Great Ocean Road

The Great Ocean Road

January 29th 2015:
After spending a day in Melbourne, which included a very exciting visit to Melbourne Park for the Australian Open quarterfinals, we were off again to see the famous Great Ocean Road.

The Great Ocean Road is a stretch of coastal road along the beautiful and dramatic coastline to the West of Melbourne. It was built by returning World War I veterans from 1919 to 1932 and is thus often called the world’s largest war memorial. It starts in the town of Torquay just south of Geelong and then winds its way for 240 km along the coast of the Southern Ocean towards the west. There are lots of stunning look-outs along the way, with gorgeous views over the bright turquoise ocean and mountainous coastline:

         Split Point Lighthouse at Aireys Inlet     In the Southern Ocean (it was a bit too cold for swimming).

We read that there is an area near the town of Lorne, where we might have a chance to see wild Koalas. So we ask at the fish and chip store where we might see some, and the woman gave us the rather specific directions: “Just drive to Grey River Road, turn left at the shop and they are on the second tree to the right.” And indeed there were three Koalas, surround by about 25 tourists. It didn’t really feel like watching them in the wild, but it was still exciting to see them so close up.

After checking into our motel at Apollo Bay in the late afternoon we decided to drive down to nearby Cape Otway, because we were told we would have a good chance to see kangaroos there at dusk. First we were forced to do a slight detour to the nearest town in Lavers Hills because we nearly ran out of petrol. (The petrol station there wasn’t even open, but we managed to persuade the petrol station owner, who was also the landlord in the adjacent pub, to sell us at least $20 worth of petrol, which was enough to get us down to the cape and back.) Halfway along the way towards the lighthouse at the point of Otway Cape we saw our first group of kangaroos in the distance (actually the correct term would be 'a mob of kangaroos'):   

The Lighthouse at Cape Otway

At the cape we went on a short walk through the dense forest to get a view of the lighthouse (the access to the lighthouse itself was closed by now, because it was already after 7pm). On the way back it was starting to get slightly dark, which is when the animals all seem to come out. We saw a couple of Koalas in the trees. (They are quite easy to spot when they sit in trees without leaves, and they generally don’t move much.) A little further up we saw two big groups of kangaroos quite close, which was very exciting:

This apparently is a threatening pose. This big guy was trying to scare me off.

January 30th 2015:
Day 2 of our Great Ocean Road trip and towards the main highlight of the trip, the famous Twelve Apostles.

      Australian Fur Seals at Marengo Marine Sanctuary       This part of the coast is also know as shipwreck coast.

We decided to take the short 15 minute helicopter flight over the Twelve Apostles, which was absolutely stunning.

      Jen looking a bit anxious before her first ever flight in a helicopter.

We also got a video of our flight:

The Twelve Apostles from the ground:

Twelve Apostles is by now bit of a misnomer, because they occasionally collapse. So there are really only seven of them left after the latest one fell down in 2005.

This formation is called London Bridge, which was an actual bridge until 1990, when it collapsed and left two people stranded on the other side, who had to be rescued by helicopter.

This is Loch Ard Gorge, which is named after the ship the ‘Loch Ard’ which was wrecked here in 1878, leaving only 2 survivors of a crew of 37.

Our final stop, the Gibson steps, which are one of the few access points to get down to the beach.

After this amazing day we start out drive back to Melbourne before it gets dark, this time taking the much faster inland route, which gets us back to the airport in about three hours. We stay at the airport hotel, for our very early morning flights back to HK for Jen and onto Sydney for me.


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