Thursday was my really long day with the 0710 pick up to head down the Great Ocean Road and see some of the stunning scenery down there that I had been told by several sources that I simply HAD to do. Thankfully the weather was fine, a tad overcast but the main thing was that it was not raining so I am not complaining one little bit. It was a smaller group than the previous day but a long old journey down to the sights.
The traffic coming out of Melbourne, the daily commuters was horrendous and we were very thankful not to be stuck in that! When there is pretty decent public transport, certainly puts the UK to shame, in the city – I do wonder why people choose to sit for hours nose to tail on a motorway every morning.
The Great Ocean Road basically hugged the coast line heading south and reminded me of the road in South Africa where Dad had a freak out over the vertical drop over the edge of the cliff owing to his vertigo. There wasn’t that much of a drop though on this really. The road had been man made as in the had been a group of workers in the 1920’s that went along with dynamite blowing some of the rock face up to enable a smooth driving surface could be created along the edge.
As you can imagine, there were many stunning views along the way of the rugged coastline as well as some of the most sublime looking beaches, some of which had surfers on, I could imagine the area being absolutely heaving in the summer months as it is just so picturesque and some of the beaches just seemed so huge! The road would become a total nightmare when there is a rock fall as the road would be totally cut off and there were not too many roads leading back into the countryside that I spotted on route and so I can only imagine that the diversion could be a hell of a lot of miles!
We stopped off at a spot that our guide for the day/driver, Max, knew there were possibly some koalas in the wild as well as some rather tame birds that he had brought some bird seed for. I’m not talking any old birds, lorikeets, parakeets beautifully coloured and they would come and eat put of your hand. Just as we came close and without any food in our hands they all started swooping down and landing on us – our heads, or arms, shoulders & hands. Incredibly scary at first until you got used to it as the feeling of them landing and there being so many it really was quite unnerving. Can’t help but shriek and swear. Once I’d got a little confidence up I asked for some bird seed and let them all descend on me as they fed from my hand. Amazing experience & I was lucky to come away with a clean coat & head!!
We stopped for lunch at the Cape Otway Lighthouse, a quick sausage, potatoes and salad before hitting the road again before spotting some more koalas in their natural habitat just asleep in the trees, they just look so random! We headed on further down to first of all the Otway Rainforest which has som of the tallest eucalyptus trees in Australia in it. The peace and tranquility of just listening to the water trickling through was so serene it was blissful. We had about twenty mins or so walking along the broadwalk before it was back in the van and off to Gibson’s Beach, which would have easily been the Australian setting for Broadchurch!
From there we headed down to Gibson’s Steps which lead down to Gibson’s Beach which is pretty much the gateway to the 12 Apostles. The huge foaming sea was very strong and you could tell that there were some vicious currents out there damned nearly got caught at one point!! The beach isn’t patrolled and so not recommended for swimming obviously, the tide seems to come in pretty quickly and so it was easy to see how people would easily get caught out there!! The steps were originally carved into the cliffs in the 19th century but have been replaced by concrete steps.
From here it was on again to the main sight of the 12 Apostles. The weather over time has eroded away the limestone and has helped to create a wonderful series of blow holes, rock stacks, gorges and arches. Even though it is named so there are actually only 6 apostles that are visible from the impressive snakes of the broadwalks out to give us better views of the coastline.
I once again bumped into the couple from the Royal Oak who were obviously doing a day trip too. But on the way back in to the bus and walking though the visitor centre, pretty pointless I have to ay, not a patch on the one at Stonehenge which is the same sort of thing., I bumped into a Pink Leopard from Dubai that I met out in South Africa on the Gulliver’s trip for the last lions tour. (Brian & Roger) my god it’s quite scary how small the world really is?! The views were amazing despite the slight sea mist that was starting to appear. The sea was still an amazing colour and I could, honestly have taken photos all day of that view!
We moved further on down again into Port Campbell National Park and visited the Loch Ard Gorge and again headed down to sea level. Known as one of Shipwreck Coast’s most notorious bits as it has taken out so many boats and the stories are the only thing that are left. We headed back after this one as it was by then a good 3 hours to head back into Melbourne. The vies today though will stay with me for quit a few years. I can really see myself coming back to this area to do a bit more exploring and just chilling out in the slightly warmer weather.