We bid a fond farewell to Melbourne, picked up our car at the Southern Cross rail station, and headed out to find the Great Ocean Road (GOR), at the same time concentrating on driving on the lefthand side of the road. The “car for hire” has a strange hybrid configuration: brake and accelerator pedals are the same as U.S., the steering column controls (wiper and turn signals are opposite), of course the rearview mirror is opposite, and luckily this was an automatic, so that was one less variable. Still, I had to concentrate to stay on the right, er, correct side of the road
We avoided rush hour traffic and made it to Apollo Bay in about three hours via the inland route. AB is a typical beach town. The many modular-style houses with big picture windows face the ocean, and, based on the local real estate ads, they go for a cool $AUD1-1.5 million. Of course, there are the requisite shops, restaurants, bars, hotels, and stores to serve all the tourists’ needs. The park between the stores and ocean had a beautiful path, and we watched some surfers as well a dog chasing its ball in the surf. We think the dog caught more waves.
We are lodged at the Comfort Inn International right on the main drag and, while it is not the Crown Metropol, it is comfortable and well-situated right next to the GOR Brewhouse. For our foodie followers, we have not been too diligent, but the Apollo Bay Bakery’s scallop and leek pie was outstanding. The weather is cool and windy, and it seems to be somewhat of a slow season because of the fires first, now the coronavirus. But Easter is coming.
WARNING: A digression…while enjoying a pint or two at the Brewhouse happy hour, we watched an Australian Football game. At first, it appeared to be mayhem with a bunch of guys in sleeveless shirts and shorts reminiscent of early 80s basketball, i.e., short shorts. As we continued to watch and help from Wikipedia, we started to catch on to the plays, strategies, constant action, physicality, and scoring. Janelle and I came to the conclusion that this is a superior, more exciting game to American football. For Janelle, part of it is the uniform, but “Aussie rules” is truly a contact, not a collision, sport with a total lack of lack of showboating and chest-thumping self-aggrandizement. We doubt if very many NFL’ers could play this sport. These guys run the whole time around the pitch. Now, back to the regular post…
The next day we were out early and headed down the GOR to the 12 (ish) Apostles. Last century the rock formations were the “Sows and Piglets,” but the current name is more tasteful (?). The formations, by whatever name, are the remnants of the limestone coast that the ocean and wind batter relentlessly. The waves eat away at sea level, forming caves on each side of the headland. Eventually, the caves meet to form arches. The arches collapse and form the stacks/apostles. That is also why some of the apostles have disappeared. The day was dreary, cold, and blustery, but traffic was light, and there were no crowds to speak of.
Then we headed up into the Otway National Forest and visited the Treetop Walkway. The rainforest is an old-growth stand, and the walkways traverse all four levels that make up separate ecosystems. They go all the way from ground level to canopy level about 200 feet up.
On the scenic and winding GOR back to Melbourne, we stopped in Lorne, a bigger town than Apollo Bay and with quite an active surfing community and “cheeky” cockatoos just waiting for unattended morsels.