The Great Ocean Road along this rocky coast is described as the world’s biggest war memorial.
Why? It was literally built by hand (with a lot of pickaxes and shovels!) by 3000 returned World War 1 servicemen from the early 1920s on.
This neatly solved two problems; how to meaningfully employ these men during the Depression and how to honour those who died during the war. It seemed fitting to be here in 2014 during the centenary of the outbreak of war, and both ‘The Diggers’ statue and the Memorial Arch commemorate this feat beautifully.
Stop 3: Port Campbell.
The Holiday Park in this picturesque village was the ideal base to explore the famous wave-sculpted rock formations called the 12 Apostles. Well, there used to be 12, but they are eroding at a rapid rate – no surprise when you see the forces of the Southern Ocean at work!
London Bridge and the Loch Ard Gorge are also magnificent. The Loch Ard was a ship wrecked here, and of the 54 aboard only 2 survivors were swept into the gorge. Very sad. The photos show the scene along this limestone coast…
All the millions of tourists who visit this national park each year love the wild and rugged features of the coastline, and many of them take to the sky for a different perspective in either helicopters or planes. It can therefore be rather a bustling and noisy experience but we were well and truly impressed.
Staying with the theme, we decided to drive the ’12 Apostles Gourmet Trail’ to Timboon where we just had to buy a bottle of Limoncello and an Apple Liqueur at the interesting Railway Shed Distillery. Next we picked a big box of fat warm strawberries at Berry World, and proceeded to Apostle Whey Cheese to drool over their array and bought far too much to fit in our tiny caravan fridge! Then to Newtons Ridge Winery because of course we had to have a local Pinot Grigio to complete our culinary feast that evening… and it was such a pretty vineyard with lovely roses.
Stop 4: Port Fairy
Officially the Great Ocean Road starts in Torquay and ends in Allansford, but we extended it slightly to enjoy the seaside town of Port Fairy and stay at the very attractive Big 4 caravan park. Walking along the historic 19th century shipping wharf and seeing the lovely old homes and buildings all along Gipps Street was a treat but the cold wind had us looking for a refuge! Fortunately the Merry Jig Inn, Victoria’s oldest inn, happily provides late afternoon passers-by like us with a glass of wine – so civilized!
We drove an hour west to Portland, noting the many wind farms on the way (no prizes for guessing the prevailing!) This is one of Australia’s major forest regions with huge plantations so the port is busy with wood chip exports and there are a lot of BIG logging trucks on the road. The botanic gardens were lovely – never seen so many dahlias in one place! – as was the original curator’s cottage full of local memorabilia.
And so for us, the end of a wonderful 9 days exploring this remarkable section of Australia. We can’t wait to do it all again another year!