It took four and a half months but I have finally ticked off one of Australia’s must sees – the Great Ocean Road. Two days of ocean breezes, rugged coastlines, windy roads, koalas, s’mores, a lighthouse and a whole lot of driving – not to mention you get to check off one of the Natural World Wonders and drive along the largest war memorial in the world. Pretty good package if you ask me.
After a few car rental fiascos and a delicious coffee at the St. Kilda Dispensary, an old dispensary turned cafe, we headed off on our two day adventure with Hector at the realm, Ronan as chief navigator and Abi and I as DJ’s and official ‘are we there yet’ askers. The weather wasn’t completely in our favour both days but the views were still spectacular and the mists just made everything look that little bit more mystical.
Day one was mostly driving. We obviously did the mandatory stop and picture at the giant Great Ocean Road sign which marks the start of the road and commemorates the 1000’s of servicemen who built the road on their return from fighting and all those who fought during the Great War. Our next main stop was a fish and chip lunch in Apollo Bay at the Fishermen’s Co-op . Delicious, fresh, flaky and enough chips to share with the local seagull population. We all tried different fishes – Barramundi, Flake and Whiting. I have never tasted so many different fish in one go or been able to taste the difference between fish so distinctly. The flake I think was my favourite and of course sitting over the harbour with seagulls lurking nearby and the sun shinning down just made it all the more authentic. From there with very full bellies we drove directly to Warrnambool faces glued to the windows taking in the dramatic rugged coastline, fields and ancient forests with music at top volume singing and dancing away in the car.
Challenge 1: find somewhere to sleep. Goal: sleep on a beach. Easier said than done when we had all been rather lazy on the research front. Somehow, luck was on our side and the manager at Hungry Jacks (when lacking in a campfire, campsite and a BBQ but wanting burgers…) knew of a beach 10min away where we could pitch camp and they even had bathroom facilities! We arrived at the beach and decided to have a quick scout/adventure in the dark before we brought everything down. It did end up with me jumping into a river thinking it was dry beach (Girl Guides motto be prepared has stuck though so I had extra socks and shoes). So after a good scout of the beach, checking sand to see where the tide line was we found our spot tucked behind a giant rock where we could sit and watch the enormous waves crash to shore from the light of the night sky.
Challenge 2: make s’mores without a campfire. You can’t go camping and not have s’mores, not in my world. As Australia is lacking in graham crackers we substituted with Anzac biscuits, and treated ourselves to Cadbury peanut and pretzel milk chocolate. So there we were huddled in the back of the car wanting dessert but not sure how to cook it and then voila – lightbulb moment – a lighter. To any passer byer it would have looked ridiculous. One girl holding the marshmallow slowly rotating it as the other directed the flame. Trying to get an even toasting and not get burnt fingers. They were a success! We even finished them off by slightly melting the chocolate square around the edges. Australian s’mores made with a lighter and delicious to boot.