Sort of Ok Ocean Road

Trip Start Apr 25, 2007
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Trip End Ongoing


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Saturday, January 5, 2008

The trip down to Melbourne was a busy one. Our first day in the workhorse that is a Hyundai Getz was spent in a mad dash for the coast through countryside that could best be described as repetitive. We arrived in Port Fairy and took a 10 minute walk round to see all the sights that this town has to offer. Then a short trip to see the beach, made shorter by the biting wind that whips up off Antarctica making it's first landfall on my face that evening. Port Fairy does have one claim to fame; it is home to the oldest pub in Victoria. After a hard days driving had made me feel something like a trucker I though it only appropriate to set about getting the beer belly to match. Sadly this potential pint worshipers paradise has been ruined on the inside by and unsympathetic refit in the 70s which is still in shabby evidence today. This combined with the stench of a greasy spoon and TVs nonsensically showing some soap was a bit of a disappointment. Even the Bar-man sub-David-Blaine rope magic wasn't enough to enliven the place.

The next day we hit the Great Ocean Road proper coasting down past a number of bays that have been savagely carved from the rocks by the sea over the centuries. The big draw on this stretch was of course the twelve apostles, of which there are seven of the original nine, just to confuse you. They certainly make a good sight as the just out of the sea, some looking quite precarious indeed. London bridge is also another big card in the coast's hand. Looking nothing like London bridge from what I can remember it is quite cool as you marvel at the number of ways a man could be beaten to death by the waves on it's rocks. After we passed these the geology takes a more pedestrian turn and the road heads inland up through forests popping you out at the top to look over the surrounding valleys before plunging back to the coast and our destination of Apollo Bay. After checking into our motel we went for a bit to eat and ended up in a rather terrible but overpriced Italian. I ordered a rather nice Ham and mushroom pizza while Han had a pasta dish with allegedly didn't contain chilli, but had mouth numbing properties dentists only dream of. Half way through I was forced to swap and had to persevere through the running nose and tears of pain for my dinner.

The next day held the kind of picture postcard views that the road is famous for as it hugs the cliff for many kilometres. This was fun and in no way the terrifying cliff side roads of Laos. Pausing for a few photos on the way but shunning waterfalls on account of the heavy drought the nation is under meant we arrived in Lorne a bit before lunch to find the place rammed to the gills. We had a bit of a stroll and bought some book including Jason Donovan's autobiography, much to Han's delight. The crowds remained a bit of a mystery to us until we realised that today was the day of the famous Pier to Pub swim in which young and old make the 15 min race for a pint. We watched a few of the races come in before having to move the car and head onwards to Torquay.

Our time in Torquay was mainly spent wandering around Australia's self proclaimed Surf Capital which houses many of the head offices for your big surf brands. A short visit to the obligatory Bells Beach (where there was very little surf), which bears no resemblance to it's namesake in Point Break. All this was rounded off with an afternoon sitting in the sun on the sand working on the tan and watching the many kite boarders in the bay, getting in the water however was no an option as it was icy cold.

All in all, the Great Ocean Road was good but I'm not sure if it lived up to it's billing as one of the best drives in the world. The scenery was nice and the beaches were pretty good, but it didn't feel like a totally revolutionary experience. If I was able to stand up on a surf board maybe it's be a bit different.
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