Sunday, January 26, 2014

Road trip: Day 1 - Melbourne to Warrnambool

I've taken my time getting around to writing about our road trip in early January. It's a long weekend for Australia Day, so I thought I should get off my butt (or, rather, on my butt) and blog. 

On our first day Luke and I drove along the Great Ocean Road (GOR) to Warrnambool. 

Iconic Bells Beach near Torquay. Not a great day for the beach 
(for us, I mean, not surfers) - it was very windy and a bit chilly

The Split Point Lighthouse at Aireys Inlet

It's a pretty little lighthouse

Although the sky was mostly grey, there were some sunny
 breaks which turned the shallows a beautiful aqua blue 

The lush rural hinterland near Apollo Bay...a dramatic
contrast to what was to come later in our trip

That's the ocean at Apollo Bay in the distance

Our next stop was at Cape Otway. There's a lighthouse there, but we thought the admission fee was a bit steep, so we walked to the little historic cemetery nearby instead.  In the late 1800s it was the burial place for about a dozen people mostly connected with the lighthouse (including several infants) and victims of drownings at sea. 

One of the graves is for a seaman who died in the Eric The Red shipwreck in 1880. The ship had sailed from New York en route to Melbourne carrying exhibits for the International Exhibition.

Another is for Thomas Monk who died in the Blanket Bay disaster

It reads: In memory of Albert Griffiths Chief Officer aged 33 years * Thomas Monks aged 34 years * Alexander Mathieson aged 23 years * Who lost their lives in the Blanket Bay disaster 21st March  1896 * Erected on the grave of Thomas Monk by their shipmates and friends

There were tracts of skeletal trees on the road between the GOR and Cape Otway. They were eerily beautiful and reminded me of the trees we saw on top of Lake Mountain in 2012. I don't think they were dead as some were sprouting leaves. I'm not sure what was going on with them. 

Some - the ones with more leaves - had koalas in them! 

 This was the first of several wildlife encounters on our trip

Mmmmm... gum leaves...munch munch munch

We stopped at the little town of Lavers Hill for sustenance and I was thrilled to find a packet of homestyle gluten-free melting moments biscuits. They were delicious too - far superior to ones I bought recently from the gourmet mecca of the David Jones food hall. 

Next up was Melba Gully, a patch of mossy, ferny, licheny, fungusy rainforest with some superb trees. 
 This one has a face, a spooky face

 Moss-covered tree

 Above tree, with tree fern

Fungus on a fallen log

Next up was the best-known stretch of the GOR - the bit with the Twelve Apostles and the other rock formations beyond.

 The Twelve Apostles

 The Apostles again

 The Loch Ard Gorge. The open wild Southern Ocean lies 
through that gap in the rocks 

The Loch Ard Gorge is my favourite. It's a secluded cove bound by high cliffs, with a little beach and a cave at the back with stalactites and stalacmites (below).  I like it because it doesn't attract anywhere near as many tourists as the Twelve Apostles and because when I was in grade six I won an essay competition in which I had to imagine I was one of the two survivors of the Loch Ard shipwreck. My story was published in the local paper. I always think about that when I visit. 

The gorge is named after the ship because the survivors came ashore there. The rugged coast in this part of Victoria is known as the Shipwreck Coast because of the more than 600 sailing ships that came to grief there in the 1800s to early 1900s. 

The cave

 Further alone, the Bay of Martyrs in the golden hour

The sun setting over the Bay of Martyrs 

We continued on to Warrnambool, checked into our motel, managed to get a restaurant meal at 9.30 on a Monday night (Warrnambool is quite large, but still a country town). The restaurant also offered gluten-free options. I was impressed...even though I then chose to eat gluten because bread is delicious.  It's nice to have the option, y'know?

We both slept very well. 


Andrew said...

You were at Lavers Hill but not walk the Otway Fly?

Jayne said...

No, we were on a fairly tight schedule as our first night's accom in Warrnambool was pre-booked (and we didn't arrive until 9.00pm as it was). In hindsight, stopping for the night an hour or two closer to Melbourne would have been a better idea, but I'm sure we'll have opportunities to go back and do the bits we missed.

Lindy said...

Beautiful photos. I love the fungus and I love Lochard Gorge. I have been there a few times but not for many years. I really enjoyed this post.