Western entry to the Great Ocean Road
30.01.2017 - 02.02.2017 24 °C
Port Campbell (population 599) on the Great Ocean Road
This was a good base from where to explore the western end of the great Ocean Road. When we visited the area over a decade ago, we realised that there is just too much to see to do it in a day trip.
From our base we used one full day to drive the so called 12 Apostles Gourmet Trail. We wanted to see the beautiful hilly inland area and stopped at the Timboon Cheesery (loved the name of the tasting shop – The Mousetrap), Berry World (best fresh strawberry thick shake!), Newtons Ridge Winery (very good wine tastings), Gorge Chocolates (liquorice sticks dipped in dark chocolate was very good) and finally, Simpson Snails. This last stop was a true highlight. A retired couple decided that they needed to settle down and do something new after 7 years on the road in their motorhome. So why not start farming snails? She is of French origin. It was a delight as she spent a whole hour showing us the ins and outs of snail farming; ending with us having a tasting plate. Such and educational and interesting experience!
We spent the other days stopping at all the viewing points and doing the walks. Some of the walks are a bit longer, meaning we did about 4km of hiking every day, but the views are just spectacular. The roughness of the ocean is a special attraction in its own right. No wonder over 800 shipwrecks line the Victoria coastline!
We were hoping for smaller crowds now that the school holidays were over, but we didn’t factor in the impact of Chinese New Year. Wow, tourism is booming down here. Apparently the biggest numbers growth comes from mainland China and Taiwan. There were 23 million tourists to the region in 2015 (pumping $1.9 billion into the local economy)! We were also surprised at the number of Chinese people camping in tents (something we haven’t seen much of so far). There were 4 helicopters and an old double winged plane doing sight-seeing tours all day.
There are so many highlights to see in this area; The Arch, London Bridge, The Grotto, the 12 Apostles, Loch Ard Gorge (50 000 mutton birds nest on the island opposite)and more. We especially loved Gibson Steps where you’re down on the beach and can truly experience the might of the ocean against these huge cliffs as a backdrop. One tourist decided to have a go at swimming (not recommended, said the signs) and was knocked off his feet and thrown backwards by the first wave.
On our walk to the Sherbrook River mouth we saw another Echidna digging for food in broad daylight and the amazing dancing seagull which we posted on facebook. The seagull does this tap dancing routine to disturb the sand, which brings food up to the surface which makes for easy pickings. Clever guy/gal.
On the last day we found a spot to picnic and have lunch about 6km from Port Campbell (what a blessing our app, wikicamps is) where we sat on top of a cliff (more than 10 storeys high) looking at an amazing view… undisturbed for more than an hour (during this busy season)
So, now we’re off to the next part of the Great Ocean Road …