$55 Campervan and the Great Ocean Road
Trip Start Sep 04, 2007
59Trip End May 28, 2008
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I picked my van up at 11am and headed South of Melbourne to the Great Ocean Road. At 285km long the road is actually the largest war memorial in the world, since it was built by returning soldiers of WW1 in memory of those who were not so lucky. The road passes through coastal towns with familiar names like Torquay and Anglesea. The weather was not ideal with patches of rain, but I enjoyed being behind the wheel for the first time since I left home. I reached the famous Twelve Apostles in time for sunset but the rain and grey clouds meant it was far from spectacular. The next morning though I headed back to the Twelve Apostles for stunning views of the limestone pillars. The nearby Lord Ard Gorge and the now collapsed London Bridge were also impressive.
I then headed up to the Grampians National Park and did a number of short walks to the main rock formations including the Balconies, and the waterfall at Mackenzie Falls. I also saw some friendly kangaroos at Zumstein, including one with a joey (baby) in her pouch. I camped in the National park and was a bit shocked to find a spider with a red dot on its back hiding in the toilets. My knowledge of Australian wildlife is improving and it certainly looked like the dangerous redback spider, so I kept well away. The nights were really cold in the campervan so I was very happy to have my sleeping bag with me... the blankets the company provided were rubbish!
I was up early the next morning and went for a trip up to The Pinnacle for views across the National Park. I then headed back to Melbourne and stopped at Ballarat, an old gold mining town. The city centre has some impressive original buildings from 1880s. As I walked through the main shopping precinct the sound system was playing "Gold" by Spandau Ballet. At first I thought this song was on continuous loop, but it turned out to be just a coincidence.
I spent the afternoon in Sovereign Hill which is a recreated gold-mining township. It was a mix between the Black Country Museum and Disneyland, but it was good fun. One of the most impressive sights was seeing a $50,000 pure gold ingot being pured in the smelting works. Another foundry uses lathes and metal spinning to produce frying pans, candle holders and other products. All the machinery in the workshop was powered by a single steam engine.
I then drove back to Melbourne ready to return the van at 10am the next morning. I enjoyed the freedom of Wario, but I drove nearly 1000km in under 4 days and was looking forward to a rest.