Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Great Ocean Road

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We headed off from Matt and Kaz’s after a fantastic massage from Kaz (thanks Kaz!).We came to the Great Ocean Road Memorial and stopped to take a pic:

As we left in the evening we decided to just head to Lorne (A) for the night and stay in a motor camp rather than try and find a spot elsewhere. After dinner we went for a lovely stroll along the river - very picturesque. Our first night in the van was surprisingly comfy - go the space pig!
After awaking on Monday we went to check out the waterfalls near Lorne as recommended by Kaz, but alas there was not much water to be seen!We drove along the Great Ocean Road which is pretty damn awesome. We headed to the Otway National Park and went to the Otway Fly Treetop walk.
This is a walk through the rainforest which climbs up to various levels until you get to the very top where there is a tower you can climb to view the canopy - this was absolutely brilliant but Ness didn’t make it up the final tower - too high for Nessie!!
After this we drove to the Aire River East Campground in the National Park. This was our first FREE campground of the trip and in really lovely surroundings. We hope to stay in as many of these free places as we can as they are well worth it if you don’t mind not showering and drop toilets!!! We set up the cooking equipment for the first time and it worked brilliantly to cook our yummy pasta.

We even saw our first Koala of the trip perched up high in a tree right by us.

We went for an evening walk by the river which was lovely.
At 5am we woke up to what we thought was a possum on the roof but realised it was just the tarp getting blown around in the heavy wind. We received the msg from the vic authorities telling us there was a high fire risk due to heavy wind which we thought was pretty impressive and were surprised to hear later how many people thought it was an unnecessary measure which just caused panic - we thought it was a great use of technology!

On awaking the next morning we drove to Maits Rest but found it and all the other Nat Parks in the area were closed due to extreme fires risk (due to high winds) so we were unable to explore any of these or stay in a campground in the area. We did hear that they were expecting 20ft swells around the apostles on Wed and Thurs so did not want to head off too quickly as we thought it would be a great time to see them with the big swell. So we headed to Cape Otway to check out the lighthouse which was pretty cool but also VERY windy!

Funny poster!
We saw another couple of koalas on the way out.

We stopped at the Gibson Steps just before the Apostles which are step steps right down to the beach.

We drove on to find a spot to stop for the night and ended up at Port Campbell Motor Camp. It was pouring down by this stage and we were very grateful to have the van to sleep in rather than some of the flimsy tents we saw! We drove past the Twelve Apostles as it was too wet to get out and thought we would check them out in the morning instead. We were able to use the facilities, check emails etc. After dinner (vege soup - yum!) the rain stopped and we decided to drive back to the Twelve Apostles that night instead of the next morning. This was a great idea as they looked so rugged and beautiful with the swell and sunset.

We also stopped by to check out the Blowhole and Thunder Caves but it was getting pretty dark by then so we couldn’t get very good photos. Then it was home to bed and a good sleep!

We woke up to more rain (what is with the weather!!! Worse than Wellington!) and cooked up some porridge on the camp stove which was pretty awesome especially with banana and Uncle Clems honey!! We continued along the Great Ocean Road and were impressed with the huge 15ft swells. We stopped to check out the “Arch” the “London Bridge”, “The Grotto” and “The Bay of Islands” - all with very impressive sheer cliff faces.

We filled up with Petrol at Warrnambool then stopped for lunch at Port Fairy (very pretty but not so much in the rain and wind!!). We drove on to Portland and had a bit of an explore of the area. We saw “Yellow Rock” and the Cape Nelson lighthouse then drove round to Cape Bridgewater Blowholes and Petrified Forest. The Blowholes were crazy with the swells and we got absolutely soaked walking beside them - just as much fun as any theme show ride!!!!

From here there was a bit of a long boring drive to Port McDonnell across the Victorian / South Australian border (although always fun crossing into a new state!!)

We saw a cool echidna crossing the road who was very lucky not to get squashed!!

We drove to Mount Schank Picnic Area (another free site) and cooked up a feed of mashed potato (Mmm, David loves his mashed taities!), veges and gravy before hitting bed pretty early.

We woke early on Thursday morning and saw that Mount Schank was actually a volcano! So we went for a 45min walk up the mountain and around the rim of the crater. This was such a good find and a great walk!!! (Pics to come!)

We drove into Mount Gambier and went to the info centre we we spoke to the best info guide person so far - very informative of things to do in the area. We went for a drive around Blue Lake which is also a crater lake and had a look at the castle (Centenary Tower) at the highest point (more climbing!). We also checked out the Umpherston Sinkhole which was a real highlight - so beautiful and bizarre at the same time.

As I write we are driving up to Coonawarra - WINE COUNTRY!!! Our budget doesn’t extend to buying fine wine but that doesn’t mean we can’t taste them all!!!

We continuing to have a ball and have fallen into the routine fairly easily. It feels a little unusual to drive without a destination but this is also pretty liberating. Its great to know we can stop in an area for a few days or just drive on through if we’re not keen on it. What’s also been funny is that we keep bumping into the same people who are also travelling round in their vans, at different points, often a few hundred kms away!

1 comment:

  1. I love the signs...I actually want to do a post of all the funny signs I have seen in places over here, Oz and NZ. Maybe one day.

    The mention about people thinking the warning was OTT is typical - if the authorities don't mention it and there IS a fire they get blamed. If they do mention it and there isn't a fire, they get accused of being too heavy handed. Can't win really. Given what has happened over there in the last month, I think taking precautions like that is the best way to go.

    Keep up with the posts. I will get our first Germany day up today :-)