Great Ocean Road - Respect
Trip Start Aug 11, 2009
43Trip End Ongoing
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It kinda starts like a fun ride in an amusement park. You drive under the big arch that is emblazoned with the legend GREAT OCEAN ROAD. If there were giant wooden gates that creaked open to let us through they would not look out of place. Once through the magic arch you are on another planet. Initially the landscape was more mountains covered in giant trees on our left and on our right steep drops down to golden beaches and water that was a ridiculous shade of turquoise. We drove past many river valleys and small holiday towns that all looked like they would be the perfect place to stop.....but we didn’t
Other parts of this unique coastline seemed to have had arguments with the mainland and had decided to head off on their own. The going has been slow and in some cases the separation anxiety proved a bit tough to deal with so they’ve let a connection with mother Australia remain and the result is some spectacular natural arches that would put any cathedral or bridge to shame, especially if you think about the labour costs. Because the coastline drops away steeply, the waves have no choice but to try find a way through, instead of around or over. As a result, thankfully, we get to see giant slices cut out of the cliffs by centuries, or millennia, of wave after wave slamming into the sandstone cliffs. A thin slash in the cliff face that opens up into a beautiful, sheltered cove. An airplane hangar size cave, of which the roof has collapsed, through which we get to watch the angry ocean try to slam itself higher and higher into the air up the blowhole, as if trying to grab us tourists gawking down at it
Our campsites were, not surprisingly, the best we’d stayed in, bar one. The first was in Apollo Bay, Marengo Tourist Park, I know, how awesome does that sound?! We opened the back door and lay on our bed staring at the ocean. I saw something black and shiny in the water and immediately got the bino’s. Trace always spots the wildlife first so this was a rarity, but I had to confirm the sighting. I ran down to the ocean and scoured the waves for what I now knew to be a seal. Nothing! Not a sausage. I then shifted my gaze onto the ridge of rocks that stretched out for about 50 feet just offshore. On it were approximately 30 fur seals. I then looked down and in front of me was a large board on which was a detailed description of all the marine life in the area including the seal colony I had over-looked
Our next campsite was in Warnambool at the far end of the Great Ocean Road. This was not a nice campsite at all. Warnambool Surfside Holiday Park was the size of a small city. I do not understand why you would want to go on holiday only to cram yourself into a tiny square in amongst a million other caravans....not my idea of fun. We only stayed for one night, went to the local pub.....6 of them actually, got drunk and went to bed. On the way back down the GOR we randomly decided to turn into a campsite nestled between towering green mountains and the beach. It turned out to be a perfect bit of spontaneity. At the Cumberland Holiday Park we got to camp next to a river which flowed into the sea. This river had cut an exquisite valley out of the surrounding rocky mountains. We walked through dense, almost luminous green, bush along the river staring wonderously at the sun turning giant ferns into burning fans, the trout floating stationary in the gently flowing stream, more sheer rock faces, this time grey granite rising up on each side of us. Massive trees that had been felled by lightning or wind lay across the river in all directions forming natural bridges. At one point we reached Jebbs Pool which was an apparently bottomless swimming hole formed by a small but powerful waterfall. We spent a lot of time here, marvelling at Natures incredible creativity. It was serene, but not spookily, it was perfect
I have felt sad leaving certain holiday destinations before, but this time I felt a distinct wrenching in my heart. I am in love with this part of Australia.........at this point I can almost safely say that because of the Great Ocean Road, Australia has been my favourite trip.
Off to Melbourne next. More city time.........mmmmmm I wonder what our final Australian holiday destination has in store for us.