Sunday, 3 March 2013

17th - 18th Feb Great Otway National Park, Blanket Bay & Bimbi Park

The start of the Great Ocean Road starts just outside Torquay.

 The day was spectacular and sunny! The windy road took us along the coast, on the edges of cliffs. Some lovely scenery but in all honesty at this point Shev is not that impressed with the coastal drive. She reckons The Amalfi Coast in Italy is way better.

We stopped off in small towns like Lorne, another supposedly good surf spot, but again no swell. Onwards to Kennett River where apparently they have resident koalas in their natural habitat down Grey River Road. There were 3, one was definitely still very much a baby which was very cute. Our first wild koalas!! I'm sure if we continued down the road further we would have seen more but we needed to get to Cape Otway preferably before dark.

As we turned off the main highway and took the drive to the Great Otway National Park, we found a few people parked on the side of the road looking up in trees. As we slowed down we saw koalas in the trees. We too pulled over and got out the car armed with cameras and zoom lenses. We must have walked 500m up the road and on either side of the road there was literally at least one koala in every tree. Some of the positions that some of the koalas were sleeping in – its a wonder that they manage to stay in the tree! After 100 or so – possibly more – pictures of koalas we headed to Blanket Bay campsite. Again another national park site with no showers, but hey it was an upgrade, flushable toilets this time. Bonus!!

We decided to stay one night at Blanket Bay and another night at Bimbi Park, not far down the road but still in the Otway National Park area.

A great night camping under koalas at Blanket Bay, we packed the car up at and thought we should drive down to Johanna beach for some of the day, 14km away. Another good surf spot! On our way there was a look out point called Castle Cove with a few other people in campervans parked on the side, pulling on their wetsuits and surfboards lined up on the side of their vans. We pulled in to check out the view as well as to check out the waves. Clearly there must be good surf here! Dave was in surfers heaven when he saw the swell and the fantastic 8 foot waves rolling in. Needless to say the day was one swelter of a day, with temperatures peaking 37 degrees! We saw some shade near a cliff edge for me to sit under while Dave surfed, not ideal I know, but it was better than burning in the heat. Dave changed into his boardies and pulled on a 2mm thick wetskin, grabbed the surf board and we headed down a windy path down the mountain to the beach. Upon hitting the sandy beach, and walking 4 steps in the sand, our feet were burning from the heat of the sand. It was a 100m distance to the waters edge, so we ran as fast as we could, our poor little feet burning more and more, hotter and hotter until... until.. until we reached the sea. We stood and both ''ahhhhhhed'' for a while. It felt so good to dip our feet in the freezing ocean...

This is Castle Cove and it was a day of paddle like crazy for your wave or the rest of the set will crash over your head!

Dave had a great time surfing, it was the biggest surf yet on the whole trip with freezing cold water that definitely required a wetsuit not a 2mm wetskin and boardies! There was even a guy with a hood...

Once the surfing was over we drove back to our new campsite Bimbi Park. Lonely Planet had described the place as ''camping under Kaolas.'' Given we had already experienced sleeping near 2 koalas at Blanket Bay Bimbi Park was even better!  In almost every tree, however it always took a few minutes to get your ''koala spotting eyes'' adjusted that you saw a few in the trees and there were almost two in every tree. They really don't move that much or fast but we did get a video of one jumping from branch to branch. We had no idea that they did this and from a small flimsy branch to the next. I found a fishing rod in a tree that was slightly tangled but its a compact one so we kept it and all I need now is some tackle and a licence which apparently you need for each different state but you can get a 24hr pass which makes it easier.

Due to the mid 30 temperatures during the day, we decided to leave the roof of the van open while we slept to get a cool breeze. I woke up during the night to this god aweful noise, and woke Dave up. It was like a cross between a hippo and a pig and Dave then informed me it was the koalas.Apparently they made the noise earlier while I went for a shower. Never knew such a small cute and cuddly looking creature can make such a hideous sound. Well they do say dynamite comes in small packages!

Panoramic view near 12 Apostles

When we left in the morning heading towards Warnambool we saw some of the highlights of the Great Ocean roads, I think the photos will show what a great scenic drive it was especialy around Port Cambell.

Above and below: Some of the 11 apostles seen from the Great Ocean road road.

Above: Shevy looking out near London Bridge that has fallen down!

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