Australia - Round The World Tour 3 2004 Day 336 (146)


Monday 7th February (2005)

Just before leaving the hostel this morning, Sandy bought a couple of AU$10 (€6,10) calling cards. We are planning on revealing our little secret when we get back to Melbourne tomorrow and are expecting to spend a lot of time on the phone to both England and the Netherlands. The calling cards will help relieve the pressure on Ree-Ree’s next phone bill. We’re both very excited but probably a little apprehensive at the same time.

It was a little difficult to get up and mobilise ourselves again this morning; either as a result of the loss of sleep from all the sandfly itches or the tiredness from all the driving we’ve been doing lately; probably a bit of both. Either way, we were back on the road again by around nine-thirty and making our way swiftly towards the Great Ocean Road. This is one of the world’s great drives. The road hugs the coastline and often sits precariously on sheer cliff faces and is weaves and winds along the Southern Victoria coast. Fierce waves crash against the rocks and are slowly eroding the cliffs away over time. The resulting blowholes, arches and pinnacles are an awesome sight to behold. We stopped at numerous lookout points dotted up and down the length of the road to walk out onto the cliffs and simply admire the sheer, rugged beauty. It reminded me very much of the Cliffs of Moher on the Western coast of the Republic of Ireland – but much more extensive. A formation of a dozen, tall standing, island pinnacles, known as the twelve apostles, is a particularly beautiful sight to behold. We were spoilt for choice as to when to stop and what to look at and all the walking up and down the provided walkways in the constant and stiff sea breeze steadily sapped all the energy right out of us. This took its toll on Sandy and she eventually called a halt to it so that she could go and lie down on the back seat of the car for half an hour.

We spent much of the day moving down the coastline as we slowly progressed in an Easterly direction towards Melbourne. The Great Ocean Road heads briefly inland at a couple of locations and at one such point, we took a slight detour to take in the Otway Tree Walk. Here, we paid AU$15 (€9,15) each for the luxury of taking a canopy height walk through the forest. Huge, elevated, steel walkways have been erected throughout a small section of the forest and this allows people to stroll through the treetops. At probably more than a hundred metres or more, these elevated walkways certainly aren’t for those who are afraid of heights, but we thoroughly enjoyed the experience and it was a nice little diversion to break up the excitement of coastline scenery.

After finding our way back onto the Great Ocean Road again, we started to give some thought to just how far we would progress today and thus where we were going to stay. We figured this to be approximately about as far as Apollo Bay and so picked out a hostel from there and called ahead. Although we were just less than half an hour from Apollo Bay, the woman seemed to want a credit card number to hold the room. I took an immediate disliking to this. Nobody has made such a request of us so far. We found the hostel and although the rooms were nice enough, I just didn’t have a good feeling about the place and we decided to move on to the next town – Lorne. Once again, we called ahead to our hostel of choice and they were good enough to hold a room for us – without requiring a credit card number. The roads really started to bend and twist along the next section of the road towards Lorne. At one particular S-bend section, we noticed a few cars had stopped along the sides of the road and several people we standing there aiming cameras up into the trees. This piqued our interest so we stopped and got out to take a look for ourselves. We were completely thrilled at what we saw. No less than five koalas sitting in the surrounding Eucalyptus trees. And they weren’t just sitting there asleep either; they were active and moving around, pulling off and eating Eucalyptus leaves. We were extremely lucky to see active koalas truly in the wild like this. We’ve been amazed at just how many native Australian species of wild animal that we’ve been able to spot in the wild since we arrived here – some of which, like the cassowary for example, are very rare indeed.

So, we eventually arrived in Lorne and not before time either. All the winding roads meant a lot of constant speed changes as well as tight turning all over the road and Sandy was borderline nauseas. The hostel that was holding our room was a nice enough place but the only room they had was in the loft space of one of the huts and the near vertical ladder to get into the space was simply not practical so we were forced to turn elsewhere for a place to sleep for the night. Fortunately, another hostel just across the road had a nice double room available and so for AU$60 (€36,60), we took it and moved in. Conveniently, a supermarket was just a few metres away so we picked up some supplies for dinner. What’s really nice about Lorne is all the colourful birds that are everywhere. Australia really is a wildlife enthusiast’s paradise.

We are confident that we will complete the Great Ocean Road tomorrow and make it all the way as far as Melbourne so I called Ree-Ree to let her know that we will be home by tomorrow evening. She has been speaking with Paul David over the Internet and he is apparently convinced that our big news is that Sandy is pregnant. This idea apparently hadn’t even occurred to Ree-Ree and I tried my best to stall her a bit more ahead of tomorrow evening, which is when I think I will break the news to my side of the family. Sandy, in the meantime, has told her mother this evening. Sandy has a very strong bond with her mother and it’s something that I have little insight into so I’m not entirely sure about how to reflect on how this has gone down. By all accounts, my mother-in-law is very pleased with the news.