We have a feeling that today is going to be AMAZING, but before we begin our epic journey along the most iconic part of the Great Ocean Road we’d like to send Birthday Greetings from down under to the Canadian contingent, Tara, Myrna, Kyran and Katana who very soon will be celebrating their birthdays and of course special greetings to Kerris whose birthday it is today (and to avoid anymore confusion, in Australia, today is Wednesday 5th December!). Happy Birthday to one and all............oh, and Myrna, please pass this onto everyone mentioned.
We were contorting our bodies into the Warrior 2 yoga pose at 7am and killing ants at 7.30am. Thank goodness we didn’t know we had an infestation of ants before we went to bed or we’d never have slept. I think we can count ourselves lucky we’ve only got ants. Becky was here six weeks ago and had to contend with a Hunters spider! After our yoga session we walked into the ‘township’ (that’s what they seem to call these places) and found a bakery for breakfast. Cappuccino, croissant, feta and spinach pie should sustain us for a good few hours. Returning to the hotel we checked out, got in the car and drove to the nearest petrol station. It only cost us $42 dollars for three quarters of a tank of petrol which we thought was very cheap in comparison to UK prices. Having filled up we drove up the hill to Teddy’s Lookout which gives you a tremendous view of the GOR (Great Ocean Road if you hadn’t already realised). We made our way back to the car and were surprised to see it surrounded by a number of very friendly and inquisitive Australian King Parrots. Lovely and colourful they were, not like those bully bird parakeets in the town. We watched them for a while, even chatted to them, or should I say they watched us and then we eventually set off.
It was going to be a slow drive along the GOR due to a) the road being long and winding b) apparently there are roads works being carried out at various places along the way and c) we would be stopping anywhere that took our fancy for any photo opportunity, the first of which I must add was mere minutes away. In someone’s front garden in fact. It’s not everyday you come across a group of very bizarre, colourful metal sculptures of people and animals etc. It was most bizarre.
So, are you sitting comfortably and ‘strapped in’ for we’d like you to join us on this drive along the Australian Great Ocean Road where we’re hoping to witness Mother Nature at her best! We’ve given SatNav Sheila the day off, well it’s only one road, we know which direction we’re going in, and we’re hardly likely to get lost! I must say the views along the coast road are lovely, the road completely hugs the coastline which is very rugged and the sand looks so smooth and almost orange in colour. Its amazing to see the contrast with the sea and the gorgeous blue sky. It’s a very bendy road and in some places the speed limit is just 40km due to the roadworks, but that’s fine by us, we’re in no hurry. It will take as long as it takes to get to our next hotel which is at Port Campbell. We almost had the road to ourselves, there was so little traffic around which was great as it meant we could literally stop anywhere we saw a photo opportunity. After Apollo Bay, the road takes you away from the coastline and through forests and countryside. The smell of eucalyptus trees was lovely and we indulged in our yoga breathing to make the most of the scented air. There we were, driving along in our automobile when all of a sudden we saw a group of people taking photos of something on the side of the road. Was it a bush, was it a bird? No, it was a Koala Bear, just sitting there, munching away on his gum leaf, oblivious to people and cars. Of course we had to stop and take some photos ourselves. What an opportunity. We wondered why he was sat on the ground and not up in a tree and we were all concerned for his safety, being so close to the road. One of the roadwork lorries that passed by said the Koala Conservation office had been notified so hopefully they’d come and get him and move him to safety. He was a dear little thing and the way he was sat on the floor reminded us of Pooh Bear. As you can imagine, this was the highlight of the journey thus far. We never for a moment expected to see a Koala Bear today, what a bonus.
We carried on through the Eucalyptus forest until we came to a small shack cafe on the side of the road, on their board outside claimed ‘no miles, just smiles’ so we stopped for coffee and the loo. Back on the road, through the countryside, still going in the right direction....as Maice and her walking buddies say ‘if you keep the sea on your left you’re going in the right direction and you can’t get lost’! I’m sure there’s logic there somewhere!! After an hour or so we returned to the coast road and entered the Port Campbell National Park, home to many of the iconic landmarks and spectacular coastline that we’ll be seeing shortly. Our first iconic stop was at Gibson Steps which is where you capture the first glimpses of the 12 Apostles. We got out and walked to the viewpoint, along with numerous Chinese tourists. I know the population of China is big, but it would seem that right now they’re all vacationing in Australia, and following us around, honestly they’re everywhere, not that this is a problem of course, the problem is they hog the areas for photo opportunities so you have to wait for them to take photos of the family, then individually, then selfies......and so it goes on. But d’you know what, we just ‘go with the flow’…….. just wish the flow would speed up now and again!
Jostling for camera space, photos were taken and as we were about to get back into the car we were approached by this woman who asked if we could give her a lift to the 12 Apostles carpark. Apparently she’d walked from the 12 A’s where her car is parked to Gibson Steps, sprained her ankle on the way, and didn’t feel that she could walk back to where her car was. After some deliberation, which is not like us, we bustled her into the back seat of the car and deposited her at the 12 A’s carpark, which fortunately was our next stop. We were surprised at how commercialised the place was with its centre, shop and toilet facilities. And the cars, hundreds of them there were. We followed the Chinese groups along the path to the lookout points and my oh my, what a spectacle. The Twelve Apostles were standing so majestic in the water, actually there’s only 8, Mother Nature eroded four of them, but they were awesome. The blue sky only enhanced their colours, a deep sandstone, and set amongst the cliffs they were absolutely stunning. The photos don’t do them justice unfortunately, but they were a sight to behold.
Our next stop was at Loch Ard Gorge and The Razorback. The gorge was a huge inlet, flanked by vertical sandstone cliffs, the sand looked amazing and the colour of the water was so blue. And the Razorback is an amazing piece of rock sculpted by the weather, very tall and narrow with knobbles on its back, a stunning piece of nature.
Walking along to get to these viewpoints is not dissimilar apparently to walking along the South West Coast path in Dorset which has just as stunning scenery along the way. It just goes to show the majesty of Mother Nature is everywhere, not just in Australia!
Mother Nature is not always at her best however when it comes to other areas of nature. I’m talking about flies. They are such a nuisance. They seem to stick to you and fly around you’re face all the time. Yuk, they’re horrible and they followed us everywhere along the coast road.
Tonight we’re staying in the ‘township’ of Port Campbell at the Great Western Ocean Road Motel, a place of just 500 residents and about eight roads. Of course, it being the smallest town, we spent ages looking for the motel. We even considered waking SatNav Sheila up but we eventually found it and checked in. We did good, girl! We had a lovely chalet room in a very quiet, peaceful setting. We offloaded the car and made our way to London Bridge and The Arch, two more natural structures the other side of Port Campbell. Just when you think the scenery can’t get any better, it gets better. Such raw and natural beauty is amazing, truly awesome.
Back in Port Campbell we left the car back at the motel and went for a stroll around town. It was a glorious day and we fancied a nice glass of wine, but before that we looked in the shops and surprise surprise, we managed to buy something in all of them! Then we sat outside the local bar, glass of wine in hand, soaking up the sun and overlooking the beach. Glorious. We decided on an early supper and both wanting seafood, we made our way to ‘Waves’ as recommended to us by a number of locals. We ordered oysters; au natural, in vodka Bloody Mary’s and in lime and ginger for starters and then for me mussels in a chilli tomato sauce and for Maice, mussels in a seafood broth, washed down of course with a glass of crisp white Pinot Gris. For me, it’s the best meal I’ve had so far. Absolutely superb.
It was late when we got back to the motel, 8pm and over a glass of wine we sat and planned our itinerary for the next two days. We were flying back to the U.K. Friday evening and we were going to make the most of our time left. Today has been a truly amazing day. The sun has shined throughout, the sky has been blue, the scenery and wildlife has been spectacular. Hats off to Mother Nature for providing us with such wonderful creations of nature.