As we headed out of Apollo Bay and the surfies’ domain of the Great Ocean Road coasts, Big Red rose up into the mountains. The next 50 kilometres were eye catchingly beautiful rainforests girding the winding road. Yes- more of it. Lots. The rainforests were thick and lush with giant trees. Roadsides were filled with ferns two metres or more in height with fronds gently swaying and speeding us on our way. Then the countryside changed to a more sparse Aussie bush. And back to rainforest. There were road works, lumps and bumps – but the scenery was exquisite. We rose to mountain tops with rolling hills and valleys looking for all the world like they were covered in green velvet. Herds of dairy cows and sheep were grazing on the lush growth. I have noticed that the species of cattle has changed colour along our route from black, to white/black, to black and today back to white/black.
Descending into the Aire valley provided another visual delight. An expanse of flat ground , swamps and marshes. We didn’t stop to tourist, which in hindsight we perhaps should have. This area is well known for its 85 year old plantation of giant Californian Redwoods, Douglas firs and stunning waterfalls.
The highlight of our day was visiting The Apostles. It is a collection of limestone stacks off the shore along the great Ocean Road near Port Campbell. Unfortunately there are only eight left with the last one collapsing in July 2005. The rate of erosion at the base of the limestone pillars is approximately 2cm a year. The wave action eroding the cliff face is expected to create new stacks in the future. Formed by erosion, the harsh and extreme weather conditions in the area gradually eroded the soft limestone to form caves in the cliffs, which in turn became arches. They collapsed leaving the limestone stacks. There are a series of stacks along the coastline. It is stunning scenery.
Here’s a slide show for your viewing pleasure. As you watch, imagine you can hear the pounding of the ocean waves against the majestic cliff face. Feel the ocean breeze on your skin. Taste the sea salt on your lips.
The Great Ocean Road lies behind us now. I survived the curves and snake bends surprisingly well. This experience has been fabulous. We are staying the night in Victoria’s first established town, Portland, for the night. Looking forward to exploring it tomorrow. This is the last leg of our almost three weeks long road trip. We expect to be back home around mid day on Friday.
© Raili Tanska