Port Fairy, Australia
Today was a short distance to travel – only about 100 km from the Twelve Apostles to Port Fairy, but it took several hours because there’s so much to see on the way.
After yesterday’s disappointing viewing of the Twelve Apostles, we decided to go back early in the morning to see if we could get a better look. It was a good decision. We arrived just after 8am and, while there were a few people there, it was nothing like yesterday, the light was better and it was a completely different experience.
According to the brochure from the tourist centre, it is a “common misconception” that the view here is ancient. While the limestone around Port Campbell is dated at 15-20 million years old, the formations here were apparently only formed in the last 6000 years – and it is possible that “the evolution of a rock stack from headland to arch to stack and eventual collapse can occur in just 600 years”. And the limstone here is harder in the top than it is in the bottom layers, which is where the overhangs, aches and, eventually, stacks form.
The 12 Apostles were originally called the “Sow and Piglets”, but the locals called them the 12 Apostles and that’s the name that has stuck.
After we’d seen enough, we went into Port Campbell for breakfast. It’s a small town, breakfast was ok, and we headed off to explore the rest of the Great Ocean Road. It seems like a lot of the scenic coastline is in this area and there are several roads leading off to various lookouts along the way. The main ones we saw were The Arch, London Bridge and The Grotto. The first two were especially spectacular with the waves rushing up and over the rocks. At London Bridge we read the story of how in 1990 the main arch connecting the formation to the mainland had cracked and fallen into the sea. Luckily no one had been on that bit at the time, but two people had been stuck on the marooned part and were lifted off by helicopter. I guess it just shows how quickly the coastal landscape can change!
Our final stop before heading inland was Boat Bay, which for me was perhaps the most stunning part of the whole coast and I’m glad we made the last minute decision to call in there.
We went to the Warrnambool Cheese Factory expecting great tastings and were disappointed to find all that was on offer was the same cheese we could get at home, so that was a very short stop.
We also called in to the Tower Hill Reserve outside Warrnambool, which is in the crater of a dormant volcano. This is what the website says about it:
“Tower Hill is a volcanic formation believed to have erupted about 32,000 years ago. Its formation is known as a “nested maar” and it’s the largest example of its type in Victoria. During formation, molten lava pushed its way up through the Earth’s crust and encountered a layer of water-bearing rock. Violent explosions followed creating a shallow crater which later filled with water to form the lake. Further eruptions occurred in the centre of this crater, creating the islands and cone shaped hills.”
There were some pretty cool rock formations there.
After a very brief stop, we hit the highway for Port Fairy, where we had lunch and spend an enjoyable afternoon wandering around the town and walking out to Griffiths Island where the lighthouse is. Some tradies were working in the glass, so photo opportunities were limited. All the same it was a nice walk.
We stopped for a beer at Merrijig, which is a gorgeous bar and restaurant that focuses on local produce. We were lucky enough to be able to get dinner reservation, only because we were prepared to come at 6pm. It’s a popular place! It’s fantastic that the menu changes daily according to what they can source on the day. Today the walnuts in the cheese platter came from the chef’s mum’s garden. We all had glorious meals, and loved their little quirk of selecting wines of the day from the area where the Tour de France travelled through that day.
It has been a very full day and I’ve enjoyed every moment. I feel so lucky to have been able to do this trip and am enjoying kicking back with an Otway Estate Chardonnay right now.