Sunday, January 9, 2011

More Holidays

I think I have officially forgotten than I have a job.  Being employed for 6 weeks and then having vacation for 11 days is really pretty amazing.  Sadly, I have to go back to work tomorrow so I am here to document my vacation fun before the excitement of half year reviews begins.

Kelly, Parita, and I went to the Grampians National Park from Dec 28-30.  Parita is a fellow EY-er and was gracious enough to be our chaffeur for 3hour trip to the Halls Gap.  About 2 hours into the trip we encountered the one thing we had been worried about - locusts!! 

The Locusts
It is probably hard to tell from this picture but all those little dots are locusts.  The swarm was huge - it seemed like we couldn't see where it started and ended.  I don't think I have ever encountered locusts before and wasn't really excited about being surrounded by them during the next 3 days.  Luckily, locusts seem to want to avoid you instead of landing on you and the higher we hiked the less locusts there were.

After checking into our cabin at D'Altons in Halls Gap (I wish I had a picture!) we decided to get right to exploring the area.  Our first stop was MacKenzie Falls.  We drove to the MacKenzie Falls carpark and then had a very short hike down to MacKenzie Falls.  It was beautiful!  No matter how many waterfalls I have seen, I am still in awe by them.  We took lots of pictures, dipped our feet in the cold water, and then headed back to the car for another hike.

Me at MacKenzie Falls
Our next stop was the Reed Lookout and a leisurely hike to the Balconies.  From both of these places we had great panoramic views of the Grampians.

Arriving back in Halls Gap we were welcomed by none other than a group of kangaroos!  Kelly spotted the kangaroos as we were pulling into D'Altons and Parita stopped the car for us to snap a few pictures.  After changing and going back into town for dinner we realized that the kangaroos were also in the park in the center of town.  We saw a few kids feeding them so we decided to do the same (leaves of course, there were signs everywhere not to feed the kangaroos human food.)  Here is just one of the MANY pictures we have of the kangaroos.

The next day we ambitiously decided to do the 9.6 km Wonderland Loop hike (rated as medium to hard).  The book we got from the information center said the hike should take us from the center of town to the Venus Baths, the Wonderland Car Park and then up to the Pinnacles and then back down to Halls Gap via a different route to Halls Gap.  After hiking for some time we discovered that we were not getting to the Venus Baths.  As we started meeting people who were coming down the path, I realized that we must have taken the long path.  We were still headed for the Pinnacle but just not in the direction we were supposed to.  This meant our uphill hike was much harder than if we had gone up the other side.  We made it to the Pinnacle and the view was completely worth it!

We made it!
We found the path we should have taken on the way up and headed back to town - stopping at the Venus Baths to cool off for a bit.  Arriving in town we immediately headed for the ice cream shop - the Mango Tango Sundae definitely hit the spot!

Our final outing of the trip was a stop at the Gap Winery.  We tried several wines and then purchased a glass while sitting outside and enjoying the view.  This made me really excited for the Yarra Valley winery tour that I purchased on Scoopon (great website full of Melbourne deals)

Kelly and Parita at the Gap Winery
The rest of the trip consisted of a homemade meal of pasta, salad, and garlic bread; TV; much needed sleep; and the trip back to Melbourne. 

Wow - that blog really wore me out.  I think I better relax and watch TV in preparation for work tomorrow.  Stay tuned for the recap of Fiji soon!

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