The Great Ocean Road
Up early to get on the road, which we achieved by just after 9, not too bad. Fuel topped up while Ruth went to look for a pair of reading sunglasses as hers had broken. No luck with that, have to try a bigger town.
We joined the GOR and headed west, past the Otway Lighthouse turnoff and along through the Otway forest, a beautiful drive amongst the soaring eucalypts and massive beech myrtle, all very green. Out of the forest and through farmland to Lavers Hill, a bit of a climb but the car took it well if a little slowly. Another lovely drive down towards the coast again and we soon reached the Twelve Apostles car park. Not too many busloads yet.
It was a brilliant sunny day, the sky was blue with a few puffy clouds, but we still had the cool, even cold breeze straight off the ocean, all the way from Antarctica! The Twelve Apostles are still as stunning as when we first saw them, five years ago. They looked resplendent in the bright sunshine, blue ocean and the white breakers crashing around them. Awesome.
We returned to the car through hordes of Chinese tourists, the busloads had arrived, we escaped just in time. On along the Road we called in at several of the other sights; Loch Ard Gorge, The Arch, Worms Bay, London Bridge, the Bay of Islands and The Grotto. On the way along the track to the Grotto a black banded snake slithered across the track in front of me, passing only a metre in front of me. Just glad I did notice it and not step on it! (
Later discovered it may well have been a tiger snake - highly venomous; death within 45 minutes if untreated!!!)
Ok, time to move on, spectacular as the coastline is, we needed to get to a campsite for the night further on down the road. Once clear of the GOR just before Warrnambool we joined the Princes Highway through little towns and settlements, the countryside was green and lush. Haymaking was in full swing. Lots of sheep and cattle. Warrnambool was ugly, Port Fairy was pretty. On across mile after mile of farmlands and several sections of commercial forests we arrived at Portland. Not a very pretty city, it is a major port and aluminium smelter, though it being the first European settlement in Victoria it does have a ‘old town’ of late 18th century buildings. Found our campsite and settled in. Many, many cockatoos and other very noisy birds, as I write at 9 o’clock in the evening, past sunset skies gradually darkening. Hope they settle down soon.
So, our first full day on the road, all went well, striking and later setting up camp went without a hitch, it was almost like carrying on from our last trip. Good stuff.