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Sunday, April 10, 2011

March 29 – April 1, 2011 – The Great Ocean Road (part 3)

We arose very early on our last day of the GOR and backtracked to Port Campbell to pick up where we had left off the previous day. First stop was the Bay of Martyrs where, once again we found amazing rock formations that literally appeared as though they were laying about in repose. There were several small roads that led out to the Bay that gave varied observation viewpoints of this stunning area. We drove down three of them and were not disappointed at the beauty of this amazing bay. Next stop was The London Bridge, which sadly has fallen down – maybe this is really the one from the childhood song J!

We took lots of pictures and were blessed with blue skies for the better part of our morning.  After looking in at the Bay of Islands – another beautiful bay with lovely vistas – we set off for Port Fairy. Port Fairy was highlighted in The Lonely Planet as a loveable little town steeped in charm and history, settled by the whalers and sealers in 1835, and further boasts a popular "Shipwreck Walk" and "History Walk". We arrived ready for breakfast and more fun-filled sight seeing.

Driving in on the main street leading to town center, we thought that we'd accidentally ended up in a retirement village. Everywhere we looked the townspeople were buzzing about in electric wheelchairs, spiffy "pimped-up" walkers and hobbling along with walking canes. We did a drive through and found that the town consisted of basically two streets. We still had not seen anyone under about age 65, so as we stopped in front of a bakery that served meat pies, I said to Frank that maybe this was like a day out for the retirement home citizens; you know like when they all catch the bus into town for a little shopping and whatnot? We ate our meat pies and took a stroll. Every other shop was an Op-shop (second hand store). We passed the Cancer Society shop, the Red Cross shop, the Arthritis Foundation shop, and so on. There didn't seem to be anything else in the town. To top it off, we nearly got run down by all the electric wheelchairs zipping up and down the sidewalk. It felt like a time warp.  We both agreed that this would be a real fun place for our parents to live. Eventually I did end up purchasing a couple of musty smelling books by Wilbur Smith and Bryce Courtenay for under a dollar each in one of the Op-shops. Frank was getting antsy so we headed for the car and drove back to Warrnambool.

Warrnambool is really not such a small town once we figured out how it was laid out. We took a beautiful drive following the beach that yielded to several lookouts along this part of the Shipwreck Coast. There is a little village within the town that has been recreated to assimilate a colonial village from the 1800's. By now the rain clouds were coming back around so we stopped for lunch just above the colonial village. We browsed a maritime museum and then by late afternoon realized we were pretty worn out and so we called it a day.

Friday, April Fool's Day! We had a long drive ahead of us back to Geelong, so up and at 'em! We were going to take the inland route, Prince's Highway (the A1), back and we knew that on the way our only planned stop would be the Warrnambool Cheese Factory. We had seen it coming and going the previous two days and decided it was meant to be. We could have taken a tour, had a feed and spent ridiculous amounts of money in the gift shop but we came for the cheese. We tasted and purchased a variety of absolutely delicious cheeses. Thank goodness we had our trusty travel cooler with us. We picked up a few extras such as fruit, bread and some meat for a picnic along the way. Thinking back on it I wish we'd been able to buy so much more because many of those cheeses are not available anywhere else. But alas a cheese does not lat forever.  So we enjoyed a rather beautiful drive along the A1 through lovely farm country and past vineyards. This part of Australia is just outright lovely. It's a good thing I no longer drink wine or we would probably never have made it back to Geelong for stopping and wine tasting on the way.

By late afternoon we arrived in Geelong, check in at the Chifley hotel on the Esplanade that happens to be right across from the beach. Geelong is a very beautiful town, and one which we now wished we had spent much more time enjoying. This being our last day in Victoria, we set off for a long walk. Of all the times not to bring the camera this was not a good one, and one which I truly regretted. The waterfront is absolutely charming! Famous for its Bay Walk Bollards, 104 brightly painted bollards depicting colonial people dressed in the fashion of the day, ladies, gents, birds, ship personnel, swimmers, athletes, policemen, nuns…  We were delighted and I was just tickled walking along looking at these and everything else along the walk. It is so clean and pleasant. This area must literally boom during tourist season.  We settled on a waterfront café that looked very popular for an afternoon snack. We truly enjoyed our half-day at Geelong, and had thought to return to the waterfront for dinner, but by the time we returned to the hotel we were once again pretty bushed so we had a quiet dinner in the hotel restaurant and retired early again because Saturday we had a flight out of Melbourne at mid-day to Tasmania.

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