I think with Darwin what happened was that we missed the actual attractions - the markets, Mindil Beach, stuff like that. We were stressed with organizing the rental car so we did just some "small" things (and my husband just HAS to see any museum that has to do with aviation). I actually liked the city and the atmosphere, and the harbor was really nice. I wanted to see the pearling exhibition too, but it was closed that day.
Heck, I liked Darwin before I got there because I thought it was so awesome that a city was named after Charles Darwin (yeah, I'm a geek).
We missed out on markets everywhere we went
We rented a car at Melbourne Airport, and planned on spending the night in Geelong, but there were no vacancies, so we continued to Torquay. The phone number for a hostel in Lonely Planet was switched with a place that rents cabins, so we spent the night in a really great cabin on a farm, with excellent views. After two weeks in QLD and the NT, the change of scenery was extreme, and we felt like we were in Europe (A local saying, when something is nice - it's "just like in Europe", we'll have to switch that one around
!). Torquay was really nice, but the weather was wet and windy. We went down to Danger Point to look around, and it was breathtaking. I don't surf, so that aspect of Torquay really didn't interest me, but it was a nice town.
We spent the next morning looking for a fleece for my husband, who for the second time did not pack warm clothing (!), we found one and set off.
At our first stop, we went down to the beach and talked with some surfers. The weather was rather nasty, so we were impressed by their dedication! We continued on, stopping at some points to take in the view. We did stop at Erskine falls, then out to Teddy's Lookout for a great view, and had lunch on the wharf in Lorne. We also stopped at the Lighthouse in Apollo Bay, but didn't go up (it was closed), but there was a short 20-minute trail that took us down to an inlet. We missed the turnoff at Kennet River to see the koalas, but we caught up with them on the way to Cape Otway (not that it is hard to catch up with a koala).
We were driving down the narrow, winding road when we saw people standing on the side, after a few comments about how rude and stupid it is to leave your car like that and stand in a road like this, we realized that they were all looking up into the trees and taking pictures, so we stopped too and there were lots and lots of koalas, sleeping up in the trees. They didn't even open an eye when we approached. I was amazed at how an animal evolved to be so lazy
Anyway, that totally made my day.
The Cape Otway Lighthouse was just closing, so we didn't enter, but took a short walk around.
We made the mistake of reserving a room at Warrnambool. We didn't think it would take us so long to go along the road, with all the stops and the difficult driving. So we decided to see the Apostles, and then make our way to Warrnambool. We planned on coming back to do the Fly Treetop Zipline tour the next day, so we would stop at the places we missed on the way back. So we saw the apostles. It's always a great experience to see something you've seen so many times in photos! It was incredibly windy and so cold, so we only braved it for a few minutes, then continued on. On the way to Warrnambool we saw the most amazing sunset, unfortunately it was inland, from the car.
The next morning we went to Tower Hill Reserve early, and saw lots of animals! It was so great - we even saw kangaroos boxing! (Well, it was one punch, but still). It was the closest we got to kangaroos and to emus as well. On the way back east we stopped at London Bridge, Loch Ard Gorge and the Arch, all amazing places. It was cold and windy, but we could see how powerful nature is, and the force with which the ocean hits the cliffs. Made us feel really insignificant
The weather took a turn for the worse, and at one point we couldn't even see where we were going - so we stopped for lunch and contemplation. We considered going to Phillip Island or back to Melbourne, and eventually decided to return the car and head into Melbourne. So, we didn't see the penguins at Phillip Island, but we realized that it would require many more hours of driving in less than ideal weather, and we were ready for some city sight-seeing.
We spent the next day in Melbourne, the weather started looking up, but we went to the Aquarium and took a ferry to ScienceWorks. Both were geared more towards kids than we realized, but we made the most of it
. We also came to the conclusion that there is no such thing as bad food in Melbourne. The first night we ate at Camy's Dumplings in ChinaTown which was the most cost-effectice meal we had in Australia, and delicious as well!
Next, part IV - Sydney and heading home.