The Grampians & Great Ocean Road – Oz Part 2

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On Day 5 of my adventure Down Under, I found myself alone at dawn in Adelaide Bus Station waiting for a “Groovy Grape” minibus.  The bus drove around the hostels in town until 21 “backpackers” were on-board and then we set off on a three day trip between Adelaide and Melbourne.  I wasn’t the oldest adventurer or the only person travelling alone so plenty of opportunity to make new friends.

mackenzie falls grampians national parkThere was a lot of driving but there was a lot to see.  Our destination for day one was the Grampian’s National Park.  We visited a massive waterfall – MacKenzie Falls and then watched the sunset over the mountains.

rgrampians sunset halls gap

tree and moon at sunset

grampians national park sunsetWe stayed the night in a hostel in Halls Gap and the food, cooked by our great guide/driver Simon – with help from us – was delicious.

The company was great too – Girl Guides for grown ups (men allowed)!

In the morning we went for a hike in the mountains…

morning hike halls gap grampian mountains victoria

morning hike in the grampians

In the afternoon we reached the Great Ocean Road, an 141 mile road built by the soldiers returning to Australia after the first World War.  It’s construction was paid for by donations to give work to the returning soldiers.  Before the road was built, the dispersed communities along the South Coast of Australia were only accessible by boat and it’s a pretty rocky and dangerous coastline – over 700 wrecks!  The road opened up the area to farming and tourism.  Today, Victoria exports 29 percent of Australia’s total food and fibre products – (the geographer in me is coming out)!

We spent the evening at Port Campbell National Park.  We tried to watch the sunset on the Twelve Apostles but it was too cloudy – the lighting was still beautiful though and the best bit was when our guide, Simon, produced a cheese platter and a catering-size box of Ritz crackers for us to munch on – wine would have been nice but hey – you can’t have everything.  We stayed in another hostel at a tiny place called Princeton, where pizza supper was provided by the local pub – gottta love all-inclusive holidays!

The Twelve Apostles at Sunset

12 apostles victoria at sunset

London Arch (it was London Bridge but the bit connecting it to land collapsed one day leaving two tourists stranded!)

london bridge great ocean road

shells victoria

Loch Ard Gorge

loch ard gorge

shell

In the morning we continued our journey along the Great Ocean Road although the road travelled inland through the Otway National Park, a mountainous deeply forested region. Here we took a short stroll through some temperate rainforest with huge ancient trees – the trees, called mountain ash in Australia, are a type of eucalyptus – and are one of the tallest tree species in the world.  The only rain we had on the trip, actually fell while we were in the rainforest!

mountain ash victoria australia

otway national park

Later we hit the coast again and visited some surf beaches and beach communities along the route.

rocky coast great ocean road

Apollo Bay

apollo bay

There is a memorial to the “Diggers” at the start of the road.

The road was dug by hand with dynamite, pick axe and wheelbarrow by some 3000 men.

great ocean road memorial

Our group – I’m bottom left..

group

Our last beach stop was Bells Beach, a famous surf beach, then we hit “normal roads” and headed into Melbourne.

hippie van bells beach australia

We saw this great surf/hippie van at Bells Beach –

Maybe we can give our van a funky paint job when she’s mended – Hubby has given #1 Son “the apprentice” the project!

Apart from all the obvious “sights” we saw, I really enjoyed all the different trees, plants and wildlife we saw along the way.

tree

Spot the “wild” koala

gum tree wild koala

parrot

groovy grape south australia

Around seven the third night, we all got dropped off at our various hostels in Melbourne – lots of goodbyes –  I loved every minute of my adventure, it was sooo relaxing to just follow instructions and not have to think/plan/organize anything.  It was only a short trip but we packed so much in it felt more like a week!

Next photo shoot – Melbourne – and what a great city that it.

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