We arrived at the start of the Great Ocean Road and immediately decided to take a detour to the notorious Bells Beach. We arrived and found the Rip Curl Pro Surfing Championship was going on. We decided to park the car to get a closer look, but only managed to get to the ticket office before returning. The views were spectacular and the waves seemed to be perfect for professional surfers; they were certainly not for amateurs.
After passing through the first town on the road, Anglesea, we had our first “true” look at the infamous road. Hugging the cliffs, the road took us around tight bends and in and out of small towns. The views from the car and the various stops along the way to Lorne, the next large town on the road, were spectacular. We turned each corner expecting each new view to be just as beautiful as the last, but we were wrong, each new sight was more beautiful than the last. We passed under eucalypt forests, still looking up in the canopies for koalas; we never really got over Raymond Island.
We passed through Lorne and made our way to the next large town on the road, Apollo Bay. The road, again, passed through eucalypt forests along the cliffs of Victoria, looking out to Bass Straight. I sat in the front seat, reading off the names of each of the towns as we passed through, while my dad drove, and my mom took the pictures. I’m really looking forward to seeing the pictures!
After passing though Apollo Bay, we made our way into the Great Otway national Park, as the road started to head inland. After a few kilometers heading inland, we decided to take the road heading south toward Cape Otway, home to “Australia’s most significant lighthouse.” The lighthouse at the cape is the oldest surviving lighthouse on mainland Australia, and is situated on the sea cliffs where the Bass Strait and the Southern Ocean collide.
On the way back from the astonishing views at the cape, we passed through magnificent forests seeing koala after koala up in the gum tree canopies. Since being in Australia, I had never seen such a high concentration of koalas in one place. There were people stopped along the road for a few kilometers, out of their cars, looking up into the canopy of the forest. Some trees had as many as 5 koalas along the limbs. Truly astounding!
It was back on the main road, heading to Lavers Hill, the most elevated of all the towns along the Great Ocean Road. We stopped for a quick lunch of fish and chips and then headed back on the road, anxious to see what we were going to see around the next corner.
The next stop was at Port Campbell National Park, home to the dramatic 12 Apostles, rock sculptures carved by the waves of the Southern Ocean. We parked the car and took a walk out to the cliffs to find a boardwalk hugging cliffs. The formations were created by erosion of the limestone cliffs beginning 20 million years ago. The Southern Ocean and the constant blasting of the winds gradually formed caves in the cliffs creating arch formations. Eventually, the arches collapsed leaving only the rock stands 20-30 meters from shore. I truly think there should be an “Eighth Wonder of the World” added to the list, and it should be these rock formations!
The final stop on this wonerous road was in Port Fairy, just west of the end of the road in Allansford. We passed over the Hopkins River through the large town of Warnambool to get there. I will also add that we passed the Hopkins Highway. Mary Kate would definitely have felt at home!
Port Fairy was a beautiful town along the Moyne River and seemed to have a ton of Irish influence. It really reminded us a lot of Ireland! We arrived at the Douglas on River, our home for the two nights that we were there. We were greeted by our host and shown the apartment on the top floor of the bed and breakfast. We dropped off our bags and headed into town for a beer.
We decided to stop at the Caledonian Inn, the oldest continually licensed hotel in Victoria, for a pint and a countermeal. I felt like I was in Ireland so much that I decided on a Guinness! I settled my hungry tummy with a lamb Greek salad. Go figure, right? I looked for Sheppard’s pie but didn’t see it on the menu. My mom enjoyed the Caesar salad, and my dad decided on the more traditional chicken Parm. After the long drive and being in the car for so long, we decided that an early night was in store and headed back to the inn after dinner.
We woke up the following day, early, and decided to head over to Griffiths Island, which was restricted to only foot traffic along the track encircling the island. On our way to the end of the island, where the lighthouse is situated we passed a few wallabies and mutton birds. Once we arrived at the lighthouse, we were stopped in our tracks at the sight of some of the most massive waves that we had ever seen; they even competed with the ones we had seen in South Africa. We were then surprised to see that there were surfers out on the water testing their limits to get an adrenaline high. Mom and I decided to collect a few shells along the rocks and came across some really nice ones! We’ll just have to see what customs says when we get back into the states!
Along the track back, we walked along the beach and came across a washed up puffer-fish and a dead little penguin. I really wanted to keep the penguin, but I didn’t know how long it was there and what kind of diseases it had! s After the walk around the island we headed into town to have morning tea. We settled on a pie and coffee each. The pies were delicious and the coffees were strong!
After walking around town, we decided to head back to change for dinner. We headed back out later to go to Ramella’s, a beautiful Turkish restaurant along the main road in town. Dad and I decided to try their take on Işkender Kebab, a traditional Turkish lamb dish, which happens to be my favorite! Nothing beats an Ișkender Kebab in its homeland but it sure was good in Port Fairy!
The next morning we made our way to Wagga Wagga, only for one night on our way to Sydney! Look for part 3 tomorrow!