Great Ocean Road Trip

Great Ocean Road

At the end of the last blog we we’re leaving Melbourne for a long weekend road trip along the Great Ocean Road.

Great Ocean Road Memorial Arch
Great Ocean Road Memorial Arch

At nearly 250 kilometres long the Great Ocean Road is the world’s largest War Memorial.

Memorial Arch Sculpture
Memorial Arch Sculpture

It was constructed by soldiers returning from WWI and is dedicated to all who fell in the war. This Memorial Arch sits proudly across the road and is a popular spot for tourists like us to stop and get a picture. I got my picture then it was Jenni’s turn. Some tourists like to make a production out of it, like the girl behind Jenni.

Jenni at the Memorial Arch
Jenni at the Memorial Arch

The road is a National Heritage site and rightly so. It hugs the coastline for most of its length and the views are breathtaking. This is one of the truly, “Bucket List” journeys of the world.

We were camping in Wye River for the next 3 nights, using this as a location to explore the region. On Sunday we’d planned to drive the 2 hours further along the road to see the poster child of the region, the 12 Apostles. We did and I’ll get to that presently.

Wye River

Wikicamps is a very useful app. I used it to check out all the camping options along the route and the Wye River council run camp site got top marks. It boasts some of the best facilities and is right on the beach.

Dining on the beach
Dining on the beach

We set up camp and carried the camp chairs and table the 10 metres from the tent site to the beach and sat there and had a drink while listening to the waves crashing on the beach and the sun set behind Wye River.

Wye River Camp Site - views along the coast
Wye River Camp Site – views along the coast

My plans to relax on Saturday were mildly impacted. A better camp site became available and I asked if we could move, they said yes so I spent a while relocating our tent. Also, on the first night, the airbed popped a slow leak. I had to top it up several times in the night. I couldn’t find the leak so resolved to buy another airbed. We’ve had that one for ages. The nearest camping place was 1 hour drive away. It all worked out for the better in the end. The bed we now have is 10 times better than the old one and the new site we moved to was quiet, flat and sheltered.

The 12 Apostles Trip

On Sunday we set off early-ish to see the famous 12 Apostles. They are a landmark feature of the south coast of this part of Australia. A storm was forecast and the skies roiled with dark ominous clouds. I was happy, blue skies make an uninteresting picture, black storm clouds are much better. Rain pelted us as we drove towards the famous coastal scene. The forecast also said it would blow over in a couple of hours. If it did we’d get some great storm clouds to backdrop everything.

Port Campbell

By the time we got to the 12 Apostles visitors centre there were 20 bus loads of tourists from Melbourne. We  knew they’d go in an hour or so, so instead of parking we turned around and drove the short distance to Port Campbell for lunch.

Port Campbell
Port Campbell

Port Campbell is a tiny, but pretty little village of about 600 people. Its biggest draw is its proximity to the various landmarks of the region. Lunch was good. On the drive to Port Campbell we saw various signs for other landmarks such as Loch Ard and Thunder Cave. On the drive back towards the Apostles we stopped for a while at each of these.

Loch Ard

On the 1st June 1878 the clipper ship Loch Ard ran aground in a storm. It was near the end of its 3 month journey taking passengers from England to Melbourne. 52 people drowned and only 2 survived. They named this part of the coast Loch Ard Gorge.

Loch Ard
Loch Ard

The region is now a park and is well serviced for tourists with pathways, viewing platforms and steps all around it.

The Sign to Thunder Cave
The Sign to Thunder Cave

As you walk along the pathways towards Thunder Cave the grandeur of the coastline becomes apparent.

The Spectacular Broken Head
The Spectacular Broken Head

Up close it’s even better.

Stormy seas batter the coast
Stormy seas batter the coast

Thunder Cave

Thunder Cave sign
Thunder Cave sign

Thunder cave did make a roaring thunderous sound as the waves rushed in and out.

Thunder Cave
Thunder Cave
Thunder Cave
Thunder Cave

On the walk back from Thunder Cave you go through the Loch Ard cemetery which was created as a commemoration of those who lost their lives in the shipwreck.

Loch Ard Cemetery
Loch Ard Cemetery

It’s small and serene. The storm clouds made it an even more moody place that day. A short walk past the cemetery you can gain access to the beach in Loch Ard Gorge. It was packed with tourists but I managed to get a shot with no-one in it.

Loch Ard Gorge
Loch Ard Gorge

There were some caves at the other end of the beach but they were both roped off.

Loch Ard Gorge Caves
Loch Ard Gorge Caves

The 12 Apostles

It was a short drive to the Apostles car park and visitor centre. It was still very busy but we plowed on. It’s a short walk through a tunnel under the road to the viewing platforms.

From Wikipedia: The Twelve Apostles is a collection of limestone stacks off the shore of the Port Campbell National Park, by the Great Ocean Road in Victoria, Australia.

The place was busy but there were still opportunities to get a clear view of the rocks and the storm clouds were very accommodating providing a pretty dramatic backdrop.

Some of the 12 Apostles
Some of the 12 Apostles, and their worshippers.

There were only ever 9 Apostle Rocks but they get eroded and fall into the sea. The last one collapsed in 2005, Jenni remembers it being on TV.

Coast6

On the other side of the viewing platform there are a couple more.

More Apostles
More Apostles

We could not have wished for better light for this day. The guys put on a magic show for us. As we were leaving we saw a young girl walking past these impressive monuments watching a YouTube video of a K-Pop band on her phone, head down. You never can please everybody.

The drive back was a beautiful as the way out. The coastline is breathtaking. The road twists and turns majestically through the countryside and around the coast.

Not so fried out Combi
Not so fried out Combi

There was one lookout point we saw on the way back full of cars, on a coastline like this with dozens of lookout points, for one to be this popular we had to see what it was about.

Coastal scene along the Great Ocean Road
Coastal scene along the Great Ocean Road

It certainly was a good spot to stop and admire the view.

Koalas

Felicity and Colin, our next door neighbours, on our first night camping in Wye River, told us of this unique road that goes through a Eucalyptus Tree forest where they saw loads of koalas. It was on the way back to the campsite so we planned to give it a go ourselves.

Sleeping Koala
Sleeping Koala

They weren’t wrong. If you read my blogs regularly we’ve seen exactly 2 Koalas in the wild at various times in different states. This place had 3 in the trees along the road, and those were the ones we could see. I’m sure there were dozens more if we had the skill to spot them,

Another sleeping Koala
Another sleeping Koala

They were all sleeping, they do sleep a lot. There’s not much nutrition in eucalyptus and it takes a long time to digest so they sleep 20 hours a day.

Yet another sleeping koala
Yet another sleeping koala

They are very, very cute though. I was very excited.

And so it ended. Our Great Ocean Road drive. We had a beer in the pub in Wye River and went back to the campsite for our usual sunsetter drink on the beach. A perfect end to a perfect day. Australia…you just keep delivering.

We’re in Williamstown and Melbourne for another week then we’re off to Tasmania for 5 months of fun and exploration. Till next time.

Jim and Jenni

 

 

 

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