It's a well known fact that I love a holiday. So much so, that it's no great surprise to anybody anymore when I decide to take 'a holiday from my holiday.'
'The Great Ocean Road' has been pretty much at the top of my list of 'things to do in Melbourne' since before moving to Australia - but, in what seems like the blink of an eye, almost six months have passed since my arrival, and considering I'd still not ticked it off my list, it was probably about time that I made an effort to go and pay a visit. What was originally supposed to be a one day and one night road trip, was turned into a three day and two night 'mini holiday' when I sacked off my sales job in order to extend our little vacation.
Bacon sandwiches for breakfast, we were off to a great start. At the car hire centre, however, crisis ensued as we were handed the keys to a nice, shiny automatic car. As much as automatics are supposed to be easier to drive, the look on Chez's face matched my feelings on the matter, and it was pretty clear that none of us fancied working out how to use the thing on roads we weren't used to. Unfortunately, the car hire centre had no manual cars left, so the first hour of our trip was spent being driven to another branch, to pick up another car. (By a kind staff member, who obviously felt sorry for the poor English people who couldn't drive an automatic.)
Finally on the road, (in a car with a clutch) sun pounding through the windows and Kings of Leon blaring on the stereo, we headed towards Torquay to begin our trip. (Our trip which we hadn't actually planned out at all.) First stop was Airey's Inlet to visit Split Point Lighthouse - the lighthouse from the Australian kid's TV show, 'Round The Twist.' It was at this point that I realised we could have booked and taken part in a tour of the lighthouse, had we done some planning, (and I imagine it was at this point Chez was probably relieved we hadn't done any planning.) I'm not exactly into lighthouses, but it was quite nice to visit this particular one - even if the consequence of that seems to be having the 'Round The Twist' theme tune stuck in my head for the rest of eternity.
A daily ice cream is compulsory on holiday, so we stopped briefly in Lorne to make sure we were hitting targets, and then carried on our merry way. After Lorne is an absolutely stunning stretch of winding road, where your left hand side consists of beautiful beaches and (funnily enough) the great ocean. On your right hand side is a mixture of rainforest, cliffs and other things which are nice to look at. Considering it was such a nice day, it really was an amazing drive! So wonderful in fact, that we ended up getting a bit carried away and driving all the way to the end of the Great Ocean Road - just in time to catch a sunset at the famous Twelve Apostles. The 45 metre high limestone stacks are pretty magnificent, for want of a better word, and no photos, (especially mine) do them any justice. They made for a really pretty looking ending to a really pretty looking day.
Of course the day wasn't really over. Seeing as we hadn't planned where to stay that night, we now had to find somewhere to go. Somewhere free. We consulted WikiCamps to find the closest free campsite and made our way there in the dark. All intentions of pitching the tent were scrapped when upon our arrival we were greeted by a huge kangaroo, and the decision was made to sleep in the car rather than be kicked in the head by a potentially territorial marsupial.
I had a fairly decent nights sleep to be fair. I was pretty toasty and warm in my sleeping bag, and it seems that a day of being driven around had tired me out enough to sleep through. I awoke, however, to a shivering Chez, (who had no sleeping bag and was wrapped in my towel.) He proclaimed the night as 'the worst night's sleep he'd ever had,' and I had to lend him my sleeping bag so he could get warm and have a little nap.
As we were already at the end of the Great Ocean Road, (with two days and one night left to kill) we did a little bit of research on things we might have missed on our travels, and started to make our way back in the direction we'd already come. Obviously fish and chips for lunch was top of the list, but aside from that, Kennet River stood out as being one of the most appealing places to visit, as it's been rated one of the best places in Australia to spot Koalas in the wild. As I was driving there, (via a quick stop off at K-Mart to buy Chez a sleeping bag) I was trying to fabricate a plan which would allow me to maybe keep one as a pet. All koala-napping strategies were forgotten when we arrived - I was massively distracted because the place was inundated with King Parrots, who were more than happy to be your best mate if you fed them some birdseed.
We set up the tent at a campsite in Lorne, after a freezing cold wash under one of those beach-side showers. It was funny to watch Chez wince at how cold the water was. (Funny until it was my turn.) We'd decided on an early start the next day, so we went back to the tent fairly early to make sure we got a decent nights sleep. Obviously, we'd picked the world's noisiest campsite, I was freezing cold all night and when morning arrived, Chez proclaimed the night as 'an even worse night's sleep than the night before.'
Nevertheless, the sun was shining and it was time to hire some surfboards and 'catch some waves.' (Or catch my eye on the edge of the surfboard, as it actually turned out.) A couple of hours surfing resulted in us being completely and utterly beaten up by the waves and standing up on our boards for a combined total of about 40 seconds. I'm surprised there's actually any of the 'Great Ocean' left, as I'm pretty sure that I alone swallowed at least half of it. I had the best time though, and will definitely give it another go!
I came back from our trip covered in scratches from the parrots clawing my shoulders, my nose peeling from where I'd caught the sun, and I can't begin to tell you how much my body ached the day after surfing. In my eyes, those are all signs of a successful trip. I love a holiday.