05.01.2009 – 06.01.2009
It was time to leave Steve and Misa so they could start thinking about getting back to work on Monday and head on down toward the Great Ocean Road (GOR). I was sad to leave the two of them as they had been great hosts and awesome drinking partners!! First we had brunch down De Graves street ( a popular atmospheric cafe district in Melbourne city centre) before I headed down to Avis (sorry Gary / Trish / Dave – no Enterprise over here!!) to pick up my car for the next few days – a sporty blue but small Hyundai Getz!!
I successfully negotiated my way out of Melbourne and headed down to Torquay to pick up the B100 and the GOR. The GOR is the breath-taking coastline of south-west Victoria, Australia which boasts one of the world`s most scenic roads through an extended area that includes the world-famous Twelve Apostles, the Otways rain forest, Bells Beach and the Surf Coast. I was doing just a mere 250km of the road that went both along the coast as well as inland. The GOR offers stunning ocean views, beach side activities, laid back coastal towns and maritime villages. The scenery around the GOR is similar to the Gower Coast, albeit greatly more dramatic and awhole lot bigger!!I ambled through the coastal towns of Torquay and Anglesey (very colonial names) before stopping off at Lorne to find some accommodation for the night. As the sun was out and it was also peak season I was struggling to find somewhere to stay and envisaged on having to sleep in the tiny Getz for the night which was only just as long as I was tall! Luckily I found somewhere after a long days travelling and somewhere to rest the head and get fed and watered! Little did I know this was my first night of many years staying in hotels, guesthouses, B&B’s, tents and other strange establishments.
Lorne itself is set between the sparkling waters of Loutit Bay and beautiful forests of the Otway Ranges, Lorne has a special charm and is one of the region`s most popular holiday destinations. After breakfast and an quick stroll around town I hit the hay in preparation for a long days drive the next day. I woke early ready for a full day of activities down the coast in and around Apollo Bay. Firstly however I decided to be a little more prepared so I checked the tourist information to find accommodation for the night before the short 70 km winding journey down the road. I managed to find a delightful Youth Hostel (yes I still do consider myself a youth!!) not 200 metres from the beach. Once booked in I headed 80km inland towards the Great Otway National Park (note how everything is Great over here!) to take in a couple of walks – first off was The Triplet Falls and followed by the Beauchamp Falls. Both were stunning walks through ancient rainforest`s (picture scenes from Jurassic Park), tall timbers and magnificent Waterfalls. After 2 1/2 hrs walking I headed back to Apollo Bay via Cape Ottway Light station which claims to be Australia`s most significant lighthouse being on the some of the most southerly coast. The lighthouse itself provided unforgettable views (something that the camera failed to pick up on however!) as well as being the first sight of land 1,000`s of immigrants from Europe and North America saw in the 19th Century. It was a little late in the year to see any whales, however I did manage to see my first Koala. A little know fact about Koala`s is that they only use around 20% of the brains, which is probably an explanation as to why they don`t move much and they spend most of their energy on digesting the poisonous eucalyptus leaves. They are also easy to spot – usually found near tourists taking photo`s of them! Also they have incredibly fresh breath but I wouldn’t advise kissing one!
I eventually made my way back to base in Apollo Bay around 7pm to get some dinner. Being a coastal town I had visions of great seafood platters, however the town was mainly overrun by greasy fish and chips shops which I tried but might the platter may well have been prepared by Mr Findus himself. Not too disheartened I quaffed a few ales in the local pub, beat a few local Aussies on the pool table and feeling chuffed with myself, and a little bit wealthier headed back to the dorm for a good nights rest. I woke early the next day with piercing sunlight in my eyes, mainly due to the lack of curtains in the dorm but it was a good alarm call as I had a lot to fit in. First on the agenda was the 12 Apostles – the GOR main icons . The 12 Apostles (although now not 12 any more) are rock stacks which are the temporary remnants of a retreating limestone coastline which is under constant bombardment by the sea. The cliff faces are being eroded at the rate of about two centimetres each year which in turn cause the massive towering stacks to be formed. No ones really knows why they are named so, but each stack has its own name – Sow and Piglets, Mutton Bird Island to name but a few. Unfortunately the closer I got the 12 Apostles the worse the weather got, but by the time I arrived the mist had cleared somewhat for me to take a few pictures. I brisk walk along the dramatic coastline was all the time I had to fit in as this was my end point of the GOR and it was all about getting back to to clock up the 200km back to Melbourne so I could to catch my flight to Sydney. The GOR road is a beautiful stretch of coastline and probably should be done with a little more time than I had but it was a great start tot the adventures, hassle free, easy and most importantly beautiful with a sense of being in the middle of nowhere.