So after what feels like many, many weeks of everything jobs, work and generally figuring out what the hell these Aussie folk are going on about, Soph and I decided that it was about time we did something touristy again, because that technically is what we are…
Around Melbourne there is a shit load to do to keep any keen bean entertained, so we decided on renting a wagon of some sort and driving ourselves down the famous Great Ocean Road. Great for a couple of reasons: 1. The scenery is absolutely epic… 2. It’s pretty fucking long! As this particular weekend appeared to be the last weekend that I was going to have completely free, due to having a job and all that, we rented a cosy little Hyundai Getz – which I can only really describe as a go-cart; an automatic, so only 2 pedals, much to the confusion of my feet which automatically went for the non-existent clutch only to find the brakes being applied (with force) and both of us coming close to flying out the windscreen on multiple occasions!
Straight away we saw our first wild kangaroo – it was dead! Road-kill at the side of the road. Not the happy hopping image I had in my head… oh well, life’s a bitch!
After rectifying a few teething problems with my little Korean Hyundai friend, I got used to the rather boring ease of driving an automatic car. The first stop on our great ocean journey was at a place called Lorne. The first stop for most people is a beachy surf town called Torquay – not to be confused with the world renowned Torquay found in the English Riviera! However we decided that Torquay could wait until day 2, the return leg of the journey.
Lorne was a picturesque little coastal town on this particular stretch of the Great Ocean Road – the stretch is known as the surf coast, and it is clear why. Every strip of shops you see in each town is surf, ice-cream, surf, café, surf… etc. We stopped our go-cart at Lorne Pier and walked off down the windy jetty. After a tip-off from a chirpy Aussie woman we spotted some sneaky sting-rays lurking in the shallows and a cheeky little seal. Awesome – first stop and already loving it!
From Lorne we kept on cruising and after a few stops at “points of interest” such as ship wrecks and view points, we landed in Apollo Bay (the bay of the gods! – just kidding, but it was a pretty impressive place). The bay rolled round for what seemed like miles – it probably wasn’t, but that’s what my memory is giving me at the moment. Anyway, “spot of lunch” we thought, so we cracked out our packed lunches and also ate some fucking delicious ice-cream – eventually anyway, after the incredibly indecisive Indians in front of us had sampled almost all of the 20 odd available flavours before all just picking the same as each other!
The Great Ocean Road meandered along the coast for miles and miles (sorry I’m in Australia now – kilometres and kilometres) tracking the fringe of Otway National Park, and sometimes diving into the wild forest reserves and popping back out again to re-join the rugged coastline. We visited Otway Lighthouse – I say visited, we got to the visitor centre and tsked at the request of $19 (!!!) to go up to the top, and decided to just walk to the free view point round the corner. $19; it’s only a fucking lighthouse, what do they take me for… Following some discussion on what to do next, the choices being a waterfall trek or cheese tasting, we obviously opted for the cheese option, dropping in at a place called Apostles Whey Cheese. And I am very glad we did, the cheese was cracking, the tasting session was free, but the over-excited purchases we made were far from free!
Next main stop was Gibson Steps and the 12 Apostles, which gave us an opportunity to marvel at the beauty of this unique coastline. The pictures below will tell you better than my ramblings, I’m sure!
From the apostles, it was getting dark so we decided to crack on to our motel in Warrnambol. Sufficiently shattered from a very eventful day and 8 hours on the road we chucked a couple steaks on the barbie (we actually did! – in true Aussie fashion) and ate lots of cheese!
Our second day was a bit up in the air from the off. The night before had thrown an epic storm our way, and it was shitting it down for most of the day! Great…
We devised a plan to stop at any places we had missed the day before – weather permitting, and if all else fails do a bit of pub hopping. We actually managed to do a bit of both in the end. We spent the first couple of hours battling the gale force winds to check out a few of the other view points along the Great Ocean Road, such as London Bridge, Arch, Gorge and the Bay of Martyrs.
After a little while we thought, “fuck this” and decided to go and do some beer tasting. We looked up a decent brewery and took a long drive up through Otway forests to the aptly named town of Forrest and visited the Forrest Brewing Company where we tucked into a tasting palette of some excellent ales – “made from the natural rainwater that falls over the great Otway National Park” (oh how pretentious, haha).
Making sure I had drunk just under the legal limit to drive (obviously…) we hopped back in the go-cart and went off (on a 2+ hour drive) to check out Torquay. I couldn’t not go to the Australian Torquay after spending my childhood growing up in the English Torquay; that would just be rude. Torquay was really nice, the weather had cleared up but still pretty chilly, so we dropped into another brewery (Blackmans Brewery) and sampled a few more delicious Victorian ales before heading up to the beach view point to watch the crazy paddle boarders taking on the elements in Torquay’s famous break (Torquay is known as the Great Ocean Roads top surf destination).
After another fun but lengthy day, with another 8 hours on the road we returned to Melbourne, both extremely satisfied with our decision to “do” the Great Ocean Road.
A few more photos: