|Travelling Australia - Journal 2010|
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|24 February 2010 - Geelong to Apollo Bay|
Another cool night but the morning was warmer and sunny. I had to reverse the caravan while getting out of the site and so we could get around a tree. In general this has not been a very good park; they are far more interested in cabins than caravans and make little effort to provide a "caravan-friendly" environment. An early clue was probably the difficulty in finding somewhere to park with the caravan attached while I checked in when we arrived.
Leaving the caravan park we followed the GPS out towards the Great Ocean Road. The truckies were passing on news of a truck roll-over on the Highway at Hoppers Crossing near Melbourne and speculating how long the road would be closed; then we joined the Geelong Ring Road to see a semi-trailer on its side in a roundabout with police and truck recovery vehicles gathered around. From rarely hearing about truck roll-overs we had encountered two at once.
Following road signs to the Great Ocean Road, and cross referring to the GPS which was set on the Apollo Bay caravan park, we made our way to Anglesea and joined the Great Ocean Road (it begins in Torquay but we chose not to go via there). The road was extremely variable in quality, much of it with a poor, bouncy surface. Traffic was light to medium, weather good for travelling.
Anglesea was surprisingly small. Then we were on our way to Aireys Inlet at the end of a long cliff; this was possibly a photograph but our plan was to not stop for photographs or sightseeing while towing the van on the Great Ocean Road because there were few places where it was safe to do so. We would drive to Apollo Bay then do our sightseeing without the caravan. After Aireys Inlet, also fairly small, we were surprised by the large size of Lorne and by the apparent uniformity of buildings along the main shopping street. After Lorne we passed through Wye River, Kennett River and Skenes Creek before Apollo Bay. We stopped for a hot drink just past Wye River at a roadside area which was wide enough for the caravan to stop clear of the road.
After Lorne, traffic volume decreased sharply. The road followed the coast, usually fairly closely, mostly with comfortable two-lanes of bitumen varying in quality from good to mediocre. Around Eastern View, between Aireys Inlet and Lorne there is a winding and steep section where the road narrows appreciably with safety barriers along the edge. Towing a caravan along these sections needed concentration, especially if there was a caravan coming the other way.
Frequently we passed signs, on both sides of the road, reminding drivers that in Australia vehicles drive on the left side of the road. There were so many of these signs that we assumed there have been problems with overseas tourists driving on the wrong side of the road. There were certainly many Asian and European tourists in the area.
Heavy transports rarely use the Great Ocean Road (the ones we saw were making deliveries) so UHF radio traffic was negligible. We saw a few tourist buses but the drivers seemed to know the road well enough to move fairly quickly. There are no overtaking lanes but there are "Slow Vehicle Turnouts" supposed to provide opportunities for slower vehicles to pull off and let other traffic pass. Many turnouts were derisory; too narrow for a vehicle wider than a sedan to be clear of passing traffic and often too short for a vehicle and caravan to get fully into them.
Arriving in Apollo Bay we found the road to the caravan park was closed for re-surfacing. Eventually we arrived at the park to find that it neat and clean but mainly cabins with about a dozen small, hard to access, caravan sites; having such cramped sites was made worse by the fact that we could see where two reasonable sites had been recently re-arranged into three cramped ones.
After lunch in the van we drove into Apollo Bay shops to find a tourist-oriented town. Apart from a hardware shop, newsagent, IGA supermarket, butcher and two or three real estate agents businesses the shopping area along the highway was dominated by restaurants and coffee bars or shops selling souvenirs, clothing, surfing or fishing equipment; there seemed to be a particularly large number of coffee shops with tables and chairs on the footpath.
Later we drove up to Marriners Lookout (height 222 metres) which is a real lookout overlooking the town and the boat harbour.