Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Great Ocean Road, Victoria

Within two ours of landing at Melbourne airport, we were driving along the Great Ocean Road that runs along the south-west coast of Australia. We knew we were in Australia when we had to brake suddenly to avoid crushing a koala bear that was sitting in the middle of the road – our first ever koala sighting!

We're staying with Jen's course mate from Turku University, Meri, who now lives in a lovely beach side village called Separation Creek. Jen heard some scary growling noises in the the forest. Meri explained that it was koalas, going about their nocturnal business.

On Saturday night, Meri took us to the pubs in Wye River. They were a very lively affair, and we ended up meeting all the locals. Over the next couple of days, we explored the Great Ocean Road starting from Torquay. The beaches in Victoria are to-die-for with incredible waves. The nearby Bells Beach is the venue for the world-championship surfing competition every Easter.

To see the best of the Great Ocean Road, we camped on Johanna Beach which had massive waves and is a well-known surfing beach. The sea wasn't quite as warm as it looked, as the water comes straight from Antarctica. The Twelve Apostles are a collection of rock stacks in the ocean. Only seven remain now, as they are constantly eroded by the wind, the waves and the salt water.

The wildlife here is abundant and very colourful. Apart from the koalas, we've seen kookaburras, rosellas, cockatoos and magpies (all birds); a snake slithering across the road; and wallabies (small kangaroos) eating along the road.

Read our Otway National Park posting.

Otway National Park, Victoria

On our way to the Great Ocean Road, we took a tour inland. Turning off at Kennett River, home to a number of koala bears, we drove through “The Bush” to the Otway Fly tree top walk.

The Otway Fly tree top walk was completed in 2003 and does exactly what it says, giving you a great view of the forest, 47 metres above the ground. It was great to see the forest at its best.

There were lots of signs telling us to avoid damaging the forest, but we were wondering if any trees were harmed during the building of the walkway.