Day 11 - Port Campbell to Warrnambool

Trip Start Apr 17, 2012
Trip End May 27, 2012

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Flag of Australia  , Victoria,
Friday, April 27, 2012

Woke up hungry so we had a bowl of cereal and made plans to get a bacon & egg roll after leaving the campsite. We checked the maps and made a rough plan of our stops for the day then took some quick photos of our spot for the past 2 nights. We then drove over the the main street to drop in at the cafe. After this, we did a very quick drive back to London Bridge and The Grotto but I was now getting sick of carparks, stairs and rocks in the sea (this was day #3 of looking at the same stuff). We had decided that before we left the area we'd do the Port Campbell foreshore to do the clifftops walk. It was spectacular and all but (again) after clambering up & down huge staircases to look at views for the past 3 days we weren't too motivated for a long walk. We did about 1.5kms before we realised we still had too much to do so we headed back to the van.

We said goodbye to Port Campbell and explored the surrounding area. I was a little bit fascinated by the offshore gas platform which I had seen from Cape Otway and photographed from Broken Bay so when I googled it I was pretty impressed to find that the gas is delivered to the mainland via a pipeline which then goes to three separate gasworks due to three companies having a stake in the project (BHP run Minerva, TRUenergy run Iona and Woodside and Origin are also in there somewhere). All the gasworks were in the hills a few kays inland from Port Campbell, once we had had checked them out we were on the road to the next township - Peterborough.

Due to a limit on the amount of development in Port Campbell, the majority of retirees and holiday houses were in Peterborough, and since this gave it a higher population than Port Campbell we expected to find somewhere to have lunch. We drove around town but couldn't find anything. It appeared there was nothing to eat in this town. Finally we found a small general store who ended making very nice burgers so in the end Peterborough left a good taste in our mouths. We passed a few camping areas that looked tempting but we were determined to get to Warrnambool that night so we didn't let tempting camping areas stop us. Our next stop was about 10 minutes later at a lookout at Halladale Point which was a nice vantage point looking west toward the Bay of Martyrs.

After Halladale Point, we did another stop just down the road at Worm Bay and then yet another one at the actual Bay of Martyrs itself. If it wasn't for the spectacular scenery, all the stopping in carparks then walking down stairs to beaches and/or following trails to the headland lookouts would be annoying, I was getting a little bit annoyed by all the stops - but we were determined to stop at all of them and take EVERYTHING in. I would seriously hate myself if I was an ignoramus who just passes through each area only stopping for a quick snapshot then getting back in the car (unlike some fool who's blog I was reading recently....he had a photo of the Loch Ard Gorge in his blog and the quote below it said "Some gorge on the Great Ocean Rd"!!  Crikeys, some gorge?? Hah! What a fool! He seemed to have missed the point and was hellbent on doing as many kms as possible in as short a time as possible. Essentially it was just a trophy trip I guess.....just to cross destinations off a list to say he has been there & done that. Each to their own I guess. The sad thing is that these people think that the only cost is in dollars, not in the greenhouse gases or C02 they produce in their oversized 4x4's - mostly on sealed roads I should add!

After the Bay of Martyrs we came to the Bay of Islands which also had a carpark and walking trails to the vantage points, one feature which stuck out to us among the rough seas was the boat ramp. It was a long steep cutting through the sandstone down to the beach with wheelspin marks all the way up it. The signs said it was strictly 4wd but it was obvious that people did it in normal vehicles. The other thing we noticed was how quiet it was. There were virtually no tourist buses or Britz campers at this point of the Great Ocean Rd. They are only seen at the 'commercialised bullshit' part of the Great Ocean Rd where there are hotels, motels and resorts. In many ways we felt like we were at the best part. We drove another few kms until we got to Childers Cove which is the site of another shipwreck in 1839 of the tallship "Children" which was on it's way from Launceston to Portland when fatigue and seasickness of the crew.

From Childers Cove it was only a few more kms to Warrnambool. At this point the Great Ocean Road becomes the main road into town and loses it's magic until it finally fizzles out when it joins the Princes Highway going into Warrnambool. We used the GPS to re-route ourselves so that we could make our own Great Ocean Rd so to speak. Basically from Childers Cove you can take vaious back roads which are closer to the coast than the final few kms of GOR. This leads you in via Hopkins Point which had some nice houses and looked a little bit arty. We entered the Warrnambool CBD and had a quick look around but as it was getting close to 5pm we needed to find a place to camp. As we were driving down the main drag I saw a Dick Smith. Finally I could buy a new inverter as our existing one broke on Day 2 or 3 and we were only able to charge laptop & iPad when plugged in to 240v. I walked in and asked for a pure sine wave inverter - they didn't sell them so I asked if they had a Jaycar or a Super Cheap Auto. Sure enough they told me where to find Super Cheap on the outskirts of town which was fine as we didn't need it yet. It was for when we got to woop-woop.

Whilst doing a quick recce of the Warrnambool foreshore, we stumbled across the Surfside Holiday Park and found it ideal - mainly becuase it was close to town and close to the Maritime Museum which I wanted to visit. It was also located on the beach so the sounds of the ocean were pleasant. The manager woman had already closed the office for the day so she told us to drive around and set up wherever we wanted. She misheard Julie's surname as GodFear so she thought it was an awesome name and we all had a laugh. As peak season was over, about 50% of the park was closed off, however the people that were there all seemed to camp on top of each other so we set ourselves up right next to the closed off area and we had about 8 acres of private enclosed grass area all to ourselves. We set up camp in a powered site then walked up the hill into town to peruse the town's culinary offerings. We saw some nice houses on the streets surrounding the CBD, there seemed to be plenty of single story Edwardian terraces and other old houses with character.

We had to inspect what the whole town had to offer so we went up one side of the main drag (Leibig St) then came back down the other side before making a decision. We decided on the older style cafe restaurant that had been there for 50 years. It was in the same style as the old Paragon Cafe or the Niagara Cafe in Gundagai. We were able to get generous sized dishes loaded with food which is what we needed after the amount of excercise we had been getting running up & down all the lookouts for the past 4 days. I had a schnitzel with salad & chips which I devoured quickly. We then walked back through town to the camper. It was getting a little bit cold so we had our showers and returned to the van for some TV and relaxation. Having power meant we could run the heater to take the chill off the night. You need to embrace these luxuries whenever possible on the road.
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