A Travellerspoint blog

24 The Great Ocean Road

storm 14 °C

26th September
Portland
A loud Dawn Chorus from a few magpies, followed by a deafening din from a large murder of crows. Who can sleep? We all attended the Baptist Church service and were pleasantly surprised that their guest speaker was a John Bell of Harare Baptist Church in Zimbabwe. The service was very well run and John’s message was a very powerful one. Even the visitors were invited to a light lunch with all the church folk, and a great time was had by all. Spoke with John Simpson, senior pastor, whom i had met a few years ago at a Pastor’s convention in Brisbane. A growing church and it was easy to see why that might be.

After the lunch Mary & I spent a couple of hours trying to fill some gaps in her family tree, but to no avail. Returned to camp and spoke with Brian and Evan regarding mum and dad’s ashes.

27th September
Portland
Mary was unwell so took her to local hospital where she received fairly slow but excellent attention from all the staff. While waiting I cleared out the car boot to access the spare tyre to have inflated as one car tyre was slowly losing pressure, however, the local tyre shop advised that they could not do that as the tyre was too well worn. Had a look at other rear tyre and that was no better, so, two new rear tyres later I was on my way back to hospital to wait for Mary to be cleared. Additionally, there was a pool of water in the tyre well so that had to be completely dried out, which was not a simple task due to the lousy weather.
Finally got that done and Mary arrived home with instructions to see her doctor upon return to Brisbane. I spent some time getting the car boot reorganised as the sun set amid the raucous crows evening lullaby!

28th September
Portland to Peterborough

We had a late start for this leg of our journey, partly due to the cold and wet weather. The road was in poor condition and that made driving difficult. We stopped at well-known holiday town of Port Fairy, however, there was a freezing cold wind and rain so the warm coffee did not do that much for us that day. There are many old, heritage, buildings in this seaside town and we took a few photos but decided to keep moving to keep warm.

We reached Warrnambool, a major commercial and farming centre for South West Victoria, in pouring rain. We stopped for petrol and took advantage of a special ice-cream offer to warm ourselves up!!!

We agreed to wait until arrival at the small coastal town of Peterborough before having lunch, where we managed to get set up before the next shower. Fortunately we had quite sheltered sites there. A nice Caravan Park (Top Tourist again) as the staff were very helpful.
As the much maligned ‘bad book’ story goes – “It was a dark and windy night – with heavy rain”, however we did manage some sleep. After setting up we drove back about 5 Km to Bay of Islands and Bay of Martyrs scenic lookouts for photos. The strong winds had really made the sea very rough and therefore the crashing surf against the lovely rocks made for some spectacular scenery. (Hopefully I can get a photo or two up soon to view). The gloomy weather as the sun set finally drove us back to camp.

29th September
Peterborough

The stormy night (yes another!) did not help sleep, especially as the angry surf nearby also added to the overnight noise. However, after breakfast, we all headed back to the previous sites for better sunlight photos, which proved to be a good move as the sun shone on the wave crests thus making look ‘whiter than white’. The cold wind kept blowing the camera around so taking shots was still not so easy.

We then headed east of Peterborough to view the Arch and London Bridge rock formations. The London Bridge one, though very interesting, lacked the original London Bridge shape as, a few years ago, one of the arches succumbed to the ever-present wave battering and collapsed into the sea. Although the waves were slightly smaller than the previous day they still presented a very attractive photo op.
We lunched at Port Campbell, a small holiday village on the coast – an interesting little town with lots of visitors. After lunch we tried taking one of the back roads that was supposed to have some touristy things to see but they either had closed or were uninteresting. To make matters worse the roads were in very poor condition here too.

We decided to get the washing up to date in case of further weather deterioration. I loaded Mary’s and my photos onto the laptop – some had turned out really well.

30th September
Peterborough to Apollo Bay

We drove east, past Port Campbell, and soon found the Loch Ard (shipwreck and rock viewing site) and Thunder Cave stops. The showers and cold winds did not detract from the great views and photo opportunities here.

Moving east we soon came to the famous Twelve Apostles rock formations and halted there. We used the under-bridge beneath the main road to access the walkways and were confronted by the sight of crashing waves attacking the many rock formations. Today there were only 9 or 10 of the ‘Twelve Apostles’ rock formations that have so far withstood the incessant pound of huge waves on their foundations. However, the time was well spent and we enjoyed seeing this famous heritage piece in such a dynamic environment. Obviously, as this was one of the trip highlighted planned stops we were very pleased with what we found here. The tourist chopper was doing great business in the blustery conditions.

Lunch in the part shelter of the cafe complex, but we were all annoyed that, apart from very warming coffees, there was no souvenirs on offer, and this at one of Australia’s premier tourist attractions. Well, it is Victoria after all!

The approaches to Apollo Bay was through quite hilly and narrow roads, and there were frequent hillside slips and even large trees brought down as a result of the recent heavy rains and very steep hillsides. A challenging drive with a van in tow on these steep slopes and sharp corners!
Checked in to the TT CP with some difficulty as our two park sites, although with concrete slabs for the van, was adjacent to veritable swampy ground. Making a reversing mistake would ensure becoming bogged in a narrow street!! However, we had no rain (!) or wind (!!) at last. Managed to get the TV going so had a relaxing evening.

1st October
Apollo Bay

Today we drove to the Cape Otway Light Station (formerly the Cape Otway Lighthouse – now decommissioned). The trip was back over the hills (from yesterday’s drive) and down through rainforest to the Light Station. A very pleasant trip it was as the road had dried from the heavy recent rainfall, and not towing the van made it a joy to complete. The lighthouse was built in 1848 and was only decommissioned in 1994 but during its lifetime many thousands of lives were saved because of its important position at the junction of Bass Strait and the Great Southern ocean with all of its rocky reefs and cliffs. Today it has been replaced by a small laser unit that keeps the shipping safe.
On the drive into the lighthouse we noticed many cars stopped along the road and assumed that it was a group of enthusiastic twitchers (bird-watchers to the uninitiated), however, we soon realised that their interest was in the many koalas in the trees alongside the road! Of course we also stopped and managed to get some photos too.

Anyway, we had a very enjoyable and informative time at the facility, including a WWII radar unit that had been urgently placed there in 1942 to keep a check on Japanese submarines as one had sunk and American vessel in the vicinity.

The second Keeper (the first had been fired because of alcohol abuse) spent 30 years on station, raised nine children with his wife, and never received a pay rise – in spite of asking the boss several times! How times have changed.

When he retired the Keeper proudly stated that not once, in his 30 years service, had he allowed the light to go out, with the resultant saving of many hundreds of lives. That is real service.

On our return trip Mary & I discovered a small rainforest walk and enjoyed the beautiful jungle-like walk there. When we arrived back at camp we enjoyed a final coffee with Brian and Maureen as they were heading for Ballarat and so on back to Brisbane, while we were heading for Melbourne.
A really pleasant day with sunshine, no rain, very pleasant surprises (koalas), and a flat and peaceful sea.

2nd October
Apollo Bay to Colac

A beautifully sunny day and a late start for us (Brian and Maureen had already left before us) as we enjoyed the rugged cliff-side road views from Apollo Bay, through Lorne, and then turned up the steep mountain range heading for Colac for two nights. The highway was a mess with many kilometres of rough seal plus many small land slips and rocks that had fallen from the cliffs. Lorne turned out to be abuzz with visitors. A pretty holiday town with a great beach (along with an amazing fudge shop) as well as a nice morning tea.

The hill climb was also a pleasant if steep one and we enjoyed the beautiful day and nature as we travelled.
Lunch at the village of Birregurra (its on the map!) in the sunshine and then to Colac where we had some difficulty in locating the Colac CP, mainly due to the fact that it located at Colac West, a matter that Tomtom overlooked along with another incompetent town council that fails to enforce bylaws regarding having the street number prominently displayed so that people can find their way to the correct location.
The CP is fairly basic but is OK with the boundary (very close to us) having a small farm setup with sheep, goats, ducks, geese and chooks (including at least one rooster). A restful night is anticipated before commencing Daylight Saving from Sunday morning.

Posted by psstevo 04:55 Archived in Australia

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Comments

Such happy memories - Denise & I did Gt Oc Rd last year and the places you mentioned are still fresh in memory. Glad you are making progress. Concerned to hear Mary not the best - hope she gets on top of that. THe entire coast along there is beautiful. 12 Apostles at dawn is worth the effort. Blessings, Don

by Don McPher

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