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Published: December 2nd 2008
We drove down to Portland via Dunkeld and Hamilton and stayed right on the beach at the Henty Bay Caravan Park. Annelies and Thomas loved the recreation room with a giant chess set and free air hockey and table soccer. We stayed for two nights to clean up and do some washing after the Grampians, and on the Wednesday (26th), we went on a free tour of the Portland Aluminium Smelter, and then visited a local park where Annelies and Thomas loved the very long slide.
On Thursday we headed east along the Great Ocean Road, stopping briefly at Port Fairy before heading into Warrnambool for lunch at the fantastic and free Lake Pertobe Adventure Playground, which has the best flying fox that we've come across. Annelies and Thomas had several goes on the bigger flying fox and managed well, even though it was supposedly for 12 year olds or older. Mark also had a turn. The playground was overrun with a huge school group, but either they didn't spot the flying foxes or were too busy playing in the maze and playgrounds that they didn't bother us. After lunch, we travelled east and did most of the stops along
the way (Bay of Islands, The Grotto, London Bridge, and The Arch) before stopping at the visitor centre in Port Campbell. It wasn't that late, but we decided to stay at the caravan park there so that we had plenty of time to explore Loch Ard Gorge the following day. It also meant we could set up camp, have dinner and then go to the Twelve Apostles at sunset where we hoped to see the penguin colony. Unfortunately it was a bit too overcast for a nice sunset and we couldn't see any penguins, but it was certainly worth a visit at that time.
The next day (Friday) we spent a couple of hours at Loch Ard Gorge, then drove into the Otways, where the camp grounds were all free. We decided to camp at Stevenson Falls camp ground, which was situated in a “peaceful valley” according to the brochure and allowed camp fires (so a roast was on the cards as well as another dessert in the camp oven!). It appeared to be peaceful when we arrived with just one other group in the walk-in tent area and us in the caravan/trailer/etc area. Not one caravan came in
during the three days we spent there, perhaps because of the winding roads in. The peace was soon broken however, when the weekend crowd began arriving - two groups had motorbikes, although only one of these decided to ride them around the camp ground until midnight. This group also let off fireworks, while two other groups a bit further away in the tent-only area were playing loud music and having shouting contests until very late. The motorbikes were quite small, so very tinny and high pitched and not at all like the 'real' motorbikes Mark used to ride!
The camp site also provided us with our first experience this trip of one of Alex's favourite animals - leeches. We had only just set up at the lovely grassy camp site when Alex noticed a leech crawling up the side of the tent. We were hoping it was a one-off but an hour of so later we noticed another one, so decided to pt down the mat in the annexe area. No more were seen that evening, although Mark noticed a large patch of blood seeping through his jeans, emanating from a small wound on his lower leg that didn't
want to clot. Obviously a leech had had a good feed and dropped off, and perhaps the fat and content leech we found under the tent when we packed up a couple of days later was the culprit (see photo). We never encountered any more leeches at the camp site, but were always a bit wary of them after that.
On Saturday, we walked up to Stevenson Falls where Alex's boot encountered a funny yellow coloured leech, and weren't sad to find one of the motorbikes from the previous night being pushed back to the camp site, hopefully broken down rather than out of fuel. After the walk, we drove to the Otway Fly, followed by a walk to Triplet Falls and Hopetoun Falls on the drive back to camp.
When we arrived back, we were pleased to notice that one of the loud groups had left that day, though a large group of scouts had arrived and camped next to us, so the camp ground became a bit like Bourke Street. However, with such a busy camp site, at least the motorbikes weren't ridden that night, although it didn't stop them letting off a few more fireworks.
On Sunday, we drove down to Apollo Bay after first walking to Sabine Falls. From Apollo Bay, we drove out to Cape Otway. Back at the camp site we were happy to find that the weekend crowd had left and we had most of it to ourselves.
On Monday, we packed up and headed into Lorne, travelling the 'back route' via Mt Sabine Rd and Kennett Rd. The section of the Great Ocean Road from Kennett River to Lorne was very spectacular.
In Lorne, we drove up to Teddy's lookout and then stayed at the Kia-ora Foreshore Caravan Park for two nights (with lots of 'schoolies'). On Tuesday, we drove up to Erskine Falls and also walked to Straw Falls, and then drove via the 4WD Dunse Track to “Gentle Annie's” berry farm, where we picked lots of strawberries and raspberries. Alex and the kids made full use of their 'gobblers' passes, which enabled them to pick and eat at the same time. Mark on the other hand, decided to keep room for his scones with jam and cream! On the foreshore back at Lorne, the kids had a great time on the in-ground trampolines.
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