Great Ocean Road - day 2 - Apollo Bay

Trip Start Feb 28, 2009
Trip End May 02, 2009

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Flag of Australia  , Victoria,
Friday, March 6, 2009

Yesterday morning, Thursday, we left our hostel in Melbourne and went to pick up our car. Morten had ordered a nicer model than "budget" as it is a really cheap deal, so we got a real cruiser. It is like riding in a Copenhagen taxi.
Before we left for OZ we got ourselves a pair of Hostel International membership cards and with this, we are so far getting accommodation (double room with shared bathroom) for approx. 300kr a night and a car for 8 days for 1000kr total. Now, that's value for money! So far, we are within budget ;-)
We left Melbourne at around 11am and made our way to The Great Ocean Road, it was raining and overcast again and bloody cold, so we were really hoping that moving West could up the chance for some sun. Fat chance! We had the rain on and off all day, but it did not put us out, as the first leg of The Great Ocean Road was spectacular. Fantastic forest cliffs dropping straight into the ocean and the road zigzaging from one small inlet to the other. This is called surfers coast and there does not seem to be any game arcades or amusement parks here. No, people are serious about their surfing and seem to come only for this. The Rip Curls guys started their business here plus loads of surfy films are set here, f.x. Point Break with a very young Patrick Swayze and Keanu Reeves.
We started from an end with Torquay, where we yet again had fish & chips, this time so fresh the fish was practically jumping out of the batter. We then moved on along the coast for another 2 hours until we stopped for the night at Apollo Bay, and we are still here.
You see, although it is out of season here, we are having problems finding accommodation. They are all having festivals; food, wine, music, you name it, and everybody is coming for this, so we are all of a sudden changing plans and route to get somewhere to stay for the night. We were supposed to be 200km up the road in Port Fairy by now, but as they are having a festival this weekend, plus it being a long weekend (everybody's off on Monday) we have to stay put for another night in Apollo Bay and move away from the coast up North to The Grampians tomorrow morning. Nothing wrong with this, as the weather there is nicer and we were sort of counting on going there anyway, but we wanted to stay overnight in Port Fairy. So, no can do and we are doing Grampians instead. More about this later.
So, back to Apollo Bay. This is a gorgeous seaside resort with a massive beach and a small habour at one end. It was a little overcast today (19c), but we can image that it must be lovely on a hot summers day. The surfers were out doing their thing and so were the fishermen and the atmosphere was great. Walking along the pier we spotted a group a kids getting excited about something in the water and when we got up close there we two massive stingrays, about 1-2 m wide, just floating around in the water. Beautiful and gracious. We spoke to the fishermen, who along tales of stingrays, told us that the group of kids were all part of the re-housing project for the families that had lost everything in the bushfires. These kids with families are all staying along the coast in churches or other type of shelter until they can go back to their burntdown hometown. It really gets to you, how terrible it must be for the 2000 or so families that have lost everything in the fires. But the papers said yesterday that along with the rain, along came the end to the fires and most of the firefighters from the other states / countries are now heading home. The kids on the pier seemed happy and excited about being by the sea, but it must be so traumatic for them to loose everything.
After a long walk along the beach we drove inland to a scenic waterfall hidden in some sort of rainforest and now we have just returned from Cape Otway with it's famous lighthouse (not sure why it's famous but may read up on it). But the real deal here for us was not the lighthouse. No, Cape Otway and National park is known for having koalas in their natural habbitat and yes, we did see loads of koalas. The little plump sweeties were sitting up there in the trees fast asleep and I was just jumping up and down with joy. They are just cuties! Our 5th day in OZ and we have seen real wild koalas. It has made our day!
We are off early tomorrow along The Great Ocean Road to Port Fairy (and the festival), will have lunch there and then move up to The Grampians.
Stay tuned for more tales from OZ.
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