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Saturday, April 2, 2011

March 29 – April 1, 2011 – The Great Ocean Road (part 1)

We flew into Melbourne the morning of March 29th, picked up our rental
car and took off for The Great Ocean Road (GOR for this journal).
Technically, it is a 250km stretch of coastal highway that stretches
from Torquay to Warrnambool and boasts a dramatic and unique coastline
along the thrashing Great Southern Ocean. In fact as I write this I
realize how many landmarks in Australia begin with the word "great".

Although the GOR begins at Torquay, the jumping off point for many 
travelers arriving from Melbourne is Geelong, Victoria's second  largest city and considered the gateway to the GOR. It is a primary  hub for most of the highways heading in all directions throughout  Victoria, and took us to the B100, leading to the coast toward our big  adventure.

We arrived at Torquay, the surf capital of Victoria and home of Rip 
Curl brand products. It is a bustling surf town with lovely beachfront  areas. We just did a browse/drive through as, not being surfers, it  reminded us of so many California coastal cities we've frequented. And  besides, we were ready for some real adventure.

From Torquay, the road went somewhat inland and we lost sight of the 
ocean, so since I bore easily I played Sudoku and looked up from time  to time to read the map to Frank. We eventually arrived at Anglesea. I  was anticipating some great vistas and a charming town, as promised by  our Lonely Planet. It looked to us a little bit tired, worn and  overrated, with few glimpses of the ocean from the highway. We forged  ahead without stopping.

In and out, on and off along the way to our next destination we 
continued to glimpse pretty areas of coastline and noted the thrashing  ocean below. It was admittedly getting prettier. We eventually reached  the hamlet of Lorne. It was charming and inviting. Flocks of Cockatoos  would fly overhead and seemed to gather in the grass along the  roadside. We enjoyed a nice walk through the area and then settled on  a hotel at the edge of town. Just about the time we were unloading the  car, the hotel manager came out to feed his local bunch of cockatoos.  He has rigged a little feeding trough along the top of the wood fence.  I was thrilled to see them rush to the trough as he spread the food.  They saw us watching and snapping photos and put on a grand show for  us, strutting and posing for my camera, and although they came close  enough for me to touch the manager warned that one quick snap of a  beak would take my finger straight off. So I began to back away. We  spent one night in Lorne, walked along the waterfront and hit the road  again. The highlight here for me were the huge flocks of cockatoos  that seem to thrive here more than any place we've yet been.

Next stop was Apollo Bay, where a nice 1.5 km walk took us to the 
Mariner's Lookout. It is known for the beautiful views of the town and  the coastline. Nice and quaint but still not blowing us away, so we  ventured on down the road to Cape Otway where the guidebook promised  lots of fun and interesting stuff.

Cape Otway was all that and more. We ventured down the 14 km unsealed 
road toward the famous lighthouse, through Great Otway National Park,  where we witnessed lots and lots of koalas hanging out of the trees  all along the roadway. We stopped numerous times to take pictures. In  fact Frank finally had to tell me we'd better get moving or we would  never make the lighthouse, and besides, some serious weather was  beginning to move in on us. Eventually we came to the end of the road  to the station at Cape Otway.

We toured the station there and enjoyed taking in the history of the 
area that marks the beginning of the Shipwreck Coast. We toured the  telegraph station and the lightkeeper's house, read the history of the  way of life there dating back to 1848 and viewed the photograph  collection of the home, the family, crew of workers and various  shipwrecks. It is amazing to me how thrilled we are to see and read  about these tragedies but it really is fascinating stuff! The weather  was turning blustery and nasty as we hiked out to the lighthouse and  climbed the many, many steps to the top. Perched in the keeper's room  was a gentleman (wish I'd written down his name!) who was the last lighthouse keeper in Australia. He was a salty old dog who  regaled us with stories of what it was like way down here in this  lonely, cold and windy place. He loved it though and, although now quite elderly, is happy to make that steep and narrow climb up into the  lighthouse every day to meet and greet visitors. We enjoyed the  view of the raging Great Southern Ocean and stepped out onto the  catwalk, where the wind drove me sideways! I thanked goodness the  organizers had cancelled our circumnavigation of Australia after  seeing that coastline from up there. Wicked and dangerous stuff. We  descended from the lighthouse to take a little walk throughout the  grounds. Trails led us to some Aboriginal sites that we found both  pretty and interesting. Then, cold and wet, we returned to the warmth  of our car. Next stop – Port Campbell

1 comment:

Judy & Bill Rouse aboard S/V BeBe said...

Friends are from Perth. He once sailed with a group of men from Perth to Melbourne. He said he was convinced he was going to die during that trip. Gained a healthy respect for that Southern Ocean. Glad you were looking down at it and not sailing through it!