Behind the wheel

Trip Start Oct 23, 2011
Trip End Feb 06, 2012

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What I did
The Twelve Apostles
Gibson Steps
The Great Ocean Road

Flag of Australia  , Victoria,
Sunday, November 13, 2011

We slept remarkably well in the van. Apparently it got a bit warm up top, but Blair and myself had a good time of it downstairs. I was woken up, for the second morning in a row, by the sounds of annoying children. Camped about 50m away from us was a massive group BMX kids touring on some sort of trip. They soon cleared off though, and we soon followed suit. Our first stop was the local Blue Lake, which we quickly re-christened Powerade Lake, cos the thing was vivid! Totally clear, deep blue and yet almost turquoise as well. The lack of sunlight probably helped as well. We moved on into the town, brimmed the tank, and got motoring on towards the Great Ocean Road. I was on keep-the-driver-awake duty, however Blair had a can of V (the local version of redbull), and not long after crossing my second Australian border (hello Victoooooorrrrrrriaaaaaa), I fell into a doze. Around midday, we pulled up into Portland. We found a Maccy D's, tucked in, then Blair grabbed a solid three handfuls of free jam and marmalade packets from the cafe, and we jumped back in the van. Soon after, we were on the A1, which at Warrnambool joined the B100, the Great Ocean Road itself, and found ourselves at the first scenic spot, the Bay of Islands. Much like the rest of the coastline, the stacks and coves are formed from erosion of the limestone cliffs (geophysics geek alert). The area itself is constantly falling away, and the viewing area was rather new, having had to be moved away from the edge a couple of years ago. The stacks of rock themselves were quite imposing, each standing stern against the oncoming waves, some topped with vegetation, others with a light dusting of sandy, eroded rock on top. The wave cut platforms, horizontal surfaces at sea level that escape the power of the wave itself, also stuck out on occasion, causing a perfectly blue wave to suddenly break and froth, even if it was still out from the coast. Back on the road, and it was now a game of spot the attraction, and photo anything else of interest. A roadside we passed informed us that it was a mere 32km to the Twelve Apostles, one of the main features of this coastline. However, half an hour of driving past this sign, and we hadn't stopped. I was busy amusing on the iPad, when I heard cry 'I think we've missed the Twelve Apostles'. This got my attention. Straight onto Google maps, GPS location please, compare to Twelve Apostles location, yep, we've managed to drive PAST THEM! We managed to pull a quick u-ee, and pulled up at the first stop, the Gibson Steps. Initially cut into the very rock itself, the zig zag route down the cliff face is now concrete, and leads to a very long beach, where a couple of 'extra' Apostles site just off the beach. Sticking my feet in the southern ocean was bliss, and the four of us strolled up to the massive towers of rock, and took some serious, some funny, and of course some random, photos. Just for fun we climbed a few rocks, drew in the sand, then as the wind drew in we made for the real Apostles. Chris handed me the keys, and I sat in charge of the largest vehicle I'd ever driven. The car park for the Twelve was just down the road, so an easy start and a chance to get used to the behemoth (well, that's what it felt like) put my fears quickly at ease. We strolled to the lookouts for the Apostles, of which about 8 remain (being stacks, they are still constantly being eroded, and hence in the hundred years since their discovery and naming, some have gone completely). After a couple of Star Wars joke referencing a small cave of yellow stone in the side of the mountain (a la A New Hope), I took the wheel again, and we set off for our overnight stop. Now, up until this point, the Great Ocean Road itself had been fairly straight and easy going, with the excitement deriving from the view rather than the drive itself. I however had lucked into the actual driving part, and as the road curved away from the coast, it turned into a snaking, hairpin busy, hard turn, edge of your seat rally road, cutting through forest and fields with equal ease, and every corner proudly stating a warning sign and a suggested speed, which usually required a downshift and a 'Hold On'. I had a good hour or so of driving, and the lads were so jealous. I on the other hand had just remembered what adrenaline felt like. We pulled into Apollo Bay and the boys jumped into a bottle shop for more beer, We then pulled into a caravan park which had a couple of powered sights, plugged in, grubbed up, and then sat around getting silly on beer and laughing at the comedy talents of Kevin Bridges, Eddie Izzard, and Frankie Boyle.
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