The Magnificent Great Ocean Road Part III

Trip Start Nov 29, 2012
Trip End May 10, 2015

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Flag of Australia  , Victoria,
Monday, March 18, 2013

I had a great night's sleep in the dorm by myself and was up bright and early for the last leg of The Great Ocean Road and for the long drive home back to Melbourne. Beyond Port Campbell, I saw the famous sea stacks of The Arch, London Bridge and the incredible Grotto at 8am in the morning as the sun was rising. I was the only person there and it was so nice not to be pushed and shoved by tourists and to enjoy the silence, it really was incredible.

Port Fairy was nearly 100km away from where I was but decided after I had come this far, I should go. I'd been told it has a large Irish community and as I was driving along, I saw numerous Irish tricolour flags hanging from antiquated tractors. It was how I imagined rural Southern Ireland, the huge rainbow I was driving under adding to the distinct Celtic feel of the place. Just as I was entering the town however, I became aware of a strange noise coming from the back of Felicity, almost like a strange squeaking sound. I pulled over and looked underneath but couldn't see anything hanging off. All the same, I was worried, I was over 400km from home and wasn't really sure what to do. I remembered my last words to the mechanic about driving her until she literally wouldn't start, this was becoming a very grim reality...

I had breakfast in Port Fairy which really was a small, old fashioned Irish town with lovely little bookshops and antiquated shop fronts. I went to Tourist Information and was told about Griffiths Island, home to a Mutton Bird colony who nested on the ground. It was very picturesque at first, with a little pier overlooking the bay. But as I walked through the colony I looked around for these little birds. I saw them alright...lying DEAD on the ground. At least ten of them. It was so horrible, it was like some terrible omen! I didn't see a single one alive! I was completely freaked out! The island itself was pretty, apart from all these dead birds. There was a lighthouse at the end of the path which was nice but the highlight was when I was walking back and I heard a rustling sound in the bushes. I looked round and saw to my amazement a swamp wallaby, just sitting there munching! It was SO adorable! It looked up at me and just stared at me in bemusement as I just looked at it. It was a really special moment. It's one thing seeing them in a wildlife park but to see them in their natural habitat, unhibited is really special.

The weather at this point was picking up so I decided to head back to Warrnambool which I had driven through on the way to Port Fairy which boasted a whale nursery at a place called Logan's Beach. When I got there however, it didn't boast anything of the sort, there was a beach where you could go whale watching. Sadly, I saw sod all whales and wouldn't have known what one looked like if it came up to me and bit me on the backside so decided to head for home.

Felicity by this point was making all manner of odd noises. It didn't help that I had to take a slight detour to Apollo Bay to pick up my leather jacket which I'd rather stupidly left at the hostel. This involved a downhill slalom through the rainforest in torrential rain which Felicity didn't enjoy in the slightest. It didn't help that the hardest part of the route was between Apollo Bay and Lorne. The weather had picked up by this point and provided some stunning views, much better than when I had driven the same road a couple of days previously. But it was when I got to Lorne that things started to get decidedly scary in the car. It sounded like something was being dragged underneath her and despite the fact I kept checking, there was nothing there and no oil leaks that I could see. The back end of the car was moving from side to side and the steering was vibrating. At first I thought it was the wind but accompanied by the grinding noise, I realised this wasn't the case at all.

In short, I genuinely thought I was going to die.

Perhaps stupidly in hindsight, I bit the bullet and just kept going, practically freaking out on the freeway and thinking, if I just get her home, I never have to drive her again. By the time I hit the city and the rush hour traffic, the grinding noise was worse than ever, especially when I got stuck in traffic and was reduced to a crawl. By the time I got home, I was shaking so much, my hands were covered in sweat.

But at least I was alive.

At the time of writing, Felicity was towed this morning to the garage and the diagnosis wasn't nearly as catastrophic as I thought it would be. A broken rear right ball bearing. Let's hope she pulls through. There's nothing more disheartening than seeing your car on the back of a tow truck :(

I had a fanastic weekend, I saw some incredible sights. Admittedly, I wish I'd done a few things differently and that the weather had been better but I'm glad that I did it, I feel like I've achieved one of the top 10 things I've always wanted to do in my life which is a definite bonus. And given the opportunity, I wouldn't hesitate in going back, perhaps in a slightly better car next time!

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Grandad on

Really impressive Suzi, both you and the views.You should get a job selling Australia.. Keep it up!

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