Great Ocean Road Part 1

Trip Start Oct 25, 2010
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
Apollo Bay Recreation Reserve

Flag of Australia  , Victoria,
Wednesday, December 1, 2010

We had an early start this morning after a sleepless night with wild winds thrashing the tent and us fearing we were going to get blown away!! We set out along the highway and quite easily navigated through Melbourne and through to Geelong. We stopped and had some lunch and dropped in to visit Nathans cousin Brooke and then continued to the Great Ocean Road. Our first stop was Bells Beach which had huge surf and wild winds. It was amazing that the car parking area and actual beach were not that large, so it was hard to imagine such large surf comps being hosted there with 1000's of people. Driving along through Torquay was funny- there was a whole block of surf shops- at least ten of them and all large with some factory outlets mixed in there too, there was so many it was crazy! We stopped off along the road at various lookouts and lighthouses and then chose Apollo Bay as out base for the next few days. We originally were going to stop at Lorne but had forgotten about Schoolies Celebrations and they were out in force there, so we decided to keep driving. Luckily so as Apollo Bay is much nicer and we are camped right alongside a river with the ocean across the road and we are faced looking out over the misty rolling hills. Much better than being amongst all those noisy schoolies!!
Some sections of the Great Ocean Road were so windy and in one section some of the cliff above had given way, so one traffic lane was closed for a short section. There was also a dump truck that must had been involved doing road repairs and he must have hit a soft edge of the tar and slid down hitting a guard rail, which the driver was lucky to hit as there was a few hundred meters below to fall otherwise. Just as we pass all this excitement we approached a sharp corner and a big bus was taking the corner wide, forcing us off the road. Luckily Nathan reacted quickly and veered left as much as possible, however it was a close call, we can't believe large vehicles and buses are allowed to travel along there, it is far too narrow.
On our second day on the Great Ocean Road we ventured from the wild and wet coast and into a rainforest called Beech Forest just north of Apollo Bay. It was the most beautiful drive through the mist and clouds along these narrow roads with giant lush green tree ferns (you would have loved it Mum!) towering over us and huge 300 year old trees. Everything was so green and healthy from all the recent rainfall, it was such a pretty drive. Our destination was Hopetoun Falls, a stunning cascading waterfall with a 30 minute walk to the bottom of the falls. It was so pretty and there was so much water flowing. The estimated time recommended for the walk was 30 minutes and it only took us about 10 minutes to reach the bottom (all downhill), we thought we were the picture of fitness and then we had to walk uphill...ahhh let's just say the recommended time of 30 minutes was correct- I think uphill had more stairs than the Byron lighthouse!!Once we arrived back at the top we had a picnic lunch and just as we were about to leave a van pulled up. We couldn't believe it, driving the van was a German couple we had seen 3 times already at various stops on our way through Victoria. Firstly when we were camped at Marlo, secondly at Port Welshpool and then at Philip Island. They had told us originally that they were heading for the Great Ocean Road however they were due back in Melbourne tomorrow so we thought they would have been and gone. It was so funny to run into them for a fourth time, especially since we were down a dirt road in the middle of nowhere and we hadn't seen a car the whole way there!! They then told us how they had seen at least a dozen koalas on the drive there to the waterfall, so we changed our route home and trusted these German tourists and their directions...we went further along a dirt road which had fallen logs, large branches and boggy spots and then found our way back to the Great Ocean Road and on the road to Cape Otway. Luckily we trusted our German friends as we were luckily enough to see 28 koalas in the trees along this rainforest road. Two of the koalas were babies and were cuddling their mothers in the trees. They were not very high up in the trees either so we were able to get up nice and close which was very special. Nathan hadn't seen a real koala in the wild and we were desperately hoping to see at least one, so it was very exciting to see nearly thirty of them!! There were a few near accidents we nearly witnessed along the Koala road as Wicked Campervans would just stop dead and put their car hazard lights on and climb out of their vehicles and take photos, pointing excitedly to the koalas and then showing us in the car behind them as if we hadn't seem yet. Did I mention they continued to do this on blind corners each time they saw a koala??? Crazzzzzzzzzzzy! It was a lovely day and the beauty of the rainforest region was very unexpected. The actual Great Ocean Road is amazing, however the rainforest and nearby hinterland is just as spectacular.
We are continuing tomorrow along the Great Ocean Road tomorrow to see the 12 Apostles and the beauty of the remaining coastline. We are aiming to stay at Port Fairy at the end of the Great Ocean Road. I'm sure you will hear from us soon!
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Jules on

You are doing the best of everything!!! Glad you are having a great adventure

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