Chasing Waters: Australia Part 2

We last left off in Tasmania where myself and Chris, finished our travels in Ayers Rock. It was a day of full traveling, as we had to fly from Ayers Rock to Melbourne and take a connecting flight to Tasmania, Hobart. We had finally arrived in the evening, at 8pm, where we needed to grab our rental car.

It was a pretty nerve racking experience for the both of us, more so for Chris who had to drive ( thanks Chris). Having not driven on the “wrong” side of the road, we had to document the whole experience. For the most part, the roads were pretty clear, in the evening, which made driving a little less nerve racking. You can read more about Chris’ post here about his experience.

Having arrived in the later evening, it was hard to find a restaurant that was opened late. We drove by a nearby tourist area, Salamanca Market, and decided to see if anything peaked our interest. Looking at a few restaurants, we finally settled for a restaurant called Ball and Chain Grill. I couldn’t help but to settle for a grilled steak to start off our trip in Tasmania. Shortly after dinner, we headed to our Airbnb crash pad.

Our Airbnb Crash Pad! ( free bread, and jam made by our hosts). Our Airbnb Crash Pad! ( free bread, and jam made by our hosts).

The following day, was a little bit more nerve racking as we were going to be driving around Hobart, into a few busier areas. We were going to start off in Salamanca Market, but ended up in their central business district accidentally as we went hunting for coffee. Since we already paid for parking, we used that time to explore the business district, which had plenty of stores.

The night before, our server mentioned a museum called MONA ( Museum of Old and New Art). She had mentioned it was a pretty interesting museum, with a lot of abstract pieces, that may not be for everyone. Reading the reviews, it was evident this museum wasn’t for everyone, as some reviews had people staying here for an hour up to 4 hours. Regardless, it was on our list of things to do, so we headed over to the MONA to check out some of the work.

MONA had an interesting layout with the tour starting from the bottom level, working your way up. At the beginning of the tour, they handed out Ipods and earphones, to help assist with the information of the art pieces as you toured around. We managed to spend about 2.5 hours there, with so many unique art pieces and artifacts. Check out some of the art pieces below.

4 different entrances to different exhibits. 4 different entrances to different exhibits.

Our next stop was Mount Wellington! We arrived about an hour early for the sunset, which gave us time to explore the different areas. On one side, you get a great view of Hobart, with the opposite side, the land stretches of greenery and rocks. We ended up spending about 3 hours here, catching the sunset and taking night shots. As we were ready to leave, we bumped into a local, who was also taking night shots. He gave us some places to go to catch the southern lights which was happening that night. After a quick Mcdonalds dinner, we went out on a hunt again for southern lights. In addition to looking to for southern lights, myself and Chris were on the look out for bioluminescence. Bioluminescence is a rare occurrence, which I originally saw on Instagram, which is one of the reasons why we ended up choosing Tasmania. On rare occasions, the ocean lights up to a fluorescent blue colour, from the living organisms in the water. We ended up at a beach, which is where the local recommended to us if we wanted to see it. Unfortunately, when we got there we didn’t see much, but did manage a few cool night shots. For myself and Chris, we were both pretty sketched out, about coming to the beach which was fairly dark. What made it worse was when we found a pair of shoes laying in the sand with no one around. It definitely made the journey out to the beach a bit more exciting.

The next morning I was ready to go explore a bit more Salamanca Market! However, my body had other ideas. Unfortunately somewhere during our first day, I ate something that wasn’t quite right. For the next 48 hours, I had food poisoning. It was rough week, as I was just getting better from Ayers Rock. Although it was unfortunate, I was able to live vicariously through Chris. Here’s a link to his time while I was sick http://www.travellingminions.com/tasmanian-trouble-redemption

After being out for 48 hours, with half an evening left, I willed myself to go explore. Although I wasn’t 100%, I was definitely feeling much better. Chris was going to look for bioluminescence and the aurora borealis. We made a 45 minute drive out to Goat’s Bluff where Chris had been to earlier in the day. When we arrived, we didn’t see the sea sparkles, however, another photographer was there shooting the Southern Lights. This part alone, made Tasmania worth it. I’ve always wanted to head to the Northwest Territories to catch the Northern Lights, but catching the Southern Lights was equally amazing. It was a good consolation prize from the bioluminescence. I’ll definitely have to come back to Tasmania one day and fully explore. Our next stop in the early morning was back to Melbourne!

The early morning flight from Tasmania, had us up at 6am, landing in Melbourne around 10am. We were fortunate enough to get into our Airbnb early before the 3pm check in time. From the late night before in Tasmania, we were both extremely tired. Perhaps it was our old age catching up to us, but we decided to take a “short” nap, which ended up being slightly longer then anticipated. After waking up we started to plan our time in Melbourne, with the Great Ocean Road tour as one of our big things to do. In addition, we looked up a few restaurants and places we wanted to check out.

Our first stop in Melbourne was to head to St. Kilda beach, to catch the sunset, but most importantly, the daily sunset penguin march. As you all know by now, one of my favourite animals are penguins. Everyday after the sunset, the penguins, march back to their homes, located by the pier where you can seem them swim to shore and march back to their homes. By the time the penguins started marching back home, it had already gotten pitch black. It was still neat to see the penguins in their natural habitat and head back to their homes.

St. Kilda beach itself was beautiful. With beach stretched along the coast, and the pier that made for a great sunset viewing, it would’ve been cool to do a photo shoot there. It was something that I had mentioned to Chris while walking to dinner. After catching an awesome sunset, along with a penguin march, we headed to another part of town.

This part of town was pleasant surprise, as we were just looking for some food. Acland street, was pretty busy that evening with street performers, and bars along the street.  It definitely had a cool vibe.My initial impression of Melbourne was that it was more lively than Sydney, after only being couple hours into our stay. Our food hunt ended up at another Chinese restaurant, before making our journey back home for our first night in Melbourne.

With a full day ahead of us in Melbourne, we started the early morning heading to Hillsongs service. I had the chance to head to the one in Sydney, but Chris wasn’t able to make the first one, as he was held up in China. Following service, we made our way to Hosier Lane, one of Melbourne’s most popular alleyways, with graffiti art. I always appreciate good street art. Throughout the city of Melbourne, it was evident, that street art was a huge thing. Turning every corner and wandering through every alleyway there was graffiti art everywhere.

Shortly after Hosier Lane, with hungry stomaches, we found a french restaurant, for some delicious crepes! I always play it safe and went with Nutella and banana. I felt like we made a small mistake, eating too much here. Our next destination was Queen Victoria Market, with many street food vendors, street performers, and cool stalls with a variety of things for sale. There were so many stalls, with great smelling food, none of which I tried due to being too full. Queen Victoria Market was a blend of the Richmond Night Market, PNE and Granville Island.

We walked up Elizabeth Street, one of their main streets, to make our way to Victoria State Library. We weren’t here to read, but for the the beautiful interior design. Before making my way in to the library, I was spectating an older gentlemen playing chess against another younger guy. In the end, the older gentlemen had a few tourist ( including myself) assist him with his chess pieces. You could tell, the older gentlemen was here often, as the library security guard, knew him by name and heckled him as he played.

Making my way through the Victoria State Library was like a maze. It had many floors, with different exhibits, art work, and of course books on each floor. Getting to the top floors, made for a pretty cool sight.  After grabbing a few photos, we were on the move again.

I wasn’t sure where our next stop was, but we ended up in Chinatown, where we stopped by a grocery store where we loaded up on some snacks. In addition to stopping for snacks, we stopped by a Korean restaurants for some fried chicken wings. We ended up wandering around Melbourne, to kill some time, where we go to the Eureka Skydeck to observe the sunset. Along the way, we found some more street performers, street art, and pretty cool looking buildings.

We stayed for a few hours at the Eureka Skydeck, capturing the sunset and night shots. The Eureka Skydeck, has 88 floors, with a lookout at the top, where it overlooks the city and iconic landmarks. Although the sun was hidden behind the clouds, we still managed to capture some night shots. For whatever reason, I didn’t think it was a long day, but looking back now, we actually did quite a bit. Our day was strategically planned, and having our Airbnb close by made it convenient to explore a lot of places in the area. Before heading home, I wanted to check our Hosier Lane one more time, as I find the shots can change drastically during the evening.

It was here, that I bumped into Visna and Varun. Who are they you ask? Earlier in the day, Chris had noticed a graffiti art piece that said ” Visna will you marry me?”.  Being there at night time, we noticed a couple taking photos in front of the sign. After some introductions we found out, Varun had proposed to Visna at Hosier Lane, on Friday evening. Going back to my first day, I had wanted to shoot at St. Kilda Beach. Little would I know, I would get the chance as Visna and Varun agreed to an engagement shoot with me. You can see more of their photos here ( www.justinkhophotography.com/blog/2017/3/15/st-kilda-beach-australia-visna-and-varun )

The first day, was filled with a lot of Melbourne’s top touristy spots. We continued with that on the second day visiting the Melbourne Cricket Ground. I’ll admit I’ve never watched a game of cricket, besides a few highlights during our time in Australia. However, being into sports I was interested in the tour. The size of the stadium was definitely the first thing that impressed me, with it being the 10th largest stadium in the world, holding up to 95,000 people. Looking up into the stands from the pitch, and looking into the stands, you could only imagine what it would be like with a full stadium. We then ventured into the broadcast studios, media room, player change rooms, and a few VIP lounges. One thing that caught myself and Chris off guard was definitely the players room, which was simple. It was literally just a locker room, with a few photos hanging on the wall and a massage table in the middle of the room, reminiscent of a high school locker room. With the stadium so beautifully designed, the players room, was definitely lacking character.  Besides, the architecture and the size of the stadium, one thing that was evident was the history behind the game dating back to 1838. Overall, it was a neat 1.5 hour tour! Myself and Chris were exploring the option of watching a game, but unfortunately it was still the off season for the team.

Next up was a lunch break, before we would head back to St.Kilda Beach for my engagement shoot. We had originally booked Sezar for dinner that night but managed to squeeze in for lunch instead. Along with Nomad in Sydney, this was definitely a memorable meal as we enjoyed a variety of middle eastern dishes featuring a beef tartar dish, glazed pork and steamed barramundi. We were definitely splurging a little bit on food towards the end of our trip.

I won’t get into the engagement shoot, as you can scroll back up to the linked post. However, the engagement shoot was definitely an amazing experience. Being in a foreign country with minimal gear, was definitely frighting. It taught me a lot, and would have done it again.

With hungry stomachs, we took an hour bus ride to 400 Grato an award winning pizza restaurant that everyone raved about. We each ordered our own pizza and shared a charcuterie platter. Although it was award winning, I preferred some of our Vancouver pizza restaurants a bit more. After a long day though, it really hit the spot.

Although it was a pretty relaxing 2nd day, I ended up staying up late editing photos. It wasn’t the brightest idea, as the next day we were up early for our 12 hour tour around the Great Ocean Road. Our tour guide Daryl picked us up at our AirBNB, and needeless to say we were doing the tour in a stylish way, in a comfortable Mercedes bus with our small group of 12. We took an hour ride, to our first stop, Urquhart Bluff, where we had snacks, coffee, and Tim’s Tam’s ( Australian chocolate biscuits), or Tim Tam Slam (drinking coffee with Tim Tam) ready for us. Shortly after, we were on our way out again, heading to some really cool lookout points, and seeing some neat things along the way. Daryl, did an awesome job giving us a history of The Great Ocean Road, along with some random facts along the way. We were never in the car for too long and had enough time to really enjoy the sights.

After a few stops along the way, it was time for lunch in a small town of Apollo Bay. Our lunch and dinner was included at a chain called Waves restaurant. I couldn’t resist and got a strawberry and nutella crepe with vanilla ice cream. High off a sugar rush, I’m glad our next stop allowed us to walk a bit. Before making our way to the Twelve Apostles, one of the most iconic spots along the Great Ocean Road, we headed to the Mait’s Rainforest, walking along the trails and educating ourselves the different kinds of vegetation and trees.

If you may recall, from my last post in Sydney I was pretty disappointed with the Three Sisters at Blue Mountain. I didn’t want to get my hopes up again with the Twelve Apostles. Needless to say, it didn’t disappoint. The rock sculptures are in a league of their own. Although a few of the rock sculptures have collapsed due to the Mother Nature, there was plenty of cool sights.  Besides the Twelve Apostles, other rock sculptures, included the Razorback, Island Arch, and Loch Ard Gorge, which each had its own unique figure and shape.

Loch Ard Gorge had a cool story attached to it. It was also neat, as we got to walk down a flight of stairs and enjoy the beaches and dip our toes into the ocean water.

” The gorge is named after the clipper ship Loch Ard, which ran aground on nearby Muttonbird Island on 1 June 1878 approaching the end of a three-month journey from England to Melbourne. Of the fifty-four passengers and crew, only two survived: Tom Pearce, at 15 years of age, a ship’s apprentice, and Eva Carmichael, an Irishwoman emigrating with her family, at 17 years of age. According to memorials at the site, Pearce was washed ashore, and rescued Carmichael from the water after hearing her cries for help. Pearce then proceeded to climb out of the gorge to raise the alarm to local pastoralists who immediately set into plan a rescue attempt. After three months in Australia Carmichael returned to Europe. Four of her family members drowned that night. Pearce was hailed as a hero, and continued his life living until age 49.”

Razorback Rock.  Razorback Rock. Loch Ard Gorge. Loch Ard Gorge.

Having seen these amazing rock sculptures, we were concluding our tour, however not before making our way to dinner at Waves restaurant at a different town. I was pleasantly surprised how well my steak tasted! I think our tour was definitely worth it, especially with a great tour guide.  It was actually funny, as our our original tour group, went out of business, a few days before we arrived in Melbourne. We ended up booked with Escape Discovery Adventures, which was totally worth it. I don’t usually like tours, but this one was great. I felt like I had enough time to see everything, and Daryl, had wealth of stories and knowledge about the area.

After a long 12 hour tour, I thought we were ready to crash. However, we both decided to catch Logan instead. I always love checking out international movie theatres, especially their seating and popcorn. The location of the movie, was at the Melbourne Shopping Centre. Due to the time of night, everything was closed, but the next day we would make our way back here for some cool looking architect.

It was our last day in Melbourne, and we both decided we needed a later start to catch up on some rest. Im a huge sucker for brunch, and just down the road was a restaurant, Hardware Societe, highly rated on Tripadvisor. Having passed by a few times, we knew it was going to be busy, but got a table also right away. I got the pork belly benedict, and loved the flavours.

After breakfast, we both were so fully, we had to walk it off. The night before, during our movie, we had been to Melbourne Shopping Centre. I didn’t realize how big it was, since most things were closed the night before. One thing I wanted to photograph was this cool looking clock.

We both didn’t have any plans, or things we wanted to see in particular so we decided to hop on to a free trolley since we were both full from breakfast. We got off at a cathedral that looked interesting, before walking down to another part of town. Chris had read about a restaurant called Naked for Satan, that also had a high reviews. The interior of the restaurant, was decorated with unique artwork and other unique objects hanging everywhere. I had opted for the beef tartar for a light snack, having still been full from breakfast. The both of us used this time, to relax and enjoy the patio weather.

Not having much else planned, we did a quick bit of Googling to see if there was a massage place nearby. It didn’t take long before we both agreed to book the appointment and make our way there. It was definitely not Vietnam pricing, but it was exactly what my back needed after backpacking for three weeks.

Nicole, happened to be in Melbourne on her weekend with her boyfriend, so I decided to meet up with them at a restaurant that Visna and Varun mentioned during our engagement shoot. It was a burger joint called Easey’s where you dine in these cool looking trains hanging off a rooftop. Again, I didn’t eat as I was fully stuffed from breakfast still.

My meeting with Nicole was pretty quick as they had to go run some errands. I went back to our Airbnb place, to meet up with Chris. Right by Hardware Societe, where we had breakfast in the morning, was another alleyway filled with Italian restaurants.  Walking down this alleyway reminded me of Vietnam, where the managers of the restaurant would try to hustle you into the restaurant by offering you special “deals”.  I found it really strange that they would be doing this in Australia. Needless to say, we ended up picking a restaurant that offered some tasty pasta dishes. Although the pasta dishes were good, I enjoyed the environment of eating in the alleyway with a vibrant city vibe.

Our last night, would bring us to the Webb Bridge for our last photo walk opportunity. As mentioned previously, the art work around the city was awesome. The Webb Bridge was no different. We both opted for a relatively early night compared to the other nights, as we were out on our way the next day to Airlie Beach, which would be almost a full day of traveling.

Looking ahead, to The Great Barrier Reef, has been something on my to do list, for a long time. It was here, that I’ve always wanted to scuba dive. Maybe it was Finding Nemo, or National Geographic magazines that always interested me in the Great Barrier Reef. The next morning, we were catching a bus back to the airport, to take a flight to Brisbane, to Hamilton Island, plus an hour ferry to arrive to Airlie Beach, the home of the Great Barrier Reef. By the time we had arrived in Airlie Beach, we had to check in with our tour group, to get all the details about our tour for the following day. One thing to note about the tour, was that they didn’t allow any bags with zipper ( backpacks, camera bags etc.), as bed bugs can hide in zippers. That made packing slightly hard, but I managed to squeeze all my camera gear and clothes into cloth bag provided to us. After settling into our hotels and packing, we decided it was best we didn’t nap, and instead went to go explore the small town of Airlie Beach.

For dinner, we continued our seafood binge, and went to a restaurant with great reviews just below our hotel. Fish D’Vine, was a perfect place for us to have a warm home cooked meal before going onboard for the next two days. We explored Airlie Beach, after dinner, but the town was really small, there wasn’t much to see.

A funny sign, we saw at the hotel.  A funny sign, we saw at the hotel.

Our two night cruise, began with another early morning aboard the Kiana. We decided to go with the tour group Cruise Whitsundays, after much research ( mainly by Chris). After a quick debriefing and introductions from our crew and 12 others, we were on our way to The Great Barrier Reef. Before getting on the ferry, I had to make sure to take a lot of Gravol, to ensure sea sickness didn’t happen. I’m happy to say, I didn’t get sea sickness! Our cabins were super small, but sufficed for me and Chris who weren’t picky at all.

The first few hours, had us out in the ocean, before we stopped for lunch and a quick snorkel session! The moment we jumped into the waters, we were surrounded by fish. It was an awesome experience, to see the amount of fish and coral life. After being in Hawaii, and the Philippines, it’s still hard to compare which one is better.

After a quick snorkel in the waters of the Great Barrier Reef, the exciting part was still yet to come. We were now going to be doing a discovery dive with our scuba instructor Adam, who would give us a 1 hour safety scuba lesson. A discovery dive, is basically for those who don’t have a scuba license but still want to dive with an instructor, with limitations of how far you can go. Unfortunately for my discovery dive, I wasn’t allowed to bring my Go Pro for safety reasons.

Our discovery dive following lunch, brought us to the shoreline of the beaches, where our instructor, taught us safety maneuverers in the water, along with the hand signals. After a brief 15 minutes in shallow waters, we were ready to go dive! It really is like a different world once you go down into the depths of the water. Although snorkelling is cool, being able to scuba dive, and seeing things even closer is amazing. With no pictures to show for the amazing experience, you’re just gonna have to trust me.

The rest of the day, we would be onboard the Kiana, sailing out even further along the Great Barrier Reef. During this time, I had a chance to meet some really cool people and just relax on the boat and enjoy the sunshine.

Our first night sunset, on The Great Barrier Reef!  Our first night sunset, on The Great Barrier Reef! This was our room that Chris and I shared. Only one person could be standing at a given time.  This was our room that Chris and I shared. Only one person could be standing at a given time. Our indoor lounge area for the crew mates!  Our indoor lounge area for the crew mates!

Dinner was ready, as we arrived at the Great Barrier Reef for the rest of the evening. Early on during lunch, one of the crew mates had started cooking lamb in a barrel. It was a cool cooking method, as it was very reminiscent of braising. Inside the barrel, was just water. The barrel had three separate sections with the bottom section with vegetables, and the top section with lamb. After a couple hours of cooking, the meat was super tender and delicious. I couldn’t remember the actual cooking term, however Ariana one of the crew members did an awesome job of cooking the meat!

Although there wasn’t any night activities planned, we spent the evening on the deck enjoying the skies, and calm waters before heading to bed.

By 6:30am our boat was awake, and ready to go for the first few sessions of snorkeling and scuba diving! Between 6:30am and 12pm we used that time to explore the Great Barrier Reef. I had use that time to do two snorkelling sessions, one scuba dive session and of course some tanning on the deck.

The rest of the afternoon was spent on the waters, as our next destination, Whitsunday Islands, was about 4-5 hours way. We had to dock by that area before dusk, which meant by lunch we were on our way. It was surprisingly a smooth sailing for the 4 hour, with very short durations of bumpiness. I couldn’t pass up on the sun, and did some more tanning, as we had read that there was still winter weather in Vancouver. Looking back, I loved how our itinerary worked, as it was a great way to end the trip and not do anything and just rest up after long days of traveling.

Following our 4 hour sail time to Whitsunday Islands, we had another delicious home cooked meal by the crew. After spending two days, with the crew and our new friends, we decided to play a game that we play back at home called Werewolf (aka Mafia). The games got pretty heated, and the accusations were pretty funny! It was definitely a later evening then the night before.

We got an extra hour of sleep then the morning before. By 8am, we were on our way to Whitehaven Beach, regarded as one of the nicest beaches in the world. Our tour group hiked up to a lookout before spending a couple of hours on the beach. After having seen some really nice beaches in my most recent travels, Whitehaven Beach, did not disappoint, with the squeaky fine sand! The sand consists of 98% silica, which allows the sand not to retain heat, making it comfortable to walk on, especially during days it was 30 degrees. Myself and Chris explored different view points, and even took a plunge into water clear blue waters. After two hours on the beach, we headed back to the Kiana ship, where we would sail back to Airlie Beach.

Along the hike, we found a giant spider!  Along the hike, we found a giant spider!

It was another couple hours back to Airlie Beach. During that time, Chris and I reminisced about our trip, played some more Werewolf, and caught up with a few others about their travel plans. By the we had arrived back at Airlie Beach, we had checked in back to our hotel, and started packing for our departure the next day. After grabbing a light dinner, we had met with the rest of our crew mates for some drinks to finish our last night in Australia.

It was finally time to go home, but not before a long flight from Sydney, to Guangzhou! It would be a 10 hour flight plus a 9 hour layover. China Southern has a cool offer, for those who have layovers of 8 hours or more. They offer you a free hotel stay! We took the offer up even though it only ended up being a 3 hour nap in the hotel room. We checked back into the airport and indulged in some Chinese food and Chinese Mcdonalds before boarding our flight home.

What can I say about this trip? It was definitely a rollercoaster of a trip with a few bad sick days, mixed in with a lot of amazing days. I’m glad I was able to finally come to Australia and enjoy all the outdoor activities it had to offer. Of course, this trip wouldn’t have been nearly as fun, if not for all the people I met along the way, and for those who spent time with us. Special thanks to Chris who did a lot of planning and spent the late night evenings with me on the photo walks. For those who have followed my blog and adventures along the way thank you so much! Until the next trip!

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