Hit the Road, Timmy (and Tigger and Snuff)

2 Jan

One of the great journeys in the world is the Great Ocean Road – a stretch of coastline between Melbourne and Adelaide (more accurately between Torquay and Peterborough (trust me, this naming of Australian towns is seriously weirding me out!))

So to get the most out of it, I hopped on a tour from Bunyip Tours. Now, the bunyip is a mythical giant kangaroo creature from aboriginal legend. Although since the aborigines have been in Australia for around 75,000 years, and there are fossil traces of a 3m tall kangaroo creature that are newer than that – well, I’d say that was probably a racia memory. So what, now, of dragons? But is it a good name for a tour company?

Anyway, 21 of us on a bus, first stop the surf stores of Torquay – every surf brand on the planet. I picked up a pair of thongs. Flip flops, rubbah slippahs, Reefs, or whatever else you want to call them… trust me, I’m not going to refer to them as thongs no matter what the Aussies might call them.

Gt Ocean Rd SignOn the BusTigger & Snuff on Tour (3)

And then on to Bell’s Beach, a beautiful surf spot. Fairly calm today, but these can be massive breakers! Quick run down to the beach, photo opportunity, back to the bus (this will be the pattern of the next few days!).

Bells Bay (15)Bells Bay (20)Bells Bay (25)Gt Ocean Rd (49)

Down the coast to Split Point lighthouse, famous for being the lighthouse from children’s TV show ‘Round the Twist’.

Round The Twist Lighthouse (Airey Point) (1)Gt Ocean Rd (33)

Into the picturesque but completely jam packed town of Lorne for a swim in the chilly sea… and then on to Apollo Bay for even more picturesque sea views.

AdamGt Ocean Rd (Lorne) (3)

(That’s Adam, the driver and fount of all knowledge on Australiana)

Overnight we’re at Bimbi Park camping – the park has koalas in the trees, some of whom come down for a wander around at night. Koala mating is quite a noisy business, so it’s not a particularly silent night (late Christmas reference there) but the stars are gorgeous in an inky black sky…

Koalas at Bimpi Park (1) - CropKoalas at Bimpi Park (6)

The next day finds us in the real heart of the Ocean Road… first stop is Gibson Steps, cut into the cliff – the soft limestone cliffs here readily form sea stacks and arches, gorges and islets. The effect is quite stunning…

Gibbson Steps (6)

Gibbson Steps (8)

(Yep, I just found the panorama function)

Gibbson Steps (32)

Gibson Steps simply forms a gentle introduction to the incredible effect of the Twelve Apostles (named to improve tourism). The official count is 8 apostles – the soft limestone erodes and the stacks collapse dramatically.

Now, a warning. This now becomes a series of photographs of impossibly beautiful sea stacks with impossibly beautiful cliffs and impossibly beautiful sea with impossibly beautiful surf, impossibly beautiful jade green sea and impossibly beautiful blue sky. Just thought I’d better let you know.

12 Apostles (9)12 Apostles (12)12 Apostles (21)12 Apostles (22)12 Apostles (27)12 Apostles (32)12 Apostles (5)

Loch Ard gorge tells a different story – of the ship the Loch Ard that ran aground on the rocks (this is called the Shipwreck Coast – out of the shelter created by Tasmania, the swells can run to 30 metres). There are only two survivors – an apprentice seaman, Tom, who is washed to land first. He spots another survivor, holding tight to a bathtub, and swims out to rescue Ellen, a doctor’s daughter on the way to a new life with her family. He revives her with some of the ship’sbrandy, fortuitously washed ashore too, and builds a ladder from the timbers to climb out of the gorge (luckily, we have steps). He sets out for Adelaide but fortunately finds farm hands way before that (just as well, it’s about 30km away). The local press try hard to build a romance out of the whole affair, but they go their separate ways (the romantic version says they did fall in love, but Ellen was not prepared to marry below her status – ouch).

DSCF4341DSCF4340

Anyway, back to the road and off to London Bridge. London Bridge, sadly, did fall down a few years back, stranding holidaymakers on the other side. Calls to the police only resulted in the response ‘London Bridge has fallen down? Pull the other one, it has bells on it’ – only actually investigating after a press helicopter flies over. It’s still dramatic and beautiful though – there’s a missing arch on the left of the picture.

London Bridge (1)London Bridge (6)London Bridge (2)London Bridge (4)

 

And then more stacks, islands and so on at the Bay of Martyrs and the Bay of Islands.

DSCF4331Bay Of Islands (3)Bay Of Islands (4)Bay Of Islands (8)Bay Of Islands (11)

More tomorrow… but that seems like a good place to take a break….

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