20 January Panmure – Ballarat (via the Great Ocean Rd)
Rain on a tin roof has got nothing on a tent with a taught fly! Throughout the night we were woken up by massive drops of rain as Warnambool and the surrounding area were inundated with about 30mm between 1am and 7am…at times it was like being inside a drum. A couple of backpackers even relocated their tent into one of the gazebos because it was leaking. Ours did much better on that front 🙂
When we hauled ourselves out of bed, we wondered where summer had gone? The sky was grey and dreary, the ground soaked and the air filled with drizzle… And this was the day we were driving the Great Ocean Rd? What were we thinking!
Nevertheless, we packed our wet tent into it’s bag, closed up Big Blu, and headed off. First up we paused at Warnambool Cheeseworld to sample the excellent cheddar and other produce from the area. Then, after seeing a brochure, we decided on the spur of the moment to detour via Timboon to pick strawberries on our way to the start of the Road. Mmmmm fresh picked Strawberries!
The skys were still grey and the wind threatened to blow us over as we hit the coast, but the rolling clouds provided beautiful light for photos and a dramatic backdrop to the coastal cliffs and formations. After a brief pause at London Bridge, we headed down to Loch Ard Gorge to see where the only 2 survivors of the wreck were washed ashore 150yrs ago… You could take a staircase right down onto the beach. It was sureal to be surrounded by the same cliffs that confronted the pair when they finally made it onto land.
Moving down the coast to the 12 Apostles, the wind picked up into a howling gale. But that didn’t deter the hundreds of sightseers who filled the carpark and flocked down the path to the coast. It was by far the busiest tourist attraction we have visited so far! Zach and I walked all the way to the end lookout while the girls waited at the coast due to the wind and height.
Just off route, Gorge Chocolates provided delicious snacks for morning tea and blueberries for tomorrow’s breakfast pancakes before winding over the mountains through the forest and back down to the coast on the other side of the cape.
We paused at the Apollo Bay bakery to sample one of their famous Scallop pies for lunch and switch drivers then continued on. Here the road is cut into the scarp and winds along the coast right on the waters edge. It was a beautiful but challenging drive in the dry, and we were incredibly thankful that the rain had finished the night before as it would have been treacherous in the wet.
On reaching Torquay, it was time to head inland again through the rolling farmland to Ballarat, it was freezing cold when we arrived, but the clearing sky held great promise for a beautiful day to visit Sovreign Hill!