Victoria 2006 – Part 5. Great Ocean Road, Barwon Heads and home.

Monday, Nov 27, 2006 at 14:43

Member - John and Val

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We toyed with the idea of staying at Blanket Bay for another day, as the morning was bright and sunny. But eventually we decided that we should keep moving along. Nevertheless we had a leisurely pack-up, which included doing a bit of overdue housekeeping. It takes a long time to sweep out Troopy!

Driving east again our first stop was Maits Rest that a fellow traveller had recommended. There we found another beautiful rainforest gully walk, with boardwalks going through magnificent stands of tree ferns. Being springtime many of these ferns were putting out new leaves, the curled crozier shapes covered with rusty red or brownish hairs attractive as any wildflower. Higher up the slope there were towering mountain ash trees with smooth white trunks. There were lots of visitors enjoying this peaceful spot, and of course the camera worked overtime again. We were also carrying our trusty Minolta 35mm film camera and for the first time on this trip we got it out, its big aperture lens being better suited to the low light conditions down in the forest.

From there it was a quick trip into Apollo Bay nestled beside the beach with green hills as a backdrop. The beach there faces east so is sheltered from the strong winds that we had experienced further west. The water was bright blue and quite calm, making a beautiful scene with tall forest coming in places right down to the beach. We did a bit of shopping and were surprised at how expensive groceries were.

We continued east along the GOR, as it makes its way northeast towards Geelong. It clings to the coast as it winds around the ridges of the Otway Range where they descend steeply to the sea, at times seeming to almost hang out over the water. The scenery was dramatic and we were fortunate that the weather was clear and sunny. We stopped whenever we could to admire the view, but on this winding road stopping places are frequently non-existent so we had to be content with taking photos on the move. There are stopping places on the outside of the curves but to take advantage of these you need to be travelling in the opposite direction as there is not enough forward visibility to cross over the road safely. Travelling south also puts you closer to the edge! We were also alerted that this is a major route for overseas tourists with frequent signs reminding drivers to keep to the left.

We were aware that there was a free campground at Wye River and we eventually found it, but only after extricating ourselves from a dead end street in the amazingly steep backstreets of the little town. The camping areas sit high up on a ridge in among tall gums, within sight and sound of the ocean. There was no-one else there, although there were signs of recent use. After we set up camp we went for a walk, and once looking back we were surprised to see what we thought at first glance was a small dog. How surprised were we to find that the “dog” was actually a koala, just sitting on the ground watching us. Looking around we saw several more koalas, and that night we heard several calling.

Back on the GOR next morning we soon found ourselves heading into more populated areas with weekenders and upmarket holiday homes jostling for views. We went past Bells Beach with its huge parking areas, and through Torquay expanding with new subdivisions. At Torquay we stopped off to walk around the lighthouse before setting off again heading for Barwon Heads.

Like many we had been avid fans of the ABC comedy series “Seachange” and we were keen to see the location where the series was filmed, namely the Barwon Heads Caravan Park. We arrived about lunchtime and looking around soon found the familiar bridge, boatshed and cottages right beside that beautiful blue-green water.
Our plan was for us to have a day trip into Melbourne, taking the train the following day. So we drove towards Geelong looking for train stations and caravan parks. We soon realised that it would be just as easy to stay at Barwon Heads, and the caravan park there was much nicer than the few that we saw closer to the train station.

So we spent that night and the next in the Barwon Heads CP, with a view of the bridge and the boatshed. In between we had a very pleasant train trip into Melbourne where we spent a lovely day with Rob, our eldest son who had taken the day off work to show us around some of his favourite places.

The next day we decided that it was time to go home. We left early and avoided any heavy traffic by skirting around through Bacchus Marsh before joining the Hume Highway for an uneventful run home. Sadly the country seemed to become drier the further we went north – in mid October the country on the SW slopes and tablelands should be green with new spring growth, but not so this year.

We had been away for just over 3 weeks, had seen a lot of beautiful country and carried home plenty of great memories from a thoroughly enjoyable trip.
J and V
"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted."
- Albert Einstein
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