Warrnambool to Port Campbell
A beautiful sunny day to start the final leg along the Great Ocean Road. After a meandering ride through the farm land of Nullawarre the Great Ocean Road reaches the coast and breathtaking vista after scenic pullout. The road becomes quite windy and as you can see from my mileage figures the pace slows a bit. But it is all worth it to take in the historic and scenic stops along the way including Bay of Islands, London Bridge among others. This was a comfortable day and I reached Port Campbell mid-afternoon with plenty of time to read, walk the quiet town streets and chat with a couple who had been leap frogging me from before Port Fairy, they in their camper van.
This night one of the hotels in town caught fire which was cause for some obvious excitement.
Port Campbell to Cape Otway
A tough but spectacular day. Despite a very good forecast it began raining as I approached the famous 12 Apostles and in the few short minutes before I reached the overhanging roof of the visitor info centre I was drenched. Luckily I had taken in all the stops along the way so far including Loch Ard Gorge so I pulled in to the info centre to wait it out. I was joined after a while by a couple of Tasmanian motorcyclists who entertained (and shocked) me with their insight on the various tourists who walked by on their way to the lookout for the 12 Apostles.
After waiting it out a couple of hours I said good-bye to the motorheads, wolfed down a big lunch and brewed up some tea. In a lull in the rain I got back on the saddle and headed back out in to the downpour. At Princetown I turned off on to the Old Great Ocean Road and despite the rain found this to be one of the most beautiuful parts of the inland ride. Part way along this unsealed road I startled a herd of cows coming my way. Nothing unusual there except they bolted and headed back the way they came. A farmer came ripping around the corner in his 4WD and I expected to get an earful. But nope, he rolled down the window and with a beaming smile thanked me for halting the stampede as they'd missed their turnoff!
Eventually the old road rejoined the main Great Ocean Road at the base of the infamous Lavers Hill, a 20 km climb in to the Otway Ranges. Given the choice there's no way I'd have combined that weather with that climb at the end of the day but that's the way it goes and I pulled up over Lavers Hill down the other side and pedalled well after dark on to Otway National Park. I was too tired to make it to the camp ground so I dropped in to a ditch for the night hoping for a dry day the next morning.
Cape Otway to Lorne
And it turned out dry! I packed my bags and then stashed them in the bush and took the 20 km round trip down to Cape Otway lighthouse. It felt great to have the freedom of the bike without the load and the ride out to the liggthouse was pretty cool. The lighthouse itself has an entrance fee which after seeing so many and living around lighthouses most of my life I rerally couldn't see forking out for. Nevertheless glad I went down there for the wallabies, parrots, cows and of course more great coastal scenery.
Then back to the road and on to the Mait's Rest Rainforest walk which was interesting and added to the by now astounding diversity of stuff I had seen on this ride.
A long sweet descent out of the Otway Ranges took me down to Apollo Bay and the first of the very touristy and picturesque seaside towns of the Great Ocean Road. I had lunch and a gallon of coffee here before heading along the stunning stretch of road to Lorne.
Despite the fact that the traffic picked up and the towns changed the character of the ride which so far had had a pretty 'out there' feel to it the charm of the Great Ocean Road is really a great experience. The road is mostly literally cut into the side of the cliffs overlooking the ocean and passes numerous beaches, river estuaries all the while surrounded by draping koala infested rainforest. It is truly stunning and all told I found the traffic light enough especially as there was little or no truck traffic. I imagine at other times of the year though it is probably pretty busy.
At Lorne I almost kept going but after a sound meal looking across at the beach I figured this was a town worth spending the night in so I sussed out the Great Ocean Road Backpackers and took a dorm room there. Turned out fairly busy with travellers from all over spending the night. Fun to hear all their stories and laugh together at some pretty awful Aussie TV.
Lorne to Geelong
The last day of my ride and another great weather day. Glorious sunshine and more great scenery. I stopped for lunch at Torquay and here had to make my mind up whether I was going to head east and take the Queenscliff-Sorrento ferry and put in another 150 km around Port Phillip Bay or just head in to Geelong and take the train to Melbourne.
Luckily a couple of quick phone calls made the decision for me and I booted in to Geelong to wrap up my ride at the Geelong train station clocking in at about 1050 km since Murray Bridge. Happy to be done.