Posted by: Rebecca | March 26, 2012

Heading back to Melbourne

The plan for day two on the Great Ocean Road was pretty simple – drive to Port Fairy then turn round and come back. Now each of our numerous guide maps (quite why we accumulated so many I’ve no idea) defined the GOR differently, in terms of where it starts and ends. There are consistent appearances from Torquay, through Anglesey, Apollo Bay, Port Campbell, wollymoolychumbawumba ( I just call this place Hullabaloo as I’ve no idea what it actually is?) but must have seen at least three signs saying “Great Ocean Road starts here” or similar. However, the most westerly place I was advised to see, was Port Fairy. So we aimed for there.

PF had been described to me as a little fishing harbour, and the welcome sign on the road in sort of reflected this (well, it had pictures of boats on it, at least), so I was expecting a small scale version of Whitby. However, had I thought more logically, I’d have thought differently. This is Australia and, until the diggers built the road after the war, there was little industry or livelihood such as fishing along the south coast. Therefore, why should I expect something so quaint? In fact, Port fairy is a small town, with a couple of coffee shops (one called Rebecca’s) a town hall and a harbour, where around 15-20 boats were moored and a fish & chip shop was, shut. And it was raining. Again. You’re probably getting the sense that I wasn’t as impressed as I’d hope to be. However, reaching Port Fairy meant one thing which did please me… we’d now be heading back towards Melbourne!

Having been blown away by the 12 Apostles but a bit underwhelmed by everything else (oh it was scenic, but not outstanding, in my humble opinion), my expectations for the return journey are lower than they’d been heading west. But I think this is working in my favour. The return leg is stunning. Perhaps the coastline lends itself more to approach from the west (ie more sweeping coves etc), or maybe I enjoyed the drive? Or maybe I’ve just finally caught up on some sleep?! Who knows, but I’m far more impressed today than yesterday. The weather is different too; whilst it’s more variable (sun then showers), the wind is up and the waves are MASSIVE! There’s a white blanket of swell right across every bay, with mist and spray glimmering in the sunlight creating rainbows all over the place. Now I can see why people claim this is one of the most beautiful drives in the world. I’m converted!

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Beef & Reef

Having stayed overnight in Apollo Bay, experienced the mother of all ‘surf & turf’ dinners – more aptly names ‘beef & reef’ – and consulted the guidebooks a bit more, Saturday dictates a single challenge: find Koalas and Kangaroos. I’m in Australia, this shouldn’t be hard, right? Everyone who comes here brings home the token photograph with a yellow kangaroo sign don’t they? But again, both logically and blindingly obviously, they’re not just hopping around everywhere waiting to be photographed. So where do we look? Luckily, this is what guide books are designed for, so we head for Koala cove and wander up a dirt track. Again, I know I’m looking for koalas, but where should I look? How big are they? And what colour? Do they make a noise? My last experiences with koalas were as a child; my grandparents, uncle and aunt lived out here and used to bring me toy koalas home when they visited – there was Kenny (the big one, with sharp claws) and a smaller one affectionately known as Kenny’s cousin Clive. Whether these names were characters in Australia or just my family’s sense of humour, I don’t know, but as far as I was concerned, all koalas were called either Kenny or his cousin Clive.

But that was over 25 years ago; now here I am standing in a forest of eucalyptus trees, scouring the heights for anything which moves. And there he is… Kenny. About 40 feet up and just sitting between the branches scratching his head. I can hardly see him, but he is beautiful. Just like my cuddly toy years ago. I’m a happy Boxy! Hang on, there’s Clive! Now he’s a cheeky rascal! He’s on a lower branch so I can see him better, and he’s turned around to look straight at me! He’s having his lunch too, he’s awesome! I love him!

By this point, I’ve taken far too many pictures of bears I can hardly see and who, when I show the photos to other people, will be hardly visible! But I don’t care. I walk back down the track and, when I reach the bottom, a local coach driver points out another bear in the bush, right next to me! Oh. My. God. He’s stunning! Not at all perturbed by the fuss going on around him, just content sitting in the bush. He’s about 18 inches tall, with fur similar in colour to a tabby cat. I’m about a foot away from him, easily within touching distance, but whilst other people around me are reaching over to stroke him, I don’t actually want to. He’s in the wild. This is his home / natural habitat, not a zoo. Why should I touch him? Why should anyone? Just admire from a distance and leave him be. Well, that was my reaction, even if not that of the multitude of tourists around me. So I took a couple of close photos and stood back – I could have stood and just watched him for hours. He was glorious.

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Kenny’s cousin Clive

So next on the list – kangaroos. Now Dad had spoken to a woman in the motel the night before, who suggested Anglesea Golf Course was the best place to see them. I didn’t realise they actually got involved in the game though! Yes, golfers teeing off from the 3rd literally had to aim around the ‘Roos! Again, they seemed completed unaffected by the people in ridiculous clothing, with terrible swings who were, undoubtedly going to hit a ball at them at some point. They just grazed on the green, and occasionally bounced over to see their mates on the fairway. Unbelievable!

I’m now happy as I’ve seen them both in their own habitat, so I’m thinking that a trip to the zoo in Sydney (my last resort, had today’s challenge been the Fosters of all Fails) is not an essential. That said, if it gives me an opportunity to see more of them, or see them closer-up, I’m keen.

After this, the rest of my day is quite eventless really, until we get back to Melbourne J

ttfn /Boxy xx

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