Sunday, August 22, 2010

A Trip to South Australia 6 / Warrnambool to Termeil

The Great Ocean Road is a 240km (150 mi) stretch of road along the south west coast of Victoria between the towns of Warrnambool and Torquay. The road was built by returned soldiers between 1919 and 1932 and is the world's largest war memorial dedicated to casualties of WW1. It is an important tourist attraction in the region and winds through varying terrain which includes rain forests as well as beaches and cliffs composed of limestone and sandstone.
The soft limestone rock of the coast began forming 10 to 20 million years ago when it was under the sea. Skeletal remains of shellfish and calcium rich algae were compressed under their own weight to form rocks of varying hardness. As the sea retreated the rock cracked into a chequer board pattern leaving deep vertical joints. At the end of the last Ice Age the sea advanced again reaching the current level about 6000 years ago. Cliffs were formed when the sea undercut the edge of the land causing it to collapse. Harder rocks remain as stacks while the coast continues to erode away.
And the erosion taking place is no more evident than in the two pictures below taken by us during visits in 2003 and a few weeks ago. This formation called the Island Archway partially collapsed in June 2009.

The road provides access to several prominent landmarks including the nationally significant Twelve Apostles limestone stack formations as well as other beautiful spots. It’s not an easy drive as the road is quite narrow and winding with some precipitous drops to the ocean quite near the edge. The driver has to concentrate on not ‘gawking' and be aware that many other drivers are foreign tourists not used to driving on the ‘wrong' side. They do tend to wander over the centre line. Rock falls are another problem. We were held up by one for an hour just out of Lorne until it was cleared.
Will give you a selection of pictures of some of the more significant sites along the route ending with The Twelve Apostles (although there are only eight actually still standing).

Our day's journey ended in Torquay, the surfing capital of Australia, and headquarters to such surf clothing and equipment companies as Billabong, Rip Curl and Quicksilver.
It is also the home to the world's only surfing reserve, Bells Beach.
The surf was not pumping the day we were there but I had a classical picture of a day when it was on file.
That night over a Chinese meal we discussed the next leg of our journey. We were now back in familiar territory.
A number of options were considered but in the end we decided to make a 'run' for home via the Hume Highway. It would be a long way but on very good high speed roads. Leaving just on dawn and sharing the driving we were rolling through our front gate about eleven hours later.
What a great trip. 5800km (3600mi) in total and 99.9% of it most enjoyable.
Thanks for letting us share it with you over the last few weeks.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

lovely photos. i keep coming back to look them over. thanks for taking the time and spending the effort to show us the highlights of your trip.