As we left Port Fairy we knew we were close to starting one of the most beautiful drives in the world, John and Janice had done the drive in 2011, this was Pete and Bunny’s first time. There is more to the drive than the fabulous beaches, cute towns and spectacular views of the rocks and cliffs, there is a rich history concerning the road.
The Great Ocean Road is permanent memorial to those who died while fighting in World War I, carved in rock, it winds around the rugged southern coast. Built by returned servicemen it was a huge engineering feat ending decades of isolation for Lorne and other coastal communities. Survey work began in August 1918 and thousands of returned soldiers descended on the area to start work. It was back-breaking work with no heavy machinery to help – only picks, shovels and horse-drawn carts.
The first stage linking Lorne and Eastern View was completed in early 1922. Over the next decade, the trust continued its work on the Great Ocean Road linking Lorne with Cape Patton and Anglesea, while the Country Roads Board built the Cape Patton to Apollo Bay link. On 26 November 1932 the route was officially opened by the Lieutenant Governor, Sir William Irvine. It was a sight to see with a procession of 40 cars and schoolchildren lining parts of the route.
Road travellers during the early years paid a toll at gates at Eastern View, where a memorial arch was erected. Drivers paid two shillings and sixpence and passengers one shilling and sixpence. The toll was abolished when the Trust moved to hand over the road as a gift to the State Government on 2 October 1936.
We drove towards Apollo Bay which would be our stop near the end of the drive. Our stops were frequent, each one better than the last. Pictures say it all, here we go! We immediately passed the surfing beach, Bell’s Beach. We watched many boys and girls out there some learning some already on their way. Our next stop was the Bay of Islands, with it’s beautiful rock formations. Next is London Bridge, London Bridge, the formation was attached to the mainland until 1990, when it broke off. There were some tourists on the other side and they were rescued by helicopter, no injuries.
The next was the famous Twelve Apostles.This is a collection of limestone stacks off the shore of the Port Campbell National Park. Originally there were twelve but over time 4 of the stacks have caved in leaving only 8 formations remaining. A few more pictures from the Ocean Drive rock formations..
We drove to the Otway Lighthouse in the Great Otway National Park. This park has many Koala’s in the trees, on this ride we saw a sight one does not often see. A mother koala was sitting on a branch and the baby came out of the pouch on her back. Mom held the baby and eventually it went to a small perch of its own in the tree, quite a sight.
We continued to Apollo Bay to find lodging, the volunteers at the “I” were very helpful and made reservations up the road at a motel, In the meantime we arranged to eat at a local italian restaurant, Casalingo, when it opened at 5:30. Great food and a good end to the day. We drove the ten minutes to the motel and crashed for the night. Morning would bring us to our next adventure at Anglesea Golf Club.