Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Phillip Island to Lorne

Leaving Phillip Island early, the plan for the day was to reach Lorne but in order for us to do this we would need to catch a ferry in Sorrento to cross the Bass Strait and pick up the Great Ocean Road from Queenscliff. Working our way round the Mornington Peninsula our first stop was at Mornington itself, a historic seaside town famous for it's colourful bathing boxes and swimming beaches.

The bathing boxes at Mills Beach

We had just enough time to grab some lunch and walk through Main St to see the Grand Hotel, Old Court House and the Old Post Office Museum, as well as visiting the famous bathing huts on Mills Beach before continuing our journey onto Sorrento.

Along the way we drove past the highest point on the Port Phillip Bay coast (at 305m), known as Arthur's Seat (or Wonga by the Boon Wurrung people). Although, you can catch excellent views of the bay we had no time to stop at the lookout. I also spotted a street called Carmichael St in Tootgarook, so maybe we were destined to pass through the peninsula!

Once we reached Sorrento, we barely had time to check out Portsea, which was a shame as it's the last village on the tip of the peninsula plus it has some interesting things to see in the nearby national park, but that was just the nature of the day. I bemoaned the fact that most of the day had been spent in the car but it had to be done as this would be the longest part of the journey and was always going to be logistically the most tricky.

Picturesque view of Sorrento from Port Phillip Bay 

After a short journey across "the Rip" we arrived at the Bellarine Peninsula in Queenscliff where we could finally start our trip on the Great Ocean Road. It wasn't long before made our first stop to stretch our legs at Angelsea, parking up next to the river to watch an old man doing some impressive kite boarding - it guess it shows that you're only as old as you feel! Walking along the bank of the estuary until we reached the Main Beach, we caught our first proper glimpse of the Southern Ocean.

Kite boarder on the Anglesea River showing how it's really done

The next stop of the journey was for a brief look at the Great Ocean Road Memorial Arch located at Eastern View. It marks the commencing point of the first stage of the Great Ocean Road built by 3,000 Australian soldiers and sailors who returned from the First World War (1914 - 1918). The casualty rate of 64% was higher than any other nation engaged in WWI and was Australia's highest of any war.

Finding employment for the returning servicemen was a crucial factor in the Great Ocean Road project and their rehabilitation to civilian life. The Arch commemorates the construction of the road and symbolises the sacrifice made by so many, across distant lands.

The Great Ocean Road Memorial Arch built in 1939

Me and Lizzie at the start of the Great Ocean Road

Pushing onto Lorne we drove up some steep and twisty roads along the B100, as well as passing an interesting lighthouse at Aireys Inlet called Split Point Lighthouse. In an ideal world, if we had the time (and money) we would spend a couple of weeks exploring the route but at least we've got the return journey to revisit anything we couldn't see first time round.

Arriving in Lorne just after 7pm we got settled into our motel and then went to the Grand Pacific Hotel to get something to eat. On our way down Armytage St we were greeted by a whole host of cockatoos and galahs feeding on the ground. One cheeky cockatoo even flew up to the fence right next to me. 

The Grand Pacific Hotel is a landmark in Lorne, originally built in 1875 it has been fully restored with a modern facilities whilst retaining some classic period features.

The iconic Grand Pacific Hotel at dusk

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