Along the way, I began to see these signs. Here in the states we are only beginning to focus on the risk that lack of sleep causes on our roads. You are encouraged to take a moment and sleep at the rest stops provided. Now if I could just introduce that idea at work.....I imagine an afternoon powernap after lunch would certainly enhance my performance on the job, don't you think?
The drive to Geelong was lined with gum trees and grass. Already here you feel summer coming. I'm still having problems adjusting my mind to the left hand driving and am so grateful Eva is graciously willing to do the driving. We had a pleasant drive, stopping at what we would call a truck stop for lunch, where I found a roadside fruit stand with freshly picked strawberries to munch on. We first drove along the main street of Geelong and along the waterfront.
And of course we stopped at the factory store for Kaiser Crafts. Those of you into beautiful paper and laser chipboard and wood cuts for scrapbooking are familiar with the brands, even in the states. And this was when I realized how difficulty it was going to be to limit my purchases to fit in my return luggage....bummer.....I picked up a basket of things, only to have to put them back. But how fun to see where the things I buy in my local craft store come from.
As we left, we saw several of these wooden posts painted to resemble historical figures. They are recycled posts from piers, sanded, carved and painted. Australia is very much into being green.
We begin the Great Ocean Road at Torquay. The 151 mile road was built as a memorial to World War I casualties. The road winds along the southern coast of Australia between Torquay and Warnambool, our destination, with short stretches going inland through the Great Otway National Park.
Everywhere you look is beauty. The ocean is a sapphire blue that I have not seen before. The coastal hills are full of gum trees and scrub, filled with singing birds. I saw wren's, honeyeaters, gulls, magpies, butcher birds, crows and more. On this path near the surfer area, Bell's Beach, I was stopped by a man who cautioned me that he had seen a poisonous snake just a bit further down the path. Hadn't really considered something like that and the fact that I would not recognize one here....and their snakes don't greet you with a rattle so you know they are there! The snake must have headed for a less populated path as I never saw him...but I can tell you I did watch where I put my feet after that! And near the Wye River we stopped at an unnamed beach where I danced with the incoming waves and gathered shells and rocks to use in my artwork.
At Split Head Lighthouse, we stopped to have coffee at this teahouse. We sat in the beautiful sun and enjoyed a bakery treat and admired the gift store filled with imports from India.
The lighthouse has been lovingly restored. The white was striking against the blue sky...though no longer in operations, it still stands tall and visible to those at sea.
Soon we were approaching out destination for the day, Apollo Bay, a beautiful city on a bay.
Before we stopped for the night, we drove to the waterfront and walked along the jetty as the sun set for the day. After a long day of driving, the beauty of the skies and waters, the lacy sun-kissed searocks, and the soothing sound of the waves soon filled us with the peace of nature for a beautiful ending to the day.
We woke up refreshed the next morning and ready to continue our journey. Today we have grey clouds overhead and in the muted light, the beautiful flowers, blooming everywhere, really stand out.
We stop in Apollo Bay and browse the quaint stores along the waterfront area. My eyes are filled with beautiful things, my brain overwhelmed by the jewelry, art, clothing and lotions, soaps and cremes. Delicate lacy tops, earthy incense, natural oils, jewelry of wood, resin, silver and stone. I wanted to bring home one of everything. We stopped for a quick breakfast where I was treated to this delicious Muesli, covered with apple, rhubarb and Greek style yogurt...yum!
We browsed an op shop just past this sign that had us on the lookout for the now familiar to me black and white birds with the haunting morning songs...they protect their nests by dive-bombing any living thing that dares to come near their nest. Soon we are off down the Great Ocean Road, destination Warnambool. Not long after leaving Apollo Bay, we entered the Great Otway National Park and began winding or way through the coastal hills filled with forests of gum trees. And where there are gum trees, there are koalas. We pulled over on the road when we saw a group of people pointing their cameras at the trees.
And sure enough, there is a small tribe of koalas in the trees. And they are awake this time.
If you look closely, you will see a tiny baby peering down at you from her safe perch on mama's back.
Mama and baby again - they have stripped the branches of their leaves for food.
When we reach the 12 Apostles, we hike a short path to the ocean. As I live in the Pacific Northwest, I thought I had already seen the most beautiful and rugged coasts that line the West Coast of the US from Washington to Northern California. But these sandstone cliffs and sea stacks were stunning.
We explored the viewpoints of the Apostles and other amazing formations such as Loch Ard, London Bridge and the Blow Hole. This is the Shipwreck Coast where many ships have sunk into the stormy ocean. I marveled at the fact that if I sailed due south from here, I would find myself in the cold seas of Antarctica.
This is a day that will live long in my memory. Such wild beauty fills the soul and my heart yearned to be on a ship sailing this wild sea, feeling the salty air on my face and following the spouting whales to parts unknown. Seas so clear that you can see through the waves and watch the kelp in its endless ocean dance. Sadly, we have no more time and we turn towards Warnumbool, our home for the next two days.