September 13, 2002 - Apollo Bay 169k/101m***

The first *** day! I left Warrnambool late, around 8:30A again. Losing the first couple hours of daylight, when it gets dark at 6:00P leaves little margin for error or sightseeing. About 10k out of town I came to a decision point. A two day ride via the Great Ocean Highway, or shave a day cutting inland straight to Geelong. I went with Cheese World.

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After the right turn, the obligatory daily mileage sign.

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Cheese World isn’t as impressive as it sounds. Take a look, followed by a shot of the cattle I keep telling you about.

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I know you’re thinking this is no *** day – me too. Then all of a sudden you reach the Ocean just before Peterborough, and wham – the Bay of Islands.

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For the next 40km or so, it was one dramatic sight after another. The next bay was the Bay of Martyrs, which includes Massacre Hill and Massacre Beach, but the descriptive signage talked about geology, so I couldn’t ascertain what happened there. After that it was the Grotto.

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Skipping ahead, past London Bridge (ask me later), Point Hesse, The Arch, and Loch and Gorge, you come to the most famous thing around, the 12 Apostles.

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At this point we had passed one airplane and two helicopter sightseeing tours. I was intent on making my mileage and passed them by. Knowing how much I like such things, Lisa flagged me down and forced me into a helicopter. Naturally I first took a picture of the road, and then a few shots of the coast.

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Things look flat here, but they’re not. You steadily go up to say 170 meters (the plains at the top) then back down (rivers, towns, etc) to sea level. No big deal – until you start heading inland. Then the fact that “The Great Ocean Road” for the 100+km from Peterborough to Apollo Bay is two-thirds inland sets in. There are a couple of really dramatic climbs, much bigger than the Adelaide Hills. You go through Melba Gully State Park, then the more famous Otway National Park. Some great natural forests.

Then it’s downhill into Apollo Bay. I was maybe 15km out of town in the near darkness when Lisa came and rescued me and drove me into town. Oh well.

The Rough Guide “Cycling in Australia” says if you have only one week to ride in the country to do the Great Ocean Road. I’m doing it in less than two days. But it’s worth more than that. I missed my mileage and missed a lot of wonderous things trying to stay on schedule. It would be fun to come back here.

Things are looking very, very bad for the next few days. Tomorrow winds from the north at 45-55 kph, with gusts. I, of course, need to head north tomorrow, and riding into winds of this nature will limit progress more than severely. Then the daily high temperature drops from (let’s go with Fahrenheit) from the low 70’s to the low 50’s with promised thundershowers and steady, heavy rain from Sunday night to sometime on Wednesday. I’m not clear on if and how I can deal with this yet. 🙁

(Saturday 14Sept02, 9:05PM, Apollo Bay) We’re at the Beach Breakers Apartment, maybe 70 meters from the South Ocean, and you can hear the big waves rolling in.)

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