The World is an amazing place .... go and be in it

Monday, 31 December 2012

Great, Great, Great point nine recurring.....

May the travel fairy who gives us our wings of freedom forgive me and may the cupid that shoots his wander lust arrows into our adventure butts not hit me over the head with his bow, for what I have to confess is sacrilege.
We drove the Great Ocean Road in one day.  
The beauty about having no set plans is that one can be completely flexible.  However, that plan to not plan sometimes can go completely haywire and that is how our unplanned meander became a marathon.
We came unstuck when unable to find any accommodation at Port Campbell (our planned next stop after Port Fairy) we were to spend the night in Warrnambool and after searching high and low for a room we settled for a really low room.  There was another offer on the table, the honeymoon suite at another establishment for a few hundred dollars, and as much as it’d be nice to feel like we’re on our honeymoon, after all the biking, hiking and driving, we were way too exhausted to appreciate the costs.  

In hindsight, it would have been money well spent.  Instead, we were to share the neighbouring walls with a chap who thought yelling abuse for hours on the phone to his girlfriend to get him cigarettes would endear him further. When she (along with a friend) finally did turn up, he proceeded to assault her in the car park before taking it to the room where a screaming match over cigarettes led to threats of being stabbed with scissors.  We made numerous calls, begging, pleading and on my part crying to the managers of the motel to do something about this hideously traumatic  event, upon which the managers, too scared themselves to confront the ‘guest’ made numerous phone calls to the police begging and pleading for them to come.  Big M wanted to go and confront the man but I begged him to stay inside terrified he’d be stabbed or shot...who knows these day what weapons people are carrying.  Two and half hours later, at 1am the police finally arrived, took the woman (and her friend) away and left the man to his own devices in the to us, much to my absolute horror!  Not a wink of sleep eventuated, as I was too terrified he’d find someone or something else to vent his lack of cigarette anger on. 
After such a terrifying night, we couldn’t get away from Warrnambool quick enough and as such was on the Great Ocean Road nice and early.  So eager to get away in fact that Big M forgot to check how much fuel we had and it wasn’t until we were at our first “Oh my god, this is so amazing sight” that he looked down and noticed we were running on empty...with still about 20kms to go before we arrived a Port Campbell. But we weren’t worried, for the Great Ocean Road really is everything everyone has ever said and more!...
From the very first rock formation jutting majestically out the sea, we were enthralled.  Spectacular limestone cliffs, craggy and sculptured from millions of years of being moulded by the winds and waves line the coastline, starting at the Bay of Islands and continuing down to Otway. They were once known as the ‘Sow and Piglets’ but thought it more dignified to rename them ‘The Apostles’, which became the ‘Twelve Apostles’ – tho there was never twelve but nine rock formations in the group.   Every single one of these formations holds us spellbound, it takes us four hours to drive from Bay of Islands at Peterborough to Port Campbell, and we still hadn’t arrived at the Twelve Apostles.
At Port Campbell we enjoy our Christmas present we received from Bud and the Gorgeous Gal – a helicopter ride over the Twelve Apostles.  Despite my fear of the tiny flimsy piece of aluminium held up by two chop-sticks....I’m a shocking flyer.... I lost myself in the beauty that unfolded below us and Big M and I couldn’t wipe the smiles off our faces as we flew over the bluest of ocean with these magnificent cream and coral coloured structures.  All too soon the flight was over and I was wishing we were still up there, bouncing and buzzing above natures artwork.  After filling up at Port Campbell, we drove to the viewing site of the Twelve Apostles and jostled with the thousands of other enthralled tourists who were also held mesmerised.  Despite the crowds, seeing the 65metre  rock formations in real life is an awe-inspiring experience. 
It was 3.30pm by time we tore ourselves away from the cliff edges and we still had to get to Anglesea before nightfall.  You see, we had to change our ‘plans’ as we were going to spend new year’s eve with Bud and Gorgeous Gal, and we had also organised to stay with friends at Anglesea, tonight being the only available night, hence the reason why we were being so disrespectful to this spectacular road-trip route.   Despite the lateness, I was determined to see Cape Otway lighthouse and so we hightailed it along the road and made it to the lighthouse with fifteen minutes to spare to gain access.
Cape Otway is Australia’s most significant lighthouse, the first sight of land for those who came to the Antipodes via the Great Circle Route from 1849onwards.  My own ancestors viewed this lighthouse as they sailed into Port Phillip Bay, it would guide the ships through the ‘eye of the needle’  and many a settler would give a prayer of thanks upon sighting it.  It’s not a very big lighthouse but still quite spectacular.   A pure white tower with a bright red rail at its top.  I climbed to the top and viewed the beautiful coastline – seeing for kilometres either side.  Below in the grounds sat the beautiful lighthouse keepers cottages and associate buildings, all very white and very pretty.  Upon leaving the Cape, we were to find the road lined with trees full of koalas.  We’ve never seen so many koalas in one area, not even in a animal park!  Each tree had at least two, many had three or four koalas. People were just stopping their cars on the road, getting out running back and forward photographing the koalas. We joined them.
We whisked through the pretty little towns of  Apollo Bay, Lorne and past the Diggers memorial at Fairhaven, in honour of the 3000 returned soldiers from WWI who built the Great Ocean Road (my own great-grandfather being one of them....I am so hanging my head in shame for not stopping) and almost cried with despair as we drove straight through what is said to be the most spectacular part of the road - where the diggers had hand-chipped and dug the road out of sheer rock - the switchbacks and bridges of Eastern View.
And so  I ask, may the travel fairy forgive me and grant me again the chance to return to the Great Ocean Road.  It’s on my ‘one day I going back list...’

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