On the (great ocean) road again...

Trip Start May 18, 2003
Trip End Ongoing

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Sunday, May 29, 2005

By 10:30am I was all packed and ready to leave Melbourne for the fourth time. The difference on this occasion was that I was not planning to come back. This was the start of a very long journey (over three states, timezones and 5000km of driving) from Melbourne to Perth.

The Route
On the way we are going to be driving along the Great Ocean Road, the Coastal Discovery Highway, crossing the great Murray River, stopping in Adelaide and the ancient Flinders Ranges. Our road trip is going to then take us across the treeless desert of the Nullarbor Plain, where wild camels and kangaroos roam free. We are also going to be driving on Australia's longest straight road, which is over 140 km without a single bend!

After checking out of Ritz Backpackers I carried all my gear down to the public carpark to meet Jorgen and Dominik. Whenever you have to carry all your bags at once like this it becomes startlingly obvious if you are carting around too much gear. In my case this is sadly true at the moment. It's high time I did some backpack housekeeping!

After loading up the car we were soon back on the road and left Melbourne heading west. This was going to be the second time that I was travelling along the Great Ocean Road, and also the second time for Dominik, but we were both happy to do it again as it is a pretty nice drive. Besides, Jorgen had not seen it and he didn't want to miss out.

The first stop was predictably Torquay, where they have a good Tourist Information Cetnre where you can get all the maps, weather conditions and advice for the journey ahead. We wandered around the expensive surf shops here too; they are well worth a look just to see the variety of surf paraphernalia and fashion accessories. [There is a huge Roxy store here Jenny].

A short drive along from Torquay and we were on the ever popular Bells Beach. When I was here before, not too long ago, I remembered the weather being warmer but the waves were not as impressive. There were just as many surfers out and about today as last time, despite the colder conditions.

Not too far onto the Great Ocean Road there is a memorial arch built across the traffic lanes. We stopped for the cheesy tourist photo before moving on. This was to be the start of many such cheesy photos all the way along this tourist route.

For lunch we stopped at Lorne, where we stocked up on food for the trip. From here we had a short side trip drive up to Erskine Falls, which were unfortunately not too impressive due to the lack of recent rain. Having had our fill of waterfalls in Tasmania it would take something quite startling to impress us now.

By this point we had seen a lot of coastline and the waves continued to get stronger and stronger. As the days are relatively short at the moment, with sunset around 5:30pm, we only made one more stop to do a short walk to a creek before our night stop in Apollo Bay. As expected this town looked very different without the music festival in full swing. By comparison Lorne seemed the more lively place to be now.

We had a choice of two hostels and went for the Surfside Backpackers ($20), near the camp ground I stayed at before. This place was fairly roomy, with two kitchens and two lounge areas and several record players. We were especially thankfull for the dorm beds that were fitted with electric blankets. It made all the difference and ensured a sound comfortable sleep.
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