Melbourne : Grampians National Park

The trip to Grampians National park was absolutely tiring. I’ve never hiked so much in my life.

We almost missed our bus to Grampians. We were late and I lost the boarding pass but thank god the bus driver allowed us in.

Our bus driver is a kind and intelligent middle aged white man. He gave us information in great details every place we passed (even small little farms!). He has great knowledge of the forest and the history of Australia.

We passed a long stretch of road called Avenue of honour in Ballarat. The road is to commemorate the 3000 soldiers perished in the World War (either 1 or 2, I don’t remember). Each and every soldier who perished is represented with a plat of the soldier’s name and a tree. 3000 might sound like a small amount but once we drove through the 3000 trees in the Avenue of Honour, 3000 is no longer what we consider small. The stretch was endless and it took us a while to go through the avenue. War is really devastating. It is the old man who wage the war but it is the young man who fights the war.

Our first stop was Hall’s Gap. It’s a small serene little town located on the foothill of the Grampians.

We stopped for a quick lunch. The bus brought us to this small little shop which serves simple but really expensive food. Melody and I had a quick bite and took a stroll around the park. We bumped into a group of wild kangaroos in a small field. The field was filled with kangaroo dung.

I set up my tripod quickly and took a picture of the kangaroos and us with the Grampians as the background.

After half an hour of driving upwards to Grampians, we arrived in the balconies. From the balconies, a picturesque view of Victoria valley, with flat green luscious trees on the bottom stretching endlessly only ended by the mountains.

Melody and I ventured on our own, within the rocky cliffs of the balconies. It was fun and exciting but a small little mistake could send us down towards the bottom of the mountain. But the beauty of the place made me forget my fear of heights.
Our own little venture is much fun than those provided. We braved through trees and high rocks rather than walking on the man made path.

Our next stop was Mackenzie falls. Our kind bus driver offered everyone billy tea, biscuits, lamingtons and vegemite. Billy tea is some sort of tea but it’s specialty lies on its process of making it. Nothing special actually, it’s just boiling the tea on a tin can (but it tasted good). We sat down in a small field with kookaburras, crows and a kangaroos around us.

Most of the people were amused with the kangaroo and kept on feeding it but the poor crows scavenged on the leftovers. Our bus driver told us that we could choose a few locations to go in Mackenzie fall, either to the base of Mackenzie fall or the outlook of Mackenzie fall. However, according to our bus driver, anyone with a heart problem or unfit are not advised to go to the 1.75km walk to the base of the waterfall. Melody and I, with great confidence, decided to go for the base. The trip down was easy and quick but the trip wasn’t rewarding. The water seems bubbly and dirty. We took couple of photos and headed straight back to the bus.

The trip back was hell. We were late for the bus’s departure time and we had to rush up. We almost die of exhaustion.

The bus drive gave us a brief summary of Vegemite. When it was first released (not under the name of Vegemite), nobody liked it. The company decided to change its name and it had a public competition for a new name. A 12 year old girl suggested the name vegemite because of its vegetable extracts and the similarity to marmite. Furthermore, according to our bus driver, during World War I, Vegemite saved hundreds of life. The Australian government provided Vegemite to the Red Cross to deliver to Aussie prisoners of war. Due to the fact that vegemite has the highest vitamin B than any other food, many of the prisoners were saved from malnourishment.

Our last stop was Zumsteins Park, a kangaroo park. According to our bus driver, when the park first opened, there wasn’t much kangaroos. The owner then tried feeding the kangaroos and soon, the park was populated with them. However, years later, the government declared the Grampians as a national park whereby it prohibited the feeding of kangaroos. Soon, many of the kangaroos left but few stayed behind. And a few kangaroos are what we saw in Zumsteins Park.

Our bus driver decided to drive along a ranch to cover up the disappointment most people have on the kangaroo sighting (I don’t know why people wanted to see them so much, kangaroos are regarded as pest in Aussie). And this time, we saw loads of kangaroos and sheep and even emus! Kangaroo and Emus are featured in the Australian coat of arms. But why roos and emus? According to our bus drive again, it’s because both of this creatures are not so physically capable of taking a step backward. This symbolises the attitude of the Australians, always a step forward, not backwards.

Kangaroos have a very short period of pregnancy. The baby kangaroo is born within 36 days of conception (to be precise, the baby kangaroo climbs out from the mother’s womb to the mother’s pouch). The new born baby is only a size of a jelly bean; blind; furless and it’s journey to the pouch is guided by instinct.

We had dinner at a hotel called Commercial Hotel in Ararat before heading home. Their carbonara sucks big time.

3 hours later, we’re back in the city. We thanked our bus driver for the great time and the information. He replied “excellent!”

I watched “A Wedding in Ramallah”. The movie is based on real life action. It’s about a Palestinian man’s arrange marriage in Israel and how the marriage went. It also shows the brutality of the Jewish soldiers against the Palestinians. There was once a tank shot an apartment along with all it’s inhabitants inside. They even showed Jewish soldiers shooting kids on the streets!

Fights in Russell St. arcade are common and I almost got myself involved today. An Asian guy challenged me in a game of King Of Fighters 98. I beat the guy 6 times in a row and he started to get pissed. Soon, he started banging the buttons and on the last match, he stopped and stared at me. I stared back and went like “uh oh?” I was beginning to fear for my life, who knows what if the guy pulls out a gun. My years of martial art training would be down the drain! However, he stood up and left. *phew* thank god. One of my arcade friends came few minutes after that. I asked him whether is it common for people to fight when they lost numerous matches. My friend replied with “oh no, he wasn’t pissed because he lost, it’s because you played cheat. In this arcade, you’re not supposed to catch the opponent (one of the common moves in King Of Fighters), it’s considered cheating”. geee.. Back in Kuala Lumpur, everyone used that method and no one complained about it. No wonder sometimes I get my opponents banging their buttons hardly.