Monday, 4 June 2012

The Great Ocean road from Apollo Bay to Port Fairy 25/5/12 to 1/6/12

We drove off the boat in Melbourne to pouring rain. From here we were setting off along the Great Ocean Road. Our drive from the Spirit of Tassie to Apollo Bay, our first stop along the road, was the worst yet. The Melbourne Geelong area had a months worth of rain in a day and it all landed on us. This was disappointing because we didn't get a good view of the start of The Great Ocean Road. Amazing fact; the Great Ocean Road was built by hand by the return soldiers between 1919 and 1932 as a monument to the fallen soldiers of WW1. That's 243kms of road. What a feat.

On arrival in Apollo Bay we had to set up in the wind and rain. Vicki was actually standing in the rain talking on her mobile phone to me, on my mobile, to help direct me onto the site. Then, when I wound the van up off the towbar, the wind moved the front of the van about a foot, even though it was chocked. A bit scary and had me going fast to get the stabilisers down so that all was stable and secure. Also frightening for Vicki as she was in the van at the time. Not surprisingly, set up was one of the quickest yet.

On our full day at Apollo Bay we went off to Cape Otway to check out the lighthouse and the area. We managed to get it all in before the rain returned. Back at our camp site we spent the rest of the afternoon in the camp kitchen, which was very good. Boys played with their Lego and read while we did some planning of our trip. It was good to be able to spread out in a quality camp kitchen. We spent a fair bit of time there due to the bad weather.

We moved on to Port Campbell, which was a beautiful drive along the beach. It was not a very long  and we managed to set up and then head back along the road to go in and view the 12 Apostles, Loch Ard Gorge, Thunder Cave, Broken Head, Gibson Steps and Razor Back. It was very impressive watching the massive waves hitting the limestone formations or the actual cliff faces. The power of the ocean is something else. It's actually quite mesmerising as you stand there and watch and listen. Again, the caravan park had a good quality camp kitchen and we spent the evening in there.

Next day we headed west of the town and checked out The Arch, London Bridge, The Grotto, Bay of Martyrs and Bay of Islands. Again, all very impressive. At the Port Campbell Info Centre we were lent an anemometer (measures wind speed) and binoculars. The boys had fun working out the different wind speeds at all the different sites. We visited the small town of Peterborough for picnic lunch and boys spent time playing in the local park, something they haven't done for a while. We ended the day having a drink in the pub that overlooks the bay at Port Campbell. As the weather had turned bad again the bay was very rough and the waves were coming up over the break wall.

On our way to Port Fairy we stopped in Warnambool to visit Flagstaff Hill Maritime Museum. It is set up as a village to reflect the areas early maritime history. Boys enjoyed it. At Port Fairy we checked into the Big 4 Caravan Park and the boys were happy as it had a heated indoor pool and a jumping pillow. As it was a raining a bit, we spent time in the van after setting up. Boys did some school work and Vicki read a New Idea and a Who magazine which she found in the laundry. She was very impressed to have acquired such high quality reading material. We again utilised the camp kitchen, which was of good quality. This one had a wood heater, however, one side of the building was open to the weather so we had to practically sit on top of the heater to get the warmth.

Next day we headed into town to check it out. What a beautiful spot. Sailing boats moored on the River Moyne Jetty and very nice accommodation houses all along the river bank. We had a lovely walk around the area working out which boat we would own and which house we would live in. We spotted a seal in the river and later found out he was a local resident. His hang out was the fish clean up area where he would wait for the boats to return and the fishermen to clean their catch and throw the scraps out to him. We walked across the foot bridge to Griffiths Island and then walked around it. Checked out the lighthouse (probably seen enough lighthouses now) and the mutton bird nesting areas. Hundreds, maybe thousands of burrows but no birds as they are off somewhere else, no doubt somewhere else warmer. We returned to town and checked out some of the older heritage buildings.

Next day we awoke to beautiful weather. No real plan for any tourist type activities so we used the day to catch up with our domestic duties. While Jacob and Nathan had fun in the pool, on the jumping pillow and in the go karts that they had hired, I cleaned the car and caravan and Vicki did all the washing. Later in the afternoon we went into town to see if we could see any whales off the coast (local radio station said one or two had been sighted). Didn't see any but spent time watching fishermen clean their considerable catch of Blue Fin Tuna. Also checked out the rest of the town up along the eastern beach area. Later we stopped off for a pre-dinner drink at the Merringi Inn (built in 1841) before going to local Asian restaurant for a very nice dinner. All in all a very good stop and we loved Port Fairy and found it one of the best towns we have visited. 

Day one on the Great Ocean Road heading to Apollo Bay.

Apollo Bay

Cape Otway Lighthouse

Trees on the way to Cape Otway were full of koalas. Look harder.

Rainy day activity for the boys. Thanks to cousin Annie and family.

View from our caravan at Apollo Bay

12 Apostles

Port Campbell Bay on a rough day

The food is not really that bad.

Port Campbell bay on a calm morning

The Arch

The budding meteorologists

London Bridge

The Grotto

Bay of Martyrs

Art work by Nathan Brennan. He was very proud of this and wanted it in the blog.

Down in The Grotto

Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village

The beautiful town of Port Fairy

The boys had fun in the indoor heated pool

After that they hired the go karts

While Doug washed the car and caravan

and Vicki washed every item of clothing we owned.

The fisherman cleaning the days catch 

Blue Fin Tuna

And the resident seal awaits the scraps. Although he does have to compete with mantarays

Pre-dinner drinks for all. The beer is Doug's.

Dinner at Port Fairy "Kung Fu Asian". Very delicious.

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