Wednesday 26th November – The Great Ocean Road. Up stupidly early today with a hankering for a fry-up and no time to do any shopping.
The only thing in the cupboards with no name on it is an old jar of Vegimite, and I’ve had two mouthfuls of the stuff and I still don’t know what it is.
The girls, as per usual, will be staying here as I go off on an adventure. They say they need their beauty sleep. Balls to that, although I’d take skinny sleep if it was an option.
To: “My Great British Contacts” Group
Subject: A great ocean ROAD TRIP!
Date: Weds 26 Nov – 23:57
I’ve had the most awesomest of days ever, cruising the Australian equivalent of Route 66 in a beautiful red convertible, the wind in my hair, the sun on my face, and a whole lot of horsepower throbbing beneath my butt. Awesome. The Great Ocean Road is a world-famous highway that takes you out of Melbourne and around 185 miles of Australia’s more dramatic southern coastline, and the experience is not one I’ll forget any time soon.
I wouldn’t be that bothered if you asked me to go on a coastal drive back home. Dull skies, vandalised amusement arcades, hoodies in Ford Escorts and metal-detecting pensioners do nothing to get my juices going. But over here it’s something else entirely. Beautiful turquoise seas, huge blue skies, rolling green rainforests, exotic wildlife, and miles and miles of untamed beauty in all directions. Plus a whacking great strip of tarmac to see it all from, of course. With the girls sleeping off hang-overs, I took the least annoying backpacker I could find instead which turned out to be Kristen, a very excitable Canadian girl who is wider than she is tall. She had to fold herself into the confines of the car, and I had accidentally changed gear with her knee twice. I think she might’ve got the wrong idea.
The Great Ocean Road is split into three sections, the first being ‘The Surf Coast’ due to all the big waves and the people in wet-suits riding them. There was even a Newquay beach, just like in Cornwall. We got out to stretch our legs at a golf course in Apollo Bay and were surprised to find a ‘mob’ of kangaroos living amongst the bunkers. They were quite tame, wandering around wide-eyed on their ungainly clown-size feet, entirely unaware of the frustrated ball-whackers trying to play through. One had a baby in her pouch, but he wasn’t all cute and tucked away like you’re led to believe. He looked almost fully-grown, and was stretching and distending her tummy much like a human teenager would do if they decided to crawl back up their mum. None of them were bouncing around like you’d expect either, instead they clicked about with velociraptor-like claws, using their strong tails like the awkward third leg of a tripod. The whole encounter left me feeling a little cheated because they just didn’t seem kangarooey enough.
Our next stop was Airey’s Inlet, where we found a bunch of koalas basking in the shadey foliage of the trees. And yes, I mean ‘koalas’ not ‘koala BEARS’, and getting this wrong is one of the few things that will make an Australian angry. They all looked a little sleepy, but I guess it makes sense as it turns out koalas spend most of their lives stoned. Munching eucalyptus leaves has the same effect on their brains as smoking cannibis does to a human. This explained why they looked so out of it as they clung precariously to their branches, watching Jeremy Kyle from under a blanket and munching on Quavers.
The second stretch of the road is called ‘The Green Coast’ as it’s submerged within rainforest, and we stopped to explore the Otway Ranges National Park where I discovered not only an abundance of over-dramatic nature, but also that Kristen’s boobs were so close to her knees that she played a constant game of keepie-uppie when she walked. The increasingly irritating Canadian (who uses the word ‘awesome’ like it’s punctuation) asked me if it was my first time exploring the bush and I couldn’t resist telling her, “Oh no, I had an experimental phase when I was younger.” It shut her up for a good few seconds.
It turns out that the rainforest is actually a bit like Centre Parcs, but without the igloo and all the chavs on bikes, so it wasn’t too long before we were ready to get back on the road. Soon we reached the third section, ‘The Shipwreck Coast’, and by mid-afternoon we had arrived at the landmark I’d been looking forward to most of all. The Twelve Apostles. I’m not sure words can do the sight justice (try Google), but imagine abandoned pillars of cliff staggered from one horizon to the other, teal water crashing against them in rainbow bursts, and inaccessible golden sands below. Then use the same imagination to make it even more awesome. I mean SPECTACULAR (damn girl’s got me saying it now). I’ve got a lovely photo of the two of us there, but I stood far enough away so I could crop her out later. I won’t be staying in touch.
We stopped at some other landmarks on the way home, but none came close in terms of scale or grandeur. London Bridge was just another rocky monument, whilst Loch Ard Gorge was another secluded bay – one that was as almost popular with Japanese tourists now as it was with pirates back in the day. There were so many cameras going off at one point that I felt like I was on a red carpet. I took a few of my own, but have since learned never to use the flash when inside a cave, no matter how phallic a stalagmite might look. A cloud of panicking bats had erupted from the gloom and enveloped me, ferociously emptying their bowels in their rush to get out, and in my own scramble to escape what was effectively a vampire shit-bomb there’s a small chance I may have emptied my own.
It was well after sunset by the time I’d dropped the car back and ditched the Canadian, by which time “Trees! AWESOME! Rocks! AWESOME! You’re covered in bat shit! AWESOME!” was starting to get a little tiring. Kristen had talked non-stop, and I can only assume she was breathing through her arse. It’s made coming back to an empty room all the more jarring, and going by the state of the place the girls have gone out clubbing again because it looks like ground zero to a fashion explosion. But I can’t complain about being left behind (again), as I’ve crossed a famous landmark and two of Australia’s must-see animals off my to-do list. So long as they don’t feel like they’re wasting their time here, that’s all that matters.
Love Kev x
Replies to the guys:
Mum – Yes, I realise. I was a bit tipsy, sorry. And WTF means ‘Well That’s Fantastic’.
Sis – Don’t you hate it when you don’t forward a chain email and die the next day? Oh, wait… Quit sending me spam!
Paul and Gavin – Yay! Congrats!
Jack – I’m so sorry. Was it unexpected?
Alex – You can read about them in the Guinness Book of Records under, “Longest Time Asleep. Ever.”
At my leaving do, before I began any of this backpacking malarkey, I told Michael that at some point on my trip I would hire a fancy car and go for a drive I’d never forget. I’d experience the thrill of the open road, clear the cobwebs from my brain, and generally drive very fast indeed. For some reason he’d laughed. He said, and I quote, “You’d never allow yourself to give something new and exciting a go. You’d worry about ending up hurt, or looking silly,” and he told me I was my own worst enemy. He hadn’t been kidding either! I’m still not sure where it all came from or what he meant by it. What did he care if I hired a car or not? He can’t even drive!
But it turns out he knows me better than I know myself. I didn’t hire a convertible as I had imagined I would. I had talked myself out of it just like he’d predicted. I was worried that proper manly men in the car-hire place would laugh at me for not knowing about horse-power or throttles and stuff. Maybe they’d take advantage and try and rip me off. And what was I supposed to do about insurance? Mileage? Petrol? Besides, this is me! I’d be crazy to climb behind the wheel of something big, heavy and fast and take it for a drive on a road THIS close to a cliff. I’d go and do a Thelma and Louise by mistake. Michael was spot on, I am my own worst enemy. I totally psyched myself out. My brain got involved and shut me down.
So despite what I told everyone back home, and what I’ll tell the girls when I next see them (in the hopes that they get jealous and wish they hung out with me at least once in a while), today was actually spent squeezed into the back of a tour bus with a dangerously obese Canadian. Everything else was exactly as I wrote home, but I certainly didn’t travel in a convertible. I didn’t even travel in comfort, but no one needs to know that. Being cramped for the whole trip has left me with pins and needles in my balls and I’m not sure if I should be worried or aroused.
Kristen was unbearably positive the whole time and she did my head in, but I could definitely learn something from her optimism. She is probably the fattest person I’ve ever seen but she couldn’t care less, and the fact she doesn’t have a problem with self-esteem is an achievement as gargantuan as she is.
“It wouldn’t be fair to all the skinny girls if I was this clever, awesome AND thin,” she told me. “I see it as a public service really.”
So I’m going to try to start looking at myself differently from now on. No longer will I consider myself fat. I will simply be overflowing with awesomeness.
You hear that brain? Awesomeness.