Monday, March 22, 2010

The 12 Apostles

Today was the day we came here for. The 12 Apostles are on the road from Apollo Bay to Port Fairy, and we were going to see them. (And LK and Shirl were helping anyone who needed assistance figuring out how many Apostles there were.)

Today's trip started out slowly. A short while after leaving Apollo Bay we turned into the very long road to the lighthouse at Cape Otway - "Australia's most significant lighthouse", the literature insisted. I should add that the main reason we turned down the road was because we had been told we would see koalas in their natural habitat. Which we did - and which made the side trip worth the effort.

When we got to the lighthouse, some bright bulb had decided that anyone who had driven that far down the road would pay $16.50 to see the lighthouse. They didn't reckon on retired people like me. I quickly calculated that the three of us would spend $49.50 - which was just about what I would need for a case of cleanskin white wines.

We didn't go through to see the lighthouse.

Instead we returned to the Great Ocean Road and headed west. It was at this point that the Great Ocean Road should have been renamed the Great Forest and Farmland Road, for the planners had it taking a pretty severe turn away from the sea. However, eventually we turned south and could see the blue skies of the ocean sitting just behind those overhead.

And it was soon after that we had our payback for the trip as the most magnificent geography awaited. We had all seen pictures of the 12 Apostles, the limestone formations towering in the near surf of the Southern Ocean as it pounds into the cliffs of this part of Victoria.

What no picture can convey, though. is the size and scope of these structures and the impact of seeing so many of them standing together. You can see the pictures LK took today here, but nothing can match the feeling you get actually standing there looking at these awesome structures.

A little down the road from the Apostles was Loch Ard Gorge, which is to me equally impressive. We walked down about 80 steps to the sandy beach where we saw huge limestone caves with stalactites hanging down from the cliffside. And to turn around there was this pounding surf forcing its way through the narrow opening where it had already worn away the wall of stone connecting the two sides.

Today's lesson was clearly about erosion and the power of the sea. And also about how easy it is to walk down 80 steps and how it is not as easy on the way back up.

We are in Port Fairy tonight and will stay through tomorrow before heading north, away from the ocean and into the Grampian Mountains. We're having a ball.

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