My next trip is through the United States. I arrived in Chicago on a crisp spring evening. Chicago is the third biggest city in the states, and is a stunning place to visit if you get the chance. For now I am staying in green, leafy, springtime Wisconsin. Then I'm heading South.
If you have a spare day in Melbourne, I would recommend a trip to the Melbourne Museum. In particular, I would recommend both taking the tram there and taking one of the free guided tours of the Museum. I was the only participant on the tour I went on, but I found it extremely interesting. Australia has a very rich history; amazing natural history (including a giant, prehistoric ancestor of the wombat) and Aboriginal and European human history. I particularly liked the exhibition on rocks and minerals. Australia has an incredible wealth of minerals lying beneath its ancient surface. From uranium to opals to rare pink diamonds, Aussie has everything!
The view of the surrounding countryside from the top of the Arapilles is spectacular. I saw a shimmering lake in the distance. It was so clear and still that it looked like a mirror, reflecting the clouds above from the ground. I decided that the next day I would take a walk to go and see it.
I walked off through the bush and observed some small berries and fruit on the way. I've always liked botany, and survival stories and I wondered which ones I would be able to eat if I really needed to. Next time I go to Australia I would like to do a 'bush tucker' tour to learn which Australian plants are edible.
Walking along the path made me think about a book I had been reading a book at home called 'extreme survivors' - a collection of great survival stories from around the world. One of my favourite survival stories was about three girls Molly Craig (aged 14), Daisy Kadibil (aged 11) and Gracie Fields (aged 8). It was 1931 and the three girls had been relocated from where they had formerly lived in a remote aboriginal community in Jiggalong in Western Australia. The girls had then walked an enormous distance, 2,400 km (1,500 miles) through difficult terrain to get back home. This story reminds me of what a big difference training and experience make to survival. The book has been made into a movie called 'Rabbit proof fence' which I recommend.
The Arapilles has a huge range of climbing to choose from. There are long multipitches, short beginner routes, short hard routes and on and on. Over 2000 climbs have been developed since the 1960's.
If you go climbing in the Arapilles around Easter, nice fellow climbers often leave easter eggs on some of the climbs for others to find. Awesome!!! :) I got in some great climbs with great climbing companions. I was amazed by the variety of rock forms and great quality of the rock. The arapilles is known for rock features called 'chicken heads' little knobs of rock that you can easily sling as you go past - a much appreciated geological feature!
Early on Thursday morning, I was perched with coffee on hand, observing the morning commuters streaming from the trains at Southern Cross station. I thought about all the times I'd done the same ritual, and felt lucky that I was now taking the train in the opposite direction - towards a holiday.
At quarter to 8 I headed down to the train to Horsham. I must say I am most impressed by the level public transportation service provided in Melbourne. The train glided out of Melbourne and towards Ararat, then I would take another bus to the small town of Horsham. From there I would catch the Wimmera bus to the Arapilles campsite, also known as the Pines.
First stop is Melbourne. I spent the day exploring Melbourne and preparing for my trip to the Arapilles, buying camping supplies and food. Melbourne is a beautiful city, and has some great architecture and little oasis from the busy streets, like this one below.