We had some time set aside in early November for a driving trip and here we are. Fortunately, local covid restrictions were reduced in time for us to undertake this trip. For the next two weeks, we are driving around the southern coast of Victoria to two of our favourite destinations at Apollo Bay and Port Fairy and then back home via an Inland route through Hamilton, the Grampian Ranges and Creswick.
Yesterday, we drove down the Mornington Peninsula to meet my sister and her partner for lunch at Dromana. We only catch up once or twice a year and it was good see each other for the first time in many months.
Our route required us to take the Searoads ferry from Sorrento across Port Phillip Bay to Queenscliffe. We drove on to the ferry just as a severe thunderstorm passed through but the crossing had stayed quite calm.
The ferry sailed past the Quarantine Station that we visited a few weeks ago and which I wrote about in a recent post. It was just as interesting to see from the sea although we were a good way offshore.
We stayed in Torquay overnight and this morning we headed around the coast to the town of Apollo Bay along the Great Ocean Road. This road offers one of the most famous road trips in the world. It was built by men using picks and shovels as an employment program for returned servicemen during the Great Depression. It provides some superb coastal views and we stopped many times to take photographs.
One of our stops was at the famous Bells Beach.This is the home of the world’s longest continuously running pro surfing competition – now known as the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach. The event was formerly called the Bells Easter Classic (among a variety of other titles). The competition was first held in January 1962 and then at Easter every year since,
As early as 1939, surfers from Torquay made their way to Bells Beach but access was a considerable problem until 1960, when Torquay surfers and Olympic wrestler Joe Sweeney hired a bulldozer and cleared a road along the Bells cliff down to the beach. He charged one pound per surfer to recover his expenses and this is now part of the Surf Coast walking track.
Further along, at the bustling town of Lorne, we stopped to photograph the pier and the pub. There’s a swimming race each year from the end of the Lorne Pier to the Pub which has been running since 1980. The swim leads participants on a 1.2km course starting at the Lorne Pier and finishing at the foreshore of the Lorne Surf Lifesaving Club by the pub. Now recognised as the largest ocean water swim in the world, the event is organised and run by volunteers of the Lorne Surf Lifesaving Club.
This is the first time that I have been to Lorne when there has been no cars parked in front of the pub. It is a grand old building and it was a delight to see it clearly.
Between Lorne and Apollo Bay, we saw some of the most spectacular scenery that this road offers.
We reached Apollo Bay in the mid-afternoon and settled into our cabin at the local caravan park. Our dinner was at the local Apollo Bay Hotel. Last time that we were here during Covid, we booked ahead as it was very hard to get a table considering the reduced Covid density limits. We booked a table well ahead for this trip, but if the number of people in the Bistro tonight is any indication, we needn’t have bothered. I hope that this will be the same over the remainder of our trip.