With regards to our Australia trip back in April, my last post was about Sunday of our first week. On Monday we would embark on an adventure to my favourite place in the world – the Great Ocean Road.
With the Great Ocean Road, I have camped (as in bush camping – no showers or anything!), stayed in fancy self contained units, hotels, cabins… but never before at the lighthouse. I wanted to give Bill some ‘one off’ opportunities on this trip so I organized accommodation at the Cape Otway Lightstation. What an experience.
First… lets start off with the trip to the lighthouse. The plan was to drop into Warbo’s in Geelong and catch up for some morning tea (aka sausage rolls/vanilla slices etc!) so we did that. I wanted to stop in Lorne for some fish and chips for lunch so just a snack to tide us over basically. We caught up with Warbo and his mum and then got back on the road. I drove Bill around the beach area at Torquay and then we went up to Bells Beach. The place never changes.
Here we are at Bells Beach –
Is there anything more Australian than a ute at the beach?
Is there anything more Australian than a pair of speedos thrown on a branch? Ewww!
I can taste the salt air on my lips just looking at this photo –
I stopped by Anglesea Golf Club because you can nearly always see stacks of kangaroos. We saw none. But we did see magpies. You MUST listen to this video that Bill made of the beautiful magpie warble. We have listened to this so many times. This is the sound that I grew up with hearing in the morning!
Bill loved some of the signs we saw along the way. Here is a selection –
This is my favourite – how the Little River Band got their name –
We drove leisurely along to Lorne and when we got there, we got ourselves a table at the fish and chip shop – grilled flake, potato cakes and steamed dimmies. Yum Yum Yum! It was while I was there that I got a text message from Shannyn saying “Carl Williams has died!” Whaaaaaaaa??! (I am not going to try to explain Carl Williams in this post… click here instead.) We were just talking about him this morning because the Herald-Sun had a cover story about him and now… dead?! With that, my phone went into overload. I turned around and said to the guy cooking the fish… “Hey – Carl Williams is dead!” and it was all the same reaction… what?! You would be hard pressed to find someone in Melbourne who didn’t know who Carl Williams was. Luckily, Bill had an understanding of the whole deal due to my constant chatter so he was just as fascinated by the news as well.
There was another disaster brewing though. Leaving Lorne and as we’d drive on, our radio coverage in the car would start to turn to static. The news addict in me panicked – I could not be without access to news on this, one of the biggest news days in Melbourne in a long time. We were able to get bits and pieces of ABC radio and between that and in clearing areas where I could get 3AW we were able to follow the news as it unfolded.
So while we were listening we were taking in scenes like this –
And this –
We stopped at Stevensons Falls as there are usually lots of koalas, but like our earlier search for kangaroos, there was none. The Falls were pretty much non-existent too, due to lack of rain –
We had to be at the Cape Otway at 5pm as that is when the gates close. It was while at the falls that I realized that I was going to have to floor it to get us there at time. So this meant no stop at Apollo Bay – we drove straight through and made it to the lighthouse with ten minutes to spare!
To get to the lighthouse you actually turn off the Great Ocean Road and drive through Otway National Park. There is some random farmland before the lighthouse and I took one of the best photos I have ever taken in my life.
I. LOVE. THIS. PHOTO. SO. MUCH. In high res, it is amazing – I’ve even had it as my desktop wallpaper. The light, everything was perfect.
Now, back to our adventures. The lighthouse. Wow – we were in total seclusion. We were locked in to the lighthouse property by a gate that we had to open and lock if we left the property and there would be one caretaker who would be staying on a smaller property nearby if we needed anything or there was an emergency. Beside that it was just us and the… darkness. No road lighting here. No radio coverage of any station. No television. No internet access. No cell phone coverage. No land line telephone. NOTHING. I cannot tell you how strange this feels to be totally cut off from the outside world. It was the closest we could ever experience at being stranded on an island survivor style. It was a weird feeling. But also sent me into a panic on the day when access to breaking news was imperative. So I got to really tune out and it was amazing.
Let me take you on a tour of our little Lightkeepers cottage!
The walk from the cottage to the lighthouse –
You know the Bureau of Meteorology readings from Cape Otway? They come from here!
The door to the lighthouse –
Peaceful and serene amongst rugged cliffs –
It was getting dark while we were out exploring –
Inside the cottage, it was definitely no frills but it also felt truly Australian and again, so quiet –
Our breakfast was left for us to prepare the next morning –
That night we had dinner at the Aire Valley Restaurant and Guest House. During our first week in Melbourne, Bill found it mentioned in a New York Times article (!) about farm to table restaurants. Then, I remember that Victoria (my gorgeous friend who did the Great Ocean Walk) had been there. I asked her about it and she said it was just magnificent. So Bill emailed and got us a reservation. Driving there was to be an adventure in itself. There was no moonlight, just a million stars in the sky. There were no lights along the road and the trees in the Otways are just plain scary at night. What should have been a ten minute drive took us nearly forty minutes. Yes, there were kangaroos jumping out in front of us. It was petrifying. Especially when I would stop the car so we could look in the upper reaches of the trees around us to see if there were any koalas. We would wind the windows down and it was just eerie silence… or the rustling of bushes that would have me screaming and driving off.
The Aire Valley restaurant is a beautiful homestead on the top of a hill – we stepped in and were ushered into the dining room. It was wonderful basically being in someones house but getting a restaurant experience. You can read more about the produce and the restaurant here.
Here we are in settling in for dinner –
The bread (baked in a mini loaf tin) was SO good –
Prawns to start… with salad from the garden!
Our main meals –
It was so relaxing and a lovely way to end a long day of driving. We headed back, along the same spooky route to the lighthouse. The next day would bring more Great Ocean Road adventures so we had to be up early!