Rye’s beach

Our first session here in the state of Victoria took place at spot called Rye’s beach, a couple of hours out of Melbourne. We were actually planning on going to a different spot, Point Leo, but when we got there it was almost as flat as a pancake, despite the forecast that said it was suppose to be at least a couple of feet of surf. So we had to pull out our cell phones and do some more research there and then. After some driving back and forth to a few spots, we landed on Rye’s beach.

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It was a nice day, not much wind at all, and a surprisingly small crowd for a weekend in the holidays, I thought. We did see some rocks here and there in the water, and the current was quite strong, always dragging us sideways towards a rocky area, so we played it a little easy, but it still was a lot of fun. Both Eivind and I had to take some breaks on the beach every now and then though. Easy to blame the current for wearing us out, but there’s no denying the fact that we haven’t surfed as much here in Australia as we did in the Philippines or Bali. Mostly because the conditions here have not been as good. Still, this was only our first session on the east coast, so there are several other spots here we plan to check out. Here are a few pics of me cruising along in the water and taking off the fins after the session ๐Ÿ™‚

Surfing Ryes beach

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Celebrating Christmas in Melbourne

Yesterday we moved out from a dingy hostel we’ve been at for the last few days, and into a nice apartment hotel downtown. The main reason for moving was that we needed good kitchen facilites, as we wanted toย cook up a feast here for Christmas.

We had already been to a butcher and secured a 2 kg piece of full belly pork, the traditional Christmas meal in the area of Norway where we come from (the south-eastern part). Other important ingredients we bought were potatos, sauerkraut, and cranberry-jam. It’s actually suppose to be cowberry-jam, but as we didn’t find that we had to go for a substitute. One thing we couldn’t find though was lefse, which is somewhat similar to a tortilla, but definitely not the same. So we had to do without that this year. Oh well, we were still very keen on cooking the full belly pork to perfection. The fat on top of the pork is sliced into a cube-pattern, and is suppose to become crispy as chips if you do it right. And the meat is suppose to become juicy at the same time, of course. It’s supposedly not easy, as there’s always a continuous flow of information in Norway around Christmas about how to cook it right. So, I’m a little proud to report that the result came out absolutely perfect! Beginner’s luck, I guess ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Even though we ate until we nearly bursted yesterday, we still had enough for leftovers both for breakfast and dinner today. Yeah, 2 kg of pork is a lot for two persons, who would have guessed? ๐Ÿ˜‰

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas! ๐Ÿ™‚

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The long, nice drive across

After an overnight stop in Esperance, we drove up to the town of Kalgoorlie. When gold was discovered in the area in 1893, Kalgoorlie became the hive of the bee with a skyrocketing population of fortune hunters. Goldmining still is the big thing up there, with most of the activity taking place in the Super Pit.

The Super Pit is just what the name reflects, an enormous man-made mining hole in the ground. Before the opening of the Super Pit in 1989, the gold mining in Kalgoorlie was on several different corporate hands. However, as the cost of mining separately eventually became too expensive, the Super Pit came into being as a joint effort and the establishment of one big company,ย Kalgoorlie Consolidated Gold Mines Pty Ltd. There’s still heaps of activity in the mine, as the Super Pit produces about 28 tonnes of gold per year. Regardless, the estimated year for closing the mine is 2021, which is obviously coming up pretty fast. So there’s a debate up in Kalgoorlie as to what to do with this massive hole in the ground. One of the hottest tips would be to turn it into a lake, but water is scarce in the desert. There’s even talk about establishing casinos up there and make it Australia’s equivalient to Las Vegas. Guess we’ll have to wait and see what happens.

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After visiting Kalgoorlie, we set off on the long drive across to Melbourne. The plan was to make it over in four days, but as we got started we changed our minds and decided to power through in three days, which we did. The roads are good and there’s very little traffic, so after driving in places like Bali and the Philippines, this was pure joy. And our Mazda Tribute does its part, it offers fairly good driving comfort.ย It still was a lot of hours in the car though, about ten hours per day. We only drove in daylight, as the kangaroos, emus, and camels (yes, Australia has wild camels, introduced by settlers of course) are most active from dusk until dawn, thereby reducing the risk of hitting any. Besides, you get to see more when you drive during the day. The landscape was the most remote I’ve ever encountered, especially when driving across the Nullarbor Plain. You can drive for hours and see for miles and miles in all directions, and there’s nothing there except nature. Totally mindblowing.

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Overnight we camped on the side of the road in a tent we bought for $30. We made sure to zip it up pretty good to keep snakes and spiders out ๐Ÿ˜‰

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So after nearly 3.000 km from Kalgoorlie we finally arrived in Melbourne in good time before Christmas. Quite a journey in three days ๐Ÿ™‚

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The start of a long roadtrip

The distance from Margaret River to Melbourne is 3.680 km. A distance that needs to be covered before Christmas. So we got started yesterday with the first leg being from Margaret River to the town of Denmark. The name Denmark is not related to the country though, but is named after a British naval surgeon (Alexander Denmark). Nevertheless, it’s a nice little town, and we found very good surfing there! So far the surfing conditions in Australia has been unimpressive, so it felt awesome to finally strike gold. Denmark offers a nice beachbreak and a quite long stretch with different peaks, and despite it being weekend it wasn’t crowded. Plus, we even saw a few dolphins out there! They were only there for some seconds and jumped around a bit, but what a treat it was. Didn’t get any pics of them unfortunately, so I’ll throw in a video of me in my new wetsuit instead ๐Ÿ™‚

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Today we continued our journey eastwards, with a drive from Denmark to the town of Esperance. So we’re on our way, even though we’re just getting started on the long way to Melbourne.

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The landscape has been shifting between forests, bush, and agricultural areas. It’s amazing to see such low density populated country. There’s a small town here and there, and a farm every now and then, but besides that it’s just miles and miles of wilderness. I’m excited about the rest of the journey to Melbourne, expecting the landscape to become even more remote and uninhabitated. It feels like we’re on a proper adventure ๐Ÿ™‚

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Touring Margaret River

On Saturday we packed up the cars and headed down to Margaret River, located 3 1/2 hours drive south of Perth. The southwest corner of Western Australia has heaps to offer, and we’ve digged into the selection over the past few days.

Margaret River is perhaps the finest wine district in Australia, so we decided to take a guided tour to a few of the about 200 wineries here. We got picked up at the resort at 10:15, so by lunchtime we had already visited two wineries. What a superb way to spend a Monday ๐Ÿ™‚

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The guided tour was nice and informative, and the red line throughout the tour was the focus on organic growth, minimal chemical inputs, and even harvesting in accordance with the lunar phases. All based on the belief of production done in balance with nature.

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And the results of the organic production came out mighty good, the day was a feast for the tastebuds! Apart from wineries we also visited a chocolate factory, a wine- and cheese estate, and a producer of olive oils and soaps, all with emphasis on sustainability and eco-friendly production. Simply brilliant.

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The roasted duck for lunch was also a real treat ๐Ÿ™‚

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Another cherry of the region is the caves. Several limestone caves are found in the area, some of them are open to tourists. We visited one of the larger ones, Mammoth cave. For $22 you get a headset with an audio-tour through the cave. Quite educating to learn how these relatively young limestone formations (“only” two million years old) have been shaped into caves by streams of water. Furthermore, archeological excavations in the caves have revealed a few extinct Australian species, such as the giant kangaroo.

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We also found a nice area to hike through. Starting out in a lush forest we made our way towards the beach, and back again. Once you start looking here in Western Australia, you find rather large areas of relatively unspoiled nature, peace and quiet.

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Family visit

The last few days have been extraordinary awesome, my mom, dad, and brother came all the way from Norway to visit! Great to see them again, and we’ve been pretty busy with several activities.

Here are a few highlights:

The artgallery in Perth. A quite large exhibition of paintings and sculptures ranging from the early 1800s up to modern times. Free entrance, so a big thanks to the city of Perth for that.

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Freemantle prison. Established in 1855 and closed as late as 1991, it’s a piece of modern history worth a visit. What made the tour through the prison absolutely outstanding, was due to the guide who had been employed as a warden from the 1970s until it closed. With great empathy and a fair bit of theatrical skill he told stories from his working life, and gave us a good impression of how life in Freemantle prison was like.

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Rottnest island. When dutch explorer Willem de Vlamingh discovered the island in 1696, he found the island to be populated by quokkas. Appearantly being a better explorer than a zoologist, Mr de Vlamingh named the island Rotte Nest (rat’s nest), as he mistaked the small marsupial for a rodent. Here’s a representative of the species, this one was really quite tame and enjoyed being scratched behind the ear.

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The island itself is 19 square kilometers, and quite barren. Located 18 km west of Freemantle, it’s a ride with the ferry to get there. The ferry is expensive though, $85 + $10 for the surfboard, so make sure you pick a good day to go out there. We went out on a day with some clouds so it wasn’t too crowded, and found ourselves a nice little beach by the surfspot called Salmon Point. Salmon Point was a little gnarly. Powerful waves make it easy to get caught on the inside and to get washed over some shallow reef. When we first got out the swell was decent sized and we tried to stay on the shoulder to avoid the reef. But pretty soon the swell dropped and it didn’t break on the shoulder anymore. So it ended up as a short session and instead we got to spend more time on the beach with the family. Could have been worse ๐Ÿ˜‰

Here’s Salmon Point.

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My dad, Kjell Egil.

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My mom, Aud Marit.

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My brother, Morten.

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