After two very long first days in Australia, I left on Monday, the 20th (aka my 23rd Birthday!) for the Beach Welcome Program in Lorne. I'm not exactly thrilled about my living situation (long story that I'll possibly discuss later) so I was pretty excited to get out and start exploring Australia.

This Beach Welcome was for all of the new International students at Deakin so I was anxious to finally make some friends (I feel like I'm a freshman in college all over again). We headed out for the 2 hour bus ride to Lorne and I was happy to see that everyone was just as excited to make new friends as well.

We drove down the Great Ocean Road, which I guess is comparable to the 101/1/Pacific Coast Highway in California (except 10 times more amazing), to get to Lorne. The road was extremely windy so I unfortunately had to miss a lot of the scenery due to the motion sickness I tend to get on vehicles. We arrived and it is easily the most beautiful beach I've ever been to. Sparkling blue water and flawless sand.
The first day was pretty relaxing; just had free time where we mostly lounged on the beach and mingled. We all had different housing, ranging from a nice hotel room to legitimate TENTS. About 12 of us stayed in 2 separate cottages, which were quaint and more cabin like than anything. They were cozy and comfortable, so I was happy. We had to climb a ladder to get to our beds at the top, not to mention climb 2 ginormous hills to get there, but I was just glad we weren't in tents. These cockatoos are EVERYWHERE, and they are fearless (so we fed them). The first night we got a case of "goon" (which is box wine, the only cheap alch in Australia) and probably finished off half the 4 litres :)
The second day was definitely an intense day. We woke up at 7 to eat breakfast at 730 and then started our first activity: mountain biking. I have a small fear of biking, mostly due to my older sister, Mallory, forcing me to ride down a steep hill when I was younger, knowing I would fall, and then, of course, falling at the bottom. But I went anyway, and was SO glad I did. We rode around the beach and to a pier where we watched people fish (& catch stingrays!) and then rode around some semi-rough terrain up and down hills.

Our second activity was surfing :) I almost forgot how much I loved it. I'm obviously not amazing, and we obviously surfed little baby waves, but it felt amazing being able to catch a bunch of waves. I definitely need to start surfing more once/if I go back to San Diego.

The third and final activity we did was surf kayaking. I took a sea kayaking class last semester and I thought it would be the same. Definitely NOT. This was possibly the most intense sport-like thing I've ever done, not to mention the most terrifying. My friend, Rachel, & I went together, which was a big mistake because our combined weight of 200 pounds was NOT enough to weigh down our boat. When we first paddled out to the surf, we got flipped over almost immediately. We tried two more times and finally caught a couple waves, but kept getting flipped over. Everybody was done about 30 minutes into it because the conditions were pretty bad and everybody was getting destroyed. It was still fun, regardless:)

After that, we had a more mellow night to rest up for the next days' tour. After getting all of our luggage together the next morning and semi-cleaning our cottage (not much housekeeping here), we were off on the Great Ocean Road once again.
Our first stop was Apollo Bay, which was another beautiful beach. After that, we went to Maits Rest Rainforest. It's so crazy how beaches and rainforests can be so close together. In San Diego, the only nature around is usually just palm trees. In Australia, there are so many beautiful trees and scenery bordering the beaches.

After that, we went and saw the 12 Apostles. It's all limestone that has been eroded by the waves after the years. It's crazy what mother nature can do. We stopped at a few different points to see it because it stretches out across the beach quite a ways. It seemed so surreal being there. It was such a perfect, picturesque view that it seemed like it could be a backdrop.

We were pretty happy to go home after that. It had only been 2 1/2 days and we saw and did more than I've done in a few months time back home. I would say it made for quite a successful trip:)