Sunday, 19 February 2012

Lorne to Port Campbell

Getting up early for breakfast, we had heard that the local Sulphur-crested Cockatoos sometimes sit outside the balcony of our motel room and sure enough we were greeted by a couple of unphased cockatoos "looking for a good feed"!

Being so close to the ocean (literally you could see it from our balcony), we took the opportunity to walk down the pier and look out across Loutit Bay, back to the centre of Lorne before driving back into town to have a look around. If you've got the time to check out Lorne it's definitely a nice place if you just want to hangout.

You're never far from civilisation!

After fuelling up for the day, we took a short drive (about 15 minutes from the tourist information centre) up a windy road up to Erskine Falls, which are part of the Great Otway National Park. At the top of falls is a viewing platform, which offers decent views within a short walking distance of the car park. The walk down to the bottom of the falls was quite easy but it was coming back up which was more difficult, although it was worth it for the view. There were also lots of large rocks, which you could stand on at the bottom where the river was calmer.

Erskine Falls is an impressively tall and slender 38m waterfall

Not far from Erskine Falls is a place called Teddy's Lookout which apparently has the best views of Great Ocean Road in Lorne and they weren't half decent! From the lookout we could see the brilliant blue of the ocean all the way round to the Otway ranges and St George's river.

View from Teddy's Lookout

It wasn't until midday before we made some progress on the Great Ocean Road but even then we stopped off at a scenic spot down the road called Sheoak Falls where we did a 600m walk to a rocky waterfall which cascades 15 meters into a deep pool of water. This was another great site but it felt a little eerie especially as the water in the pool was very dark, most likely from the surrounding rocks. There were also lots of small lizards scurrying around, we weren't entirely sure what they were but they could have been McCoy's Skinks or Coventry Skinks because they were a bronze/copper colour.

Sheoak Falls

Some sort of skink, not sure which one but there were loads of them!

Driving on to Kennett River we were really keen to get to Grey River Road as this was billed as the best place to go koala spotting on the Great Ocean Road. However, this was actually one of the biggest disappointments of the trip so far as the trail guide from the tourist info didn't really give us much insight as to where to see the koalas and there wasn't much of an actually walk to do but more of a dirt track to drive up. Eventually we did see some "free-range" koalas, which were very cool but the whole experience didn't quite live up to the hype.*

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No it's a koala!

The only redeeming part of the drive was seeing a wallaby gracefully fleeing into the bush and spotting a wild echinda on the side of the road going about it's business! There also a number of exotic birds around including lorikeets and we even saw a Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo.

Pressing on, we then moved out of the forested area and more inland on the Great Ocean Road as we drove through Apollo Bay (a place to revisit on the return leg of the trip) and entered the Horden Vale flats en route to the Twelve Apostles in Port Campbell National Park. Although we were running tight on time, we had to make a quick stop for these famous monoliths. Having seen lots of photos of these rocky stacks nothing quite prepares you for how impressive they are in real life. I was completely blown away by the view from the boardwalk, which more than made up for the earlier disappointment. Tomorrow will be a better day to revist the other famous limestone rock formations along this strech of Port Campell National Park and hopefully get a picture of the Twelve Apostles at sunset.

* Having revisited this stretch of the Great Ocean Road in June 2013, I can report we had a much more enjoyable and positive experience koala spotting along Grey River Road, at Kennett River. I'm not sure if it was a better time a year because it was a lot cooler, but we spotted at least 20 koalas in the trees on a short stretch of the road. On the flipside we didn't see any Yellow-Tailed Black Cockatoos or any echidnas this time round.* 

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