We set out for Adelaide with a group of backpackers on an "adventure tour."
The route included the Great Ocean Road, a gorgeous route that wends its way along the shoreline, and through some hills. We visited a few quaint small towns with stark old stone church steeples along the way, interspersed with dramatic, windswept scenery.
It felt a little like we were on the edge of the earth, maybe because it was partly true. The closest land mass was Antarctica.
Along the way, our guide, Brenton, played Australian folk music songs. They included an Eminem-style parody of Waltzing Mathilde by a group called the Scared Little Weird Guys. They seem to be popular in Oz.
Stopping at a little town to see koalas, I thought we’d have to do some hiking to find them. But after passing a little trailer park, we looked up, and immediately saw four koalas lazing in one tree. And two others slept, all balled up, in other trees.
This is unusual, as they’re solitary creatures, and you’ll usually only see one per square kilometer. Oz’s koala population is too large right now, according to the media.
I was thrilled to see them in the wild so easily. We watched them slowly munch leaves, and crawl from branch to branch, gripping with large black claws. Suddenly, lots of liquid streamed from one bough of the tree; the big male may have been aiming for us. It was time to leave.
Later, we stopped to look at some redwoods, which seemed incongruous in Oz; they’d been planted many years ago.
Further down the road was the Otway Fly, an impressive treetop walk amongst the Mountain Ash, the world’s second tallest trees.
They’re actually a gum, not ash; most trees in Australia seem to be some type of gum. The walk is basically skeletal steel catwalks that let you roam around in the canopy of the trees. It was great.
One of the main attractions of the Great Ocean Road is the Twelve Apostles — spectacular eroded rock formations that jut from the cliffs, and protrude from the sea.
There are several other stunning sites nearby.
My cold came back over the next days, unfortunately, so I missed out on some hikes. I did really enjoy seeing a group of doberman-sized Eastern Grey Kangaroos grazing in a clearing. They weren’t too intimidated by us.
Our last morning with the group, we woke to the sound of crazed laughter, like some scary hybrid of the Joker’s cackle and the "eheheheh, wipeout!" bit of that surfer song. Then I heard something that sounded like R2D2, followed by a general car/train-crash sound. I was later informed they were probably a kookaburra, honey-eater, and cockatoos, respectively. Birds sound different in Australia.
The kookaburra is in the crow family, and, indeed, looks like a big black and white crow. We also saw chartreuse parrots flying across the sky.