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Published: October 14th 2018
I am so glad that it was suggested I drive from Adelaide to Melbourne when I said wanted to drive the Great Ocean Road. Angela flew in from Sydney to join me and off we set in our rental car on a beautiful sunny afternoon from Adelaide airport. Over the hills and high ridges , up and down valleys we drove to reach our first stop at the Wellington Ferry Crossing of the Murray River. The accommodation at the Wellington Pub was not so pretty to look at ...facing us was a cabin which looked like a tin box with doors in it , but unlocked the door and there was a cheap and clean room. The frienfly bar staff with tattoos and purple punk rocker hairdos were perfectly nice and recommended we book if we wanted a meal . Just as well cos by 6.30 the bar/ restaurant was crammed with locals and families enjoying some great Aussie food. Breakfast next day was taken at the the old Wellingotn Court House as we watched the ferry going back and forwards across the river. These Aussie river ferrys are a bit scarey , as when you drive on and we were
at the front you feel like the water is lapping right up to the car!
But safely over we headed off determined to stop at every Brown Tourist sign and not miss any sights along the way and it wasn’t very long before I said STOP ...there it was shimmering in the sunlight ...a PINK LAKE which was actually PINK! The colour changed from pale blue to turquoise to shades of pink and purple as you walked around and saw it in different light. We had been dissapointed in WA to find the Pink Lake wasn’t any more , so this was a bonus to come upon it like this. This area was The Coorong National Park and there was probably about 100miles of salt lakes and lagoons behind a wall sand dunes and the Southern Ocean.We stopped to view Pelican Islands - their nesting grounds, and walked out to Jacks Point , wide long beaches and The Granites which were smooth granite boulders in the sea just at the shore line ( a bit like the Moreki Boulders in NZ). Pastures with lots of different kinds of cows taxed our brains as we tried to remember the names
of different cattle, also there were horses,sheep and camels !!! What they were doing there I don’t know ... maybe to take tourist rides on the long beaches . At a Coffee stop in Kingston ( now we are in the Limestone Coast ) we viewed a lighthouse which had previously been on a reef and then dismantled and brought in bits to shore and lovingly restored . Next we were on to the little town of Robe with its lovely bay and harbour before turning inland to stay overnight in Penola.
This long trip is made possible for me by my doing Home and hospitality exchanges and to add to this I have joined an organisation 5W where women offer hospitality to each other for a couple of days. So for the next few days we were staying with women who were strangers at first but soon became friends. When our first hostess Ros offered us a delicious lamb curry for dinner , how could we refuse and after a comfortable night sleep she then escorted us around the Heritage Home area in Penola called Petticoat Lane...such sweet little cottages . It’s always so good to be with
the locals , you get to see what ordinary tourists miss on their trails. Ros also told us about Australia’s famous poet and jockey Adam Lindsay Gordon and we had a visit to his home in Dingley Dell and learnt all about him from the guide there , his ashes are in Poets Corner Westminster Abbey so I must look out for that next time I am in London.
Rolling hills and the Glenelg Forest led us to Mount Gambier ,an ancient landscape of volcanic craters and sinkholes where we saw the Blue Lake which fills a vocanic crater and then Umphersone sinkhole ( actually man- made ) a leafy Victorian pleasure garden where you could stroll and cool off on a hot day. As we headed to Portland for our next stay with Ann and Rosemary I spotted something coming out of the forest ahead ...slowing down we were delighted to see a koala just ambling across the road and he just went round the front of the car and then took off . An animal highlight if ever there was one !!! Sorry no photo !
2 days in Portland with beautiful weather one day saw
us doing walks -The Enchanted Forest Walk was through a forested area on the side on the cliffs and yes you could imagine that the elves and fairies might have a good time here . The Petrifed Forest turned out to be a fantastic moonscape on the top of the cliffs ...it looks like fossilised trees but it was explained that it was sand cemented by mineral deposits and now have been eroded . Bridgewater Bay here has the highest basalt cliffs in Victoria and is part of what was a huge volcanic crater at one time. Back down at sea level the Bay is beautiful white sand and with only a small cafe serving delicious food it is a Delightful place to spend a couple of hours just sitting on the beach and walking and watching the waves. Ann and Rosemary had kindly hosted us and entertained us with life stories... and made sure that we learned about how important Portland had been as the first settlement in Victoria. The sunshine had now given way to blowy,misty , rain and so was a good chance to spend a couple of hours On a mini bus tour of Portland where
we learned more about the history and what makes the place tick today ...Aluminium smelting , Forestry and Fishing .
Stopping at another Brown Tourist Sign The Crags , we approached Port Fairy and all along the next stretch we could see exactly why this was called the Shipwreck Coast. The wind and waves come directly from Antarctica and we were experiencing that weather as we drove along and it got wilder and wilder. But before we were officially on the Great Ocean Road we stopped a night at Warrnambool... rested up and treated ourselves to fish and chips! On the foreshore at Warrnambool we experienced the might of the Ocean as huge waves were crashing onto the rocks in front of us.
Big day driving now on the Great Ocean Road and it was on and off with the hats scarves and jackets as we stopped many times along the way , in and out of the car to view this AWESOME landscape. Truly amazing rock formations and so dramatic with the ocean roaring into the cliffs and massive waves pouring through arches . I will list them as we went along
Bay of Islands ,
Cape Jaffa Lighthouse
Bay of Martyrs, The Grotto , London Bridge , The Arch, Loch Ard Gorge , then finally Twelve Apostles .... well there aren’t twelve any more. At these last two stops we saw more tourists than we had ever seen ...there were huge car parking areas and lots and lots of coaches ( day trips from Melbourne ) and I was so glad I hadn’t done it that way. By experiencing the whole coastline taking 7 days we had seen so much and could appreciate the vast changing landscapes all along from Adelaide . To stand there in such a place you feel so small and inconsequential in comparison to the power and might of nature and Earth’s timespan.
Driving then into the beautiful forest of the Otway Range there were more magnificent trees and steep sided valleys as we searched for Jenny’s house which she described as being in the middle of nowhere. 3 km up a dirt track forest with deer and kangaroos on the road we came at last to this wonderful self built quirky house. We had 2 nights here with Jenny , another interesting woman who has travelled widely , enjoyed her hospitality and
Enchanted forest Walk
spent a day exploring the Otway Forest with a rainforest walk in Melba Gully and then a windy walk on Johanna Beach to come home to a roaring log fire ...Perfect days And new friends .
The last days drive was again sunny and not so windy and this was where we drove alongside the ocean as the road twisted and turned for much of the time. The towns of Apollo Bay ,with its beautiful sandy sweep of a beach was a great coffee stop.. but the road got busier and busier so we didn’t stop much just enjoyed the views as we swept along by the coast. It was quieter at Airys Inlet so we stopped and had a picnic and then it was on to Bells Beach and Winki Pop ( lovely name ) beach to view the surfers before we hit the suburbs and highways approaching Melbourne.
Driving the Great Ocean Road was one of those things I always wanted to do so I am so Happy to have achieved it as part of this big trip I am doing. It took some planning and organising , and I am very grateful to all my
hosts who entertained me , informed me and fed me. And a special thanks to Angela who always said she would do it with me ... thanks for sharing the experience and the driving.
Next stop Melbourne and a bit of a rest ??? I wonder !
Sorry this is a a long blog and lots of photos , took me a while to catch up .
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