Thursday, 25 June 2009

The Great Ocean Road

The organising of the great ocean road, road trip took just about the same amount of effort as the actual road trip itself. It was Wednesday evening and I was enjoying a rather stale bowl of cereal in the hostel kitchen when Tommy came up to me and said a random French dude was looking for some people to do the Great Ocean Road with. At this point I had never even heard of it and therefore was not really going to jump at the opportunity to go on a day trip with some random 40 year old French man. However some other random American then jumped in and highly recommended doing it. I had a small ponder and then deiced why the heck not, it would be a mini adventure and a chance to get out of Melbourne for a few days. So myself, Tommy, his German friend Julie and the Random French guy whose name I do not even know set about planning the route. This planning only took about 5 minutes as French man could not speak much English so mainly involved pointing at a road on a map and saying "oui" a lot. I went to bed that night not really sure what I thought of the prospects of doing the Great Ocean Road with this French guy so thought I would sleep on it and see how I felt in the morning

I woke up the next day to find the plans for the trip had completely changed, it was now a 2 day trip and Julie, Tommy's English speaking German friend had been replaced by a French women with minimal English. Errr oooo. Julie was not aware she had been replaced so she turned up at 8am expecting a good days road trip ahead of her. It all got very confusing and awkward, especially with the language barrier. Julie tried to explain that she still wanted to come but the fact it was now a 2 day trip caused some complications regarding work and there now wasn't really room for the 5 of us in a car. The French guy then disappeared for about 45 minutes and was gone long after his 8.30 deadline he had set for us to leave. I now thought he had ditched us, which I was taking as a blessing in disguise if he had. As at this point I had decided I really did not want to go with him. I told this to the guys and eventually they agreed and we decided we would just do it ourselves the next day and maybe get someone else from the hostel along to keep costs down and just for a bit more banter. Typically the second this new (and better) plan form, Le Frenchy appeared all ready and rearing to go. Not only that but he had forked out for a slightly bigger car to fit us all in. Errr oooh. The next 60 seconds was possibly the most awkward minute of my travels so far. Tommy got up to go with him, but I thought "Fuck this, I am here to enjoy myself and I will not enjoy it with him", so explained that sorry I was know out and would not be going. "But why?" the Frenchy said shocked, I thought it would be a bit harsh telling him it was because I thought he was a boring bastard so managed to quickly make up the excuse that it was because 2 days was too long. Shocked and obviously very annoyed there was nothing he could do and he stormed out followed by the other French women and off they went on their Great Ocean Road adventure. I felt so bad, so so bad that we had messed him around, especially as he had got a bigger card to accommodate us all. I thought that karma was going to come back and bite us in the arse for messing him around by giving us bad weather for our trip. But once the dust had settled I didn't really care, it would have been a lot worse had I done it with him so it was definitely going to work out for the better.

Sooo still about 24 hours away from setting off we then set about organising the trip ourselves, at this point there wasn't really much to do other than read a few Lonely Planet guides, a hour of team googling at the museum and then trudging around the city looking for a good deal on a rental car. As well as this there was also the task of having to find a possible 4th person to join our team. This turned out to be the easiest and best thing to happen to the adventure and someone who believed in fate may have described it so. But Passenger number 4 turned out to be Panter. Panter is a guy who I had met for no more than an hour on 2 separate occasions in Bangkok but I had taken a shine to due to his including of "Lolz" in normal conversation and huge repertoire of one liners and jokes about things such as dead pets and the holocaust. It just so happened Panter was also in Melbourne the same time we were and also happened to be on Facebook the exact same time I was. I dropped him a causal "What you doing tomorrow?" on the private chat and BANG he was in. This news also pleased Tommy immensely as we knew this would take the trip from a fun factor of 8 to a full 10/10. Once this was confirmed we went out to get the car, a lovely yellow Hyundai Getz and then chill out safe in the knowledge that the next few days were going to be awesome.

We got up early the next day and waited for Panter to arrive. Tommy and Julie went off to get supplies, such as biscuits and red bulls and also met up with Panter. Finally after a day and a bit of sorting out we were all set and ready to do the Great Ocean Road and see a bit more of Australia.

The trip itself was great fun, there wasn't really much to it apart from driving between towns along the road and stopping every so often at one of the many points of interest along the way. Some people do it in a day but as we decided to do it over 2 it allowed us to do the road at a lot more leisurely pace and stop for stupid things like the penis's scribbled onto the road. Tommy and Julie couldn't drive so Panter and I could split the driving if we needed to. Unfortunately Panter was too big to fit behind the wheel comfortably so out of the 800km driven over those 2 days Panter managed to fit in a cheeky 16km leg. Other than that I did the other 884km. Not that I am complaining though, I love driving and The Great Ocean Road was a brilliant road to drive on.

The main draw for the road is the scenery that you see a long the way but there are also some points of interest to stop as well. We stopped at a light house, which Panter thought was the one used in the TV show "Round the Twist". We also saw a whale here but it was just a black smudge on the horizon to me, but the guide who was there insisted it was.

So far the driving had been fine, I had never driven on a motorway back in the UK but adapted fairly well to driving on them here mainly as they drive on the same side. The only real issue was that the bloody indicator and the windscreen wipers are on different sides. So every time I went to turn a corner I would switch the windscreen wipers on. It was so annoying and took some serious getting used to. It also meant I would miss quite a few turnings as I was unable to sort myself out in time. Right mission!

There are about 8 or 9 towns along the road and we tried to stop at a few of them. One of the first places you come to driving to the road from Melbourne is Geelong, however somehow I managed to completely drive around it, I think it was the Sat Navs fault so we missed that and instead the first place we came to was "Torquay". This was described at the gateway to the "Great Ocean Road" so thought that Geelong was probably ok to miss really. We got out here and took our first few pictures excited that we had made it to the road in one piece and that we had a great 2 days a head of us.

We just slowly made out way down the road stopping at anything that caught our eye. I thought it would be a good idea to dive down a slope which was at some ridiculous incline just to see what was at the bottom. I went down and then realised it went no where. I then had to spend the next 10 minutes trying to reverse up and then do a 3 point turn to get us out of there. It was not a nice experience at all I think I even broke into a sweat it was so such hard work.

We stopped off briefly at "Lorne" and "Apollo bay" to see a bit of some towns along the road and spent a bit of time on the beach at "Apollo Bay" enjoying the views. The day was drawing to a close and it was about time we made our way to get some food somewhere. We decided we would head out as far as we could and stop at the next town. We ended up stopping at "Port Campbell". I regretted stopping here for food instead of "Apollo bay" instantly when I saw the prices of the food and realised we had got stuck in tourist trap and were going to have to pay silly prices for the food. Begrudgingly we stopped in a little Italian and had some pizzas. I think I got a meat feast or something like that.

Despite all the beautiful scenery and look out points a long the way I am sad to say my favourite bit of the whole road was the gigantic penis that had been spray painted on the road. No idea why or by who as it was in the middle of no where but when I saw it I had to do a U-turn so that we could get some photos of it. I think we spent more time at the big penis than we did anything else along the road. God knows how many photos we got of it but it was definitely far too many.

We made one last push to the next town of "Warrnambool". It was dark by this time and it is not recommend driving in Australia at night due to all the Kangaroos jumping out in front of cars as they are dazzled by the headlights. When you are driving a tiny Hyundai getz as well it really isn't recommend as the Getz would definitely would come off work if we hit a Roo. So cautiously we made our way to Warrnambool. Warrnambool Wasn't anything special a fairly built up town but had a few hostels so we checked into Warrnambool Backpackers and spent the night there with a 16 man dorm all to ourselves.

Day 2 we realised we had taken the day before a bit too slow and therefore had to pretty much do the rest of the road without stopping. However we had missed out 2 of the main attractions a long the road, The 12 Apostles and the London Bridge. We jumped into the car early and made our way to them. They were both worth the extra effort to get there and one we had seen them jumped back in the car, stopped briefly to re-fuel then made the long journey home back to Melbourne so we could get there car back to return the car at 6pm.

When we eventually got back we found out from the rental company that we didn't actually have to bring the car back today and could have kept it till the morning which was well annoying as it we could have done the trip home at a far more leisurely pace. Oh wells. We had made it back safe and sound to my surprise and karma obviously doesn't exist as despite messing the French guy around we had awesome weather and just generally an awesome time.

Anyway here is a (fairly lame) video and some snaps from my first ever actual road trip ever...