Having detoured over to Ballarat to visit Sovereign Hill, we zig-zagged back to Warrnambool near the western end of the Great Ocean Road (which isn’t that far from the bottom end of the Grampains!). It was a nice drive through a mostly green countryside, with an overnight stay at the beautiful Lake Elingamite campground. Here is the lake in the morning, from up high on the hill.
At Warrnambool I picked up my new drivers license (as was sent off for on the Yorke Peninusula), and not a day too soon – the same day my previous one expired! We took the opportunity of being in a major town, to do some shopping, laundry and the like, before heading east to the Great Ocean Road (Sat 29/11/2014).
The interesting limestone coastal cliff features of the GOR (Great Ocean Road) are at the western end of this 243km long road. These features include well known tourist attractions such as The Twelve Apostles, Loch Ard Gorge, London Bridge, and more. But first here are some of the less well known features, coming up to the town of Port Campbell – the first major town on the GOR, and our first overnight stopping point.
I immediately recognised Port Campbell – we had a not-so-good holiday along the GOR about 10 years ago, and this was part of it. We had two very young kids (Daniel was around 10 months old), we were tent camping, and it was terrible weather. The way we’d seen the twelve apostles was for Nicole to run out in the rain, have a quick glance, and then run back. Then I did the same! The first night we stayed in Port Campbell (10 years ago) was a major storm – heaps of extremely heavy rain, and cyclonic strength wind. Tents were blowing away all over the place…. We were already stuffed from a rainy trip, and that night just made it worse – we spent the next two days and nights recovering in a motel room there!!
Fortunately we had a much better experience this time! We booked into the caravan park, had dinner, then headed off to catch the sunset at the twelve apostles (sunset not till around quarter – half past eight!).
The next day we had a bit more of a look around Port Campbell, which is a really pretty place. They also have the most unusual boat ramp I’ve seen!
We returned along the same stretch of road towards the Twelve Apostles, to view Loch Ard Gorge (which btw, is named after a ship wreck) and other features nearby that we’d passed the previous evening at sunset.
We visited the eastern side of the culinary trail: the 12 Apostle Food Artisans. Sampled delicious chocolates at Gorge Chocolates, and we couldn’t resist a hot chocolate drink each. Daniels was probably the nicest, a mint flavoured white chocolate drink that tasted delicious, but was so sweet you couldn’t drink much of it (even he couldn’t finish it, which says a lot as to how sweet it was!)! The lady at our next stop, Apostle Whey Cheese, was very generous with the samples and they mostly tasted pretty good too (I’m not fond of some of the weird cheeses….).
We spent that night at a recreation reserve near Princetown. A nice place, and we took advantage of the tennis court there for some afternoon fun (and based on the quality of play, we need to do it more often…)!
From Princetown on, the terrain is somewhat different. Low scrub and limestone coastal cliffs are replaced by hilly rainforests reaching right to the coastline. The GOR heads inland for a while, to wind its way through the rainforest lined twisty mountain roads.
Back on the coastline, we went for a walk at Johanna beach; a nice wide sandy beach where the Otways Range meets the ocean. Certainly makes for some pretty photos.
The road to Cape Otway Lightstation (a detour from the GOR) was crowded with tourists, many stopping on the side of the road, and even in the middle of it….. There was of course a reason for this – there is a big local Koala population here! Yes, in quite a number of different places along the road groups were gathered around Koalas hanging from trees. Initially I ignored them (seen plenty of Koalas), but on the way back figured we’d better stop at one to get a photo. Of course, I picked one that was sleeping….
The rainforest walk at Maits Rest is very beautiful, with large numbers of very established tree ferns lining the gullies.
Heading through the Aire Valley on the way to Apollo Bay, everything is very green. The beautiful flat plains of the Aire River are obviously extremely fertile, with lush green growth. From atop the range near Apollo Bay, the view was very reminiscent of the drive down into Victor Harbour in SA. A small town located on beautiful waters/bay, with green hills as the backdrop.
The surf was looking good, the sky was blue, and there were a few guys out on surfboards across from the recreation reserve where we were staying, so the boys and I dug out the body boards and flippers and headed in. It was rather cold (everyone else had wetsuits on!), but it was great to be in the water again. Despite it being after 5pm, I spent around 45 mins in the water (the boys a bit longer), and the conditions were great for the first half – beautifully formed good sized waves (though the boys couldn’t get out to these). Even a long hot shower wasn’t enough to warm me up after, but piling on the winter gear did the trick eventually!
Tuesday was our final day on the Great Ocean Road, driving through the edge of the Otway Forest where it meets the ocean. We did a couple of walks into the rainforest, to view waterfalls. Can’t remember the name of this first one….
Our final night on the GOR was spent at Anglesea, at the Big4 caravan park there. Only a small place, but they’ve done it up and even have an indoor heated pool!
We are glad we returned to the Great Ocean Road – as you can see from the many photos it’s a beautiful section of coastline. We had an enjoyable time and certainly got a much better look than last time! Though we had some rainy/overcast weather, it tended to clear up during the day and didn’t impede our activities (just made some photos rather grey).
Next up it’s time to cut back on the sight seeing, and catch up with some friends (from when we lived in Vic).