As far as coffee places is concerned, I stand corrected, I actually have seen a Starbucks it was empty and it is the first one after driving for about 8000km since we got here in the beginning of February and that is fine by me. The drive on the Great Ocean Road was planned from the beginning and it was among the Top 10 things to do in Australia. Unfortunately, the way things turned out with the weather and all we cut it short by only taking a day to enjoy the drive. So we decided to take the Princess Highway west and then turn south when we reached Terang and reach Port Campbell, which is at the west end of the Road. This was necessary as the Road itself is quite narrow with many curves and although the whole length is about 250km it takes more than 4 hours to drive it all. So we took a shortcut, on the highway to Terang we could drive fast (for Aussie standards) and reach Port Campbell in about 2 1/2 hours. Again, we drove through some very nice towns, towns like
Colac, like Camperdown. The highways in Australia dissect many towns, actually the highway usually forms the main street, so it does make an interesting drive. Most of these towns are like very much like towns in the US, in the 50s or 60s. There is a main street where cars park at an angle, there are the occasional McDonalds, KFC or Subway but these sleepy towns are mostly left in peace. There many shops and combo shops that cater to the needs of the local community. This is a stark contrast to my personal experience back home or back in the US where, for whatever reason, people tend to shop in national or international chains, where the shops look the same no matter if they are in New York or in Dusseldorf. As soon as we reached Port Campbell we stopped at the Grotto, basically a sink hole with an awesome view. We got our first taste of what the Great Ocean Road is all about. It is full of magnificent views, awesome landscape, waves, wind, a dramatic sky and the great wide open ocean, green hills, nice little sea-side towns and National Parks. It is probably one of the finest roads that I have ever driven on. We stopped at a few of the look out points and the pinnacle of our trip was the 12 Apostles. The formations that have been shaped by the unrelenting waves and wind that have hit the limestone formations for millions of years. South from of here there is nothing but Antarctica, about 5000km. The waters are
cold and the beaches of Victoria although spectacular and great for surfing are not great for swimming, the same actually goes for most beaches around Australia. I still believe that the best beaches can be found around the Mediterranean. We then stopped at the London Arch (formerly London Bridge) and then at the 12 Apostles. At the 12 Apostles there were hundreds of tourist, not sure where all these people came from, as most of the other spots along the route were not nearly as crowded. I dislike these huge crowds, all these package (or as I like to call them packaged) tourists that go on a well beaten path laid by thousands before them dictated by special interests that do not allow for any interesting side trips and to me is he most boring form of tourism. Anyway, we had to weave our way through the masses, it was always a hassle to get the pictures we wanted. There was the constant roar of helicopters and planes flying overhead, carrying tourists. You cannot convey that in the pictures, the pictures look great but the masses and the noise did distract from the beauty, the
awesomeness of the formations and the sounds of the ocean. So while it is the most popular spot we enjoyed the other spots more as you could just sit there and marvel in peace and quiet. The Road also took us inland through rolling hills with spectacular views, we drove through the Great Otway National Park. This park, while relatively unknown, contains ancient rainforests, tall wet forests, waterfalls and a rugged coastline. It is also here that we saw the only Koalas that we have seen on all our travels. We had to pick up our pace but we were also hungry so we stopped at Apollo Bay, a nice little town that is much quieter than Lorne. It sits at the edge of the Great Otway N.P. and it has a nice little beach. Of course we went for fish and chips, which this years celebrates its 150th birthday. I am not sure if we are attracted or somehow it is coded in our DNA but we walk into one of the places and it was owned by Greeks. Throughout our travels we have met so many Greeks, it was
really nice as we are Greeks from Greece and not Greeks from Melbourne, that automatically elevates us to a special status and we do occasionally enjoy better prices but always excellent hospitality. We had to try their own homemade Greek deserts and had kataifi, gianiotiko, etc. while looking out at the sea. Ben as always did put up a show and he was adored by everyone. This stop lasted longer than we had anticipated and hence had to get going as everyone was getting tired and still had a long way to go. So we left the Great Ocean Road at Apollo Bay and headed north the way we came.
It was and probably will be for a long time the best and most scenic route we have done. There is something for everyone and the combination of water, rugged coastline and very nice vegetation is a eyesight to behold. We will have to return and take more time to explore and hike along the coast, maybe when Ben is at an age where we would not have to carry him.