015. A Wedding, a glorious trip and being lost…not necessarily in that order…

23rd January 2006.
We flew to Melbourne for the wedding of Nicole & Errol. Arriving early we had about 10 days to fill in so we did other things while we were there.
On arrival at the airport we picked up the hire car and punched in the destination in our GPS we bought in November. Confident we would be at Nicoles mums home in no time I followed the directions given by the GPS. After awhile I became quietly uncomfortable that something was wrong. In my mind I sort of thought I would turn right when leaving the airport. Hmmm. The GPS has brought us along a rather wide highway almost empty of traffic. A long way further on we were way out in the country and I was sweating on a road sign to tell us where we are. Finally we found the highway and the GPS is telling us to turn left and Seymour is only 300 Klms away. We really are heading in the wrong direction. On checking the GPS the reason is now very clear. When selecting our destination I chose from a list already programmed, including past destinations. I had selected in error a last destination – Proserpine Dam almost 3,000 to the North! Red faced I selected Merilyns address and we were on our way again. This time in the right direction! I will not go into the details of being on a Tollway we did not want to be on. Be assured we arrived in plenty of time for dinner. In fact Errol had picked up Donnis sister Linda and her husband Doug from the International Airport and called us to meet at a pub for dinner. The GPS worked well for us this time.
We spent the next 2 days sightseeing around the countryside near Melbourne but I baulked at going into Melbourne proper. 
Linda & Doug decided to join us for our trip along the Great Ocean Road hereinafter referred to as GOR. 

Not good planning on our part mind you. We left on a Saturday morning, the beginning of an Australia Day Long Weekend. The drive to Sorrento through main roads packed with holiday makers was frustrating for a boy from the bush and unused to so much traffic.


Sorrento. Departure point for the ferry.


Parked in the hull - coolest place on board.

We lunched at a pub at Sorrento with Linda & Doug, Errol & Nicole. Then we caught a car ferry which took us

across the bay to Queenscliffe to begin the GOR. It was a hot day, somewhere in the 40s with an uncomfortable Westerly blowing straight off the parched land. Add to this there were many bushfires which only created more heat and wind. Just standing on the top deck of the car ferry I got windburn on the nose and ears.

After driving along the GOR a few Klms we came to Torquay and joined many others trying to find accommodation. We found people prepared to let us have 2 bedrooms in a house which had no air con and only one bedroom had a fan. We went to Torquay Beach for a dip but being wooses from the North we found the water had just arrived from the Antarctic so from the waist down we lost all feeling from the cold whilst above the waist we burned. There was lots of smoke haze in the air and the sun took on a wan grey yellow look. Although sunlight shone on nicely polished cars there was no shine.

Next day, hot but not as hot. Even most of the smoke haze had cleared up. Perhaps because the wind came from another direction. We got our first look at Bells Beach.


Donnis, Linda 7 Doug at Bells Beach.

I was staggered by the number of boardriders here all trying to get a wave and by the look of the sea there were a few different breaks and a good swell. By my estimate it was still high tide so the surf should improve as the tide goes out.

We moved on to Aireys Inlet


Aireys Inlet Lighthouse. Above Split Point.

where we had a Devonshire Tea at a teahouse in the shadow of the lighthouse. So far I was enjoying the coastline but I really wanted to get out of the car, run barefoot in the sand and feel the wind and salt air on my face and hair. We continued our drive through Lorne. Sigh. Would liked to have stayed longer. Then on to Apollo Bay where we lunched and had a quick look around. I particularly liked the view of the bay from the small boat harbour. The high almost treeless grassed hills were greeted by a sand beach then the ocean.


Apollo Bay.

Very pretty. We started to look for accommodation. Nothing! Except there was a two bedroom unit available at …The Twelve Apostles! (Hereinafter referred to as 12) OK. We booked that and felt a bit easier sightseeing knowing we had somewhere to stay. We moved on to Cape Ottway Lighthouse


Cape Ottway Lighthouse.

 but considering the crowds waiting to get in and pay $10 each for a tour we opted to walk up into the hills until the flies became too much and it was back to the car and our next location, 12. The motel may have once been nice but was now run down. The main room of our unit sloped back to front and we felt we were walking downhill. Dumped the bags in the room and headed off for our first view of the Apostles.


The much visited 12 Apostles.

Wow! I thought I had seen all the photos and was prepared for this spectacle.

I wasn’t!

The sight of this part of the coastline really pumped me up. We wanted to see the view in the sunset and decided the motel dining room was a bit of a suspect place based on the general air of untidiness everywhere else. So we drove to Princetown and ate in a general store, bottleshop, motel, fuel outlet, cafe and whatever else. A busload of tourists arrived at the same time so we ordered immediately but our food still arrived late. They fed the bus passengers first. Seems they had pre booked. After dinner we arrived back at 12 along with lots of other people with the same idea. I was happy to just stand in the late afternoon glow and watch the night beginning to fall and hear the crashing of the waves below. Next morning I was up early, as always and wanted to see 12 in the sunrise so woke Donnis and off we went. This time we found a place called Gibsons Steps which took us down the cliff to the beach below and a whole new vista opened for us.

We explored a few bays in the Port Campbell National Park


Frank Linda & Dough at Port Campbell national Park.

 but really only had time to visit Loch Ard Gorge,


Loch Ard Gorge.

site of a shipwreck in 1878 where 153 persons perished and there were only 2 survivors. We walked the timber stairs to the gorge below with two glorious beached almost separated by a spit of cliffs. I tried hard to imagine how it might have been on that wild night. How in fact one of the survivors managed to climb his way out of the steep cliffs and amazingly find help in a desolate place.

We must come back and explore some more. Then on to Port Campbell for lunch, through Peterborough and on to Warnambool where Linda & Doug caught a train back to Melbourne and we continued on to Port Fairy.


Port Fairy.

Oh, this whole coastline needs to be explored some more. The weather had turned cold wet & windy. Next day we turned towards Melbourne spending more time at Port Campbell and the National Park. This time climbing down to The Grotto in the wind and rain. We also visited the historical old homestead where the two survivors of the Loch Ard shipwreck were taken to recover and await repatriation. Slowly we made our way back to Melbourne and preparations for the wedding.

Lots of people at the wedding, in the church and at the reception at a golf club later. The afternoon was oppressively hot as it can be in Melbourne at that time of year. Thank goodness the Golf Club was air conditioned. The highlight, for me was when Errol got the band to strike up a tune and he sang a love song to a very embarrassed Nicole. The guests were so quiet – until he finished singing. Then he was mobbed by screaming women all wiping at tears in their eyes. Poor Nicole was almost trampled underfoot. Lovely night and perhaps worth a longer story in the future.

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