Wednesday, October 03, 2007

The Great Ocean Road... Finally!!!

Brace yourself, folks, this is going to be a long one!! After nearly two years I have finally gotten around to "doing" the Great Ocean Road. Finally!!! And it was well worth the wait.

The original plan was to have morning tea in Lorne, however the lack of a car park or any establishment that tempted me resulted in my driving straight through. So I then thought "Oh well, there's always Apollo Bay". And much the same thing happened as in Lorne! So after that I decided to stop making plans, and just go with the flow.

Please allow me to digress just momentarily to chat about one of the big loves of my life - my car:

This here is my trusty steed. Ever since I gave him a work-over about 2.5 years ago I've longed for a road that will REALLY test whether the money (and blood, sweat, and scars) were worth it. What you're looking at is a 99 model N15 Pulsar SLX with an engine chip, Whiteline "works" suspension and handling kit (complete with springs, shocks, rear 20mm adjustable sway bar, steering rack bushes, camber bushes, and a few things I've now forgotten... still haven't got the front strut brace), 2.25" cat-back exhaust system, CAI, 16" mags, spotties... basically a car with 1.6L of power (cough cough, hehe) that corners like a frikking DEMON. Many outside the Pulsar forums don't think the old pulsar is worth the effort. But for love, anything is worth it :-) But enough car-speak.

I hit the intersection at Lavers Hill and was going to keep on going, but saw a sign by the side of the road at this place

advertising Devonshire Tea. And I'm a complete sucker for a Devonshire Tea, as you might have gathered from a previous post.

And this one was well worth the stop. Beautiful scones, delicious jam, and absolutely divine thickened (not whipped) cream. Oh wow. That, and the views down a valley through the window made it WELL worth the stop. And I once again made a furry friend. What is it with cats and me? Why do they take one look at me and think "here's a sucker that'll pat me for a while"? He was a gorgeous ginger-and-white guy who quite pointedly let me know he expected much behind-the-ear scratching before I was allowed to leave. So I obliged - it seemed the only thing to do.

Once refreshed and fortified I continued on my way, heading for the Otway Fly Walk and all the terror it held.

I love a good walk through tranquil lush forest. It was a particularly windy day on Monday, so the roar of the wind through the trees was loud, but quite relaxing in its own way.

And then I got to the scaffolding that announced the start of the climb to the tree canopy.

From where I took this pic, at point 10, I was only 26m up. And you can see how high that tower goes. Perhaps now is a good time to mention that I do suffer from a HUGE fear of heights. To me, the scariest ride on earth is the ferris wheel. But I wasn't going to let some silly little fear stop me. See all those stairs going round and round and round and round and... well yeah, I did them.

And here I am, 47m above the ground. I have to wonder about the kindness of strangers... Some examples:

1) When you go to places like this, complete strangers are almost always happy to take pictures for you (especially if you're on your own) and even offer to take several to be sure you get a good one

2) I started chatting to others also on the small viewing form at the top of the tower, and mentioned my fear. They smiled and offered encouragement and praise for my efforts to conquer it. I know quite a few 'friends' who would tease me and make many jokes at my expense instead. Guess which would be most welcome, and help the most.

Aaaanyway, once I made it DOWN from the tower (oh God, that was an experience) I then decided to REALLY test myself, and go out on the cantilever. The cantilever is a viewing platform 33m from the ground - and the only thing holding it up is a couple of steel cables attached to a pole a looooong way from the end. From the safety of that pole I watched it gently swaying in the breeze, and with the footsteps of everyone out on it. I decided to wait until it got a bit less crowded out there. And then, white-knuckled and gripping the handrail, I shuffled out. And I kept that hold on the railing until I realised - hell, if it goes, I'm going with it! So I let go.

I even made myself kneel down and take a picture through the walkway... not sure how it looks, but that's 33m down... a looooong way. By the time I got back to the nearest stable-ish point I was quite clammy, sweaty hands, and my legs were shaking so bad I thought I'd fall over. But I didn't, and finished the scaffold walk back to the forest floor. I'm so proud of me.

From the Otway Fly Walk I headed a little further along the road to the Triplet Falls. Oh. My. God. SO much beauty. I took so many pictures, but the one above and the one below are my favourites from this area.

After a brief picnic in my car of orange juice and fruit, I decided that was enough stuffing around for the day, and it was time to get to my final destinations of the day: the Twelve Apostles and Port Campbell.

Here, of course, is the obligatory picture of some of the remaining apostles. I took heaps of great pictures, including one of flying sea-foam, as if the ocean were hawking up giant lugey's and spitting at me (nice imagery, eh?), but due to my infamiliarity (yes, I make up words) with the camera I was using, they weren't saved... due to the memory card being full (duh, me smart). And I'd taken an awesome shot of a storm coming over the ocean, framed through the blackened branches of a dead tree. *sigh* I would have liked to see how those shots came out. Ah well - I'll just have to do it again!

I stayed at the cabin and camping park in Port Campbell for the night. A nice little cabin to myself. Tuesday saw me heading back for home, via the inland route. I stopped off in Timboon and visited Timboon Farmhouse Cheese (23 Ford and Fells Road, Timboon. Ph: 03 5598 3387). Oh wow. I had me a little taste test of the cheeses on offer, except the blue cheese (never got the hang of those). Their organic Brie and Camembert were just, just, well, just divine. They also had on offer a Surprise Bay Cheddar and Stokes Point Smoked cheddar from their sister-farmhouse - King Island Dairy. There was also a gourmet feta marinated in olive oil and herbs, and two fresh cheeses - one coated in herbs, the other in peppers. Oh wow, oh wow. I LOVE my cheeses. Each of the types I tried just blew my mind. There were three blue cheese on offer that I declined - Timboonsola Blue, St Joseph's Blue, and one other I can't remember now. If the others are anything to go by, these would have been sublime as well. One corner of the shop is taken up with all the various awards they have won for their cheeses. All well-earned, I'd say!

My purchases - the King Island Surprise Bay Cheddar, Timboon Organic Brie, and Timboon Organic Feta.

From Timboon I went up to Campberdown and had a rather disappointing pub lunch, then set myself facing east and came home.

A rather full two days. About 600km trip, but so thoroughly enjoyable.


Cindy said...

Even your *photo* looking down from on high has my height-fearing heart beating a little faster: I'm well impressed!

Oh, and I had no idea you were such a car nerd. ;-)

Anna said...

Yes, I'm very proud of me that I actually went aaaaallll the way up there.

I am a car nerd (and a computer geek, oh lordy). I try very hard not to let those two aspects of my personality take over on here - they have other outlets (pulsar forum, World of Warcraft) where they can let loose and shine. This blog is for the other side(s) of me :-)

Oh, I've since scarfed that Timboon Brie. Oh wow that was good.

thanh7580 said...

Hi Anna, I hadn't been to the Twelve Apostles ever. Only ever driven past it. Then on 22nd Sep this year, I finally went. Then I saw your post of how you went too after wanting to go for ages. What actual day did you go? Imagine if we were there at the same time.

Anna said...

Hi Thanh. I was a week and a bit behind you - I was there on the 1st of October. It's a trip I definitely need to do again, if only to try for the photo's I missed.