The Great Ocean Road (part 1)

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Port Campbell.

Our gateway to the 12 Apostles, although there’s not actually 12 still standing. We based ourselves in a great caravan park right on the mouth of a river and opted to do the short drives out to the rock formations and to explore the coastline.

After arriving fairly early, we decided to drive out to Tinaroo to see the country side. Filled with beautiful green paddocks, plenty of cattle and views along the way, we loved the drive. We came into Tinaroo, a small town filled with boutique stalls and farm made goodies. Knowing straight away we were headed to the ice creamery, we didn’t stall in getting there. Halen had fallen asleep in the car, so we parked close to a table. Tom and Varli ducked in to get their ice cream while Claire waited for Halen to wake. The choices were endless, Tom took it upon himself to try them all before deciding which two flavours to settle with. After a good 20 mins, he comes out with a big smile on his face. Little Varli had straight away pointed to the pink one. With Halen awake, he made his own chocolatey choice while Claire settled for one creamy and one fruity. Some of the best ice cream we have had. Driving back to our van for an early night as we had a big driving day planned for tomorrow.

Waking, we were able to pop on t-shirts, first time in a long time. Our skin was in serious need of some vitamin D. Today’s plan of attack was to be completed in 2 sections. This morning we were heading west, towards “The Grotto” a beautiful rock formation you can view from the cliffs or take a walk to the bottom, then driving east and stopping at all the sites.

Arriving at The Grotto, there were a few people here already, no surprise there. We opted to head straight down the flight of stairs. It was steep and more like 3 flights of stairs but we made it. It was dark and hard to see the finer details, but we were looking straight at a hole in the middle of a large rock wall. We watched the waves crash through the crevices and splash high up the cliff walls, it was easy to see how this hole had warn through. Walking, very slowly, back up the hill, we were actually disgusted at how much rubbish there was along the way, so filling both ours and the kids hands we took a stack of plastic bits and pieces back with us to throw out.

Arriving at London Bridge we took the main path to a large boardwalk/viewing platform. On our way back we passed an unmarked, narrow rough path and decided we better check it out. Jackpot! The path lead us to large, flat rocks with a stream of water running slowly over them, and another slightly run down viewing platform. The view of the Bridge was so much better and unspoilt from the crowds on the main platform. Just below our feet was a small waterfall, hard to see but standing there you could hear it rushing.

Back in the car and tired after a fair bit of walking, we took off back to the caravan for some lunch and for the kids to have a nap. We planned to head out and see the apostles at sunset.

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We packed afternoon tea, dinner, cameras, tripod and warm clothes. It was time for us to head out and see the famous apostles. We went east all the way to the Gibson Steps, pulling into the carpark we were inundated with people and traffic. Deep down we knew this would be prime time to see these landmarks. The steps were amazing, a touch too much for us to tackle at this time, but the view from the top was enough for us. Spending a good 15 mins there, that’s all that’s needed unless you’re heading down, we continued to the apostles. Thinking Gibson was busy was silly, the apostles were chaotic, almost ridiculous, and this is not even the busy season. We got ourselves a park right next to a helipad, got the kids out of the car and started the small paved walk to the viewing platform. We dodged tourists and travellers, tour buses and cars, umbrellas and selfie sticks and made it safely to the huge decked area. It’s perfectly set out with tiered boardwalks so everyone has a decent view. We made it to the bottom or closest section to the landmark and quickly snapped a few photos. The sun was setting slowly and it was a touch too busy for our liking so we decided to see if Loch Ard Gorge would be a better sunset viewing for us. Quickly navigating our way there, we realised that it was just as busy and crazy with tourists. Taking a short stroll to view the gorge from a higher vantage point, we were struggling to find space. With the kids running in and out of everyone’s legs and photo bombing countless selfies we thought we would head to the other side where the steps lead you to the sand below. Silly us, it was equally as packed. Once again, we snapped a few quick photos and decided to get out of there and find a quiet spot to watch the sun disappear.

You must be thinking, if it’s that busy there’s no way you can find somewhere quiet. Well we did. A short drive from Loch Ard, there are some tracks heading towards the cliffs, we noticed these on the way past the first time and we had a little feeling it would take us to a private, remote spot. We were so right. Taking one of the first turns, down a narrow dirt path, we navigated our way to the cliff’s edge. There was one other car already here but no one in site. We had found our space, finally. We set up our picnic rug, rugged the kids up and sat them down with their dinner. Grabbing the camera and tripod we snapped a few photos of our perfect unspoilt view of “The Arch”. The sun was setting, it was time to sit, crack open a well-deserved drink and relax. Getting off the beaten track rewarded us with the perfect end to a pretty awesome day. This is what travelling is about.

Ready to move on from tourist mayhem, we headed to Apollo Bay.

Staying at Apollo Bay Big 4 park we were just outside of town. A big beautiful park with ocean views, complete with a resident koala. We easily made ourselves at home here.

Waking up to Saturday morning, we knew the town would be a touch busier than normal. We headed out to see the local markets and stroll through the shops. It didn’t take long for the kids to spot the playground. With coffees in hand we got comfortable and watched them play. Heading back home for lunch before Claire took off on her own for the afternoon. Claire had arranged a one on one photography lesson with a local professional landscape photographer Adam Dyson.

She left on her own to navigate the windy roads through the rainforest (Great Otway National Park) to make it to Hopetoun Falls. She met Adam in the carpark, they packed up their camera gear and trekked down the muddy steps to the waterfall base. Quickly jumping the barrier into the forest around the base of the falls, Claire and Adam spent the next few hours chatting all things photography, lining up shots and Claire learning a whole lot of new information to help her photo taking in the future.

After shooting the waterfall, slipping over rocks and ducking under one too many trees it was time to head to the Californian Redwood Forest. Just a short drive south of Hopetoun. There wasn’t as much photo taking here as there was sharing tips and tricks about cameras. An afternoon well spent and surprisingly tiring. Heading back home to Tom and the kids, it was time for a quiet evening and an early night.

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Happy Sunday. We were excited to head to Cape Otway Lightstation today. We love light houses and we were getting the chance to climb this one. Not too sure how the kids were going to go with the steep incline, we figured we would go and check it out anyway.

The lightstation is on a large open stretch of land, with a dinosaur hut filled with bones and amazing information on the dinosaurs found in the area. There was also the old light house sleeping quarters which we were free to roam. Taking the path to the light house we stopped to read a bit about the history and ship wrecks within the area.

We made it to the light house and the kids were beyond excited when we told them we would climb it. Hearing about the amazing views from the top we started the twisty stair climb, it just kept going. You don’t realise just how tall these light houses are until you start climbing. Reaching the end of the stairs we came to a steel ladder, Halen went straight up without hesitation, Varli was carried, she was just too small to tackle this one alone.

Everyone was right, the views from the top were spectacular. Seeing right up and down the coast line, the cliffs and hidden beaches were beautiful!

Halen had a quick chat with the man who runs the lighthouse, he was calling him Captain Turbot (a character from Paw Patrol who happens to be a lighthouse keeper). Halen’s conversations with strangers are always amusing to listen to. Today’s was all about the lighthouse and how he lives there. The mind of a 3-year-old is incredible.

Conquering the lighthouse, we decided to check out some more of the Otways and took off into the forest. We drove the windy roads to a little town, then turned into dense rainforest. Making the decision to go and find a rainfall we took a chance and followed some signs. Typical luck with us, it started raining. It was time to bail and go back to the van for a lazy rainy afternoon.

Mondays are great while living on the road, it means the busy weekends are over, everyone’s back at work and school and us nomads get to see the attractions when it’s nice and quiet. Today we are venturing into the Otways again to do the Otway Fly Tree Top Walk. As the name says, it’s a walk through the tree tops. Obtaining our tickets, we made our way down the path towards the start of the tree top track. Almost half way there a man in a golf cart drove past and picked us up. We were thankful for a lift down, sometimes the kids just love to touch everything along the way and it makes a 10-minute stroll turn into half an hour of us trying to get them to walk.

The start of the track is a slow gentle incline into the tree tops. The kids were instantly excited and ran along the path, they were finally moving at a good pace!!

Before we knew it, we were among the highest of trees and looking a long way down to the forest floor. Walking and looking we didn’t think we could possibly get any higher, than we saw it, a large winding staircase that climbed a huge tower. Well of course we just had to climb it. Thinking the lighthouse the day before was a huge climb, this tower would have had twice the amount of stairs. Carrying Varli half the way up while she so cleverly did the other half on her own, we made it to the top. It was so high, almost dizzying. When a breeze went through the trees, the tower swayed. That was enough for Claire, feeling totally unstable she bailed back downstairs, with Tom and the kids taking their time to come down.

We strolled along the rest of the path at an easy pace, knowing we had to walk back up the massive hill to the starting point we didn’t want to exhaust ourselves. It was wishful thinking that the man in the golf cart would come and retrieve us again. It must have been about 2kms all up that we walked, which is fairly normal for us to tackle with the kids but it was the hill that killed our legs and the copious amount of stairs we have climbed in the last few days.

Needless to say, that walk left us exhausted and so satisfied. It was beautiful and worth every step to see. It was the perfect ending to our time on this stretch of coast and we were looking forward to seeing the next section of The Great Ocean Road.

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2 comments
  1. Claire, your story telling and photo’s are inspirational. Well done YOU 😉

    1. Thank you so much Joy

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