Well last time we spoke we were in Melbourne about to set off on our 'Wicked' Adventure! Thankfully, and very kindly, Kate dropped us off at the Wicked Campervan depot in West Footscray (which was in the middle of nowhere) and we picked up our Southpark van - very amusing and not rude, much to our relief!!
Jem drove the van to Geelong, which is about an hour away from Melbourne along the Princes Highway, and when we arrived we popped into the info centre to find out where a certain winery was (Bannockburn Vineyards) and we met a lovely chap from Middlesbrough who has been living in Oz for a while and had a good laugh at our campervan!
We phoned Bannockburn Vineyards to make an appointment to visit the next day and got told to contact, Michael Glover, the winemaker the following day. We decided to have a cheap night and stay at a local 'free' Roadhouse (Garage and very small service station where truckies stay) for the night. Jem made a yummy risotto and it was funny watching him cook on our gas stove in the Roadhouse carpark! The other truck drivers must have been very jealous! The major shock was how cold it was that night, sleeping in our very old, worn out campervan - oh my god it was soooooo cold! We knew it was time to say goodbye to our shorts and say hello to as many clothes as we could physically put on.
The next morning (Tuesday 29th April) I woke early, with the birds and the sound of the truckies driving off - god they set of early, and tried to phone my sister but found out that the nearby phone box was full of coins and so wasn't working - gutted. Went back to bed for a bit as it was still dark and then at about 7.30 decided to get warmed up with a cup of tea at the roadhouse cafe. Had a gorgeous brekkie of eggy bread (Jem introduced me to it, it's apparently a scouts thing), phoned the winemaker who said to come along and taste his wine. This was my first 9.30am wine tasting and it was great! The winemaker, Michael, was a fantastic guy, very passionate and inspirational. We spent four hours with him, tasting all his wines from the bottle, steel vat and oak barrel - totally exciting and an experience I'll remember for the rest of my life.
After Bannockburn we headed to Geelong, had our picnic lunch of cheese and tomato sarnies in the back of the campervan and then headed to the Great Ocean Road (or B100 as it's also known).
The incredible Great Ocean Road cuts its breathtaking path from Torquay to Warrnambool. Long stretches of ocean beaches, rugged cliffs and shipwrecks on one side contrast with lush forested areas on the other, making it one of the world's most spectacular coastal drives, especially between Anglesea and Apollo Bay.
We past through Torquay, or 'surf central' as it's known, home to the famous bells beach. The powerful point break at bells is the site of the world championship surfing contest every Easter. This time of year produces the biggest swells, with waves up to 6 metres high.
Next we drove through the cosy seaside village of Anglesea, followed by the town of Aireys Inlet, which consists of a pub, a general store, a couple of cafes, a beach and Split Point Lighthouse. By now it was getting dark so our final destination was the fashionable Lorne. We stopped to buy local 'snags' from the butcher and then headed to Cumberland River Holiday Park, just outside the town. This was a nice campsite, with a great undercover BBQ area and most of all a hot shower! The night was a lot warmer so we had a much better nights sleep.
After some more eggy bread and bacon we set off to the lovely fishing town of Apollo Bay. The view of the coast was amazing, we drove over some creeks with great names including Petticoat Creek and Sugarloaf Creek. On the way we decided to stop at kennet River tourist park to see if we could spot some koala's in the trees and we did - they are so cute!
From Apollo Bay, the road leaves the coast, cutting out the tip where Cape Otway Lightstation sits, and winds through the lush Otway National Park, which boasts untouched rainforests, fern gullies and huge forests of mountain ash.
Next we past through Princetown before arriving at Port Campbell National Park, the most photographed stretch of the Great Ocean Road. Dramatic cliffs tower above the ocean, rock stacks, gorges, arches and blow holes combine to create a stunning landscape.
Our first stop was the famous Twelve Apostles, the best known rock formations in Victoria. These are spectacular rock stacks in the Southern Ocean that have been abandoned to the ocean by the eroding mainland and rise up to 70 metres. Only seven can be seen from the viewing points and no one is sure what happened to the other five, or if there ever were five others! We realised that we'd timed this trip well because the tourist sights were not very crowded, unlike it would be in the summer.
The Shipwreck Coast - the coastline between Cape Otway and Port Fairy was a notoriously dangerous stretch of water in the days of sailing ships. Navigation was veyr difficult due to numerous barely-hidden reefs and frequent heavy fog. More than 80 vessels came to grief on this 120km stretch in just 40 yrs. The most famous wreck was that of the iron-hulled clipper 'Lord Ard' which sunk off on the final night of its voyage from England in 1878. Only 2 out of 55 people onboard survived. We stopped to look at the wreck east of Port Campbell at Lord Ard Gorge, which is named after the wreck of the Lord Ard.
The next ocean sculpture is the Arch, a rocky archway, offshore from Point Hesse. Nearby is the fallen down London Bridge. It was once a double-arched rock platform linked to the mainland, bit in 1990 one of the arches collapsed into the sea.
From here we carried on to the end of the Great Ocean Road, just before Warrnambool and then continued on the Princes Hwy (A1) through Warrnambool, originally settled as a humble whaling and sealing station, now a major commercial and industrial centre, to the picturesque seaside town of Port Fairy. We then followed the highway to Portland where we then headed North to Heywood. Along the way we stopped at a, hidden away, roadside picnic area for the night. Jem built a great fire (don't worry no risk of bush fires in this area!) and we cooked a lovely dinner on it - chorizo risotto! We had a nice, warm, cosy night in the van, in amongst the trees.
to be continued ............................................