Sunday, January 29, 2012



Today we got up, packed our stuff and had breaky with Robbies mum who made us sausages, eggs, hamburger and toast. After eating our fill we headed out and I bought some new thongs (flip flops). After arriving in Adelaide we did one last kite session then Robbie and I went to Danielles.

We dropped off my stuff and then all of us went to the World's End Hotel for a drink. Finally, Robbie headed out to do some photography while Danielle and I stuck around for another drink. On the way back we found an Australian flag from Australia Day. Back at Danielle's we ate some pasta then walked over to her friend Liza's house and drove to the Grace Emily Hotel. We hung out with a couple others and Liza bought us a couple drinks each. After checking out the live music performance inside we headed back to sleep.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Perry Sandhills


Today we woke up, grabbed some brekky (breakfast), and pulled out my kite. Camping and kiting - doesn't get much better than that!

After jumping off dunes and swinging through the air on my kite a few times we headed out for Renmark.

Robbie let me drive for part of our couple hours drive through the scrub.

After driving through the Barossa Valley into South Australia (an unusual way to enter the state) we arrived at a caravan (trailer) park where Robbies parents work and holiday at. They threw us a big traditional Aussie barbie, my thongs (flip flops) blew and we camped out.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Car Cruise and Kangaroos


This morning we went to St Helens Beach for a car cruise - a word-of-mouth custom muscle car gathering which, far as I can tell, was started by Cam via facebook a few years back.
We headed off from there to Portarlington and had some of the hot jam doughnuts again and from there we went to Queenscliff where all the cars regrouped.
Then we grabbed the Dingodine aka brown tortoise and met up with Paul for the start of our road trip to the outback. On the way we stopped at magnetic point for a "false flat" where you roll "uphill" and on our way through we saw a bunch of kangaroos in a paddock (field). Of course, I had to go and say g'day.

We entered New South Wales and stopped to enjoy the sunset. That night we arrived in Perry Sandhills and set up camp.

Cuttin' laps around town


Today Robbie brought me to Deakin University to see the department of architecture and we got some more Cheeky Chicken chips at Westfield Mall.

Then we went to Klos Bros Custom Trucks to see some of his friends who do work similar to "Trick My Truck" - a custom truck show in Joplin, Missouri.

Next we went to Avalon Beach where some scenes from Mad Max (Road Warrior) were filmed. After that we went to the kite shop where we hired (rented) a 5m kite for the week. We took it to Belmont Common where I slid/flew around in winds that were slightly higher than expected, but manageable.

After a few photos and some video we headed over to Beck's for tea (dinner). We had some curly fries, lasagna, chicken nuggets, and pavlova (a very Australian desert likened to merengue pie). After tea we test pitched the tent and went back to prepare for camping tomorrow in the desert. Cam had his hot rod ready when we got back so we cut laps around town for a bit as people yelled and screamed at "the car from Dukes of Hazzard."

In actuality the car is not a Dodge Charger AKA "The General Lee" but rather a 1971 Chrysler by Chrysler coupe. Cam often has people trying to tell him that it's something else, then they realize they're talking to the owner and ask, "why am I arguing with you, it's your car!"

Back at Robbie's a bloke name Normy showed up in his ride so Cam and I jumped in. Normy has been working on engines for about twenty years and lost his license about ten times. He easily lived up to expectations as we took off down the road in his tricked out pet project.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Great Ocean Road


Today, on the way to the Great Ocean Road, Robbie and I stopped at Fairhaven beach to do some boogie boarding.

We stopped at Apollo Bay where we enjoyed the calm blue water until we were chased out by flies.

Next we went to the Loch Ard Gorge where, on May 31, 1878 a ship called the Loch Ard was finishing its three month journey from Gravesend, England and crashed killing all but two of its passengers. There I explored a dark, dripping cave and enjoyed the sliver of a view out into what has become known as the Shipwreck Coast.

The next stop was the Twelve Apostles, a collection of limestone stacks 45m high that are slowly eroding away - a couple have fallen already.

After that we went to Tower Hill Reserve, a volcano crater with a prehistoric, "land of the lost" feel full of wallabies, kangaroos, emus, koalas, and rabits.

After getting lots of good footage we walked along the breakwater at Warrnambool and went to get some steak sandwiches. Finally, we went to check out another volcano called Mt Leura. After observing the cities below, and enjoying the general serenity provided up top, we made our way down for the final leg of our journey. While driving along Robbie pointed out some walls made from volcanic rock. He explained that these walls were constructed, as with much of the early infrastructure of Australia, by convicts.



Today I ate NutriGrain cereal (Australian Wheaties) AKA "Iron Man Food," as Robbie likes to refer to it, and we left at about 8a to pick up Robbie's family for Melbourne. An hour later we arrived in Melbourne's Southern Cross Station. We walked through China Town and the Coops (Melbourne Central) Shot Tower - an old building used to create lead shot by dropping it off the top, hence solidifying it before it broke into bits at the bottom. Melbourne Central itself is a mall built around Coops.

We also saw Flinders Street Station, Federation Square and finally Crown Casino where we had some lunch.

I saved room because soon after this I went to meet my brother David for lunch across town. David has been living in Australia for almost ten years since starting a family with his Australian wife Zsusha. We ate, caught up a bit and talked about upcoming plans. Back at the station I met up with Robbie and we all left back for Geelong. The hour ride back seemed like only about ten minutes as I woke up with a puddle of drool on my shirt feeling refreshed. Back at Beck's we got fish & chips with crab rolls, potato cakes, and fried/steamed Dim Sims. A very satisfying way to end the day.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Bay and the Bats


Today I woke up, ate some crumpets with honey, and went with Robbie to get his family for a drive to Portarlington Pier. At the Pier we walked around a bit eating Portarlington hot jam doughnuts, looking at the views and, of course, the Bollards as well. Painted by a local artist named Jan Mitchell, these wooden statues number in the hundreds and exemplify many of the events in the history of Geelong. Placed all over the waterfront, and even in the airport, they all face into Geelong showing the way for any prospective Geelong tourist. On the way back from the pier Jazz almost passed out from the heat. We dropped her off back at home and headed to a hidden, out-of-the-way buffet where they had some seriously awesome food. Next we dropped off Beck and went to see the "flying foxes" (bats). Upon returning we watched as the gray headed flying foxes flew over the town from Robbie's.

Chunder Down Under


Robbie is one of those people who snaps awake at 6a everyday. Today Robbie got me up at 9a and gave me some crumpets with Vegemite. Next we went to get a hawaian shirt for the pub crawl and got some tasty salty chips from Cheeky Chicken. Then we went with Beck to our first bar of the day and after running to all five bars we ran back to Robbies, ate some pizza, and headed back out for the pub crawl with the others. At the first bar we met up with Beck, Paul, Ron, Kerryn, a couple kiwi girls Tania and Kelly, and Robbies boss, James. Finally, we started crawling from bar to bar having a drink or two at each one. As we were leaving one of the bars Rod bought me two beers so I could try Carlton and another. Against Robbies better judgment I "skulled" (chugged) them both so we could all move on. Another bar had live music and the last bar used to belong to Robbie's parents. When we got there they had a nice spread of sandwiches and potato chips waiting for us. I had a Rogers beer, which was awful, then Paul, Rod and I went for food. I got a Dim Sim, Potato Cake and Paul gave me the majority of his pizza.

In organizing the event Robbie made it public on facebook:

"To celebrate my yank mate Travis's arrival in Australia, I'm taking him on an old fashioned Aussie pub crawl with a few mates in Geelong CBD... The Max, Lambys, The Phoenix (Woolie), Bush Inn, Carlton, Eureka, Bended Elbow, Jokers on Ryrie, The Sporting Globe (Preston), National, De La Ville and finish at Alley Cats! Please dress as an American tourist in your best Hawaiian shirt. It's gunna be grouse!"

And grouse it was.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

G'day Geelong!


Today I woke up in an awkward position in the passenger seat of a truck. After Tank regained consciousness as well we continued driving for Melbourne. A few hours later we arrived at a stop and ate some breaky. I had mentioned chico rolls tasting like cookie dough and after I mentioned that my meat pie tasted like hamburger, Tank decided that he had heard enough insults to his country's culinary works. In that quick sarcastic manner that Aussies are known for, Tank gave me his direct dissaproval towards what was clearly a lack of taste on my part. I also had some eggs, toast and unusually large sausages (as in England, they tasted and appeared to be hot dogs). We then stopped at the HMAS Otway, a US submarine purchased by the Australian government. Apparently, I am not the only American without any sense because, according to Tank, we Americans drove this submarine up the Murray River and got stuck by Holbrook where the boat sits today. Next we headed to Melbourne to drop off his trailers full of dangerous chemicals and then over to Geelong to meet up with Robbie. 

Hmm, two options.. $147.5 for petrol (gas)!

Fair dinkum chips!
Robbie took me to his place where he had prepared extensively for my visit with all kinds of foods that he recognized as purely Australian, a double bed in my own room (complete with "doona" AKA a blanket), and even a cell phone to use - not to mention the fact that he took off ten days of work just to show me around! After taking a shower I went out and met Robbies flatmate Cam who immediately gave me a tour of his bikes, cars followed by the bay and the town where he treated me to a sub sandwich. After we all got back Robbie took me to see his family and a bunch of cool sites around the town. He showed me a golf course where and unusual amount of Kangaroos hang out while golfers put around in between them (a place not many Aussies let alone tourists ever could hope to find). After the kangaroos we went to the beach and saw some of the scenery leading up to the Great Ocean Road. Finally we got some KFC which apparently includes chips (french fries) - something that KFC is actually well known for here. Back at Robbie's we were still feeling pretty awake so we headed out again for a couple drinks. After a few bars, including one where only posh yuppies go, we went back and called it a night.

Old Time Milk Bar AKA Corner Store

Friday, January 20, 2012

Bondi Beach


Today I went to Bondi Beach and did some body surfing. When I got there I found a boogie board in the bin and gave it a go. Unfortunately it was total junk and practically useless so I just body surfed and was able to catch some pretty decent waves.

After a couple hours I decided I was burnt enough and headed back to Woolloomooloo to get ready for dinner at Bethany's. Up in Eastwood I found her place and we all sat down for a delicious bacon pasta dish with veggies followed by fruit and ice cream for desert - a pretty awesome meal, especially if you consider my recent diet of rice and beans! After tea we talked a bit more about cultural and political differences between Australia and America and before long it was time to go and catch the train.


Today I hopped on a train to go meet up with a truckie named Tank, a friend of my Robbie's. Tank was passing through Sydney on his way to Geelong and Robbie convinced him to give me a lift down. After arriving in Glenfield I went on over to the bus area to catch my bus. I realized too little too late that my bus had arrived on the opposite side of the road. I ran over and just as I was at the door the driver hit the gas (or petrol as they call it here) and left me standing there with all my 30 kilos (65 pounds) of baggage hanging off of me.

Just my luck none of the other buses went to my stop and I ended up walking a ways. After a mile in the hot Australian sun with all my stuff I arrived at the point on my GPS where Uncle Leo's truck stop was supposed to be (according to Google maps). Turns out I was quite a ways off actually and after nervously asking the Pizza Hut staff there where to go I found that nobody had even heard of Uncle Leo's. Although, one of the girls did know a caltex truck stop and she felt pretty certain it was Uncle Leo's so she rang the taxi service because, as it turns out, I was nowhere near it. I wanted to walk it but as it turns out I was a good 20 km (12 miles) out and would have never made it on foot. Before leaving I called Robbie and fortunately Tank was a bit delayed and I had a couple hours to work with. When Tank arrived we hopped in his truck and headed out. After a few hours we arrived at a truck stop and ate chico rolls and dim sims (spring roll and dim sum) then went back to the truck to sleep.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012



Today I got up at 6a to go to the Blue Mountains. Julien backed out and Jason appeared to be out (found out later that I had misinterpreted his message) so I headed to the station and caught the train. On the train I talked with a Canadian who has been finding accommodation with friends from a party he went to. On an unrelated note he brought up something that many fail to mention about Canadian health care - he explained that people who need an urgent operation will actually go down to the US and pay to get it done... I guess our health care in the US isn't so inadequate after all. Another guy on the train named Chris lives in Katoomba with his wife, Lynn. Chris was keen to share the history of the area and even gave me a ride to the trail head. After hiking along the cliffs and down into the Leura forest I climbed up the Furber Steps and got one more view of the Australian version of the Grand Canyon before finishing my four hour hike through the bush and heading back to the train. During the train ride back some goofy teenaged Kiwis took interest in the napping American and began asking me questions and talking about their lives in Australia for the last five years. Apparently a lot of Kiwis make the switch to Australia because its so easy for them to get citizenship and the economy is so much better. Back in Sydney I made my way back to the hostel and went out for pizza with the others.