Off the Bus! On the Bus!

Trip Start Dec 03, 2004
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Trip End Nov 31, 2005


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Flag of Australia  ,
Monday, September 12, 2005

In the morning the weather is . . . an improvement. By a very small amount. But we have a super-action-packed day ahead of us, so there's no hiding from the rain for the wicked on bus tours. We've got every single little rocky attraction on the Great Ocean Road to see, all before lunchtime.

First: Loch Ard Gorge, and cemetery. The Gorge itself is quite attractive, with the high waves surging between a gap in the high cliffs and sweling up onto the beach below the sandstone cliffs, but it's the story that goes with it that makes it more exciting. Back in the 1800s a ship called the Loch Ard went down just outside the gorge and killed all but two of the people on board. One, a nineteen-year-old crew member named Tom, was a good enough swimmer to get in through that surging gap and pull himself into a cave along the cliffs in the gorge. But then he heard the other survivor, eighteen-year-old passenger Eva, screaming from her position clinging to a wooden spar out in the stormy ocean. Eva couldn't swim, so Tom swam back out (totally crazy, judging by the water we saw on a relatively calm day), grabbed her, and swam back in with her. They spent the night in a cave with a washed up crate of brandy and what happened there, is between them, as Jen said. The next day Tom climbed the cliffs out and found rescue for them. Eva went back to her home in Ireland after recovering from her injuries and despite writing back and forth with Tom until their deaths, she refused his written proposal of marriage. I was very cut up abou this when Jen told the story as it seemed very romantic, but then we saw a picture of Tom on a postcard, and yeah, not to be so very shallow, but the man looked like a potato dumpling with an afro. The graveyard contained pioneers and the few bodies they managed to salvage from the wreck of the Loch Ard.

Second: the Arch, otherwise known as the Dunkin' Donut. Imagine an arch of rock being pounded by white water. You have now seen the Arch!

Third: London Bridge. This, too, rather looked like a rocky arch in the water, except bigger. However, it used to have a span of rock that connected it to the mainland and you could walk out on it, except in 1990 that span fell just as some people had stepped off it, stranding a couple out on the newly created island. They had to be rescued by helicopter and, unfortunately for them, it was big news that night on TV and the man, who was a high-ranking politico, had it revealed to the world (and, more importantly, his wife) that his "business trip to Sydney" was really a "vacation to the Great Ocean Road to boink my secretary." Oops!

Fourth: the Grotto. A long walk down some stairs to find that a low tide meant the grotto was mostly dry. But at the bottom at least there was no wind, so we sheltered there happily for a bit.

Fifth: Bay of Martyrs and Bay of Islands (they honestly looked the same). Big, turquoise bays with gleaming green and gold island blips. Lovely scenery and I can see how appealing they would be for picnics, swimming and summer homes, but in winter we were all fighting to see who could take a photo fastest and jump back into the overheated bus.

Sixth: Golfers defecating. In Peterborough, a golf course where the golfers have to shoot the ball across a road to the hole, and the sign saying "Beware golfers hitting over the road" has been defaced, and left defaced by the locals, to say "Beware golfers shitting over the road."

Seventh: lunch, finally, in Warrnambool. And the day has just begun!
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