Day 13 – Port Melbourne to Port Fairy
Waking early on the Spirit, the scene out the scuttle did not look fantastic. A very angry looking sky awaited us and from what I could tell, a bit of a nasty wind. And so it was that we trundled off the ferry and headed for the Todd Rd service centre for some fuel and to assess the weather conditions. It wasn’t looking good. I checked the radar picture on the iPhone while Nikki paid for the fuel. There were storms moving across Port Phillip Bay and to the west of us – exactly where we wanted to be.
Not to be completely discouraged, we jumped on the West Gate Bridge and headed towards Geelong. At North Laverton, we pulled into Maccas for some breakky and to wait out the storm (we had seen some impressive lightning while on the road). I also thought that I’d be able to get some blogging done but it turns out that we found the only MacDonalds in Australia that doesn’t have wifi. There coffee was good, my muffin was tasty and their toilet was filthy. A RAAF corporal came in to get coffee for her workmates and we were given a reminder that we have jobs to get back to in a couple of weeks – yuck.
The storm passed pretty quickly and we were soon back on the road. I’ll say at this juncture that I don’t mind riding in the rain so I wasn’t too concerned about it. What I really detest is wind. A windy day can ruin a fun ride. As we headed around the outside of Geelong we were hit by some of the strongest gusts I’ve experienced in many years of riding. By the time we got to Torquay I was in no mood for the Great Ocean Road. Gassing up again, we headed back out into the wind to find the start of the iconic stretch of tarmac.
As we got closer to the start, the wind seemed to die down a bit and we were getting distracted by the odd Thunderbird-esque houses that line the coastline here. Seemingly out of nowhere, the gateway marking the beginning of the Great Ocean Road appeared – complete with three bus-loads of Japanese tourists all waiting patiently behind one another to get their photo taken in front of the gate. We just pulled to the side of the road to take our shots before moving off again.
We were not ready for what we saw. The most stunning piece of coastline complete with cliffs, beaches, rocky outcrops, forest, scrub and farms. It was hard to pick a few single spotss from which to take photos because it was all just amazing. i wish I could have had a video camera running the whole time. At Apollo Bay we paused to let the buttocks recover and to get some lunch – and what a lunch! A small bistro opened on the stroke of twelve boasting a rather interestingly-looking menu (and odd artwork prints on the walls). We feasted on calimari and blue eye cod washed down with a mineral water for Nikki and an LL&B for me (perfectly mixed, I might add). The staff even obligingly charged Nikki’s phone behind the bar while we ate. This meal was fate – just what we needed after the complete hash of a dinner on the Spirit (I still feel sick when I think about it).
From Apollo Bay, it was back on the road to see the rest of the dramatic coast. We started to climb up the hills behind the town and were treated to a full view of the bay before retreating under the canopy of a rainforest. And that’s what we really didn’t expect – rainforest! This road goes from strength to strength. One minute you’re in brilliant sunshinee (still getting smashed by the wind) and the next you can hear bell birds as you daart through thick sub-tropical forest before bursting through to picturesque farm land with fat cows and full haystacks.
It wasn’t long before we were to come across one of the road’s more notable features in the Twelve Apostles. Beautiful structures to be sure but to get to them meant leaving the scoots on their own amid hundreds of tourists and we just didn’t feel comfortable with that. We did park at one spot to make the relatively short walk to the cliffs to get some photos before zooming off once more. Just before Port Campbell, Nikki spotted a likely photogenic spot in which we might get the scoots. This time, some fellow travellers obligingly took some shots for us and we regretted not stopping to have a yarn with them. Port Campbell was on our minds though as it promised to have fuel and we were getting low. Well, the fuel stop was something out of a Stephen King novel. A small dirty wooden shed adorned with number plates from all over the world. The mechanic eyed us suspiciously while his lovely assistant took the cash and made an entry into a paper ledger. Somewhere in the distance a banjo played. We left – quickly.
It seemed like Warrnambool appeared very soon after that which I was greatful for as it meaant that our destination for the night wasn’t far away. In Warrnambool, a strange structture dominated the vista to our right. I checked in with Nikki through our helmet commmunicators to ask her opinion. Our best guess is that it was Australia’s ‘Big Pickled Onion’ – if such a thing exists. Seriously thought – that’s what it looked like.
Port Fairy drew ever closer and when we finally rolled into town it was with a sense of great relief as we had completed one of the longest rides we would do for this trip. Port Fairy is a pretty little town and – as I learned while researching a geocache – boasts around fifty buildings on the National Trust. We enjoyed some great pub food (schnitzel and a steak) washed down with a local ale brewed in Warrnambool. A long walk followed (for geocaching of course) before icecream and bed
Tomorrow – off to Dunkeld and the Royal Mail. Can’t wait! Ciao!
Click HERE for today’s pics.