Day 3 The Great Ocean Road

13th February

Melbourne to Torquay (the start)

We packed up our bags, paid for our parking ($30 AUD a day from the hotel) and bought some more buns from the Chinese bakers. Then, with our newly purchased road maps of Australia ($21 for a 'compact' book) and the Great Ocean Road ($8.95 for a fold-out piece of paper) we were off on the main part of our journey down the Great Ocean Road.

The first aptitude test was to find our way onto the M1, the main road heading south-west. Easier said than done. It looked like it should have been easy on the map - over the Yarra River and turn right. Except there was no right hand turn. And the traffic was (yet again) appalling. We eventually found a right hand turn, way down the road, so turned back on ourselves and eventually found the road that looked (on the map) as if it led to the M1. Except it didn't. The reason why there were no signs is that the road actually ran over the top of the M1 (which must have been in a tunnel)and just looked as if it joined it. It ended in a T-junction. So we could see where we wanted to be but couldn't get to it. We've come to the conclusion that Melbourn road signs and traffic are far worse than Auckland.

Eventually we found a way onto the motorway. What a relief! From here it was easy. The M1 takes you about 100km to Geelong, an industrial town on the west of Melbourn Harbour. We shirted round it, then headed for Torquay, at the start of the Great Ocean Road.

Torquay to Apollo Bay

Starting off our journey as we mean to carry on, we stopped for a coffee and cake in a very friendly cafe on the Esplanade in Torquay. A group of motor bikes passed us. This is another famous route for good bike rides. On this first day we were going to take a slow drive along the road to Apollo Bay, a distance of about XX km. Fortunately the Great Ocean Road is one of those roads where everyone takes it slowly, and there are lots of pull-offs for the slower vehicles.

Great Ocean Road

There was nothing too exciting on the road to Anglesea - it's slightly in-land. Anglesea itself seems like a typical small seaside town; we didn't stop. But we did take a detour to Point Roadknight, and down to the beach at the end. We get the impression this place has seen better days. The holiday houses ('bach's' to any New Zealanders out there) all look like they could do with a bit of a revamp, the 'kiosk' (for ice creams etc) was closed, and we're in February, which is still holiday season, and the toilets we tried to get into were closed. Best photo opportunity was of two plump middle-aged women sunbathing on the beach. Says it all really.

Our first proper stop was at the light house at Aireys Inlet. We have been avid light house photograph takers in the past so we couldn't let this one go! As light houses go it was very nice. One of the original light house keepers cottages had been turned into a teahouse (we didn't stop), and there are a few small paths that you can walk to, including to a very uninteresting grave and down to the beach.

We managed to miss Cathedral Rock, which was on our map but there didn't seem to be a 'brown sign' for it on the road ('brown signs' denoting a place of interest to a tourist). Lorne was a reasonably sized seaside town, with a row of cafes, bars and shops selling typical seaside things. As it juts out into the sea a bit, the main parade of shops and bars is north facing, meaning it catches most of the day's sun. My guess is that they will be good plaes to sit in the late afternoon/early evening, and in the off-season, but they probably get very hot at the height of a normal summer (which is not this year!).

Next stop was at the memorial to the sailors who list their lives because of the wreck of the W.B. Godfrey. Note the wording. No-one actually lost their lives at the time of the wreck, but five sailors did lose their lives, in three separate incidents, trying to salvage goods from it. In the last one, a sailor got into trouble so his captain went in to rescue him. And he died too. The wreck is now a haven for marine life. Not really an interesting monument, but an interesting story.

Further along, we stopped at another viewpoint, and parked in the car park was an extremely well used BMW 1150 GS motorbike, loaded to the gunnels with camping and other gear. It was obvious

who the driver was - an Indian dressed in equally well-used motorcycle gear. As an ex-BMW 1150 GS owner himself, Art got talking to the guy. He was originaly from Sri Lanka, and now living in Switzerland - except he hadn't been there for a while. Instead he was travelling the world. The stickers on his bike said it all - the panniers and panels were covered in the names of different countries. He was travelling with a Swiss friend at the time, who was riding pillion - but goodness knows where she sat! There was so little room…

We also managed to miss 'The Brothers', but did find Memorial Arch (whic isn't on our map). This is difficult to miss, as it is a big wooden arch that straddles the road and has 'Great Ocean Road' written in big letters across it. There is also a monument of a couple of the workers who built the road, and a dog. The compulsory plaque tells you about the workers, and why the monument is there. Apparently the Great Ocean Road was planned and building commenced in 1918, in order to provide work for returning soildiers from the Great War. Over 330,000 men went to the Great War, and around 60,000 were killed, with 120,000 injured (CHECK YOUR FIGURES). That is one high percentage of casualties…. So I bet there were more than a few members of the road crews who were less than 100% fit. I also went paddling for the first time in the Southern ocean here - the beaches are lovely, and covered in golden sand.

We'd been driving a while now, so decided to motor on to get to our pre-booked B&B, Angela's Guest House in Apollo Bay. I'd booked a 2 night 'special', which consists of the room (queen bed, en suite with a balcony and ocean view), cooked breakfast on both mornings, a meal in a local restaurant, and either a scenic flight or tickets to two other local attractions. The main reason for booking it is that our full day here is my birthday, and also Valentines Day - so having a restaurant table booked in advance seemed like a good idea.

Angela's is on the outskirts of town, and two roads back from the front. It's actually two normal houses, with lots of balconies. Our room is OK - a typical B&B type place. The bathroom and balcony are large, but the room itself is a tad on the small side. There is nowhere to put the case down, except on the floor beside the bed where I have to keep on stepping over it. There's a fridge and a kettle (which is precariously balanced on the edge of a very narrow table that is pushed up to the open wardrobe with a couple of chairs placed side by side). Oh - and a microwave that you can't use because the plug won't reach a socket and there aren't any cooking implements anyway. We can't find the remote control for the TV either. You can see the ocean view if you stand up on the balcony (which is surrounded by frosted glass) and look through the trees. Breakfast is being delivered to our room, so I expect we'll be eating it on the narrow table. The 'meal in a local restaurant' is a $20 voucher towards a meal (but they do book the table for you). We still have to find out what the flight is all about. I sound a bit cynical here - but I get the feeling that they're trying to make the place more than it should be.

Best bit of the day - a 2 hour afternoon snooze followed by an excellent fettuccini in the local bar while watching an hour and a half of 'The Big Bang Theory'. Then back in the room I started reading 'Captain Corelli's Mandolin'. What decadence!

holidays/abroad/melbourne_and_the_great_ocean_road/d_ocean_road.txt · Last modified: 2012/02/22 13:11 by art
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