Day 1 Travel to Bimbi Park. The flight down with Jetstar had two unusual issues
Brendan was there in plenty of time
The plane left and landed on time, despite the noise coming from the landing gear.
Despite having a sleep, the others all got up and had a good chat, and a few beers to while away the hour and plenty of space to move about.
We then collected the bus from the really friendly lass behind the counter at Europecar. Off to Colac for
2 cartons of Crownies – a result of the Briscoe-Fuller Ford – Holden PNG bet
A carton of Cascade- was that supposed to be 2 cartons? –according to Chris it was.
A hot pie – not our day but a friendly shop keeper had a microwave.
We then all met up at the Bimbi camping grounds. Well what can I say…. The beds were clean and hard. But with 4 double bunks in each small room, no cupboards, no desk, one power point. Oh well it was only for 8 nights L Keen to get into it, we took the walk down to Station beach and that was when we saw out first look at the GOW signs. They were every where, but always failed to mention how much further. We would be back here on Day 3. That walk amounted to a quick warm up of 4 kms A quick steak and sausages on the BBQ with a salad was quickly thrown together. Make note to self, not so much drinking….. For Robert and Chris the day started early, with packing the trailor and car on Friday, and collecting Keith in Keilor on Saturday morning. We then travelled to Winchelsea, where we had a quick bite for lunch, then on to Colac. At Colac, we got the erisha le supplies – the last stop before Bimbi Park. When we arrived at Bimbi Park, the unpacking was the major order to start us off. We joked that the rest of us would arrive just after everything was done. This was not far wrong, although many hands at the finish helped get the job done.
Well if Chris believes that we missed most of the settling work, they must have been really busy as we still had a bit to do when we arrived. I really think that all they did was park the trailer under a tree and wait.
Day 2 Aire River to Johanna Beach – 13 kms The walk started somewhat late and after we got to the site one group left with both cars to take the first of the car shuttling days. The second group had a 45 minute wait, which turned into an hour or so. We played a little footy and then decided to start an impromptu walk, figuring if we walked for 25 minutes then turned around we would make our waiting time productive. This was a pretty good plan except that we got back and still no sign of the returning vehicle. Oh well, some 40 minutes later the others arrived and off we started. It was a testing walk with some steep short climbs and then plenty of down slopes etc.
We saw 2 snakes
We started to see though the spectacular ocean and coastline views. I dubbed this an AFC – another f*****ing coastline (shot) We also came across some really interesting attempts to restabilise the land and we crossed a barren slope – walking across a narrow boardwalk for some fair way. At the end of this though we were greeted with that old familiar shot – Johanna Beach, I have come back to a place of my youth –circa 1972. After a steep walk down to the beach we then started our simple walk up the beach to the car park. Mind you it was not that simple, it was a few kilometres and it was close to high tide- which meant soft sand and a lot of it. But surprises were still in store and the crew took off their shoes and waded into the ocean. Bracing was the only word although spectacular was another. No other sole on the beach for as far as you could see. After a quick break we started off. Soon we saw some fishermen in the distance who were catching – Salmon. Not really big but legal. Finally we got to the end, near the car park. We watched some body boarders for awhile, and then off we went. The day was then finished off with what I would classify as
The longest roast cooking dinner. Some 3 hours and the lamb practically fell off the bone, the roast potatoes, the pumpkin etc was magnificent. We then had a wine tasting evening.
The largest group in one room as visiting palaeontologists were down from Monash and were doing a dinosaur dig down at Blanket Bay. The room was going off as the wine flowed.
Special thanks to Nick who was the head chef with a number of willing tasters and helping hands. Not sure what transpired but I left for bed while a few stalwarts drank on.
Day 3 Apollo Bay to Blanket Bay – 20 kms We were keen to not repeat the car shuffle problem. So we got to Apollo Bay and after petrol and a comfort stop we started at the beginning of the GOW. The Plan
Group 1 started walking into our first rain squall. Not a real problem, but then it did stop after an hour or so.
Group 2 took the car back and then back and then started some 1 or so hours behind us.
Not sure what they did but we had a great walk on the coast - sand, rocky headlands, strong winds and rain. But even though we walked slowly to Shelly Beach we were still ahead of the group by an hour or so. We found the picnic area and a few got horizontal on the table tops. At Shelly Beach (which did not have a lot of shells actually) we headed inland to walk through the forestry tracks. This overall walk from Apollo Bay was a good 21 kms and was to be our hardest if not our longest day. But 6.5 hours was OK. The start was a really testing climb up the top of the frontal hills. Some 250 mtrs in elevation – but testing enough. I saw my first tiger snake or at least the last three feet of him as he slithered off the path. They are more timid than the browns. Chris still thinks he saved my life…. The walk along car tracks in the sub tropical rain forest was lovely and quiet and the rain had long gone, but it was cool and the wind was high in the trees. The group was a bit scattered but the small groups formed and conversations flowed from subject to subject. After a while we began the descent to Blanket Bay and that was that – our longest day. Nick brought out the Esky with some cold beers and soft drinks. Kyle and Robert are doing well as are most of the old farts. Blanket Bay was sort of close to the Bimbi camping ground. Now on that subject- Bimbi is aboriginal for “Place of the Birds” and that was true but the Koalas could have had the main stage, they were everywhere! I am sitting here in the dining room with people all around me but with my headphones on it is just like the GOW - each in their own space. It is 7pm. BTW it does not get dark until after 9pm.
Everyone is now sitting around me and offering me drinks………
Day 4 Johanna Beach to Ryans Den – 18 kms The day dawned, and Brendan felt that a day off was in the plan, plus a visit to the doctor and then a cortisone shot. Meanwhile we started off from Johanna. The walk started with a quick walk up a valley that was really lovely. Spectacular was another –so much green and a creek winding down through the valley. But special mention must be made to – the flies. Apparently Victoria is the home of the flies and they were all trying to make us feel welcome. Here is was thinking all this time that the flies were only in Queensland – now I realise that they are actually Victorian flies on holiday. But then it started to rain, and of course the wind. But that did not stop us, onwards. Up ahead were a few gates and then a mob of kangaroos. The path was pretty good so we walked on. After a while we came down to the coast. It was lovely with a rising sea and we walked up the beach. Some time later, we came to a creek where a house was back from a sand hill and nestled into the cliffs behind. We met the owners, a family with 2 small girls. They were happy to holiday and fish here in a wild coast. After while, we walked up the beach and came to our first decision point- It was low tide so we kept going. Up the beach we came to an outcrop of rock. The surf was running but by counting the waves, off we went – Shane and I running for our dry feet lives singing Chariots of fire. We made it by running over 50 meters. The others came with less flair. The look of Nick with the fear of touching the water, gave his feet wings. Keith and Dave had to scamper up the rocks before continuing. But we were all through. Just a couple of more kms to Melanesia Beach. We had lunch then which was really lovely with a bun with Vegemite and cheese, and apple and maybe a crunchies bar (if you were lucky). By now we had realised that both Kyle and particularly Robert were keen eaters and if you weren’t fast….. Then off, straight up the hill and then for the next miles, up and down over this track. Finally we past a point where Nick said we should turn right – but we kept going and after the steps of a thousand, we came to some workers who said we had to turn back and it was back where Nick suggested. Oh well. But back we went and after a while we got back to where we thought – or at least where Nick thought. But up the road we went and finally we met the GOW – no sign of Brendan who was still coming after buying food etc. The end of the day was coffee at the Bend and then back to Bimbi – where a bus group joined the palaeontologists and our group at the park. We then drank a 40 oz Bundaberg Rum. Oh well – I had a few but Chris and Shane….. “Special mention must be made of Webb and Kelly who did a real good job of finishing the rum in the one go. I barely got 3 doubles in as I was washing clothes as well up the toilet block. When I came back 30 minutes later – it was all gone! Chris Webb was the first of us to fall asleep in the main lounge while the conversation raged along with the fire.” Later Chris was to defend himself by saying he only got a couple of drinks in before he fell asleep. If that was the case then Shane was the culprit Tea was a while…….but eventually Spaghetti bog. We have now covered some 50 kms along the track.
Day 5 Our day of rest, even if it was a Wednesday. The day started slowly and by around 9am, two groups formed
Those keen to do a walk – Nick, Shane, Brendan and Kyle
Those wishing to see the Cape Lighthouse.
The lady at the front desk was clear that we would be paying the $14.50 to see the lighthouse, given we had driven there and also it was impossible to see the lighthouse without entering the compound.
A lone male Koala had taken up residence in the keeper’s house and was pretty happy to sit and do nothing. This meant that an attendant needed to be there to ensure the tourists did not get hurt.
The lighthouse, built in 1854 was pretty spectacular on what is an imposing coast, although a few ships had met their end on the off shore reefs. – Eric the Red was one such ship.
We got to climb the 78 steps and go out onto the balcony. It was pretty windy although it was only registering 26 knots – by the attendants “readometer”.
All in all, it was worth the money and we had a coffee and finally inspected the war time communications and radar bunkhouse.
Then it was back to the park.
Went on down to Station beach and then up the coast to a waterfall. Not much was regaled when we joined up later. Some 5 kms was clocked up by Shane and Nick.
After lunch, we joined up with the Palaeontologists who invited us to join their dig on the coast up from Blanket Bay. It was interesting and a couple of them told us what they were up to. After a while there, we went back to Apollo Bay for a bit of fishing off the breakwater. A couple of us went for a walk while we waited. The fishermen went very well catching some 10 Salmon. Chris had to get a replacement camera in Apollo Bay, as his had died a natural death when it fell from the table. We got the fish on ice and had dinner at the Apollo Bay Pub. Following dinner, we returned home where Shane filleted the fish for breakfast tomorrow morning. Then that was that. Internet cafes were called on for emails and other work issues, plus mobile phone coverage at last. All in all, a quiet night. Tomorrow was a big day.
Day 6 Blanket Bay to Aire River – 20 kms So that means we have now walked over 70 kms. We stared across the rocks to fish while the others went to shuttle the cars. An hour later, no fish, but we had a good time. When the others arrived we started up the beach and pretty soon we found Eric the Red, or the was it the Mather. We walked up the beach for quite a long time. We met some ladies waiting for their other halfs who were fishing also with no luck. We kept on going and met the palaeontologist, who was prospecting along the rocks. His day was productive having found a few bones for his efforts. We continued along the beach and then up behind the Lighthouse. You could actually from here see the lighthouse without paying the entrance fee, but it was quite a way and also behind some trees that were slowly blocking the view. Further on was the Cemetery where some families were laid to rest as well as some sailors lost at see. We continued and came to a decision point where a few walked the beach while the others stuck to the walking track up in the dunes. Some 2 kms down the beach we again met up and continued on to Aire River. It was quiet a way and fairly uneventful, until we came to the Aire River Lookout. At this point, I should mention the flies, but here we were swarmed on by midges (sandflies to us Queenslanders.) They were relentless and blotted out the sun. It was a swarm of biblical proportions. Finally we made it to the car. Out came the Esky, a few cold drinks and then off home. When we got back to camp, we found that Peter Forbes and his son Jack had settled into camp. Jack is 3 years old. We were all pretty tired and dinner was cooked chook and roast vegetables. Even though it again took 3 hours it was worth the wait. Our culinary skills are catching the eyes of the other campers, but the ovens will have to go. To wile away the time, we tasted some white wines – a Verdelho and a chardonnay. We should have drunk them in the other order. Not a problem out then came some Pinot Noir and some Cab Sav…. Bed was not late for most of us, but a few hearty souls kicked on…….
Day 7 Ryans Den to the Gables – 13.2 kms That brings the collective distance to some 80 kms. We started rather late. We started in to Ryans Den from the road after a difficult car shuttle and we took off at 10am. There was rain overnight and the track was damp and very slippery. We walked down the road and rejoined the track. Then came the 1000 stairs – the second time. We had a difficult walk up and down some significant headlands. Finally we reached the top on a grassy knoll and had lunch overlooking the coast all the way back to Cape Otway and the lighthouse. We had come quite a way. Peter had Jack in a carrying harness and was pretty careful, although both he and I cracked out heads on a branch that jumped into our way. We then walked up the road and followed it back the near the highway (and Peter took off with Jack). We played some running games with Robert, David, Shane and I. It interrupted the tedium of walking on the dirt road. We all were walking well to the car when Shane who had taken off ahead, returned with the car. We came back to the service station at Lavers Hills and had a coffee and an icecream. Back to camp while a few hearty souls then went fishing. They had no luck however, and soon returned to Bimbi Park. Tomorrow is the last leg to the Apostles.
Day 8 Wreck Beach to the Apostles – 20kms. I won’t go into the car shuffling –
One group took the cars.
The other group set off for the Beach to wait.
Unbeknownst to us, the other (car) group was enjoying hot coffee while the beach group waited. However a find was made by David of a pretty good skeleton. Robert put it in his backpack and we took it back to the paleontologists. Soon – well maybe an hour, the other group crested the hill and we were once again one team. Off we set up Wreck Beach were we saw the anchors that were from several ships. The actual walk was pretty interesting with plenty of contrasts between the sand, the surf and the cliffs behind us. After a while we could not see a way to proceed, even though the sign said it was a decision point. The sea was pretty low and the tide was out so we chose the beach. But unless we entered the water, there was no way to proceed. Up ahead at the base of the cliffs were some interesting caves but we had to turn around and go back to the decision point. At that point we left the beach which then heralded the old Coach road. Pretty ordinary road, with some sandy sections, hills etc to pass. At lunch some surfers passed us and they had walked from the next town. We had a lovely lunch on the side of the road under a spreading chestnut tree or was it a type of pine, and of course the flies. We eventually came near to Princetown when we were approaching a bridge. Dust up the road heralded something coming our way. It was the Rebels bikie club with support vehicles and the works. We kept on moving – really fast once they passed. It looked like they were up to no good. A family passed us a while after them with camping gear, they soon turned around and found another spot. Then we were basically walking along the cliffs until we saw our first view of the apostles. With every kilometre, they increased in size until we finally came to the car park with the Van. This walk was pretty tuff – we were exposed to the wind and sun and the track wound its way along the cliff top with just enough ups and downs to test the hamstrings and mettle of the intrepid group After a few drinks and pictures we hopped into the van and went into the car park for the Apostles. Every tourist van was there and the wind that had been blowing all morning really got up. The lookout tower was almost shaking with the onslaught of the wind and dresses of the tourists were fairly uncontrollable. We stayed for a while but it was not the same, we were walkers and had reached our destination. It was not something you shared with “tourists”. Back at camp, the paleontologist could not confirm the origin of our skeleton. But they did say they would take it back and decipher it. Dinner was great thanks to Brendan who bought half a beast on the Wednesday and Dave who cooked the steaks to perfection - and that was a different perception for nearly everybody “ I like mine rare” “ Make mine medium but with a hint of red in the centre…..” While Dinner was cooking we had another wine tasting. After dinner a very nice Penfolds port went down pretty fast. It was all over!!! Some 101 kms give or take a few.
Day 9 Bimbi Park to Avalon via the Great Ocean Road. We all got up a little late and slowly packed. Finally around 10am we were off and it was not long before we hit the “long and winding road” that took us to Torquay and Lorne. Lorne was pretty busy with some combined sports events with athletes going in all directions, so we kept going and had a final lunch at a little shop off the road – fish and chips. Very nice it was. Then it was on to Avalon for the Brisbane travellers and Tullamarine for Keith. We would all experience a long wait before the planes took off. Special thanks to Chris who pulled it together and Nick (who could have but did not jump in) who ably assisted with the trip management. Special thanks to the photographers who recorded the event. I am still waiting to see the movies that Dave took. Thanks also to Robert and Kyle who put up with us old farts when they could have been doing something exciting. What’s that I hear –?