Sunday, January 18, 2015

Roadtrip Along the Great Ocean Road

I arrived in Melbourne late Thursday night and Rith picked me up from my hostel the next morning so we could start our three day trip along the Great Ocean Road. You'll have to bear with me on this post as it will mostly be photos. But first, some history.  The Great Ocean Road started as a project to create work for returned servicemen after WWI.
 It's now the World's Biggest War Memorial and was hand-built by some 3,000 veterans in honor of their fallen comrades.  Built from 1918 to 1932 it symbolized the sacrifice made by so many during the war.

Our first stop was a quick visit to the beach in Geelong and then out onto the Bellarine Peninsula.
We then headed to Queenscliff and visited a lighthouse before enjoying a true Aussie lunch of meat pies at Rolling Pin Pies & Cakes.  Our next stop was Torquay and nearby Bells Beach, Australia's most- loved and best-known surfing beach.  It's the site of the world's longest running professional surfing event the Rip Curl Pro Easter Classic.  We saw a few surfers, but the big waves are in the winter when the event is held.
From Bells Beach we continued on to the town of Anglesea and then Aireys Inlet where we visited the 34 meter high Split Point Lighthouse.
Our last stop of the day was in the town of Lorne where we would be spending the night.  We took a walk along the shore and down to the pier.  As we were leaving the pier a freak rain storm swept through so we ran for cover to the restaurant at the end of the pier.  By the time we arrived the rain had stopped and as we turned around to look back out at the pier we saw a perfect rainbow!  It was incredibly bright and you could even see a second one above it for a little while.  Every time I see a rainbow I think of my friend Megan, and this rainbow was extra special because I could see both ends. The sun came out in full force moments later and we watched as the rainbows slowly disappeared.

We started Day 2 enjoying some breakfast baked goods while sitting on the beach watching some morning surfers as the sun broke through the clouds.  Not a bad way to start the day if you ask me!
We stopped at Erskine Falls on our way out of town and then at Apollo Bay.  We enjoyed some blueberries purchased at a stall in the weekend markets and then headed on down the road.  Our next stop was Cape Otway to visit the oldest lighthouse on mainland Australia, only to find out you can't visit it without paying $20 per person, and we weren't that interested so we left.  From that point on we visited so many lookouts along the road I could barely keep track: Cape Patton Lookout, Mariner's Lookout, Maits Rest, Gibson Steps, etc.  
Mariner's Lookout - Apollo Bay
 It was also the day we saw all the famous landmarks of the Great Ocean Road, such as Loch Ard Gorge, London Arch (formerly a bridge), and the Twelve Apostles.  
Clockwise: Loch Ard Gorge, London Arch, & Twelve Apostles
An interesting tidbit about the London Bridge/Arch: it was a complete double-span natural bridge until the span closer to the shoreline collapsed in 1991.  That unexpected event left two tourists stranded on the outer span until a helicopter could come rescue them.  Talk about a travel memory!  One of our last stops before arriving in Warrnambol for the night was Bay of Martyrs.  The sun, breaking through some of the clouds, was streaming down and illuminating the water in some places; it was quite lovely.
We spent the night at a home in Warrnambol that we found in and we really enjoyed the other guests; a Dutch family and a Welsh/American & English couple.  It was fun to share travel stories and hear about everyone's adventures in Australia so far.  I don't know if any of you have heard of the dogs that protect a colony of penguins, but it's a fascinating story and they actually just finished filming a movie, "Oddball", based on the story (to be released this year).  Well, the island (Middle Island) is off the coast of Warrnambool and you can visit the penguin colony on a tour, if you're lucky to be there on the right day - we weren't.  Anyway, It's a cool story anyway and hopefully I can see the film when it comes out.

Our last morning we headed to the delightful little coastal town of Port Fairy; it was named "World's Most Liveable Village" in 2012.  They have a small island, Griffiths Island" right off the shore on the edge of town with the most picturesque lighthouse I've ever seen. 
 We took the walking track around the island and got some great photos of the lighthouse because of the perfect weather.  After checking out all the beautiful coastal homes along the wharf we started our return journey back to Melbourne.  We didn't head back the way we came, but instead took the shorter road through the pasture-land further north.  It was a fantastic trip and I'm so glad Rith was willing to take me because I wouldn't have been able to see near as many things if I'd have had to take one of the 1-day tours offered.

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