Crossing the Bass Strait
The arrival on the mainland is a 5.45 wake up call to say we have arrived in port and the first car is to disembark in three quarters of an hour.
Its early morning in the port of Melbourne, from the outside deck we can see the sky scraper skyline of the central business district of Melbourne. We are lucky to be one of the first to drive off the ferry, it takes us along Beach Street the front boulevard, we pass a lot of early morning runners and joggers, we drive through the small scale suburbs on the water front, pass the Albert Park district through the colonial past of Melbourne, front verandahs and houses all built on plots close together.
Join the A1 for a quick shot down the highway to Geelong and head for Queenscliff where we resupply the bus after our travels in Tasmania. We head down to Queenscliff headland to see the entrance of Port Phillip Bay, where just a couple of hours ago we passed through our sleep on the Spirit of Tasmania. This is the start of our our journey onto the Great Ocean Road as we turn for Torquay.
We stop overlooking the beach in Torquay and go for a wander along the beach where various games of cricket are taking place on the sand by school children all dressed up in their school uniforms.
Just along the coast with a small detour is the famous Bells Beach home of the surfers firm Rip-Curl, we take the steps down onto the beach the power of the surf is evident even if today the surf is calm, we watch one or two surfers on the rocky cove to the side of the beach.
There are many view point on the coastline so it takes a long time drive to and turning off for each one, we choose to stop for lunch at Point Addis, parking up so we can gaze out over the sparkling ocean while being protected from the sun. Passing Anglesea, we stop just passed Fairhaven a long stretch of beach, which has a number of holiday home on the hills above the sands, taking advantage of the elevated views looking out to sea.
Stopping in the holiday town of Lorne is far from easy in a seven meter long bus, so I have to take the last opportunity at the end of the town to find a space big enough, we find a great ice cream shop to sit watching the world go by. The next 30km part of the road is very twisted as it climbs and cuts into the cliff face. The cliff top drive overlooking the ocean is spectacular passing through the small villages of Wye River and Kennett River where unknown to us, only a couple of weeks later both villages were hit by strong bush fires and destroyed. We stop at the edge of the roadside to appreciate the amazing work that was needed to build this road, underneath Mt. Defiance the road hangs in the air above the cliff drop.
Just as we are arriving in Apollo Bay, a kangaroo jumps out into the road ahead of us and quickly bounces over to the other side, before hopping into the bush, I had to stamp on the brakes to avoid hitting it. Our campsite is on the coastline driving into Apollo Bay with a view out over the bay. In the evening we walk along the beach and into the centre for a meal and marvel at the twisted trees lining the beach in the evening light.
Check out the visitors website : The Spirit of Tasmania crossing the Bass Strait, we went overnight and saved travelling time rather than going over during the day, book a cabin, good food and bars, but can get rough seas !
Visit the Great Ocean Road lots of info about the GOR.
Where : The Great Ocean Road starts in Torquay and goes all the way to Portland depending on which guide book you read. Victoria, Southern Australia.
Travelling : 236 km from Melbourne port to Apollo Bay, via Geelong and Queenscliff. M1 to Geelong then turn towards Queenscliff B110. Back along the C112 to join the main road south to Torquay. The B100 is basically the Great Ocean Road, for me it starts in Torquay because its on the coast ! Just follow the traffic to Anglesea and Lorne after these towns it gets quieter for a while before you come across the masses again at the 12 Apostles.
Camping or Campervan: Pisces Park Apollo Bay another Big 4, but they are always clean and the spaces large, so we grab a view over the bay and reverse into it to allow us to open the back doors and let the air in. In the morning the wife sets off for a run along the beach to Apollo Bay and back, the beach is directly over the road, easy access.
Don’t tell anyone: take a walk or run along the beach in Apollo Bay, the trees are fantastic, we stopped for a meal at the Apollo Bay Hotel good fish meal and atmosphere.
Next up: The 12 Apostles
pjbourne is a full time architect, urban masterplanner and sustainability designer. In his free time he’s outside with a camera, running, wandering or mountain biking through the Alps where he lives or indoors in front of the iMac planning another long road trip in a campervan to the other side of the world.
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