Wednesday, 30 April 2014

GOR blimey!

Wednesday 30th April, 2014: Loch Ard Gorge to Geelong along the GOR
(My apologies about the formatting in this. I still haven't quite got this working right and it's all over the place)

 It was an early start to the day as we had to have the van back before 4pm so after a quick cuppa to warm us up from another chilly night, we trudged off through the crisp, clean, morning light to Loch Ard Gorge, named after the ship that foundered nearby. Though we were down and into the gorge very early, we still couldn't beat the Japanese tourists who seem to simply love the place. They posed and snapped their little hearts out, taking advantage of every possible available view and vantage point to get another hundred photos. The story of the Loch Ard is a remarkable and sad one
A tale of survival.
Loch Ard Gorge from above (taken with the camera)
I paused to take my first photo on the Lumix, which was fine. Lovely shot! The second however, saw me looking at a blank screen. I pressed the power button and a message appeared....'no battery power'. Nooooooooooooooo..... and I wasn't sure if we even had a spare. Ah bollocks! I was also getting that slightly unequivocal feeling that I needed to pee. There were no toilets here but that was okay, I could hold.

Luckily everything has a camera in it nowadays and so, after a slight panic and a self admonishing moment for not having checked the state of the battery, I whipped out my trusty phone like a modern day sharp shooter, hoping that that actually had enough battery power, otherwise I'd have felt like a right dill. As it turned out, it had just enough and although the photos were not quite as sharp as they would have been with the camera, I still had proof of my visit, and that was the important bit. Mind you, you can see by the colours just which were taken with the phone. Oh well.
Loch Ard Gorge on a chilly morn'.
Another view.

The cave in which they took shelter
Some of the stalactites

Smaller cave nearby

Another view
After playing dodge and weave to keep out of the Japanese tourists' photos and managing to snap a couple of pictures of our own, it was back to the van and on our way. I wish we had had more time because there were other things to see at the Loch Ard site, but we couldn't really waste a lot of time today and we still had the Apostles to visit, plus a toilet to find (a little desperately now). Less than 10 minutes later we pulled up in the 12 Apostles carpark and began a frantic search for a spare camera battery and then hoped that, should we find it, we had remembered to charge it. We were lucky on both counts!

Early morning mist on the cliffs
I was most impressed with myself. It was still only 8.30am and I was doing stuff! We emerged from the van, and my pressing need for relief was becoming dangerous. I spotted the all-too-familar ladies sign on the side of the visitors centre and made a dash. I grasped the handle and.... locked! No! Nononononoooo how can that be?! Then I remember that it was, indeed, still 8.30am and nothing would be open for a while despite the fact that more tourist vehicles were arriving in the carpark by the minute with some people making the same mad dash that I had and finding the door just as locked. I was ready to jump behind the nearest bush when Dave, bless him, spied another block of public toilets that were open all the time. Okay no details will be entered into but suffice to say, relief was palpable. 

A few words of recommendation... if you are travelling ANYWHERE, make sure you know where the nearest facilities are and don't drink tea before you know that they're open. 

After I could walk in a leisurely fashion again, we wandered from the carpark and towards the cliffs, taking the tunnel under the highway. I must say that I felt that my morning brain was doing rather well in the circumstances, particularly since it was also windy, which made it a little less comfortable. 

There were a lot of interesting sign-boarded snippets of information on the way along the wide paths (suitable for the disabled) and not too much up nor down, (for which I was very grateful). The Apostles were again, exceptionally spectacular, although at one stage I did think it odd that there seemed to be a small, thatched hut near the lookout and assumed it may have been an information centre or even a small kiosk. Even through binoculars it could still have been a hut. It was only as we neared that it became obvious that the 'hut' wasn't. Nature just continues to astound me.

Though only 243km long, the Great Ocean Road is a wonderfully spectacular sight and one that I was glad to experience. If I ever did it again, I'd take an extra day or two to explore all of the nooks and crannies we didn't have time for. We stopped once more along the GOR where we saw a few cars parked and followed the short path with interest but it was nothing more than a bit of a lookout to the ocean. A lovely couple took our photo against the backdrop of the cliffs, and we theirs, then it was time to go.
A Cap'n and his Mate.
Through the Otway Ranges

Otway foothills.
From the Otways across to the harbour at Apollo Bay
The long and winding road

We wound our way along the coast and then through the glorious, lush Otway Ranges until we came to Apollo Bay, still as beautiful as ever. After a bit of shopping and a bite to eat, we came to a fork in the road and a choice as to whether we take the high road and the highway, or the low road and the coast. We still had a few hours so we chose the coast but almost wished we hadn't. It was slow and winding and filled with caravans doing 80kmh or less and cyclists who took up their fair share of road and there were no overtaking lanes.
Time was ticking on and we still had a long way to go before we reached Geelong where I'd go back to Venture with all of our gear whilst Dave returned the van to Melbourne Airport. There was no more time for sightseeing. 
Surfers we have spied

By the time we got to the Western Beach Yacht Club, we were rushing. Dave cadged a lift to Venture in one of the club dinghies and fetched ours back to the dock where we loaded it to the brim with our gear. I had never seen it so low in the water. We quickly unloaded at the boat and Dave left again to take the van into Melbourne, still over 80km away. The van was due to be there by closing time at 4pm. He made it to the door at 3.59pm! Woo hoo!! 

What they hadn't mentioned when the van rental was being arranged was that the return depot was actually almost 4km from the tram stop and no buses ran from the depot to the tram so he had to walk. Finally on the tram, he then had to do a reversal of our original trip, tram, train, change trains, walk, dinghy. By the time he stepped foot on the boat it was almost 9.30pm and he was totally buggered. This sailing stuff is exhausting!!!

Location: Apollo Bay VIC 3233, Australia
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1 comment:

  1. We were fascinated by Loch Ard Gorge after watching the Laser Show at Warnambool. How they managed to climb their way out of there I'll never know!