I really like the little town of Apollo Bay on Victoria’s southern coast. It is a popular holiday place, just over two hours from Melbourne, with lots of interesting things to do. We spent last weekend there with our grand daughters. It’s wonderful to spend some time with them again.
Jill and I took our time travelling there along Victoria’s famous Great Ocean Road. This road was built (mostly by hand) after WW1 as a project to provide employment for returned soldiers. The road hugs the coast with many steep drops down to the sea. It is very popular with overseas tourists and at every turn and stopping point there are signs warning that we drive on the left hand side of the road in Australia. There have been quite a number of accidents, especially with Chinese visitors who forget about this.
Cathy and the girls arrived in the evening and we soon settled into our cabins in the holiday park. We had already bought some food for breakfasts and we were well set up for the weekend.
On Saturday morning, after a hearty breakfast of eggs, bacon and waffles, we drove a few kilometres up to the pretty picnic spot on the Barham River at Paradise. It truly lives up to its name. There are many seats and tables for picnics under the tree ferns and the river flows alongside. It’s a very peaceful setting.
The tree ferns are just growing their spring fronds. These grow from the middle of the trunk and appear like walking sticks until they unfurl and form another season’s layer of fronds that shade the low growing plants underneath.
We drove back to town along the river valley with its green hills. This was a different scene from northern NSW where we were a month ago. That part of Australia is in severe drought, but here the paddocks are lush and green. In fact, the first of a few forecast showers were just beginning as we drove back.
We were in town for lunch and we all enjoyed a scallop pie – one of the regions seafood delicacies. Along the Great Ocean Road there are a number of little pop-up theatres that show different parts of a film story about the building of the road. These are set up in shipping containers with an Art Deco theme. They only seat about twelve people at a time and even have a small desk as a box office, even though entry is free.
Near Apollo Bay is Mariner’s Lookout, situated on a high hill above the coast. It normally provides superb views but visibility was poor with a number of rain showers passing through the area when we were there. However, there were a number of small birds flitting around the edge of the bush and I was able to capture a blue Superb Fairy Wren and a Fantail.
On Saturday, we headed through the Otway Ranges to the Otway Fly treetop walk. The Otway Fly claims to be the longest and highest ‘steel canopy walk’ in the world, It is 600 metres long with a maximum height of 47 metres. It is located on private land in the Otway Range. The walk traverses a a mixed species forest with trees including Myrtle Beech and Mountain Ash, the tallest hardwood species in the world. From up above you can look down on an abundance of soft tree ferns and other smaller trees.
We made our way back to Apollo Bay on the narrow rainforest roads of the Otways and spent a little while looking around the fishing harbour.
On our final day, Cathy had to return early for work so Jill and I took the girls around to one of the most dramatic parts of the Road to Port Campbell and the Twelve Apostles. We stopped at a couple of places along the way to see the views along the coast and had lunch at a cafe in Port Campbell that had a very creative menu and delicious food. It was just across the road from the harbour there. The girls enjoyed a sandwich while I had a very tasty Pumpkin Gnocchi.
The highlight of the day was a stop at the site of the Twelve Apostles. These sea stacks were formed by erosion of the cliffs. The harsh and extreme weather conditions from the Southern Ocean gradually erode the soft limestone to form caves in the cliffs, which then become arches that eventually collapse, leaving rock stacks up to 50 metres high. The stacks were originally known as the Pinnacles, and then as the Sow and Pigs and finally as the Twelve Apostles. The formation’s name was made official as the Twelve Apostles, despite only ever having had eight stacks.
On the way home we detoured to the little town of Timboon for a stop at their Ice Creamery. There was no way that we could go past this place without stopping. I haven’t had such smooth and creamy ice cream for a very long time.