My childhood dream
From very early on in my life, I was fascinated by the Australian continent. By starting high school, it was clear to me that, one day, I will move to Down Under. It even drove me to study English in school, although I am unfortunately not blessed with a special talent in commanding different languages. Well, life had other plans for me and instead of migrating to Australia, I moved to Spain. Frankly spoken, this is also not bad, even though it is not exactly matching my childhood dream. In any case, I am still very much in love with Australia and, thus, I never miss a chance to travel there if I can.
In 2004, I travelled for the first time to Australia in order to participate in the 18th International Conference on Growth Substances that was held in Canberra. Shortly before, two dear friends of mine picked up Postdoc positions in the group of Josette Masle at the ANU Research School of Biological Sciences in Canberra. Apparently, things seemed to come together and I set out for my first long-distant flight.
Instead of flying directly back home after the conference, I spent a few additional days with my friends and they took me on a road trip from Canberra to Sydney, where I had my flight back. On the way, we spent a couple of days in the Blue Mountains National Park in Katoomba, where we hiked on the numerous trails in the park and visited the Jenolan Caves. In brief, stunning landscapes, superb places, and incredible views.
A road trip from Adelaide to Melbourne
By the end of August 2006, I took the chance to assist the 8th International Congress of Plant Molecular Biology in Adelaide, Australia. On the one hand, it was a great way to catch up with a number of good friends, and on the other hand, it was a possibility to visit Australia again, after my first visit to Canberra in 2004. I spent a thrilling week in Adelaide with great science, interesting discussions, and plenty of fun events around the conference. Together with a dear colleague, I extended the Australia trip for another week and we decided to rent a car and go on a road trip. From Adelaide, we first went to the Grampians National Park to visit the MacKenzie Falls. Unfortunately, the Park was struck pretty hard by bush fires shortly before, and large parts of the park were closed for public.
After this slightly disappointing visit, we decided to take on the Great Ocean Road heading from the Grampians roughly 680 km via Portland along the coast towards Melbourne. Obviously, late August was not the ideal time to visit all the scenic points on the way, but we were very lucky with the weather and made great experiences along the way, discovering rugged coastlines, sandy beaches, rock platforms, windswept heathland, and the cold rain forest in the Otways.