The Great Ocean Road

Trip Start Jul 30, 2006
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Monday, December 18, 2006






Well, the Ashes are now back in Australia's possession and it's not the best time to be a pom here. I've had to grin and bear thousands of wisecracks already at England's expense over the last few days - yes, they are a better team, yes, they played better than us and yes, they deserve them but the Aussies really do know how to rub it in. I feel a bit for our friends from Leicester, Dinesy and Lawyer Mark, who are flying out here to meet up with us and Matty and Lou for Christmas and then to see the 4th and 5th test matches. Australia have already won 3-0 and look like winning all five unless England can pull themselves together. We'll be in the stands nevertheless, cheering them on at the MCG with the rest of the Barmy Army, hoping to salvage a bit of pride.

Despite all the doom and gloom of losing the Ashes, we have had a lovely few days on the coast south west of Melbourne. The 285km of the Great Ocean Road is one of the most spectacularly scenic drives in the world, mostly along the very southern coast of Australia with the ocean crashing into the cliffs - also called "The Surf Coast". In fact, the first stop out of Melbourne is the tiny seaside town of Torquay where the world famous surfing spot of Bells Beach can be found. Then on the main road out of Torquay, there is a rather incongruous industrial estate where the headquarters of the three main surf brands in the world, Billabong, Quiksilver and Rip Curl, are located - all next door to each other! I guess in the UK this is a bit like Next, Arcadia and M&S all being next-door neighbors on the same street.

Torquay itself is little more than a few shops and a couple of nice beaches, no sign of an Australian Basil Fawlty or Sybil anywhere. After a quick scout around the excellent Toquay Museum of Surf (where incidentally we purchased a tremendous surf-related Monopoly set), we carried on down the coast.

Lorne, set on the banks of the Erskine River, is a very pretty little beachfront holiday town and we decided to spend a few nights here, staying in the delightfully old-fashioned Erskine River Backpackers, single-handedly run by a colourful local character called Robbo, probably the funniest man we have met so far on our travels.










Sarah fell in love with the hostel immediately. With its stripped pine doors (do you like my doors?), wooden floorboards and tasteful bedrooms, it is exactly how she would decorate a hostel, complete with slightly shabby secondhand furniture dotted all over the place. On arrival, all the doors and windows were open but the hostel was deserted. There was a telephone and someone had written down a telephone number and "Call me if you must, Robbo".

It turned out that Robbo had gone for a swim and when we finally caught up with him later, he took us on a tour of place and told us to choose our favourite room. Sarah chose room 7, much to the incredulous Robbo's amazement and from then on, for the next 5 days at least, became known as "the girl who likes room 7, she'll never leave". He couldn't believe we had turned down his favourite garden room and the prospect of watching probably the world's oldest surviving TV - wooden with a bubble screen and just the one channel (Robbo - "No-one else does but I like the old ones", all said very slowly in his faintly camp Australian drawl). In fact Robbo himself is like a slightly orange 45 record played on 33rpm.









Lorne has a beautiful beach with gentle surf, backed by a main street chock full of trendy cafes and restaurants. So far our trip to Australia has been blighted by poor surfing conditions and this was no exception - flat as a millpond. I'm beginning to wonder if it is just me having sky-high standards after surfing in the wave paradise of Bali for 2 months. Anyway, the pattern for the next few days was set and we had a very pleasant day on the beach, then settled into the pub for the evening to watch the cricket before sampling the local cuisine.

We stayed for 1 night in Lorne and then drove the remaining stretch of the Great Ocean Road (The Shipwreck Coast - there are 200 known shipwrecks along here) up to Port Fairy, where we spent the night and then back to Lorne for a further 3 nights. This part of the drive was even more stunning than what had gone before as we made countless stops to look at the jagged rock formations along the way, most famously at the Twelve Apostles, see picture.












The only other thing worth mentioning is that we drove up to Bells Beach yesterday so that I could surf the famous right-hand point break called Winkipop. This is where they filmed the last scene in the film "Point Break" (you're all washed up, Brodie). The surf was okay (about 6 foot) but quite challenging as the bottom is made up of jagged rock, only about 3 feet under the surface where the waves break. Also had a bit of agro with one of the locals who took exception to any foreigner/non-local who wanted to surf "his" break! Wa**er.








I was actually surfing at Winkipop, Bells Beach, yesterday lunchtime and then heard on the radio today that in that afternoon there was a bad shark attack and a surfer had his leg bitten off! Right where I was surfing! The worst shark attack on a surfer in Australia for years apparently - hope it wasn't anyone local!!!!
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Comments

compact
compact on

Ashes to Ashes....
Hi Nicko and Milly,

You've got some great photos on your travelogue. Haven't looked at them all yet but I've seen most from New Zealand - looks spectacular.

I've pretty much got over the disappointment of The Ashes having gone before we even get there. Just looking forward to spending Christmas with you and soaking up the atmosphere of a couple of away Tests. Should still be a great experience.

We're due to arrive on Sat am (not sure what state I'll be in after the flight though). How hot is it at the moment? I assume it must be pretty hot with all the bush fires.

See you soon,
Chris

PS One thing still bothering me - why were you wearing shorts on the glacier??!!

mattandlou
mattandlou on

Nice entry
Hey guys, like your blog. It seems to contain stuff relating to what you are actually up to. I may try that tactic myself maybe! Looking forward to joining the pommie defence team tomorrow. We are just in Singapore airport waiting for our flight - can't wait!

I'll have a Fosters and so will me Sheila!

Laters Bruce

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