Thursday, 23 February 2012

Port Campbell to Apollo Bay

Leaving our room at the militant Port Campbell Hostel was one of the most surreal experiences we've ever had when checking out of a hostel. After being taken back a little by all the rules we had to follow, I half joked that there was a notice saying that an alarm would sound 15 minutes before our check out time! Then at 9.50am a tannoy announcement came on (seriously what kind of hostel has a tannoy?) to "kindly" remind us that in order to receive our $10 key deposit we must leave the hostel within 10 minutes. Feeling quite cheesed off by this we left fairly swiftly -  it's not like we were paying customers, oh wait yes we were...

The plan for the day was to combine the Otway Fly with a trip to the Cape Otway Lightstation and if possible squeeze in a walk to Triplet Falls inbetween. Driving to the Otway Fly took just over an hour, and we paid to go around the steel treetop walk which enables visitors to walk 25 metres above the forest floor. The whole walk included a bush walking track that took us just over an hour and we climbed our way to the top of the spiral tower to give us a face to face view of the tallest parts of the forest canopy at 47 metres! 

View up the spiral tower
Looking down the walkway from the tower

There was also cantilever platform to walk out to, which has been designed to hold 28 tonnes or 14 elephants, however the "gentle" swaying action didn't feel very reassuring in the wind! The best joke of the day was on a signboard which said "When's a leaf not a leaf? When it's a phyllode!". It's not really a joke because it's not funny but more of an interesting fact as phyllodes are essentially leaf-like structures.

Phyllodes are no laughing matter!

The platypus we spotted at Young's Creek!

Having spent a decent part of the day at the Otway Fly we decided not to bother with the nearby Triplet Falls to give us as much time as possible to make the most of Cape Otway Lightstation as it was another hour's drive. Unfortunately this wasn't the wisest of decisions as the lighthouse was a serious disapppointment, especially as the admission cost is quite high (luckily we'd paid for a special combined ticket with the Otway Fly which made it cheaper). According to their leaflet it's billed as being the "highlight of the Great Ocean Road", however the grounds looked seriously run down with a number of the buildings closed off or feeling a bit neglected. The World War II Radar Bunker was closed off, as was the Head Lightkeeper's House and there was a token Aboriginal culture site, which a bit confusing and didn't tell you much about what was on display. Although, the state of Victoria seems more tolerant in acknowledging the indigenous cultures that existed before European settlement, sometimes it feels that the things which are highlighted are often just lip-service and don't give you much useful knowledge unlike when we visited Koorie Heritage Trust in Melbourne on King St. It seems a shame that more progress hasn't been made to integrate Aboriginal culture into mainstream society apart from where it offers some sort of commercial interest... 

A spectacular view across Bass Strait and the Southern Ocean

One couple wanting to catch a glimpse of the lighthouse had a wasted journey as they but didn't want to pay the entrance fee ($17 per person), but I didn't really blame them as I felt it didn't offer good value for money. We kinda wished we stuck with a walk round Triplet Falls and I wouldn't really recommended the lighthouse as a must see attraction, which is a real shame considering it's historical significance in Victoria. According to a leaflet I read it's the oldest surviving lighthouse in mainland Australia (built in 1848) and was involved in the first telegraph cable laid between Tasmania and mainland Australia in 1859.

Nice lighthouse, shame about the rest

The only redeeming part of the Great Otway Lightstation experience was the sheer number of koalas hanging out in the eucalyptus trees on the road down to the lighthouse! It was easily the best place to see them in the greatest numbers on the Great Ocean Road, a far better place than the Kennet River Koala Walk.

Who has Lizzie spotted...?

... not another koala!
The final leg of journey was down to Apollo Bay where we finished the day with some well earned fish and chips. Exploring Apollo Bay was for another day...

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