The Long and Winding Road

Trip Start Aug 04, 2011
Trip End Jan 04, 2012

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Flag of Australia  , Victoria,
Thursday, November 10, 2011

As always occurs with best laid plans, the second day on the Ocean Road became a bit of a race against time while trying to make the most of a wonderful stretch of highway.

The second half from Apollo Bay leading back to Melbourne is more of a cliffside route winding it's way in and out of coastal inlets. The road is dotted with scenic lookouts but as a driver you are just rewarded the entire way.

To begin the day we actually headed back the direction we should have come the night before, before being diverted. The Cape Otway lighthouse is meant to be the most used or most useful or most lit lighthouse in Australia (I’m not entirely sure what its claim to fame is as you can tell), but on arrival when we noted the cost of what is little more than a lighthouse we decided against it. We’ve spent a lot of money in Australia and a lighthouse just wasn’t worth that little bit extra. It worked out for the best as I am positive if we had visited we would have ended up giving the car back late or missing out on something else.

The route to Cape Otway is littered with Eucalyptus trees hanging over the road and is scattered with self-made lay bys as drivers pull across to take a closer look at the extremely visible Koala population. If you are in Australia and struggling to find Koalas in the wild – just come here. For note though, since we realized exactly the sort of place Koalas hang about, we seem to be able to see them everywhere – so it is just a case of knowing where to look. Find Eucalyptus = Find a lazy git hanging about.

We pulled over and took a look at a couple of Koalas, one of which was sitting on such a weak branch it had bent pretty much all the way down to head height and was being jostled around by the strong winds that still hadn’t really dissipated from the night before. A few people got close, a couple gave him a quick stroke; but he didn’t seem bothered at all – these guys are just so cool, they couldn’t give a monkeys if you want your photo with them. The more we both see Koalas, the more we like them and the more I find the need to take a plethora of photos from different angles.

We drove along Koala Alley slowly, with Kate’s head craned up going "There’s one, there’s another one, there’s one, there’s another one" as I thought back to a couple of days before where we had spent about $20 of our three parks passes on Phillip Island getting quite close but not really to about 5 or 6 Koalas. We had just got closer, for free, and saw many more in a more natural environment – that money could have been spent on beer.

And then I put pedal to the metal (the Getz responded gently creeping up past 40km/hr in about 5 seconds) and we headed back the way we had come towards Apollo Bay.

Just the ticket. The road was beautiful. It’s real engineering, it’s what construction should be all about. A combination of man-made and nature that would give Clarkson something to get orgasmic over. I loved every minute, and Kate stayed awake. Kate being on photo duty with me driving, it means that we now have about 30 snaps taken out of the window which may be titled 'Bush’, or ‘moving cliff’, ‘barrier at edge of road’ and my personal favourite, ‘landscape with inside of car and excavator’. Kate’s skills with a camera could be a new modern art form; she waits until the perfect moment to take a photo and then seemingly deliberately waits another two seconds or so before taking the shot. It’s an alternative perspective than most would pick; but what she tries to do and succeeds magnificently is give prominence to the less appreciated aspects of nature which would otherwise be ignored. She ignores the standard protocol for photo layout of 1/3rds and chooses a skewed quarters to eighths layout. Kate’s method of shaking the camera just as she takes a photo means that she laughs in the face of modernist photography with a more realistic implication of movement than can be obtained otherwise . It is genius in the making.

We stopped off at a mini-hike point to see a waterfall called Sheoaks Falls. It was worth the 20-30 minute walk for the view but then it was pretty much a case of having to hammer it back to Melbourne.

The remainder of the journey along the Ocean Road is all beautiful beaches and little towns which are generally recommended but we simply did not have the time. We headed back along the main freeway, came off a little early and drove round an industrial estate, drove back to the hostel and checked back into a room, got back on the road, drove around the car return place as we found it near impossible to turn right due to the trams (and so I drove past the place and just used left turns to get back taking us most of the way around Melbourne City centre) and then finally dropped the car off with about 20 minutes to spare.

A long couple of days were rewarded by our final bottle of wine in Australia as we sat to tick off a few bits and pieces of organisation for the next few weeks. New Zealand and the land of the Lord of the Rings awaits in the morning.
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