It has been more than two months since my last blog post. Unfortunately, the rigours of work have prevented me from writing more (of course, this is just the usual excuse but whatever!). In any case, in Australia, Easter is a massive holiday starting on Good Friday and officially ending on Easter Tuesday, although many Aussies take an extra three days off to make it a whole 10 days! Never before have I enjoyed such a break for Easter so the Wife and I decided to do the Aussie thing and go on a road trip to the beach (albeit with a twist).
We left early on Good Friday morning, around 8 am, to avoid the brunt of holidaygoer traffic, and made our way north across the city centre via the West Gate Bridge. Our destination - Apollo Bay, an idyllic town (look for it on Google Maps) along the famous Great Ocean Road. We passed through the western suburbs of Altona and Werribee, motored on past the second city of Geelong towards Torquay, where the Great Ocean Road officially begins.
When we finally reached Torquay, it was about 11:30 am and both of us were quite hungry since we had had an early breakfast. In addition to stopping at the tourist information centre to pick up relevant maps, we also grabbed a quick bite to eat and plotted our trip for the afternoon. I had wanted to visit the world-famous Bells Beach near Torquay, but we were informed that there was a Rip Curl professional surfing competition on and so access was limited only to ticketholders. Nevertheless, I thought we would just pass by the area at least to see if we could catch a glimpse of the surfing action. However, the entire section of road near Bells Beach was cordoned off and marshalled by event supervisors so all we can do was simply drive through without stopping. Sigh!
In any case, we had begun our journey along the Great Ocean Road and we were both excited about what lay ahead of us. Due to our lunch stop at Torquay, we had fallen back into the midst of the heavy holidaygoer traffic. This became apparent as we made our way through Anglesea where it took us a good 15 mins to get through the town centre. Once we passed Anglesea, the road got really interesting as it hugged the rugged, winding coastline for almost the entire length of our two-day journey. Every now and again, there was a signpost for a scenic lookout where you could stop for a rest and some pictures. We continued our drive down the road till we reached the little town of Airey's Inlet, famous for the Split Point Lighthouse and its scenic views of the Bass Strait. We stopped there to enjoy the lookout, took a few pictures and continued on our way.
Our next major landmark was the Memorial Arch at Eastern View built in honour of all the soldiers who worked to build this stunning road entirely by hand. We took in the history of the place along with a few touristic pictures before resuming our journey. Along the way, we could sense the traffic building up steadily and by the time we reached Lorne, it seemed like half of Melbourne was here! Thankfully, we were not planning to spend a lot of time in the town centre, which was thoroughly overrun with people and cars. We first went to see the Erskine Falls, about 10 km inland from the Great Ocean Road at Lorne. The road to the Falls was sharply undulating, and I had quite a bit of difficulty in getting our tiny Hyundai Getz up a few of the inclines. Rather than talk about the Falls, not remarkably large but very pretty, here is a picture to sum it up.
Then, we drove to another spectacular viewing point, known as Teddy's Lookout, just above the town centre of Lorne. The view from above was absolutely spectacular and we were able to see the winding road along the coastline that lay ahead of us as well as the sparkling blue ocean. At this point, I was a little bit exhausted from all the driving so we took a short break at the main beach at Lorne for some snacks and refreshment before proceeding on towards Apollo Bay.
The journey from Lorne to Apollo Bay took about an hour or so, and it was an absolute thrill to drive along this section of the Great Ocean Road. The roads curved in and out relentlessly with speeds limited to ~ 50 km/h in most sections. And every now and again, we would emerge onto an elevated region offering splendid views of the ocean right next to us. We finally reached Apollo Bay around 5 pm and first, got ourselves checked into our accommodation for the night, a quaint little motel called Surfside Backpackers. Then, we headed back out into town to see the Marriner's Lookout, another elevated viewing area where handgliders normally take off from. We did not see any handgliders that evening since it was already almost dusk, but the view of Apollo Bay from there was quite nice.
Then, we went into the town centre of Apollo Bay to have a walk around and find a place to have dinner. Eventually, we decided on the Apollo Bay Hotel and enjoyed a good dinner by the ocean. It was a tiring day, having travelled nearly 300 km in total, and we went back to our room and crashed early for the night so that we could get an early start again the next day.
The post for Days 2 and 3 will follow soon. You can see pictures of our two-day Great Ocean Road adventure here.