Thursday, March 26, 2015

AUSTRALIA 2015 Great Ocean Road Part II

Great Ocean Road, AUS.

After writing this post, I realised what a long and intensive day we had! I promise you, we did all of this in one day and most of it before 10pm!

We had an early morning start in Port Campbell and we all know it wouldn't be complete for a Utahn without a nice swim in the cold ocean!

We then took a beautiful hike around the area and then headed off on the road to the Arch; it was in an area where on one side, the surf rolls in to the shore and then crashes in and through the Arch - it was a spectacular sight! On the other side, there was a scene that you've probably seen depicted in a lot of paintings that features some really beautiful oceanside cliffs with an amazing red hue and the waves rolling in and crashing on to the rock face. We were constantly being amazed by the beauty of nature.

Our next stop was London Bridge, aptly named because this particular formation jutted out into the ocean and had two arches. A little while back, the middle arch collapsed while two people were on the outermost edge leaving them marooned (because after the collapse, they were technically on an island!). Don't worry though, they were rescued by helicopter and the formation still retains its name! (and of couse, the nursery rhyme gets stuck in your head!)

London Bridge is falling down...

On the way to lunch, we stopped at a lookout by at beautiful beach called Bay of Martyrs which had some more stunning rock formations. In Warrnambool, we hung out at Logan beach and read about some of the whales that have visited the cove in the past before we got our first meat pie for the trip! Now, last time Nate was here, he tasted a meat pie but he didn't get the chance to have a sausage roll so now was the time... he loved it!

Array of Aussie foods...

After finishing up lunch, we had a short drive to Tower Hill Reserve which is a national park formed around craters - we were looking so forward to this part of the trip because of all the descriptions we'd read and we were not disappointed! It was such a beautiful hike around the top of the crater and the views were spectacular; you could see all of the reserve, the entire town and the ocean in one glance!
One of the craters in Tower Hill National Park

We had a great time hiking and enjoying the beautiful scenery but I was a bit disappointed that we hadn't seen any wildlife just yet. So we finished our hike and made our way back to the the car via the main picnic area, and that's when we saw them.. that's when we saw the wild emus! They were amazing! Nate got up close and personal with emus on his last trip to Oz but mind you, I've lived in Australia my whole life and had never been up close and personal with an emu so I was giddy as! So a young emu started walking towards Nate and of course, he's cool as a cucumber. Then it b-lines in my direction and I start freaking out! I think the next few words out of my mouth were "Nate, is it going to attack me?!" but before I could even finish my sentence, it was running away from me, following it's parents. Nonetheless, my heart was pumping very fast! It was hard to leave Tower Hill because we were having so much fun watching the emus and their funny behaviour. Check out images below...

Nate getting up close and personal...

Next we drove through Port Fairy (I insisted - a place with such a cute name exists, we had to say we've been there!) and then through Portland before taking a little detour down to the cape in Nelson. Cape Nelson was such a stunning sight! The sun was shining, the weather was warm and we took the scenic drive down to the cape where the roads were lined with gorgeous, bright coloured trees high enough that you really couldn't see anything past or above them except for the incredible sight of giant windmill farms! This drive was one of our favourites of the trip! We thought we'd stop at the light house, have a quick bite to eat and do a bit of exploring but once we got in view of the ocean, we were mesmerised and were transfixed by the beauty of the waves for a long time. We had never seen ocean as vividly green and blue as what was in front of our eyes and creating so much sea foam; the water was a beautiful mix of blue, green and white. The waves were fiercely crashing into the cliff face with magnificent power that we could hear them cracking against each other before they reached the cliff face.

The incredible waves at Port Nelson...

We spent a good part of our afternoon watching the waves crashing in and out of the Cape before we realised that we were hungry and needed to eat! We found a perfectly named lookout called Picnic Hill that we hiked up to and ate lunch overlooking the wind farms and ocean. It was such a magical afternoon!

L: Windmill Farm, R: Picnic Hill lookout

Can you guess who took each photo??
Nate on the left, Nic on the right.. 

I thought it'd be interesting to note the price of petrol (gas). Petrol was $1.20 per litre.
In Australia, we purchase petrol by the litre rather than by the gallon like the U.S. with 3.79 litres to a gallon... petrol is cheap in America!!

By late afternoon, it was time to make our way to Mount Gambier which has a stunning blue lake inside a formed crater. You couldn't get down to the lakeside but you could take a nice walk around the outside where we spotted a kangaroo hopping down the road! It really was a gorgeous sight to see but we didn't have too much more time to spend in Mount Gambier so we moved on towards our last stop for the night, a beachside town named Robe.

Blue Lake, Mount Gambier

Having fun on a petrified tree trunk

 We stopped and had such a yummy meal at a Malaysian restaurant before exploring the surrounds a little more. We stumbled upon a functioning lighthouse (Nate has a thing for lighthouses..) which was amazing! I've never seen a working lighthouse in action before so I was in awe at how powerful the light beams were as they swung past us and out into the ocean. On top of that, it was such a clear night that it felt like we saw every single star in the galaxy! It was a beautiful way to end our second day on the road and definitely an experience that we wont soon both forget!

One of the best meals we've ever had!
Duck hokkien noodles...

We began our final day on the road before we arrived in Adelaide. We explored Robe's coastline and cliffs and even climbed up to a remote ledge and had breakfast ( I'm certain this ledge is not a place that most tourists would climb to, but hey, most tourists aren't Nate!)

Lighthouse and bay in Robe

There was a cool looking Obelisk (don't know what it was there for...) and an awesome blowhole (unfortunately the waves weren't that big so we didn't see it in action, but it was still pretty cool!)

Obelisk in Robe

Preface and disclaimer:
Now, I will be the first to tell you that Nate is an amazing driver. For being in a foreign country where the people drive on the opposite side of the road, he's been doing an awesome job! I will even admit that I've had a few little struggles adjusting to being on the opposite side of the road from the last three months in the States.

So we're driving out of Robe in the morning, there isn't a car in sight on the road and as we're driving, a man on the side of the road started waving at us and pointing to the ground in front of us which we thought was strange.. Nate asked what he was doing and I thought that he was letting us know about a dip in front of us on the road so we waved our thanks at him and kept driving for a few seconds before we realised why he was really waving at us.. Nate and I looked at each other, and then silently, Nate pulled over to the correct side of the road! Even I had been so accustomed to driving on the right hand side of the road that I didn't even realise! Apparently along the Great Ocean Road there has been a lot of accidents due to tourists driving on the wrong side of the road so now all along the road and coming out of parking lots, you'll see a sign reminding people to drive on the left side of the road in Australia!

Our next stop was the Giant Lobster in a small town named Meningie where we got to ride an ostrich (it was only a statue but it looked real in photos..) and we even got to see another lighthouse, although not functioning.. in fact, it had been moved in to the centre of the city as an attraction!

Giant Lobster & the bay at Meningie

Having fun with the ostrich!

Then we drove to the Coorong which is a stretch of wetlands just inland of the ocean. We had a great time exploring the area and we even saw some pelicans in the far far distance and flying above us.
Tip: if you go to the Coorong to watch pelicans, bring binoculars!

This brought us to mid-morning with plenty of time for the home stretch in to Adelaide..

Watch out for the next Post!

Much love!

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