Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Australia Day 8 - Keep Your Eyes on the Great Ocean Road

We flew into Melbourne yesterday and this morning we picked up our rental car. So begins the part of the vacation I was most apprehensive about. We paid for an automatic transmission, we got the insurance, a GPS, and the fuel option to minimize all variables and possible distractions along the way and allow me to concentrate on the road!

Obviously everything is backwards in these cars. The steering wheel is on the right, the turn signal is on the  right ... that took some getting used to. But thanks to the GPS we navigated out of the airport and city without much difficulty.

The Great Ocean Road is a stretch of highway along Australia's southern coast near Melbourne. It is similar to the Pacific Coast Highway and Big Sur in California. The GOR is a 2 lane winding highway that hugs the coast and climbs up and around sheer cliffs. The Indian Ocean was on one side of you and a serene country side on the other. Lots of rolling hills with farm land, cows, and sheep ... it reminded us of the Shire from Lord of the Rings. To say the drive was beautiful would be an understatement.

If I had been driving on the right hand side of the road and I had a high powered European sports car I would have loved to have opened it up a la James Bond. Instead I was slow and deliberate and truthfully barely enjoyed the views (except for when we stopped).

Along the way there were several turn offs for taking pictures and a few hiking trails (one of which we explored). But the most famous vista along the Great Ocean Road is a rock formation called the Twelve Apostles. As the name suggests at one point there were 12 huge rocks lined up in the water. I believe now there are only 5 or 6 still standing. We arrived near sunset and the views were incredible. It's hard to describe but with the waves crashing and sun setting there was something very moving about these rocks. Perhaps I was just glad to have survived the last 3-4 hours driving on the wrong side of the road!

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