Great Ocean Rd – Melbourne to Marengo (“Barb was robbed”)

Today we started our Great Ocean Road trip! After a much better sleep than the night before, we said goodbye to the awesome CBD apartment and headed back to Southern Cross Station. We got back on the Skybus to the airport to pick up our hire car. Now, last time we were in this part of the world, we whizzed round in NZ in the most gorgeous little green car I’ve ever seen. I requested a brightly coloured one from the nice STA Travel lady, and as I was 25 and R was only 24, I was the lead driver! However, having just booked this one through some weird Expedia price comparison site, I didn’t hold up much hope for anything interesting.

Boom! Green car in the car park and of COURSE it’s ours. Winning.

Problem. It’s automatic, not manual. The furthest R had driven an automatic before then was round the car park at work… but with a little bit of practice we were off to the Freeway.

The Great Ocean Road starts in Torquay, just over an hour from Melbourne. The Freeway was a little intimidating to start with, mostly because of the ENORMOUS double-decker trucks bombing along. Luckily it wasn’t long before our first stop – a chocolate factory! I swear we aren’t just on some kind of Willy Wonka tour of Aus – we just needed a coffee, and figured it was as good a place as any! We were also hoping for some free samples and it didn’t disappoint in that department either. I wanted to buy a chocolate wombat but R convinced me otherwise (don’t marry a lawyer, they can talk you out of anything). I settled for a raspberry “freckle” (hundreds and thousands) macaron.

The next port of call was Anglesea (yep, like Wales – how could we not!?). More specifically, Anglesea Golf Club. We’d heard a weird rumour that the golf course was inhabited by wild kangaroos… and they’re not kidding!! We pulled up and saw one through the fence, just grazing the green. They are not small animals! How anyone gets any golf done is beyond me.

We were initially a bit sceptical, and having seen one from the road, weren’t sure if it would be worth the $25. We parked up and walked into the clubhouse to meet our guide called – I kid you not – Bruce, who happily escorted us to our golf buggy (another tick off the bucket list right there!).

I am not joking – this was one of the best, most surreal experiences of my life! We got SO close to them; they’re not at all bothered by humans, even the ones with joeys in their pouches. I was more worried about getting hit by a stray golf ball than a roo! There are more than 300 of them living on the course, and Bruce told us they can roam as far as Port Campbell (over 200km away).

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You know you’re in Australia when you get photobombed by a roo!

They are insanely cute, especially the little ones! And when they get going they really get some speed up – kangaroo fast fact: they can cover eight metres in one bounce!! On a slightly more serious note, we’ve seen a couple of roos who’ve been knocked down by cars on the side of the road 😦 Bruce said it’s a real problem – made me think of people accidentally hitting the New Forest ponies when I was growing up down south!

As we pulled out of the car park R had to slam on the brakes as 5 or 6 shot out of a lane on our left, bounded across the road right in front of us and climbed under the fence and back on to the course. Absolutely spine tingling – such a special moment. I won’t forget that in a while!!

We carried on to Lorne, a little beach town with a really nice laid-back vibe. It’s the off season here so a lot of things are closed up, but I still really like the vibe. I’ve always been a beach girl at heart. R tucked into fish and chips for lunch, but the chips here aren’t like proper chip shop chips. Not disappointing, but nice to know that Britain does something better than the Aussies! Also, vinegar on chips is not a thing here. The poor girl looked completely bemused when R asked for some, and poured him a little jug of what I can only assume was white wine vinegar. Gross. He made do without.  We had a quick stroll along the beach and then jumped back in the car.

The road itself is just incredible; you are literally driving next to the sea, for this stretch of the journey anyway. I’m surprised we didn’t crash, the amount of times I was like “Rob, look at that!”. You see all the spray coming up from the waves and watching them crashing and surging is just hypnotic (though not conducive to driving).

Our last stop before our home for the night was Kennett River, as we’d heard there was a chance to spot wild koalas. I was a bit pooped by this point, so stayed in the car while R asked if we were in the right place. He came back not long later and said he wasn’t sure what the commotion was about, but there was a big group of Asian tourists “going mental and pointing at something in a tree”… could it be a koala!?

It was a bird. A very pretty bird but still, not a koala. We decided to walk 5 mins up the path and see what we could see, and then head back. And I’m glad we did, because a very nice Aussie lady grinned at us, beckoned us over and was like “there’s one!”. I couldn’t see anything to start with, and was wondering if we should ask her to clarify (“one” what?!) – then I could see it! It was curled up and snoozing, but it was definitely a koala. We payed it forward and showed a German guy (koala in German is… koala) then carried on to Apollo Bay, feeling incredibly lucky to have spotted so much wildlife in a single day!

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Not a koala

The Airbnb turned out to be a motel, perfectly fine if a little chilly! We wandered back into town and had dinner at “The Seafood Café” (sounds fancy, actually a chip shop). I had some of the freshest-tasting seafood I’ve ever had; R decided double fish and chips in one day wasn’t really OK so he had a wrap, and we watched Home & Away!

We got some supplies for breakfast/lunch to save some pennies tomorrow, as well as a bar of Hokey Pokey chocolate. I never buy chocolate bars at home but as previously mentioned am fully obsessed with the different ones you can get here! I found dark chocolate maltesers and R WOULDN’T LET ME BUY THEM. Remind me why I married him again? The Hokey Pokey (honeycomb) was yum though (I’ll be back for those maltesers!).

We ended a pretty epic first day on the GOR in style: curled up in bed eating chocolate and watching The Great Australian Bake Off. YAAAAAS! As many of you will know, I have been a little bit gutted about the fact that you can’t watch 4OD (for Bake Off) or Iplayer (for Strictly) outside of the UK, so I was VERY happy to stumble across this!

For those interested, they bake in a hut, not a tent (a sort of funky scout hall, with only one string of bunting, like some kind of afterthought), they all have different aprons (my fave contestant’s one had bears on it – amazing), and all the background music is the same! I loved it, though I have to say I do not agree with the result. Claudia got star baker even though she stuffed up her technical, while Barb nailed both the apple clafoutis AND the showstopper crepe cake. Robbed!! #justiceforbarb

Our GOR trip carries on to Port Fairy tomorrow, about another 200km, checking out the 12 Apostles on the way! I’m also going to my first ever lighthouse – did any of you watch Round The Twist? R didn’t and I keep singing him the theme tune and it means nothing to him…. But that’s where it was filmed!

Slang of the day: Sanga (sandwich), Kranksy (spotted as a side order on a menu – NO IDEA what it means. We should have ordered one!)

 

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