Tuesday, November 11, 2014

11 Nov 14 – Day 5 (Great Ocean Road)

Woke up around 6am and ate breakfast. Got dressed by 6:35am and waited till it was close to 7am before going out of the hotel to wait for the ATWAD pickup for the Great Ocean Road (GOR) day trip. Saw the mini-van at the spot where Grace dropped me off on Sunday and I walked over. There was already a family of three on the van so I took one of the back seats. The driver, Ian, came back and told me to sit in front, just behind the driver seat because there would be a family of four boarding the mini-van. He drove to the Federation Square to pick up the family of four and another Chinese lady, Milly, from Brisbane who then sat beside me. Finally, Ian drove to a hotel to pick up an old couple who then sat in the two seats beside the driver. The family of four consisted of the husband, Tye, from Melbourne, the wife from England who now lives in Melbourne and her parents who were here for visiting. The family of three were from England and the old couple were from US Oklahoma. Ian, our driver and guide, was very knowledgeable; he gave a lot of information about Melbourne and the places that we visited.

The first stop of our trip was to a seaside for morning tea which was prepared by Ian and it consisted of lamington, biscuits, vegemite, coffee and Aussie Bush Billy Tea which was pretty strong. I loved the lamington and made a mental note to look for it over the next few days. It was very windy hence was rather chilly. Fortunately, I was in long sleeve t-shirt and cotton sweater. Took some photos and helped Milly took hers. After the morning tea, we packed up, drove pass the Split Point Lighthouse and continued to see the GOR Memorial Archway, which is now the fourth arch, built to commemorate the WW I soldiers. They built the GOR and it took them 13 years to finish. During the drive, Ian told us that today is Remembrance Day and so he had to observe a 1-minute silence at 11:11.

Continued on the GOR to Bells Beach famous for international surfing competitions and it was featured in the movie “Point Break”. However, according to Ian, the film was actually not filmed in Bells Beach. Drove on the coastal road and we arrived in Kennett River for the koala walk at the Grey River Road. We saw a few wild koalas high on the trees and many birds such as King Parrots and ducks. There were a lot of people there feeding the birds and we took many photos there. We then stopped by Cape Patton Lookout, which offered spectacular ocean outlooks and an equally spectacular panorama of the long sweep of ocean beaches culminating in Apollo Bay, along with the impossibly green hills of the hinterland, before going to the Apollo Bay for lunch where I had fish and chips and drank the lemon lime bitters which was recommended by Ian.

After lunch, we continued with a forest walk. During the journey there, Ian was telling the group about leeches, how they would crawl on to the skin and suck blood without the host knowing. It kind of creep me out and I started to let my imagination ran wild to the extent of having second thoughts about the forest walk. We arrived at the Maits Rest in Great Otway National Park near Apollo Bay for a 30-minutes board walk. Ian showed us the different trees such as the Myrtle Beech, Mountain Ash and Blackwood trees as well as treeferns and mosses. There were some interesting sights such as ferns growing on a tree and Myrtle Beech growing over a Mountain Ash which later was broken down creating a hole in the Myrtle Beech. The walk was ok though I was a bit scared while walking down slopes due to bad experience during the Chiang Mai hike some years ago.

We continued on to an area of cliffs in Port Campbell National Park to see the first two of The Twelve Apostles. According to Ian, initially there were twelve, two collapsed and now left with ten. While on the way, he also told us the story about Tom and Eva and how the name Shipwreck Coast came about. We were given time to walk down the Gibson Steps, which refers to the staircase leading down to the stretch of beach. The sand was fine and we saw two dead mutton birds. Milly and I were wondering how they ended up dead on the beach. There were also a lot of white bones on the beach and Milly said they were the bones of the cuttlefish and that birds like to feed on them. There were also a lot of pig-face plants, a common sight along the coastal area of the GOR and Milly said she and her friends grow them back in Brisbane because they were such easy plant to grow. Envy because these plant will not survive in Singapore.

Drove for a few minutes and we came to the place where the Twelve Apostles are. Ian brought us down to the Loch Ard Gorge where we were given time to see the cave where Tom and Eva spent the night after they survived the ship wreck. Ian was very helpful, he helped us take photos and he got quite good photography skill. After we were all done, Ian brought us to see the London Arch which was previously known as London Bridge prior to its collapse because of its similarity to its namesake. We saw lots of footprints of little penguins on the beach too.

Done for the day and we headed back to Port Campbell for dinner where I had vegetarian pasta and lemon lime bitters. Then we started our 2+ hour long drive back to Melbourne city via the highway. We had a brief rest stop at Colac where we took a group photo using the camera that belongs to Tye. Then while continuing our way back, we gave our email addresses to him so that he could send us the photo after he got back home. Milly also gave me her email address so I can send her the photo we took together at the GOR Memorial Arch. Ian dropped the group members in sequence at their respective pickup points this morning and again I was the last to get back because of my hotel location. On the bright side, at least Ian managed to find the hotel without problem like Grace did and I got back at 8+pm. Quickly showered, watched some tv and did a bit of blogging before sleeping at around 11+pm. Checking out of the hotel tomorrow and moving over to CT’s place. Holiday is half over.

Thought: Had a great day today because the weather was good. Did worry about rain because it was cloudy but the sky cleared up and gave us the sun. Compared to the Phillip Island day trip, think I enjoyed today’s day trip more. Probably because I had Milly to talk to during the trip and the group was a fun-loving bunch. And probably because Ian was funny and informative and kept us well entertained with his jokes and stories. There was never a dull moment. On top of that, I get to see more sceneries and nature.

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