The Great Ocean Road

Trip Start Sep 03, 2006
Trip End May 23, 2007

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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

February started off by saying goodbye to some of our friends. John and Miriam were heading off to Perth in a camper van and Rob was heading back to the UK. And of course we hade the obligatory leaving do for them.
This was followed with the Annual St Kilda Festival - Which was not on last year due to Melbourne hosting the Commonwealth games.
With 400,000 people expected, to be honest we were not really looking forward to it as we are in the heart of St Kilda and all the roads around were being closed around the beach, Acland Street and Fitzroy Street. 
The festival consisted of music acts of all genres playing at different points, Carnivals, Food stands etc etc.
The day was very hot so it turned out well for everyone, Myself and Ciara went for a walk around it but only stayed about 2 hrs as it was just a commercial fest, with everything costing twice the normal price and there were just too many people everywhere.
On the Tuesday my Mum and Stepdad Andrew arrived in St Kilda for a 6-day break from working in the slums in Thailand. Due to this Ciara and I had planned out a fun filled week with plenty to do.
On the first night we brought them down to St Kilda Pier to see the penguins - which we hadn't even seen ourselves. They didn't let us down, and they posed for a few camera shots. Very small penguins, and cute.
The next few days were spent catching up on everything, and my Mum and Andrew spent an afternoon at the beach - getting sunburnt might I add. (All the talks that I get from my family telling me to always ensure I have sunscreen on and they go and get burnt themselves), The St Kilda Night Market was good also and on Friday Andrew flew to Adelaide to see his Sister and Family. As Xerox was kind enough to give me a paid day off, I spent the day with my Mum in the City.
We then picked up our Hire car (Hyundai Elantra) late afternoon as I had booked one for the weekend so that we could go and do the Great Ocean Road and a few vineyards.
On the Saturday we were up early and left for the Great Ocean Road at 6.30am. Apart from the apparent scenic beauty of the Ocean Road, we were really looking forward to seeing the 12 apostles.
The Twelve Apostles are a collection of natural limestone stacks standing just off shore in the Port Campbell National Park, on the Great Ocean Road. Their proximity to one another has made the site a popular tourist attraction. Originally the site was called the Sow and Piglets. The name was changed in the 1950s to the more majestic "The Twelve Apostles" to lure more visitors even though there were only nine left. The stacks have been formed by erosion, and are varying heights and thicknesses. A number have fallen over entirely as waves continually erode their bases. A 50-metre tall Apostle collapsed on July 3, 2005, leaving eight.
The rate of erosion at the base of the limestone pillars is approximately 2 cm per year.
The Great Ocean road - well at least the part we were on had striking views of the ocean. We could not have had a better day either with temperatures hitting 40 degrees.
We travelled through a variety of sea side towns on the way - Lorne/Torquay/Apollo Bay. We had decided to not stop on the way to the Apostles and then just take our time on the way Back.
As we went round yet another winding bend on the Ocean Road, the Apostles(Or 12 Disciples, as Ciara kept calling them) came into view, and they were a majestic site.
It was just coming on Mid-day and there was not a cloud in the sky and the Water was a clear blue.
There are a lot of Tourist attractions that you are told to go and see, but when you arrive there you wonder what all the fuss is about i.e The Giants Causeway. Thankfully as with all the big attractions that we have went to see in Australia, this one lived up to its hype. They are a wonderous site. I am sure if we had arrived on an overcast rainy day they may not have had as much impact, but we were lucky and very happy with what we saw.
After all the pictures and video shots were taken we made are way back, stopping in Apollo bay for the Obligatory Fish and Chips at the Seaside. We also stopped in Torquay.
Torquay is one of the most popular Surfing towns in Australia and you are just completely blinded by all the surf shops when you pass through it - Ripcurl, Quicksilver etc. Our main reason to stop here was to go to Bells Beach, which was made famous by the film Point Break (Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze) and is a Surf Hot Spot. Due to the long walk down to the beach we were just happy to get our picture taken with the Bells Beach Sign.

We arrived back in Melbourne at 6pm and we didn't have to rush at all in the day. We would definitely advise anyone coming to Melbourne or Adelaide to ensure the Great Ocean road is pencilled in as a Must do.
On the Sunday, with Andrew back from Adelaide we headed off to Yarra valley - famous for all of its vineyards. Yarra valley was only about an hour from Melbourne so we didn't need too much of an early start.
Once you reach Yarra valley, there are countless vineyards. Once a year the vineyards have a weekend called Grape Harvesting, where minibuses of peole are brought up to the vineyards to drink their wine, and basically get smashed on vino. Of course we had to coincide with that.
We first went to Yerang Station. Mainly because we were told it had been given an $80 million makeover and was the oldest vineyard in Victoria/Maybe Australia.
The place looked ok but the views were very barren (possibly to do with the drought) and looked like something out of a western and not like the rows of grapes harvesting that we thought it should look like.
We did a bit of wine testing. To be honest it was not the nicest, although Ciara did find out that she quite liked desert wine.
As we were hungry, we enquired about a table for lunch. After being talked down to by the pretentious waitress we decided to leave and try somewhere else.
A few km's up the road we found the De Bortelli vineyard which looked very nice and looked more like the vineyards we were expecting to see.
The place was busy with all the Buses up with for the grape harvesting, but thankfully their restaurant was empty, so we were able to get some very nice food there.
Afterwards, we had a walk round and took pictures of the vineyard which was very scenic and Beautiful.

We arrived back in Melbourne at Tea time and finished off the evening by going to the cinema in the Crown Casino.
My Mum and Andrew left the next day to go back to Thailand and they were completely relaxed and ready for their last 5 weeks there before going back to Ireland.
Once they were gone it was time to spend a bit of time with Tarun and Liam who were moving on the following week. Liam going back to the UK after a short stop in Japan and Tarun going to Sydney as his parents were arriving soon.
Ciara has the pen for the next entry in the travelpod which will bring you all bang up to date with our travels.
Watch this Space....

Paul and Ciara
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