Saturday, February 25, 2006

Australia~ Great Ocean Road

An early start (6:30 am) was necessary in order to get through Melbourne before traffic, and because it was going to be a long day of driving (for Loren). The Great Ocean Road awaits. The first couple hours was just to get from the east side of the bay, through Melbourne, to the west side where the Great Ocean Road starts. Combine the Aussie driving style with a curvy road and then sit in the backseat...I'm getting a little queasy just thinking about it. Stephanie brought ginger tablets, sat in the middle, and we took frequent rest stops. Luckily the coastline was quite beautiful and distracting. First stop was at Bells Beach, a world famous surf beach. No big crowds, just big waves. At one point the road curved inland a bit to climb a large cape. Amazing how the quickly the foliage changes from beach to rainforest. A short detour brought us the to Otway Fly, an catwalk 75 feet off the floor of the rainforest. Walking along 75 ft off the ground among the giant trees was amazing. A spiral staircase took us to a small observation tower 135 ft high, and the trees were still towering. It swayed a bit, and the tight spiral coming down was harder on the tummy than the car ride. The trees are truly amazing, only the Californian Redwood grows taller. The area is home to platypus and echidnas, the worlds two only egg laying mammals...not that we saw any (they are nocturnal). Back on the road, we reach our amazing collection of limestone rock formations up to 100 feet high. The Twelve Apostles, Razorback, Island Arch, The Blowhole and London Bridge ( used to be a double arched peninsula, one arch collapsed back in 1990 leaving some tourists trapped 50 feet from shore, 40 feet above the sea. They were rescued by helicopter) to name a few. The Australian south coast has been responsible for many shipwrecks, one of the most famous was the Loch Ard , our final stop. Only two people survived, a small graveyard on the bluff holds the few recovered bodies. At this point we need to get heading back, its getting late. Up to the Princes Highway for a more direct return trip to Melbourne, and we're home by 9:30 pm.

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