January 23, 2017

Victoria, Australia (Part 1)

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After a summer of camping in the National Parks through the United States and Canada, Kevin and I were feeling inspired. Our love for hiking and the mountains grew to new levels. We could not wait to get back to New Zealand in the new year to do more hiking.

When planning our trip, however, we quickly decided we couldn’t go back to New Zealand and not visit Melbourne. We only had a taste of Melbourne on our last visit and we were ready to explore more of the area.We decided to leave for Australia mid-January to get away from the snow and cold. While I do enjoy snow, enough was enough.

I was ready to get my base on!

Our plan was to be in the Melbourne area for almost three weeks staying with multiple friends and exploring Southern Victoria.

Our first stop, was staying with my friend, Ramsay, from Canada. When Ramsay left Canada many years ago, I promised him one day I would come visit. I said, “If anyone will do it, you KNOW it will be me.”

So here I was, coming to visit Ramsay in Australia!

From the Melbourne airport, we headed two hours south to Kernot where Ramsay, and his girlfriend Kristy, live.

Excitement grew as we left the city to a new part of Victoria neither Kevin nor I explored. We couldn’t wait to get started, but first after close to 24 hours of travel, we desperately needed some sleep.

In the morning, we woke up well rested and ready to go. I was worried that the jet lag was going to knock us down but we timed our sleeping patterns perfectly so we weren’t affected.

Score! You would think we were used to this or something?

Immediately, we found Kernot a great area to explore including Ramsay and Kristy’s property at “Kernot Creek.”

Yes, they have their own gate!

Their property is completely private and includes trails through a surrounding forest for mountain biking and exploring.

They even have their own mob of kangaroos on the property!

We set out to find them in the afternoon but, unfortunately, had no luck….

Down the road is the local Kernot Store. On a Friday night, it was filled with locals eating delicious pizza, drinking local wine, and enjoying entertainment by the cutest couple.

The next couple of days with Ramsay and Kristy continued to be exceptional. They were amazing hosts filling our weekend with adventure all over Southern Victoria.

For our first adventure, we packed our bags, loaded up the car with camping gear and surf boards, and headed towards Wilsons Promontory National Park.

Affectionately known as ‘The Prom,’ the park is Victoria’s largest coastal wilderness area forming the southernmost point of mainland Australia.

Wilson's Promontory National Park

The drive from Kernot to Wilsons Promontory was beautiful. Rolling farm hills eventually turned into vineyards and we stopped for lunch at Djinta Djinta winery.

Djinta Djinta Winery

After lunch, we continued our drive to a free camping area located near the entrance of Wilsons Promontory. Here, we unloaded the camping equipment and got to experience our first “SWAG.”

Never heard of one? Us either.

Australian Swag

A swag is an Australian tent with a canvas shell and built-in mattress. It is designed to be easily unrolled making for a quick setup.

Our overall first impressions? It was awesome!

After a great night sleep in the swag, we headed into ‘The Prom’ for a hike up Mount Oberon Summit.

It was a perfect two hour, 6.8 km (4.0 mile) return hike. It was also a great opportunity for Ramsay to try out his new shoes and hydration pack.

While Kristy loved to hike, Ramsay admitted that he wasn’t really into walking long distances…

To be honest, I couldn’t really judge. The previous “inactive” Tori felt the same when it came to hiking, or anything that required a significant amount of physical effort….

The hike started as a steady climb uphill on a gravel path through forest. After an hour, we reached the viewing platform showcasing panoramic views of the coast and offshore islands.

Mount Oberon Summit

See Ramsay, this is why hiking is so spectacular!

After our hike, we put on our swim suits, grabbed the surf boards, and headed down to Tidal River beach.

At the beach, we pulled on our wet suits and slathered ourselves with one last layer of sunscreen. Our bodies had zero base and needed all the protection they could get!

Before we headed out, I admitted to the group that I needed a quick surfing walk-through. While I had surfed once before, it was almost a year ago. Not to mention, we had lessons with an instructor who pushed us into the waves.

Today, we were on our own. Honestly, I had no idea how this would go..

Kristy quickly instructed us to lay on the sand and demonstrated how to get up.

“Paddle, paddle, paddle.”

“Tips to nips.”

“Push up!”

Well…. from what I remember, it is far more difficult than that! But, here we are. Let’s see what happens…

We grabbed our boards and headed into the ocean.

First off, the water in South Australia is nothing like the bath water of the Gold Coast. It’s cold! I was so thankful for the wetsuit.

Heading out into the ocean, we battled waves as they crashed against us. Eventually, we made it out far enough to relax and wait for the perfect wave. After resting, Ramsay and Kristy yelled, “Paddle, paddle, paddle!”

I whipped myself onto my board, and started paddling. I managed to get my arms in position, and pushed up. Well, kind of. It was really more of a push off…

Over and over and over again, I flung myself off my board and into the waves. If I was really being honest with myself, I didn’t quite land the push up all that successfully on the sand, either.

Needless to say, I think I need more lessons.

Just when we thought the day couldn’t get any better, we spotted a mob of kangaroos when leaving Wilsons Promontory. It was our first time seeing wild kangaroos! We quickly pulled the car over and hopped out to get closer.

Now this was a real Australian experience.

That night, we all passed out early. Hiking and surfing in one day is exhausting. I’m used to the hiking but being thrashed around in the water for an hour or so, is definitely out of the ordinary for me.

The next morning, the alarm went off at 5:00 a.m. Kristy and Ramsay took us to Cape Woolamai on Phillip Island to catch the sunrise.

Cape Woolamai

As the surfing conditions were “primo,” Kristy and Ramsay headed into the water while Kevin and I walked around the Cape.

The views were spectacular and we were so thankful to experience this part of Australia.

Cape Woolamai Phillip Island

Cape Woolamai Phillip Island

Cape Woolamai Phillip Island

Cape Woolamai Phillip Island

Cape Woolamai Phillip Island

Cape Woolamai Phillip Island

Cape Woolamai Phillip Island

Cape Woolamai Phillip Island

Cape Woolamai Phillip Island

Thank you, Kristy and Ramsay for an unforgettable few days in Southern Victoria. We can’t wait for you to come to Canada, so we can return the favour.

Next stop, Jaclyn (“Jac”) and Dave’s place in Prahran, Melbourne City!

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