Melbourne to Port Fairy – The Great Ocean Road

Quite an interesting day today.  Firstly, I managed to get up reasonably early (for me) at 07:30 (probably because I went to bed at 22:30) and walk around Griffiths Island in Port Fairy, famous for thousands of nesting Shearwaters or ‘Mutton Birds’, once hunted by early settlers for their fleshy meat and fat for oil.  During my early morning walk I came across my first wild and alive (not squashed by a road train) Wallaby stopped ahead of me on the path.  He was obviously pretty used to people as he let me get quite close before hopping away on some errand.  Wallabies and Kangaroos still make me laugh when they bounce away like Tigger into the undergrowth.

Only about 3km in circumference, Griffiths Island is a quick and easy walk but is very picturesque and even has a lighthouse you can try and take artistic photos of.   Of course the artistic photo I took is on my lost camera that no-one handed into the police station…

Last year (2012) Port Fairy won the ‘World’s most Liveable Community’ award, and although it was a nice town, when I was there the pubs & city centre were dead at night – obviously these factors weren’t deemed important by the judges, or perhaps I was just there at the wrong time of year being winter.

Port Fairy is a day’s ride from Melbourne along The Great Ocean Road, a 150 mile stretch of famed coastline.  Billed as ‘the journey of a lifetime’ on a website I saw, the road is indeed stunning in places but because it doesn’t hug the coast as much as the Pacific Highway in the US, I thought the latter had the edge.

At the time of writing I had hundreds of wonderful photos itching to be downloaded onto my laptop, but when I lost my camera 1 week later I also lost all the photos.  I was so upset and angry with myself when I lost it (in Albany, SW Australia) because I had stupidly left it on top of my bike pannier while I reattached the tank bag after a hike.  The moment I placed it on the pannier I thought to myself ‘I’d better not put it there as I know I’ll probably forget about it and ride off without it’.  And the second after I thought that, I got distracted clipping the tank bag in place and DID forgot about it!  Moments later I was riding off at full speed with my camera still on the pannier.  It wasn’t until I stopped 20mins later to take another photo that I realised what I’d done.  I felt sick, as I knew I hadn’t downloaded any photos to my laptop for over a week, and sped back to my starting location with eyes peeled like a hawk.  Needless to say my camera was no-where to be seen.   I spent the whole of that day looking for it riding and walking miles up and down the road, searching the undergrowth in case it had fallen off into it.  I think it most likely fell off in the car park where I left it on the pannier, but if someone did pick it up they certainly didn’t hand it into Albany police station because I called them to check regularly over the next 2 months.  If this is the case, then I hope suitable Karma is repaid in dividends.

So, forgetful idiot that I am, I hated myself for that full day until I rolled exhausted into a campsite in Albany and met happy Dutch couple Norman and Kirsten who were camping next to me in a broken down VW camper.  After noticing my p*ssed off complexion, Norman proceeded to invite me round for a beer, which, as the night rolled on, somehow turned into 3 bottles of vodka.

As is so often the case with travellers around WA, Norman & Kirsten had completed almost exactly the same route as I, and after hearing my tale of woe, very kindly presented me with a flash drive of all the photos they had taken in exactly the same places I had taken mine.  Suddenly I felt much better, and much drunker, and after professing my undying love for them both, somehow crashed back into my own tent and passed out.

In the morning I felt suitably hung-over, but much better than poor old Norman and Kristen who were incredibly ill to the point of vomiting.  To be fair, they did drink much more than me, and that may have had something to do with the ‘Russian Vodka Drinking Technique’ I showed them, which they enjoyed to excess.

So, thanks to my new Dutch friends, I am at least able to show you some of the sights I saw along Great Ocean Road, as taken by them (and I must say the detail is amazing, which has made me realise I need an SLR):

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The Great Ocean Road

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The Great Ocean Road

 

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The 12 Apostles

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Lord Ard Gorge – named after the clipper ship Loch Ard, which ran aground on nearby Muttonbird Island on 1 June 1878 approaching the end of a three-month journey from England to Melbourne – DOH!

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London Arch – previously called London Bridge until the larger arch collapsed in 1990 leaving two tourists stranded on the outer part until they were rescued by a helicopter

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