Wow, the Great Ocean Road is absolutely breathtaking and, most surprisingly of all, free! No entry fees, parking fees or "self-guided walks".
We picked up quite a few practical pieces tips on how to live "cheap" downunder from fellow European travellers at the YHA in Port Fairy. One useful piece of advice was to stop off at the local Information Centres to pick up free maps. As there were predominately European backpackers at the hostel, we also swapped horror stories about the outrageous prices of groceries. As a result, the German retailer Aldi has become our new best friend as their prices are generally half the price of rip-off merchants like Foodland!
Another tip is the constant hunt for free wi-fi! We were totally spoilt in Asia, where even the smallest shack and even 7/11's offered fast and free wi-fi connectivity for their clients! Australian establishments, however, charge for everything! At first, we balked at a $5/day charge. However, we were shocked I find some places charge $6 for an hour! Needless to say, we are now big fans of, would you believe it, McDonalds, just for the coffee, so we can hang around and quickly reply to emails, check in on FB and upload the blogs I have already typed up offline on my iPod (hence the sporadic and bulk uploads).
Also, ever the bargain hunter - I think I have found the cheapest clothing retailer in Australia! As the temperatures have plunged, I needed to add a few long-sleeved tops to my wardrobe. At a place called Rivers, I managed to find 2 tops for $11! That's the extent of my shopping in Australia...
Anyways, back to the Great Ocean Road trip. We stopped at several places and walked along the marked trails. This part of the Australian Coast has been heavily shaped by the strong Southern Ocean swells and offers dramatic scenery and history. It is also referred to as the Shipwreck Coast as so many ships crashed off the rocks, reefs and offshore islets.
I was drawn to this part of Australia as I'd seen some amazing photographs taken of the 12 Apostles - these rocky outcrops towering like giant pudgy fingers close to ochre-coloured cliffs. However, what the photos hadn't prepared me for was the huge onslaught of tourists! Apparently, we weren't the only people who wanted to see this natural phenomena. Folks from all over the world were swarming like an army of snappy happy ants around all the lookout points.
I managed to get a few good shots and away we went, racing against the clock to get to Lorne before 6:30 where our $40/night beds in a tent awaited us. I kid you not, we paid $40 each for the privilege of sleeping in a tent. Well, I slept in the tent but Wendy got so freaked out when the tent zip got stuck and we couldn't get out at one point (she suffers from claustrophobia), that she ended up sleeping in the car. After a restless night, we were both not very happy campers...