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Great Ocean Road in a Jucy camper: Day 2 – Lorne to Princetown

An orange sunrise peeked through the curtains of the camper so temptingly the next morning I was in agony waiting for Sven to wake up so I could get out and see it properly (there is no way to creep out of a camper). Luckily I didn’t have to wait too long and we were soon up, dressed and ready to explore. Our camper was parked within walking distance of the beach across a footbridge at the end of a riverside boardwalk frequented by herons, swifts and swallows.

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A short hop across the dunes from there and the sights, sounds and smells of Lorne beach greeted us, beautiful in the early morning light. We joined the runners, walkers and people with their dogs already out and about despite the early hour. What a joy to live by the sea like this, I’d be there every day. Though maybe not quite swimming like one lady we saw, as the water was freezing and there were more stunning blue jellyfish littered here too.

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An hour or so here was enough to work up an appetite, but with a camper on your team you can take your meals on wheels anywhere you choose! An Aussie breakfast of smashed avo and tomatoes on bread (no one had the patience to fry toast!) with watermelon juice and coffee on the picnic tables in front of the bay followed. It seemed there’s endless places to picnic, or public BBQ sites along this road, all well signposted and used by tourists and locals alike.

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Time was ticking along, so after a quick stop to buy hats (when in Rome) we hit the road again. Having enjoyed the beach this morning we’d used up our waterfall time so decided instead to continue along the coast to Apollo Bay. What a coast! I was so jealous of Sven being able to lean out of the window and enjoy it without concentrating on the road. However with the current ongoing GOR restoration project creating roadworks every few kilometres I had plenty of opportunity to enjoy the view during traffic. Many of the signs were in Chinese as well as English as tourism increases. We later discovered this was also the reason for all the ‘Drive on the left in Australia’ signs we kept seeing around the place.

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Stopping frequently to get out and stretch our legs at places like Sunshine Drive and Petticoat Creek it took most of the morning before we were parked up in the Paradise By the Sea that is Apollo Bay. At each stop we tested the water in the hope that it would be miraculously warmer than the last one and we could swim, but it was icy on the skin even in 30degree weather! Even the water from the creek was more than refreshing as Sven and I added to the piles of stones already standing there. Ours is the tallest, but also the most unstable…hmm.

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We’d been advised by many friends and forums to stop at Apollo Bay, a seaside town with surfing and paddle board lessons and a number of beachy shops. But with so many tourists around it lacked the charm of Lorne so we only stopped long enough to enjoy an award winning ice cream and a stroll along the super soft sandy beach before rolling on into koala country! Dan had prewarned us that if you spy someone parked on the side of the road looking up, there’s probably a koala. So when not long after Apollo Bay we pulled up alongside a beautiful viewpoint on the right, and a couple under a tree on the left, it was worth pulling over. Sure enough there was a chubby fella stuffing his face with eucalyptus leaves. They’re quite spritely compared to the sleepy guys I met in the blue mountains, leaping from branch to branch at speed, but still taking the time to pose for a photo.

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The drive to Otway lighthouse was one of the most fragrant I have ever enjoyed, as the air was filled with the scent of pine and eucalyptus. Sven craned his head left and right as we wound our way through miles of forest looking for more koalas, but as Julie had warned us of the need to be at camp sites prior to 6pm we didn’t have time for further stops.

Otway lighthouse is probably the one part of this tour I wish I’d researched. I’d expected a lighthouse, a stop which would take 30 minutes at most, but instead we found an extensive park with dinosaur fossils, aboriginal walks and historical tours and talks. I could have easily spent half a day speaking to the lighthouse keeper alone, and was more than disappointed to tear myself away from his stories. Sven on the other hand was fascinated by the wind speed, as it was more than blustery at the top. The keeper kindly demonstrated how to measure the wind using a little gauge, 48km…glad we left our hats inside!! However I can tick something else off my bucket list…climb a lighthouse, check!!

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Despite thinking we’d planned a quite leisurely tour there have certainly been parts we’ve had to rush. Otway lighthouse and the Gibson Steps are two examples, and for the latter I also wish I’d thought to check tide times as the sea was rushing in when we arrived leaving little room for exploration. Being that we were pushed for time this was probably blessing in disguise, but I would have loved to have spent a few hours nestled under the towering cliffs, enjoying the first of the Apostles whilst protected from the wind. As sunset at the 12 Apostles is definitely one for the bucket list we found a cute little camp site in Princetown rather than press on to Port Campbell and checked in by 5pm (if only Julie could see our progress!) Visiting the GOR out of season has been fantastic for winging it, as camp sites and tourist spots are next to empty and we’ve had no troubles with crowds. This was particularly fortuitous at the Apostles, where we spent most of the evening meandering back and forth between viewpoints which would no doubt be packed to the rafters in high season. The view was stunning in all directions, I could have done with 3 tripods and eyes in the back of my head!

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As the skies darkened we returned to camp and quickly realised leg of Sven is a mosquito delicacy. They just can’t get enough! Despite not using any lights, and cooking in the kitchenette rather than out the back of the camper we ended up with a van full! Pesky buggers kept us up all night buzzing around our heads and poor Sven was covered in red welts by the morning. First on the list for today is bug spray, yeulch!!

Twitter Blogathon Day 4 – The wheels on the bus….

For some reason introducing these blogs makes me think of Sesame Street, do you remember the little bit they did at the end of each episode? “Today’s blog is brought to you by the letter C – for @catnipfields our latest member, and the number 4 because that’s how many of us are now blogging!” Yippee!!

Even though our latest member doesn’t have a blog yet, and won’t be posting till tomorrow, we decided to chuck her in at the deep end and ask her to provide today’s theme. Well it turns out @catnipfields is a jolly good swimmer when it comes to blog selection, took to it like a duck to water, all that stuff and selected ‘Public transport’.

Now being a car owner I must confess I very rarely use public transport these days. The thing that has struck me whenever I have the option to use it (since I left Bristol anyway) is that the majority of the time it’s both cheaper and quicker to drive. Not exactly the best way to encourage people to think of the environment now is it? The thing is, when I do use it, I actually like public transport (I’ll wait for you all to pick yourselves up off the floor….ready? Good).

Perhaps it’s the novelty of it, when you always drive it is really quite nice to just be able to kick back on a bus or train and watch the world go by. I enjoy looking out of the window at the English countryside or towns as they go by and train journeys with mum got me into the habit of enjoying looking into back gardens as we speed past (nosey I know!). Even when I was at university I would use my time on the bus to read, make phone calls or enjoy my iPod and people watch. There’s a saying that goes ‘enjoy the journey as much as the stay’, and while I do like driving, it’s far easier to enjoy a journey when you’re not concentrating on directions and traffic! Sometimes driving can be plain frustrating when you have things on your mind, you want to be getting on with things, but both hands and your eyes are busy so no can do!

In fact thinking about it, I actually met most of my university friends on buses, which makes it far more sociable than non-public transport. Then some of the train journeys I’ve been on have just been COOL! There were the double decker trains in Italy for example (we spent the whole time attempting a Sudoku mind, four of us, one puzzle. Took us practically the entire journey from Rome to Naples) and the night train in Thailand still makes me giggle. Carriage upon carriage of bunk beds, each with their own little ladder, luggage rack and curtain when you wanted some privacy. About an hour into the journey I sent my friend on the bottom bunk a postcard inviting her to a picnic on my bunk; it was all sorts of fun. We had this odd green jelly that came in a little plastic cup with a straw! Then in the morning the conductor came to get you all up so your your beds could be turned into seats for the day passengers. You’ve got to love Thailand!

Iain and I on our train bunk beds!

Don’t get me wrong, road trips can be brilliant. When you have a group of friends (4 max for comfort) and a decent road trip cd ( @iampenbot is an expert at these) then there’s something refreshingly freeing about jumping in the car and heading off to wherever you’re going. For me my car signifies independence, even after 7 years of driving I still get a thrill from getting in my car and being able to go pretty much anywhere. I want to do a driving tour of the states and the Gold Coast of Australia (think Thelma and Louise (with a happier ending) and camper vans respectively) at some point in my life. There was also a plan at some point to see how far we could get into Europe within a week or 10 days (had to get there AND back) until fuel prices got ridiculous. Essentially, I think I like travelling. Seeing new things, potentially meeting new people etc. I even enjoy my commute to work and the sights it offers (for example there is a large corgi style plastic dog attached to a telegraph pole on the way to Cardiff, very bizarre!)…Life is a journey not a destination, so enjoy the journey as much as the stay? Thank you, don’t mind if I do 🙂

Todays blogs:

Miss Peg Daily – I walked under a bus, got hit by a train…
The Blog of Sense – Public transport – It’s far too public.
@catnipfields -Atras palidzibas stacija

I’m sorry Mr Ladybug…

We’ve all been there, driving along at 70mph when a black dot on your window catches your eye….today was no exception. Halfway up the A4232 today I noticed a little ladybug clinging on to the car for dear life. Being me and caring far too much about these things I instantly started planning how to save the poor little fellow from being hit by the car behind me when his little legs finally gave out.

Which got me to thinking, how on earth do insects hold on to things so tightly? Travelling at 70mph you create some serious wind speed…it can’t have been an easy task!

On reaching my junction and the subsequent traffic lights (which take AGES) I dutifully (and carefully) wound down my window to retrieve Mr Lb meaning to then deposit him in a hedge further along my route. Unfortunately he was not keen to loosen his grip on the window (perhaps he had cramp, or was too terrified to relax his hold) and during the coaxing process…he fell. At which point the lights turned green and I had no choice but to drive off hoping he was not the victim of a tire squishing.

So….I am sorry Mr Ladybug. I was only trying to help. I very much hope you are not dead and instead enjoy a new life in the trees surrounding Culver House Cross!