Great Ocean Road Australia

Australia Travel Blog

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Anzac Memorial Melbourne
 

Australia   We were about to embark on a 750 kms charity cycle of the amazing coast road from Port Fairy to Melbourne, Taking in the Otway, Ingahook and Lorne National Parks.

After a very shaky start with the weather, high winds and driving rain for the first three days on the road, we thought maybe we had never left home. The rain clouds were our constant companions. Usually once we put our waterproofs away another downpour.

Port Fairy
It seemed every corner we turned the wind was determined to blow us over it felt like a giant hand pushing us backwards. Only minor obstacles we kept telling ourselves surly it can only get better. The first few days were very hard indeed, jet- lag combined with towing our luggage and the elements. Even with all these obstacles our spirits were as high as the scenery was breathtaking, soon the aches and pains disappeared. The sun did come out and we started to relax into the journey ahead. Each day brought us new and exciting experiences the wildlife the beautiful eucalyptus forests, amazing sight and sound’s of the ocean. The adventure begins…………..

Arriving at Heathrow Airport on a wet November day was the realisation that we were going to Australia on a cycle ride of a lifetime. Two years in the planning we were finally on our way.

Wallaby Port Fairy
. In many ways it seemed we had done the trip a million times, in our heads and on paper. We were now to experience it all for real. Every picture we had seen of so many beautiful places was etched in our heads now we were about to see it all for real!

 

NOVEMBER 9TH 

 After a hideously long flight and being confined for hours on end here we are in Melbourne. After being collected from the airport by our kind hosts June and Roy and driven to their beautiful home in the suburbs of Melbourne. Their home is camouflaged amongst the trees set in to the hillside a perfect place to live everything blends in with nature I don’t think I could ever feel stressed in such a lovely place.

Port Fairy lighthouse
We relaxed and were taken care of so well, good food and excellent company. Even Snowy the cat did not seem too worried about the invasion of her home, just so long as we did not sit in her chair. I am sure this set us up for the journey ahead. 

 

NOVEMBER 10th Melbourne  After a great night sleep today was the start our journey. Our first port of call was the bike shop in Melbourne; the bikes should be ready and waiting for us. Unfortunately when we got there they had forgotten we were coming. They needed a few hours to sort the bikes and equipment for us; this was not a big problem really as it gave us a chance to sightsee the lovely city of Melbourne with Roy and Dean.

Me at Backpackers Port Campbell
The sun was shining now after a nice lunch we went to visit the ANZAC MEMORIAL a fantastic shrine built in memory of all Australian soldiers killed in war. This was quiet poignant, as we were about to cycle the Great Ocean Road which was built by returning soldiers form the 1st world war to give them employment. It was very special, as they were getting ready for the Remembrance service the next day November 11th. Standing inside we mingled with a small group of teenage school children been given an informative tour by one of the curators.  I found it very touching to see just how interested they were in the stories they were being told. It can only seem to them like stuff that happens in films; but their faces showed a deep respect. I think we all felt that if it had not been for all these soldiers and their comrades across the sea we may not have been standing here today.

NOVEMBER 11th Train to Warnambool  0600hrs it's time for the off!  Bike's loaded, check and double to make sure we have everything.

12 Apostels Great Ocean Road
It seemed to take an age to put the trailer and panniers onto bikes, daypacks, hydration packs snacks etc… Hopefully as time goes on we will get quicker at this. Off we set like the wind through Melbourne to Spencer Street train station to catch the morning train to Warnambool. Well with less than a kilometre under my belt I managed to run a red light and found myself in limbo in the middle of a Junction as wide as the M1 Oops!! Well I didn't panic waited patiently and when the coast was clear peddled like mad, kept my head down for fear of making eye contact with anyone. Strangely enough no one tooted their horn, guess they thought just another crazy tourist on a bike!  Bob was not amused with my dare devil antics, easy mistake to make; now I know there’s not always an amber light!

  

We had our tickets and made our way to the V-Line train.

The arch
Like clockwork the train was on time no stress. The V-Line train was comfortable with large compartments and hardly any passengers. The journey was around three and a half-hour's long, so we settled in relaxed and tried to get a little sleep. Warnambool station, small quaint and old fashioned, off we got bikes, bags and trailer. It would have been easy to forget something with such a big load, by now we were attracting some looks and this would be the case for the rest of the trip. We made an enquiry with a bus driver as to the direction for Port Fairy to which he replied there is a bus service! We had to laugh out loud as we were not sure if he missed the fact we had two bicycles already loaded with trailer and pannier's we both had our helmets on (thought that might have given it away) so we thanked him and said  "think we will cycle"!   

Lunch was at authentic Australian milk bar, meat pie a real Oz delicacy.

Lavers Hill totom poll
Milk bars are a bit of a jumble cold and hot snacks, teas, iced drinks, groceries and hardware all thrown together.  I was reminded of Ireland and remote Village shops that have managed to forget it was the 21st century. We sat and ate our pies outside on a couple of plastic chairs and had a good look at the map before setting off. Great! I was starting to feel like a Nomad already!

We found our way to the Princess Highway this was to take us all the way to Port Fairy. We had just got to the outskirts of Warnambool when the rain started light and fine at first, thought it may just be a shower. Then the heavens opened we pulled into a bottle shop (drive through off licence) where we sheltered a while. After around half an hour it was clear the rain was here to stay. We put on all our waterproof clothing covered the packs so our gear would stay dry and set off.

Bimbi Park
The wind had come up too and the combination of wind and driving rain in our faces made it hard to see where we were going. This was to be a very difficult 35kms indeed. The rain did clear now and again giving small glimpses of blue sky unfortunately the road was so wet with puddles and the traffic was heavy we were constantly being washed by every passing vehicle. We almost got sucked under a truck that got a little too close for comfort; I think it was the combination of the wind direction and his speed that did it. It was at that moment we thanked heavens for the weight we were carrying, as we are sure that’s the only thing that kept us on the road. We arrived at Port Fairy Belfast Cove camping and Caravan Park soaked to the skin and truly shattered. We had the task of trying to dry our clothing for the next day and find somewhere to eat, as we were around 3kms outside the town. Once the bikes were unloaded, drying in progress and a hot shower the sun had come out! We mustered the energy to walk into town in search of food. It felt good to use the other muscle groups after a long train journey and hours spent with head down pushing against the driving wind and rain trying to hang on to the bikes, we found ourselves feeling quiet achy.
London Bridge
            

 Port Fairy is a jewel, one of the prettiest little fishing towns I have ever seen. The harbour area is picture postcard, small sailing and fishing boats moored in the sheltered harbour, wooden boardwalks, little wooden houses and shop fronts it is quiet easy to forget where in the world you are. The roots of Port Fairy was whaling the industry long gone now, although it is a whale nursery for several months of the year where whales come to have their young, now that would have been a sight!  Tourism and fishing remain. On the subject of fishing we found a fish and chip shop right on the harbour and had the best exotic fresh fish and chips I have ever tasted in my life, well by now we were starving! Our aching muscles were coming back to life and the rain was keeping away we decided to push our luck and walk around Griffin Island.

Near Apollo Bay
It housed a beautiful Lighthouse and was a nature reserve too. Wallabies and all kinds of bird life were to be seen. As the sun was setting and the wind was getting colder it really was time to get some rest, by now we really were feeling tired and it was a good distance back to base, stopping on the way for a beer, and work out our plans for tomorrow.        

NOVEMBER 12th Port Fairy to Warnambool  The sun was shining, what a relief. All our stuff had dried overnight we had everything packed away we were on the road by 0930. We decided to grab breakfast in town before setting off to Warnambool. We found some great sidewalk cafes with people drinking coffee and eating breakfast in the morning sun.

Bob Apollo Bay
We had giant helpings of bacon, scrambled eggs and juice at Gingernuts Cafe.

One last task before we leave… The Community centre let us use of their computer to send updates home and to work via e-mail. We were left to us the facilities and they would only accept a donation towards their day care nursery. After a nice chat we were ready to make our way back to Warnambool.

The day was pleasant, windy but dry it was lovely to see everything that we missed yesterday in the rain. It is mostly beef farming in this area, vast expanse of green fields. It is apparent that they also have a huge problem with drought here. When I saw the massive irrigation systems in the fields, a mile long with arms and tubes sprouting from them, they reminded me of some sort of docking station for a spaceship. Well I guess it’s the wind gone to my head and my imagination is working overtime.

I know where we are going!
  We had a quick glimpse of Tower Hill Game Reserve, it would have been fantastic to have had time to take a proper look but we decided to push on and get back to Warnambool find some accommodation and have a quick look at the town. We found a Backpackers Hostel excellent value. Once we were sorted we decided it would be nice to get back on the bikes and explore. There was a pretty harbour and nice beach; a swim was in order we felt.

The moment we got into the water the heavens opened just for a change!  All our gear was soaked, we tried to sit it out but it just got worse we made a mad dash to a near by café once again we thought it would pass and again we were wrong. After coffee and biscuits under the outdoor veranda (which was very nice indeed) the rain got heavier we got colder and decided to head for the Hostel to dry our stuff out, this was now becoming a daily ritual.

lovely Koala in the wild
The rain was torrential now not a hope of walking anywhere to get dinner. The threat of starvation and getting more clothes wet was enough to make us go against all our principles and get a taxi into town for food. It never let up all night the rain turned to hail the temperatures dropped, what on earth tomorrow would bring!

NOVEMBER 13th The road to Port Campbell Over night the temperature dropped like a stone and the hail pounded the roof. The morning greeted us wet and cold. Loaded up, waterproofed head to toe off we went in search of breakfast. Things always look better when you've had a good breakfast we thought. Alas it was still raining.

Bimbi Park
Once again we were back on the princess highway on route to Port Campbell, we had about 20 or so kms to the official beginning of the GOR. It was tough going, lucky enough there is not much to look at on this part of the trip just as well as the rain was still in our faces. Now my mind turned to the invention of wipers for cycling glasses!

 Finally we turned off the princess highway and into a head wind! We were greeted by a large sign that said we were officially on the great ocean road that cheered us up! We stopped to get a hot drink at the first sign of civilization a small petrol station in the middle of nowhere. There was a big sign saying “CHEESE WORLD” we did wonder what that was all about. I wandered into the tiny shop the lady watched while I self-served myself with two cups of tea, dripping and barley able to move with waterproofing. She said as I shuffled to the counter to pay that it was on the house, she thought we deserved it and she admired the fact we were on bikes in the appalling weather.

big trailer
My money was on the fact that she could not wait for me to leave. I was dripping all over her floor and nutty enough to be out on a bike in the first place and then I caught a glimpse of what I looked like in the glass, to be honest I think she was a little scared!  

Off we went hoping for a glimpse of the coast soon, we needed something to lift our spirit. The rain had turned to showers but the wind was relentless, every corner we turned we had it in our faces pushing us backward, we had to work hard. The landscape started to change we could see bushland and the earth had taken on a sandy look. We were aware the coast was not far away on we went in anticipation. There was a long long straight stretch of road that seemed to go on forever Bob hates long straight roads. I felt if this went on for much longer before we saw the coast I might have a biking buddy that just goes over the edge!  Before long we thought we could hear the roar of the mighty southern ocean above the howling wind.

Bell's beach
I guess it’s the equivalent of people lost in the desert seeing an Oasis you want to see something so badly you start to imagine. At last… It was unbelievable as we turned a corner, (yes there was a corner at the end of the long stretch), there before us was a view that could stop your heart. The magnificent cliffs were golden brown, red and caramel carved for an age by an ocean that was a colour of emerald green; it was called the Bay of Islands. There were large chunks of rock eroded from the cliffs many moons ago.  On the beach, waves pounding and crashed with a force that makes you shake in your shoes. We both felt an urge to get closer we dumped the bikes and battled our way down to the beach it was wild, blowing a gale and deserted. We stood and gazed at the raw beauty in silence, there were no words that could describe what our eyes feasted on. By now the sky was blue and the clouds well broken. This was just the beginning.  We were in absolute awe.

Reluctantly we got on the bikes again and made our way to Peterborough a small town on the way to Port Campbell.

Mount Martha
Next was the Bay of Martyrs and the famous London Bridge this was a perfect arch that had broken away from the cliffs in 1999 and left some tourists trapped out there, they had to be rescued by helicopter. Wow this was just amazing! Suddenly we were feeling elated, we were not thinking about the wind and rain anymore or the soggy feet or the wet clothes. The ocean was right next to us, the sound and smells the taste of the salt in the air and feeling it stinging your skin. How can it get better than this, we were thinking? With a few more kms under our belts the rain clouds began to gather we decided not to stop in Peterbprough, as the rain was heavy again. We peddled on and once the rain stopped we ate our lunch under some bushes dodging the raindrops!

Port Campbell was the beginning of the very scenic part of the coastline.

another Koala
We arrived battered in the late afternoon after a challenging day. We decided on Backpackers again as the weather was so unpredictable and most of our gear was sopping wet the first thing would be the drying process. The Hostel was perfect big open fire large kitchen every thing you could possibly ask for. A lovely group of people from all over the world ranging from 5 year old Julian who was so very cute and friendly to an elderly Japanese man with a smile as wide as a tunnel. Most were on the Groovy Grape Tour. This was an organized whistle stop tour of all the sights. Over the next day kept seeing them on the road and always got a toot and a wave. 

We decided there was too much to see on route to our next stop that we stayed two nights. This gave us a complete day to see all the sights. We were now in Port Campbell National Park.  

NOVEMBER 14th Port Campbell National Park  Once again the weather was very changeable cloudy and very windy.

Bell's Beach
Without the luggage we felt it easier to battle against the elements. Having looked at the map we decided to cycle along the coast for around 25 kms and work our way back stopping to see everything on route. Just out of Port Campbell we were next to the Ocean and wiped out by the views. Once again the southern ocean was at its absolute best!  The waves were ferocious mountains racing to the cliffs crashing and sending foam and spray high into the air. I can only imagine this vast expanse of sea stretching from the Arctic Circle without a glimpse of land for 4,000 kms and suddenly the south Australian coast, it’s no wonder the sea throws its self with such force at these cliffs. 

We found ourselves stopping every few minutes to look and take pictures this was going to take some time. The 12 apostles are a group of giant "rock stacks" running along a stretch of the coast, just 45 meters from the beach This is the most famous and photographed part of the road. There is a very understated visitor center really lovely and peaceful with information and poetry dedicated to the sea and the tribes who lived in this area all set out on artistic boards. You have to take a tunnel under the road to get a really good view of them. We had looked at a million pictures and not one of them could do them justice. There are wooden boardwalks and viewing platforms everywhere, it is a delight and a credit to the State of Victoria to show off such a fantastic and beautiful place without spoiling it. Everything is natural and in keeping with the environment. We walked from platform to viewing point soaking up the views; the combination of the wind and the waves crashing was deafening. The rain and sea mist still in the air the sky had broken with great expanse of blue grey and white. At that moment I knew it was because of the wind and rain that we were seeing the southern ocean at its best wild and free!

This is famously known as Shipwreck Coast. Many a ships journey ended abruptly in this stretch of sea, their journey cut short and laid to rest forever.  

It is so hard to turn your back on the ocean, which means you end up constantly looking over your shoulder that usually means tripping up especially while wearing cycling shoes.

There were places like the Haystack, Mutton Bird Island the Arch, Thunder Cave and it really sounded like thunder when the sea rushed in what a sight!  Broken Head and Loch Ard Gorge where a ship called the Loch Ard had been wrecked, all on board but two were lost. A young Irish girl called Eva Carmichel and apprentice midshipman called Tom Pierce, they were washed into this gorge. Well if you saw it you would think how could anyone have survived? Tom himself exhausted hanging and onto a piece of wreckage saw Eva clinging to some wood she couldn't swim he rescued her and they rested in a cave at the bottom of the cliff both exhausted. Tom climbed out of the gorge and went to get help. All eight family members travelling with Eva perished. Eva returned to Ireland. We did a little research and found she eventually married an Englishman and settled in Bedford, it's truly a small world. Tom returned to England and carried on his career at sea as did his sons after him. There is a tiny cemetery here where some of the recovered bodies from the Loch Ard were laid to rest, very peaceful place and really worth seeing.  We ventured down lots of vertical steps to Gibson Beach this really put it all in prospective now we were looking up at the gigantic cliffs and from the beach the waves were mountains, the12 Apostles were standing majestic from this view point, suddenly we felt very small indeed. We were very aware of the ferocity of the sea the waves came thundering towards the beach and running away was very difficult as you found yourself ankle deep in the sand. Thank goodness for very strong calf muscles, they came into their own when we had to run for cover when an extra large wave almost had us! The only other fools on the beach with us were a couple of Japanese tourists they were not so lucky they were soaked. Oops! We climbed back to the cliff top stopping on route to take advantage of some great viewpoints.

The day was going by far too fast there was so much to see our heads were spinning. We found it was easier to negotiate these cliff top walks on foot to see the other places of interest like the cemetery and the blowhole. All the time you were aware that the sea had escaped and was working its way beneath us with quiet determination. We heard aloud rustling in the undergrowth, in Australia you have to resist the temptation to dive in for a closer look, as it could be something that could bite or sting with nasty consequences, still curiosity gets the better of you. We were treated to an up close view of an Echidna, a small Hedgehog type creature with very long spines. We found out later that we were very lucky to see one of these creatures, as they are nocturnal and very shy indeed. 

Our day was done, back we went to Port Campbell the evening had cleared up nicely. We prepared all our stuff for the next day; it was very important to make sure all our gear and bikes were in good condition. The sea air and all the rain takes its toll on moving parts so the time we invested each day in this task paid off. It was nice to be in the same place for more than one night. Our bikes had the once over and it was off to the pub for a huge dinner, all this fresh air really worked up a great appetite. I also have a bright red sore face wind burn I think. The large pub the Victoria did the best "counter meals" a real feast for around £5 fantastic value. The pub has lots of memorabilia from all the shipwrecks along the coast including the Loch Ard. The staff were friendly and all wear woolly hats, not sure if it’s a fashion thing! 

November 15th Port Campbell to Lavers Hill  The morning was dry and bright blue sky and a calm ocean, at last! My face is still red and a bit sore the outline of my sunglasses clearly visible, the wind over the last few days has taken its toll one side is far worse that the other. Bob's face is also wind burnt, but not quite so red. We have learnt even in the rain and wind we must re-apply sun block constantly.

Off we went en-route to Lavers Hill, this was to be one of the longest climbs of the trip so we were well prepared and the weather was a real bonus. On our way out of town we saw the Japanese cyclist on a fold up bike! We had seen him once before on the road he seemed to be going our way.  We got to take another look at the beautiful sights on our way, a real treat. We were hoping to pick up the old ocean road we found on our map. It was a disused part of the road unsealed but ok to ride, well we would soon see! We came into a small town called Princetown and decided to have coffee and snack, as there was nothing between here and Lavers Hill. We also had sandwiches we brought with us for later. We found what looked like the old ocean road; well I convinced Bob that it was so off we set. About two kms in we were knee deep in sand the track was now completely unrideable. Bob went up ahead to see what the conditions were while I stayed with the bikes. He found the track was sand as far as the eye could see at this point we realised we had taken the wrong road. We took a moment to scrutinise the map again and found we were probably on the old coach road. We needed to be the other side of Princetown Bob was right. I felt bad only for a minute though! We backtracked and found it. What a nice feeling to get off the road even though there was not much traffic the last few days. We were now entering the Otways National Park. The feeling of riding on a track surrounded by trees and bird song was wonderful.

The old ocean road was true unspoilt Australia, a fantastic find. We were following the Gillibrand river, the land all around was flooded from the recent rain, the marshes were alive with all sorts of unusual looking and sounding bird life and gum trees lined our way. Everywhere was so lush, green and alive. The sun was warm today we had to be extra careful to keep up the sunblock. We stopped for a drink and rest at a beautiful spot where the river Ford meandered its way through the lush green valley. A farmer stopped to chat a while and pointed out his farm in the valley bellow, he chatted and told us all about the farming life here in this beautiful spot. We were intrigued to hear that he had a rare and most unusual looking Platypus that lived undisturbed in its natural habitat on a portion of the ford river on his farmland. Reluctantly we had to get a move on the day was passing and we still had lots of kms to go, and most of them up hill.

All too soon the old ocean road ended and we found ourselves back on the road and the beginning of the long climb to Lavers Hill, this seemed a good place to have the sandwiches and food we brought with us we felt we were going to need it.  495.41 meters to climb in around 14 kms. It really was up hill all the way from here. It was a hard slog but we made it. As we got higher the temperature seemed to drop and there was a distinct chill in the air. The eucalyptus trees creaked and groaned they sounded almost like a human cry that stopped us in our tracks to investigate. Lavers Hill is a small town our first port of call was the Roadhouse to see if we could find a place to stay. We were lucky once again there were some very basic cheap small cabins available we were not bothered cheap is very good. There was a lot of wood and rafters especially in the shower block and hundreds of spider webs that looked very well inhabited, lets put it this way you did not linger in the shower. Bob was very pleased to hear the funnel web spider is not native to these parts but was given a cautionary word from our host that everything bites in OZ!  This was only the second brush with nasty looking spiders we had the other I had forgotten to mention was in Port Campbell Backpackers, where we had a rogue spider find its way in and caused Bob a bit of stress spider removed everyone happy!  The Japanese cyclist was staying here too so we had a nice chat with him. He had previously cycled New Zealand and had been cycling around Australia for months. It was quiet amazing really.

Once again we felt the need to take a look at this small town there was very little here, high in the Otways, forestry seemed to be the main industry. There were amazing views over the valleys. There was forest as far as the eye could see, really lovely. Well the Roadhouse was to be our eating-place also. The owner came and had a beer with us in the evening in the public bar. He gave us a rundown on the area and a couple of colourful local characters holding court at the bar. What a great collection of people all big burley red faced bearded men enjoying a beer and good-humoured banter. A man and his two children came in, both the children were in their pyjamas and were promptly plonked on two high stools at the bar where they were given a tub of ice cream each and Dad had a beer and chat with the other guys. We never for a moment felt out of place, well why would we as we were also red faced and a tad burley because of the extra fleeces we were wearing due to the mountain air, we were right at home!

 The only local policeman came in and had a large mug off coffee, he was also burley and red faced, by now a couple of young American lads had arrived, they were given supper even though food had finished hours ago. There was a good banter going with the locals with regards the re-election of Mr Bush I was really enjoying myself now! Alas sleep was needed another early start in the morning.       

NOVEMBER 16th Lavers Hill to Bimbi ParkAnother bright crisp morning you could see your breath in the morning air. Where would we have breakfast I wonder? We thought the Roadhouse might be nice for a change as they also did breakfast. I think he had the market sewn up. We had eggs and bacon and chatted to the two American lads who were going to camp overnight but it had been so cold they slept in their car. We were all loaded up and ready to go, Bimbi Park was our destination today. We had a dilemma we wanted to see the "Otway Fly" it is a tree top walk in the in the rain forest. To get there we would have to take a detour of about 60kms there and back we decided not to as we would get the chance to visit another Rainforest on route. Outside of Lavers Hill we found the old ocean road again and this was to take us on an off road tranquil cycle. By late morning we had joined the main road again we were in the heart of the Otways now and heading through valleys and eucalyptus forest to the most southern part of Australia Cape Otway. It was deserted only the odd car now and then we seemed to cycle for an age before we came to Bimbi Park camping and caravan park, in the middle of nowhere what a perfect opportunity to be in the real bush. The trees were full of Koala's; this was a great treat. There was nowhere to get food as it was off-season there stock was very low in the little reception area. We purchased a small bag of pasta and a tomato sauce, we had bread and cheese we carried with us as part of our store also a box of cereal thank heavens otherwise we would have gone hungry.

After our usual washing clothes and getting bikes sorted we decided to go on a walk to Station Beach. It was about 5kms cross-country across sand dunes and brush land. Not suitable for bikes we were told. The afternoon had turned out very warm but quiet windy. It was amazing to hear the roar of the sea once again and the views across the sand dunes were just breathtaking. Once on the beach we left our stuff and trekked across rock platforms to see the beautiful Rainbow Falls a waterfall fed by a natural spring. The colours of the rock soon told us where it got its name. We were at Point Otway the furthest point south on the Australian mainland next stop Antarctica!  The sea here was once again wild; impossible to even contemplate a swim just getting your toes wet was scary enough you felt the sand being sucked from beneath you. As always the day had slipped away from us, I think I found this place to be one of the most tranquil and secluded places so far.

NOVEMBER 17th Bimbi Park to Apollo Bay    The morning was beautiful bright sunny and warm our destination Apollo Bay and civilization. We were unable to take a road we had planned through the Otways to get back on the GOR as a bridge had been washed away the road was now impassable. We took the same road out we came in on. We were searching for a rain forest walk called Maits Rest looking on the map it was just off the main road I was really looking forward to this. There was only a couple of cars it looked deserted. We found it to be a self- guided walk through tree ferns, giant myrtle beeches, lychens and moss. Gentle streams an abundance of plant and animal life. Boardwalks protect this delicate ecosystem. I have to say this was one of the highlights of the whole trip for me. I felt my mind and soul refreshed having walked through this beautiful place. It was hard to leave but off we set it was a gentle cycle today we were looking forward to picking up views of the ocean again. The traffic got heavier now we were back on the road to civilization we were leaving the tranquil dense area of the Otways. We were well on the way to Apollo Bay my head was still full of the sights, sounds and smells of Maites Rest. The day had turned out to be the hottest so far in the 30s. We were on and off out bikes taking pictures every few miles. The road hugged the giant cliff face that towered above us; every twist and turn brought us tiny creeks and beautiful waterfalls running to the vast expanse of sea, beach and forest. The kilometres seemed to fly past us the views were unbelievable, and then we found ourselves high overlooking Apollo Bay nestled into the picturesque green foothills of the Otway Ranges. The sign said Welcome to Apollo Bay “Paradise by the sea” We came across a camping and caravan park ideal! We waited for over half an hour for someone to come to the office to give us some pitches not sign of anyone it was very hot now we decided to go further on, then lo and behold a “Backpackers“. It was much busier than the others we stayed in but it was really quaint and had a good feeling we got ourselves booked in for two nights. There was a great array of people staying even other cyclists. There was a fantastic view of the ocean from the large windows. The kitchen was a huge a great courtyard with huge verandas and lots of seating to enjoy the early morning and the evening, sitting chatting to our fellow travellers whatever the weather. We offloaded our stuff and headed for the beach. It was so nice to have some time just to relax and take in the atmosphere and have a swim. Before long the heat became unbearable we retreated to the shade of the excellent tourist office and visitor center where we planned where to cycle to on our free day in and around Apollo Bay.

NOVEMBER 18th Otways National Park The morning was bright and sunny we were planning to cycle out to Kenneth River and explore some of the rugged coastline and waterfalls on route. This was a vibrant and beautiful place with steep forest down to the sea. We stopped at the Carriesbrook Falls on our way it was a bit of a walk up hill on a path that was being graded by what looked like students. The told us to look out for the koalas on the way up and right on queue there they were close enough to touch, if you dare.  The waterfall was quiet spectacular. The only drawback of heat, forest and water is FLIES!! The monsters were out in force today they would buzz and crawl all over you, combined with the heat you found yourself scratching and beating yourself, not great when trying to keep a bike on the road. We spent some time at Kenneth River the beautiful exotic Rosella’s (look like Parrots) were tame enough to eat from your hands pity they didn’t eat flies…………..at this point it was run and jump into the sea to get away from them.  The water was freezing!  The day was spent cycling along the cost enjoying the scenery; soon it was time to head back. We had started to experience a problem with the bottom bracket on the “trailer” bike it started to make a clonking type noise.

We took it in turns to tow the trailer, it was easier just to swap bikes than take all the fittings off and re-assemble it on the other bike, all we did was keep our own saddles. The clonking noise was the type that indicated a problem brewing which could have spelt disaster for us. There were no bike shops at all to be found, should the bracket give out a special tool was required and there was nowhere to get one. Basics were available from the local hardware store he also made a phone call to a friend who was willing to help us out if need be. We took a good look and gave both bikes a good check and decided we would take the chance and keep moving and hope for the best. Then it was dinner and rest, ready for the trip to Lorne.

NOVEMBER 19th Apollo Bay to Lorne     The day was bright and sunny what a treat. By the time we had breakfast, loaded up and said good-bye to the nice people we met at the hostel the rain clouds had gathered Once again out came the waterproofs. We were just getting used to the warm dry weather; still no one said it would be easy. Just out of town we had a few torrential downpours, out came the sun waterproofs tied to trailer to dry off we rode in search of The Sheoak Falls. This has turned out to be a fantastic ride the scenery is just spectacular. Gone are the soft grassy verges now we have a towering rock face for company as we meander round corners getting so close you can fee the coolness of the rock. They are so amazing they boast names like Cathedral Rock. We were now in the magnificent Angahook Lorne National Park we found the sign for the Sheoak Falls It’s a bit of a trek through some undergrowth there is a pathway to follow it is very quiet and peaceful just the sound of the birds singing and the flies buzzing around my head! Yes they’re back. Trying to ignore the flies and enjoy this beautiful tranquil place, the falls come into view they are spectacular the water cascading over the black rock into the pond below. We stopped awhile and enjoyed this lovely place. My camera ended up in the water while trying to collect stones from the waterfall. It has decided not to work in protest! This could be disaster. On our way back we came across a couple of people who were watching a Koala climbing down a tree and in search of another more tasty eucalyptus. We were getting used to these lovely creatures crossing our paths.

 

 Back on the road we were off like the wind, some welcome downhill. I was feeling fed up with the camera episode and was glad to have the cycle to concentrate on. The traffic was getting heavier now and people tooted their horns and waved at us as they went by, this had become the norm on this trip. We arrived in Lorne late afternoon. Trying to find accommodation was a real challenge. We were told the Teenagers were finished exam week. The tradition here is they go nuts for a week heading to places along the coast to surf, get blind drunk and take all the great budget accommodation. We were struggling here to find a place for the night. Eventually the Tourist Office got us some budget rooms in the large rather grand looking hotel we passed on our way in. Not really our thing, still beggars can’t be choosers. The rooms were small but ok, we paid double what we had been paying in the Backpackers. We decided we would go for a cycle to the Erskine Falls just out of town about 9kms to lift our spirits. Off we set it was up hill all the way we climbed and climbed high into the forest it started to rain very fine and soft. The tranquility and peace was wonderful. It seemed we would never find the place maybe we really shouldn’t have taken this on so late in the day and after a long day cycling we were both feeling fatigue. Lunch was hours ago and our energy reserve was at an end. Finally after what seemed like an age we got to the turn for the falls and to our horror it was downhill for about 3kms well me for one could have cried……………this meant we would have to climb out again. Well we were here now so biting the bullet we flew down to the falls. They were in a secluded valley with a beautiful rock bed. There was a lot of undergrowth and we both felt conscious of the presence of sneaks in this damp shady environment. Tiger snakes were abundant in this area, I’m not too sure what kind of damage a tiger snake can, do but the name is scary enough and we were not going to hang around to find out. Putting it off no longer we crawled back up the 3kms to the road and began our decent back to town. We flew like the wind freewheeling the whole way it was amazing. We were cold and hungry by now and food was top of our priorities. Large portions of fish and chips were eaten washed down with cups of hot tea. It was back to our accommodation, nowhere here to give the bikes a check. They were tied up around the side of the Hotel. The bottom bracket was holding out thank goodness.

Happy birthday Bob!    

NOVEMBER 20th Lorne to Torquay   After a well needed rest we were up packed up and on the road just after 0930. We had breakfast in a small café before leaving once again plate full of eggs and bacon We were on the road to Torquay.

We were really heading to the big smoke now Torquay was a large surf town busy and bustling so we hope to get accommodation on the outskirts tonight. My camera was working again after drying out overnight. I am delighted as there are no camera shops here either. The sun was beaming. There were some good climbs today an area called Big Hill, which took us high above the ocean hugging the cliff; the road was good in this area but lots of traffic you really needed to have your wits about you. Once again we are off and on the bikes snapping pictures.  We stopped for a morning break at Aireys Inlet a lovely town with a beautiful impressive lighthouse. We had snacks at the Skinny Legs Café.

Bob was suffering today he had a sugar low and is feeling constantly hungry the problem is we need the right sugar so trying to keep up the fruit and fluid intake. The heat and exertion is the cause I think, also pushing ourselves to the limit yesterday had taken its toll. The bag of liquorish sweets Bob ate did not help at all!   Sadly we were leaving the rainforest and lush greenery; I was really going to miss it. We were on our way to Anglesea and there was a small bike shop there. We decided we would have them check out the bottom bracket and the screw that kept coming loose on the pannier rack and catching on the tyre. Anglesea is famous for its golf course the players share the greens with grazing kangaroos. We find the bike shop and the chap that comes to help us is very interested in mountain biking, seems it has just started to take off in Australia. He had said he wanted to visit Wales as he had read all about the fantastic mountain bike trails there. After fitting longer bolts to the rack and giving the bottom bracket a once over we were on our way again. It really is fantastic just meeting people and sharing a common interest. We were heading close to Torquay and well and truly on the surf coast, we started to see the signs for Point Addis, Bells Beach and Jan Juc some of the best surfing beaches in the world. Bells Beach made famous by the gripping film Point Break. Oh I was thinking of grabbing a surfboard and going for it! Our map indicated a camping and caravan park close to Bells Beach. We found the delightful Jan Juc caravan park on sunset strip, perfect, camping at last! We booked in found our pitches got set up we even had a laundry, bliss no hand washing today!

Tents set up and airtight don’t want any unwanted creatures making a home for the night off we set on the bikes in search of Bells beach. We took a great cliff top ride on paths that ran as far as the eye could see; every now and then there were wooden boardwalks down to the beach. The afternoon was getting on and a swim was on the cards off we went to the beach it was bustling with people surfing, running, and just relaxing it was really nice. The sea looked very inviting high waves but not as vicious as some of the others we had come across. Once in the sea we did not want to get out, alas once again hunger had taken over.

That evening we found a great Pub to have dinner, it was very unusual there was a betting shop one side of the bar table tennis the other side after a short while the betting finished the lights changed and it turned into a “disco” It was an experience. We spent some time talking to a couple that was there on holiday; they came from north of Melbourne. They heard me talk (thought I was Scottish) and had to tell us all about their Scottish roots. Ireland, Scotland close enough I guess. They were very entertaining indeed. They wanted us to visit them at their home in Bendigo way north. We were telling them we were doing a charity bike ride and had to be in Melbourne on the 23rd. He said he would drive us to Melbourne after and no one would know. We laughed as he missed the point completely but were touched by their hospitality.

We said our good byes and headed back to camp it was a beautiful night, it should be a comfortable night outdoors. It was fantastic being out in the open I woke early with the daylight I started to suffer with blisters that had started to appear on areas of my body legs mostly. They felt itchy and sore a little first aid was needed don’t want to scratch and get them infected.

NOVEMBER 21st Touquay to Sorrento   We packed up and were on the road early. Breakfast was at a small roadside café come petrol station. We always kept a pack of cereal with us so we got some milk and ate it form our insulated mugs sitting in the sun watching the world go by followed by tea and bacon rolls, well it really doesn’t get much better. We were not looking forward to the next stretch at all studying the maps we were going to have to take the surf coast highway towards Queenscliff in time for the afternoon ferry to Sorrento. This would bring us on to the Mornington Peninsula. This was a very busy fast stretch of road. We decided to pay a visit to the Tourist Information Office on the outskirts of town and see what kind of accommodation we could expect to find in Sorrento just in case we had any problems with the ferry that might make us late arriving. At the tourist office where we found the staff very friendly and helpful letting us use their phone to sort a backpackers in Sorrento. They mapped us a route that took us right along the coast past 13th beach to Ocean Grove and then into Queenscliff. It was a great stretch of road very quiet and free from traffic and we got to hug the coast once again for the entire trip. We found the ferry port and had time for lunch before the crossing. The ferry was large and very clean the crossing only took an hour we kept our eyes peeled for dolphins in the sea but they evaded us. Sorrento was a small pretty town at the tip of the peninsula very quaint and quiet exclusive we were told. Once again the Backpackers were excellent we knew we were getting closer to the “big smoke” as once again we were paying double for accommodation. We had plenty of time to catch up with washing and maintenance on the bikes. We took a short ride to a nice little beach where we explored and got our feel wet and watched the children play in the rocks; the water was much calmer than we had been used to. 

Tomorrow would be a free day in Dromana, which is half way between Sorrento and Melbourne. Here we would meet up with Dean, June, Roy Christopher. We were really looking forward to seeing everyone and sharing our adventures. So we were eager to be on the road early so we could make the most of the day.

 

NOVEMBER 22nd Sorrento to Dromana We were on the road early and wanted to arrive in Dromana before 12o’clock so we sped along the road enjoying the beautiful views across the picturesque Port Philip Bay. The bay was calm and serene as we went through towns like Rosebud, which we both thought was a fantastic name for a town. We were getting more and more cosmopolitan now, gone are the sleepy small towns and laid back all the time in the world attitude, the mix and match café’s. It really was great while it lasted.

We arrived before lunch and the Kangerong Caravan Park owned by Roy and Betty who were family friends. It was lovely so well kept the accommodation was of an extremely high standard as we have found to be the norm here. When everyone arrived there was great excitement we were treated to a beautiful lunch off a table! Usually our pre prepared lunches were eaten out of a bag at the side of a road for the entire trip this was a real treat indeed. We had a wonderful time recounting the journey and everyone was delighted to hear our tales. Roy, June, Dean and Christopher all came from Melbourne, Marg and Brian came from Gipsland. We were really touched that everyone came to see us and all shared a great meal together. We were treated to a wonderful cabin for free for the night it was pure luxury! We decided we had budgeted for our accommodation for the trip so the money we would have spent on the accommodation that night went to our charity. Betty also identified my bites, they were from the sand fly these nasty beasts lurked in the shady parts of the sand and waited for a human to pass near before the attacked. The bites could turn be nasty if not treated properly she gave me antihistamine that helped with the itching. We were to cycle the last leg of our journey back to Melbourne tomorrow around 50kms. After a lovely breakfast and many good byes we were a little sad leaving everyone behind we had been looked after so well. Reluctantly we said good-bye and hit the road for the last time.

 

 

We would be seeing June Roy Christopher and Dean again in Melbourne. Off we set on the last day cycling of the great ocean road we were sad as always for such a spectacular and wonderful trip to come to an end.

The road back to Melbourne was going to be busy and traffic heavy so we would need our wits about us. Out of Dromana we were going to cycle up the Mornington Peninsula, which circled Port Philip Bay. The sun was beaming it seemed a fitting way to end our journey. There was a nice climb with stunning scenery; we were treated to beautiful views across the Bay of calm blue waters and golden beach. We stopped at Mount Martha from here we could see all the way down the peninsula back to Sorrento where we crossed the day before. After a quick lunch eaten by the shore at a small outdoor café we set off, we needed to be back in Melbourne and have the bikes back at the shop before 4pm. The afternoon got hotter, suddenly we spotted the Melbourne skyline in the distance it really was spectacular and prompted more pictures. We picked up dedicated cycle paths that were to take us all the way back to the city. It was a joy indeed to cycle passed small pretty beaches the temptation and the heat was getting too much a dip was a must. We saw a sign for the next beach named Brighton Beach, how could we resist! We had to see if it had anything in common with our own Brighton Beach. With the bikes parked on the sand all that could be seen into the distance were brightly coloured beach huts so pretty in the early afternoon sun and golden sand not a pebble or stone in sight. The water was calm and warm, no giant roaring waves here. We were in the protective clutches of Port Philip Bay. We enjoyed the “cool down” all too soon we were back on the bikes heading for the outskirts of the city. We passed palatial marinas with yacht’s and boats straight out of a Bond movie. For the last time we were about to turn away from the sea and head for the city center and the bike shop.  

All too soon we had negotiated our way through the traffic being dwarfed by large buildings instead of cliffs and rain forest. I was feeling very lonely for the tranquillity and peace of the rain forest and the beautiful wild rugged coast that holds back the mighty southern ocean. It was still crystal clear in my head.

 

I always feel the longer I am on the road the more comfortable it gets the more at home I feel. Maybe one day I won’t be able to resist and just keep cycling!

 

Family and Friends  Once again as with all our previous cycling trips the help and support from start to finish. The fantastic “thoughts of the day”.  These were in envelopes marked for each day containing quotes, sometimes funny sometimes deep sometimes dead on for that moment. All compiled by my sister Anne and colleagues at the Pasque Hospice. It really was something to look forward to and always made us smile and gave us a real boost!

 

EQUIPMENT

2X Mountain Bikes hired in Melbourne bike shop called Bike Now.

1x B.O.B Yak trailer capacity 70lbs hired also at Bike Now

2x panniers and rack capacity around 40lbs

2x tents

2x mats

2x sleeping bags

2xblow up pillows

Large first aid kit

Spares inner tubes, tools, pump, and locks.

Cycle wear

Waterproofs (worn a lot)

Cycling shoes

A few personal items.

 

Most useful items

Adventure wash concentrate, suitable for body clothing and washing fruit

Dry hand wash anti-bacterial

First aid kit

WATERPROOFS

Insect replant

Sunscreen

Maps

A sense of humour

 
binky says:
Great photos!
Posted on: Oct 19, 2007
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Anzac Memorial Melbourne
Anzac Memorial Melbourne
Port Fairy
Port Fairy
Wallaby Port Fairy
Wallaby Port Fairy
Port Fairy lighthouse
Port Fairy lighthouse
Me at Backpackers Port Campbell
Me at Backpackers Port Campbell
12 Apostels Great Ocean Road
12 Apostels Great Ocean Road
The arch
The arch
Lavers Hill totom poll
Lavers Hill totom poll
Bimbi Park
Bimbi Park
London Bridge
London Bridge
Near Apollo Bay
Near Apollo Bay
Bob Apollo Bay
Bob Apollo Bay
I know where we are going!
I know where we are going!
lovely Koala in the wild
lovely Koala in the wild
Bimbi Park
Bimbi Park
big trailer
big trailer
Bells beach
Bell's beach
Mount Martha
Mount Martha
another Koala
another Koala
Bells Beach
Bell's Beach
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