Travelling Australia - Journal 2010
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4 March 2010 - Apollo Bay to Peterborough
We left Apollo Bay on a bright and sunny morning. The caravan park had been neat and tidy but had cabins on former caravan sites and re-divided previously adequately sized caravan sites into sites which were far too small for a normal caravan.

From Apollo Bay the Great Ocean Road heads inland through the hilly Great Otway National Park then through pasture land with cattle grazing. There was hardly any traffic and the fine and sunny weather was excellent for travelling. The road returned to the coast briefly at Glenaire, where there is a lookout over the ocean, then returned inland to Lavers Hill where it meets the road from Colac. After Lavers Hill the road continues fairly hilly but generally downward, passing through scattered moderately timbered areas with cleared grassland between.

At Princetown the Great Ocean Road returns to the coast which is fundamentally different from the coast around Apollo Bay. Now we were driving over flat limestone plains ending in vertical cliffs at the ocean. These limestone plains were laid down millions of years ago at the bottom of the sea where the remains of marine animals gradually accumulated on the sea bed, were buried and, under great pressure, became rock. About 5 million years ago, during the last Ice Age, sea level fell exposing the limestone plain, then sea-level rose again and wave action began forming the coastline. The limestone is soft and sea-water readily undercuts sections which collapse under wave impact. As well, rain water seeping into vertical cracks extends those cracks weakening rock already being attacked from the sea contributing to the collapse of large sections of rock into the sea.

Natural forces have carved out a series of designated locations along this coast; the Twelve Apostles, Loch Ard Gorge, London Bridge and The Grotto.

The Twelve Apostles is a series of limestone stacks separated from the land. According to some reports there were nine stacks when the name was assigned and since then one stack has collapsed. Facilities to view the Twelve Apostles are well developed. The car park is across the road from the rock stacks and visitors use a broad concrete pathway under the road to reach viewing platforms. There is no admission charge. The sun shone in a cloudless blue sky but there was a cloud of spray along the coastal cliff.

Next stop was Loch Ard Gorge where the ship Loch Ard was wrecked in 1878. The vertical sides of the gorge are a good example of the cliffs forming in limestone and also explain why the two survivors of the Loch Ard had such difficulty getting ashore. The car park at Loch Ard Gorge was well laid out with sections set aside for caravans and motorhomes. The car park at London Bridge, our next destination, was also well laid out. London Bridge was a good example of erosive forces; one of the rock arches forming the "bridge" collapsed in 1990 leaving the smaller arch intact but now cut-off from the mainland. The final visit was to The Grotto where erosion has left an arch through which the ocean can be viewed.

At Peterborough we checked in to the caravan park for one night. Peterborough is a small seaside village with spectacular eroded limestone offshore islands and a sandy beach. This was the site of some better-known shipwrecks during the nineteenth century and a Shipwreck Coast has been established along here as a tourist destination. The difficulty with the Shipwreck Coast as a tourist attraction is that the remains of most shipwrecks are submerged or on remote and isolated parts of the coast; the outcome is nothing for visitors to see, this is certainly the case at Peterborough.

We had earlier tried to book at Peterborough for the long weekend but there were no vacancies for a van our size. Only tonight (Thursday) was available. Since we had seen the primary attractions along this coast today there really was no need to remain in the area. As well, Warrnambool was also booked out for the long weekend so we decided to go inland to Hamilton for the weekend and return to Warrnambool later in this trip.

The weather today had been warm (up to 31°) reported by the Pathfinder's thermometer, with bright blue sky and strong sunshine until mid afternoon. Then thin cloud came over and thickened up while the temperature fell. News reports warned of extensive rain over Victoria overnight.

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