The Great Ocean Road

Trip Start Jun 15, 2011
Trip End Jun 01, 2012

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Flag of Australia  , Victoria,
Saturday, March 17, 2012

After Melbourne and surrounds the plan was to get out to Adelaide. 

 We had looked for a Campervan which would allow us to drive from Melbourne to Adelaide and leave the van there but the costs were huge as several of the budget companies didn't have a depot, and the others charged a hefty relocation fee. Katy had the idea that perhaps if they charge for relocation, they will also have options to rent as a relocator. This turned out to be an inspired idea as Apollo (one of the best Campervan rentals) had a 4 wheel drive van which needed to be relocated over 3 days from Melbourne to Adelaide at a hugely discounted rate.

 As there was too much to see in just 3 days we drove the first part of the Ocean road in our Spaceship Campervan, and the rest in the Apollo. Driving out of Melbourne towards the Ocean road is much easier than trying to head any other direction as you can get straight on the highway and there are no tolls to worry about. 

 When we reached the start of the Ocean road we were a bit confused as we didn't see any Ocean for absolutely ages, but as we got to it, we knew we were in for a good trip as the coastal views are awesome. 

 The Great Ocean Road was built after the war when the Australian soldiers returned to Australia and needed work to do. It took a long time to complete and the soldiers had to tackle some of the most difficult terrain along the coast to link up a number of the coastal towns and providing arguably some of the best coastal views in the world along the way.
Again we were slightly screwed over by this long weekend which we weren't aware of. I never thought I'd resent a long weekend, but when you're away it's just annoying that everyone else is off work as the roads, stops and towns were full and more of a problem was that the campsites were full and had been booked up for weeks in advance
When we picked up the van we asked the lady about how strict Victoria were about camping and she said they're very relaxed. You can park anywhere except where there are signs specifically saying no camping and no sleeping in vehicles. What she neglected to mention is that these signs are absolutely everywhere. We ended up between Torquay and Anglesey, driving anywhere we thought could be a camping option and none of them allowed sleeping in vehicles. We then called every campsite in the area and all of them were completely full and couldn't accommodate us.... hmm, what to do?
Eventually we decided we had no choice but to risk it and we chose an area where there were some other vans and a toilet. We figured there may be safety in numbers or that perhaps the people in the other vans knew something we didn't and that this was our safest bet. Just to be safe we set the alarm for 7am so that we could head off early. The alarm went off at 7am and we got up, but at 7.03am the ranger came knocking and gave us a massive fine... bugger! He took Katy's ID and told her that as long as we pay there will be no criminal record. Katy said to me that she may as well not pay it so that she will fit in better in Australia as a fellow convict.
The fine was a very rude awakening and a terrible way to start the day but fortunately we then saw loads of wild koalas when we got back to our journey, which cheered us up a lot. We stopped at the side of the road where there were a number of eucalyptus trees and if you look closely you can see the koalas either eating or sleeping (which is basically all they do). One of the koala's came down from his tree to move on to another one so we were able to get pretty close to them and get some photos. It was awesome, and so unexpected as it was just a random stop near Cape Ottaway.
The coast along the Great Ocean Road is beautiful. On one side of you there are long stretches of sandy beaches, blue seas and huge waves and on the other side are bushlands often teeming with wildlife. Quite a long stretch of the Ocean there is known as the "shipwreck coast" due to the very large number of shipwrecks in the wild seas over the years. The rip currents and the waves get pretty big on a normal day so you can only imagine how bad it must get in a storm. We visited a couple of the lighthouses along the coast there and could see out over the seas which was just amazing. All this strong sea activity has created an awe inspiring landscape with steep rugged cliffs and the infamous Twelve Apostles. 

 I guess it would be fair to say that the Twelve apostles are the most famous part of the Ocean road but I had wondered if perhaps it was a little exaggerated. However, when you see it in real life you can really see what the big deal is all about, they hardly look real and set against the blue seas it's quite a sight. The whole surrounding area has a variety of these islands jutting out from the ocean. There is an area called 'The Bay of Islands' which is nothing like new Zealands version, but beautiful in it's own way, and one called 'the London Bridge' which has an archway. Some of the other islands had archways before the seas weathered them down. 

 In the 90's the arch of one of these turrets collapsed, fortunately not injuring anyone but it did mean that a couple were stranded on one side and had to be rescued by Helicopter. This was plastered all over the news at the time and rumour has it that the couple were having an affair and had lied to their partners about where they were that day.... rumbled! I don't know if that story is actually true, but I really hope it is because it's very funny.
Then the Great Ocean road just kind of ended and we headed a bit more in land where the road wound it's way out of Victoria and into South Australia. The weather got a bit warmer, and the countryside got a little browner but unfortunately the road wasn't right on the coast anymore so it wasn't quite as stunning as the Great Ocean road section. 

 The countryside is noticeably browner than in Victoria and I guess that has to do with the fact that South Australia gets hardly any rain. Apparently it's the 'driest state in the dry est continent in the world.' This surprises me but I'll go with it.

Although it's a bit dry and a bit brown it's not at all ugly, as soon as you stop in a town and explore a bit, you find stunning areas and for our last night we camped right next to a river in a town called Robe before driving into Adelaide the next day!
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