The morning forecasts were for thunderstorms and rain, and so following for the rest of the week. Not wanting to waste away our days in Victoria, we set out to travel the Great Ocean Road – despite the gloomy weather predictions.
As it turned out, we arrived in Torquay to sunshine and high temperatures. Torquay is the first major town stop on the GOR after Geelong. It is also a surfer’s mecca and home to Bell’s Beach, made famous by Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze in the cult classic “Point Break.” We stopped to shop (if you can believe it!) at the surf shop outlets. Actually, if you know me you probably won’t believe it – but I’ve been having better-than-average retail success over the past week. ‘Tis the season!
We continued to be lucky as the bad weather systems moved inland; Melbourne hit it hard, we find out later. The obligatory “Great Ocean Road” sign stop is made and Sarah and I both risked our necks to run into the road and stand underneath it. Clever idea!
Great Otway National Park lines the road, with enormous eucalyptus trees on either side. Mist clung to the tops of the trees like a shroud. Leahanne’s little black car swung around the windy roads as we belted out to PCD and cheesy English pop. And occasionally we would stop mid-lyric as the coastline itself came in sight, fingers outstretched into the ocean.
The Twelve Apostles are magnificent. Fewer of them stand now than since I was last in Australia six years ago, according to the guide books. It’s hard to think of those massive great rocks as fragile, but they are. It reminds me of all the wonders that once were and that I’ve never seen; and that those I am seeing now might never be seen again. It’s times like this I know I am doing the right thing, even if it is difficult sometimes.
Beyond the Twelve Apostles is the Loch Ard Gorge and Blowhole. The tide was far too calm for the blowhole but the gorge was lovely and serene; perfect for swimming.
In total, we drove for almost 12 hours. Trust me when I say that Leahanne deserves all the thanks in the world for being our personal Victoria tour guide. People pay hundreds of dollars for her kind of service and as much as we hope to repay her, we will never be able to match what she has done for us. To think that we met in Africa only three months ago is another part of travelling that I love. Being open to people, forming lasting relationships and taking advantage of people’s offers of hospitality – that’s what it is all about. And they all know they are welcome back at mine anytime, so it all works out in the end.