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Published: March 24th 2011
Tempting as it was to stay longer in the Grampians, we had to start making a move if we wanted to catch our ferry to Tasmania on Wednesday evening. After much discussion, Paul and I decided to not see Melbourne this time around, as we just did not have time, but rather to return to Melbourne in June on our way to Alice Springs (just a bit of a detour, but it means we can take our time to explore Melbourne, and it also means I will get a chance to see my friend Sylvia and meet her two daughters for the first time, as she now lives in New York and will be visiting Melbourne then). So, with a couple of days up our sleeve, and the sun still shining, we left to tackle the Great Ocean Road, touted as being one of the world’s most scenic coastal touring routes, and which was home to the renowned 12 Apostles.
As we think we will not be coming here again, we decided to drop at each scenic viewpoint, much to the dismay of the boys who just wanted to finish driving for the day (it was a lot of driving).
But the stops were very worthwhile as the rock formations we saw were beautiful. Like the famous 12 Apostles, these various rock formations have been carved out by the fierce winds and waves that pound them relentlessly. We saw London Bridge, which had fallen down - leaving a couple stranded at the other end. That no one was injured when the bridge collapsed was a miracle. By the time we reached the 12 Apostles it was starting to get dark, and it was also a bit overcast. Even so, they rose majestically out of the sea. While it was beautiful to look at, the number of other people there to see the sight (plus the circling helicopters) was a bit distracting.
We then headed further down, looking for somewhere to spend the night. We entered the Great Otway National Park and found a small camping site down a long dirt road. I was at this time driving, and it was late, and I really should not have been driving. The entrance to this camping site was very narrow, and I broke one of the golden rules of caravan driving - turn into corners wide. I confess, I very nearly
ripped the whole right side of our caravan off on the post. Fortunately, while the site was pretty much empty, there happened to be two caravanners there who were skilled in the art of manouvering caravans, and they managed to get us out of this jam with minimal damage. I was quite shaken by the experience, and just a tad embarrassed. Fortunately, Paul, with his new found skills as a handyman, and with a lot of patience, managed to repair most of the damage (I did not take a photo of the caravan looking its worst, but rather as Paul, wielding our mallet, had completed most of the repairs - my hero! grovel, grovel).
This campsite was beautiful, and we were able to study three koalas who had temporarily (that is, until they had eaten all the leaves) made the trees in this campsite, their home. And they are amazing to watch. This quite largish, clumsy looking creatures, are able to scale and balance on the tiniest of branches in their quest for the perfect dinner, and at night, sleep also on small branches. They make a curious keening noise during the night, very plaintive, and they also bark
(Paul and I took a late night stroll together, and I jumped in fright as I heard this loud bark coming from really close to us in the bushes - Paul thought it hilarious that I could be frightened in the Aussie bush because, other than crocodiles and sharks, and very very poisonous snakes, spiders, and various other insects, there is absolutely nothing to fear in the Australian bush, other than perhaps a rabid koalas - oh, I forgot, because of strict quarantine measures even rabies does not exist here).
The following day we did a bit of exploring, and came across a river which lead to the ocean. We followed it to the river mouth, and had a glorious (though overcast) afternoon on this beautiful isolated beach. We could not swim because of the ominous looking rips, but we did wade in the river, and went for walks up and down the beach. We did come across a makeshift but destroyed raft, which made us feel a little sad, as we tried to imagine what had become of the people who had made the raft. While it is quite far from Indonesia, we wondered whether maybe the currents
would eventually dump such jetsam on these shores. Did the people who made the raft make it to shore, or did they come to grief somewhere in the icy cold waters? Naturally the school lessons for the day covered how to make such makeshift rafts, and the plight of many people in the world, who aspire to come to places like Australia, USA and even South Africa, taking huge risks to get there.
After two wonderfully quiet peaceful nights it was time to move on, as we had a ferry to catch. I thought it would be a quick drive to Melbourne, little realising that the real Great Ocean Road started here. In particular the stretch between Apollo Bay and Lorne was truly magnificent (when am I going to stop being amazed at the beauty of this country??!). Driving in deep mist wasn’t that great, as the road was very narrow and windy, and hugged sheer cliffs that drop away into the ocean, and often wound through magnificent rainforests, but even so, we could now understand why the Great Ocean Road is so highly rated. It was horrible being forced to drive through it without stopping, so Paul and
I decided we would try and make it back here when we were in Melbourne.
And so, we arrived in Melbourne, the focus of my next blog entry.
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