Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Wagons West Birthday Extravaganza - Part 2

The screechy correllas out the back of our cabin

Day two of my Wagons West Birthday Extravaganza Road Trip Down Memory Lane ensues...

Dunkeld to Warrnambool

After a bad night's sleep (for me, anyway), Anthony and I hit the road towards the coast at 9.00 on Sunday morning. Nothing was open for breakfast, so we pressed on with empty bellies.

We saw another purdy full rainbow as we approached Penshurst, even though it wasn't raining, despite there being some fantastic fat clouds about.

We stopped off at the tiny town of Hawkesdale, where I completed my final three years of high school (that school looked pretty much as I remembered) and then continued on to the charming town of Koroit where we hoped we might find a cafe serving breakfast, but we were out of luck. Maybe we were too early, or perhaps breakfasting outside the home hasn't really caught on in small towns yet.

I had also hoped that the signage on the outskirts of town would still read: "Koroit - a green and pleasant land" as it did when I was a kid and which I always read with an Irish accent (the area has a strong Irish heritage), but alas, it was gone. I was quite taken with the old red phone box in front of the bluestone post office though (below). Koroit's main street has a nice old world feel to it, with old buildings and footpaths shaded by old shop verandahs.

As we headed towards Warrnambool, the ocean came into view. I said, "I see the sea!", which is what my brother and I always used to say as kids when we spotted the ocean. I couldn't help it.

We also passed the little house where my nanna used to live, just near what used to be the Nestle factory. I still remember the stench of coffee from when I stayed there as a kid.

Warrnambool is a large regional centre and popular tourist destination with a population of about 30,000. It's best known for the southern right whales who visit every year to give birth and its maritime history.

Anthony and I were both feeling pretty hungry by the time we arrived so we were pleased to find a few places serving breakfast in Warrnambool. I had a big cooked breakfast. Yum.

From there we headed to Logan's Beach, which is the "whale nursery". As we got out of the car, a man told us there were no whales there, but there was one near the mouth of the Hopkins River. Thanks for ruining the anticipation, Mister... although, to be honest, I wasn't really expecting to see any. And we didn't - at Logan's Beach or the river mouth, but we didn't really have time to linger, waiting, because we had a long road ahead of us.

Whale spotting...

Warrnambool onwards

From there we hit the Great Ocean Road. Wheeee! It's been about five years since I've travelled the GOR and I was really looking forward to it, not least because I'd get to cross it off my 101/40 list once the trip was complete.

There's a reason why the GOR is one of Australia's top tourist destinations, with 7 million visitors a year. There's rugged coastline with spectacular rock formations, lush temperate rainforest, lovely little seaside villages and towns, rivers and creeks flowing to the sea, and farms with rolling green hills studded with livestock.

London Arch was known as London Bridge until 1990 when the rock arch joining those two bits together collapsed into the sea, stranding a few people in the process.

Loch Ard Gorge is a nice little cove with a narrow mouth (at the right of the picture above). It was named after the Loch Ard which was shipwrecked nearby in 1878 on a voyage from England. There were two survivors, who came ashore at the gorge. When I was in Grade 6 I won a story writing competition in which we had to imagine we were one of the survivors. My story was published in the local paper, The Standard, and I got a book voucher for my efforts.

The most recognisable of the formations is the Twelve Apostles (although there's only 8 left now). The view was complimented by more fabulous clouds. There was ace cloudage all day, in fact. I was pleased. It was the cherry on top.

From the 12 Apostles we headed inland through forest and farmland, with the Hawthorn v North Melbourne (AFL) game on the radio. Anthony's an enthusiastic Hawks fan while I'm a half-hearted North supporter. North was leading as we approoched Apollo Bay and I felt conflicted. I wanted them to win, but I didn't back them in the tipping competition at work (I'm in third place).

Outside Apollo Bay, yet another rainbow appeared, and this one hung around for ages. It was there when we stopped in the town for coffee and cake and it was still there when we emerged from the cafe. North Melbourne was no longer in front in the footy though. The Hawks had come from behind to score a win. Anthony was very happy.

Apollo Bay foreshore

We hit the road again and didn't stop until Anthony dropped me off at my place, tired but happy.

Split Point Lighthouse near Lorne (taken from the moving car)

So...that's it! The weekend lived up to - no, exceeded - my expectations. The gig was great and it was wonderful - in a bittersweet way - to revisit places from my childhood. It still feels a little bit like home. I feel a new sense of fondness for it.

South-west Victoria is lovely in the cooler months when everything is lush and green. It always makes me think of the closing lines of the poem Binsey Poplars by Gerard Manly Hopkins:

Rural scene, a rural scene,

Sweet especial rural scene.

A ginormous thank you to Anthony for helping me to make my whim a reality. I couldn't be more grateful if I tried.


a work in progress said...

a stunning part of the world indeed...i spent the dawn of 2000 at Loch Ard Gorge watching the sun rise on the new millenium, and then watched OzAct perform The Tempest there in the cave and out on the beach that same evening. it's definitely a special place :)

what a fabulous birthday trip, and one that will be long remembered :)

dam buster said...

It is a fantasic place of natural beauty along there. Having the Otway ranges and the rugged coastline together makes for dramatic settings and beautiful scenery.

Yuptoo said...

oh you are SO cultured!

Anonymous said...

And where logic?