(16/3/2018 – 20/3/2018)
Here we go – the Great Ocean Road!!!! Sunshine and blue skies for our start at Torquay!!! After a visit to the Information Centre and grabbing our morning cappuccinos we were on our way……….
After a drive through Torquay we then headed down to the famous Bells Beach where they were setting up for the Rip Curl Pro Surfing competition which was running from 28 March – 8 April. Bummer we were just a couple of weeks too early!!!!
We continued along the GOR where we passed through Anglesea and then we stopped at the Great Ocean Road Memorial Arch for some photos.
The Memorial Arch is a tribute to the World War One servicemen who built the Great Ocean Road. The present arch is the third built to replace the second one destroyed in the Ash Wednesday bushfires of February 1983. The timber log archway with cement and stone supports on each side spans the Great Ocean Road.
The Great Ocean was completed in 1932 as a memorial to those who served in World War One and the arch was first erected in 1939 as a memorial to Mr W.B McCormack, honorary engineer to the Great Ocean Road Trust. A plaque unveiled on the arch in 1939 commemorated those who served in World War One.
The arch was replaced in 1973 and again in 1983 when bush fires destroyed the second arch. Plaques commemorate the three arches and the 50th anniversary in 1982 of the opening of the road. A memorial plaque was unveiled near the arch on the 75th Anniversary of the opening of the road.
We then continued on and stopped to look at the Split Point Lighthouse which was near Aireys Inlet.
Andrew doing some trick photography!!!
After passing through Lorne, we then drove up to Teddy’s Lookout on recommendations from staff at the visitor info centre, well, the drive up was a bit hairy!!!! OMG, how we got our caravan up this very steep road and then to park it at the lookout carpark was just down to terrific driving by Andrew. Yes, the lookout was fantastic but I can’t believe that the staff at the Visitor Info Centre said you can take a caravan here!!! Afterwards, we contacted the info centre and made a point saying that it is not a good place for a caravan to be towed and that there is not much room in the carpark for a caravan!!! We suggested to them that you shouldn’t recommend caravans going up to the lookout.
From here we then continued down to Cape Otway where we checked into Bimbi Park – ‘Camping under Koalas’ for 2 nights. It was a caravan and camping park set in lovely bushland and there were many koalas residing in the surrounding trees. In the local Aboriginal language, ‘bimbi’ means ‘a place of many birds’. There were many activities at the park as well as a great kids playground and rock climbing.
On Saturday we drove back to Apollo Bay. It was a beautiful warm and sunny day. We spent some time relaxing on the beach. We found a Pie shop for lunch. I missed out on trying a Tassie scallop mornay Pie whilst we were in Tasmania and finally found one here in Victoria!!!! Yummo!!!
After lunch we took a drive down to Cape Otway and did some more sightseeing around the area and then we did a walk through a bush track towards Otway Lighthouse.
There Mitchell spotted a tiger snake slithering along the pathway. Yikes!!! Good spotting Mitch!!! Since we only had thongs on I didn’t want to continue anymore so we turned around and walked back to the car. Getting a close up photo of the lighthouse wasn’t that important!!!!
That night the weather changed for the worse. The rain and wind were horrific. Our caravan was hit so many times by branches and leaves, we were so worried that a tree was going to fall on it. A tree branch did fall across someone’s tent opposite us. Thank god, no one was hurt!!!! It was so scary, we didn’t sleep well that night.
The next day the rain had eased but the winds continued – felt like 100km per hour!!!!!! We packed up and drove to Princetown Reserve and stayed there overnight. The wind was just so bad, it was best to park up and stay inside. I lost control of the caravan door whilst trying to close it and snapped a hinge off it!!! Oops!!
On Monday we packed up and continued along the GOR. Andrew had to tape up the door. Unfortunately the weather was cold and cloudy with the winds continuing all day but there were a few bursts of sunshine throughout the day. We stopped at Gibson Steps, the 12 Apostles, Lock Ard Gorge, the Bay of Islands, the Grotto, the Arch and London Bridge.
Gibson Steps – There are 86 steps that were carved into the face of the cliff. Originally, it is thought the steps were cut out by the Kirrae Whurrong people, a local tribe who called the area home.
It wasn’t until 1869 that the steps got their full use and their name. Pioneer Hugh Gibson built nearby Glenample Homestead and regularly used the carved steps to access the beach below. During this time, it was constantly used by fishermen and other seafaring workers to get to the beach and the water. Gibson is most famous for his role in the Loch Ard shipwreck. The two survivors, Tom Pearce and Eva Carmichael, regained their strength at his homestead.
We walked down the steps and along the beach but then had to make a jump for it on to a large boulder as a huge wave suddenly came up onto the beach.
The 12 Apostles is a collection of limestone stacks. When they were christened the 12 Apostles by Victorian tourism in the 1920s, there were only 9 in the cluster. There are now 8 Apostles left, the ninth having collapsed dramatically in July 2005. And with the rapid rate of erosion, it is forecast that this number will reduce even further. The 12 Apostles were great but obviously would have been better viewing if the weather was sunny, oh well, can’t pick the weather!!
Loch Ard Gorge – Back in 1878, a large clipper ship engraved with the name Loch Ard beached on nearby Muttonbird Island after a tumultuous journey from England. Unfortunately, only two of the fifty-four passengers survived, one of whom was a fifteen-year-old boy called Tom Pearce, and the other a seventeen-year-old Irish girl called Eva Carmichael.
Both passengers were washed ashore during the event where Pearce proceeded to raise an alarm to the surrounding locals. Even though the act saved Carmichael’s life, they never fell in love or got together. Eva returned to England soon after, having lost most of her family in the tragedy. Pearce continued to live a fruitful life and was often referred to as a hero of his time.
All along this stretch of coastline of the GOR there are tiny pockets of isolated beaches, amazing sights and a collection of wonderful landmarks to stop and look at.
Bay of Islands
This stack was formed by a gradual process of erosion, and until 1990 formed a complete double-span natural bridge, hence the name London Bridge. The span closer to the shoreline collapsed unexpectedly on 15 January 1990 leaving 2 tourists stranded on the outer span for 3 hours before being rescued by police helicopter.
The Great Ocean Road is approx 244 kilometres starting in Torquay and finishing at Allansford, near Warrnambool. We checked into the Discovery Parks Caravan Park in Warrnambool late Monday afternoon. On Tuesday night we went to the Flagstaff Hill Museum for a Sound and Light Show.
What an amazing show where we were transported back to the 19th century watching a multi screen theatre indoors and then we went outside with the tour guide and carried lanterns alongs a cobblestone pathway through the Village to a specially built Wharf Theatre. ‘Tales of a Shipwreck Coast’ comes to life through projections on a nine metre water wall.
We packed up on Wednesday morning and made our way up north to Grampians National Park.
(16/3/2018 – 20/3/2018)