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The Great Ocean Road

By Wom Battle
Category: Ride to Perth

With the National HOG Rally over it was time to return to Melbourne and our well missed Harleys to begin the next phase of our trip across Australia to Perth.  We arrived at Launceston early enough to spend some time at the Qantas Club lounge before boarding the plane for the short flight which was as Murhpy would have it, delayed for half an hour or so.

Arriving in Melbourne with hand luggage meant we were soon away from the airport and after a short wait for the secure parking provider's shuttle we were on our bikes and heading towards Geelong, with one slight route hiccup by 12.30pm. There's not much to see on that part of the trip unless you count the Ford Factory in Geelong on the way to Torquay and the start of the Great Ocean Road and a photo opportunity.

The first part of the Great Ocean Road provided some glimpses of ocean and we passed some signs to the legendary Bells Beach, it was nice but not breathtaking.  Heading into Anglesea things improved view wise and it became clear why this road was a favourite among travellers, a fact that was a unfortunately evident in the amount of traffic on the road.  There were plenty of opportunities for the slower traffic to pull over to the left without necessarily stopping to let other traffic past and many of the caravaners and pensioners thankfully took advantage of those opportunities. 

We weren't in a hurry, but being caught in lines of traffic and having to concentrate on that makes it a little difficult to really enjoy the scenery.  My son though, really enjoyed it and got some lovey snaps and video.  There's a bunch of safety cameras on this part of the road so pay close attention or you'll get a pill in the mail (as I did).

Heading further along towards Lorne the traffic lightened somewhat and the riding was spectacular. We stopped for lunch at Lorne where we noticed that the day was heating up despite being so close to the ocean. We planned to stay the night in Warrnambool but wanted to spend some time at the 12 Apostles taking in the view so we didn't hang around too long and struck out towards Apollo Bay and Merango.  After Merango you leave the coast for a while and ride throught the Cape Otway National Park to Glenaire and then head uphill to Lavers Hill.  While not really coastal, this area was a beautiful ride through tall forests, dappled sunlight and great bends.  It's worth a quick stop at Lavers Hill for a look at the view back over the valley, but for us it was all about a drink.  It was getting very warm.

Our next stop was the 12 Apostles and after more forest riding back down to the coast near Princetown the ride changed again.  There you can see the coast to your left over the cliff that it that part of the bight and a vast plain to your right.  The 12 Apostles visitor centre is seemingly in the middle of nowhere before you get to Port Campbell and there were people everywhere which was seemingly inconsistent with the amount of traffic we saw.

At the visitors centre you have a choice of paying to walk out on a viewing platform or you can take a helicopter flight.  It was stinking hot at 40+ degrees celcius, there was a fly swarm and the prospect of walking in the sun in our riding gear was not at all appealing.  We opted for the helicopter in the hope that the fan above would assist with the cooling.  There were a number of options for the flight starting from $95 and increasing in price for an increase in distance.  We opted for the $130 per head option with a $20 supersize to fly lower than the normal trip.  Three passengers was perfect and with our gear stowed in the pilot's meal room we were soon on our way.  If you make it to this part of the world you MUST see it in a helicopter, it's astounding... just look at the photos!

Back on to the bikes as quickly as possible to get away from the flies we stopped in at Port Campbell for fuel, a drink and Heffy needed some phone credit which seemingly evaporated for him the whole trip trying to keep in touch with his beloved Krittie.  On a cooler day, Port Campbell would be worth more attention and on that part of the road there's lots of side tracks you can turn down to look at the coastal attractions like the Bay of Isles etc but we'd seen what we needed to by air and were looking forward to getting to Warrnambool and cooling off.

Arriving at Warnambool and checking in to the Comfort Inn was non eventful and the receptionist suggested their pool as a good starting point to escape the heat of the day.  The look of the pool did not encourage a dip unless you like your water with wildlife and larvae but it was so hot we jumped in anyway being very careful not to put our heads in the water.  As soon as our core temperatures returned to normal we were out, showered, changed and on our way down the main street where we found the Whalers Inn for a couple of drinks and a steak for dinner.

The Whaler's Inn provided us with a point of ridiculousness, they refused to serve my 14 y.o. son a Lemon Lime and Bitters because Bitters has alcohol in it.  The bamaid got offended when we started to laugh, we had no idea she was serious until she told us that the "boss" won't let their staff drink it either because of the alchohol.  We suggested that the boss might just want to save money for water based lubricants.

Dinner over, walking  back to the Motel gave us the opportunity to watch the local doof doofs cruising the main drag in their hotted up Kias and Hyundais out to impress whoever might care enough to look.  Interesting culture.  Time for bed with the weatherman predicting another hot one tommorrow.  Just our luck to be riding in the middle of a hugely unseasonal heatwave.


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September 2021