Leaving Coonawara, the landscape continued to be flat, and fertile. Huge farms all over the place, dotted with the occasional vineyard, and then, the forests took over again. Ahhhh… The obligatory stop at the border for a photo, accompanied by the inevitable moan from the kids, and we were into Victoria.
The only noticeable difference was that the roads were awful. Far too frequent bumps and dips. We were bouncing around all over the place, and we were on bitumen! C’mon Victoria, put a little money into the roads, they’re the worst in the whole bloody country!
We came to rest in a place called Port Fairy, how could you not stop in a place with a name like that, and set up the tent for the night. It felt brilliant to be back in the tent. These horrible little motels were beginning to do my head in.
Port Fairy is the beginning of the Great Ocean Road, a 243 kilometre stretch of bitumen that was built by WWI veterans on their return from the trenches in 1919.
In addition to providing employment, it also served to keep many of them out of depression after their ordeals overseas. When it was officially opened in 1932 it was declared the largest war memorial in the world, which it still is.
We set off, and truth be told flew along far too quickly. It was a beautiful drive with loads of clifftop views, and pretty little villages that we just didn’t stop at. I’d love to come back, and take a week to slowly meander along. But hey, we were on a schedule to get to school, and also, to catch up with old friends in Melbourne.
We did stop at the Twelve Apostles though, and thankfully, they didn’t disappoint.
Erin had been here about 20 years ago when she was backpacking. There was nothing apart from the cliffs back then. Now there’s a big visitor centre, and a helipad where choppers took off every five minutes to float up and down the coastline.
We went for a walk instead. Took in the view, then jumped in the car and kept going. I was getting sick of having one night, then moving on, and if we pushed on to the end of the road we could have two nights in the one place. Relax a little bit. Katie’s schoolwork was beginning to do my head too. So, bring it on.
Anglesea was about 60k’s short of Torquay, the home of surfing in Australia and the end of the Great Ocean Road. We had a couple of days exploring the area.
Katie got her hair cut in a proper hair salon for the first time (she was very chuffed with herself) and I had a little ‘Point Break’ moment to myself (which I was quite chuffed with too :).
Bells Beach is right next to Torquay, so we pulled in, and I had a look for the staircase Keanu Reeves tramped down on his way to finally nail Patrick Swayze.
I think I found it.
The kids didn’t get out the car, and Erin’s foot was sore so I wandered down on my own, and had my moment looking out at the surfers. Would have loved to have gone for a surf, if only I hadn’t lost my board in the outback :/
Now. Off to Melbourne.
It was only a couple of hours into the city from here, and I decided to try and revive the finger wave on the way. I’d noticed it had disappeared in South Australia somewhere, and I kind of missed it.
To explain. In rural Australia people will lift a finger, or two, off their steering wheel as they pass. Similar to the way people on boats often wave to each other. I think it’s an acknowledgement of that fact that ‘We’re both out here in the middle of bloody nowhere, and if it all goes tits up I’d like your help.’ But there’s also the ‘We’re both in the middle of bloody nowhere, and it’s bloody marvellous isn’t it!’
I think there’s a bit of that going on too. So my finger waving on the way into Australia’s second largest city made no sense at all. Nevertheless, I started lifting my index finger at passing vehicles. A wee nod of the head to accompany the gesture sometimes.
Nothing. Not a single response, well, not a response that I could see anyway, no doubt there were a few raised eyebrows that I couldn’t quite detect. Shame.
We crawled our way through the traffic into Melbourne, and fortunately found a park right next to our friend’s house. It was about five o’clock on Friday evening, and by 6ish I was in a pub with a few blokes having a pint of Guinness. Happiness comes in many forms 🙂
We had a relaxed couple of days catching up with old friends, wandered down to the beach as the weather was unexpectedly sunny, and the girls ran around with their kids non-stop. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy, maybe Melbourne’s not so dreary 😀
At dinner time, even before we went away on the trip, we’d often go round the table saying what was the best part of our days. For ages, no matter what we’d done that particular day Skye’s response has been “My best part of the day was camping”.
For the last couple of weeks however, every time we were packed up and driving off, Skye would often pipe up with “Where are we staying next?” followed by a whiney “I don’t want to go camping anymore. I want to go back to Sydney”.
Poor little lady. She’d had enough. “We’re heading back to Sydney sweetheart, but it’s going to take a wee while to get there.”
She was happy about our next stop however, as we were in a holiday house in Inverloch for a couple of days, kindly arranged by our Melbourne friends. Thanks!
Inverloch is nice little village on the coast, about 40 minutes away from Wilson’s Promontory National Park, which happens to include the most southerly part of the continent.
To get there however, you have to hike for 13 kilometres, set up camp, hike another four kilometres to South Point, and then another four back to your camp. A 21 kilometre day hike. Pretty exhausting for an adult, never mind one with a dodgy foot, and a couple of kids :/
We made it as far as the road can take you, checked out the track that lead south, and vowed to return one day to complete the trek. Another time, another wee adventure.
Wilson’s Promontory was beautiful though, and in fact, reminded me of Cape Le Grand National Park, all the way over the other side of the country. Except with more people.
We also visited Philip Island to try and see the famous Penguin Parade, but they only toddle up the hill as the sun goes down, which is too late for the kids at this time of year.
And finally, just as we were getting ready to leave, Skye managed to get bitten on the foot by a Jumping Ant. Wee soul, I felt so bad for her. Normally she’s pretty tough and shrugs these things off, but Jumping Ant bites are supposed to be bloody agony.
Hey ho. Off we go.