|Travelling Australia - Journal 2010|
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|25 February 2010 - Apollo Bay to Cape Otway and rtn - not towing|
The morning was overcast when we left Apollo Bay to drive to Cape Otway. The Great Ocean Road leaves the coast at Apollo Bay and enters the heavily timbered Great Otway National Park. Traffic was so light that we saw a wallaby grazing at the side of the road in the national park. The road to Cape Otway turns off the Ocean Road in the Great Otway National Park and continues through towering eucalyptus forest towards the Cape.
Closer to Cape Otway the type of eucalyptus changes and koalas are often seen in the trees. We became aware of koalas by seeing clusters of up to five vehicles stopped with people pointing cameras up into the trees. We stopped a few times going to Cape Otway and on the return trip to photograph koalas but passed so many that we no longer stopped. Koala spotting was a regular practice for some people; a sedan crawling along the road and frequently stopping had us wondering what it was doing until it stopped while I was photographing a koala and the occupant asked if I had seen any koalas; I told her there were two in the tree above her head.
At Cape Otway we paid our admission and walked to the café in the assistant-keepers house immediately opposite the lighthouse. After a Devonshire tea and an informative DVD I went to the lighthouse and climbed the internal spiral steps. The tower is made of blocks of curved stone hewed by hand and fitted together without mortar; individual stones still carry chisel marks made when the blocks were shaped. Internal steps are made of hand hewed stones keyed into each other and into the external wall, also without mortar. The tower is no longer operational and has been replaced by an automatic navigation light powered from solar panels and installed in a two metre high, easily overlooked, metal structure to seaward of the stone tower.
Adjacent to the lighthouse is a signal station built as interface between a land telegraph to Geelong and an undersea cable to Tasmania; operators received telegraph messages on one cable and repeated that message on the other cable. The undersea cable failed after less than two years but the signal station continued using the land cable via Geelong to report shipping arrivals. Each arriving vessel used signal flags to pass information to the signal station (including the date of the latest newspapers on board) which was passed by telegraph as an arrival report.
Leaving the lighthouse (or lightstation as it is called) we returned to the Great Ocean Road through the eucalyptus forest and continued in the direction of Peterborough (away from Apollo Bay) to see what was there. The road left the national park and passed through grazing land, carrying mainly cattle with some sheep. We turned off to Johanna Beach for a brief look along the sandy beach towards the headland cliffs then returned to Apollo Bay having seen enough for one day.