Great Ocean Road Day 2 – Marengo to Port Fairy (“Ultimate geography field trip”)

Day 2 on the Great Ocean Road has been EPIC. In the truest sense of the word. Today has been one of my favourite EVER travelling days; the 12 Apostles were absolutely mind-blowing and one of the most awe-inspiring things I’ve ever seen. I’m so glad I’ve seen them; apparently they’re eroding at a rate of 2cm a year (geography A-Level nerd right here) – I wonder if they’ll still be standing when our kids go travelling? (Which they obv will want to, with us for parents!…)

I’m getting ahead of myself. After waking up NATURALLY (yesssssss get stuffed jet lag!) at 7am, we were back on the road and on the way to Cape Otway National Park, more specifically, the Cape Otway Lighthouse. The road turns away from the coast and takes you through the National Park itself, and it was a truly beautiful morning with sunlight coming down through the trees. That part of the drive felt more like NZ than what you’d think Australia looks like!

Victoria (the state we’re in) is actually greener than I’d thought. When you picture Aus you kind of just picture the Outback don’t you? But today’s scenery has been all cows grazing! That being said, you can see how dangerous bushfires must be – they’d just decimate the area. There are fire warning signs everywhere – luckily on green! (I highly recommend a book called The Dry we both read last year, which really gets across the fear of sparking a fire in the outback! #englishlitgrad).

The lighthouse was about an hour up the road and if you ever find yourself in this neck of the woods I would highly recommend it! We’d picked a great day for it, so got some incredible views out over the cliffs, but the history and the significance of the Lighthouse itself was almost even more enthralling. I was riveted! It was the second mainland lighthouse in Aus, and its most significant, as it was the first sighting of land that travellers, tradesman and immigrants arriving by boat would have after months at sea from Europe/Asia/America. Can you imagine spotting light, spotting land, after hundreds of days of just ocean? It wasn’t called the Beacon of Hope for nothing!

You can go inside and up the spiral steps – the last stretch to the light room is pretty hairy! It doesn’t look that big from the outside, only 20-odd metres high, but once you’re at the top you can add in the 50m cliffs! It was ker-azy windy out on the balcony, I only lasted a few minutes out there as I thought I might get blown away!

The guide, Alex, was full of top lighthouse facts: the keeper worked 4 hours on, 8 hours off, with the other shifts manned by his 2 assistants. The keepers weren’t really supposed to bring families with them, and if they did, they weren’t given any extra rations, and had to pay for their food and, randomly, their cutlery (!?) out of their own wages.

AND Alex was originally from… Canton in Cardiff. I kid ye not. We were a bit more excited about that than he was.

As well as Wales, you can spot whales (sorry) from the cliffs, but we figured you’d have to be insanely lucky to a) see one and b) realise what you were seeing. However I did learn that different species of whale have different shaped water blows (when they puff water through their blow holes), one of the ways you can identify what you’re looking at. Also, a blue whale’s heart is the size of a VW Beetle!! Whaaaat?

Next stop, Port Campbell – further than thought, but we passed the time discussing what Aussie animal we’d have as a pet (a wombat, obviously, then an echidna, but not a koala as apparently they’re carriers of chlamydia!? R knows some weird facts.)

After just over an hour we arrived at Gibson’s Steps. This is before you reach the 12 Apostles proper, but this is the only spot you can get down on to the beach. It was awesome! The tide was quite far in but we still managed a good photo op without getting soaked and even had the beach to ourselves for a bit (the benefit of being here in the off season).

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Then the 12 Apostles themselves. You park in the visitor centre and it’s about a km walk to the lookout platforms. Guys… it’s absolutely amazing. Photos just do not do it justice. It shows you what the word epic really means! It gives you a sense of the sheer scale of this country – Aussies must think Britain is so quaint and teeny! They have these bad boys, we have… Old Harry Rocks? Durdle Door?

Even the driving – everything is just FAR here. Wide and stretched and lots of space. There was easily an hour or two between “towns” today, and some of those were just a cluster of shops around a crossroads. And here’s me whinging about a 4hr drive to my parents’ house! The guy in the car hire place told me it’s a 10 hour drive from Melb to Sydney – ! I would have guessed like 3 hours? I can tell you a lot about erosion and rock formations, but we all know my actual geography is terrible…

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We decided to crack on to Port Fairy rather than stopping off at any of the other lookouts on the way – there are loads of them, and we were pretty exhausted from being out in the wind all day!

Our Airbnb here is lovely; really cosy and homely after our slightly basic motel last night! I’m sat on our bed listening to the wind while R carries on reading Fellowship. We’re thinking of booking a whale watching trip while we’re in Auckland (Robert, are you keen!?). We walked into Port Fairy, a really cute, artsy town – though again, a few places are closed up as its out of season. We holed up in a lovely little cafe for an hour or so and got chatting to the waitress, who happened to be from Wellington! Then as they were closing when we left, she gave us a free bag of muffins. I bloody love Kiwis.

Slang of the day – Hedgehog slice (A chocolatey, biscuity slice – I’d call it fridge cake or biscuit cake?)

 

 

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