the wild, so you could imagine my delight when I spotted my first one – I was ECSTATIC!! They were so cute, just chilling in the eucalyptus trees…

We made it to the lighthouse and managed to climb up. The tour guide was very informative and enthusiastic about this particular lighthouse. If memory serves me correct, he mentioned that this was Australia’s oldest lighthouse! All I kept on singing was “have you ever, ever felt like this?” – if you grew up in Australia you will know that this was the opening song from the TV series Round The Twist (the family lived in a lighthouse!). Around the lighthouse grounds were colonial accessories – from houses to anchors…

Our next mission was to get to the 12 Apostles so we could make a timelapse of the sunset and also score some awesome shots…

Funky street art of Melbourne

I love street art – living in the UK I am very lucky to see some of the best in the world eg. Banksy. But I must admit, Melbourne has got some really really good street artists.

So I began my mission with a latte in hand (yes I went to Lorca at Centre Pl again and the same hipster barista made my coffee AGAIN!!) and wandered over to the well-known lanes: ACDC and Union. I got to see a piece by Vexta (the skull with the fluoro geometric shapes) who is my favourite street artist – I even met her a few years ago at Circular Quay in Sydney where there was a street artists festival, she was super cool! In general, I did see some nice work here but the crowds were annoying me…

I walked up near RMIT (in the north of the city) as Google had told me that there was street art in this area. Indeed, I saw amazing work here. My favourite were the cardboard cut outs – so creatively cute! It didn’t take me long to see all the work in this area though…

Not feeling satisfied, I decided to catch a tram to Brunswick St which is the main/high street of the suburb Fitzroy. As I got off the tram, I immediately saw a huge piece on the side of a café and I thought oh my word this is definitely the place to be! I was very excited to see so many large pieces here – just about every building had artwork. To be honest, I simply didn’t know what the best way was to capture the street art… I was getting strange looks from all the chefs that were having a break in the laneways (SLRs sure are loud!) but they didn’t bother me – I was having too much fun!

I came across a car park (The Rose Car Park) and I thought I had hit the jackpot! It was entirely covered with street art and I don’t mean just skillful tags, these were actual graphics – TRULY AMAZING!! I think I spent about half an hour in the car park just admiring all the work…

I was short for time so I didn’t get to explore the other suburbs of Melbourne for street art. Brunswick St is only a short tram ride (max. 15mins) from the city and you will definitely see some brilliant street art there. Sure the lane ways in the city also have some amazing work, but these are mostly tags and are overcrowded with people… With latte in hand, I truly did have an amazing street art experience in Melbourne and I definitely recommend it!

Cosmopolitan Melbourne

On a recent trip back home to Sydney, Australia in January, I wanted to visit my good friend Brooke, who lives in Melbourne. Months ago we had bought our tickets to the Australian Open Round 3 and were now super psyched to be finally going! We also were hoping that we’d get to see one of the top seeds ie Rafa or Roger!! But that wasn’t till later in the evening. So I had some exploring to do around Melbourne.

Upon Brooke’s recommendation, I made my way to Centre Place, which is just between Flinders Lane and Collins Street. Oh my word, was I lost for words – this lane way was AMAZING! You could really get high from the amazing coffee fumes coming out from each of the hipster cafes! I walked the length of the lane way, just to absorb the atmosphere – it really did remind me of Europe. I saw the big orange sign with “Lorca” written on it and made my way over to kick start my morning with a latte. The barista was so friendly and über hipster, he handed over my latte with a smile and I was on my way. With an awesome coffee in one hand, I was ready to start aimlessly wandering around Melbourne on a gorgeous sunny day.

I found myself in front of the State Library and given that I’m a lover of architecture I decided to go in (plus it’s free!). The inside was simply spectacular – it had a neo-classical feel to it. I came across Ned Kelly’s infamous steel helmet and attire – which had been polished so much that it was giving off a shine. We actually learnt so much about Ned Kelly and other bushrangers in primary school – something that I find odd now that I look back (I mean he was a thief!). I made my way to the “dome room” and I actually spent a lot of time in here – I was in awe of the beauty of the architecture: a dome white roof with windows, with white balcony’s along the walls coming down and the ground had parquetry floors with desks that had green lamps, ahhh so nice!

Next up was the Melbourne Botanic Gardens – and I had a lot of fun photographing the bees amongst the flowers (thankfully none of them stung me!). There was also a war memorial in the gardens – it was a mammoth of a building!

I had to meet Brooke in St Kilda, so I caught a tram from the city. I actually ran into an old friend on the tram that I went to uni with and I hadn’t seen him in 10 years – just goes to show what a small world it truly is! I didn’t like St Kilda too much – it had a Miami-esque vibe, which I’m not too fond of (exaggerated tanned people with a weird sense of what constitutes swimwear…).

The Australian Open was AMAZING!!! It turned out that we were seeing Rafa play against some guy who wasn’t even seeded, plus Maria Sharapova playing against a non-seeded girl. We got to the arena a bit early (NOTE: definitely use public transport – works so well!) to explore, there were loads of activities to do. We heard a bunch of kids asking the security guard where the players were warming up, we thought it was a grand idea, so we followed the kids. We actually got to see Fernando Verdasco warming up – which was super cool! The matches we were watching were in Rod Laver Arena. The women played first – it was a great match, despite Sharapova grunting and of course defeating the non-seeded girl. Then the men came out and boy did the crowd cheer for Rafa! He wasn’t feeling too well but he gave it his all and won in 3 sets. The final set was the most entertaining one as his opponent actually made him fight for it. After the match when Jim Courier was interviewing him, Rafa even made a few jokes and thanked the crowd for the support…

Overall, Melbourne was great, as usual. The public transport system is really good, they have something similar to an Oyster Card (London) which works on all forms of transport. If you do get a chance to go to Melbourne, make sure you indulge in the great coffee!! If you do want to go to the Australian open – the tickets went on sale in September 2014, so make sure you purchase your tickets in advance to avoid disappointment, as they definitely sell out!