Saturday, April 7, 2012

Great Ocean Road Trip

Ahhhhh...... The first day of our "no responsibilities" portion of our holiday. 

We started our road trip with a change in cars, (thanks to our niece Melissa), with Graham entertaining us with stories of Adelaide from his mis-spent youth as well as it's interesting history.  Bee Hive Corner was where lots of young couples came to buy chocolates and meet for their dates. See the bee on the top of the spire?
See the big gold bee on the top?

No trip to Adelaide is complete without a trip to Perryman's Bakery for a Pasty.

Graham and Lindsay - Perryman Pasties are yummy!!

Next we just had to wander around the corner to Bakery on O’Connell for what is reported to be the best kitchener bun in Australia.
Bellies full, we set off - stopping on the roadside in the Coorong to watch a few flocks of Pelicans as they elegantly circled and landed in the waters - this is where I managed to step out of the car and straight onto an ant's nest.  With much slapping at my pants and feet I was allowed back in the car and we carried on, however I did manage to bring a few 8 legged hitch hikers with me.

We stopped at Policeman's Point - for a brief moment, and again in Kingston where we took the obligatory photos in front of The Big Lobster.  
The big lobster
No rooms were available due to a big field day so we carried on to Robe which we loved. It's a lovely seaside village. Hmmmm looks like a nice place to live..... It was picturesque and had a wonderful feeling to it. We settled into the only hotel with a vacancy. Complete with a line of ants in the toilet climbing the walls to their new home base in the roof.

We wandered through the village, ending up at Sails Restaurant where each couple shared a lovely seafood platter (deep fried fish, mussels, pickled octopus, lobster thermadore pie, squid rings, fresh Coffin Bay oysters, soft shell crab, prawn & avocado salad, potato salad, water cress and bread, complimented with a lovely Pino Grigio.

We wandered along the beach back to our room to watch a bit of TV before we all hit the sack. We were pooped but had enjoyed a day where we’d laughed so hard we had tears in our eyes many times.

Our room was a sort of suite, comprising of a bedroom with a double bed and a communal room with 3 single beds, a table & 5 chairs, a tinny sounding TV, a kettle and a bar fridge. There were some weird fixtures on the wall over Lindsay’s bed, which we decided were for extracting brains from the unaware, so we moved her bed away from it for the night - for everyone's safety. We’d had many discussions about not going to a hotel we thought might be featured in a kill thrill movie. This one suited us fine, we could deal with the alien brain extraction devices. $180.  We flipped to see who would bet the bedroom, and for some reason we won. Some murmured comments of snoring and a night's peace...

Saturday – UP early with complaints of someone’s excessive snoring. Can you imagine?  Hmmmph…. I never hear it....  We had a few coffees and hit the road.

Our first stop was the town of Millicent stopping for breakfast and a look at a wind tower blade in the city park. It was amazing to see how large it was up close.
A wind turbine blade & Ron & Lindsay

Lindsay and Ron were intrigued by the graphic road sign images of blood shot eyes held open with toothpicks & the catchy phrases reminding people Drowsy Drivers Die; Rest Revive & Survive and with the speed limit’s – it’s a limit not a challenge along the way.

We took the wind farm drive in Tantanoola, and stopped at Mt Gambia at Blue Lake, which thankfully for us, was still showing it’s fantastic blue colour. (It only happens twice a year – November and March).  The whole area was made up of beautiful parks. (Extinct volcanic area.) We walked up a massive hill for the big view (a walk so substantial, Lindsay and I got a certificate for completing it).

We headed back to the Great Ocean drive and came to a little town called MacDonnell, which brought us back to the Oceanside, and carried on driving along the waterfront. The Ocean was wild and beautiful.

We crossed the South Australia boarder into Victoria shortly after, and noticed the speed limit and road conditions changed almost immediately. The maximum speed went down 10 k’s to 100 kph and the roads became much more rough. We also reminded each other to turn our watches ½ hour ahead.

As we drove we saw 2 Emu’s ambling along. We stopped to photograph them but they became nervous and edgy and scooted away. We also passed a large echidna who scurried off the road when we reversed back for it’s photo opportunity.

Lindsay found us our day’s accommodation at one of the Cape Nelson lighthouse cabins. It was fantastic. The challenge was given when we called ahead and were told we had to be there by 3:00pm as they were leaving to cater a wedding. We didn’t have any idea of where we were, never mind where they were. However, we were game and the race was on.  We arrived about 4 minutes after 3 quite pleased with ourselves. The fellow was pleased we'd made it, but he sighed in good natured resignation when we said we’d like to have a quick peek at the Cottage before we committed. It was a delight. Not only did it have stunning views, but also a terrific kitchen. We took one look at it and headed back to town to provision for a special dinner.

When we got back, we had a quick snack, and the boys headed out for a hike across the dunes, while Lindsay and I settled in for a relaxing break.

Graham prepared Tournados Rossini, which I accompanied with potatoes galette.  YUMMY! The cabin had been newly renovated and updated, but still retained the original structure. We loved the fireplaces in the living room, and bedrooms, high ceilings and stressed wooden floors. A newly renovated kitchen & bathroom with deluxe queen beds and a big screen TV enhanced the ambiance.  A vintage bottle of Blue Pyrenees, 4 gold medals topped off the meal.
Light house dinner


We left the lighthouse at 10:30 am – stopping at the CRAGS – to see the calcified tree roots thousands of years old.  We stood watching foamy white ocean rollers, sliding through the many blues of the ocean.

Next stop was Port Ferry – for coffee and a wander.  We had heard so much about this town and its Music Festival we were keen to see it, but it didn’t live up to my expectations. Perhaps it was in recovery mode, as the festival had taken place the previous weekend. We wandered the main drag looking for some souvenirs (it’s been a surprise to us how few places have any T-shirts with their name on them). Ron visited the public washrooms and reported back there must have been a bad night the night before as there were clumps of hair and blood there. Yikes.

Warrnambol was very much a suburban city. Quite attractive, but definitely a city. We stopped at the tourist centre looked over the old town they’ve created, then headed off.

The Bay of Islands park which contains fantastic cliffs and scenery.  We stopped at the Martyrs, London Bridge, The Arch and Loch Ard Gorge oohing and ah’ing at the wondrous sandstone cliffs and stone formations at each location.  By the time we got to the 12 Apostles (of which only 8 are left) the sun was in the wrong spot for photography. Since we’d taken so many fantastic shots elsewhere, we didn’t feel too badly about this and carried on.

The road turns inland for a spell and we found another spot which we added to our "could be in a thriller movie" when we stopped for a snack. The venue had a drive through liquor store and hotel, which seemed un nervingly deserted, and the fellow running the shop/restaurant was veerrry friendly. I'm sure it was because there were so few people around, but with all our kidding with each other, we scooted out in a hurry eager to reach our next accommodation.

Apollo Bay Cottages – Where we had a nice little cabin - 2 bedrooms, kitchen living room, fireplace, washer  & dryer - $220.  We decided we'd have a fish and chips. We introduced Ron and Lindsay to an Aussie serving of chips, and potato fritters. our next challenge arose when Graham saw a sign for jelly tip ice cream (a delicacy from when he was a kid). However, everywhere we went, they were sold out. We walked down the main road, no luck - then drove through the whole town.  The challenge was set for the next day.

After dinner we decided we'd go looking for glow worms at Melba Gully where there is a large colony.  We weren't' very well prepared, with Lindsay and I going in sandals, but we did think outside the square and managed to rustle up a flash light (torch for you Australians) to use when we got to the park.  We were lucky to see lots by the boardwalk. I have to say I was a woosie. With all the hugely scary confronting things we've done, I got nervous in a National park looking for glowing bug larva??  What the?? I can't tell you why (could it have been being in sandals and knowing it was snake mating season? all the joking about freaky killers, or my worry our battery would die and we'd be stuck in the woods with no light?). 

Kennett River – I had come across a post along the way saying there were Koalas to be seen in the wild at the small hamlet of Kennet River. Someone had posted, Turn left at Grey River Road, by the Koala Cafe, go about 300 meters up the road and look up.  We did, pulled over and walked. Once we saw one it was much easier to spot more. We saw 10 all up and thats with not walking too far along the road. There were plenty of green & red parrots as well. It looked like a nice place to stay.  As we were leaving, we passed the Fire Dept who were getting ready to do some burn offs.


Lorne  - Still in search for the elusive Jelly Top ice cream, we stopped in Lorne. Graham prowled the local ice cream establishments for his treat while Ron, Lindsay and I snooped around the shops. With no success Graham settled for a coffee and what was supposed to be an award winning pie (however, we did comment on the age of the sign and wondered when it had actually been awarded as the current lot of pies didn’t impress us. We even had a little wine tasting. It’s a beautiful town with a lovely beach and forest combination, which reminded me of where we stay in Noosa, by the park. 

We stopped at Split Point Lighthouse, in the Great Otway Park – a lovely spot where we walked through some bush to the lighthouse, then out to some viewing points and tried planking. Lindsay warped, rather than planked but this was due to excessive laughter as she was trying to plank on our men’s laps.
Planking gone wrong - warping - a new craze? 

Bells Beach – The mecca of surfing. It was beautiful. We enjoyed watching the surfers bobbing in the water as they readied themselves to catch a wave and glide gracefully into shore.  There was some construction going on as they readied themselves for the Rip Curl Annual Surf Competition next weekend. It appeared to be the home of most of the big surfing brand outlet shops, so we had a little wander through those too.

We were aiming to stay in Torque at the Beach for the last night of our road trip. We drove around the beach front looking for accommodation, but again everything was full. We even decided it might be worth a try at the Wyndham Luxury Resort on the beach. Who knows, maybe they had standby rates?? It could happen... I asked the fellow at the desk if the big lounge seating in front of his counter was for me to fall onto when he told me the price. He chuckled and said he thought it might be. Luckily, I managed to stay standing when he told us the prices, but he laughed out loud at Lindsay and I as she went into ‘try to get a deal’ mode. He stood firm but we had fun with him.  However we did leave, but with all of us still chuckling.

We carried on, still in search of accommodation AND of the elusive Jelly Tip ice cream. Why were all the rooms full???  And who had eaten all the jelly tips?

I almost had us a cabin in a caravan park, if we didn't mind waiting a few hours for fresh linens, but while I was getting the key to check the cabin, the group decided we should probably hang out at the beach for a couple of hours, and get a room closer to the airport.

As we drove out - we spotted a little corner shop and finally found Graham’s JELLY TIPS.  Lindsay and I came around the corner triumphant at last – carrying the cold treats like they were frozen gold!! Ron’s was a bit worse for wear – and they were all a bit freezer burnt, but Graham was DELIGHTED.  His critique? Although they’re smaller than the ones he had when he was a kid, the taste was the same. He was happy.

The drive to Melbourne Airport district seemed to take forever. And at this point I don't know why I can’t find any rooms available on the web, and we were starting to get a little nervous. We didn’t realise it was Grand Prix weekend and most places were booked out. Oh Dear.

We headed to the Holiday Inn on the off chance they hadn't updated the web yet, and were pleased to find they did have a room, however it was quite expensive but the 4 of us could squeeze in. We smooth talked her into giving us a discounted rate, and with a big sigh… settled in.

Ron Lindsay and I left Graham in the room to snooze and headed down to the pool to enjoy the last hours of sun to the dulcet sounds of airplanes overhead, and 6 lanes of neighbouring traffic, as we relaxed.  For dinner we decided to do something different. We  walked across the road, through the massive airport parking lot, and wandered through the airport. We dined at Hungry Jacks, and then the gentlemen shopped (and purchased) front he airport stores, while Lindsay and I accompanied them.

We'd had a great few days, and were sad to see this portion of our trip end.

Last day Tuesday - We had breakfast at the McDonalds across the street where we filled up the car, on our way to the airport across the road and home.

We were decidedly flat after so much fun. However, we were greeted by Rose who took us home to Elwood. He'd  had been well looked after by her, George & Winnie while we were away, but if the wagging of his body was anything to go by, he was delirious to see us.