The kids and I packed Grandma and Opa’s car to head down to Warnambool and Port Fairy for two weeks before rejoining Dad up in Roxby Downs, SA. Everyone was quite homesick for the campervan as we packed the swag and tent, sleeping mats and sleeping bags.
The family sedan we had borrowed was quiet compared to our noisy diesel Landcruiser. Without an audio-in jack to play audiobooks through the speakers it was a long journey, Peter and Susan read or listened to an audiobook on the ipod most of the way, and often Edmund would sing ‘star, star, star’ until his sisters joined in to sing “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” with him. I was completely bored, as I didn’t have anything to listen to. I felt like whinging, “Are we there yet?”
I asked, “Do you want to go the quickest way down to Warnambool, or should we go the scenic route along the Great Ocean Road?”
“The quickest route!” Everyone shouted together. I ignored this, and went down the Great Ocean Road any way. ”It’ll only be a little longer, and it’s so much prettier.”
The DSE (Department of Sustainability and Environment) were doing a planned burn. The air was hazy with smoke, and although it was a 30 degree day we kept the windows shut. The air-conditioner was only on low as it sucked in to much of the smoke. However, it made the tall timber forests of the Otway Ranges and the grey waters of the Southern Ocean looked even more beautiful through the haze — just as if it were a misty morning.
We drove around the windy, narrow roads admiring the ocean views on one side and the impressive forest on the other side. From time to time, we would pass through a seaside village with people carrying surfboards to and from the beach. We stopped a few times for a breath once we had passed the worst of the smoke.
At Apollo Bay, we bought fish ‘n’ chips to eat on the sand dunes. Peter and I got cross as Susan, Lucy, and Edmund threw chip after chip to the noisy seagulls surrounding us. I drank my coffee as the kids jumped and played on the playground.
We drove on as the vegetation changed to shrubs. A sign pointed us to the Twelve Apostle lookout, so we parked and walked a short dustance, We counted only eight Apostles. Susan read the sign to us all. It explained that in the late 1800s they were called the Sow and Piglets, but the name had been changed to The Twelve Apostles to sound more dignified.
We learnt that the winds and water blowing straight from Antarctica across the Southern Ocean hit the limestone cliff coast, making it erode away about 2cm each year, The softest limestone erodes first, leaving big rocky ‘islands’, which then progress to having tunnels cave out beneath them. These tunnels eventually collapse to leave two ‘ Apostles’ standing tall in the water until eventually they, too, collapse.
Loch Ard Gorge
We drove on and saw another sign pointing to Loch Ard Gorge. We drove in. Lucy and I wanted to walk around. Peter and Susan started stressing though, ‘It’s five o’clock, Mum, we don’t have the campervan so we’ve got to set the tents.”
“Don’t stress,” I told them, “It’s my job to worry about things like that, not yours. Anyway, that sign says Loch Ard Cemetary, and that sounds interesting.”
“No! We don’t want to get there in the dark. Imagine having to put the tent up in the dark! Besides, we have to stress about it because you aren’t!” Peter and Susan complained.
I went to turn in to see each of London Bridge, Bay of Islands, and the Bay of Martyrs — but the kids complained too much. It drizzled lightly with rain as we drove along, making the dusk sky hazier as we continued along the road.
The Next Day – Bay Of Martyrs, Bay Of Islands, London Bridge
The next day we headed back along and went to the Bay of Martyrs first. We peered over the ballastrade to look into caverns forming in the cliff walls, and Peter found one he thought might be next to become an “Apostle”.
At Bay of Islands, the lookout was almost in the carpark. I played Humpty Dumpty with Edmund as the girls collected tiny snails and made collections on wooden fence posts. A young couple came up and were fascinated with how these small snails had climbed onto the fence posts than the view.
The rain was getting heavier at London Bridge, and Peter didn’t want to get out of the car and get wet. Susan handed him an umbrella and he reluctantly tagged along behind. London Bridge was a fair bit bigger than the other rock forms, and we admired it as the rain poured down. I finally agreed to call it a day as we drove along the Great Ocean Road with the heater keeping us toasty warm inside.