"THE TWELVE APOSTLES"- GREAT OCEAN ROAD 2
Trip Start Oct 05, 2009
322Trip End Oct 31, 2013
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Weather: Sunny 18 degrees at Johanna; 14 degrees and foggy inland
Mileage: 14449 kms at Johanna Beach
Journey: Johanna, Lavers Hill, Beech Forest, Princetown, Port Campbell
Overnight: Port Campbell Holiday Park, $23pn, no power.
With a last look at Johanna Beach on this lovely morning, we drove inland towards the "Otway Fly" (a rainforest walk above the trees) and Beech Forest. A thick fog and a 4 degrees drop in temperature were a shock as we quickly reached 550 metres above sea level. We did go into the “Otway Fly” but decided the entry fee of $16.95 each, the fog and chill, and the fact that the structure was built in Tasmania by the same people who had constructed the Tahune Walkway near Geeveston, made the experience less than exciting. It took just seconds to leap back into the van and return to the sunny coast.
We drove into a camping area at Princetown but decided we could do better for an overnight stay so stopped off at the adjoining Gellibrand River and joined Margaret and Jim from the Colac area for lunch at the large camping table by the river. They were fishing by the bridge, as they had done for more than 70 years but had not caught anything today. They told us some good stories about their early days camping around Glenaire with their kids and were not happy with the real estate developments happening near their life long home town. Margaret was 82 and enjoyed buying calves and fattening them for sale so that she didn't have to ask Jim for money for special home improvements that she thought important but he did not! They were good company and we got to know them well in the hour + that we spent there.
5 minutes along the Great Ocean Road, we encountered our first views of the iconic and famous 12 Apostles, the mighty limestone stacks jutting out of the Southern Ocean in the Port Campbell National Park at Gibson Steps. There is access to the beach here and not in many other places along this section of the coast, probably because the crumbling cliffs are as dangerous as they are spectacular. Today the deep blue sea, azure blue sky and deep yellowy sand and cliffs made magic scenery!!
As you drive along this busy road there are frequent parking bays with easy walks to majestic views of cliffs, arches, blow holes and small islands with the 12 apostle stacks towering above the sea along the way. There is a huge viewing and parking area for the 12 Apostles to cater for bus loads of tourists that visit to marvel at the beauty of this wild coast.
We took our time, and at the Loch Ard Gorge Area, the story of the ship wreck is told in a series of signs as you complete the 2 hour walking paths. This coast also has the scary title: “Shipwreck Coast”.
The weather was perfect for our exploration of this area and we reminded ourselves how precarious the weather can be here and felt lucky!
It was late afternoon when we reached Port Campbell; we camped at Port Campbell Holiday Park and it was a great spot. Fronting the sheltered beach, beside a tidal creek and a hop, skip and jump to the shops, pub and restaurants.
The town had a lovely feel to it and we decided to have dinner in a restaurant recommended to us by 2 guys working on a project in town who had tried every place in Port Campbell, but only returned to this one! We had a beer and a fabulous moussaka and pepper/salt squid with fresh green salads. Yum!
On Thursday morning we scrambled out of bed at 5.40am, tried not to wake up fellow campers and set out for the Twelve Apostles viewing area to see the sunrise there. It was a pale pink and misty event and there were probably about 20 other tourists there to enjoy the experience. Sheila made friends with a couple from China who had been studying in Sydney for 4 years and were about to return to China; they were showing their parents this lovely coast and said that one of the mums was overwhelmed by the space! After comparing living conditions, food and other interesting facts, we were all hungry and said goodbye in search of breakfast.
After a late start we set out for the nearby town of Peterborough and spent time exploring the fabulous sights along the way: The Arch, London Bridge and the Grotto, all sculpted by the wild seas and winds of the Southern Ocean over millions of years.
We did not like what we saw in Peterborough and decided to return to Port Campbell for another night. Kath did some blogging and Sheila continued with her book of 897 pages!
Friday morning, Kath did the 4 ½ km Port Campbell Discovery walk above the town around the headland- very scenic and beat the rain which started and did not stop as forecasted.
We had known for some time that rain was going to fall over the long weekend (Anzac Day) and had decided that Warrnambool, a coastal town of 32.000 people would be a good rainy day destination. We inspected 2 Holiday Parks and chose the Discovery Holiday Park which was great; it had a movie room, big camping kitchen and lovely gardens. It was close to the walking/bike track that hugged the coast for 7kms and was a place to stretch the legs when the rain stopped. Actually by Sunday the strong winds had blown most of the rain away.
A 15 minute walk into town revealed a pleasant coastal town, boasting a large university and a port, with great surf beaches and lots of holiday accommodation.
Most of our time here was spent cooking some special meals- the lamb shanks in spicy tomato sauce served on quinoa was delicious and we were able to leave it to stew for 2 ½ hours on the stove in the camp kitchen. The mushroom and wine beef sauce with soba noodles was another treat. There was a little housekeeping and some planning of our ongoing journey, as well as scouring the weekend newspapers and tackling the puzzles therein. We borrowed a DVD and persisted with the very boring “Oceans 12”; the choices in the reception office were not great. It was nice and cosy in the van as the rain and wind did their work outside. And Sheila finished her huge book: “I Know This Much Is True”.
With the rain clearing we will be moving on tomorrow, Monday!