Everything here in Australia is so clean! I can't believe it when we are in a Melbourne. When you are in Amsterdam the Royal Palace on Dam Square is covered in pigeon poo and dirt, here most of the old buildings look really clean and well taken care of.
There is also a lot of space on the streets and even in rush hour the trams are not packed with people. This makes the average Australian a pretty relaxed individual. They live with 24 million people in a country which is a many many times bigger then our little Holland where we are with 17 million people.
Australia is a country where you can be alone really easy.
And so we do. We head out in our camper van, our home for the next month.
We are going to Mount Arapiles, a national park north of Melbourne.
Mount Arapiles is very famous for it's lovely views and beautiful rocks.
One of the 12 apostels
On the way we decide to do a little side trip to see the famous "Twelve Apostels". The Twelve Apostels is a collection of limestone stacks off the shore of Port Cambell National Park, by the Great Ocean Road in Victoria, Australia. It is a very popular tourist attraction.
After looking at the stone towers, and taking lots of pictures, we realise that we can look at rock formations all our live, but it's much more fun to climb them!
So we leave the Great Ocean Road and quickly drive to Arapiles.
We stay at campground "The Pines". It is a very cheap and basic campground. They have toilets and a place where you can do dishes, but no showers. Also there is no drinking water. You have to get drinking water at a gas station or in Natimuk, about 10 kilometers west. It's strange to be somewhere where water is something scarce and valuable. We come from a country where all the kids have a swimming degree, because there is so much water, and we always complain because it rains so much. Now i am at a place where i can't even take a shower :).
Mount Arapiles is composed of Quartzite, a metamorphic rock that was originally sandstone. The color is orange/red, and it's spectacular as it glows in the afternoon sun. The style of climbing here is trad climbing. In this style of climbing there are no drilled anchor points in the rock, you have to make your own anchors with special equipment. It's very exciting because it's the first time I (Sandra) do trad!
Close to the campground is also some really nice bouldering. As we approach the rock one day there is a huge kangaroo sitting in the shade under the boulder which we wanted to climb. A male kangaroo can be about 2 meter tall and when it gets angry it can kick you so hard you can actually die. We decide to take a few pictures and leave the boulder for what it is.
It is Marcel's goal to climb Kachoong, one of the most photographed routes of the world. For a couple of days he tries to find a climbing partner. He makes a very artistic poster, but he gets no respons. Most people he meets don't have the skills yet to climb it, or at least they think they don't. At the end of the day, we decide to borrow some gear, I will belay Marcel, and he will clean the route himself afterwards. But of course this amazing route needs to be photographed. So Marcel has a plan...
We rappel, he puts the camera on a rock, the famous "Photographers Ledge", switches it on to making a photo every 3 seconds, we rappel some more, climb up to the start of the route, and listen if we hear the camera make noise. We each hold our breath but we hear.... nothing! So, Marcel climbs down again, climbs up again to the Photographers Ledge, switches the camera on again, climbs down, up...and now we are ready! He eventually climbs the route on sight and look at this amazing photo! :-)
Marcel climbing Kachoong 21
Getting stranded in a national park
The rock here is really amazing but since we don't have our own trad gear, we have to keep borrowing material and it makes us anxious to sport climb again.
We decide to visit the nearby climbing area The Grampians. In this climbing area there is a mix of sport climbing and trad climbing routes. We find out that due to forest fires a big part of the sport climbing is closed.... But we still go to Taipan Wall and Van Diemensland to climb for a couple of days and we can enjoy some really cool climbing. The views are amazing. We even get stranded there one night because the battery of our car is dead and we don't have a cellphone for to get help. Luckily our car is also our home so we can sleep anywhere!