Wow. Today has actually been amazing, the best day of my trip so far I think. We had an early start (as always with these tours) and were picked up from our hostel at 7.20am. We then met up with another bus and transferred over as we were doing a 2 day tour. I started off the day a little disappointed because it was cloudy and raining in Melbourne, however after a short drive out of the city we were in the sunshine! We had a bit of a drive before we got to the start of the Great Ocean Road! Building of the road started in 1919, by the soldiers who had come back from the war, to take their minds off the horrors, and to get them back into jobs. They were known as diggers, and it was completed in 1936. The idea to build it came from a man who had travelled the Pacific Highway in America and wanted to create something better in Australia ( in the opinion of someone on the bus who had done both, the GOR was far better!) We started our journey along the road in the shining sun, and it was so beautiful, definately the most beautiful scenery in Australia I've seen so far, I really can't describe how much I loved it! To give you an idea of what it looked like, is that it is slightly like the English coastline, with the dramatic cliff edges (which they didn't have so much of up in Queensland) and the trees don't look so foreign, but the rock instead of being white, is an orangey yellow colour which was amazing, and the sea was a beautiful turquoise. Ah it was just so AMAZING I definately want a house along here when I'm old! Anyway we passed through lots of towns, one of them Geelong, the 2nd largest in Victoria. It had competed with Melbourne to be the capital of the state, however during the Gold Rush, Melbourne re-routed the maps to make it look like you had to go through it rather than Geelong to get to the gold mines! Lots of people thus swarmed to Melbourne and it grew and became the capital.
We then travelled through Torquay which is where the first surfing wetsuit was designed by 3 surfers who hated the diving wetsuits. They created the company RipCurl, and one of them then went on to create board shorts, and with 2 Americans set up the company Quicksilver. We then passed through Anglesea, where my friend Delia has a beach house, the area used to be called Swampy Creek...Wonder why they changed that! We also saw there the light house that was used in the kid's TV programme 'Round the Twist', which I used to watch when I was little! We were also told about lots of horrific bush fires, however many Australian trees must burn to release their seeds! One bush fire destroyed 75% of Victoria, which is roughly the size of the UK..
We stopped off a couple of times to take some shots of the incredible views along the Surf Coast part of the GOR. (it has 3 parts) We also squeezed in a quick morning snack and then made our way to our first proper stop in the Otway Rainforest at Mait's Point. It is a 'cool temperate' rainforest, so very different to the tropical rainforests in Northern Australia! It is also one of the only ones in the world. We walked about half an hour through there and there are ferns which grow half a cm in a year, and some of these ferns are 10m+ so they are hundreds of years old! There is also a slim fern, which was prehistorically dated. Myrtle Beech trees were also some amazing trees and are some of the largest in the world. After the rainforest we stopped to see some wild koalas, so I got some more good photos of the gorgeous little things :) There were so many parrots about which just landed on us, which was a cool experience I had 4 on me at one point!
We set of then for lunch, by-passing a town called Lorne where there is an annual swim from the pier to the pub, and everyone who competes gets a free beer, there are now about 3000 competitors each year, a huge difference from the 2 who originally swam it! We stopped at Apollo Bay for a yummy lunch and I bought a really nice toe ring, which I annoying lost later in the day!
Next stop was the 12 Apostles (originally called the sow and her piglets) I'd been really looking forward to seeing them. There were only ever 9, but now there are only 8. There was an optional activity of a helicopter ride which I decided against, but after I had walked down to the viewing point and seen the spectacular coastline in the shining sun, I decided it was too good to miss out on and ran back to catch up with Arthur and some others who were doing it! I'm so glad I decided to do it, it was amazing and the helicopter goes so fast and you get such fantastic views over the coast and the amazing blue sea! It was just so cool and fun going in a helicopter for the first time, an amazing experience!! The Apostles were just beautiful though and I took way too many photos. We carried on along the coast and stopped off at Loch art Gorge (a beach) named after a shipwreck there in 1876, of which there were only 2 survivors, and Englishman and an Irishgal, the man Tom, saved the girl and fell in love with her, however she did not hold the same affections! The bay was closed off by cliffs except for a tiny opening into the sea, where the waves came crashing through the rocks. The sea wasn't too chilly (despite what our guides said) but whilst Arthur and I were having our photo taken we got completely soaked by a rogue huge wave!
After the bay we stopped off at a viewing point over the Bay of Matyrs, which was again so so beautiful, the sun was on it's way down and so the sky was a deep yellow and it was just so amazing. I really can't get over how pretty the coastline has been today. Our final stop was at a natural rock arch name London Bridge which partially collapsed in 1990 cutting it off from the mainland. There were 2 people left stranded, they were eventually rescued by the only free helicopter - the 7 news helicopter. However they wouldn't talk to the reporters and covered their faces because they were in fact both married to other people, who thought they were both at work! So they got busted! We then stopped for dinner in a town called Warnanbool, not much choice so we just went to Maccas (McDonalds..) Then a 2 hour bus journey to our hostel in Hall's Gap, in the Grampians National Park. We could again see the Milky Way, it's literally a white band across the sky where there are thousands upon thousands of stars clustered together. I also kept seeing so many kangaroo signs, and it's been my mission over my trip to get a photo of one, however I'm still unsuccessful! We are going to see wild kangas in the morning, can't wait, I also really want to see an Echidna!
Can't wait for what tomorrow has to bring.