Great Ocean Road Drive

Trip Start May 07, 2008
Trip End Jan 06, 2009

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Flag of Australia  , Victoria,
Sunday, September 14, 2008

Hi everyone
Well we left our friends (David: We left them hungover and feeling decidedly dodgy: job done!) and Melbourne on a beautifully sunny Sunday afternoon and headed back towards Adelaide for our subsequent flight to Alice Springs. Everyone suggested driving down the Great Ocean Road, including our bible: Lonely Planet, for its natural beauty and wonders.
You only actually reach the G.O.R. after a monotonous drive along dual carriageways through several small towns first. However, our tedious drive was interspersed with the most breath-taking rainbows ever, some of them double rainbows, which you just had to pull over and photograph. Exquisite. I, of course, could not help annoying David incessantly by loudly singing the Rainbow theme tune that I adored as a child (and still secretly do..especially when Zippy starts plucking his twanger). When you do eventually reach the G.O.R. it's an endlessly long road that snakes around the cliffs with hairpin corners and the vast frothy ocean swishing beside you - a driving experience that Jeremy Clarkson would wave his arms about for. It's fantastic driving (at maybe a little over the speed limit!!)
Our stop for that night was Apollo Bay, a touristy seaside town but with a natural yawning beauty that just makes you want to camp on the beach and stare endlessly for hours and hours. On the way to Apollo Bay there are constant excuses to pull over and paparazzi-flash - long stretches of curved golden beaches; more rainbows over violent seas; crimson sunsets over foreboding cliffs. We got to Apollo Bay around 8pm and eventually found ourselves a great little Motel (at the last minute as usual!). Apollo Bay isn't really that blog-worthy and we didn't see that much anyway as we got there late then left at 7am the next day to get back on the road.
The next day was Monday. We decided to spend the whole day squeezing in major natural beauties along the G.O.R. while heading back to Adelaide that night (David: For once we'd had the foresite to pre-book the same hotel we stayed in last time... and they were expecting us late. Who says we can't plan ahead?). We had a lot of ground to cover. In the rain! The weather was absolutely ghastly - freezing cold, gale force winds and horizontal showers under a intermittent black clouds. Our first port of call was the 12 Apostles. This was just amazing. The 12 Apostles are natural rock formations in the sea which stand tall and proud and isolated from each other. However, there are now only 6 apostles due to erosion over the years (David: Careless, losing 6 apostles..). There is a boarded walkway to several platforms to view them but the weather was so violent the wooden balustrades were more helpful for hanging on to or you'd be flung out to sea!
We visited the Great Otway National Park. The sun was blazing and the sky was blue now. We parked in the small dusty car park and made our way along the tourist track to Gibson Steps - about 300 steps down to a secluded and private beach. The steps are bordered by wild plants with a steep view down. Stomach-churning view when you have so many steps still to go! The waves were stupendous, crashing and thrashing onto the shore, the wind pushed us about and sand flew into our faces. The walk up the stairs was not so good!
While driving through the most spectacular open scenery and seascapes, every so often there would be a 'scenic spot... 500m on the left'. These were indeed scenic spots and definitely worth a stop. One such one was a beach. It was stupendously gusty and wet for me to get out of the car but David made a dash for it. (David: Yes, I ran down the stairs to the beach, gripping tightly to our trusty camera and any railings that presented themselves. Half way down a big sign read: 'Due to a recent Health and Safety assessment the following beach has been closed until further assessments can be made'. 'Pah' I thought, and carried on down, only to be met by a big locked gate. Returning back up the stairs I met a group of Aussie's on their way down. I said: 'You can't go down there', and pointed to the sign. 'Apparently, Health and Safety think it's a bit too scary for you - and I thought Britain was a Nanny state...'
They laughed - one went to read it: 'Hang on mate,' he said as I turned to dash back to the car, 'It says here that it's only closed to Poms...'. You got to love the Aussie quick wittedness! )
We also saw 'London Bridge'. This is another rock formation in the sea that is magnificent. It's a massive double-arch rock 'bridge' going out to sea that you could walk on. Then in 1990 the rock 'bridge' collapsed in the middle stranding two tourists on the surviving isolated rock in the sea. They had to be rescued by helicopter!
We visited Loch Ard Gorge which is just the most beautiful enclosed bay and famous for the shipwrecked Loch Ard back in 1878. There were only 2 survivors - both of them 18years of age. Because it's enclosed the waves come rolling in, smashing their surf onto the golden sand. Beautiful. And the colour of the water is just eye-popping! There was a small cave away from the shore, which was closed off in case anyone tripped on a pebble or got their feet too wet or something..apparently the 1999 tv series "Journey to the Centre of the Earth was filmed here..!?
While visiting one beach, we detoured to the 'Blowhole' (see photos!!) which was tremendous. It's a small hole in the middle of the bush that descends about 20 metres. Waves thunder into it via a long 100 metre tunnel from the sea. And because of the gale force wind, the waves were crashing up the sides violently. 100 metres up the track and you can see the other end of the tunnel with the sea forcing it's way in to the beat of a slow heart. Further up the dusty tourist track, is a spectacular bay with a long curved sandy beach but the main attraction here were the waves. The wind was starting to pick up causing the waves to be something to scream out about. They were like a Tsunami towering up angrily and hurling themselves against beach boulders and cliff faces. It was incredible. David went for a challenging stroll a couple of meters away from me to take photos but I stayed and held onto the wooden stairs for safety instead! (David: I was safe enough. You should have seen some of the waves though... crashing against cliffs the size of Dover and spewing over the top!) When he had finished snapping, we decided to return to the car as the sky was now a nasty shade of black and a light drizzle had begun. When we got to the top of the short stairs and started walking, (at a 90 degree angle!) along the gravelled, lonely track, the rain was now chucking it down resembling hailstones which painfully pelleted our faces and the wind was lasso-ing us into submission. Bit scary. We could hardly make 5 paces in 5 minutes and clung onto each other shouting to be heard above the wind! We got absolutely soaked through from head to toe. But when the car was in sight the rain stopped!! By the time we got to the car, three minutes later, the gale had blasted the water out of our clothes and we were bone dry. Sigh. (David: I'm working on a body-dryer patent for this as we speak. People might have to go to the Great Ocean Road for it... but you know, perhaps you can patent a natural phenomena...?)
It was a great day along the Great Ocean Road. The scenery, apart from the natural oceanic wonders, was very English. We passed rolling green hills and fields of cows and sheep nonchalantly grazing. Slightly disconcerting! It really was a beautiful part of the world indeed with isolated farms, tiny villages and not another car to be seen for hours! Again, you could be alone in the world. Australia is so flaming massive, seeing another car pass you by is cause for celebration, or a celebratory manic windscreen wave! A custom you have to adhere to when driving!
After we had done the natural wonders, we floored it in our car back to Adelaide, getting to our hotel around 10pm. (David: It rained intermittently all the way back, which gave me a great opportunity to witness the wonder of the automatic window wipers we had on our car. They are brilliant, they work just when you think about activating them... giving you the unnerving feeling that you are using telekinesis. Actually, I think there were auto-wipers fitted... or maybe I really am a Jedi Koala) We were staying at a Hotel we had stayed in before in Adelaide Hills which is not only beautiful but eery at night when only your headlights illuminate the black braches of trees towering over your car as you drive. The risk of night-time koalas is high too so you have to stare wide-eyed in case you suddenly kiss one with your tyres!
Our next destination: Alice Springs. Interesting. I'm being sarcastic....
Love, us xxxxxx
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