Down Under Tour '04 travel blog

... to learn Petanque/Petanc/That French boules game - however the hell you spell it.

Drove up to Halls Gap (in Grampian NP) through some beautiful rolling golden pasture, mostly very flat but with hills along the skyline to break things up. The YHA I was planning to stay at was fully booked out for a wedding, but found an ace hostel a few doors down called Tims Place, run by a very friendly guy called Tim (well, duh!). Was also supposed to be fully booked, but he managed to squeeze me into the 'emergency bedroom' (has a bed, but normally with about a squillion matresses & duvets on, and is barely big enough for the above) which was great by me - solitary sleeping arangements are a luxury as a traveller; no snoring/b.o./bag rustlers or other such hazards to contend with.

Did the Wonderland Loop bushwalk in the afternoon, with all that high speed pounding around off the beaten track with Iain paying off, as was able to knock off a 4-5 hour walk in 3 hours or so. I realise it's not a contest, but if I'm going to do the Overland Track in Tasmania in a month or so (a week or so of walking, carrying tent, stove etc then I need to try and build up the hiking fitness at every opportunity). Beautiful weather on the walk, and some very funky rock formations, with the land suddenly dropping away on the approach to the final peak to reveal a lovely vista across the plains.

Such a beautiful day, and the hostel is in such a beautiful setting (lush green valley nestled in between the hills) that it seemed rude not to have a barbie and a few cold beers to go along with it. Picked up a BBQ pack in the local store consisting of 4 snags (sausages) 2 lamb chops & 2 rissoles for about 3 quid. Bear in mind that prices are hiked noticeably round here 'cos you're in the middle of nowhere and that should give you some indication of just how much cheaper meat is over here - something that doesn't extend to fruit or veg, alas.

Was honoured with an invite to join Tim, Ann (who runs the hostel with him) and one of their friends from town for the aformentioned game of Petanque - the only guest to be asked. Managed to pick the game up fairly quickly (and a few glasses of red wine certainly help loosen the elbow) and acquitted myself pretty well - can't imagine a better place to learn than with the sun setting over the hills behind, and kangaroos bouncing through the grassland behind the hostel...

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