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Australia, The Great Ocean Road
Magdalena Shaw   

HIT THE ROAD: a day won’t be enough

THE GREAT OCEAN ROAD, AUSTRALIA

The Great Ocean Road is exactly what you think it is. It’s great, runs at the ocean and you just want to drive on. Altogether it is about 240 km of amazing views along the south-eastern coast of Australia. The remarkable scenery, the sun, the rocks and the ocean, all are there. The huge empty most outstanding beaches you can possibly imagine, even comparing to the “paradise-like” ones in Queensland.

For us it was also one of the greatest drives as well. We were lucky to see it in two bits, one time we were shown the end (Warnambool and Port Fairy) and another time we drove on from Melbourne to start at the beginning (Torquay, Lorne, Apollo Bay). Of course, the beginning and end might be other way around, depends how you hold the mapJ Funnily enough, we missed the middle bit with its famous rocks, 12 Apostles. Well, till the next time.

Really, the only important piece of information is that the views of rough ocean hitting the rocky cost are breathtaking all the way. Something you might experience for days and never get used to it. There is a chance for a hike too in the national park where, after a short walk, you will find yourself exploring forests, little hills, river cascades and the most impressive waterfalls. They have everything there. Whatever you point your camera at, you will have a picture to put on the wall.

Historically, it’s quite interesting too: the road was constructed to provide work for soldiers returning home and the road itself is dedicated as a memorial to those who died in the WWI. It is 77 years old and it’s way better, technologically too, than anything I’ve seen in Europe. Eh. Most of the road is glued to the coast tightly so you spend your time staring at the side window. You can go up to 100km/h there but in no way you would like to do that! First of all you don’t speed because you want to see it ALL and you keep looking away all the time and taking photos at 100km/h is not that easy. Secondly, you slow down for serious safety reasons: there is one lane in each direction, if you missed the road, you’d either hit the car coming or the rocks or end up the ocean. There are frequent stop-over opportunities and well-signed lookouts, even between the urban areas where you slow down anyway; you just have to be careful not to miss the a place to stop as you go (you need to indicate the intention to stop earlier, not in the “Polish way”). Speed cameras are everywhere together with the clear road signs informing you…about the speed cameras. Also, you will be frequently reminded to drive…on the left if in case you forgot you’re in Australia. And honestly, you can forget your name, that’s how beautiful it is out there.

For us Torquay was the beginning, which was the first dot on the map (it is about 100 km west of Melbourne). It is a typical surfers’ place so if you’re a surfer go thereJ There is one of the most famous surf beaches nearby, the Bells Beach. We stopped further up, at Lorne, a tiny place on the way where we’ve had another fish’n’chips, and we suspect we were given a bit of a shark, but we’re not sure. It exists as town since late 1860s and has population of a 1000 people only! There are Erskine Falls a 15 minute drive inland from Lorne and Kennett River is there too, which is a popular for koalas, but…we skipped those two because our prolonged suspicious lunchJ

Everyone at the Great Ocean Road, unless one is very unobservant, must notice the cliff-hanging house. It is…a house suspended on a pole 40 metres above Fairhaven beach. It was built in 1978 (sic!) and it’s available for rent! Well, think about the view and about all the holiday pictures of all the passers-by you could find yourself in, just standing at the terrace, for only PLN 5000 (AUD 2500) a week.

The Apollo Bay gives you the easy access to the Otway National Park. After a quick walk we reached a place where one just stops and stares at the trees and waterfalls. And we were the only ones there. The top of the holiday season, and total number of people apart from us – zero. We spent an afternoon on the beach, fighting with waves and wind. Also, that was the first and only time where I’ve seen a river on the beach! Oh, we were told there are no people there because it was too cold and a bit windy. Yeah, 21 degrees is not enough for them to bathe in the ocean. And for us? Ppfffft.

The bit we’ve missed: we didn’t see the 12 Apostles. What I’ve learnt writing this, is that there are no longer 12 of them, and no-one is sure whether there ever been so anyway. These are rock columns that over the centuries have become separated from the mainland cliffs: the tallest is about 50 metres high, compared to the 70 metre high cliffs close by. One of the apostles feel into the sea 3 years ago. Oh, and originally they were called “The Sow and the Piglets” (“Maciora i prosiaczki”). Hah, a bit different image, isn’t it.

Paradoxically, we’ve experienced Warnambool and Port Fairy at completely different time and circumstances. It was out first place to visit, after the arrival to Melbourne, a way before we hit the Great Ocean Road in our little car. We’ve lived in Warnambool with our dear friends in the most beautiful home I’ve seen, originally a Methodist church. Lexi, our friend, didn’t like her home town much maybe because she’s spent a year in Europe, I don’t know…but she called the town “a hole”. It isn’t big, true, but its lovely beach place where you can see whales (apparently NOT at the time of year when we were there) and spent a day on a enormous beach and not see more than 7 people. We didn’t have a chance to have our sunbathing time there, instead we were caught into the rainfall-sand storm and hardly managed to reach home. Another breathtaking (literally this time!) experience.

Lexi took as to Port Fairy, another lovely beach place where we actually went swimming! Also, the place with the most doggy fish’n’chips shop serving amazing food and, as we were about to learn, the place was actually very classy even with the fish being served on the packing paper. Around there, we’ve seen beaches with seaweeds of a look and size of a truck tire. What’s more, it’s all situated at the black pointy volcanic rocks: again, pretty outstanding and again, totally unpopulated place.

I would like to mention here that the day on the beach at Port Fairy and one at the Apollo Bay were the ONLY two days we swam in the water during our 30-day stay in Australia in the summer. Nota bene: no-one mentions sunbathing! It’s difficult with the arctic wind! Ask Ola what she thinks about it……….still, it was all exceptional and extraordinary. The whole of Australia, I mean.

 

 

                       

The official website and good source of info: www.greatoceanrd.org.au

Komentarze (2)
wow indeed
2 środa, 15 kwietnia 2009 21:12
no Tom Hanks, though! Still, the surfers were nice too:))
wooooow!!!
1 wtorek, 14 kwietnia 2009 19:46
cast away!:):):)

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