Australia: An Epic Road-Trip, Part 5
Part 5: Apollo Bay and the Great Otway National Park
Our day was less exciting after exploring Port Campbell National Park and driving through the most scenic part of the Great Ocean Road. We were still on the Great Ocean Road heading to Apollo Bay. Most drives on the Great Ocean Road start in Apollo Bay but we did the reverse. The drive was still pretty, but there were no service stations or restaurants along the stretch of the Great Ocean Road to break the monotony of the drive. I nodded on and off at the back of the car. Not that the drive was boring but having been on a road-trip for a while was a bit draining.
We arrived in Apollo Bay around three-thirty in the afternoon. After checking into the Caravan Park, we immediately hit the grocery store and loaded up on beer, wine, meats, fruits and vegetables as if we had been deprived of food. Apollo Bay is famous for scallop pie. Lenny had to have her scallop pie, so we stopped at the bakery and had scallop pies. Two hours later, we prepared dinner. Ron cooked steak: Lenny sauteed some mushrooms using the same pan that Ron used for the steak to get the juices from the steak; I made roasted asparagus. We had mango fruits and chocolates for dessert. Ron had a few beers and hit the sack early. Lenny stayed up as usual to review our itinerary.I woke up the following morning with renewed energy and ready to explore the Great Otway National Park. The first thing on our agenda was to do some walks at Maits Rest. It was described as a forest alive with hidden wonders, ancient giants and carnivorous snails that has changed little since the time of the dinosaurs. Ron entered our destination into his navigation device (Garmin). Ten minutes later, we found ourselves in a residential area and heard the nagging voice, "you've arrived at your destination." Wrong! Instead of trying to find it, we changed our plan to go see some waterfalls. We were back on the Great Ocean Road passing surf beaches. It soon became a hillside drive over-looking a craggy coast below. Forty minutes later, we left the Great Ocean Road, and the drive became a continuous steep switchback up a mountain. Ron said that it was the first time he'd experienced driving with so many switchbacks. He showed me the direction displayed on the Garmin. It was about 90 turns (Ok, I'm exaggerating).
The road was wet from the intermittent rain and of course, we were driving through Beech Forest, a dense rainforest. Our car was the only one on the road, so I began to worry. When we arrived at Beauchamp Falls, I saw a couple of cars at the parking lot but did not see anybody. The sign at the trail entrance showed, "2.5 kilometers or 1-2 hours walk to the falls." Ron did not feel like walking for a couple of hours to see the falls after a dizzying drive. So, we looked for other waterfalls that we could see from a lookout. We found the Hopetoun Falls where we only had to walk 30 meters to see the falls. But Lenny was determined to do the walk to the waterfalls. The sign at the entrance says 1 km walk to the base of the falls. But it was more like a kilometer worth of stairs. We walked through a series of stairs and descended deep, deep down to reach the viewing platform.
Next, we drove a few kilometers away from Hopetoun Falls to see the Triplet Falls. Again, we had to walk 1-2 hours to the viewing platform to see the falls. But the walk was so rewarding. We walked through ancient forest, under a canopy of giant ferns and mossy trees and ended at the viewing platform, a perfect place to soak in the view and listen to the sound of the birds, cicada and cascading waters - very meditative. Lenny, the nature lover, had a field day.
Apollo Bay was not as lively of a coastal town with surf beaches as I expected it to be. Our last night was a bit subdued. Lenny checked off her list of things to see and do in Apollo Bay: we ate scallop pies and ice cream, did the rainforest and waterfalls. The last thing on the list was the lighthouse and the Maits Rest Rainforest that we missed the previous day. The following day, we went to the Maits Rest before heading to Cape Otway Light Station. I began to understand why Lenny was persistent on visiting Maits Rest. We did not see giant snails but saw humongous trees that had fallen to the ground.
The drive to Cape Otway was most wonderful. We saw a koala crossing the road. Ron said, it's rare to see a koala crossing the road. It did not only cross the road but stopped to pose and give me a chance to take pictures. Farther down the road, the scenery was amazing, the road was lined with towering eucalyptus trees and expanse of eucalyptus forest that went on for miles until we reached the Lighthouse.
The Cape Otway Light station is Australia's most significant lighthouse that was established in 1848. We toured the ground, the Telegraph Signal Station building which now houses the different memorabilia including the signaling system used during World War II. We also climbed the lighthouse to see the Fresnel Lens.
TO BE CONTINUED
- Photos by the author
- I have no material connections to the products, brand names, tourist sites mentioned in this blog post.