Friday, 24 February 2012

Apollo Bay to Torquay

Today is more a day to catch up on the things that we missed on the drive from East to West, however, for the first time on the trip the weather wasn't up to much as it looked quite moody and rained steadily for most of the afternoon. The original plan was that we would take a short drive out to Mariners Falls. However, the news from the tourist information was the main road to the falls would be closed until 5pm for repairs and this scotched any ideas of checking out the natural beauty of the region.

It's not Mariners Falls, but here's a shot of the main beach at Apollo Bay

After taking a quick look round the charming Apollo Bay (not that there was much to see apart from the main beach and a local parade of shops), we set out for lunch in Lorne. En route we made a brief stop to look at Carisbrook Falls. The rolling hills around the area fold dramatically to provide a stunning backdrop for the waterfalls. It was quite an easy walk to the lookout and its only a short 15 minute walk there and back.

Carisbrook Falls are one of the highest falls in the Otway Ranges

When we arrived in Lorne we managed to walk down to the Erskine River at the point where the river meets the beach, before it absolutely chucked it down with rain. Retreating to the nearby caf├ęs on Mountjoy Parade we got a bite to eat while the rain eased off.

I don't think that there's much danger of a fire today.

The next stop of the return journey was to revisit Kennet River to see if we would have better luck with the koala spotting. With a better understanding of where to look, we walked from the very bottom of Grey River Road, instead of starting 4km up the road (as recommended the trail guide). With our eyes focused high into the trees, sure enough before long we were spotting the grey furry marsupials, left, right and centre!

Sleeping koala hanging out in the gums!

We were even fortunate enough second-time round to be greeted by the presence of another echidna, and luckily this one was much closer and around for longer, as it was going about it's business only about 5 meters away from us! Upon reflection I'll have to reassess my impressions of the koala walk, especially after the echidna spotting, although I still feel the guide for the walk is misleading and needs to be rewritten so it's clearer where you should start the walk.

The echidna is one of the Earth’s oldest surviving species!

With the Great Ocean Road snaking spectacularly around the cliff-side from the Wye River onwards, we realised that we hadn't seen an important part of the local scenery - any surfers on the iconic breaks! Wye River is a small town neslted discretely in the steep hillsides with just a few holiday homes, but we were there to check out the glorious golden sand beach and the surfers catching the waves.

A little further along the road is the site of a historic shipwreck (one of many on the Great Ocean Road) where in 1891, the W. B. Godfrey was wrecked. At low tide wreckage from the ship, including the capstan winch, anchor and the iron frame (at very low tide) are clearly visible straight out to sea from the site of The Lonely Grave.

View from 'The Lonely Grave' near Godfrey Creek

Although there were no casualties from the actual wreck, several men died while trying to salvage the ship. A monument was built for the men 30 years later, when workers constructing the Great Ocean Road stumbled upon the graves.

As mentioned in one of my earlier posts, there was an interesting lighthouse at Aireys Inlet called Split Point Lighthouse. This would be the last place to stop off before Torquay, however this was a bit more interesting than the Cape Otway Lightstation (partly because it was free to look at) as it was the lighthouse from the Australian TV series "Round the Twist"! There were also a couple of decent lookouts to take pictures of Eagle Rock, Table Rock and the surrounding cliffs, and to get some moody shots of the coast as the rain swept in.

Split Point Lighthouse or the "White Queen" as it's known locally

Eagle Rock and the cliffs along the coast

Rain moving quickly inland and obscuring the horizon

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