Date written: 29 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 woke up early this morning, packed my gear and got away as quickly as possible, wanting to maximise the time I’d have to spend at The Twelve Apostles, Loch Ard Gorge et al. before tackling the long slow climb up to Lavers Hill, the highest point in the Otway Ranges. Even further pressing was the severe storm raging its way across the west of Victoria.
I didn’t want to be riding a steel bicycle in a lightning storm, so I had to reach Lavers Hill by about 13:00, when the storm was predicted by the weather bureau to arrive. I left Port Campbell at 7:00, not even having breakfast as I hit the open road from Port Campbell to Loch Ard Gorge. The sun was rising as I rode along and the tranquil quiet was very soothing.
I again stopped at plenty of tourist lookouts. First on the list was Loch Ard Gorge, where I took a shot from the viewpoint on the top of the cliff but due to the high tourist traffic, I didn’t want to leave my bike unattended for long enough to go down the steps to the beach for the best photos.
Next up was the Twelve Apostles, where I met a Spanish family who were visiting Australia to see their son/nephew married and taking in the sights whilst here. The young groom handled the translation as I offered to take a photo of the family, and he then offered the photography services of his soon-to-be bride who was reputedly the group’s “best photographer” to take a photo of me in return. I then broke out the breakfast kit and had some muesli and long-life milk in front of the best breakfast view in Australia today. The sun was still low in the sky and slowly lit the Apostles whilst I munched on the muesli and took in the vast rugged coastline.
The views continued all the way to Princetown, where I decided to try and find some coffee. Unfortunately the four or so buildings that make up the
town are dead quiet at this time of year, so I had to continue sans-caffeine. I saw some cute little lambs on the road out of Princetown, which began a long, slow climb for the rest of the day. One hill led to another, and another, and another…
I bought some Bontrager bike shoe covers with the wet weather in mind, but I was unimpressed with them. The zip wouldn’t stay up and itched my leg terribly, and in the end I didn’t really need them. At the end of just one ride the bottom of the covers are all torn up, and they are not very durable for kit that cost $85!
The view on both sides of the road as I climbed was simply magnificent, and easily kept my spirits up as I ascended the ranges. I had ocean on one side, pastures on the other, giving way to rainforest all around as I passed through Otway Forest/National Park.
I finally found my coffee fix at the Great Ocean Road Wildlife Park, and though I didn’t stop to see the park itself, I did have a good chat with the friendly gent who lives there/runs the park. I also got a pat of (one of the) house cats Addy. Then with the storm clouds brewing I headed off again.
Even though the going got tougher as I crossed the Gellibrand River, it was worth every metre. I saw beautiful black butterflies with red, yellow and white markings called Imperial Jezebels and there were hundreds of them. I smelt all the flowers, wattle, rainforest and ferns, saw wallabies, kookaburras, all kinds of flora and fauna one would miss from the cocoon of their cars. The only animal I didn’t see was a koala, and boy was I looking! I spent a good deal of the climb looking up for
bums in trees.
I stopped in just about every turnout on the road to let cars behind me pass. I was only doing about 6 kph so it was easy enough to move right over and make things easy for all. Eventually, tired and cramping and puffing like a locomotive I reached Lavers Hill, and booked myself into the Otway Junction Motor Inn to ride out the storm. I had a good chat with some local fencing contractors in the bar attached to the motel who just happened to know my uncle and aunt who live in nearby Gellibrand (nearby but too far by bicycle). Small world!
On my travels today, I passed through such beautiful country and would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of those lands. First I rode through the lands of the Giraiwurung people, and then I passed through Gadubanud country. I’d like to pay my respects to their respective Elders, past and present.