Our nippy little automatic
After much discussion and deliberation on the best/cheapest way to see the Great Ocean Road, we hired a car from Adelaide to Melbourne for the 3 day trip with our itinerary loosely based on a conventional tour.
Avis hired us a reasonably priced 5 door, brand new, automatic, Toyota Corolla which was lovely to drive. We (I) were particularly happy in was not white like most Aussie motor vehicles! The automatic gears were easier than we feared so, after a quick and embarrassing initial explanation, we were on the road.
Driving out of town we climbed up into the pretty wine region of the Adelaide Hills and the German settlement of Harndorf. At the cellar door we sampled a few good wines, of which Nepenthe Winery was a highlight for James having enjoyed their mixed grape blend named ‘Tryst’ many times before. In town lunch was classic German fare of sausages and sauerkraut. We pottered around the shops remarking how familiar the European culture and architecture seemed.
We journeyed hard along the straight Australian roads, so much so that I only took 8 photos that entire day. Miracle! Evening fell as we neared Halls Gap in the Grampian Mountains where we were to stay at the renowned Eco-lodge YHA. As light faded into dark the scenic route wound round and round and over the mountainside where signs warned of leaping Kangaroos and falling rocks. Going slightly crazed with the endless extreme cornering needed we amused ourselves using mock Scottish accents describing the dangers of the highland pass.
“Ye’ not going up t’mountain when the ‘roos are out in the dark, are‘ye mad man!?” James began
“Why yes, and those rocks could fall all about ‘ye too” replied Cesca
Finally arriving safely but tired and hungry we headed to local pub for nourishment on a fellow guests recommendation. Sadly their palettes did not match ours, but the mound of pasta filled a certain gap and I gave an extra mark for the innovative cookies n’ cream cheesecake.
We chilled in the morning taking full advantage of our 24hr Global Gossip access on wireless (Wifi) no less! I can’t believe we can use wireless in the mountains when it’s so hard to get elsewhere, bizarre! Not wanting to strain James’ swollen knee from a substantial knock on the bedpost in Cairns, we drove to the ‘MacKenzie Falls’ via an impressive view of the Grampians. This particular vista was in our view Australia laying down the gauntlet to New Zealand for the most dramatic landscape.
We picnicked back at Halls Gaps to save pennies and headed south towards Warrenambool and the Great Ocean Road. There were plenty of amazing rock-formations to see along the coast, including; ‘London Bridge’, ‘Loch & Gorge’, ‘Blowhole’, ‘Thunder Caves’ and ultimately the ‘Twelve Apostles’.
As the light ebbed away, and clouds covered any evidence of sunset, we abandoned trying to reach the ‘Twelve Apostles’ until tomorrow and headed for our hostel in Princetown. Happily we had ‘The 13th Apostle’ hostel to ourselves. Supper was a reasonable pizza, a couple of rum & cokes and accompanied by the Olympic Games in a restaurant come pub come shop come takeaway come bottle-shop come ice-cream parlour over the road!
In the morning the ‘Twelve Apostles’ were the agenda. Previously known as the ‘Sow and Piglets’ (which James preferred) there are in fact only six ‘Apostles’ still standing. The ever evolving landscape is constantly moulded by the relentless ocean creating and destroying these amazing pillars of rock. The sea is impressive in itself. The clear Atlantic waves, blue with cold, pounds against the might of the caramel-coloured rock. The Southerly wind is biting, even though temperatures are in the mid-teens.
Snapshot of us at the ‘Twelve Apostles’ taken by a fellow Canon EOS traveller. I politely put my camera on ‘P’ and he put his on ‘green square’ for a reciprocal snapshot. Insulting.
James drove us along winding coast, around cliffs and over creeks in between. We paid a visit to the Otaway Lighthouse, which was the first human settlement seen by early-settlers since leaving European shores. Standing here since 1848 it is still in perfect working order even though no concrete cements the bricks together. Once inside we were treated to a free private tour of its workings by the retired Lighthouse Keeper. Engineering was built to last in those days and amazingly I could still easily manoeuvre the heavy lights on the runners. The surrounding parkland was home to the native koalas but unfortunately we were not to see one there.
Now for those who have heard of the ’100 year storm’ or are closet ‘Point Break’, Keanu or Swayze fans, the next stop would be a must! I guess I must be a closet ‘surf bum’ so for me ‘Bells Beach’ was a childhood dream realised. James was slightly bemused by my renewed excitement at watching yet more surfers attempt to conquer the perfect wave on another Aussie beach. For me though this place was a chance to turn back time and step into movie-land and imagine striding down the beach as a cool surf chick with a sexy surfer dude by your side! I’m looking forward to re-watching ‘Point Break’ soon and smiling.
Just one more mission lay ahead before the day was out. Coasting by surfing centre of Torquay (Victoria) we had to take a photo to blog for Shaun (J’s surfer cousin) who emigrates to Oz in December and lives in Brixham, a short ferry ride from Torquay (Devon).
Photo achieved we jumped on the highway and, like a fine art, navigated through Melbourne into the suburb of St Kilda East without arguing over directions or getting entirely lost in the sea of bright lights. Awaiting us there with warmth and hospitality were Susannah and Rowan, a welcome sight indeed.