Posted by: Nick Ward | 29 November, 2009

A weekend on The Great Ocean Road

It’s a bit of a cliche as well as a tagline, the ol’ “You’ll Love Every Piece of Victoria”, but just spent two days down the Great Ocean Road and it rings true.
Guess there’s a reason why this is Victoria’s iconic region, The Rocks really do take your breath away even if, like me, it’s only a few months since you last visited.  The thing that gets you, though, is how varied the country is down there & how much there is to do.
The trip down there is great fun in itself, least once you’re off the freeway from Melbourne!  Heading along the surf coast brings back memories of summer holidays, lovely little towns with a bit of fishing and a lot of tourism, but still all charming.  They all say Rest and Relaxation to me, guess that’s neural programming as a child.  Our first night was in Apollo Bay, the end of the really postcard cliff-hugging bit of road and the start of the Otways – and the Great Ocean Walk.
For the second time I did a tiny chunk of The Great Ocean Walk (at the pace I’m going I’ll cover the lot in about eleven years) and it blows you away how beautiful a walk it is. Beaches, rainforest, coastal cliff stretches, and it finishes at The Apostles, nowhere better. Reckon you’re almost guaranteed to see koalas & kangaroos, and a better than even chance of seeing echidna. Rosellas and all sorts of other birds are everywhere. How cool.

Point Storm on the Great Ocean Walk near Apollo Bay


Went for the first time to see The Otway Fly, the world’s highest steel canopy walk they tell me. Must confess, sounded a bit, well, tacky, but was really pleasantly surprised.  It was integrated into the forest rather than dominating it, and not the amusement ride I was expecting.  A series of towers & walkways, you get to see life in the roof of mountain ash and blackwood forests, and look down into tree fern gullies about 30 metres above.  It was a pretty wet day when I visited, and that just made it even better.  Moss and spider year all glistening with raindrops, magic. 

Moss & Lichen in the canopy at the Otway Fly


With nature such a feature of the region it was brilliant dropping in to the Cape Otway Eco Lodge where a lot of the area’s wildlife rescue is based.  Shane & Lizzie had four koalas & two joeys (baby koalas as well as roos I learnt are called joeys, my lesson-of-the-day) that had been rescued from automotive misadventure, can’t even imagine the state they must have been in when they arrived.  Now they were in amazing shape, and moving fast down the path to a return to the wild, notwithstanding the difficulty one joey was having telling a tree and a leg apart – even baby koala claws clearly make a nice mess of a pair of jeans.

Koala happily rests in a tree at Cape Otway Eco Lodge


Now, I know I go on about this, but Melbourne & Victoria’s food & wine experiences just keep getting better & better, and this region is no exception.  Have to mention today’s lunch at the Aire Valley Guest House. A superb salmon fillet was united with vegetables that came out of the veggie patch half an hour beforehand, and the tasted every bit as fresh as you’d imagine.  Matched to a local chardonnay, and followed by a rhubarb & apple crumble, it was just superb.


  There’s nothing quite so soporific as resting against the window of a warm bus on a dark and windy day with a stomach full of rhubarb & apple crumble.  Something nice about waking up, too, as you’re heading through the public art works which decorate the entrance into Melbourne via the West Gate Bridge.  Ah, home again.

View over the remaining Apostles, all, umm, eight of them?

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