Great Ocean Road
Trip Start Nov 22, 2006
24Trip End Dec 16, 2006
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Where I stayed
Miles walked: 5
Kilometers Driven: 360
Weather: Sunny and wonderful early in the day. Hazy later from bush fire smoke (the fires are a long way away, but they are huge)
Red lights run: 2 (oops! Melbourne is a horribly city to drive in)
I write to you tonight from Port Campbell, Victoria along the Great Ocean Road. We started out at 8:00 this morning from our hotel in Melbourne after a quick stop at Krispie Kream for donuts. Melbourne's roads are still screwy. Signs tell you to turn then lead you back to the original road; other signs tell you to stay in a certain lane to enter the freeway then that lane becomes a turn right only lane going away from the expressway
It took an hour and a half of driving just to get to the official start of the Great Ocean Road. The day was very fine (as they say down here). We stopped from time to time to appreciate the coastal scenery and snap a few pictures. Lunch was in Lorne, one of the small towns along the way. The attitude is very laid back and touristy around here. It's a lot like small towns up north; the bigger towns feel a lot like Grand Haven.
In the city of Lorne we took a few minutes to walk around. We found Erkstine Falls and climbed down to the base of the falls. They were pretty cool, but not as impressive as they could be - this drought just isn't conducive to waterfall viewing. We also took in the scenery at Teddy's Lookout. Good times!
Kennett River was next. We found quite a few koalas sleeping in high in the trees just off the main road. Luckily we had stopped to talk to someone at Lorne's information center and we suggested the side trip. It wasn't easy spotting koalas in the trees, but we saw about 7 or 8 in all.
After the koalas we made our way to the town of Apollo Bay. We stopped to stretch our legs and found an ice cream shop - The Ice Cream Tub. It was a little on the pricy side but turned out to be the best cookies and cream I've ever experienced
I took over driving just as the road became incredibly windy. Aaron even had to take a Dramamine; we felt like we were back in New Zealand. The road wasn't following the coast at this time and we found a road that took us back out to a lighthouse. Our guide book said it was a good idea and the signs claimed Cape Otway was only 7 kilometers down the road. Twelve kilometers of winding road later we found ourselves at a parking lot at the end of the road. It appears you need to pay a $12.50 admission fee to enter the park. You can't even see the lighthouse from the parking lot. We were not pleased and decided to drive back without viewing the overpriced scenery.
After quite a few more curves the road finally straightened out as we returned to the coast. The landscape was definitely different now. Instead of sloping to the sea the land just drops off in huge cliffs. We entered Port Campbell National Park and pulled into the 12 Apostles car park. The weather, as previously mentioned, was beautiful. However, a haze from the monstrous bush fires in the northern part of the state slightly tainted the view. It's still magnificent, but it would have been perfect without the haze.
Aaron was starting to get pretty tired, and he wasn't interested in anymore sight seeing
Aaron took a nap while I explored Port Campbell. The visitors' information center had just closed so I wasn't able to get all the maps and brochures I wanted. (I'm really obsessed with those things. I'm getting much better at throwing them away when I'm done.) I found a grocery store and bought a few necessities (Tim Tams and water) before returning to the hotel. Aaron was just waking up and we had dinner.
After dinner we heading back out again. This time we stopped at Loch Ard Gorge, the sight of Victoria's worst shipwreck. Only two people survived the wreck and Lock Ard Gorge is where they washed ashore. We climbed down to the beach and wondered at how anyone could make it through the surf. They were very lucky. After the gorge we walked to a blowhole (not terribly exciting, but a neat geological feature) and Thunder Cave. Thunder Cave was really cool. We watched the waves pound into the cliffs as the sun began setting.
Now we're back at the hotel and Aaron's about ready to fall asleep again. I think I'll join him. Talk to you tomorrow.
Today was a bit of a travel day. We left Melbourne at 8 am, and made our way along the southern coast of Australia, over a part of the highway called the Great Ocean Road. Along the way, we saw many spectacular views, took lots of pictures, and stopped along the way for some walks and food.
The next stop was a bit down the road at a city called Lorne. We took a few walks to see some waterfalls and vistas. The lady at the information center also told us where we could find some wild koalas. When we had arrived at the right spot a bit down the road, we pulled off and drove into a national park. Koalas in the wild are as lazy as those in captivity. We saw a number of them just sleeping in trees. It was pretty cool to see them in the wild though.
At one spot we drove down a secondary road towards the oldest lighthouse along the coast. It took about an hour (there and back) and when we arrived we found we had to pay $12.50 just to walk around and see the lighthouse! We couldn't believe it and headed back the other way none too happy.
We picked up the pace a bit to get to the Twelve Apostles as soon as possible. We arrived and suffered the hitchhiking of hundreds of flies to view the stacks of sandstone that stand along the shoreline
I took a quick nap and then we headed back out after dinner. We explored the Loch Ard Gorge, site of the worst maritime accident in Victoria (that's the state we are in) history. The place was astounding in the dusk light. There were a number other areas we explored there as well, including another blowhole, and a place called Thunder Cave. The surge of the surf at Thunder Cave was thunderous.
We finished the night watching the sun set at the Twelve Apostles. The haze from the fires had moved in by then, and visibility was pretty low. It was very peaceful though, and most of the flies had even gone to sleep. After the sun set, Fairy Penguins (the smallest penguins in the world) started to come up on shore. We couldn't make them out very well as they were down on the beach and we were up on the cliff in the dark, but it was fun to see them swimming and walking around.
p.s. This hotel doesn't have wireless internet for us. If it had, it may well have been the best hotel I'd ever been in. Denise inquired around while I was sleeping. There is one hotel near by that has internet, at $10 / hour. We'll stop by and check email and upload this entry, but we won't have time to upload all of the pictures. We'll try to get 5 or so up, and then finish uploading the pictures next time we have access to wireless. We expect that when we get to LA we'll have it while waiting for our last flight. If not, we'll get them up when we get home.