We set off only slightly later than planned, for the Great Ocean Road. Through Geelong, paying our homage to Peter Ricardi as we go, we decide to cut through the Otways, which turns out to be an excellent decision. After the flat, and at this time of year, dry, agricultural land of Victoria, the Otways suddenly take us into mountains and thick forest. They come as a great surprise and we enjoy dramatic views and the winding, dipping road through forest shrouded intermitently in cloud, that covers the road like a real moors' mystery. This route also affords us our first spectacular views of the Great Ocean Road as we slowly and windingly descend towards the coast at Apollo Bay, our stop for the night.
We book into a hotel with sea views then head off to a forest walk inland to make the best of the light. We are soon surrounded by huge trees and crazy undergrowth with a disticntly 'Hobbitty' feel, and follow the path through the continually degenerating and regenerating patchwork of rainforest. It is cold and moist and beautiful and the silence is punctuated only by our 'oohs' and 'ahs'and 'looks' as we spy some new wierdness.
Returning to Apollo Bay, Jack and Al and I walk along the beach as the sun goes down and Sam takes a 'little nap'. Jack and I scour desperately for stones to skim and fanny around with large pieces of seaweed, whilst Al, with apparently more sense than the pair of us put together, (although she does do the 'Buffalo Gal' with a particularly long piece of seaweed/ skipping rope), captures it all on film to be used at a later date. As the light fades we stop at the Apollo Bay Hotel for a cold one (or 2 or 3) and decide we may return later. After a spot of 'tiffin' on our balcony (courtesy of the local grog shop), we make good our earlier decision and spend the evening pumping some dollars into the local economy and into the video jukebox, and time passes quickly as we sing along to old favourites and swig down a very passable version of strongbow. Eventually we are asked to leave ( because it was closing time, not because our singing was atrocious, although it was, they're just very tolerant) and the evning ends with Sam and me getting lost on the beach ( we thought we'd have a romantic walk - it was freezing and pitch black) and having to make a leap of faith as we guess the way back through the dunes.