The Great Ocean Road

We left the city today for a day in the country. Our little tour van departed Melbourne early in the morning for a long drive along the Great Ocean Road. Our first stop was at a golf course known around here for the fact that golfers here share their golf course with kangaroos. Their coexistence is totally peaceful. When the golfers move too close to the grazing animals, the kangaroos simply hop away to another location on the course. Nice arrangement!
We then proceeded further along this costal road, zigzagging along the rugged and somewhat Nordic coast. We passed several sandy beaches separated by solid flat rocks and boulders. This looked more Maine than the tropical country we were in. We passed several sleepy towns and alit in a little grove populated by koalas and brightly colored parrots. While the koalas were peacefully snoozing in the trees, the flattering parrots rushed over to us to peck birdseeds off our bare hands. These guys were totally fearless of us, they viewed us as landing grounds, and landed on my stretched hand, on my shoulders, and on top of my head! It was like being in a circus!
All scratched by my feathered friends, I climbed back into the van, and we continued to the next stop, a primeval forest of Otway. Otway is home to one rare poisonous, carnivorous, and cannibalistic creature, the dreadful and feared … black snail
We walked on a path through the forest amidst gigantic Myrtle beech trees and giant ferns, where dinosaurs once roamed and pterodactyls soared, but spotted neither their remains nor the little cannibal.
Bank to the van and on to our final destination, the famed Twelve Apostles. The Twelve Apostles are limestone column-like rock formations perturbing from the water and set against the backdrop of vertical limestone cliffs. They sit there, in the raging sea, with waves breaking at their feet…. the twelve are actually twelve no more. Several years ago, one of them crumbled and fell into the sea, and now, they are……eight. Huh? Well, you see, they were never 12 to start with. And they used to be called “Sows and Piglets,” but then some marketing guru decided that people are more likely to come and see twelve Apostles than sows and pigs, and the legend was born. But a rose by any name is still a rose, and the total impression is magnificent.
What’s even more magnificent is the site of the famous shipwreck, a little further down. Decades ago, a ship crushed into these rocks leaving but two survivors. Loch Ard Gorge, where those two were washed ashore, is a scene from a pirate movie – a secluded beach with thick yellow sand tucked safely inside crevices between giant vertical cliffs.
On the long journey back to Melbourne our tour guide driver entertained us with stories of the battle of Gallipoli, followed by a heart-wrenching ballade told from the point of view of a wounded soldier, and ending with the Australian favorite, Waltzing Matilda, which has got to be one of the catchiest songs ever, because it is still playing in my ears.


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