Hi, I’m Sarah!

Hi, I’m Sarah!

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I’ve been in the travel industry for 11 years working as a travel agent, and have had the opportunity to go to some amazaing places both through work, and on my own holidays.

While travelling I have travelled accross the continents of North and South America, Africa, Europe and Asia. My travel experience, combined with on-the job knowledge makes me an exper in all things travel.

This blog is about showcasing some of the exciting destinations I have been to, along with giving you some ideas of what to do in each place.

Most of the time when I travel I like to get outdoors and get the blood pumping. Some of my favorite experiences so far have been paragliding in San Gil, Colombia, trekking Mt. Batur before sunrise in Bali, and snowboarding the freshest powder in Lake Tahoe, California (to name a few!)

This is not a digital nomad blog.  I have a regular 9 – 5 job working at a travel agent, near home in Melbourne, Australia.

The great part about this, is my passion for travel gets a workout while I’m stuck at home paying the bills and saving up for my next adventure.

My work roster works out that I get a 3-day weekend once a month, so my next adventure (even if its local) is never more than three weeks away!

 

On my days off, I try to pack in as much quality time outdoors as I can. This is usually  hiking, kayaking, camping, hitting the beach, or in the winter, the mountains with my snowboard.

 

 

I hope you’ll stick around and continue reading all things rourkeus adventures!

Two Bays Walking Track

On the Mornington Peninsula, there is a 28km trail that runs between Port Phillip Bay, and Westerport Bay. It starts at sea level, ascends approximately 700 metres, before descending again to sea level.

At the moment I am training for the Cooloola Great Walk so I am spending a lot of time down along the Two Bays trail. It’s so great, I want to share it, so that others that don’t already know about it can go and enjoy it too.

If you plan to hike the whole trail in one day, you will need to park a car at each end. One end is in Domana, and the other is the Cape Schanck Lighthouse.

Port Phillip Bay, shot from Arthurs Seat; Two Bays Trail.

If you plan to do the whole trail, you will need to allow about seven or eight hours, depending on how quickly you walk, and your level of experience. I highly recommend doing the trail for the first few times in sections. Personally, I break it down into three sections, and do them separately as out and back day trips. I’ll give you the breakdown that I usually do, but I also recommend you consult a few other sources, such as the park notes by Parks Victoria.

Section one: Dromana to Mclarens Dam.

This should be 14km – 17km depending on if you add the Kings Falls Circuit, and a walk around Seawinds.

When we go, we leave by 8am, do seawinds (Arthurs Seat lookout etc) and then get back onto the two bays trail, stopping at all the lookout points etc. There is almost always kangaroos once you get back onto the trail after seawinds which is always exciting no matter how many times I see them!

After seawinds, you will reach a wide open crossroad area. Your choice will be to turn right and head downhill towards Mclarens dam, or to continue straight ahead (and slightly uphill) to complete the Kings Falls Circuit. If you are new to this walking thing, just choose one; The circuit or the Dam (the circuit is the easier of the two).

Once back at the crossroads, head downhill towards Mclarens Dam. This is such a picturesque place. On the walk down the hill towards the damn, I have seen Kangaroos, Lizards, Kookaburras and other native birds, and even an Echidna! This is definitely the spot where you want to bring your international friends!

Mclarens Dam is a great spot to make your lunch break spot if its your turnaround point for the day, or perhaps a morning tea stop if you are doing a one way all day hike. There is a huge pine tree by the dam that provides shade almost any time of day. The shade, combined with the tranquility of the dam makes for a great rest stop to refuel for the rest of your journey.

The misleading part of an out-and-back hike is that you will have just as much energy on the way back, as what you did on the way there. You can, provided you carry enough food. I suggest earing a small day pack sized backpack, and carrying some lightweight snacks like fruit, some trail mix, and my new favorite, some smooshed wholefood balls. Woolies has had them on sale for half price lately and I have to tell you, I am a huge fan of the Apricot & Cacao balls.

After lunch, simply head back the way you came. Dont curse too much on the way back up the hill (the kangaroos will hear you!) And don’t forget to stretch once you get back to the car!

I’ll add in sections two and three in the next few days. Cant wait to tell you about my favorite part of the trail!!

 

Til next time,

Sarah

xx

Hiking Victorias highest peaks

Early January 2018 , Rowan and I planned to go along with some friends on a multi-day hike from Mt Feathertop to Mt Bogong. Foolishly, I didn’t do any research or preparation prior to committing to doing the hike. I had done a few days bushwalking here and there, including what I perceived to be some really tough ones, and I thought that was it? How much harder can it be to do the same thing for a few days in a row?

Oh how wrong I was. Unbeknownst to me, the Harrietville > Bogong five-day hike is one of Victorias toughest.

The night before the hike, we drove the four-hour stretch from Melbourne to Harrietville, set up our tent at the trail head and bunkered down. It was pouring with rain. Brilliant!

In the morning, after packing up our tent and gear in the rain, we quickly ducked in to the local cafe for one last luxury – a nice hot latte before we headed out. By this point, I was already totally soaked through. My rain jacket was obviously not as waterproof as I thought it was.

Luckily Rowan has a spare raincoat in his car – a high vis jacket he keeps for the coldest, and wettest mornings at work. I was warm and dry again.

We set off. Within an hour of starting, the trail had significantly increased in altitude. we were ascending at a much quicker rate that what I had anticipated. I had new hiking poles, and my friends Megan and Wayne were giving me  a crash course in how to use them effectively, as we continued up and up.

The rain did not let up for the first few hours. Thankfully, the day before, we had seen the forecast and had made a quick stop at Kathmandu to buy some pack covers; so we took comfort knowing our home for the next four nights wouldn’t be sopping wet when we arrived.

As we continued our ascent, I could feel a burning sensation in my heels. I was already struggling with the weight of my pack, the rain, the steep trail, and trying to use these new hiking poles, so I didn’t voice my concerns and told myself I was imagining the pain.

Finally, the sun came out and the rain eased. We all dried off and stopped for a snack in the warm sunshine, before continuing upwards.

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By mid afternoon we reached Federation Hut, near the summit of Mt Feathertop. I cannot tell you how happy I was to see it! Now all we needed to do was set up our tents and relax for the afternoon.

We set up our hike stove to boil some water and make some hot tea, and then sat for a while.

Eventually, I took off my boots to assess the damage. Blisters the size of the palms of my hands were on the heel of each foot. No wonder there was that burning sensation!

After airing out my damp, damaged feet, we whipped out the first aid kit…  We use the antiseptic cream, bandaids, metho and tape, and my feet are looked after as best as they can be while we are out on the trail.

I was well and truly done for the day. We set up our tents, and then headed inside the hut to start a fire and try to dry out some of our gear.

I don’t think I have ever slept as well as I slept that night. Pure fatigue, combined with a tummy full of warm food and a nice cosy tent.

The next morning, we awoke before sunrise and put on every layer of clothing we had (despite being the middle of January, the mornings are still very cool in the Alpine areas). We grabbed our head torches and finished the final steps to reach the summit of Mount Feathertop! Amature hiker Sarah Rourke, totally unprepared and unskilled, had now hiked to the summit of Victorias second highest peak!

Sunrise at Mt Feathertop

I had only learned that Mt Feathertop was our second highest peak about half way up it the day before, so I was pretty proud of my achievement!

We watched the sun slowly creep up over the rest of the Alpine vista ahead of us. We were all so excited to be there together, witnessing such a spectacular sunrise. We wrote our names down in the little book we found with the names of all those who had conquered this peak before us, and headed back to the hut.

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The other thing I had found out the day before, was that Feathertop is second to Mt Bogong (the one we had planned to hike to over the next few days), Victorias highest peak, and that days two, three and four are anticipated to be much tougher than day one. Considering my inexperience, and the baseball sized blisters on my heels, Rowan and I decided to part ways with Megan and Wayne. We went back down the way we came, while they continued on with out us.

 

Giving up on day two was pretty disheartening; we said goodbye to our friends, wishing them well for the rest of their walk. We packed up our tent, had some breakfast and set off down the mountain.

The twelve kilometre descent was still a pretty tough gig, but we got down to the car a lot faster than it took us to get to the top. The weather had improved, and we had a beautiful clear day to walk in and enjoy sweeping views from our vantage point above the valleys below.

View from Mount Feathertop - Victorias highest peaks hike

 

Victorias highest peaks hike Mt Feathertop

Once we’d reached the bottom, the disappointment set in that I had given up. I dreaded answering anyone who asked “How was your hike?” (as if my hobbling around for weeks on end while my blisters healed didn’t give it away) but, despite my first experience at multi day hiking, I am now hooked.

Just like anyone else, who has gone into something totally unprepared, I learned a lot. Basic stuff like what to wear in wet weather, to be prepared for anything, and how to pack my backpack are all things that would have been really handy to know before hand, but I don’t think other people’s advice is ever as good as first hand knowledge, so whatever – at least I know that stuff now!!

The endorphin rush I got when I was standing on top of a mountain I had just climbed is worth every ounce of pain I felt on that hike, and then some. I have memories that will last a lifetime, and now I know I can do it! If I achieved that, with zero preparation, no training, lack of correct equipment, and carrying about five kilograms more than I needed, imagine what I can do with a bit of training!

Victorias highest peaks hike

 

I cant wait to tell you all about my upcoming hiking plans – there are a few good ones coming up!

Thanks for reading, and please let me know what you think in the comments below. Am I crazy? Do you want to go hiking now? Did the description of my blisters gross you out?

 

Until next time,

Sarah

xxx

10 easy steps for planning your first overseas holiday

  1. Choose a destination.

Choosing the destination doesn’t need to be a hard task. Use a recommendation from a friend, go somewhere you have always wanted, or stick a pin in a map with a blindfold on! Whatever your method, if you research the destination enough before your travel, you will have a great holiday! Every destination has a lot more to offer than the top ten tourist traps and cookie cutter experiences, no matter whether it’s a far-flung destination in East Africa, or something tried and tested by almost every Australian, like Bali.

Once you have decided where you want to go, start planning! Start a new pinterest board, spreadsheet or notepad in your phone – whatever your method is to keep all of the information in one place. Some key information you should know before you book anything in:

  • The best time of year to go (or at the very least, what the weather will be like when you plan to go).
  • A rough idea of what it costs for flights, transport and a hotel.
  • How far away it is (or how long it will take you to get there).
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Ku De Ta, Bali

2. Book the holiday.

Now is the time to pop in to your local travel agency. Contrary to popular belief, it is not more expensive to get an agent to book your holiday for you. I mean, you could definitely spend hours upon hours researching every flight, hotel, transfer, day tour and general travel advice, but if you can find a good travel agent, they will save you hours upon hours of time and stress.

A good travel agent will spend some time getting to know you, and then make some recommendations for your destination based on what you have said you are looking for. They should be able to put together a glamorous, instagram worthy 5 star sojourn, or help you backpack your way across an entire continent on your desired budget.

My top tip for using a travel agent is to book someone you feel you have a good connection with and that has shown that they have listened to what you want.

I am biased of course, because my day-job is a travel agent. I have been one for ten years! But this just gives me inside information. The way it works (with the company I work for, anyway) is that the airlines, hotels, tour operators etc pay the travel agent after the booking has been made, so there is no booking fee or extra costs. You pay the same amount whether you book it yourself, or via the travel agent.

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3. Passport and visas.

Do you already  have a passport? Great! Check the expiry date. You need a minimum of 6 months validity from the date you return from your holiday to travel to most destinations. (For example, if you get home from your trip on 23rd June, 2019, your passport must not expire before 23rd December 2019). If you fail to pick this up, you are very likely to get denied boarding at the airport before your holiday. It will ruin your trip, and cost you a lot of money.

If you haven’t got a passport yet, or you need to renew it, get it done, now. I have written some tips on how to renew your passport in a hurry which you can find here if you need.

You must make sure the name on your flight ticket is spelled the exact same way as it appears on your passport. (eg. If your name is Timothy on your passport, but your ticket reads Tim you will have a problem). Most airlines don’t need middle names, however in most cases, you are better off to put them in all bookings.

Once you have a current passport, you should check if you need a visa. A visa grants you permission to enter the country, not a credit card. Some visas can be applied for online for a small fee, and others require you to go to the consulate, or have your travel agent send your passport off to them, and can take months to be issued.

At time of writing this, some of the countries that require Australian passport holders to have a visa before entering are: USA, Canada, Brazil, Vietnam, Cambodia, China, India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Russia, Egypt and Israel, to name a few.  Please note this is NOT a comprehensive list, and you should check with your travel agent, or with the consulate of the country you are going regarding your circumstances.

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4. Health and safety.

If you haven’t already, now is the time to buy your travel insurance. So many people leave this until the last-minute, and buy it the day before they travel. Take some advice from me; A few years ago, I had a 4 week South America trip booked. We had spent over $10,000 prebooking flights, tours and hotels. A few weeks before we were due to leave, we received some bad news that my mum was seriously ill. We cancelled the trip, without hesitation, and thankfully our travel insurance reimbursed us for all of the money we had lost (so we can rebook the trip at a later date!).

Your travel insurance will also cover things like if you are in an accident while you are away, or get sick. (It also covers things like when monkeys bite you while you are in Thailand!).

Before you travel you should check with your GP that your immunisation are up to date. Things like Tetanus, and Hep B are so uncommon in Australia, because people get immunised regularly. It’s easy to forget when you had your last booster! Overseas however, there are a lot more risks. You can also check with Travelvax to see if you need any immunisation. Some common ones for South East Asia are Typhoid and Hep A, where in parts of Africa and South America you will need Malaria tablets and Yellow fever vaccinations, the list goes on.

You can check out health and safety alerts on the Australian Government website  Smartraveller. You can also register your own travel plans, so if something goes wrong, someone knows where you are.

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Karon Beach, Phuket

5. Suitcase or backpack?

As it gets closer to your trip, you will need to decide what gear you are taking with you. The first place to start is whether to take a backpack, or a traditional suitcase. The correct gear very much depends on the type of trip you do. I favour my tried and tested Kathmandu Entrada 65 litre lightweight backpack for most trips but if I’m travelling for work, or for a short domestic trip, I sometimes use a standard suitcase.

Once you have picked your choice of pack, you can fill your case! What goes in it will depend very much on where you are travelling, so I wont go into that here, but you will be able to get suitable packing lists from friends or family. (Or, if you need a hand, hit me up in the comments and I’ll give you a hand).

Your nearest travel shop or outdoors/adventure store will also be able to point you in the right direction. My best piece advice though; Less is more. Once you have packed your case, take out 5 things.

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6. Money

If you intend on using your bankcard/credit card overseas, you will need to let your bank know where you are going. Even if you don’t plan to use them, I suggest notifying them anyway, so they are available to you in case of an emergency.

You also need to decide how you want to access your money. I usually carry some cash, but put most of my money on a travel card (I use the one provided by Flight Centre as the fees are really low, but you can get them from your bank or the post office too).

When I was travelling in Colombia on my own, I carried cash only, as ATMs are hard to find. On a night out drinking, I was a super-dork and carried my cash in a money belt, under my dress, and only a small amount in my handbag. (Most of the time I only carry a max of $200AUD of cash, so if I get robbed, it’s not a huge loss). In Bali, and in India I carried AUD, and exchanged it as I travelled around. In Europe, I took a few hundred Euros with me before I left home, but used my international travel card for most stuff. I’ve done the same in USA. Every country you go to is going to require a different approach.

7. Camera

I personally carry my camera almost everywhere I go, but phone cameras are such good quality now, I find I end up using my iPhone almost as often as my bulky SLR, so I am currently considering  upgrading to a smaller, lightweight camera. The list of tech items you might like to bring can go on and on, but this is not a packing list… (Perhaps that could be my next post?!

Orvietto

8. Phone / data

If you are travelling for a significant amount of time, buying a sim card locally that allows you to text and call, and gives a good amount of data is a good idea. If you are going for a few weeks, and not planning on hiking, camping or travelling anywhere too remote, you can probably get by using the free wi-fi provided at most hotels, cafes, bars, train stations, airports, well… most places! When I’m travelling, I usually switch my phones data off, and then put the phone on to flight mode. I then turn wifi back on and search for the free stuff. This is undoubtedly the cheapest method, however if you want to post your insta-worthy travel pic as soon as you take it, without waiting til you get back to your hotel, or need to be able to be contacted 24/7, you should seek an alternative. Check with your own service provider first, as they are pretty competitive for short-term travel. If you are going somewhere far-flung or for an extended period, a pre-paid sim from the country you are in will be the cheapest option.

9. Travel apps

There are so many great apps available now to help every traveller have a better experience. I’ll do another post on my favorite apps later, but until then, my top three  apps that you should have in your phone before you set off are maps.me, been, and Google translate

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10. Go on holidays!

Whether you followed this guide to a tee, packed and repacked, and carefully planned your trip months in advance, or you have just stumbled on this guide and you leave in a few days, don’t panic too much if you are not super prepared. If you forget something, you can probably buy in on your way. Don’t have a camera (or forgot it) well you’ll probably live more in the moment that way. If you get lost, you might just have the best adventure!

Overcoming obstacles while travelling teaches you so much about yourself, and gives you amazing skills that you never would have realised you had otherwise. Live in the moment, and enjoy your hard earned break.

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Until next time!

Sarah

xx

An unplanned perfect evening in Edinburgh

Last year, my friend Liz and I had a little adventure to the beautiful Scottish city of Edinburgh. I had flown over to the UK to visit her, and we tried to fit in as many kilometers into a few short weeks as we possibly could . Our ridiculously packed (but very fun) itinerary gave us one night only in Edinburgh…

 

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After a night out in Liverpool, a late breakfast (and very delicious) at Moose Coffee followed by a walk along the waterfront counting the lamb bananas (yes it’s a thing).  we embarked on a five-hour drive north. It was about 4pm when we arrived in Edinburgh.

After checking in to our hotel and getting changed, we went for a walk around to find somewhere that would serve us some takeaway food for a picnic, and find a bottle-shop to get a bottle of wine. We had a plan. A plan we had come up with an hour ago, when realising we might have enough time… but it was a plan nonetheless.

It didn’t take us long to find a cute cafe that obliged, and made us some foccacias, and pointed us in the direction of the nearest off licence (bottleshop). We found a little minimart with an off licence, and added some fresh berries to our list.

After collecting our bits and pieces, we booked an uber, and headed to our desired location: Holyrood Park.  We figured we had just enough time to walk up Arthur’s Seat, enjoy our picnic, and walk back down before it was completely dark and one of us feel and broke our necks…

In late August, sunset is expected about 8.14pm in Edinburgh. (I regularly use this website to work out things like this when planning adventures).

There are several routes you can take when summiting the 251 metre extinct volcano that towers above the city of Edinburgh. We used this map which we found on google to hazard a guess at which route to take. the plan was to take the steepest, most challenging red route (after the orange route) to get to the peak before sunset, but then take the safer green route back down, as we would be doing it in the dark.

Without having been there before, that map looks like it makes no sense… We we didn’t have much time to plan though so we trusted it, and ended up getting us there just fine. The red route was a little challenging… I mean, we worked up a sweat as we were trying to move quickly to get there before sunset, but anyone with a reasonable level of fitness can do it – it is only 251 meters high, so the hard part of the 4.75km walk is over as quickly as it begins. There was one or two wrong turns, but we realised our error before walking more than 100 metres in the wrong direction.

We had timed it perfectly. Sunset should have been about 15/20 minutes away from when we arrived.

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After arriving at the peak, all we needed to do was find the perfect spot for a picnic and set up. We found a little nook that would protect us from the wind, which is really the only reason to get cold on this beautiful summer night and called it as ours. (there were a few other groups also looking around for their perfect spot to watch the sunset and get some sweet shots for instagram.

Liz grabbed the picnic rug out of her bag, while I dug out the sandwiches, wine and berries. That was about the time we realised our mistake. No cups! But how are we to enjoy the beautiful bottle we have just lugged up this hill?

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We had already tucked into the berries while we were setting up, and without us planning it, turns out they came in the perfect bowl-shaped wine-cup. Great. That’s one… I guess the other one of use can drink straight from the bottle? Quick thinking Liz finishes her water, and uses it instead. Bowl of wine anyone?

Sandwiches for dinner have never tasted so good! We watch the sunset, and joke about how romantic our evening is, before feeding each other berries and drinking more wine…

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While we were packing, I had discovered my head-torch, that I use for hiking and camping back home in Aus. I didn’t plan on using/needing it here, and didn’t mean to bring it. It’s like I planned this…

On our way back down Arthur’s Seat, we met an absolute legend. He was on his way home to Korea, after spending some time in the UK to study. He had one spare afternoon, and really wanted to see Arthurs Seat so he hiked the entire thing with his gigantic suitcase….

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After our 5+ hour-long drive, an unplanned hike, a very-much-planned bottle of red, and the excitement of making a friend who hikes-with-a-full-suitcase-just-to-live-in-the-moment , we managed to get all the way down, without falling! 

After such a great introduction to the amazing city of Edinburgh, what else could top off such a perfect evening?

A cocktail bar…

I wont embarrass myself (Liz) with the details of the rest of our evening. All I can say is, go to Edinburgh. Hike Arthur’s Seat, and definitely hit up 99 Hanover Street afterwards.

Til next time,

 

Sar (rourkeus)

xx

 

Camping packing list

Recently, a friend was telling me about their first camping trip.

They had been invited on a group camping holiday, and the whole family were excited! It being their first time, no expense was spared as they eagerly prepared for their holiday.

After weeks of planning, packing the car, and a long drive out to the campsite, they began setting up. Eventually the kids asked:

“What are we sleeping on?”

Well.

Turns out the air mattresses/ camp-mats had either been forgotten and left at home, or forgotten and never borrowed/purchased in the first place.

This made me remember the first time I went camping with a group of friends (who were also virgin campers at the time).

I’d known my whole life that I’d wanted to go camping and also knew, that given the opportunity that I would enjoy it. But, there I was,  20-or-so years old had still never managed to actually go.  I spent days, weeks, maybe longer, preparing for the trip. I was so excited for our Easter weekend camping trip I had bought everything I thought we would need – a tent, a butane stove, camping cutlery sets, you name it, I bought the budget (cheapest I could find) version of it.

Finally, the weekend came. Buzzing with excitement and anticipation, we packed up, headed off… And drove on to what ended up being the worst camping experience of my life.

One of our friends brought his girlfriend along. She didn’t even make it the first night! Her parents (lucky for her) made a three-hour-drive across town on Easter weekend to rescue her from our nightmare trip.

My boyfriend (at the time of the dreaded trip) had accidentally already (or drunkenly) eaten the food (all of it) that I’d bought specifically for camping, but didn’t tell me until I was starting to pack the esky, and all the shops were already shut for Easter. The lilo I had borrowed from a friend leaked, and went flat after we set it up. I’d forgotten to pack a torch. All five other campers also forgot to pack a torch.

It was a comedy of errors, really. And in hindsight, now that I’m an experienced camper, I know that given our inexperience, all these outcomes were inevitable.

Fast forward to now. After listening to my friend recount their failed camping trip, and reminiscing about my own failed trip, I thought about all the other people I know that have had a similar experience, and have never even wanted to consider going back for round two.

I hate that thought!! Camping is so much fun! For all age groups, and in a lot of cases, you can even bring the dog! Getting outside and appreciating this beautiful country we have is one of my favorite past-times, as I’m sure it is many of yours.

Sarah camping circa 2008

This photo is not from the fateful camping trip I described… We didnt get any photos of that trip (we all wanted to forget it ever happened!) its froma much more memorable trip to Hazelwood in approx 2008… Where we were all still young and less-prepared, but nowhere near as bad as that first attempt.

So, in an attempt to help out anyone who hasn’t been before, or maybe it’s been a while, or maybe someone like me who is a little forgetful (I forgot my head-torch last weekend which led to me falling down a 1.5-metre-deep hole in the dark), I decided to create a basic, printable, Camping Checklist.

You can get a copy of it here

Please feel free to pass it on to anyone who may need it, or even use it yourself. There is also a handy “add your own items” section where you can include anything I haven’t thought of, or you think you might specifically need, and then check off as you are packing. I reckon it’s also a great way to get the kids involved and teach them a little bit about the preparation that goes into camping too.

As always, I’d love some feedback! Is there anything on this list you think is totally unnecessary? Or have I forgotten anything major? Let me know in the comments below.

Cheers,

Sarah

PS – I’m going to put together a few more of these packing lists. Next is a lightweight 5 day hike checklist, as I’m planning a walk from Noosa to Rainbow Beach soon. Are there any other lists you want to see? or examples/photos of our regular setup?

Walking the Cinque Terre

We arrive at La Spezia railway station at about 10:45am. Nice and early to buy the tickets, and get onto the 11:05am train to the Cinque Terre – Five beautiful (and fairly isolated) villages dotted along the coast of the Mediterranean.

I am so excited to see them in March – it s such a great time of year to be in Italy! Although its cold (it’s been getting down to around 3/4 degrees at night, and 11/12 during the day) the days are still long (compared to the end of winter in Melbourne) there has been no rain, and the sky is still beautiful and blue most days, even if its overcast. The best part though, is the lack of crowds. Italy is the fifth most visited country in the world, and welcomes over 48 million tourists every year, most of them between the summer months of June – August.

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Pete, our tour leader comes back over. “Our train has been cancelled. They are striking all day today, so there are no trains going from La Spezia into the Cinque Terre”

Oh.

“We are trying to sort something out… Sit tight, and we’ll let you know how we go”.

I’m on a Topdeck tour. I usually travel independently, and sort out my own alternatives when things don’t go to plan. Right now, all I can do is wait for Pete to come up with a solution for us.

In summer, alternatives would have included the ferry, but it doesn’t run in the off-season. We discuss hiring a car (a few cars) but parking is limited, and road access is only to one town, not all of them.

Pete hurries back over with a grin on his face. He’s managed to get us onto a regional train that should be passing through Manarola, one of the villages, on its way somewhere else along the coast. This is our only opportunity to get into the Cinque Terre. Once we get there, we will have to make sure we are on one of the trains leaving this afternoon (the trains are scheduled to go off-strike between 4 and 6pm, so the workers can get home, both in and out of the villages).

We hurry to the platform and jump onto the train.

Ten minutes pass. We don’t move. Twenty. We look around, and see that there isn’t really anyone on the train, besides us.

A few more minutes pass. Some other people get onto the train. Well, that’s a good sign! At last, we start moving. Everyone on the carriage claps.

The train takes off! We are on our way to the Cinque Terre!

About fifteen minutes later, we arrive in beautiful Manarola.

Manarola is one of the smaller towns, known for its seafood restaurants. I’m okay with that! Our plan quickly changes. What was going to be a day spent at leisure exploring the villages, and then meeting back at the end of the day, changes to a day exploring Manarola, together. Pete makes a reservation for the 20 of us to go to one of the seafood restaurants which gives us some time to walk down to the harbour, then up to the walking path which would lead to the next village along, Corniglia, if it was open.

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Although the path is closed once you get out-of-town, the views you get from where we get to are well worth the visit. If I had to travel all this way just to see that view with my own eyes, and turn around and go straight back home, I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

We head back into town, and find the little seafood restaurant on the harbour that Pete has booked for us. So far on this trip, I’ve made friends with two girls from Adelaide, Cheryl and Bek. We had already spent a few days together in Florence, and had already planned on spending this day together as we originally wanted to do the walk between some of the towns during our time here.

The toughest part about travelling in Italy is definitely deciding what to order when you are out for a meal. Luckily, we had discovered that we are all a fan of sharing our food, so we order a few different things but get to taste it all (on second thoughts, maybe that’s why we became friends?). We settle on a seafood platter, a salad, and some salt & pepper calamari, and a bottle of rose. One bottle quickly turned into two before lunch was over. Most of the others headed off to explore the town. (The plan was that we had a bit of spare time here in Manarola, before all meeting back at the train station for the 6.20pm train).

It was only early afternoon. A few others were staying here, so we did too. One more bottle please! What a nice way to pass our afternoon on the Cinuqe Terre!

Some of the others had wandered off to find the “Via Dell Amore” (tunnel of love). To get there, they had to walk back to the rail station, and walk the other way to what we had, out of town towards the next village of Riomaggiore. We had til 6.20pm! Our plan is still formulating over this bottle of rose. I’m sure we’ll be ready for a “tunnel of love” after all of this booze though! All five of us can go, how romantic!

I wandered off to find a bathroom. Across the road and at the back of the other half of the restaurant. A few minutes later, I get back, and Bek and Cheryl are hurriedly putting their things in their bags, and coast and scarves on. “There is a train! We can go to Monterosso! But it leaves at 3:25pm… Which is in six minutes!” I join them in an earnest attempt to meet the train. We throw on our coats and scarves, leave some Euros on the table, and start off for the station; about a ten minute walk uphill.

We left the restaurant with me shouting something along the lines of “We’ll be back for that wine in fifteen minutes if we miss the train! Don’t let them take it”

Seconds out of the restaurant comes the sobering thought… Obviously this the time to run… NOW!

Those three bottles of wine might not have been such a good idea after all?!!!

We make the station just one minute before the train is scheduled to arrive! Our friends cheer as they see us running up the steps to the platform. “Do we need a ticket, or does the group ticket work?” we ask call to Pete. “No… it doesn’t. You need a new one!”

We turn around, and rush back downstairs to the ticket machine, and frantically try to work out how to buy a ticket to Monterosso. The machine is in Italian, so this isn’t the easiest task! Three (slightly inebriated) Australians who have only been in Italy for a few days, and not expecting to even be in this situation is not ideal. Thankfully, another passenger helps us, and we can even purchase all three tickets at once! Melbourne Myki system take note. We run back up to the platform just as the train rolls in, and we jump onto the nearest carriage.

What an accomplishment! We’re on the train! We barely recover from the excitement of the past ten minutes before the train stops and we arrive at Monterosso.

Monterosso is just beautiful! It’s much larger than Manarola. It is the only village accessible by car, and also the only one to have a reasonable stretch of beach – both drawing crowds exceeding most of the other villages purely because of its accessibility. The buildings are newer, nad less unique than those of the other villages. Monterosso is not without its charm; but being a group of five villages, I can’t help but compare them to each other and try to conclude; which one is the best?

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We stop to take a few photos, the observation deck makes a great paragraph and formulate our plan (The fourth one we have devised today!). Our group has dinner reservations in La Spezia at 7pm, so we need to be on the 6.25pm train back to La Spezia. That gives us about two and a half hours to walk to Vernazza, the next village (we just found out the path is open today!!!).

Cheryl ducks into the nearest caffetteria and buys three bottles of water, and three espressos. She is brilliant! We down the coffee knowing the caffeine will help metabolise all of that alcohol we just drank, and we set off! We leave the rest of the group again – nobody else wants to walk the beautiful cliff edges between Manarola and Vernazza. Maybe they just don’t want to miss the potential only-train-out-of-town tonight! Our walk starts well. We head out of Manarola on the only path we see. It leads up past a beach club around the cliff. We start climbing stairs single file, only to discover we are on a path to a restaurant! Back the way we came, past some men playing bocce we find the right path, (we think) and set off again. Bek, Cheryl and Sarah walk to Vernazza – Take two!

The path that we are now on takes up quickly out of town. Most of the path is single file, but being such a popular walk (and what used to be the only way between these villages) the pathway is well-worn. We continue climbing what feels like a lifetime of stairs. They are steep, narrow, and uneven. Why did we order that third bottle? Turning to look back at the village we just left,  we are high above the village. Between us now, on the other side of the gully we just ascended out of are expanses of grapevines, olive groves and paddocks full of rows of lemon trees, dotted with the odd house and of course stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea below.

We continue climbing up, and up, and up again. Whenever feeling-the-burn is just a little too much, we stop, and admire the views. No matter where you look, it is breathtaking.

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The walk continues flat for a while, before we descend into another valley. We are walking away from the coastline now, and for about fifteen minutes, don’t really have any views of the water. We come to a little waterfall, and cross a small bridge, before the path winds back out to the coastline. Our second ascent begins, and it’s not long before we come to a fenced-off cliff that is screaming for us to climb over and take in the views. We drop our bags, scale the fence (made of one piece of wire between two stakes) and take in our first glimpse of Vernazza in the distance.

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While we stop, we do a time check. We guess we are about halfway. We can see there is another uphill and downhill to go, and no real idea of how long it will take to get there. We have an hour and fifteen minutes left before the train leaves, so we pick up our bags and continue on our way.

We climb again. The uphill isn’t difficult, but it gets the heart pumping, I’m regretting my choice of clothing for today. I though the paths were closed, so I wore jeans and a heavy woolen jumper, with a coat and scarf. All three of us are carrying whatever outer layers don’t fit in our bags; appropriate clothing would definitely help with the comfort levels we are all in right now (oh, and perhaps not three bottles of wine pre-hike).

As the sky darkens and beautiful Vernazza prepares itself for the evening, we finally reach the village! It is absolutely stunning! Our final descent into the town is quite a steep one, past little houses whose gates open directly onto the path we are on, their yards filled with citrus trees. We get closer to the amphitheater shaped village, which hugs the port.

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We reach a pathway that looks like it leads straight to the rail station, which we can see by looking back the way we came – its higher above the village centre. Perfect! Cheryl speaks some Italian, and asks the first person she sees where we can buy a drink. This sleepy town is probably filled with caffetterias, ristorantes and wine bars in busier times of the year, but today all the boats are in dry-dock, and one family are watching their kids kick a football around in the piazza.

With enough time to go to the bathroom and buy a cold drink from the bar we got directions to, and to have a few minutes wandering the narrow pathways around the village, we had to head straight to the station. What timing!!

We book our rail ticket like pro’s – we are experts now! A few minutes later the train arrives. We meet up with everyone else and head back to La Spezia. What a perfect day on the Cinque Terre!!

 

On the train back to La Spezia we reflect on our day – it really couldn’t have been any better! The stars well and truly aligned for us today! We share stories with the others from the group (secretly knowing we had the best day of all).

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What to expect on the Mt Batur Sunrise Trek, Bali

While Rowan and I were on holiday in Bali, we decided to get out and do something we love doing back home – hiking!

There is a day tour operated by Buffalo Tours that I sell at work, so we decided to give it a go and see what we thought.

Here is my review of the day tour, of buffalo tours, and of visiting Mt Batur in general.

The day tour starts with a VERY early start. We were picked up from our hotel at 3am.  We get offered a bottle of water each, and before they suggest we go back to sleep – it’s about a 2 hour drive to Mt Batur. We take their advice and catch up on some sleep (after spending most of the day before at Potato Head beach club, its a welcome rest).

We wake up just as they park the car at a small village at the base of My Batur. It’s about 4:40am. This is where we meet up with G’Day, our guide, who will take us up Mt Batur. He gives us each a torch, and we set off.

The trail is single file, but there are hundreds of other tourists all trying to make their way up to the summit of Mt Batur before sunrise, which is expected sometime between 5:50am and 6:15am (its Bali, so you can’t really expect anything more specific than that!). G’Day thinks we might not make it by sunrise, so we hotfoot it, and try to overtake the slower walkers wherever the track is wide enough for us to pass them.

If I had planned this hike at home, I’d be wearing a headtorch, not carrying one, which would make the small amount of scrambling required much easier. After the first twenty minutes or so I didn’t even have it switched on most of the time, as most of the other walkers had theirs on, and that provided enough light to see where we were going. It was only once the real ascent started and the groups started to thin out that I needed to switch my torch back on.

We continue climbing steadily, and try to pass the slower hikers where we can – we don’t want to miss the sunrise! G’Day assures us we will be there with more than enough time – we are moving much quicker than many of the others (and I think he underestimated how quick we would be at the start!)

The single track is steep and rocky, and in the dark it is a challenge to not fall face first onto the ground at my feet, or worst still, into the climber ahead of me. There really are a lot of people here.

We reach the summit of Gunung Batur with about twenty minutes to spare. G’Day sets down a piece of cardboard on top of a damp timbre bench, and sneaks off to make us a cup of tea and a toasted banana sandwich.

Just as the ascent was starting to burn, we had arrived, and it was nice to sit for a few minutes with a hot cup of tea. Within a few minutes, we are cold. I didn’t bring a jacket, so Rowan offers his up, and braves the morning chill alone.

It’s November, which is the start of the wet season, which will run through to March for the island of Bali. There hasn’t been any rain in the week I’ve been here, but it does mean there is a lot more moisture in the atmosphere, and a lot of cloud cover this morning, adding a mysterious element to the anticipation of catching a glimpse of the beautiful sunrise.

The sun peaks up and over Mt Agung, and the clouds clear just long enough for us to take a few photos before the cloud is back.

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Sunrise over Mt Agung, which stands tall above Lake Batur

After we take a few snaps, we eat our banana sandwiches, then G’Day takes us to the central crater, where we can see remnants of previous eruptions. Mt Batur is an active volcano, but last erupted in 2000. He tells us about the four main villages that are not far from Mt Batur. One village was significantly damaged during a major eruption in 1968, and you can still see the black lava field all down one side of the volcano today.

G’Day told us to save any of our banana sandwiches that we don’t want, to feed to the monkeys near the lava field. I don’t want to go near them – it was only two months ago that I got bitten by two monkeys while I was in Thailand. I still have the bruises! I’m not going near these ones.

He feeds the monkeys our scraps, and we take a few photos of the other tourists and guides who are much braver than us – the most confident of the monkeys are climbing on people’s heads and helping themselves to whatever snacks they can find. I’m not interested!

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We make our way down Mt Batur along the old lava flow. I think there are a few different ways to go back down, because there are far fewer people going the way we are. (I think G’Day said something about an easier way and a more difficult one, which we took). The landscape changed quite a few times, considering Mt Batur only has an elevation of 5,633. I guess it has a lot to do with the destruction the lava flow has caused.

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Overall, my recommendation for this trip is to do it! If you are a novice hiker, have never hiked or climbed a mountain before, or have only a moderate fitness level, you can do this! It only takes two hours to walk up, and yes, its steep, but if you have good footwear on you will be fine.

What to bring: A headlamp to keep your hands free. A small backpack with your camera, some water, and a light jacket or raincoat. Shorts or leggings, and a T-shirt or singlet is all you will need to wear, but its cold once you are up the top! Sturdy footwear is a must – runners or hiking boots.

If you are an experienced hiker, and want to be challenged, then Mt Agung is probably a better choice for you. It is 3,033 meters (9,944 feet) high, and will take you 6 – 7 hours. I haven’t done this one yet, but I will if I find myself in Bali again!

Buffalo Tours: Buffalo tours are one of the many tour agencies operating in Bali, that will offer you a guided climb of Mt Batur. The difference between Buffalo and many of the other operators is the quality and comfort of the car, communication, and the rest of the tour (there are several options to do Mt Batur and white water rafting, Mt Batur and Ubud city tour etc). This will all be done by a knowledgeable and friendly guide who works for buffalo tours. I can’t comment on the experience you get with other companies, but I would go with buffalo again next time.

Private or group tour: We didn’t even realise we had booked a private tour, and I don’t think there was a significant price difference. Obviously the trek part of the tour is with hundreds of other people, but each small group or private group will have their own guide, regardless of if you book a private or a group tour. The difference is the time you get picked up from your hotel (we got picked up at 2:50am as we were going directly to Batur. If you are on a tour with 8 other people, you might have an extra hour or two on the bus while you drive around each hotel picking people up). We slept the whole way there in comfort, and the tour to the rice terraces, and a few other sights in Ubud were all able to be tailored to our interests, because we were the only ones there. That was really the only benefit, and I was happy with it, but would probably have been just as happy on the group tour version.

When to go: Best time to go is when the weather is at its best, which is April to September. As Bali is a popular holiday spot for so many, you will probably encounter greater crowds than we did when we went, so I’d suggest the private tour option.

We did this hike in November, when cloud cover is to be expected almost every day. The weather was fine on the day we did it, but it is more humid from October to March, so keep that in mind if you don’t love that type of weather. December to February gets the most rainfall, and I imagine they either close the track all together on wet days, at it would be a major hazard for falls, especially among the inexperienced.

 

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My last words of advise: 1. Tip your guide directly! G’Day, and his colleagues all live in the small villages near the mountains. This is their only source of income, and tips make all the difference to their families. If you tip the main company, or the tour operator who picks you up from your hotel, only a small portion (if any) of your tip will make it back to your mountain guide.

2. Take your rubbish with you. If you have ever been to Indonesia, you will have seen rubbish, from plastics especially is a major issue. Anyone who enjoys the great outdoors should be well versed on the motto, take only memories, leave only footprints.

 

E-N-J-O-Y!

 

Until next time,

Sarah

Chopper goes camping

Meet Chopper.

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Chopper is about 12 or 13 years old. We don’t know, because we adopted him as a senior dog, and we don’t know much about his history. We have had him a few years, and when we first got him, he used to love to come on long walks with us. He had boundless energy to keep up with whatever adventure we were on and we loved taking him away with us on camping trips and long walks.

In January 2017, Chopper broke his back, somewhere in the middle of his spine, where we later learned he had had previous injuries. The months that followed were pretty touch and go, and we didn’t know if he would ever walk again, let alone come on adventures with us.

Fast forward to February 2018, and he’s made (almost) a full recovery. We just took him away for the weekend for the second time this year, and he did really well on both trips, so we are really excited to plan some more family adventures!

Although breaking his back sounds very serious, of course it is, his vet has assured us that he is perfectly fine to come away with us, and we can continue to walk him for increasing distances, so we have spent the past year building him up to being able to walk continously for one hour or so (on gentle flat paths, ideally tracks, not concrete or bitumen). His first trip this year was to a family holiday house, so he wasn’t totally out in the wilderness in case we needed better amenities, and we were still able to have our precious family member sleep indoors, which he has grown accusomed to since his injury.

The trip in January went well, and in early Feb the stars aligned! Both Rowan and I had the weekend off work. At 3pm on the Friday afternoon, we decided we would head out for the weekend.

Rowan packed our gear into the car, while I ran down to the shops to grab a few easy to prepare, last minute meals and other supplies from the supermarket. As it was a last minute decision, we packed pretty light; opting for a king sized swag for us, a 2 man tent to keep our esky out of the sun and our other things out of sight, two camp chairs, one trestle table and  a single burner butane stove. Chopper’s items were pretty simple; his bed, his food & water bowls, his food, a collapsable water bowl that we take on our day trips, and his all-important medication.

Just as the sun set , we drove through Neerim South and about half an hour later we arrived at The Poplars Camp Ground, located in the Loch Valley just outside of the small town of Noojee.

Knowing we would get in late, we were very happy with our choice of gear. It took no more than twenty minutes to set up and start cooking a late dinner.

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On Saturday, we took Chops to The Noojee Trestle Birdge. We opted for the short walk – up and over the bridge, and straight back down the other side, as we didnt want to push him too far. The sign warns of an extremely steep climb, and estimates 20 minutes up, but you can see from the car park before you start just what you are going to get yourself into.

Chops handled it fine! He barreled up the steps, only slowing as we got to the top, and getting his energy back immediately. We were the only ones on the bridge, so we let Chops off the lead to have a little trot along the bridge on his own. Considering this bridge, and the Noojee Forrest is so beautiful, its surprising (but refreshing and amazing!) that it isn’t any busier and overrun with crowds, especially being so close to Melbourne (1hr 40 mins).

The way back down was a little more difficult to navigate (we thought) but Chopper handled it fine, barreling down the same way he ran up.

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After that, we headed into Noojee and checked out the old railway museum (free entry) but only stayed ten minutes or so, because we had to leave Chops tied up out the front. Not very fair treatment for a family trip away we thought!

On our way back to Poplars, we did a few 4wd tracks, but didnt stay too long… we reckon 4wd’ing is more fun in a group with multiple vehicles.

Once back at Poplars, Chops was knackered, and ready for bed!

When we camp, we use a simple hessian foam mat, which stays in the canopy of the Navara. If its hot, we leave the windows and hatch open (and make sure the car is in the shade), and if its cool we shut the hatch, but keep a few windows open for ventilation.

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On Sunday we packed up our gear, and headed back into Noojee. We decided Chopper would be fine to attempt the Noojee Bridge Rail Trail (4-5km return, depending on your exact turnaround point). We did, and he LOVED it! We did a full 5km walk, and Chops didn’t struggle at all. It was the perfect distance to keep him quiet for the two hour drive home, before he was ready to go again.

Overall – I recommend Poplars Campground and the general Noojee area to anyone wanting a quick weekend away, or even a day trip, as its less than two hours from Melbourne. Its a pet friendly town, and campsite, so with or without mans best friend, there is plenty to do.

We’ll be going back, to check out the water wheel walk, and a few other walks we saw while we were there, and to go back to the Noojee Toolshed Bar, which we’ve been to before but didnt visit on this trip.

Can’t wait to plan the next family weekender!!

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Werribee Gorge State Park

Werribee Gorge State Park has a variety of different walk available, from short 3km loops to longer 10km ones, that you can combine and make a whole day out of.

Rowan and I had never been before, and the information available online before we got there varied greatly to what was signposted once we arrived, so we opted for the Circuit Walk – a 10km medium/hard grade walk that is suggested to take 4.5 hours.

We parked our car at the Quarry Picnic Area, and started the circuit to complete it  in the clockwise direction. The loop starts with the Circuit Walk and the Short Circuit Walk taking the same route.

Within 500 meters we were walking up some steep rocky tracks. Thad morning when getting ready to set out, I couldn’t decide whether to wear hiking boots or runners and opted for the runners. They were fine, but hiking boots would have been more comfortable on the uneven & steep rocky paths.

After walking through the Meikles Point picnic area & car park, we joined up with the “River Walk” – and easy flat 3km return trip. If you are wanting a nice picnic & a short stroll afterwards, or have young kids, this would be a great intro walk.

We stop along the river a few times to try and spot fish. The clear water is flowing slowly, and looks the perfect location to spot a platypus. They are as elusive as they are a joy to find though so we don’t look for long.

The walk continues its decent in and along the bottom of the Gorge. At this point in the track, we are never far from the sound of water running down and through the rocks. Its the middle of the day and the sun is high and hot. The vegetation is low, and provides no shade.

As the River Walk finished up, we got to a really interesting part of the track. Scrambling and rock hopping we made our way along the river, when we discover a cable bolted into the rock, that you need to hold onto as you walk along a tight ledge, above the river. It was so fun! About halfway through that part, there was a little cave we were able to sit in and have some lunch, and escape from the sun for a few minutes.

The next point of interest that we got to after the scrambling was Needles Beach – a nice open area with a short sandy beach and more reeds growing in the river. This would be a great spot for lunch too if you don’t stop in the cave like we did.

I’ve read on other websites people recommending you carry bathers so you can take a dip here. The water was very clear so I am sure it would be lovely, but its really not deep enough for a swim from what we saw (late January 2018).

Because it was the middle of the day, there was zero shade anywhere, so I am still glad we stopped for a while in the little cave.

After Blackwood Pool, the ascent up the Gorge starts, and the next few kilometers are up, and up, and up. There are great views from the Western and Eastern viewpoints. I particularly liked looking back down on the river below, and seeing where we had been just half an hour earlier. I am really glad we decided to do this circuit clockwise rather than anticlockwise purely for this reason.

The final stage of the loop was to continue along the path, which joins back up with the “Short Circuit Walk” with a little downhill just at the end – who doesn’t love ending with a little race to the car!

The total 10km loop took us 2 hours and 50 minutes – well below the 4.5 hours recommended time. We were by no means walking at a fast pace, and stopped a number of times for photos, and at one point, spend about 10 minutes picking up cigarette butts and other rubbish at one of the lookouts.

If you are going to do this walk, wear good sturdy footwear – either hiking shoes or good runners with lost of grip. Carry at least a litre of water – more if you plan to walk for more than 3 hours, and be prepared for all weather. The rocks would be very slippery when wet, and the river is prone to flooding and is impassable after heavy rain.

If you are planning a trip to Werribee Gorge, you can download the Parks Victoria park notes here.

Next time we go back, we are going to complete the Ironbark Gorge Track and Centenary Creek Track, in addition to doing this loop again.

If you are thinking about going to Werribee Gorge and have any questions, let me know! If you know the area well, and have any suggestions on where I should go next time, please add a comment below.

How to renew your passport, fast

In a previous post, I described my own personal nightmare of discovering that my passport was due to expire before the required 6 month minimum needed to travel out of Australia…. The day I was due to fly out to the UK.

I have listed the steps I took to get my passport renewed same day, so I didn’t have to miss out on my holiday, or pay expensive airline change fees. If you want, you can read the full story here.

How I got my Aussie passport renewed in six simple steps:

  1. Call the passport office and make an appointment. As I needed a same-day passport, I called and made an appointment at the Melbourne passport office. I couldn’t get an appointment that day, so I took the first available one (2 days later) knowing full well I was going to drive in today and try to get it anyway. You can call them on 13 12 32. While on the phone, they advised me of all of the following info, and told me to bring as much supporting documents as I could (to show why I needed a passport issued that day).
  2. Get onto the passport office website. I selected apply or renew; (if you have a few more days up your sleeve, you could go with the priority processing service instead of going into the office yourself).
  3. Fill out the form online, and print it.
  4. Get new passport photos taken. I stopped at my local post office, but you can usually get these taken at camera shops and pharmacies too.
  5. Take your old passport, the completed & printed renewal form, and new passport photos with you to the passport office. In Melbourne, they are located at Collins Square, 747 Collins Street, Docklands. (This is a very short walk from Southern Cross Railway Station).  See photos below of passport office to hep you find it 🙂

I gathered up my documents, and headed to Melbourne. I drove, as I didn’t have enough time to take public transport. Plus, I had all of my luggage with me, in case I was able to go straight to the airport. If you have more time up your sleeve, I recommend taking the train. Parking is very limited. I could only find 2 hour parking and had to keep moving my car.

You can read the full process here if you want more of an idea of what will happen at the passport office, but in summary – the things  to take to the passport office are:

  • Completed and printed application form.
  • New passport photos (Less than 6 months old).
  • Current passport that needs to be renewed.
  • Any supporting documentation you can provide to state why you need to travel urgently. Examples of this are a letter from your employer (on company letterhead) stating that you are travelling for work; or proof of major illness or death of a family member, ideally from a doctor.
  • Your e-ticket for your flights if you already have one.
  • Any other supporting documents you have.

Fees for Aussie passport renewal (as of January 2018) are $282 for the passport, plus $186 priority fee. (There are other fees for other documents if you need them, or if you need a passport for a child or pensioner). You can see the full list of fees here. The passport office does not accept cash, so make sure you take a credit card.

 

Please note: This is the process I followed, in August 2017, as a Victorian resident (Australia). Please keep in mind that the steps required to get a passport renewed may change at any time.

This is a personal account of how I got my passport renewed quickly, and I am very lucky to have gotten it same day. The passport office will not guarantee this for anyone, and if your circumstances are different, your experience probably will be too.

My greatest piece of advise for anyone in a situation like this: Stay calm, and be polite! If you are stressed, and speak rudely or snap at anyone, they will be reluctant to help, and you may miss out on important information that could make or break you getting your passport reissued that day!

Good luck! 

Has this happened to you before? Did you do anything differently? I’d love to know – please reply in the comments below or send me a message!