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  • Writer's pictureClaire

20/01/24 The Great Ocean Road

Not having booked breakfast at the hotel, we were up early and outside waiting for the uber to take us pick up the camper. The depot is not far from the airport and took about 25 minutes to get there. The lady was lovely, we unfortunately got picked up on a no waiting zone so literally threw, me mildred and the bags in the car and left rubber in the road in our haste to get from there. A little way up the road she fond a parking space and pulled over so we could rearrange things, but we were all in now so just wanted to get to the depot.

Luckily traffic was good, and were no delays on the roads ands we arrived at the pickup half hour early. The lady who handed over the van to us was covering from the Cairns depot and really nice. I think she was more efficient than the bloke who signed our last van over to us, and a lot more thorough. Our van this time, is smaller, but has more storage, as long as we can sleep at night and prep some food we don't need anything too big. Also Si cut his head so many times on the last one, I wasnt prepared to take the risk of that happening again. I think its a better layout by far, and as I say, it has a lot more storage.

Once we'd loaded up and decided where we were headed we were off. Road trip number two begins...

Our destination was Geelong, a lovely town, just a little smaller than Melbourne and a lot nicer. We got a bit confused with the map and then the appple maps, but in the end we got on the right road. Geelong was really busy and at the end of next week there is a cycle event in over three days that takes in the Ocean Road. Not wishing to get caught up in that mayhem we changed our plan and instread of going down to Port Fairy via the National Parks and Lakes we decided we would go down the ocean road first, and come back the lakes way. This meant all my planning was off, and we had nowhere to stay the night... again.

As we came to the first town on the Great Ocean Road, Torquay, it was rammed full of holiday makers, the beach was packed and people were sat more or less on top of each other. Ugh, no thanks, waaaaay too peopley! It was really pretty, dont get me wrong, but just a little bit too much kiss me quick. We didnt linger there, which was a bit disappointing as its known as the countries surf capitol, with a Rip Curl Surf factory Outlet, and a surf museum that shows videos and films of surf culture from the 1960's through to the 1980's. No parking was available, and people were double parking and waiting for spaces to become free. Not wanting any part of that nonsense we moved onto the next place I'd ear marked. This was Bells Beach, a famous surfing beach that's part of International surf folkore. The beach has hosted The Bells Classic competition since 1973 and is also the beach (in name only) featured in Point Break with Patrick Swayze and Keanau Reeves. Because its a surf beach its not really a swimming and sun bathing beach, so we continued onwards to Anglesea. That too, was packed, not a parking space to be found for love nor money, and just all a bit too much like Blackpool. We made some rough plans for grocery shopping, and kept our eyes open for supermarkets. Easier said than done! There were lots of little cafes and fish and chip shops along the main road, and amusingly to me, a sign for Anglesea Golf club kangaroo tour. They take you around in Golf Buggies, and show you the 300+ kangaroos that inhabit the golf course as they have done for many many years, and are amine of useless information.

We followed the road along the coast, through Aireys Inlet, glimpsing the historic Split Point lighthouse as we drove through. We could also see it from Moggs creek and Fairhaven Beach. It was built in 1891 and is still used today, although it is now fully automated. You are able to climb the 136 steps up the 34 metre high "White Queen" lighthouse and you get incredible 360 views from the top. From ther we carried on to Lorne. This is where Carmen from the Mylk Bar had recommmended us visit. Whilst it was another pretty little town, it too, was rammed to bursting point, with cars, people and kids. There was nowhere to even pull over, not so much as a sniff of parking space anywhere. Again, it's a traditional tourist town and has been since the 19th century. It is a long strip, and is quite hilly, with the streets lined with old gum trees, and back onto eucalyptus forests, waterfalls and fern gullies. In the visitor information there is an exhibition of displays, and videos that explain the background of The Great Ocean Road construction which took place from 1919 to 1932.

Keeping on the road, we aimed for Apollo Bay, and I was looking for campsites that didn't want several limbs, a newborn baby and a million gold bars from us for the privelge to stay there. Not greatly succesful. A lot of the free campsites have closed down, and the ones that are available, aren't accesible to vehicles, only hikers. Ain't no way you'll catch me hiking! Mildred refuses point blank.

We did however manage to find parking at Apollo Bay and pulled into it, locked the van up and went to locate a drink. We found an American diner playing great music, and also had access to the WIfi, something that is a rare commodity. I managed to locate a camp ground, another hour and half down the road. Si rang them and she told us to come on down. Off we went, still on the Ocean Road, but through shady rainforest and fern gullies. There was me thinking Fern Gulley was a kids programme but no, its a real thing! There were also plenty of signs indicating there were Koalas crossing, but we didnt see any. We did see an Echidna on the side of the road, but there were cars behind us so we couldnt slam on the anchors and get a photo.

Our home for the night is Princetown Nature Reserve. It's close to the beach, has long drop toilets, boiling hotshowers, and hook ups all for the grand amount of $25. what a bargain. The road down to it is a bit rough, and very dusty, but the site itself is massive. Lots of tents, campers and caravans parked up, but not all on top of each other. We parked close to the facilities thank goodness. A lot of the elecric hook ups are around what looks to be an arena. When we pulled up there were kids playing cricket, and football in the arena,

We'd located a supermarket in Apollo Bay, and stocked up on food for the next day or so. When we arrived and parked up, I started to get tea ready. Whilst doing so Si spotted a big old kangaroo, hopping into the arena we had backed onto. He stayed for ages and even the kids playing cricket didnt phase him in the slightest. I got some great pictures and videos of him so I was really happy. After tea Si went for a wander around the campground and came back, and directed me to look out through the other van window, when i did, I was chuffed to bits to see a field full of kangaroos, all grazing in the evening sunshine, I dont think i have ever seen so many in one spot. They were smaller than the one behind the van, so we guess they were females. Again loads of pictures taken and videos. One happy Clairey.

Once we'd seen them in the one field, all we could see were more, in different fields hopping about and enjoying the evening sun shine.

The only downside to this particular campground is the amount of flys, there are hundreds of the bloody things. However, they are really slow, so we are doing exceedingly well swatting them so far. Due to the last road trip bite issues, Si is wearing tracksuit bottoms and long sleeve top to bed. I suspect he very relieved its not 35 degrees like it was in Perth so he won't melt into a puddle during the night. It was going off a bit chilly but we've plenty of bedding to keep us warm!

Before it got dark we started to make up the bed for the night. The table drops down onto the wooden benches, and there are three other slats that are stored under the seats fit on top of the seats to form the base. That all sounds absolutely splendid doesn't it? and it would have been, but for the fact that the slats were an inch or so too short for the gap they were required to fill. Being a Saturday evening, the camper depot was shut and obviously no help but we managed to get one of the slats balanced on the drawers by opening them up a little bit. The seat cushions laid down tor some padding and we had to make do with it like that.

To add further insult to injury it was bloody freezing, and we couldn't even get close to stay warm because of the precarious nature of the bed situation!! returning from the showers the family camped in the tent next to us were shining a really bright torch into the arena we backed onto. In it were loads and loads of kangaroos, their eyes glinting in the torch light. I did try and get photos of them but it was just too dark unfortunately. However the fact that they were there was just super cool!

Much love


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