Rocky Road on your pillow is a first – somehow I know I’m going to like these digs, particularly when we spot the cream cakes and basket of wine and other goodies. Travelling in Australia in their winter has its advantages, landlords are anxious to tempt you in with discounts and goodies. On the downside (from Tim’s point of view) the decor of our two bedroom accommodation in Apollo Bay has given me many ideas for interior design when we get home again. The list for B & Q has been drafted…
The Great Ocean Road lives up to its name and reputation – an hour or so out of Melbourne, most of its length winds along the cliff hewn edge of Victoria, with the Pacific stretching as far as the eye can see, foaming surf crashing onto the many sandy beaches along the way. Joe gradually sobered up in the back seat as Tim drove cautiously to our base for the next three nights, the Bay being the perfect half way point for exploring the coastal sites. That first evening Joe and I went for a walk (a run would’ve been pushing it) and enjoyed a long chat as we strolled along the golden, deserted beach towards the five twinkling lights of the harbour (we both agreed that five lights made for the perfect shot, preferring to avoid symmetry, until I realised the SIM card of the camera loaned by my bro in law was full. My photographic endeavours on this holiday were turning into a disaster).
Joe had many a tale to share about work and life in general, but it was a little unnerving to hear about his adventures as Night Duty Manager. In one particular incident at his last hotel he called in the police about obstreperous guests and switched the reception desk phone to speaker, so that the officer could hear one of them threaten to kill Joe for breaking up their party (and this was a four star hotel, not a down town dive). A ‘friend’ of that same guest held up a liquor store the following night, probably to pay the hotel bill!
Despite this unnerving tale, I slept soundly on what felt like a giant marshmallow (the mattress; not Tim) and after a lazy start to the day we set off south back on the Ocean Road in search of The Twelve Apostles – stark stone pillars towering from the ocean, one of the most dramatic and iconic coastal views in the world. Boy was it cold and windy! Somehow we managed to drive straight past a large brown heritage sign highlighting the viewing point but pulled into a less popular walk which still revealed stunning views of the giant stacks from ‘behind’, plus the Loch Ard Gorge, an incredible beach where the sea literally crashed in to the shore through a tiny gap in the cliffs. This was the scene of a famous shipwreck in 1870 when only two survived, so it was inevitable we dwelt briefly in the isolated tiny cemetery and pondered their fate.
After warming soup in Port Campbell, we retraced our steps and pulled into the correct viewing point for the Twelve Apostles. Wow! The blustery wind was whipping up the surf whilst the sun struggled to peer around the scuttling clouds, resulting in what has to be one of the best views of my life (and this in a holiday which has included many stunning views). To cap it off, a full arch rainbow lit up the sky, resulting in Joe getting the urge to whip off his clothes (top half only, thank goodness) for a photo. Not entirely sure where this urge came from, but it was worth every gasp from the other tourists, as we all stood huddled in layers of woolly scarves, hats and gloves. At least he didn’t moon (are you reading this, Dave?).
The next morning (Monday?) we went walkabout, driving inland to Colac, embarking on another walk into the rainforest in search of the Triplet Falls – a 2km circular walk when we didn’t see another living soul. I felt like an intrepid adventurer and envy Joe his plans for similar treks in the future, perhaps back in New Zealand, sleeping overnight in huts along the route. Don’t envy the composting toilets though!