Date written: 28 August 2022
Date posted: 5 September 2022
This post was written by hand in my diary on the road, and entered into the blog when I got home.
I spent yesterday soaking and unwinding in the Deep Blue hot springs at Warrnambool with my partner Danielle, and it was a beautiful day of rest and relaxation before tackling the Great Ocean Road.
Today started off just as nice and calm, as we had a breakfast in the hotel’s restaurant before checking out at 10:00, and riding my bike up to Logan’s Beach to meet Danielle at the whale watching lookout (she drove after dropping by the supermarket to grab me a replacement lace for my shoes). Here we saw a Southern Right Whale mother and newborn calf frolicking in the shallow surf. The word was out and the lookout was crowded but it was a great way to both start the tour, and to say goodbye as Danielle is now back in Ballarat.
Upon leaving the lookout I was immediately greeted by a big climb out of Warrnambool, and a nasty cross-wind from the north. Although there wasn’t much shoulder on the road it was good cycling, riding along the lush green rolling hills and dairy pasture of the Warrnambool district. I stopped in Allansford for a fish under the bridge on the Hopkins River, where there was a big local footy match under way as the local team played their semi-finals. The entire town seemed to be at the match.
From Allansford I finally got the benefit of some tailwind as I started at one end of the world-famous Great Ocean Road and headed south-east towards Peterborough. As I was riding along near Allansford I saw a couple of bulls fighting, and was swooped by two feisty magpies on the entry to Narrewarre. I also saw a beautiful dam absolute chock-full of swans and ducks of every colour and variety, as well as a wedge-tailed eagle on the section near the road that was sitting on the reeds, then as I approached it took flight and swooped right in front of me. Suffice to say I’m feeling like a bike-bound David Attenborough!
When I reached the coast at Peterborough I stopped at most of the tourist lookouts along the cliffs — those with bike access, anyhow — and took some absolutely breathtaking photos at the Bay of Islands coastal park, where the sea is steadily carving out a brand new (in geological terms) bay into the cliffs, one tiny grain of rock at a time.
I also read about a massacre of the indigenous people here, where the people were literally forced into the sea over the cliffs at Massacre Bay. It’s a horrendous blight on our history and I felt more signage and information should be visible, especially for tourists. We should embrace and acknowledge what happened, and make amends where we can.
Speaking of tourists, I rode past a carload of foreigners posing for Instagram photos in the middle of the fucking road in a 100 kph zone! When I called out a warning that they were likely to be killed by some hoon doing 120+ they just smiled and said,
we’ll be careful! All for the ultimate Insta grab! Lunacy…
I stopped at plenty of other lookouts — London Bridge, the Grotto, The Arch (which was closed) and the Bay of Martyrs.
The ride into Port Campbell was nice as the road sloped down and the Surly just flew along at a great pace, wind and salt air in my hair, the smell of wattle and coastal soil in my nose, and nothing whatsoever in my mind as I just enjoyed the scenery that I rolled through at 15–20 kph. You see, smell and experience so much more when travelling at this pace. It’s magic!
I pitched for the night at the holiday park in Port Campbell, had fish and chips in town and then rode down to the jetty for an evening’s fishing, hoping to get some whiting or squid. The local fisherman next to me told me some whales were seen in the bay that morning, and he caught a few little barracuda. As we sat and fished and the sun went down, a surfie couple turned up and wanted to swim, but didn’t have any togs. So they went in nude! They reckoned it was freezing cold but nicely refreshing. I took their word for it.
I’ll try to reach Lavers Hill tomorrow so I have an early start, needing to beat the incoming storm whilst still keeping some time up my sleeve to stop by the Apostles, Loch Ard Gorge, etc.
On my travels today, I passed through such beautiful country and would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of that land, the Giraiwurung people, and pay my respects to their Elders, past and present.