Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Great Ocean Road

12 Apostles Great Ocean Road Australia

Torquay 22nd – 24th March

Unbeknown to us Torquay is the surfing capital of the world, with both Ripcurl and Quicksilver being established in this small town, the wet suit (and boardies) were even invented here. (And we could see why, the water was freezing!) We found ourselves a campsite and just chilled for a couple of days, watched a couple of surfers catching waves, did a bit of shopping (needed some thongs (flip-flops) as somehow I managed to loose one, yes just the one, still a mystery.) We also bumped into the girls who brought our station wagon back in December (what a small world) luckily they informed us the wagon had taken them to Perth as planned and they had sold it on. How freaky to bump into them in this small town.

On our way out of Torquay we headed over to bells beach where the Rip Curl World Surfing Championships are held at Easter. We watched a few surfers catching waves, they make it look so easy. Torquay is also the start of the Great Ocean Road and this was our next adventure.

The Great Ocean Road
Great Ocean Road Victoria Australia
From The Great Ocean Road

The Great Ocean Road 24th – 28th March

We have always wanted to do this drive and to see the fascinating sandstone landmarks that litter the south eastern Australian coast. It is world renowned and we so wanted some good weather for our few days spent here. So in rolled the clouds as we left Torquay!!
We were headed for Wye River as we knew there was a free camp there. We took our time and wondered around Airey’s Inlet before hitting hit the main sign for the Great Ocean Road. We didn’t realise that this road was built by World War I veterans - 3000 of them - as a government initiative for employment after the war. The road is now the longest war memorial in the world! They even built it with just pick, shovels and local materials.
After taking a few staged pictures of Carl driving OJ under the sign we continued on to our intended camp spot of Wye River. This took us through the town of Lorne, apparently a playground for the rich and famous. Whilst in Lorne we took a drive out to the allegedly impressive Erskine Falls. This turned into a bit of a damp squib as there had obviously not been much rain recently and the falls were just a trickle. We were clearly spoiled in Tasmania and didn’t even bother to get the camera out let along complete the walk down to the foot of the falls.

Wye River Koala
Wye River Great Ocean Road Victoria Australia
From The Great Ocean Road

Continuing on, our next stop was to be the Wye River camp area. Now this may sound straight forward, however the camp ground was not sign posted from the Great Ocean Road and we did at least 4 U-turns before we stumbled upon the correct track to camp.
When we arrived there was one other person. We set up the tent and Heidi noticed a Koala high in the tree next to us. As she pulled out the camera the nice chap from the other camp kindly came down and informed us that there were 2 Koalas here and that they had been fighting on the morning. He described a viscous battle which left one of the bears swinging by his claws from the thin top branches for half an hour! The guy also pointed out a much lower and closer Koala for us to photograph. During the night we heard lots of grunting and hilarious sounds from the Koalas, this had us in stitches at 2am lead in bed.

The Great Ocean Road - Coastline
The Great Ocean Road Victoria Australia
From The Great Ocean Road

Next morning we planned to get up and on our way, however the weather had other ideas and continued to rain through the morning. We decided to stick around for the weather to clear and headed back to Lorne to see if we could get some internet access. We managed to park outside a hotel and log on to their wireless connection (obviously having to pay) we spent most of the day updating ourselves and doing some much needed internet stuff. About 3pm the weather cleared and we headed on our way, glad that we had waited as the sun just made the scenery stunning with the turquoise waters and the green of the Otways. As we drove on the forrest turned to rolling green hills as we entered Apollo Bay. We stopped for fish and chips looking out to the hills as the sun was going down in the afternoon, giving them a rather romantic feel to the place and then headed on to Parkers Hill (another free camp on the Great Ocean walk track.) We spent the night with a bunch of school aged girls doing the walk, we hoped we had run into a school group and not Australia’s brat camp! It was funny listening to the girls chatter and took us back to our school camp days.

Parkers Hill - Sunrise
Parkers Hill Great Ocean Road Victoria Australia
From The Great Ocean Road

After a beautiful sunrise another grey morning followed, so we took our time and hoped it would brighten up in the afternoon, which it did. We headed down to Cape Otway and then on to Gables overlooking the southern ocean seeing another snake but at a much safer distance this time.
Here the coast started to become more rugged. We decided to head down to ‘Wrecks Beach’ where a couple of anchors were still left from shipwrecks many years ago. After 366 steps down we hit the beach and the wild southern ocean. We had a nice walk along the deserted beach just the 2 of us, looking up at the sandstone cliffs towering above us.
On we drove to Princetown and the stretch of famous sandstone landmarks. It was getting late in the afternoon so we decided to stay at Princetown and head out to the 12 apostles as the sun was setting.

The 12 Apostles - Sunset
12 Apostles Great Ocean Road Victoria Australia
From The Great Ocean Road

After taking what seemed like 1,000 pictures Carl waited for Heidi to pick up something from the car. When she finally came back she blurted out that she had made a mistake that was going to cost a lot of money. She continued to explain that our car door had been blown by the wind and had slammed into the car next to us leaving a nice white paint mark down their door. She said that she did the right thing and waited for the owners to get back and owned up to her little mishap. The owners turned out to be renters of this ‘hire’ car – it suddenly got a whole lot worse!! They were very sympathetic and said that they would do all that they could to get the paint off before they dropped off the car and flew out on Sunday – We now await the outcome with baited breath!
As you have all probably heard the 12 Apostles are worth seeing. We thought they were stunning, our pictures do not do them justice. When you first lay eyes on these giants standing in the ocean you are truly amazed. You feel like you are looking at a movie screen. There are truly a wonder and you really need to see them with your own eyes to appreciate them.

Gibson Steps
Gibson Steps Great Ocean Road Victoria Australia
From The Great Ocean Road

The next morning we carried on our way with a lovely beach walk down Gibson steps, I (Heidi) had to go for a paddle in the Southern Ocean and was surprised that the water wasn’t that cold. We returned to the 12 apostles for some day shots and took in the famous sandstone monuments of ‘The arch’, ‘London Bridge’ and ‘The Grotto’ ending up in Portland where we stayed for the next couple of days.

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