Day 4 Apollo Bay and Surrounds

14th February

It's my birthday, and Valentines Day. And we have the whole day to do what we want. And it's sunny! We've decided to take a slow trundle down the road to Cape Otway and the lighthouse, then head inland and take the 'Waterfalls and Forest' route through Beech Forest and back to the coast at Skenes Creek North.

Cape Otway Lighthouse

Cape Otway Lighthouse

The lighthouse is at the bottom of a XX km road off the main highway. It goes through rain forest, gum forest and farmland, and is a pleasant drive in its own right. We were surprised to see a lot of vehicles parked along the road at one point, with everyone out with cameras pointing into the trees. Obviously there was something up there. We decided to make a point of stopping ourselves on the way back and finding out what it was all about.

Just a warning about the lighthouse - it isn't one of those ones that you can see for free. There is an entry fee of $17.50 AUD, but you do get quite a lot for your money. We were even more tempted by a 4WD tour for $39.50 (which also included entry into the lighthouse grounds) but it wasn't going to run until 2:00 pm, which was just too long to wait. So we paid our entry and went in.

Near the entrance is the old signalling station. This housed the offices and the families that ran the station. It was a very solidly built house, with small rooms, so when you hear that it housed 2 families and had one of the rooms as the schoolroom you wonder how they all fitted in. A very interesting guide talked to us about the shipwrecks in the are, and gave us a run-down of the signalling station itself.

The signalling station was separate from the lighthouse itself, which had a lighthouse keeper and assistant keeper - when he could be kept. One lighthouse keeper lived there 30 years with his wife and children - that's longer than a life sentence for murder! You can go up the lighthouse - it isn't as tall as the one at Aireys Inlet so doesn't puff you out as much if you go up it. Unlike the one at Aireys Inlet the actual lighthouse itself isn't in active service any more - it's last official use was in 1994. Instead there is an automatic light just in front of it that is solar powered.

The lighthouse and signalling station are both important in their own rights - and until the Great Ocean Road was built in the early 1920's they were really difficult to get to. Provisions were dropped off by ship once or twice a year, and consisted of salted meats, flour, and other non-perishable goods. The lighthouse keeper of 30 years eventually persuaded his employers to send 6 cows out, and Mrs Lighthouse Keeper started a vegetable garden and orchard inland a bit where the salt winds weren't so bad. It was probably a very lonely life for them all, especially when she lost two of her children and had to bury them herself. It seems that generally there weren't that many deaths at the station though so she was very unlucky.

There's also a WWII radar station but we didn't make it up there.

One of the lighthouse keepers cottages has been turned into a cafe, and is very welcome, especially as we'd beem there 1.5 hours by ththis time.

Koalas

On the drive back to the main road we stopped where all the vehicles were. We knew what was there by this time, as the guide in the lighthouse had enlightened us - koalas. For me, this free stop at the side of the road has been the highlight of the holiday so far. You just look into the gum trees, and there they are. Not just one or two, but many of them - all dozing in forks of trees, and occasionally having a good old stretch. They don't seem worried by the hoardes of tourists with cameras either - most are high up, but some very photogenic ones were in very accessible positions. Our guide had warned us that these animals are endangered though - but the silly buggers are endangering themselves! They only eat one kind of gum tree, and if they eat it all they starve. And you could see that the trees were looking very thinly covered. Hopefully someone somewhere is taking cuttings and growing them in Koala Gum Tree nurseries…

Lavers Hill - Beech Forest - Skenes Creek

We re-joined the Great Ocean Road and headed west. At Glenaire (a toady little place) the road turns inland to Lavers Hill (slightly bigger but not much). At this point we left the Great Ocean Road and started heading east towards Beech Forest. Apparently there are some lovely waterfalls along this stretch so we thought we'd try and find them. First on our list was Triplet Falls. This was off the main road, and past the 'Otway Flyway', a 'treetop adventure' which looked like hard work to us as it's basically an obstacle course through the trees. Good for active teenaged boys, I'd say. The last bit of the drive was on gravel, but it was good quality so didn't cause us any problems.

We parked up and found the sign to the falls. 'It says 2.5 km and one hour return' says Art 'Are you sure you want to do this?' 'Yes' says I, 'It's my birthday and you have to do what your told'. Now bear in mind the last time I did this to Art he had a heart attack the next day….So we started the circular walk slowly - and the steps started going down. 'That means they have to go up somewhere' says Art. But he kept on going. In fact the walk was reasonably easy. It did go up and down, but it was well made, with boardwalks and steps, and was not that steep. We made it to the falls in about 20 minutes, and it was a lovely walk through beautiful rainforest. I thought it was well worth it, and Art now has that 'wasn't I a good' martyr'look on his face.

The lighthouse and the falls had taken up a good proportion of the day, so we motored on through the forest on a narrow but tarmacked road. You have to be careful on it as there is the odd 4WD driven by an impatient local coming in the other direction. But the drive itself is the destination, and in dappled sunshine it is beautiful. One of the things we have been very surprised at so far is how green it is here - we were expecting a much dryer landscape.

We finished up with a quick drink in the Apollo Hotel bar before heading back to the B&B to get ready for dinner.

One very nice touch from the B&B was a lovely bottle of red wine to say happy birthday to me. They really are nice people here, even if there are a couple of things that could be improved.

Dinner was at a local Chinese called the Dragons Bay Inn. Actually it turned out to be mainly the local Chinese takeaway with a few tables inside. But the staff were lovely. We had two $20 vouchers for a meal, but it was obvious that these were not going to cover the cost of 2 starters, 2 main dishes & rice. We did subsidise it a bit, and all I can say is thank goodness we did have those vouchers because it was the most expensive meal we've had so far and the bottom line is it was a fairly mediocre Chinese Takeaway! We should have known that it wasn't the best as we were the only people in it on Valentines Day - really wierd sitting in an empty restaurant on my birthday! Never mind - I had a good time anyway and at least it wasn't a 'Valentines Day Special' menu.

holidays/abroad/melbourne_and_the_great_ocean_road/e_apollo_bay.txt · Last modified: 2012/02/23 10:55 by art
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