Fairy dust and wormwood

Fairy dust and wormwood
Port Fairy, Australia

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.

Cheers!

The most significant lighthouse in Australia

The most significant lighthouse in Australia
Twelve Apostles, Australia

Twelve Apostles, Australia


This morning we had breakfast at the villa, which was included in the room rate. A step (or several steps) up from the standard continental breakfast, the choices included home made muesli, porridge with stewed fruit, croissants, greek yogurt with honey and walnuts, and fruit and nut toast. It was a tough choice and even tougher to have to look out the window at the glorious views while we were eating. I could have stayed here for a week if I’d been cashed up!

After we checked out, we went for a drive up the hill to the start of Turtons Track. We decided not to do the whole loop through the forest because we wanted to check out Apollo Bay on our way to Cape Otway, so we turned back towards the Great Ocean Road.

The drive to Cape Otway was very pretty and very winding. The lady in the tourist centre at Torquay had told us about the koalas on the way, and how they’d eaten a whole load of trees to death. I was trying to imagine what this might look like. I didn’t have to wait long to find out – there were huge groups of dead trees on the way. This also explained the koala pictures on the collage postcards of the Great Ocean Road – I couldn’t figure out why there would be a random koala picture stuck in the middle of all the landscape photos. Now I know. Koala-spotting count ended up being Me: four; Slabs: two and Kramstable: zero, because he wasn’t looking.

The sign for the Cape Otway Lighthouse said it was “Australia’s most significant lighthouse”. None of us had any idea what this was supposed to mean. We got discounted entry thanks to having the Great Ocean Road app, and headed over to the lighthouse to found out more about it.

It has been operating since 1848, and you can climb up to the top and walk around the deck outside. This did nothing for my fear of heights and I was glad to go back inside again. There’s a guide at the top to make sure people aren’t tying to come up and go down at the same time (it’s more like a ladder than steps), and he asked if we had any questions.

Why yes, I said, I do. Why is it Australia’s most significant lighthouse? I suspect he’d been asked this question more that once, and he produced a map of the shipping route from Europe to Australia. He explained that every boat making the journey to Australia would, after passing through the roaring forties, turn north at this point, so every boat destined for the east coast would see this lighthouse, and for the people on the boats it would be the first time they’d seen land in many months.

There’s lots of other interesting stuff at the lightstation, including the old telegraph station, which was built to house the first submarine cable linking Tasmania and the mainland.

After we’d looked around for a while we drive back to Apollo Bay for a beer tasting and lunch at the Great Ocean Road Brewhouse. For $8 we got a tasting paddle of five different beers by Prickly Moses, some of which we’d seen around the place and others which were totally new. My favourite was the Otway Stout.

Next stop was the Twelve Apostles, which was our overnight destination. The actual park area was absolutely overrun by tourists and the light wasn’t very good for photos, so we decided to come back in the morning. Even if there are heaps of people, we might get some better photos.

Our motel is in the middle of nowhere, so quiet and so unlike where we’d just been.

How’s the serenity!

Don’t go chasing waterfalls

Don’t go chasing waterfalls
Apollo Bay, Australia

Apollo Bay, Australia


Today the road trip began. We said goodbye to the in-laws after breakfast and hit the road for the start of the Great Ocean Road: Torquay, surfer town. We stopped at Soul Fuel Cafe for coffee and, after a quick stop at the tourist centre, drove to Bells Beach, which we felt we had to go to because it’s, like, famous.

Did I mention it was raining? Sideways? Well it was, so it was perfect beach weather.

It rained all day as we made our way along the road. We went through Anglesea and stopped in Aireys Inlet to have a look at the Split Point Lighthouse. We decided not to do the tour and didn’t get out of the car in the end. What we saw of it looked nice. The plan is to have a look at Cape Otway Lighthouse tomorrow.

We went to the Aireys Pub, home of Rogue Wave Brewery, to sample some of their products. Decided not to stay there for lunch and drove through to Lorne, where we had lunch at the Lorne Hotel.

The brochures said that Lorne had heaps of waterfalls, so we went looking for Erskine Falls after lunch. On the way we stopped at Teddy’s Lookout, which has amazing views. Zoe and I were the only ones to get out of the car, and we braved the 100 metre walk to the lower platform in gusty winds and serious rain just to get a photo.

The rain got heavier the further up the hill we got, and we all decided that no one was going to get out of the car to find a waterfall in that, so we abandoned the waterfall chase and headed back to the highway to find our accommodation, just out of Apollo Bay.

The road was very windy and it was a slow trip in the rain, but the scenery was spectacular. We went through areas where the bushfires had obviously been earlier in the year, and several roadworks.

Our accommodation is beautiful. The views out to the coast are stunning and we had the best meal tonight. I have to admit defeat in the hummous world. Mine is good, but this one was sensational, and I need to know what they put in it! If I had more time (and a lot more money) I’d love to stay here for a week. This is our extravagant night for the trip and it’s glorious!

Back to Bacchus

Back to Bacchus
Bacchus Marsh, Australia

Bacchus Marsh, Australia


I woke up at 3.30 and couldn’t get back to sleep. Even for me this is stupidly early and I didn’t want to get up then. I

ended up going for a walk before getting the last few things I had to do before we left. Coffee, for example. I left getting Kramstable’s suitcase closed to Slabs.

We got to the airport early, and managed to dodge the bomb scans at security. That must be a first.

After a bumpy takeoff and landing, we arrived in Melbourne on time. Zoe had to have rainbow drops because she gets travel sick. There was an interesting “we don’t have the car you booked, have this one instead . . . [after putting our bags in] . . . Oh here we go, this is what you booked” vehicle swap at the rental car office, but we finally got on the road and drove to Bacchus Marsh where we’re staying with Slabs’ family for a couple of days.

We’ll be heading off on the road trip on Tuesday. We stopped for lunch in town, and sat across the road watching in disbelief as a woman gently backed her car into the front of our rental car. Be warned lady: we have your number plate. Luckily there doesn’t appear to be any damage to the vehicle, but still it wasn’t the way we expected our first day to go.

The forecast for the first few days of the week appears to involve sky water. This is what happens when you say you love the ocean when it’s raining. This might change our plans for tomorrow, but we’ll see how the day’s looking before we decide. We have a couple of options, so we are keeping them open. As you do.

Kramstable is making a documentary about the trip, so he’s been running around with the camera commentating on what he’s doing. I’m interested to see how it all turns out.

It is really nice to be on holidays!

12 of 12 October 2015 (the Zoe edition)

If you got lost a while back, we’ve just returned from a two-week holiday in New Zealand. You can check out our adventures over at my TravelPod blog http://www.travelpod.com/travel-blog/sleepydwarf/2/tpod.html

Zoe and five of the other teddies came with us, and they had a great time too. Yesterday Kramstable (aka Juniordwarf) told me that Zoe would be spending the whole week with me.

So today’s 12 of 12 is “Things Zoe did today”.

1 of 12 – Zoe on the bus with me and Kramstable.

1 of 12 - Zoe on the bus

1 of 12 – Zoe on the bus

2 of 12 – After two weeks away I had no coffee either at home or at work. This required urgent rectification.

2 of 12 - Coffee

2 of 12 – Coffee

3 of 12 – We also needed some cash.

3 of 12 - Cash

3 of 12 – Cash

4 of 12 – Kramstable said that I’d do half the typing I needed to do today and Zoe would do the other half.

4 of 12 - Typing

4 of 12 – Typing

5 of 12 – Last time I took Zoe in to work and she watched the building site, she (a) got photographed looking out the window by someone on the street outside and (b) got left behind overnight. Kramstable was very insistent that she not get left at work again.

5 of 12 - Watching

5 of 12 – Watching

6 of 12 – My driver licence expires tomorrow. When we were organising the rental car in Christchurch, the guy asked me if I knew when it expired. Yes haha. I thought I’d better do something about that today.

6 of 12 - Service Tasmania

6 of 12 – Service Tasmania

7 of 12 – We picked up some sourdough bread from Pigeon Whole in Argyle Street. This is the Best Bread Ever.

7 of 12 - Bread

7 of 12 – Bread

8 of 12 – Zoe tried on some shoes at Faulls. (I didn’t.) They were a bit big.

8 of 12 - Shoes

8 of 12 – Shoes

9 of 12 – We looked at some notebooks at Fullers. We didn’t buy any. (Somewhere along the line she lost one of her hair ties.)

9 of 12 - Notebooks

9 of 12 – Notebooks

10 of 12 – Zoe did some photocopying and scanning for me.

10 of 12 - Photocopying

10 of 12 – Photocopying

11 of 12 – I had a couple of computer problems. Our system conveniently got upgraded while I was away and not everything worked, so Zoe called the IT Helpdesk for me.

11 of 12 - Phoning the helpdesk

11 of 12 – Phoning the helpdesk

12 of 12 – Zoe and I were very careful to stay hydrated all day.

12 of 12 - Hydration is very important

12 of 12 – Hydration is very important