Date written: 30 August 2022
Date posted: 6 September 2022
This post was written by hand in my diary on the road, and entered into the blog when I got home.
I left Lavers Hill this morning in heavy fog and light rain, but with good spirits as I rolled easily down the hill, savouring the early morning smells of wet forest, the ghostly gums fading into and out of the fog, and generally enjoying being on my bike in the outdoors. At the bottom of the hill I stopped to take a photo of a kookaburra on the side of the road, and as I checked my GPS to see what kind of inclines I had awaiting me today, I noticed something terrible: I was on the wrong road!
I had headed straight instead of turning left at Lavers Hill to stay on the Great Ocean Road (B100) and inadvertently found myself headed to Colac. Not wanting to change my route that much, I tried to find a route back across the Otways but in the end, to be safe, I simply turned around and headed back up the fucking hill. To say I was pissed was an understatement — I had factored in 2–3 hours of fishing at Aire River that had just been scuttled, and I was concerned about making it back up the hill — but it didn’t take long for my mood to turn positive again as I enjoyed seeing more of the Otways than originally planned. 🤣 The mist and fog lent everything a beautiful green aura and the silence and solitude was a calming influence.
I got back up on Lavers Hill at about 11:00 where I stopped at the Yatzies restaurant on the intersection for a belated but well earned coffee and breakfast. The restaurant wasn’t open when I first departed so I had a good laugh with the barista about her coffee being so good I just had to come back.
I finished up my breakfast and headed the right way down Lavers Hill, enjoying it just as much but now pushing just a tad faster to try and make some time for a flick of the rod. The Castle Cove lookout at Glenaire, at the bottom of the descent from Lavers Hill, was a wild vista of epic coastal beach and waves. Plenty of cows and sheep watched me as I rolled through the mostly flat Aire Valley.
I stopped at the Aire River to fish under the Great Ocean Road bridge. Aire River is home to sea-run brown trout, and accessible all year (no closed season) so it was a good chance to try and hook dinner. I originally intended to spend a few hours fishing both lures and bait but due to this morning’s shenanigans, I was limited to flicking a few spoons and Vibrax lures and getting some photos. I had one little nibble on a lure but no hookups.
Once I’d finished lunch and packed up back on the bike, I headed for the rise into the hills before Apollo Bay. The Aire Valley is at sea level (big surprise!) but to get through it, one must surmount the hills either side. The ascent from the valley from Hordern Vale to the turnoff to the Otway Lighthouse (which I didn’t have time for) is a wicked 19.5% gradient. The day before I had preloaded my route into my GPS, which shows the elevation profile of the road ahead. I forgot that I didn’t preload today’s route, and my screen instead showed the road behind/already climbed. Therefore as I struggled up this very steep hill with my fully loaded steel touring bike I swore at the GPS:
What do you mean this is relatively flat with a huge climb still to come? This is bloody killing me already! Of course, by the time I realised what was going on I’d already ascended most of the hill, so that was a bonus.
Sometimes when you lose your way in the fog, you end up in a beautiful place! Don’t be afraid of getting lost!
I stopped at the top to talk to my teenage son on the phone, then descended back down to Marengo and on to Apollo Bay, where I’m booked at the holiday park alongside the Barham River. I pitched my tent, got my sleeping kit all sorted then rode luggage-free into town in the rain for dinner at the Great Ocean Road Brewhouse. I had a few beers, a salt and pepper calamari, and a good chat with a group of winter holidaymakers from NSW who had just watched Top Gun 2 and therefore the conversation was all Maverick and Son Of Goose. I warmed myself in front of the fire then headed back for an early night and a good sleep.
On my travels today, I passed through such beautiful country and would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of that land, the Gadubanud people, and pay my respects to their Elders, past and present.