Apollo Bay to Port Fairy (seriously, Port Fairy)

Trip Start Mar 14, 2009
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Australia  , Victoria,
Sunday, March 15, 2009

When I booked a campsite spot at Surfside Backpackers, the lady I spoke to on the phone promised dreamily that I would 'awake to the sound of the waves on the beach'.  Very poetic.  I actually awoke to the sound of the same pissing rain and howling wind that had haunted my sporadic sleep.  However, despite the lack of sleep and the fact that we faced the prospect of packing up the tent in said pissing rain, we were surprisingly cheerful and our customary monosyllabic morning grunts to each other were less aggressive than usual.  Perhaps the Great Outdoors was soothing our city-ravaged souls.  Or perhaps we were both just relieved that we'd bought the mattress after all (I had been very comfortable as I lay gripped with fear that the wind would tear up our tent and deposit us in the broiling sea).

The gods were smiling on us and the rain let up briefly allowing us to gather our belongings together and squeeze them into the boot of the car.  Rhiannon is not allowed to attempt this important job.  Only I know the secret of the intricate jigsaw that allows everything to fit into the limited space that Doris' posterior offers.  A spoon out of place and the bloody esky* isn't going anywhere. (*Esky=icebox for transport of perishable foods, but more importantly, cold beers). We drove along the coast towards the Twelve Apostles, described in the Lonely Planet as 'the best known rock formations in Victoria' - although my suspicion is that this is mainly because no-one can name any other rock formations in Victoria.  The Twelve Apostles consist of six rocky stacks set away from the headland.  I would imagine there were twelve originally and that half of them have collapsed over the years; otherwise, well, what a bloody stupid name.  They were an impressive sight, particularly as the blustery wind crashed the waves at their base. This stretch of coast has been notoriously deadly for ships throughout history and it was easy to see why, with the heaving water white with foam as far as the eye could see.  The cliffs along much of the Great Ocean Road are empty and untouched by buildings or development for the most part and so appear much as I imagine they would have done to those first intrepid travellers reaching the lonely shore.  Of course, the shore is a lot less lonely now, and we had to queue up behind a busload of Chinese tourists for our photo in front of the stacks.

Our next port of call was Koroit, a small Irish settlement just outside the (difficult to pronounce) town of Warrnambool.  Koroit had been recommended to us by the friendly bearded American who ran the hostel in Apollo Bay, who told us that the village boasted an Irish pub that served brilliant roast potatoes and an extinct volcano filled with emus and kangaroos and koalas and all that jazz.  One of the truisms of travelling, I have found, is that when someone who lives in the area that you are travelling through recommends something, this immediately overrides any plans you yourself had for your day and becomes your fixation, even obsession, until you have tracked down whatever obscure and out-of-the-way gem they have mentioned, because, you tell yourself repeatedly, as you drive around the same block for the seventeenth time, 'They must know'.  

The other appeal of Koroit was that it wasn't mentioned in the Lonely Planet and was thus an 'authentic experience' and an adventure we could feel smug about.  Of course, the downside it not being in the Lonely Planet was that it was a little difficult to find using only the two pages of road atlas from Steve.  When we eventually arrived in Koroit the time was approaching 4pm and we were becoming increasingly aware of having missed lunch and more anxious to uncover the Holy Grail of Irish roasties.  

Being city girls, we are used to being able to get pizza at 9am, sushi at 10pm, a latte and some biscotti at 2am and a drink at any time of the day.  It had not occurred to us that in much of rural Australia the above conveniences are not necessary since people tend to eat at appropriate mealtimes and therefore restaurants are not planning to cater for customers who turn up at 4pm demanding roast potatoes.  Lunch was served between 12pm-2pm, dinner between 6pm-8pm.  So we had some toblerone cheesecake in a café across the road and went off in search of the volcano.

Now the trouble with extinct volcanoes is that they look a lot like hills and so there was quite a bit of driving around going, 'Is that it?  That looks pretty volcano-y to me'  until we found  it.  Viewed from above the huge crater had steep sides and a large lake; when we drove down into it, the incredibly fine layers of the rocky walls and lush vegetation were quite stunning.   There was, however, a dearth of kangaroos.  A continual disappointment for me in Australia, is that whenever I have a trip planned that strays from a metropolitan area, every Australian I know promises knowingly, 'Oh, you'll see plenty of 'roos down there.'  (They do call them 'roos').  I never do.  There are never plenty of 'roos' down anywhere I go.  Roadkill and zoos aside, I have seen one wild kangaroo in six months.  This I feel is insufficient.  However, in said volcano we did see an emu just wandering along the road and we did get very excited.  The emu was less excited; it turned, eyeballed us and then continued walking away from us at a measured pace.  We filmed it, complete with mini David Attenborough style commentary until this became boring and we drove off.

We headed to Port Fairy to set up camp for the night, largely because it has a silly name.  The campsite we found had a tennis court and so we borrowed some racquets and played a couple of sets, a little gingerly though, since the tennis racquets were clearly museum pieces and the court itself looked like it may have been the epicentre of Victoria's recent earthquake that wasn't.

Weather update - it rained all night again.  Though perhaps not quite so heavily.  Our luck may be turning.
Slideshow Report as Spam
Where I stayed
Garden Caravan Park
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