October 2011

Day 55 – Reading Room with Picture Windows, originally uploaded by bexadler.

I’ve been staying with a friend of mine in Auckland. It’s made me incredibly lazy because it’s quite a hike into the city. Plus, I have a great book I’ve been reading, so I just sit and enjoy this fabulous view of St. Helier’s Bay all day instead of sightseeing. I think a nice break was needed anyway before I start on the next big travel portion of this journey. I’ll try to get some posts up about Tasmania soon. I’ve got a ton of pictures to go through from that leg of the trip, but will hopefully get through them in the next couple of days before I leave Auckland.




Kevyn on the Overland Track

Kevyn enjoyed the possums, wombats, pademelons, and wallabies in Tasmania, as well as the views. The leeches, mud, and rain – not so much.

Day 48 – New Shoes!, originally uploaded by bexadler.

Sooo…I went to Target today to buy a belt because my pants keep falling down (probs from stretching, not from me losing weight). As soon as I walked in the store though I forgot what it was I went in for and instead ended up with these adorable flats! God only knows where I’ll find room to stuff them into my pack…

In Melbourne I was staying in what looked like a rough neighborhood. Apparently it’s just rundown looking because it’s hipsterville and they like it that way. There were a couple of pluses to where I was staying: 1. I got to take a ton of pictures of awesome street art like the one above. 2. It was only two blocks from the climbing gym where I found my ride to The Grampians (double score!). 3. It was less than a half-mile to a great running spot.

Nobody at the hostel knew of any good running spots, but luckily I had free wifi there (first hostel in Australia with free wifi – one of the only good things I can say about this hostel) so I was able to look at our location on Google maps. As I’ve learned in my last couple weeks of traveling, the most likely spots for long bike/running trails are along waterfronts. Only a few streets up from where I was staying I could see that there was a reserve for the Yarra River called Yarra Bend Park, so I made my way over there early one morning.

Running along this river reminded me so much of my early morning runs in Sacramento – only with parrots and wallabies instead of coyotes and sandhill cranes. It was a fantastic 9-mile run that ended with me getting a little turned around (I have NO sense of direction). There were only a couple of other runners on the trail, but I think that was more indicative of it being a weekday than of runners not frequenting the park. I think this was one of my favorite runs of the trip so far and definitely saved Melbourne in my eyes. I loved that there was a view of the cityscape from the trail and really enjoyed the juxtaposition of the busy city with a beautiful nature area. Plus, there were rainbow-colored parrots. Did I mention the parrots?

P.S. One big bummer about Melbourne was finding out that there was a Marathon the weekend I was heading to Tasmania. I would have loved to do another race in a big city (races sure beat long runs, yes?).

My Arapiles Camp Digs

Hi friends! Sorry I’ve been incommunicado for such a long time. I’ve been spending a lot of time in the outdoors, which means no Interwebs. About two weeks ago I journeyed to Melbourne in the hopes of finding a way to get to The Grampians and Arapiles – two well-known climbing areas in Victoria, Australia.

Not getting a quick enough response via the Interwebs, I went to two local climbing gyms where I posted on the bulletin boards and accosted other climbers to ask whether they were making any trips out west. While accosting people at the climbing gym may be looked down upon, it does work. Within a few hours of arriving I had found an awesome climbing couple who was planning to make a weekend trip to The Grampians and were happy to share the cost of a rental car and gas to get there. I crashed on their couch the following night and after a quick morning run we headed off for a weekend of bouldering with a couple of their friends who were visiting from New Zealand.

Helen bouldering.

I’m terrible at bouldering because I’m seriously afraid of falling without a rope attached to me, but I was perfectly happy doing some V0s (the easiest climbing grade for bouldering) and then watching the others do the tough stuff. Helen, the female half of the couple I drove up with, was incredible and found lots of easy stuff for me to practice on. Helen and Josh left Sunday evening because they had to get back to Melbourne to work the next day. I stayed on at Stapylton Campground with their Kiwi friends, James and Matt, who drove me to Arapiles Tuesday morning and did a three-pitch 5.7 climb with me. While it was an easy climb for all of us, I think we were all just excited to be climbing (I know I was!).

Matt and James at Arapiles

Matt and James went back to the Grampians the next day while I stayed behind in Arapiles and climbed for the next four days with a couple of guys who adopted me into their way-better-than-just-my-tent campsite (pictured above – my tent is the yellow one off to the side of our digs). Despite four days of heavy rain, it was a super successful trip that left me with a lot of awesome climbing friends, who I’ll hopefully see again, and allowed me the opportunity to use my climbing gear and try out a lot of new things (like trad climbing! and multi-pitch routes!). I seriously considered skipping my trip to Tasmania to stay at Arapiles for a couple more weeks, but knew I’d regret it even though I was having an amazing time in Arapiles. Verdict: Must come back and stay for at least one month.

Me, totally stoked after my first day of climbing.

Getting There: When I was in Melbourne nobody could tell me how to get to these two spots via public transit, so here you go…

Arapiles: Catch a Vline train from Southern Cross Station to Ararat. Catch a bus from in front of the Ararat Station to Horsham. From Horsham take a shuttle from out front of the Safeway (or hitchhike – there are plenty of climbers going through who will take pity on you). Getting there is difficult, but getting home is easy because you’ll have made friends at camp and can easily hitch a ride into Horsham from someone (this is what I did).

The Grampians: Take a Vline train from Southern Cross Station to Hall’s Gap. Hike in or hitch a ride to the campground. Make friends! Most bouldering areas are accessible via a trail that leads out of Stapylton Campground.

Other info: Camping in The Grampians is $14.60 per night and a permit needs to be bought at the info center in Hall’s Gap ahead of time. Arapiles camping is only $2 per night and can be paid via a little drop box at the camp site. Showers can be had at Horsham’s Aquatic Center for $3.60 (well worth it on a cold/rainy day) and up to two hours of  free wifi is available at Horsham’s Public Library, otherwise pay $2.60 to use their computers.