A Travellerspoint blog

Day 68 Princetown to Angelsea

Wildlife, wildlife, wildlife

semi-overcast 19 °C

We wake to more kangaroos at our Princetown campground, as well as large groups of cockatoos and the odd galah. It's grey and trying to rain. Dottie enjoys a run around on the grass, dodging kangaroo poo, before we set off. More Great Ocean Road today.

Heading up through Wattle Hill and Lavers Hill the terrain changes as we move away from the coast and up into rainforest covered hills. The cloud is low and we use Boris' windscreen wipers for the first time. He is still having problems with his odour and today a dry plug hole and a few strips of duct tape solve the issue in the short term. After Glenaire we take a right off the Great Ocean Road onto the Cape Otway Road (a must do detour for anyone thinking of driving this route). We'll be spending most of our day today driving through the Great Otway National Park which extends some 80kms East from here to Angelsea.

The Cape Otway Road is flanked on both sides by gum trees and as we drive South we start to spot koalas sitting in the trees up above the road. Some of these koalas are very high up wedged in the 'v' of a couple of branches, but we get extremely lucky and spot one on the ground down a dirt track off the road. We spend some time with him before he ambles off up the nearest gum tree.


There are literally koalas everywhere and they are easy to spot. Just look for the gum trees with very few leaves and most have a koala in them. A short way up the road we come across a mother and baby in a tree just at eye level. Perfect. So cute.


At the head of the cape is Cape Otway Lightstation. We climb the steep winding staircase to the top and take a walk around the balcony. Nat's legs turn to jelly.


The Great Ocean Road sticks closer to the sea over the next section. We reach Apollo Bay, probably my favourite. A long stretch of golden sand, clear water and lots of cafes, restaurants and bars along the front.


The beauty of this coastline is just ridiculous. Beach after beach, headland after headland. It's Sunday afternoon and hardly a person about. If only we could take any one of these beaches home. Brighton would be pleased. We'd just need to fix the weather then.

At Kennett River there is a little cafe that sells birdseed. We get some and head up a short walk on the Grey River Road. It's not long before we have koalas in the trees overhead again and we are surrounded by parrots. Finley loves them, as does Dottie until they land on her head. She then goes bananas.


Heading further up the coast we reach Lorne which has yet another fabulous beach. It's full of 'schoolies' as they are called out here, fresh from Melbourne and the end of term, ready to party. It's a shame to have to just pass through such a great little town.

We pass Mount Defiance headland and Aireys Inlet before reaching Angelsea and our camp for the night.


Sadly that pretty much completes the Great Ocean Road for us. We are now in shooting distance of Melbourne and will head there tomorrow.

Posted by cpbrooks 13:57 Archived in Australia Comments (2)

Day 67 Port Fairy to Princetown

$5000, smell, kangaroo

overcast 25 °C

Our next door neighbours from Geelong tell us how Australia is still incentivising people to have kids. $5000 for a first kid and $3000 for subsequent kids. There is a fortune to be had here, surely? Dottie enjoys time with the four lovely girls. She is missing interaction with kids her own age and Nat and I are both looking forward to being able to return her to nursery. We have sent them a postcard from each of the countries we have visited.


Before heading off we take a walk around Griffiths Island to take a look at the lighthouse. It's a Shearwater bird colony and smells like it. The beaches on the Southern Ocean side are fabulous and we play with the quick sand we find on the beach.


The B100 is the Great Ocean Road and its not far out of Port Fairy that we reach Warrnambool and shortly after that the turn off to the Great Ocean Road itself.


It's not until Peterborough and the Bay of Islands that the Great Ocean Road touches the coast. Known as the 'shipwreck coast' it's easy to see why.


The next stop is The Grotto which really makes it clear how the sea is slowly eating away at this coast.


It's part way along the Great Ocean Road that we realise Boris has developed a 'smell'. Probably not his fault, but his grey waste stinks. We have to permanently leave the plug in the sink to avoid his embarrassment.

London bridge is the next stop on the drive.


It's a spectacular coast, but the frequency of the beautiful stop offs and walks down to lookouts etc makes it rather hard work. I know it sounds bad to say so, but getting the kids in and out of their seats and down even a 1km round trip hike to a coastal view, every 10 minutes or so, is tiring. Especially in the heat. It's amazing that this coast is so full of spectacle, and it really is, but we were getting exhausted.

Loch Ard Gorge is breathtaking. A series of amazing stacks and arches being crashed by the ocean waves. Unfortunately full of tour coaches, but a highlight all the same. The photo below is just one area of Loch Ard Gorge, the Razorback, as it is called. How do these stacks stay as they are when everything around them has been washed away?


Our next stop is probably the most famous of all sights on the Great Ocean Road. The Twelve Apostles, although there are something closer to eight remaining. The latest stack to fall was the one just to the left of Nat (now just a pile of rocks) in 2005. Some of the others are looking equally dodgy, I suggest you visit soon if you are planning to.


Stopping so frequently to look at this awesome coastline does slow us down and we realise we won't be able to get to Bimbi Park on Cape Otway (thanks our friends from Geelong for the recommendation) which was our initial plan for the day. We are an hour short of it at 6pm with two flagging kids and two spent adults. We pull into Princetown, just East of the Twelve Apostles. We are so pleased we did because not long after we arrived a group of some 200 kangaroos sweep across the grasslands where we are camping. We can't believe our luck. Dottie spotted them saying 'Daddy, Daddy, look jump, jump'. A special moment.


Tomorrow we'll look to push on to Lorne, Aireys Inlet or Angelsea.

Posted by cpbrooks 03:32 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

Day 66 Mount Gambier to Port Fairy

Cows, caves, breathalysers

sunny 29 °C

Lots of animals today. Absolutely thousands of cows, 5 emus that ran across the road in front of us and 10 kangaroos. Sadly all of the kangaroos were dead ones at the side of the road. I spared you the pictures of the kangaroos, but not the cows or the emus......sorry


The day started with breakfast in the sun with Boris. This is my favourite part of the day. The low sun, gentle heat and freshness of a new day. I'll miss this when we get home to winter


One of Mount Gambier's biggest assets is largely invisible. It has a massive network of limestone caves running under the town where people pothole and scuba dive. A bit beyond us with the kids so we choose to visit the Umpherston Sinkhole which is a collapsed section of this underground world that now houses gardens. Much more us.....sadly!!


We also pop in to Cave Gardens right in the middle of the town. Beautifully kept and like most of Mount Gambier is full of roses. They love their roses here. The library next door gives us our first wifi for 3 days. Yippee!!

Photo roses

The road South leads us back onto the coast at Port McDonnell, where we head East towards the Victoria border. It's at the border that we see the first of the 10 dead kangaroos and the smell and flies almost prevent me from taking this picture


We pass through Portland and set our sights on Port Fairy. It's at this point that suddenly we encounter 5 emu running across the road in front of us. Well pleased.

A short while later I get breathalysed by a friendly Victoria cop. They set up road blocks here where everyone gets checked, the traffic is low enough to allow this, and I pass with flying colours. I'd love if we could do this back home. I'd had a beer at lunch and a couple the night before, so all good

We reach Port Fairy in time for the sunset and get chatting to the Aussies from Geelong next to us. Nice bunch. Really nice bunch. They offered us accommodation in Geelong of we need it and give us lots of tips for our onward journey.


We had some requests for more pictures of Dot and Finn, so here goes. Both loving glasses, but Finn loving a VB (when did he work up a hard earned thirst?)


Posted by cpbrooks 02:36 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

Day 65 Robe to Mount Gambier

Day 65 Robe to Mount Gambier

sunny 20 °C

It's starting to dawn on us that we only have one week left and Christmas around the corner. How strange and exciting. We have all become very accustomed to travelling and being in a new place every time we wake up. We love it. But we are looking forward to seeing everyone.

Robe is a beautiful little spot. A drive around Lake Butler which is the little harbour here takes us over to Factory Bay on the other side of the peninsular where the Southern Ocean crashes against the coast and around Doorway Rock, a natural arch just off the coast. We drive out to to the Obelisk on Cape Dombey. The whole cape is covered in yellow flowers.


Looking back from the Obelisk we can see Doorway Rock


Following a long day yesterday we decide not to take the walk around the cape but to press on. We aim to get to Mt Gambier today which is just 120kms away and our last town in South Australia before we cross the boarder into Victoria.

Heading South we skirt around Lake Eliza, Lake St Clair and Lake George before reaching Beachport, which has been recommended to us by a few people. It's a tiny place but Rivoli Bay is just stunning. It's sheltered from the Southern Ocean and is turquoise in the sunlight. The second longest jetty in Australia sticks out into the bay.


A short drive along the Bowman scenic drive takes us around Point Glen and back to the Southern Ocean coast. It's a 'wow' moment for both Nat and I (I'm not sure about the kids). Looking West along the coast we see Snapper Point, Salmon Hole, Post Office Rock and Cowrie Island.


Not far along the drive is the Pool of Siloam, which is a small salt water lake just a few hundred metres from the ocean. It has salt levels 7 times that of the sea and makes it easy to float. Nat, Dot and I take a dip....Finn is asleep.


The drive from Beachport, through Millicent and on to Mount Gambier takes us through huge areas of forestry. Row after row of pines, with different sections at different stages, but it is vast. We are warned about wombats.....but obviously don't see any (well one dead one by the side of the road)


At the visitor centre in Mount Gambier it's seems we must know look like we know what we are doing (although running out of diesel isn't that cool). At one point there are two people queued up to speak to us. Odd. The strangest was an Iranian girl and her boyfriend who needed help with their Garmin satnav, which Nat managed to sort for them. They were driving the Great Ocean Road to Melbourne as well, but they were doing it tonight in one go, rather than take the 3 days we'll be taking. Not sure how spectacular the Great Ocean Road is in the dark.....odd choice.

We camp early at the Blue Lake campground, taking a quick glimpse of it before we settle down for the night.


The Blue Lake is formed in the crater of an old volcano and is 204 metres deep at its deepest point. It's blue in summer and grey in winter and they are not really sure why.

The wifi at the campground is broken, we are having no luck with updates at the minute.

Posted by cpbrooks 16:35 Archived in Australia Comments (3)

Day 64 Victor Harbor to Robe

Flies, salt, diesel

sunny 23 °C

Victor Harbor has the only remaining horse drawn tram in Australia. It takes passengers from the town over the jetty to Granite Island. There are penguin colonies on the island. We are too early for the tram as it doesn't start until 10.30 and we discover once we get across to the island that the penguins only show up at dust.....too early for them too. The results of a lack of research and planning on our part.


We take the 1.5km round the island walk which starts with a double buggy lift up about 10 flights of boardwalk steps. The strong wind brings crashing waves on the Southern Ocean side, the sheltered side brings flies. Lots of flies


It's only once we get back to the town and set the satnav that we realise just how far it is to Robe, 328kms and its already 11am. Our longest drive to date if we make it.

The route down to Robe allows us to follow the coast through Port Elliott and Goolwa (not the French cigarettes) for a while, but then we have to head inland up through Strathalbyn and on to Wellington. The landscape is typically South Australian, endless vineyards and crop fields.


At Wellington there is a cable ferry across the Murray River. Our second of the trip. No risk of crocs this time round.


We have to head inland because of Lake Alexandrina and Lake Albert. The lakes have been created by the 130km sand spit that covers the Murray River estuary and it is this massive sand area that is the Coorong National Park. Once across the ferry we will spend most of our journey today driving down the edge of the Coorong.

Heading South from Wellington the road passes by several salt lakes that look just like a frozen lake with a layer of snow on it. Except that some are slightly pink in colour.


You saw the kangaroo road sign from a couple of blogs ago, well you get the same thing for wombats, cassowary, koala and lizards, trouble is, so far we haven't actually seen much. So imagine our surprise when heading out to Parnka Point on a dirt track (not allowed by the van hire company, but couldn't resist) and an emu runs out across the road in front of us.....without any warning sign!! We ended up seeing 4. Well happy. We see pelicans at Jack Point too.


We know we are pushed for time, the campsite we want to stay in is only open until 6, but we now have a bigger problem. Salt Creek fuel station is closed as it has a power cut and we needed diesel here. Not good news. We speak with the local cop as he pulls in to Salt Creek station. He was also running low on fuel and was in the same boat as us, so he was no help. Kingston SE is about 80kms South and is the nearest fuel stop. By our calculations we have 49kms left in the tank. Oops! The VW manual, or should I say Boris' manual (that is his official name) tells us that there is a reserve in the tank of some 50km but its not clear if it is when the fuel light comes on at one tenth of the tank left or once you get to zero. We drive through the flashing fuel light at one tenth and eventually drive through zero. For a moment I am thankful that these Germans build vehicles like Boris that run on air. Dead clever these Germans. We are running beyond zero so the reserve must only kick in then. We celebrate. It's short lived. We splutter to a halt. Dieselless!! I consider myself an extreme muppet!!

Thankfully my phone has charge, and thankfully I have a signal (for once), and thankfully Maui pick up the phone and sort a garage at Kingston SE to drop us some diesel. It takes 30 minutes before our saviour arrives, pours in 20 litres of gas and only charges us for the fuel, at the normal going rate.


We don't have change to pay him so arrange to meet at the Shell station in Kingston SE. On the drive there Nat and I have a bet on his name. He was such an Aussie. I go for Jim, Nat goes for Bob. We pay him at the Shell and of course it's Bob.

It's 7pm by the time we make camp, but we are right on the beach and its worth it. We rang ahead and let the campsite know we'd be an hour late and they very kindly waited for us


Posted by cpbrooks 16:32 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

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