Hitchhiking to Bells Beach
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This last week spent in Australia has epitomized the essence of travel, and has perhaps been one of the best weeks of my life. I finally made it out of the city in Melbourne and got out to the coast on the Great Ocean Road, and although I didn’t get to see the whole of it it is definitely a place that I would go back to and explore further. The road continues to go on out towards Lorne and the 12 Apostles, but as with most places, no matter how hard you try, you simply can’t see it all.
I caught a train to the town of Geelong, called my dad as it was his birthday back home,and let him know that I was homeless and hitchhiking across Australia, which I’m sure set him at ease. I was able to hitch a ride into the town of Torquay on the coast where they annually hold the men’s professional surfing contest the Rip Curl Pro. The woman I caught a ride with had said she’d take me all the way to Torquay because she had never been down there before (only about 20 kilometers from Geelong). Thinking that she had just moved to the area, she actually informed me that she had lived in Geelong her whole life. How she had never been 20 kilometers south of her hometown completely baffled me.
I found an awesome campground on the beach where I set up camp for two days, and spent the days surfing Bells Beach and Torquay and wandering through the amazingly picturesque coastal surrounds. The water was an amazing turquoise when the sun hit it right, and the whole area had such a feeling of a coastal outpost that the few who inhabited the region all unspokenly knew they were lucky to be there. When headed out to surf Bells Beach with the rented board that I splurged on, not wanting to carry my wet suit all the way down the road with me, I figured that it may be a better idea if I simply wore it underneath my clothes, and that would free up my hands for holding the board and strolling down the road in comfort. For anyone ever thinking of doing this, for God’s sake man, don’t. From Torquay to Bells Beach is not exactly walking distance (probably around 5 miles or so), and in the middle of it the sun came out and started baking me through the5mm neoprene I had on under my jeans. The whole mission was worth it though, as I was able to surf Bells Beach all by myself, even if it was only at real small levels.
Trying to hitch a ride back into Geelong to catch the train, I was picked up by this awesome girl named Christina who offered to take me all the way into Melbourne (about 2 hours) because she was going there for a conference. She had spent a year travelling all through Central America and Mexico, and had hitchhiked her way all across Canada, and it was so awesome to meet someone with the same sort of passion and gusto for travel and the unexpected stories and quirks it brings. As if a free ride all the way into Melbourne wasn’t enough, she offered to let me stay at her sister’s apartment in North Melbourne before I caught the train to Sydney in the morning. So I based myself in North Melbourne for the night with some amazingly friendly and welcoming people, went into the city and grabbed a couple beers with an old friend that I had met while working in Greece, and rested up for the early train departure to Sydney in the morning.