Ararat to Avalon

Jade has mentioned visiting Ararat for a week or two, and I didn’t really have a clue why until a day or 3 ago. It was featured on the biggest loser Australia, and as it was on our route, we popped in to have a look. The information provided us with a wealth of possibilites, some more interesting than the others.

Aradale, in Ararat, is the largest and most notorious lunatic asylum in Australia. It was abandoned years ago, but they still hold both normal and ghost tours of the old asylum. We weren’t interested in the ghost tours that were overpriced to kingdom come, but were gutted to find out that the tours only operated on a Wednesday and Sunday, and we were only there on Friday. Such a shame. There weren’t great reviews regarding the tour guides at the daily gaol asylum section, so we bypassed that too. We’ll have to look and see if there are any we can look round in the US.

We once again located a library to plan our trip down the Great Ocean Road, and start planning our stay in Melbourne. We still don’t know everyhting (well much at all) that we want to do when we are there. As we had reliable internet, for once, we decided to put it to good use and ring people at home. I can’t believe it’s 8 weeks until we get to Florida now, it’s flying by.

Ararat as a town was a nice stop off and chill out zone after a heavy day in the Grampians, and let us plan a route involving a free rest stop that would take us through all of the major, and a lot of the minor attractions along the Great Ocean Road. We left two days for the trip as we weren’t sure how long all the stops would take and the driving would last. And there was only one free place to stay over night.

That evening, we drove most of the way down from Ararat to the start of the Great Ocean Road to a small town called Mortlake. We weren’t actually sure we could stay there as it was in the centre of town and a little more substantial than some of the places we have stayed at, but it was OK, we weren’t moved on, and we raced through more episodes of Hart of Dixie.

That morning, we rose early and set out for the coast. The Great Ocean Road actually started inland from Warnambool and took a while to go along the coast at all. Our first stops along the way were the Bay of Islands (which was just as it sounded)  and the Grotto; a cave/arch in the rock that had a clear blue pool behind it overlooking the sea.

There was a lovely isolated beach, river bay just outside of Peterborough that we decided to stop at on a whim. The sea soaked the bottom of my cut offs and Jade gots pictures with her alone on the sand. It’s strange to be in such an iconic place and yet see the beach so empty!

Then it was on to London Bridge and the arch. I get why London Bridge is called so, but I didn’t think the structure was that impressive. That said, the two people marooned on the rock the day the middle collapsed lucked out with their free helicopter ride. The arch was just an arch in the rock. I think I was expecting more than that to be honest.

We didn’t stop in many of the towns along the way because they were small and didn’t have much to offer. We quickly realised that 2 days was a bit much time to travel the road at the pace we were going, so we committed to watching the AFL in Geelong that night and seeing everything in one day; a decision that proved to be a good one.

We stopped at Loch Ard Gorge, and saw Shipwreck point. The features along the coast are quite the Geographers dream and very wide ranging. It’s a just a shame that it is a little too cold to wait round and enjoy them for a while. We got some funny looks when we arrived at the 12 apostles, as we went without coats to get some better photographs. You’d have thought we were the attraction ourselves. The viewpoint did not afford a view of all 12 apostles, and they weren’t what I was expecting (not that I know what I was expecting). They weren’t disappointing, but they weren’t my favourite stop of the day.

We reached the point meant to be our night stop over just after lunch. Cape Ottway is home to the ‘most significant lighthouse in Australia’. The coast is called ‘Shipwreck coast’ so I am not sure what this says about the lighthouse itself. The costs to get in were ridiculously high, so we didn’t bother going in, we just continued on our way round to Apollo Bay.

I’m not really fast at driving Space Race along windy roads, but the wicked campervans ahead of us were moving at a painfully slow pace as we left Ottway and stopped in Apollo Bay. We went down onto the beach and got our beach writing for Victoria before heading off the coast in the decreasing light to Torquay and then Geelong.

That night, we tried to look less traveller-y to get into a pub to watch the game. We had to request that they put the dockers game on for us, but they did. We bought a drink and watched a less than brilliant Dockers game that saw us remain unbeaten this season. It took us a while to find the rest stop on the way into Melbourne as it was actually a road off the service station.

That’s it, our last leg in Space Race complete and Melbourne to go!

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