January 6 – Melbourne, 12 Apostles + Loch Ard Gorge

Today we woke up at Surfside Backpackers and drove a short ways to Mait’s Rust, a rainforest named for a general in WWI.  Due to its location, it is home to flora and fauna not found anywhere else in the world.  One of our tour guides, Lucy, led us on a short walk through the forest and taught us about the plants and the unique ways they grow and thrive.  For example, the fern that grows in this forest can be hundreds of years old and still growing.  As the ferns die, new growths spur from the dead roots.  It was interesting to learn that without the death of the preexisting fern, new ferns would never grow.  We also saw two very special types of trees: the Mountain Ash and the Myrtle Beech tree.  The Mountain Ash is the tallest tree in Australia and in the world only second to the California Redwoods.  The Myrtle Beech trees are only found in this forest and have been standing for hundreds of years; having survived a large fire that wiped most of the rainforest.  We all really enjoyed experiencing a place that we have only ever seen in pictures and that we will never experience anywhere else.


After we left the rainforest, we drove a ways to see the 12 Apostles on the Great Ocean Road.  They cover such a vast area that we had to make three separate stops in order to see all of them; though only 8 are still standing.  We saw them from lookouts above and were able to walk down to the beaches below them as well.  While down on the beach, we saw writing on the bluffs about 50 feet above the sand.  These writings were dated back to 1910, making it evident how much sand has eroded over the past century and how quickly it will continue to wash away, just as many of the Apostles have.  Lucy then pointed out that one of the largest standing Apostles has developed a crack down the center, which will inevitably lead to a split as the erosion continues.  Although there is no way to stop the natural erosion caused by the ocean, it made us very aware of the impacts we can have on the environment.  The beaches we visited were some of the most amazing we have ever seen and it was a truly eye opening experience about the vastness of the world we live in.  Additionally, it was awesome to spend some time in the sun at the beach.

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We ended our afternoon with a long drive back to Melbourne, where we boarded the Spirit of Tasmania II to start our overnight journey across the Tasman Sea to Tazmania.


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