Great Ocean Road, not-so great tour guide
Trip Start Nov 07, 2005
75Trip End Nov 04, 2006
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This is my Z to the 13th power story.
After my last successful trip I was looking forward to my 3 day trip along the Great Ocean Road to Melbourne, even with the early start. The first bad sign about our tour guide, Julian, was the fact that he insisted on telling us his life story very loudly through a microphone. At 6.30am.
It's not often I dislike someone but I took an almost instant dislike to him. And it didn't help that at lunchtime, upon finding out I had a degree, he said "Oh, so you do have a brain behind your ditsy exterior"
A few weeks ago there had been huge bush fires in the Grampians National Park, killing 35,500 sheep and devastating vast parts of the land. I'd been told when I'd booked the tour that the Grampians were still closed and we'd be going along the coast instead. But Julian decided he knew better and insisted on taking us through the Grampians only to find out that the majority of it was, funnily enough, still shut. So we wasted most of the day driving around.
We were driving (too fast) down a dirt road towards our hostel and a stone flew up and shattered the back window. Julian tried to push the rest of the glass out with his hands when I suggested perhaps using the hammer designed to break glass might be a good idea. Despite having said he cared about the environment and wanted us to leave nothing but our footprints, he left the broken glass all over the road, where animals would walk at night. And the emergency exit door didn't open. It took about 20 minutes, a hammer and a screwdriver to open it. Great.
The only 2 men on the tour and I made a makeshift window out of a binbag and held it over the gaping hole to try and stop too much dust coming in. It didn't do much good though cos everyone and everything was still covered in a thick layer of orange dust by the time we arrived at the hostel, and the 3 of us had very bad coughs
When we got to the hostel, Julian showed now sign of bothering to fix the window, or at least patch it up, so myself and the other 2 Brits took it upon ourselves to do a Blue Peter job on it using Rob's camping mat, a cardboard box and some fabric plaster. Remembering that you can never get fabric plaster off your skin as a kid, we figured it should work. It did. I doubt whether it would ever come off but I really didn't care.
Day 2. Julian had made a big deal about everyone being ready and being in the bus by 8am. We were but he was nowhere to be seen. He stumbled out about 10 minutes later only to inform us that the visitors centre we were meant to be going to didn't open till 9am. So he said he'd take us on a walk. One he hadn't been on before but it was meant to be good. So a while later we're driving down a track which is progressively getting smaller and smaller and we're all exchanging worried looks that perhaps this is the wrong way. But he continued, stopping to break branches and clear our path. Then we hit a dead end. He admits that perhaps this isn't the right way and we all hop out while he tries to reverse the bus, with trailer attached. Once he realises this isn't going to work we have to detach the trailer and hold it whilst he reverses the bus and then we roll the trailer downhill and reattach it
It seems a lot of stuff on this trip is going wrong despite the fact that Julian told us at the beginning we were lucky cos he grew up in this area so it was like his backyard and he knew it well.
The saving grace of the trip was that the Great Ocean Road lived up to its name. It was, indeed, Great.
We stopped off at various famous places - London Bridge, Loch Ard Gorge, and of course, the 12 Apostles. We were offered a 10 minute helicopter ride over the 12 Apostles for only $60 - $30 cheaper than usual, and so being the backpacker on a budget that I am, I went for it. There's something not right about being a backpacker in a helicopter.
I'd been told by an Irish girl in Adelaide that it a went on to heli ride I needed to grab the front seat, so I did.
We watched the sunset at the 12 Apostles, along with loads of other people. According to the Lonely Planet, sunset is a good time to come because there are no crowds and you can see the fairy penguins come into shore. Well maybe it used to be crowdless but having published the information in a well known travel guide seems to have changed that
The final day we got at to watch the sunrise. We'd been told to be at the bus at 5.30am so we were, but there was a distinct lack of our tour guide. Julian appeared at 5.45 then spent ages trying to warm up the bus. We missed the moon setting but luckily still caught the sunrise. I don't think sunrises are as impressive as sunsets though. And getting up that early isn't good for me. We didn't see the penguins going back into the sea, but we did all resemble them wrapped up from head to toe in our blankets, huddled together.
The trip culminated in one of my favourite things - shopping at a surf outlet centre near Melbourne.
So here I am in Melbourne, not done much yet but have about a week here so plenty of time. But I am going to the all important Melbourne event tonight. "Meet the Stars" Neighbours trivia night! Cheese.