|Thursday 30 July
The view from the room was so magnificent that we decided to set our alarms and get up to watch the dawn. In fact Aussie dawns are not v exciting – they are short and without any of the complex colour changes you get in the UK. The sunsets are the same – the sun tends to appear/disappear quite quickly so there’s not much to savour. So we went back to bed disappointed.
By the time we got up properly, the weather was turning greyer, with forecast of heavy rain for the forthcoming days. Our plan had been to cover a figure-of-8 route west from Melbourne to Port Campbell (beyond Apollo Bay) on the GOR, back towards Melbourne on the highway north but dipping south before Melbourne to cross the river estuary on the ferry to go to the National Park to the south of Melbourne and to watch the little penguins at dusk on Port Phillip Island and then back round to Melbourne from the east. However this would have been 900km driving, a lot of which would be on the highway which is not particularly interesting especially in the rain. Having found such a lovely place to stay we decided not to make it a round trip but to go and see the Apostles as a day trip and return back to Chris’s for a second night (at a bargain rate). This would mean travelling back to Melbourne by the same route but when it’s the GOR that’s not a bad thing. We figured we’d get a different aspect of the magnificent views travelling east instead of west and another lovely meal at the restaurant.
There was no chance of having the roof down on the way the Apostles, as by the time we set off it was grey and intermittently drizzly. Just east after Apollo Bay, the road turns inland for a while, and although it was cloudy we still had nice views of the rolling countryside, which were reminiscent of the Lake District. It curved back to the coast in time to see the Apostles, to the well run car park at the best vantage point. Even in the drizzle it was not disappointing, which should be clear from the photos. The landscape is extraordinary and well worth the visit. An air of the surreal was provided in the rain by the coach party of Asian tourists who from that point seemed to be everywhere we looked for the rest of the day, and of course they were queuing up to have their photos taken at every lovely vista.
As we walked back to the car, we could see the helicopter service at the back of the car park. We hummed and hawed about whether we should do it and decided to leave it to fate – if there was a queue we would not bother, but if we could get straight on we would do it. There was no queue and after parting with an extravagant amount of money we found ourselves being escorted across the field to the helipad.
Ant to fill in here
CLM - We were elated and with renewed desire to see some of the other features along the coast from the Apostles at closer quarters. However we were hungry by this time so we decided to go to the most westerly point of our journey to have lunch and call in at the other landmarks on our way back.
Port Campbell didn’t feel any bigger from the ground than it had seemed from the air. It was much smaller than Apollo Bay or Lorne and with a real air of winter resort melancholy over it. We went to a café bar on the seafront (there isn’t really anything other than seafront in Port Campbell) which was no longer serving sandwiches at 2pm so sent us over to the takeaway opposite. We didn’t fancy that either so we went back for a cup of coffee and cake, which they did deign to serve us. The café was full of notices of the “toilets for customers ONLY”, “no own food”, “place your order here” etc, quite un-Aussie like in the bossiness and unfriendliness. It seemed fitting that by the time we left the drizzle had turned to driving rain so the skies were getting v dark even though it was only mid afternoon. We did stop again on the coast to get some pictures – complete with posing Asians in the background again – but it was raining so hard the camera stopped working. We decided to call it quits and headed back to the hotel, feeling v grateful we had decided to stay put for another night as it would have been miserable looking for another place to stay in the weather.
The drive back was really quite unpleasant, as double-speed-wiper rain is not a great combination with unfamiliar winding roads. There was absolutely no chance of getting any Lake District-like views this time! We fell back into out little lodge, v pleased we had asked for on with a bath rather than just a shower. We had another great meal, with Kent kindly listening to our day, particularly about the dishy helicopter pilot. He was hoping that the pilot “played on my side of the fence” – I suppose in an area with so few towns it’s hard enough to find romance if you’re straight, let alone gay!