Posted by: Rebecca | March 23, 2012

The Great Ocean Road

The forecast is for the weather to get worse, which is great as the Great Ocean Road is the plan for the next couple of days! Quite apt though, as my first port of call is Bells Beach – remember the 50-year storm scene at the end of Point Break, where Patrick Swayze surfs off into the distance and Keanu Reeves throws his FBI badge into the sea?… It’s where they hold the annual Rip Curl Pro surf championships, so quite a cool beach apparently. Everyone I’ve spoken to has said the GOR is one of the most spectacular drives in the world. So I’m expecting big things. 

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When did you last spend time with your parents?

The next few days will be the first time in many years that I’ve been in the sole company / confined space with my parents – whilst I know it means the world to them for me to experience this with them, especially my mum, I’m not expecting it to be a walk in the park!

Within just a few yards, we hit the first FFS moment: mum’s seatbelt isn’t working properly…

M: “David, please will you pull over and have a look at it. It keeps locking on me.”

D: “It’s meant to darling, it’s designed to do that.”

M: “I know that, I’m not stupid. But it’s strangling me.”

D: *tut*

M: “Don’t tut at me, it’s not working. OK fine I’ll just not wear it.”

R: “Come on, don’t be silly, that’s illegal.”

M: “Don’t you gang up on me too.”

…Oh dear, this is going to be a long ocean road! But Dad has a look, agrees that it’s badly designed, but not fixable, so mum finds an alternative way of wearing her seatbelt, and off we go.

From here, it gets temporarily better – the sat nav software dad has downloaded for his Garmin finally finds a satellite and, after trying to direct us to Tasmania, ‘recalculates’ a few times we head out of Melbourne. Goes well for the next couple of miles, until dad takes a wrong turn and, oh Christ, we’re on the Eastbound freeway (not the right direction, and not free either – it’s actually one of just 3 toll roads in the state, typical we manage to find it!) Sat nav recalculates (again) and we manage to get back on the A1 towards Torquay.

Surf’s up, dude

With the expected references to Basil and Manuel, we get to Torquay without killing each other. Our first beach stop and a few surfers out. My money says they’re tourists (how many locals will ride the waves at the main tourist spot? That’s like surfing the central beach in Newquay, rather than round the coast at Watergate, isn’t it?

Anyway, we move on to Bells Beach and Boxy gets excited. Huge waves, big swell, hot surfers with long, large… oh. It’s flat. And again, only one or two boarders out in the breakers, none of whom look like they know what they’re doing (no waves, so what are they doing here?) Nevertheless, I’ve been and got a picture to prove it, although I do wonder if Rip Curl know something about moon times and tides here, as it’s gotta be good at some point.

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The 12 Apostles

From Bells the continuing coastline produces see some wonderful scenery but, in all honesty, I’m less impressed than I thought I’d be? That is, until we get to the 12 Apostles. Wow.  

At risk of sounding like Adrian Mole (I’ll avoid the word ‘majestic’) I’ll try and describe how I saw this. The swell produced by the water as the waves roar in, leaves a bright white mist rising over the breakers so you can’t actually see where they rush up on the shore, this looks stunning. Where the waves roar in against the cliffs and coves, they cling to the cliffs like spidermen, and it’s clear to see why and how they’re eroding away the landscape. The orange, brown and yellow colours in the rock are a fabulous contrast to the bright blue of the water and sky; whilst the strong breeze gives the whole postcard an authentic, nautical, hair-blowing feel. But it’s one of those things you have to see if you visit. So I won’t rattle on!

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As we walk back under the bridge to the car, there’s a plaque commemorating the opening of the car park, underpass and visitor centre, in 2002. Hang on, that means they won’t have been here when my best mate was here 13 years ago… now that makes me feel weird. I photograph the surroundings and plan to share these with Al when I get back. Having told me numerous times that this was something I HAD to see, it’ll be weird (and maybe moving) for her to see how it’s changed since she was here herself. (Might also convince her that it’d be a mighty grand idea for she and I to come back here together…?!)

The rest of the GOR

We continue down to Port Campbell, where we stay overnight, then drive on to Port Fairy the following day. Whilst there are many more amazing views, beaches and coves along the way, nothing really comes close to the 12 Apostles, and it all seems a bit of an anti-climax, to be honest?! 

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We turn round in Port Fairy and head back towards Melbourne. As we drive back in the opposite direction, I felt the views were more spectacular – this could be because they’re more visible from the west, or because after the 12 Apostles yesterday, we kind of gave up! Either way, we get back to Apollo Bay to stay the last night and plan to head back to the city tomorrow morning.

I’ve enjoyed the GOR but I think I can safely say, I’m a city girl. So Melbourne, I’m heading back! And Sydney, look out!

ttfn /Boxy xx

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