Great Ocean road Australia – Lorne to Port Fairy

grey Great Ocean road Australia    Lorne to Port Fairy

If someone asked you what the largest war memorial in Australia and possibly the world is, no doubt you will start remembering childhood memories of being dragged through big dusty buildings with perspex displays of a tobacco tin that stopped a bullet or heart felt, tea stained letters posted to loved ones. You would remember parents telling you in hushed tones that this history is very important and that these men fought for your freedom (stand up straight!) all the while wishing you could run outside to climb on top of that rusting tank outside.

This history is important for sure but one thing that most people do not realize is that the biggest war memorial in Australia is not based in Canberra or Sydney, it is right here in Melbourne…with its very own nudist beach. The Great Ocean Road Australia is a road and war memorial that I was lucky enough to ride my motorbike along last weekend with my fiancee Jette.


grey Great Ocean road Australia    Lorne to Port Fairy We left Melbourne’s centre mid afternoon on Friday and rode towards Geelong straight into a stinging rain storm. Soaked and shivering we continued under a big wooden sign outside of Torquay welcoming us to one of the worlds most scenic coastal roads.

The Great Ocean Road runs for 243 Kilometres from Torquay to Warmambool. A beautifully curvaceous road it hugs the coast allowing for magnificent scenery and great ‘boy-I-wish-I was-a-motorbike-racer’ moments. The road was added to the World Heritage list in 2011 and quiet rightly so.

It is obvious that this road is often driven by tourists straight off the plane as every ten kilometres of so we saw signs reminding us to ‘Please drive on the left hand side of the road’.

Despite expecting to smash into a rented van full of European holiday makers around every turn we finally made it to Lorne. As we were completely busted after a big week at work and a cold ride we immediately showered, did the grotty hotel room thing for a while** and fell asleep without exploring Lorne properly.

grey Great Ocean road Australia    Lorne to Port Fairy The following morning at breakfast I reached the conclusion that Lorne is where the rich and famous from Melbourne come for the weekend to pretend they are laid back surf bums. The street is lined with Audis and Porches, even a new Ferrari was parked just over from our breakfast table. Once a bored looking policeman pulled me over to check my license we were out of Lorne and on the ocean road proper.

This road was started in 1918 and finished in late 1932. William Calder, then road minister, was the driving force behind the road. William wanted to connect isolated fishing and foresting communities along the coastline while helping to employ returned servicemen. A private company was set up which funded the road, upon completion a fee was charged for anyone wanting to drive the road. Once the construction costs were cleared the entire road was gifted to the state. It was made free for all to use and declared a war memorial.

 

 

grey Great Ocean road Australia    Lorne to Port Fairy The Great Ocean Road is marvelously built and perfectly windy for tight corner aficionados such as myself. Every time I started to get my groove on (read ‘go too fast’) we would catch up with a plodding camper van. Eventually I resigned myself to just relax and enjoy the cruise.

The road just before the Twelve Apostles needs some serious loving with numerous potholes and hasty repairs forming a patchwork over the tarmac. Bumpy as it was I am sure it is better than the road traveled by construction workers in the early 1900‘s. Back then workers used to rest explosive detonators on their knees throughout the long, bumpy drive to work as this was the smoothest place to transport this dangerous cargo.

 

 

 

grey Great Ocean road Australia    Lorne to Port Fairy grey Great Ocean road Australia    Lorne to Port Fairy The Twelve apostles are so named because the original name sucked. They were originally known as the Sow and Piglets until sometime in 1922. A passerby realized that this name was not biblical enough for such an impressive geological feat. A petition was signed and the name changed to The Twelve Apostles, despite only ever having nine stacks.

The Twelve (actually eight now after one collapsed in 2005) Apostles are massive limestone stacks formed by erosion, if you want to see them you had best hurry though as they are eroding at a rate of 2cm per year. The stacks begin life as caves in the tall limestone cliffs that erode to form arches. The arches collapse leaving the stacks we see today. Despite the impressive panorama in front of me all I could think about was how cool it would be to fly a paraglider around this area…

 

 

 

Nearing Port Fairy we pass the spot where construction on the road was halted for two weeks back in 1924. Neither weather, strikes nor an act of God is the explanation for this unscheduled hiatus. What happened is far more Australian. The Steamboat Casino got stranded on rocks near Cape Patton. No doubt the captain started frantically tooting his whistle in the hope that some kindly road workers would come over with a trolley jack and help him out. Upon seeing the stricken boat workers rushed out to help…

…And help they did. They helped themselves to 500 beer barrels and 120 barrels of spirits. This little windfall resulted in a two week unscheduled drinking binge which completely halted road works. This may just be the explanation as to  why the last bit is so damn bendy.

grey Great Ocean road Australia    Lorne to Port Fairy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

**Grotty hotel thing I hear you ask! This is not what you think! The grotty hotel room thing that Jette and I do is to buy a heap of junk food or room service chips and lounge about watching pay TV documentaries. We sit the junk food on our bellies and stuff ourselves as we learn about ‘American Auctioneers’, ‘How bridges are built’ and ‘Storm Chasers’. We first did this in Indonesia on a beautiful sunny day, we really should have been outside enjoying the beach but we simply could not be bothered. Recharge days like this are crucial to fully experience a place I believe but maybe I am just trying to justify laziness. Whilst ordering our second room service meal in Indonesia I exclaimed guiltily, “it is bloody grotty to be inside on a day like this’ the name has stuck and we love doing the grotty hotel thing on occasion.

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